I attended a family reunion last week. The gathering was for all the grandchildren of my paternal grandparents, Junius and Gertrude Romney.

The morning of the reunion, I visited a nearby small museum created in honor of the incredible group of people that Junius had been in charge of, telling of their tragic overnight exodus from their homes in 1912 when threatened by rebels set on destroying them. I gazed at the black and white photographs of these people standing in front of stately brick homes they had built and gardens they had planted. I saw schools and churches they had built. Then as I moved around the display, I came to the photos of them, looking frightened and confused, crowding into over-full train-cars, with only the things they could carry.

I imagined what it must have been like for them to have just hours to gather what they could, and to leave their homes not knowing if they would ever return again, or if they would even make it to a safe place alive.

That evening at the reunion, one of my cousins spoke of the difficult task it was for my grandfather to organize the sudden exodus. He spoke of what it was like for my grandmother to leave with the first trainload of women and children, not knowing if her husband would be able to follow – or if he would even live.

Then my cousin said something that made me think. He said it’s important to know our ancestors, and to know their stories, so that when we have to face difficult things, we can know that those who went before us had the strength to do hard things, and we can too.

Do you know your ancestors? Are there any stories from their lives that can help you face your challenges?

It could be a sweet study to search out the stories of those who came before – and to draw strength from their lives. It has been so for me – and the more I learn, the more grateful I am for these good people and their example.