I have been pondering for several days prior to this celebration, my own Pioneer heritage. I have many men and women ancestors who traveled by handcart and wagon, as well as walked, to get to Utah to settle. I have been studying their lives and the stories that have been shared by them or others, about the difficulty that they experienced on their arduous journey.
One of my Ancestors was near 60 years of age, and on her own, she walked almost the entire distance to Utah, across the dusty plains. One story of her was told that she was badly bitten by a rattlesnake on her lower leg. She had the forethought to wrap a her leg tightly to prevent the snake venom from traveling to the other parts of her body. When the leaders of the wagon train reached her, one was able to cut open her leg, and remove as much venom as possible, and she had to ride in a wagon thereafter while she healed. Her 60 year old friend, who took the journey with her, and walked beside her, went to see her friend in the wagon, and somehow fell, and the heavy wagon rolled over her hips. One Pioneer man was able to pull her from the back set of wheels, however not soon enough as the wagon wheel rolled over her ankle and crushed it. Miraculously, no bones were broken, though she too had to ride in a wagon until she healed. It wasn't long and both women were back walking the rest of the way on their journey to Utah.
This is just one of the many stories I have in my family history, that amaze me on the fortitude and strength of my ancestors. Can you imagine a snake bite, being run over twice by a heavy wagon, and of starvation and death, and so many more challenges these Pioneers faced and experienced, yet they still remained faithful and moved forward. Imagine even further, having to till the soil, and plant and water all the crops to sustain yourself throughout the winter, doing it all from scratch, including the harvesting, and all the preparation for cooking on a campfire, or living in a home made from what is available. Then to consider keeping warm in the winter without insulation, furnace and keeping cool in the scorching summer heat without air conditioning... well all I can say is that I am so grateful to be living in this day and age that these comforts of life are available and for some, an afterthought.
Moving forward when difficulties and obsticles block our progress, seem to stack up and bring down our spirits, it would be easy to lose faith, or to fall into a deap depression. For some who are troubled or hearts and spirits are aching, turn to drugs and alcohol. I wonder in these times for the Pioneers, what did they turn to?
Thoughts of leaving a child, wrapped only in a blanket because the ground was too frozen to bury, or waking up one morning to see your beloved spouse had passed on, how in the world could you think of moving forward.... bit they did. What was it that kept them going, and turning their sorrow to joy and moving forward through all their trials? I believe it was their faith. It was faith that they knew that they were sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, and that they knew that their faith would get them through.
When I personally have a trial, heartache or difficulty given to me, I like my Pioneer Ancestors, look toward God to heal me, to take away my pain and hurt and give me peace to move forward. I like my Pioneer ancestors am given the strength to move forward, and to make the best and feel blessed for what I am given. I like , count my blessings, and take courage and have so much gratitude for my ancestors, who suffered so much for me. I take great pride in what they accomplished and have given me and to others who followed their family lines.
If you want to be happy, study your Ancestry, and know your heritage. Learn of the great difficulties your ancestors before you went thought, which should bring you gratitude and love and happiness for their gifts to the future. We are the future and if you want to be happy, learn and remember, and pass on to your own posterity, the very same kind of character and devotion that they shared with you.
I want to share a few pictures of my own ancestors whom I honor this day.