Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mormon Pioneers

Art work from

I couldn't make a religious blog about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints without mentioning the pioneers whose faith was the foundation of generations of Mormons to come. On July 24th, the State of Utah celebrates Pioneer day. For those of us who are multi-generation Mormon, this is a very important holiday. This celebration gives us all an opportunity to stop and remember the sacrifices our ancestors made, and a also gives us a chance to honor them.

I would like to tell you about some of my pioneer ancestors. On my mother's side alone, 22 ancestors came across the plains. That may seem far removed from me, but the same values those ancestors cherished have been passed down from one generation to the next. We often use the term "dyed in the wool" to describe our church ancestry, and with good reason.

One of my grandmothers (I think a great, great) had her way paid to ride on a wagon all the way to Utah. But as she prepared to leave, she learned of an older woman who was sick who planned to walk with a handcart. She felt compassion for the woman, so gave to the woman her seat on the wagon, and pulled a handcart to Utah instead. She was young, and knew she had a better chance of making it than the sickly woman.

Another story is of a grandmother who brought her three children alone across the plains with a handcart. Her oldest was about 7, and the next child was about 3 years old. She also had a baby. As they walked along, the 7 year old would take care of the 3 year old. Occasionally, the three year old would get sleepy, and would go off the trail and take a nap. The 7 year old would stay with him to keep watch. Their mother would continue on with the rest of the company and make camp in the evening. Then she would hike back, sometimes many, many miles, to find her other two children. Then they would walk the many miles in to camp and sleep for the night.

When my great, great grandfather arrived in the valley, he did not have a wife, so the leaders of the church recommended he marry a Danish woman who had also crossed the plains, but did not have a husband. He didn't speak any Danish, and she didn't speak any English, but they agreed to marry each other. Years later they were asked how they were able to get along despite the language barrier. They said they used alot of grunting and pointing. :)

One thing I have learned from my pioneer ancestry is that you don't have to have lived back in their time to be a pioneer. We, today, can lead out in pioneering in whatever state of life we might find ourselves. What pioneering takes is courage and faith in the Savior.

No comments: