Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Crickets and the Seagulls

When I was in 7th grade, I took a choir class. The teacher found out that I was a Latter-day saint, and evidently did not like our church. He began to try to find ways to belittle my religion in front of the other students. Remember, this was a choir class, but one day he began to tell his version of the following story, even though it had nothing to do with choir. In his version, God did not help the pioneers. In his version, the miraculous events that happened were a common occurance. Being very shy at the time, I did not know how to respond. I hadn't found my voice yet. I said nothing to the class, although I did whisper to my friend that he was wrong. But now that I have my voice, I want to share this story, and also bear my witness that this was a miraculous blessing from God. This is a very famous story in our church history, because it shows one way that the early pioneers were blessed in their migration to the West. A monument stands today on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to remember this event.

"The pioneers were eager to harvest their spring crops, but late spring frosts killed some of the crops, and a drought killed more of them. Then crickets came and began eating everything that was left. The pioneers did everything they could think of to fight these insects. Some people tried to frighten the crickets away by making loud noises; others tried to shake them off the plants. Some chased the crickets into piles of straw and set fire to them, and some chased the crickets into ditches filled with water to drown them. No matter what the pioneers did, however, the crickets kept coming. They were everywhere—on the trees and fences and in the houses, beds, and clothing.

The pioneers were very worried. If the crickets ate all the crops, the people would have nothing to eat and would die from starvation. For two weeks the people fought the crickets and prayed for Heavenly Father to help them. The stake president finally asked the Saints to hold a special day of fasting and prayer. Susan Noble Grant, who was sixteen years old at the time, described what then happened:

“The answer to our fasting and prayers came on a clear summer afternoon.

“We were fearfully alarmed, for all of a sudden, circling above our … fields, appeared great flocks of screaming gulls. ‘A new plague is descending upon us,’ was our first thought. Down the gray and white birds swooped in hundreds, then in thousands, uttering shrill … cries as they pounced upon [the crickets]. … Then a strange thing happened. As soon as they had gorged themselves, they sailed over to a nearby stream, took a few sips of water, disgorged [vomited] and returned to join their screaming companions. All our people stood in wonderment! Our prayers were answered” (quoted in Grant, p. 446).

The seagulls came back day after day for about three weeks. They ate crickets until all the crickets were gone. The Saints knew their prayers had been answered in a miraculous way. They were grateful that their crops and their lives had been spared." “Lesson 41: The Saints Settle the Salt Lake Valley,” Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants: Church History, (1997),238

Seagull Monument

picture from

1 comment:

Inklings said...

I have a small inkling :0) about how that must have seemed with the crickets, because a few years ago we turned onto a highway and the highway looked like it was all black. As we neared, we realized it was crickets crossing the highway. It was solid crickets. No seagulls in sight this time.

My word verification is scarma - it was karma?