I had my six-year-old son, Sam, all ready to have his picture taken, but when we arrived at Kmart, the discount portrait department was closed for the day. My husband and I had just moved to this small town in South Dakota, and the isolation I felt made these little inconveniences seem almost unbearable. I missed my family back in Minnesota. Every day I'd prayed for a friend who could make me feel more at home. Today, though, I would have settled for an affordable portrait of Sam. Seeing my frustrations, another shopper suggested a studio nearby.

It'll probably be too expensive, I thought. But I drove there anyway and we went inside to look over the packages. The photographer struck up a conversation with my son. "I'm Rebecca," she said. "What's your name?"

"Sam" he replied. "Sam Hieb." His unusual middle name was my maiden name.

The woman stared at him, then at me. "That was my father's name!" she exclaimed. "Samuel Christian Hieb." We spent the next half hour untangling our family roots. It turns out that my great-great-grandfather Jacob was her great-great-great-grandfather Balthasar's brother. We were distant cousins! After Rebecca took Sam's picture, we exchanged phone numbers and hugs. I smiled all the way home. I had prayed for a friend, and God had given me family.

-Mary Hieb-Ekstrom
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