Today is Pioneer Day for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We spend the day remembering and honoring our ancestors who fled persecution and walked west for safety and freedom to worship, ultimately settling in Utah. It’s great fun for the children, and an important day for us historically.
They even get to wear cowboy hats and bonnets to church!
And one of our little cowboys had his turn to give a talk today! I cried when I heard it. The primary leader sent me this sweet picture.
What are gospel principles?
The gospel is what Jesus taught when he was on the earth.
He couldn’t teach it when he was a baby, because he was still learning to talk.
But when he was a grown up, he taught about Heavenly Father and about the Holy Ghost.
He taught that we need to choose the right, and not make bad choices.
If we make bad choices, he taught that we need to fix it, and that we need to repent.
He taught about fasting, and about baptism.
Those things are some gospel principles.
Sometimes it is hard to choose the right. When you make good choices, it makes things better, but it does not always make things easier.
This week is Pioneer Day.
My Papa has Pioneer ancestors. They chose the right, but walking to Utah was very hard.
My Mama’s ancestors had cousins who were pioneers. Her own ancestors chose what was easy and stayed home. But they missed out on temple blessings.
But my Mama is a Pioneer. She she chose to join the church all by herself. She chose the right, and she is living gospel principles.
It isn’t easy, but she got to be sealed to me in the temple.
I know that when you choose the right, you get more freedom and happiness and fun. And even though we make bad choices sometimes, that doesn’t make us bad kids.
In the name of Jesus Christ amen.
My Pioneer ancestor was William Booth, on my mother’s father’s side.
He was in the Cummings company, and clerk for the 2nd Fifty.
These companies traveled in 1851.
My family traveled those later years because they had converted in England, and it took a long while to join the saints in Ohio and then Illinois. But they made it!
My ancestor traveled with his father, sister, and nephew, all of whom survived the trek, and his first wife who did not. But he wrote of his love for her in his journals later, even after he remarried after arriving in Utah.
After remarrying in Salt Lake, and he and his family settled in Logan, Utah.
Somewhere out there I have cousins in Utah, and that is pretty fun to learn.
Even though our ancestor was baptized and confirmed in England, it was almost ten more years before he was able to make it to America and receive his other ordinances. Once it became more available, his grandchildren were able to seal him to his parents after he had died. I wonder at them, and him, and what it was like for him to experience this on the other side of the veil, and whether we were there… because it feels so full circle to feel it now.
Sometimes being a Pioneer means going long distances, and sometimes being a Pioneer means being the first one there.
Sometimes being a Pioneer means enduring hardship for what is right, and sometimes being a Pioneer means waiting decades or lifetimes or even longer for promises to be fulfilled.
Sometimes it means having the courage to conquer the impossible, the foresight to dream of happiness, or the hindsight to learn hard lessons from your own history and dare to set things right as well as you can.
Sometimes your own repentance heals generations, and sometimes you are not as alone as it seems.
Sometimes you do whatever it takes to avoid those same mistakes, because you know from experience that it takes a really long time to heal those kinds of wounds.
Sometimes you are really grateful for the temple, for those of faith who have gone before you, and for the prayers you have prayed through time. Sometimes you are really glad you were rescued, that your family was restored, and that the same blessings are promised to your own children.
Sometimes it matters most when they are punks at church, or fighting for their lives, or promises of miracles yet to be witnessed.
And that first picture? The super adorable one with them in the children in hats and bonnets?
You count six there, in that picture, right?
I count twelve, including the ones we lost before them, plus eighty who have moved on or returned to their other families but we know we will see and teach again.
I count thousands of their biological ancestors now sealed to ours, waiting their work to be done in temples as these children grow, hundreds of thousands of their ancestors being tutored by mine only so recently rescued themselves but now helping in our simple effort that people on earth too easily dismiss as a simply invasion of too many children that aren’t ours.
It’s bigger than that, do you see?
You count six children in the picture.
I count thousands of children yet to be born, see whole families in their histories, and see a millennium to come where we will learn and grow together.
You my six little ones adopted and sealed in holy temples, wearing their little hats and bonnets?
I see us, as a family, going back and back and back, and the ever present spirits still yet to be born as our family unfolds in the future. I see them, and I know them.
I see millions. Millions.
Like you, I see six little ones. But the little ones I see are Pioneers.
Six little pioneers changing everything.
7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.
8 And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth…
9 Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it…
10 … and the[y] shall be blessed…
~ 2 Nephi 10; Isaiah 49:23