By Marlee Ginter

SONORA (CBS13) – You can call it a divine find. More than one month after they were stolen, historic church documents are back in their rightful home at a Sonora church.

“There are times I can’t stop laughing, smiling, wondering how this happened,” said Pastor Randy Ehle.

In October, a thief stole an old laptop, an old camera and a safe from The Journey Church in Sonora, but what was inside that safe was the most valuable. It contained two original ledger books that had the records from the very beginning of the church just after the Gold Rush.

Weeks later, someone found the historic books thrown out on the side of a road.

“And probably just opened it up and saw there’s no offering here, no money and just all these old books and dumped them there,” said Pastor Ehle.

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The books are a bit damaged from the sun and rain, but otherwise intact.

“This church and that book pre-date Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and I had never even imagined that,” said Pastor Ehle. “To be honest with you, and I know as a pastor I shouldn’t give up, but I had all but given up on ever seeing these things again so just to have them is just an incredible feeling.”

There was a $1,000 reward for the documents’ return, but the person who returned them says they will use the money to give back to the community.