Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jenna's sacrament meeting talk

"How can connecting with past generations help me understand my mission in life today?"

So many of my ancestors have been great examples in my life, and I can learn a lot through stories that I’ve heard about them.
Like a lot of members of the church, I have pioneer ancestors. One of my pioneer ancestors is known in my family as handcart Mary. I recently read her short autobiography and felt that I had come to learn so much more about her. Her real name is Mary Ann Powell, and she was born in South Wales in the year 1844. She was a pioneer who joined the church because of her parents. Her father first become interested in the church through a neighbor who had the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. In her autobiography, Mary tells the story of how one Sunday when she was six years old, her father said that he had to go to an appointment in the village, and nobody knew where he was going. When he finally came back his hair was wet, and he said that he had just been baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. She said that this news was very shocking to her mother, who was a devout methodist, and that there was a lot of crying and scolding from relatives that were visiting them. When their relatives left, her mother tried to get him to see the “error” of his ways, and begged her father to relinquish his membership of the church. However, Mary and her brother were impressed by their father and told their mother "Never mind, mother. We´ll tend the baby while you go and get baptized as father did."  At the time her mother was annoyed by this, but later she was taught about the gospel and was baptized within six weeks. Mary stated that she “[and her brother] tended the baby just as [they] said [they] would in the first place.”

Joining the church led her family to want to go to Utah, which led them to sail to America, and eventually cross the plains as part of a pioneer handcart company. Their journey as part of a handcart company was very hard. They would get up at day break each day, have prayer, eat a small breakfast, then start on their way.
At ten they’d have a half hour break, and then would travel again until they reached water. Mary wrote that most nights they wouldn’t eat dinner because they were all too tired, or simply didn’t have enough food to cook. She also wrote that some days they’d travel more than thirty miles to reach water. Through all their trials however, they pushed on and made it to Salt Lake City. In her autobiography, Mary wrote that her and her father would take turns pulling one of their handcarts. She stated “when I was not pulling father’s cart I was helping to pull someone else’s. I walked every step of the way. I was lighthearted and glad and had no self pity.”

In 3rd Nephi, chapter 15, verse 9, it states “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” Mary Powell, and all pioneers, are great examples of people who look unto Christ and endure to the end. Because of their desire to reach Zion they pushed through their hardships and trials to get there. What I have learned from Mary’s story is that even if I’m going through a hard time that, like Mary who endured through that hard journey to reach her goal, I can push through my hard times so that I can reach my goals.
Another ancestor of mine is my grandma Cindy, who died before I was born. In her own way, she was a pioneer too. She grew up in South Carolina, and her family was very poor. When she was a teenager her mom died, and because of that she felt that she had to be responsible for her younger siblings. When her younger brother started taking discussions from the missionaries, she worried about what they might be teaching him, and so decided to go to one of the discussions. Well, she ended up listening to them, and she and her brother became the only members of the church in her family.
A couple of years later she was attending BYU and was feeling very homesick. She wanted to go back home for Christmas break, but only had enough money to either pay for a bus ticket home, or to pay tithing. Not sure of what to do, she went to her bishop for help.
He told her that he couldn’t give her any advice, because whether or not she paid tithing was between her and Heavenly Father. So she paid tithing, despite how badly she wanted to go home to her family.
A few days later, she received a letter from her aunt in the mail. In it her aunt said that she had saved some money and had sent it to her with hopes that it would help pay for her to go to South Carolina for Christmas. She had sent fifty dollars, which my grandma was very thankful for, but wasn’t enough for a bus ticket. Eventually she thought to check the BYU ride board to see if there was anyone going to South Carolina. She found that there was someone going from BYU to South Carolina, and that they were offering a ride to anyone for fifty dollars. That person who offered the ride is my grandpa.
Doctrine and Covenants, section 104, verse 42 states: “And inasmuch as he is faithful in keeping my commandments, which I have given unto him, I will multiply blessings upon him and his seed after him, even a multiplicity of blessings.”That decision my grandma made to pay her tithing not only blessed her, but has blessed my mom as her daughter, and even me as her granddaughter. My grandma’s great example of obedience has taught me about the wonderful blessings we can earn from keeping God’s commandments, and helps me to know that I can receive blessings if I follow the commandments that Heavenly Father has given us.

When I think about my ancestors, both my grandma cindy, and my 3rd great grandmother handcart Mary, I can remember their great examples of following the commandments and enduring to the end. They help me keep holding on to my mission in life, to follow God’s commandments and endure through the world's challenges and trials, so that I can be resurrected and live with God again.
I’d like to bear my testimony that I know that we can receive blessing if we keep God’s commandments and if we endure. I know that the gospel is true, and that Heavenly Father wants us all to be able to return to live with him again.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



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