At times, high school can feel endless. It seems as if all the hard work we put it will never amount to anything. There are days when we all feel one step away from giving up completely. What keeps us holding on? The answer is different for everyone. For some, it is their hobbies; for others, it may be the people they love. For me, it is stories. There is something inspiring about hearing about other people’s victories. My grandfather’s story about Waldamur Andreason is one of my favorites.
Lisa Andreasen outside the Waldamur farm in Nebraska
Waldamur Andreasen is my great-great grandfather. He grew up in Stege, Denmark with a loving family, but that all changed when his mother passed away. It was like a fairy tale. In a matter of months, his father had been remarried to a vicious woman. Waldamur knew his new stepmother had no warm feelings for him, but he could not have guessed the degree to which this woman would alter his life.
That day Waldamur had been to town on an errand. When he returned home, he found his father and stepmother waiting for him in their tidy living room. His father announced that Waldamur would be moving to America with their neighbors the Jacobsens. The young boy was horrified. He was only sixteen; how could he be expected to make a life for himself alone in another country? He started to plead with his fat, but was stopped by his stern response, “It has already been decided, son. You leave in the morning.” When he saw his stepmother’s smug smile, Waldamur knew that he had been defeated.
Waldamur Andreasen’s original immigration papers
A month later, Waldamur arrived in New York City with the Jacobsen family. The plan was for him to remain in the city while the Jacobsens would be traveling to Nebraska to start a family farm. The idea of being on his own had ceased to frighten Waldamur, but now he was afraid of something else–losing Lisa Jacobsen.
During the trip, the two had developed strong feelings for one another; so much so that Waldamurhad promised to marry Lisa one day. Now, that seemed unlikely, if not impossible. But just before the family left, Waldamur once again promised to find Lisa as soon as he made enough money for a farm.
After a year of struggling to survive in the big city, Waldamur went to Nebraska. There he was able to acquire a farm and fulfill his promise to Lisa. But their troubles were not yet over. Their lives continued to be filled with struggle and hardship. But they persevered, and because of their hard work the Andreasen family would thrive for many generations after them.
In Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Stories like Waldamur’s inspire me to follow Paul’s example. As far as I know, Waldamur was not a Christian, but his story of hope still points me back to Christ and inspires me to press on.
How much do you know about past generations in your family? Who are the people responsible for bringing you to your current place in life? Consider looking it up. The stories you uncover may be just what you need to keep going.