From Barry L. Kent: The Italy series is of special interest to me and my family since I am a descendant of Michael and Marianne Beus who joined the church in 1850 as a result of the initial missionary efforts to Italy.
During this past year my wife and I traveled to Europe on a business trip. We had a couple of days to spend in Italy and we decided to visit the ancestral village of my Beus relatives in Pramollo, Italy, in the Piedmont Region.
[Read about the early missionary work to the Piedmont region in the first five parts of the Gems Church History in Italy at: http://www.ldsworld.com/gems/wws/history/1,2631,Italy,00.html ]
The Piedmont Region is very mountainous. The villages where the original Saints lived are small, located high on the hillsides of this area. It took us several hours to find the village of Pramollo. This village consists of a few hundred people with stone homes that are precariously perched on the hillsides. A unique feature of this area is that the roofs on the houses were constructed from slabs of slate stone, layered similar to wooden shingles.
As we walked through the village we found a couple of monuments honoring those who had died in World Wars I and II. On the monuments we found a couple of men with the last name Beux (which was the original spelling of Beus.) We learned from local residents that there were Beux families still living in the area.
We stood on one of the mountain outcroppings which had a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and the fruitful valleys below. It was difficult to describe the feelings we experienced viewing the hallowed hillsides where generations of prior family members have lived. (It is believed that the Waldensians have lived in these mountain valleys since the twelfth century having fled the religious persecution that existed at the time).
I felt a strong sense of gratitude to my immigrant ancestors who not only accepted the gospel but were willing to give up their home and move their family across land and sea to settle in the Salt Lake Valley. As a result of their sacrifice today there are literally thousands of Beus descendants that are members of the Church along with hundreds who have served missions.
This experience served as a testament in my life of the power of the gospel upon families and how it can influence and bless our posterity. I have also come to greatly appreciate the value of keeping family histories allowing those who live in later years to appreciate the tremendous sacrifices of those who have lived before.