Happy Pioneer Day! I hope that you are doing something pioneerish! Quick! Go have a stick pull!
Are you surprised that there is a subject to my email this time? I kind of surprised myself as well. :) I always put smiley faces at the end of everything now, well not everything, but a lot of things. I picked that one up from Sister Belka, although sometimes when I do it, I surprise myself as well. I can't decide if I like it or not. :) Ha-ha.
So, today is Pioneer Day! We celebrated today by having a pioneer celebration at the TC. Just barely, we had a hamburger lunch with all of the young sisters, the senior couples, and a couple of elders in the basement of the TC. Elder
sacrificed himself to cook the hamburgers in the heat outside (he looked pretty
hot and sweaty) and then we toasted smores over the grill and had ice cream. A
few people shared stories about the pioneers and bore testimony and had a few
musical numbers. I convinced Sister Atkin to sing a song that they she and Sister
Arnold wrote. The lyrics are a poem that they found in the library and put to
music, so you can listen to that one once you get the flash drive. I am sending
you my flash drive with all of my pictures (its really not too many more than
what you have seen already) but it also has recordings of a few of the songs
from the fireside. I am not in any of the ones on there (almost all of the songs
in the fireside are solos and duets), so don't get too excited, but there is
just so many talented sisters here that it drives me crazy! I love it. A lot of
the songs that we sing in the firesides were written by the sisters serving
Ok. So, this last week even though I am no longer with a trail center leader, Sister Bergeson and I have only had about 4 hours in Millard since we have been companions because we have spent so much time in the TC, but I have had some neat experiences.
The first one was completely unexpected. It was a family from
Utah, the son just gotten his mission
call, and they were on their way to
for dad's business trip. As they were watching " Missouri in the Wilderness", the 15 minute
film that we show most tours, I was looking through my pioneer stories and had
a pretty good idea of what I wanted to focus the tour on and what stories I
wanted to share with them. As soon as we started into the gallery, things just kind
of fell apart. Everyone scattered and it felt like no one was really listening
to anything I said. Usually if this happens, I go back and forth between
people, talking to them about what they are noticing and sharing with them individually.
But every time I went to talk to someone, I just didn't know what to say.
Sometimes, I would think of something that I could share with them so I wasn't
just being silent the whole tour, but I just felt like I shouldn't. The whole
2nd half of the gallery, I didn't say a word and as we reached the end, I just
wandered away from them. It was so odd that I just didn't know what to think
about it. The father came over to me at the desk to thank me for the tour, but
I just assumed that it was because he felt bad for some reason. Before they
left, they were talking to Sister Herzoff for a moment, and as I talked to her
after they left, she said that they had also expressed their thanks to her and
that they had loved the tour. I still felt odd about the tour, but apparently
it was what they needed. The Spirit instead of me was talking to them, which I guess is
absolutely fine, I just felt kind of awkward about it. Zion
Another tour that I was able to take was part of a big family reunion. Sister Bergeson took half and I took the other half through the gallery, then we met up and headed for the cemetery, where we helped them locate the graves of two of their ancestors. Gathered around the graves, the grandpa addressed the whole family and added his testimony of the pioneers, then the grandma spoke for a few minutes, sharing a story about the cemetery that she had written and was published in the ensign in 1978. As we stood with them, I just felt like I was part of their family. It was a neat feeling to be there with them, connected by our common forbearers, the pioneers. It is the stories of the pioneers that connect all of the members of the church. They give us an example to follow, an opportunity to recognize what we are capable of accomplishing with the Lord on our side.
In honor of Pioneer Day, I want to share with you a story that I share frequently on tour. It comes from a talk given by James E. Faust, printed in the April 1979 ensign.
Stillman Pond . . . was an early convert to the Church, having come from
Maria contracted consumption, and all of the children were stricken with malaria. Three of the children died while moving through the early snows. Stillman buried them on the plains. Maria’s condition worsened because of the grief, pain, and the fever of malaria. She could no longer walk. Weakened and sickly, she gave birth to twins. They were named Joseph and Hyrum, and both died within a few days.
The Stillman Pond family arrived at Winter Quarters and, like many other families, they suffered bitterly while living in a tent. The death of the five children coming across the plains to Winter Quarters was but a beginning.
The journal of Horace K. and Helen Mar Whitney verifies the following regarding four more of the children of Stillman Pond who perished:
“On Wednesday, the 2nd of December 1846, Laura Jane Pond, age 14 years, … died of chills and fever.” Two days later on “Friday, the 4th of December 1846, Harriet M. Pond, age 11 years,… died with chills.” Three days later, “Monday, the 7th of December, 1846, Abigail A. Pond, age 18 years, … died with chills.” Just five weeks later, “Friday, the 15th of January, 1847, Lyman Pond, age 6 years, … died with chills and fever. Four months later, on the 17th of May, 1847, his wife Maria Davis Pond also died. Crossing the plains, Stillman Pond lost nine children and a wife.
Having lost these nine children and his wife in crossing the plains, Stillman Pond did not lose his faith. He did not quit. He went forward. He paid a price, as have many others before and since, to become acquainted with God.
The Divine Shepherd has a message of hope, strength, and deliverance for all. If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to serve at the
Love you! Happy Pioneer Day!