How many times do I have to start a post with “I love history” before it becomes old? Admittedly, I don’t spend nearly as much time on church history as I would like. The book Follow Me To Zion is a great way for me to remedy that situation.
Follow Me To Zion is a compilation of true stories from the Willie Handcart Pioneers. Starting with James Willie himself, we get to read 20 inspiring stories of people who walked across the plains. Every chapter introduces you to someone new, including a little bit of history and a brief summary of their conversion story. After reading about their trials and their faith during those tragic few months we get to read about what happened to them after they entered the Salt Lake Valley, up until their death. Each chapter ends with “Reflections of a Descendant”. Included with the stories are beautiful paintings and photographs of the people, as well as photos of mementos that belonged to them. I enjoyed reading this and was more than inspired by their faith and optimism in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds.
In this last general conference Elder Oaks said:
…we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.
I will often get depressed about the state of our country and world. Things are CRAZY these days. I don’t think we have ever lived in a society that was so insistent on calling good evil and evil good. The despair can get to me sometimes, and I’m not lying when I say that I have been moved to tears of anger and frustration at a news story, a law being passed, or a Supreme Court decision. I remember crying to Matt one day, asking why I had to wake up to current events and our country’s history just in time to see everything fall apart. He took me in his arms and reminded me that we have a great heritage. Beyond the founding of this wonderful country, we are taking part in the legacy of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I may be the daughter of converts, but I claim the handcart pioneers as my ancestors. I come from the same noble stock and share their birthright even if we don’t share blood. When I am weak in my faith I call upon those mothers who who carried their children across the ocean and over thousands of miles just for a chance to live in Zion. Their memories give me strength when I am down and remind me of what it really means to sacrifice. I am part of something extraordinary. We can all take part of that great heritage and remember that we are part of something even greater than those things which try to drag us down.