Monday, July 25, 2011

But with joy, wend your way

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

On this day in 1847, the first company of Mormon pioneers, under the direction of President Brigham Young, arrived in the Salt Lake valley to settle a land of their own, away from the persecution of many non-believers in the East.

Over at least the next 20 years, Mormons migrated to Utah from all over the world in wagons, with handcarts, on foot, and eventually by train (the transcontinental railroad was completed in Utah). Many gave up all they had and lost even more on the way to make it to the Great Salt Lake Valley, yearning for the peace the Lord had promised and with which they were eventually blessed.

Some of my own ancestors were among their numbers, leaving Nauvoo in the dead of winter or sailing from England. A few didn't make it to see their promised land, but their effort and faith were rewarded in the next life.

It's become almost cliche in the church to, when discussing these 19th-century pioneers, to recognize the other pioneers in the church - those who did something first and brave in their one way. For example, my own father is a pioneer, as he was the first, and thus far only, member of the church in his family, joining as a young man. Cliche or not, they are still examples to us all, as we all have something we must do before anyone else we know.

I am grateful for all the pioneers. My ancestors. My family. My friends. It's because of them that I know I can do hard things, like my own cross-country trek to a land I'd never seen five years ago, though I had A/C and made it in three days and slept inside each night.

May we all find our own ways to be a pioneer and emulate those who have gone before.

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