Small acts of service can bless generations of people. I learned this lesson years ago from reading a simple story in my wife’s family history, about baking bread for the sacrament. This is a story about how her grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents offered a simple act of service each week that blessed the lives of many and that has reverberated down through the generations.

Julie Wright standing in front of the home where Adelgunda Dietzel was raised in Wasungen, Germany.

Johann “Martin” and Adelgunda Dietzel Heiner were German immigrants to the United States. They left everything behind in Waldorf and Wasungen, Germany, and came to the new world. Not being the oldest son, Martin would not have had an inheritance on the family farm and his older brother paid for him and his wife Adelgunda to emigrate and make a life for themselves in the states. Upon arriving in 1845, they couldn’t speak a word of English and arrived almost penniless in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Martin worked in odd jobs for fourteen months until he settled down as a laborer in an iron factory.

In 1852, Martin and Adelgunda began attending meetings with Elder Jacob Secrist, a convert from the region who was on his way from Utah to Germany to serve a mission. Elder Secrist spent about a month in the area visiting his sister before continuing on to Germany, and during this time he became acquainted with the Heiners. Before he departed for his mission, he baptized both Martin and Adelgunda.

The Heiners embraced the gospel and raised their family faithfully in the church. Their son George wrote the following tribute to his parents:

“I feel very thankful for my goodly parentage. I think my father and mother were true Israelites. They received the gospel with thankful hearts. I thank them for giving me a good strong body, for straight limbs, and good habits and a desire to do things. For a good memory and for good eyesight and for teaching me the true gospel and teaching me reverence for God. I always tried to carry out their counsel and advice; their example has always been a beacon of light to me. I want to honor them through all eternity.”

Martin and Adelgunda were good people with great faith, and their love for the gospel was carried on by their children. One simple example shows the love, dedication, faith, and commitment to the gospel by Martin and Adelgunda Heiner and their descendants.

In George Heiner’s personal history, he wrote the following:

“When father [Martin] moved to North Morgan in September, 1863, he was appointed to furnish the sacrament for the meetings. He and mother [Adelgunda] attended to that until my mother died from the effects of a stroke on December 24, 1894. Father then asked to be released, and I was appointed in his stead. Father had the sacrament for 31 years. My wife [Sarah Jane Taggart Heiner] and I attended the sacrament until she died, September 29, 1933. When I awakened on Sunday morning, my first thought was the sacrament. I never felt that it was a burden, but felt that I was just doing my duty. I don’t remember of ever being late with the sacrament. Thirty-one years for father, and thirty-nine for me, makes seventy years in all. My son Horace is the Bishop of the North Morgan Ward now, and he is still furnishing the sacrament.”

Headstone from the North Morgan cemetery where Martin and Adelgunda were buried.

Horace Heiner and his wife, Amy Alice West Heiner, continued furnishing bread for the sacrament for another 23 years. In total, three generations of Heiners baked and brought bread for the sacrament for 93 years to the North Morgan Ward.

In our modern world, where bread is easily purchasable at stores a few minutes’ drive from home, we sometimes forget the gracious act of service that was required in the past to so that members could partake of the sacrament and renew their covenants with the Lord. This simple example of faith and dedication to a calling by a couple from Germany who embraced the gospel, and the legacy they left to their posterity, is a strong testimony to our family of the gospel of Jesus Christ.