Sunday, July 24, 2016

Faith in Every Footstep

*Preface: The Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847 after a long, long journey west. They settled here. July 24 is known to Mormons as "Pioneer Day."

 This is the place monument - where the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley 169 years ago today!


I remember when I first found out I have LDS pioneer ancestors. It was July 2007, right before I left on my mission. I was doing some family history and was so surprised and excited to learn about my pioneer ancestors. I thought (and still think) it was the coolest thing! I was so nerdy about it, I drug my family along to some cemeteries in American Fork and Pleasant Grove to see these people's gravesites. They are marked with cool pioneer emblems. 

Ever since then, I've felt a strong love for them and a connection to them. I honestly cannot even fathom what it was like to be an early pioneer. They were persecuted for their beliefs and driven out of their homes. They didn't know what was ahead. They had to deal with brutal cold weather, starvation and even the death of loved ones. And yet, they had faith. 

I heard the following story in church today and was really touched. 

Some years ago President David O. McKay (1873–1970) told of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company. Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. President McKay related an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus:

“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.”

Then President McKay quoted an observer who was present in that class: “Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.

“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.

“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? …

“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’”

He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’” 
(Entire talk here: 

How amazing is that?! "The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay." Wow!!!

I've thought a lot about them and the faith they had to press forward even though they didn't know what was ahead. I guess I can relate in some ways. I certainly do not know trial and hardship like they did. I thankfully have not had to face persecution like they did. 

But, as a 30-year-old single adult, I find myself feeling like I'm in a "wilderness" sometimes. I don't know what's ahead. Sometimes the (single) journey seems long and difficult. But I remember that I need to have "faith in every footstep." I need to press forward towards my "promised land," trusting that God will guide my path. He's with me every step of the way. That doesn't mean life is easy. But, like the pioneers, I have seen miracles come as I have put my trust in Him and allowed Him to guide me. 

I love the pioneers. I want to learn more about them and their stories and learn from their faith. I'm grateful they were willing to sacrifice so much. I'm grateful for their examples of testimony. They knew the Gospel is true. 

Today at church I went to the family history Sunday School class and spent some time learning more about my pioneer ancestors. I learned about David Adamson. I learned that he worked at Neff's Mill in Millcreek. I also learned that that site is just 5 minutes from where I live. After church I went over there and saw it. It was so awesome. I just love learning about these people. I hope to find more stories and learn more from their lives. They are truly incredible and deserve to be honored and remembered. 

Blessed, honored pioneer!

The site where my great-great-(probably 3 more greats) something worked on the mill.