Archive for the ‘genealogy’ Category

Immanuel,” God with Us”   5 comments

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

God came down to earth in the form of human flesh, born to a virgin. They named him, Jesus. He was the Messiah, a Savior come to save the sins of the world,

In Matthew, chapter 1 & 2 and in Luke 2, New Testament NIV bible,  it describes the humble beginnings of the lineage of Jesus through Joseph traced back to the family line of David, king of Israel and further back to Abraham. I am always amazed reading the stories of those back in Jesus’s family line. They were just common, humbled people God chose to be a part of his heritage, people with big problems and surmounting challenges. Even David’s family history is full of things like greed, adultery, revenge, rape and murder. He felt great remorse for his sins committed later becoming the primary author of the book of Psalms, his praises to God, the father. Jesus’s birth was prophesied generations back before David came on the scene in the  old testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

God’s plan for this world and the prophecies foretold about the virgin birth of the Savior was a challenge and responsibility Joseph accepted as Jesus’s father. Mary also came from humbled beginnings, a young Jewish girl chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior of the world who was destined to go to the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all.. God promised them that He would be with them through the journey. While the world believed the Messiah would come from a royalty line of great wealth and fame God’s plan upset the whole scenario King Herod and the Roman world expected to find, and a child born to a Jewish girl, conceived by the Holy Spirit must have sounded preposterous to all who doubted and could not believe it true. But God’s plan was a perfect one, and so God sent us Immanuel, “God with us.” in human flesh, a baby born to a Jewish girl from Nazareth. Jesus, the Savior, God’s son in the flesh came to be born to the world so that we might have life everlasting.

When storm clouds come taking all that we own with it leaving us without a home to return to, God is with us.

When we suffer from the affliction of a devastating disease we know little about, God is with us.

When we grieve the loss of a loved one and wonder how we will go on without them, God is with us.

When we watch and witness the horror, chaos and destruction in the world that seems to spin out of our control, God is with us.

When we feel the stress from worry and fear that overshadows our life and wellbeing, God is with us.

Whatever our storm, whatever challenges or situation we face in life, things that happen we don’t understand, Immanuel, God’s son, Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah is with us, now and forevermore.

_________________

God’s best and blessings this Christmas to all,

Joyce E Mannhalter © December 2021

 

A Family History

… there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down,

it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots

may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil,

 Yet at the scent of water, it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.

Job 14: 7-9 (NIV)

Family photos of my paternal grandfather’s family and his German Bible

 

            I started researching our genealogy in 1983, one year after my father’s death. After he passed away, I had a strong desire to know about our heritage, our family history, and the countries of Germany and Russia, where they came from. My father often talked about Russia and how his father and family “came over” from Odessa, Russia. I was always mystified by that country, its history, past, culture, and people. He told about there being no freedom to worship in a church, read a Bible, or pray aloud. To do so meant arrest, imprisonment, being exiled to Siberia and labor camps. Little did I know until later with my research that all of that, and worse things, actually did happen in Russia. I learned that thousands of Germans in Russia went to their death, or to labor camps. What was their crime? They wanted to congregate with other believers, attend a worship service, construct a church, or keep alive their German roots, their culture.

            In the mid and late 1700 ‘s the Germans were invited to immigrate to Russia and settle on the steppes of South Russia in territories now belonging to Ukraine and Moldova. Catherine the Great, a German princess, and Czarina of Russia promised them their freedom to live as they had in Germany. They trusted her manifesto, declaring such promises, and protection. But, she did not keep her word. The Germans did not want to follow a Marxist,  or Bolshevik regime, or serve in the Red Army, under the ruthless, murderous dictator, Joseph Stalin. They did not believe in the Socialists’ ideology, or want to conform to Communism. German Jews who were part of this group were coerced into converting to the Russian Orthodox religion. Hundreds more chose to convert to the Lutheran faith before or after their immigration into Russia, like the Mannhalter family. Pogroms and persecution followed, directed at the Germans and Jews. They were rounded up and placed in cattle cars, taken away to labor camps, or put in prison cells, many of them tortured, many dying while incarcerated.  Hundreds more died from the famines in the 1930 ‘s.      When the Berlin Wall was built it was not only to confine the East Germans, but all the ethnic Russians, Jews, and everyone within the communist countries of Eastern Europe. When the revolution rose up against the Communist regime in 1991, and a democratic government was formed it freed everyone of restrictions. It allowed them to travel where they wanted to go, live the way they wanted, worship God, or practice their religion. The Germans in Russia left en masse, pouring into the unified Germany, the United States, and other countries. Many of the Jews immigrated to Israel.          

            My father’s interest in his family’s background inspired me, and a strong desire to begin the quest for our ‘story’ began. It inspired me on to learn all I could about their past. It has been thirty years of research, an emotional journey.

            When I took a trip to the former Soviet Union in 1989, it marked the 100th year of my great grandfather, Adam’s (and his family) immigration in 1889.                   

            I took along my father’s Living Bible given to me when he died. I declared it on my declaration document as I entered the Soviet Union. I read it in my hotel room the first day of the tour, as I prayed for protection, that God would make His presence known to me while traveling in this Communist country. He did. In a way my father too, took the journey with me, in spirit at least. When I returned home, a small American flag hung above our front door to welcome me back home after the ten-day trip. My husband, Wayne had put it there.

            In 1998, Wayne and I went to New York, the New England states, and Washington, D.C. for a vacation. We were able to spend a day in New York City touring the historic Ellis Island (now a museum), the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park (the former Castle Gardens).

            It was at Castle Gardens where our family disembarked and proceeded through the lines of immigration. On the day that we went there, I sat on the ferryboat staring up in awe at the beautiful Statue of Liberty. I was overcome with emotion, wiping the tears from my face. The statue had been set in place just a few years before great grandfather, Adam and his family disembarked from their passage ship. They must have seen it too. Did they maybe also wipe tears from wide-eyed faces? It was crowded the day we were there. There were long lines of tourists waiting to get inside. We were unable to get in to see the rest of the monument. We could only walk the grounds outside it due to the late hour. We had spent considerable time at Ellis Island and Battery Park the same day. We had to use the ferryboats to cross to each site.

            When we walked around Battery Park, the very place of their immigration processing, a park ranger gave us a personal tour. I told him about my family genealogy research. He took us to the place where the early immigrants came ashore to go through immigration processing, just as thousands of others did a few years later at Ellis Island when it opened in 1892. Then they closed Castle Gardens.

            Ironically, there remains buried underneath Battery Park an old landfill that was covered, filled in and beautifully landscaped with a memorial to honor the immigrants. Trees, grass, flowers, and plants are everywhere, thriving and maintained. What a beautiful way to honor that spot by planting the trees, flowers, and plants. I thought about that as a wonderful illustration of our family’s historic past. Our ancestors who went before us were like a tree, transplanted upon American soil, watered, nurtured, and cared for by those honoring them, wanting to keep alive their legacy. They came ashore, walking from the portals of their past through the gates into their future, into freedom. They came with hope and purpose, and believed it would be easier for those coming after them. It is my hope that my children and grandchildren will walk through the portals of their ancestors’ past with this book to get a glimpse of the life our ancestors left, to come to a blessed land, America.

 

Joyce E. Johnson

© 2012

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