Sunday, July 31, 2011

Talk in Sacrament Meeting ~ July 31

I am always careful about what I post here on the blog and on Facebook. I know I have friends from all religious views and all walks of life. But I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting, and wanted to share some of my talk. I really debated whether or not to post this. There are some things that are close to my heart, and I think we are all a little hesitant to share things that are close to us, for fear that the things we share will not be respected. But I'm taking that chance. Here it is...

Ryan and I weren’t here in our ward last week. We attended another ward, which I will talk about in just a minute. But I understand that Brother Lemon designated July as “Pioneer Month.” Just in case you’re getting tired of talks about pioneers, or think the messages don’t apply to you, in General Conference April 1997, President Hinckley said, “Whether you are among the posterity of the pioneers or whether you were baptized only yesterday, each is the beneficiary of their great undertaking.”

We’ve had some wonderful talks this month about the pioneers and the patriots that have gone before us, and the sacrifices they’ve made so we can enjoy all of the blessings that we have today. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be one of the speakers who wraps up “Pioneer Month,” and pray that something I share today will touch you, just as I have been touched by other speakers this month.

My brother and his family live up Emigration Canyon. Every year, the Sunday nearest to the 24th of July, the Emigration Canyon ward has “Church in the Canyon.” It is held outside at “Cold Springs,” the last encampment of the pioneers before they entered the Salt Lake Valley. There is a beautiful spirit in the canyon. Every year as we sing “Come, Come Ye Saints” at Cold Springs, I am overcome with emotion. I think of everything that the pioneers sacrificed for their beliefs, and to come here.

It only takes us a few minutes to drive to Emigration Canyon in our air conditioned car. The “Last Camp” site is just a couple of minutes up from This is the Place State Park and Hogle Zoo. But I think about the pioneers camped there, at the end of their long and difficult journey, not knowing how close they really were to their destination.

Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal on July 24, 1847:

"After traveling from our encampment six miles through the deep ravine valley, ending with the canyon, we came in full view of the valley of the Great Salt Lake--The Land of Promise, held in reserve by the hand of God as a resting place for the Saints."

Just a few days before - Orson Pratt wrote on July 21, 1847:

“Brother Erastus Snow and myself proceeded in advance of the camp down Last Creek 4 1/2 miles, to where it passes through a canyon and issues into the broad open valley below. Mr. Snow and myself ascended a hill, from the top of which a broad open valley lay stretched out before us, at the north end of which the broad waters of the Great Salt Lake glistened in the sunbeams. After issuing a shout of joy which almost involuntary escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view.”

Thomas Bullock, clerk of one of the camps, July 22, 1847, wrote:

"[We] succeeded in getting thro' the narrow spot of the Kanyon about 4 o'clock, when we turned round the hill to the right & came in full view of the Salt Lake in the distance, with its bold hills on its islands towering up in bold relief behind the Silvery Lake. A very extensive valley burst upon our view, dotted in 3 or 4 places with Timber. I could not help shouting "hurra, hurra, hurra, there's my home at last."

This final journal entry is one of my favorites. We all know William Clayton as the man who wrote, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Yet the tender sentiments he expressed in the song weren’t necessarily his first reaction upon seeing the Salt Lake Valley. He wrote on July 22, 1847:

"For my own part I am happily disappointed in the appearance of the valley of the Salt Lake, but if the land be as rich as it has the appearance of being, I have no fears but the Saints can live here and do well while we will do right.”

He does go on to say, “I would choose to dwell here in this wild looking country amongst the Saints surrounded by friends, though poor, enjoying the privileges and blessings of the everlasting priesthood, with God for our King and Father; [rather than] dwell amongst the gentile with all their wealth and good things of the earth to be eternally mobbed, harassed, hunted, our best men murdered and every good man's life continually in danger.”

It’s wonderful to have the journals of so many of the pioneers so we can learn from their joys and their disappointments, their challenges and their victories.

I have many pioneer ancestors, but today I’d like to share the story of one of Ryan’s ancestors on his dad’s side. Elizabeth Xavier was born in Bombay, India, in 1833. She was a member of the nobility of the country, and was raised in wealth and aristocracy. Her father was an apothecary at the British hospital in Bombay. In 1850, she married William Tait – an Irishman who was serving as a regimental drill master in Queen Victoria’s Army, and stationed in India. William had been baptized a member of the church in Ireland by Parley P. Pratt. Elizabeth was baptized by her husband in 1852, against the will of her parents.

Elizabeth and William had two sons in India. One died of cholera as a very young child.

Elizabeth was expecting another baby when William completed his military service in India. The Taits decided to emigrate and be with the Saints, but determined that Elizabeth should stay in India until after the new baby was born.

William and their remaining son, John, sailed for America. After the birth of the new baby – a girl – Elizabeth and the baby prepared to leave India, once again ignoring the pleadings and opposition of her family. Elizabeth’s very wealthy family promised her that she and her baby would never want for anything if they remained in India. But Elizabeth was intent on demonstrating her love for her husband and the restored gospel by traveling to Utah. She gathered as many of her fine belongings as she could take with her, and departed.

Elizabeth and her baby, Mary Ann, traveled to America on the ship “Enoch Train.” Elizabeth’s new baby died during the journey. Some accounts have the death recorded at sea, others in Iowa City. At the time of her baby’s death, Elizabeth was 24 years old. She continued her journey to Zion as the only member of her family in the Willie handcart company. She had no idea that so much pain and suffering still lie ahead of her on her trek across the plains.

I know that most of you know the story of the Willie handcart company, so in the interest of time I will not relate all of the details. But the company left Iowa City late in the season, and found themselves traveling through extremely harsh conditions, and running out of food and supplies. Many died along the way.

Elizabeth’s husband and son were members of the rescue party that was sent to help the Willie Handcart Company. (Interestingly, some accounts say that William knew it was his wife’s company that he was going to help; other accounts say that their reunion was a complete surprise. Their reunion was very bittersweet as they rejoiced that they were reunited, but also mourned the loss of their other two children.

Many family trees are dotted with those who have chosen not to follow the path for which the pioneers sacrificed so much. Our family tree is no different. I feel an immense responsibility as the mother of one of Elizabeth’s descendants to make sure that her story is not forgotten. I feel the need to teach Ryan of the sacrifices she and other ancestors made so that he could have the blessings of the gospel in his life. And Ryan has a responsibility to live his life in such a manner that it honors Elizabeth’s memory and everything she sacrificed.

In General Conference April 1997, President Hinckley said, “We stand today as the recipients of their great effort. I hope we are thankful. I hope we carry in our hearts a deep sense of gratitude for all that they have done for us. With so great an inheritance, we can do no less than our very best. Those who have gone before expect this of us. We have a mandate from the Lord.”

In General Conference October 1997, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “It is not enough to study or reenact the accomplishments of our pioneers. We need to identify the great eternal principles they applied to achieve all they achieved for our benefit and then apply those principles to the challenges of our day. In that way we honor their pioneering efforts, and we also reaffirm our heritage and strengthen its capacity to bless our own posterity and those millions of our Heavenly Father’s children who have yet to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all pioneers in doing so.”

In D & C 136, the word and will of the Lord is given to President Brigham Young at Winter Quarters. As Elder Oaks mentioned, many of the messages have contemporary applications to us.

v. 4 – “And this shall be our covenant – that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.” While the pioneers exhibited their faith and dedication to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through physically walking, we show our commitment by honoring the spiritual covenants we have made.

v. 6 – “When the companies are organized let them go to with their might, to prepare for those who are to tarry.” We are all pioneers in our own way. We also need to “go with our might” to be examples of courage and strength for those around us and those who follow us.

v. 11 – “And if ye do this with a pure heart, in all faithfulness, ye shall be blessed; you shall be blessed in your flocks, and in your herds, and in your fields, and in your houses, and in your families.”

v. 31 – “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.”

At Church in the Canyon last week, one of the speakers asked us to ponder two questions regarding the pioneers:

1. Why did they do what they did?
Faith in and love for Jesus Christ
Stepped forward into the unknown
Loyalty, obedience, trust in the direction of their leaders

2. How did they accomplish it?
Love Savior gave to them – strength
They knew Him, they walked with Him
Unselfishness, sacrifice – unity; extraordinary capacity to cooperate in a common venture

We are also on our journey finding our way back to our Heavenly Father. Just as with the pioneers, we can incorporate the characteristics of faith and love for Jesus Christ, obedience and trust in the direction of our leaders, and unselfishness and sacrifice in order to enjoy eternal blessings. As we practice these traits and exhibit these characteristics, we will be blessed with the strength to endure the challenges and burdens that we are called to bear.

I am grateful for the atonement of our Savior. Especially in the past few years, I have realized that the atonement not only enables us to repent of our sins, but it enables us to cast ALL of our burdens upon the Lord. I am grateful for the peace that I have been able to experience in my life by giving Him my heartaches and challenges.

I am grateful for the leaders of our church who provide us with inspired direction. What a blessing it is for us here in Bountiful to personally associate with so many of them in our daily lives. I am thankful for our bishopric and their families. They are all our dear friends, and we know of their love and concern for our family. I am grateful for their service to us.

I am so thankful for my family. My parents have been such wonderful examples to me of remaining faithful despite heartache and challenges. I am so thankful that our family is so close. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be Ryan’s mom. He is a wonderful example to me of dedication and discipline and “keeping the commandments with exactness.”

I am grateful to each of you in our ward family for the examples you are of faithfulness and love. Thank you for watching out for us.

I am especially grateful this “pioneer month” of those who have gone before, and for the sacrifices they made so that I can enjoy all of the blessings that I have. I am so grateful for everything that I have, for I am truly blessed.

Reality Check – Putting Everything into Perspective

We had an emotional weekend. We found out that on Saturday night, some kids we know were involved in a car accident. Seven teenagers from the same ward in Farmington had just finished a 3-day youth conference, and were traveling a short distance to swim at the home of one of Ryan’s swim team friends (Tyler). Here is one of the articles about the accident.

Gabe Hanson (15 years old, the son of one of my high school classmates) was killed. A young woman (Kauri) was flown by Life Flight to Primary Children’s Medical Center in stable condition. Lars, the young man who went back out into the water to swim the 400 IM with Ryan that I talked about in this post, was critically injured and taken to McKay-Dee Hospital by Life Flight. He sustained many injuries, including a punctured lung and other injuries to his lungs. He was in a medically-induced coma with a chest tube in order to try to speed his healing. This post on the blog his dad is keeping really touched me, and I left a comment.

Ryan and I have many people close to us dealing with very serious illnesses and injuries the past few months. We pray daily for a friend paralyzed in a snowboarding accident the day before he entered the Missionary Training Center, a 12-year-old friend who recently underwent a heart transplant, Lars and the other kids in this accident, and Ryan’s former scout leader who is fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It has been good for Ryan to spend so much time thinking and praying for others. It has helped us both realize how blessed we are to be healthy and happy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30 ~ Marc’s Birthday Celebration

Marc’s birthday is on August 1. Since that fell on a Monday this year, we celebrated on Saturday, July 30. Marc was such a good sport this year, and very generous with his birthday time and money. Marc & Frances took Ryan with them to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” part 2, with them. Ryan and I saw it the day after it was released, but they knew that Ryan would love seeing it again. He did. Thank you, Marc & Frances! (Rara, Papa & I enjoyed hanging out with Alice & Claire while the rest of the fam went to the movie.)

After the movie, Marc treated us all to birthday dinner from Pace’s. It’s funny – a few of my friends who have moved away from Bountiful have recently said that Pace’s is their first stop when they come to town. That was also Marc’s choice for dinner. He got take-out, and we ate in Rara & Papa’s back yard.

Rara made an ice cream cake (another family favorite) for Marc’s birthday. Also per family tradition, Ryan lit the candles and Alice & Claire helped blow out the candles. (Thanks to Frances for the pictures!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28 - Ryan’s Belated Birthday

On Ryan’s birthday this year (April 25), I was in the middle of my comprehensive exams for my PhD program. It was not a good time to host a birthday party. I have promised Ryan that we could take a few friends bowling for his belated birthday party. We FINALLY put it together! On July 28, we had his friends Etienne, Brigham, Mitchell, and Connor over for a party.

Ryan opened his gifts first: A Transformers sword from Mitchell, two Star Wars building sets from Connor, a football and pump from Etienne, and $11 (for his 11th birthday) from Brig.

The guys had a great time bowling. They were typical 11 year olds, and tried several unconventional bowling techniques. I had to rein them in a couple of times so we wouldn’t get kicked out.

After bowling, we went to A & W for rootbeer floats. The guys also had some sour candies and enjoyed laughing at each others’ silly sour faces.

Ryan had a great belated birthday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

July 24 – Pioneer Day ~ Church in the Canyon; BBQ @ Strands

Sunday, July 24, was our third annual participation at “Church in the Canyon” with Marc, Frances, Alice & Claire. They live in the Emigration Canyon Ward, and the Sunday on or closest to Pioneer Day every year, they hold their church services at the “Cold Creek Camp,” where all of the Mormon pioneer handcart companies camped their last night before entering the Salt Lake Valley. This year Papa was even able to go with us! He has been serving as the Bishop of a young adult ward for the past three years, and hasn’t been able to attend “Church in the Canyon” with us. However, he was recently released, and was able to join us this year!

We always enjoy the day there. There is always a beautiful spirit, which helps us remember the sacrifices of the pioneers.

And the doughnuts and milk after church make the day even better!

Later that evening, we attended a fun BBQ at the Strands’. We had a great time visiting with family and friends, and were entertained by Uncle Randy shooting toward the pesky squirrels. (Sorry, no pictures – evidence – of the aforementioned squirrel taunting.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23 ~ BC Meet; Ryan helped w/Handcart Days

Saturday, July 23, we were back in Draper bright & early for day 2 of the BC Beehive Finale.

Coach Dale talking with the swimmers before the meet…

200 IM (medaled)…

50 back…

Talking with Coach Steve after the 50 back…
And 50 fly…

Ry’s strongest event is still the Butterfly, which also definitely helps with his IM. Interestingly, he is also doing very well in the distance events. His last three medals have come in the 100 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM.

Ryan has been working on his Citizenship in the Community merit badge this week. Ry & I even went to the Bountiful City Council meeting on Tuesday. One of the requirements was to do some volunteer work in the community. How lucky for Ryan that his grandma volunteers with the Bountiful Historical Society/Museum, and had LOTS of events going on this weekend! Saturday afternoon Ryan went to the Handcart Days activities and helped with the pioneer games and other pioneer activities.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22 - BC Meet; Handcart Days Parade & Carnival

In age-group competitive swimming, there are “A Times,” “BC Times,” and “All Times.” Swimmers who achieve A Times go to the state championships. Swimmers who have BC Times go to the BC state championships. Swimmers who fall into the All Times category work harder at improving their times so they can go to State or BC the next season. :) Ryan “aged up” in April – he went from competing in the 9-10 age group to the 11-12 age group. “Aging up” is discussed in great length in the swimming culture. It is extremely difficult to make state times (or even BC times) when a swimmer first ages up.

Ryan hasn’t make any state times since he turned 11 on April 25, but he made six BC times! We are THRILLED! July 22-23 was the BC Beehive Finale in Draper. Warm-ups started at 7:00 am, with the meet starting at 8:00 am. Yes, we left home at 6:30 am to get there on time. Have I mentioned lately how much I am not a morning person? I can honestly say that Ryan is the dedicated and disciplined one in the family!

Friday Ryan swam the 100 fly (and medaled)…

50 free…

And 50 breaststroke…
Later that day, Ryan participated in the Bountiful Handcart Days parade with the rest of his school’s Student Council. Rara, Papa & I dropped Ryan off at his meeting spot, and then we grabbed dinner and went to our parade spot. Marc, Frances, Alice & Claire met us there to have dinner and watch the parade.

As we were watching for Ryan, Ryan’s swim coach and his wife walked by us. We talked with them for a few minutes, right as Ryan walked by. Two of Ryan’s best friends, Sarah and Alissia, are also on the swim team and on student council. They were all thrilled to see Coach Dale also waving and cheering for them on the sidelines!

After Ryan walked by, we went and met him, and then all went to the park for the Handcart Days booths and activities. The kids LOVED the bounce houses, especially the obstacle course!