Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Family Heritage - Part 2

Today's installment is about Helmi Svedberg Skutnabb.

Helmi Svedberg Skutnabb, March 18, 1880 - January 28, 1953

But first, this photograph has me wondering at what point in history the first photographer said, "Smile!" before snapping the picture. They're all so serious.

Take a closer look at great grandma, Helmi, though...

I think she's trying to contain a grin... !

Well, anyway, while I was perusing the photo albums yesterday, I came across so many interesting documents.

What follows is a section of a newspaper article about Helmi Skutnabb, which my grandmother, Eva, translated into English. It was published to commemorate my great grandmother's 70th birthday...

Helmi Skutnabb - 70 Years

Helmit Svedberg Skutnabb was born in Tikkurila on March 18, 1880. By reading anti-christian literature in her youth, she was taken in by that spirit. However, while attending teachers' training school in Tammisaari, Helmi Svedberg, at the age of 20, heard the gospel message which changed her life. With great joy, she shared her faith in Jesus with others. She desired to enter into deeper knowledge of God. She prayed with the words of the psalmist for God to open her eyes and widen her understanding of the riches in Christ.

--- Regrettably, here the message of the article is interrupted, as the newspaper clipping was torn. It continues. ---

Helmi Svedberg was tutoring in private homes in Tikkurila when a preacher by the name of Akseli Skutnabb came to the area. Through his ministry, she obtained answers to many spiritual questions and, more than that, soon the relationship developed to personal friendship, and in 1905, to marriage. Akseli Skutnabb's residence was in Tampere, which then became the home town to both of them.

The following years were spent, for the most part, in raising the family. But time
was left for other interests, as well. A tangible proof of that is her religious novel published in 1921 in her mother-tongue of Swedish, by the name "Mot Vida Vyer" and also in Finnish, by the name "Valjille Vesille" (To Wide Horizons, in English).

After her husband's death in 1929, Helmi Skutnabb was active in public witnessing in Tampere and other areas, until she and her children, in 1931, moved to a recently established Finnish colony in Dominican Republic on the island of Haiti. Life there, however, did not meet with the expectations and the family returned home the following year. Two of the children have since gone back to Dominican

Today, our sister, Helmi, lives with her daughter, Zeila, in Tampere.

Friends far and near join each other with best wishes for God's blessing on our sister in Christ on her 70th birthday.

- published March , 1950

To think she was lured away from the truth in her early years by deceptive literature, but the Spirit of God pursued her until, at 20, the eyes of her heart were opened to the truth of the gospel. Such a testimony!

The two children that returned to Dominican Republic* were my grandfather, Erik (with his wife, Eva), and his sister, Birgit (standing on the right in the photo), plus six other adults. However, it wasn't their intention to return to the island. The nine of them, crossing the Atlantic in their 32-foot fishing vessel, were destined for America, when they shipwrecked...

But I'll save that for another blog post!


Anonymous said...

I read about Helmi with great interest and do appreciate the facts you have revealed. I have a special relationship with Helmi, she is my grandmother!

Pam O'Brien said...

Interesting! What is your name and which of the Skutnabb children is your parent. It would be nice to meet you!!

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I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18