Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Price They Paid


Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly making my way through “The Price We Paid,” a non-fiction book about the handcart pioneers.  I’ve ended up reading it in bits and pieces, so it’s effect has accumulated gradually.  Yesterday I was out shopping for much of the day and had lunch by myself at Panda Express.  I had anticipated this possibility and wanted to be able to read more so I took the book with me and read it while I ate.  (A bad habit I am not succeeding at breaking myself of…) 

As I read I was certain that if people in the restaurant were looking at me they would be sure I had some kind of problem—the look on my face could only have been horrified as I read more and more details about the terrible conditions that the Martin & Willie handcart companies experienced. 

And then within a few seconds the look on my face changed…as I tried to hold back the tears that threatened to escape.  One of the passages that really touched me deeply was describing the death of John Linford in the Willie company.   He had been ill for much of the journey across the plains and eventually had to be pulled in a handcart.  His children attributed his death to starvation.  Before he died his wife asked him if he was sorry they had undertaken this journey.  This is what he said,

No, Maria.  I am glad we came.  I shall not live to reach Salt Lake, but you and the boys will, and I do not regret all we have gone through if our boys can grow up and raise their families in Zion.”

How can you not be moved by that kind of stoicism and faith?!?

I’ve blogged before about growing up without pioneer ancestors of my own, about not really caring about the pioneers besides getting to sing some fun primary songs about them every summer.  This book has reminded me of how much my feelings have changed as an adult and how grateful I am for the sacrifices that were made that bless me today.

I firmly believe that the church as it exists today would be entirely different if it were not for the movement of almost the entire body of saints to a relatively isolated area where they could worship and learn and grow away from interference and persecution. 

I am so grateful for their sacrifices and their examples.  Ffor being able to read in their stories that having the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives was worth making sacrifices for.   That the short term pain and inconvenience was more than offset by the eventual blessings.  I am grateful for the price they paid.

Happy pioneer day!

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