Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pioneer Day. . .

I did most of my growing up in Utah. 
In Utah today is a big day.
I grew up just assuming it was a big day everywhere.
And then I moved.
And realized that no where else recognizes this day as a big day.

The first company of Mormon pioneers, led by Brigham Young, officially entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake on July 24, 1847. 

In all of United States History, few have suffered for their religious beliefs as did the early Latter-day Saints. Many people viewed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with contempt, in part because of its rapid growth and in part because of its doctrine of living prophets and modern revelation.

Within a span of 17 years the early saints moved from western New York State (1830-1831), to Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838), to Jackson County, Missouri (1831-1839) and Commerce/Nauvoo, Illinois (1839-1848) where their prophet, Joseph Smith, was murdered by a mob. 

In the middle of the winter of 1846, the Latter Day Saints once again abandoned their homes and began the long, hard trek to the Rocky Mountains.

The trek from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley was 1,297 miles. Many of the pioneers made the trek on foot while pushing handcarts that held their few meager belongings.

1 in 6 perished along the route. Despite the trials and hardships of the forced trek those early pioneers remained faithful.

During the evenings the saints would gather together and many times sang songs to remain upbeat.

Their anthem on the trek became the beloved Hymn,
Come, Come ye Saints

Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell - 
All is well! All is well!

We'll find the place which God for us prepared.
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring.
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell - 
All is well! All is well!

And should we did before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again to see
the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell - 
All is well! All is well!

In thinking about today I was reminded of the trip we took to Utah last summer when we visited the "This is the Place Monument".
It was hot that day. Very hot. And my family made me promise that I would only make them take one picture.
When I saw this statue I knew I had found the spot I wanted our family picture taken.

This monument is called 
Journey's End

The monument reads. . .

Journey's End

Between 1856 and 1860 some 3000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints eagerly started their westward journey to Zion by handcart. The Pioneers who departed from Iowa City walked approximately 1300 miles, and those who departed from Florence, Nebraska walked almost as far.

Each rough hewn handcart carried around 300 pounds of their earthly possessions and provisions for their long journey, usually five people were assigned to each handcart. Hardships and trials tested the faith of the men, women and children as they pushed through heavy snow, drenching rain, and fatiguing heat.

The Pioneer's love for God and his son, Jesus Christ, inspired them to take every footstep with faith. Their hope was to gather with the early settlers in Zion where they would have religious freedome to live in peace and help build the Kingdom of God.

Upon arriving in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, these noble Pioneers were joyful and thankful that they had reached the end of their arduous journey. This monument depicts a family offering a humble prayer of gratitude.

"Journey's End" is dedicated to the Handcart Pioneers who exemplified sacrifice, courage, determination and unwavering faith.

As I reflect on those early saints and then think about my own little family I realize we really aren't that different.
Though we may not be crossing the plains. . . my little family will have it's own struggles, heartaches and trials and like those pioneers my hope is that my family can show the same sacrifice, courage, determination and unwavering faith and through it all just like the family depicted give thanks through it all.