Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gems from Today's Seminary Lesson about Handcart Pioneers, with a Quote Handout

Today I dressed up in my pioneer trek outfit, all wrinkled from being stored in my trek bucket. 

Seminary was about the handcart pioneers. I LOVE pioneer treks! I've been on seven of them. I love the amazing spirit as I study these hero pioneers whom I LOVE SO MUCH. I gain so much from their courage, strength, sacrifice, faith, charity, and obedience to God at great cost. I love knowing that because Heavenly Father helped them, He will help me in my hour of need. I am so grateful for them! I hope I can be like them in my moments of challenge. I felt some of their spirits near before, during, and after our lesson today. 

We watched this movie. Click here to watch. (16 minutes) 

And we read these quotes. Click here for a printable handout the right size to glue into scriptures. We glued ours into D&C 136.  

President Brigham Young - Rescuing those in need is our religion:

“Many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with hand-carts, and probably many are now 700 miles [about 1,100 kilometers] from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. … That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess, it is to save the people. … This is the salvation I am now seeking for, to save our brethren that would be apt to perish, or suffer extremely, if we do not send them assistance. I shall call upon the Bishops this day, I shall not wait until to-morrow, nor until [the] next day, for 60 good mule teams and 12 or 15 wagons … [as well as] 12 tons of flour and 40 good teamsters, besides those that drive the teams. … I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Oct. 15, 1856, 252). 

President Gordon B. Hinckley - We need to rescue today:  

“I am grateful that today none of our people are stranded on the Wyoming highlands. But I know that all about us there are many who are in need of help and who are deserving of rescue. Our mission in life, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, must be a mission of saving. There are the homeless, the hungry, the destitute. Their condition is obvious. We have done much. We can do more to help those who live on the edge of survival. “We can reach out to strengthen those who wallow in the mire of pornography, gross immorality, and drugs. Many have become so addicted that they have lost power to control their own destinies. They are miserable and broken. They can be salvaged and saved. …It is not with those on the high plains of Wyoming that we need be concerned today. It is with many immediately around us, in our families, in our wards and stakes, in our neighborhoods and communities” (“Our Mission of Saving,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 59).

Francis and Betsy Webster - felt angels helping push the cart: 

In 1856, Francis and Betsy Webster had enough money to travel to Utah in a wagon, but they donated their money to a fund created to help the Saints emigrate to Utah (the Perpetual Emigrating Fund). Their donation allowed an additional nine individuals to travel by handcart. Francis and Betsy, who were expecting a baby, traveled to Salt Lake City with the Martin handcart company and suffered along with the rest of the company. Years later, as Brother Webster sat in a Sunday School class, he listened to some Church members criticize Church leaders for the handcart tragedy. 

Unable to constrain himself, he arose and testified of the blessings of being in the Martin handcart company: “I ask you to stop this criticism for you are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historical 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. … 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 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 one moment 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 to Zion in the Martin Handcart Company” (in William R. Palmer, “Pioneers of Southern Utah,” The Instructor, vol. 79, no. 5 [May 1944], 217–18). 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell - we praise the pioneers, they will praise us: 

“If we are faithful the day will come when those deserving pioneers and ancestors, whom we rightly praise for having overcome the adversities in their wilderness trek, will praise today’s faithful for having made their way successfully through a desert of despair and for having passed through a cultural wilderness, while still keeping the faith” (If Thou Endure It Well [1996], 28).


We shared stories of students' pioneer ancestors. 

My daughter Grace shared a story of our Grandma Mary Ann Mellor (I love her!) who was featured in the movie 17 Miracles. In the Martin handcart company, she had been ill and exhausted since before they left England. She sent her family ahead. Her teenage daughter Louisa stayed to pray for and comfort her mother. On the way back from praying, Louisa found a pie in the path!  Every time the mother felt discouraged and wanted to give up after that, she remembered her pie miracle and that gave her the strength to keep going. 

Louisa Mellor finding the miraculous pie. 

I also shared a couple stories of heroic children who died on the plains. 

President James E. Faust about two heroic children: 

[After a treacherous climb over Rocky Ridge in a blizzard], “Thirteen members of the Willie Company who perished from cold, exhaustion, and starvation are buried in a common grave at Rock Creek Hollow. … Two of those buried at Rock Creek Hollow were heroic children of tender years: Bodil [Mortensen, age eleven], from Denmark, and James Kirkwood, age eleven, from Scotland.

“Bodil apparently was assigned to care for some small children as they crossed Rocky Ridge. [After] they arrived at camp, … she was found frozen to death leaning against the wheel of her handcart, clutching sagebrush.

Bodil Mortensen 

“Let me tell you of James Kirkwood. James was from Glasgow, Scotland. On the trip west, James was accompanied by his widowed mother and three brothers, one of whom, Thomas, was nineteen and crippled and had to ride in the handcart. James’s primary responsibility on the trek was to care for his little four-year-old brother, Joseph, while his mother and oldest brother, Robert, pulled the cart. As they climbed Rocky Ridge, it was snowing and there was a bitter cold wind blowing. It took the whole company [twenty] hours to travel fifteen miles. When little Joseph became too weary to walk, James, the older brother, had no choice but to carry him. Left behind the main group, James and Joseph made their way slowly to camp. When the two finally arrived at the fireside, James ‘having so faithfully carried out his task, collapsed and died from exposure and over-exertion’” (“A Priceless Heritage,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 84–85).

James Kirkwood 

Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream at Winter Quarters to repeatedly emphasize the importance of following the Spirit. Count how many times...

“Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and 
  • be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. 
  • Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; 
  • it will teach you what to do and where to go; 
  • it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. 
  • Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. 
  • They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; 
  • it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; 
  • it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; 
  • and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. 
  • Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord they will go right. 
  • Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; 
  • and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. … 
  • Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right” (in Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson [1971], 529–30, bullet points added).

This last quote reminds me that angels come running when we need help. I hope I was one of the angels who helped our pioneer heroes!  And I have a feeling they come to help me during my challenging moments. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - heavenly help comes running: 

"In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection [see 2 Kgs. 6:16–17]. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed." ("For Times of Trouble," Devotional Address, March 18, 1980)

And remember, Elder Holland told us to "Ask for angels to help you." (Ensign, May 2010)

What life lessons do you learn from the pioneers? 

Click here to see a multi-family trek we did a year ago. 

Click here to see my favorite resources to get ready for a pioneer trek, or just to study about these amazing heroes. 

Click here for preparedness lessons we can learn from pioneers. 


Stephanie Hurd said...

Becky, you are the best! All of this information is pure gold to me... and incredibly inspiring as well! Thank you for sharing your research, talents, gifts, and skills. They bless all of us!

Roberto said...

This was so touching to me as well, as Stephanie so eloquently stated, "this information is pure gold to me." I joined the Church as a 2nd Semester Junior in College, and 18 months later I was on my mission in Preston, Liverpool, and Manchester, England. Before I left on my mission, the Seminary teacher, our dear Bishop wife allowed me to attend Seminary for the first time in my life. The stories of the Pioneers became a part of my life as much as it has become the part of some many members who have been raised in the Church. No one has stories like this they can tell to help inspire and move us forward to our Eternal Goals.

Becky Edwards said...

Roberto, What a sweet experience to attend seminary as a new convert and fall in love with those pioneer stories. Those are some people I'm excited to meet and give a big thank you hug to when I see them on the other side of the veil. I agree, their stories are very inspiring and strengthening.