As the world around us gets further and further from the beliefs that we have James and I feel very strongly that it is important for our kids to know more of who we are and where we come from. There are many who aren’t aware of the religious persecution that the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Mormons faced. Religious freedoms are hanging by a thread in our nation now and I want my kids to know that their very own ancestors have faced trials and hardships to stand firmly in their faith. Unless you have had the opportunity to go to Nauvoo and see and feel the strength of the pioneers it is difficult to put it into words.
We had a fantastic time walking the streets of Nauvoo and seeing how the early Latter-Day Saints lived before they were driven from their homes in the dead of winter and forced to leave everything they owned behind just to worship freely. We took the opportunity to participate in a family handcart trek. We had signed up for the two mile route but because of weather and safety issues that route was closed. So we set out on the 1 mile route and before we knew it we were pushing a handcart through a stream and up a muddy embankment. It took about 10 minutes before Holli and Mark jumped out of the handcart because the trail was so muddy their weight made it too difficult to push/pull. Which was fine since they both wanted to help anyway. By the time we finished everyone was muddy, sweaty and tired it was everything I hoped it would be for the family…….a small glimpse at the struggles of those who paved the way for us.
Blacksmiths, tin shops, bakery, printing press, gun shop… Nauvoo has it all along with real life accounts of what it was to live in the early days of our Church. Not only did we get to see and experience all of that but we were able to watch the Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant both which tell the stories of early Latter-Day Saints.
We felt the faith of those who had lived there and left behind a legacy of courage and faith. Our kids are lucky enough to have living examples of loved ones who have joined our Church against the odds but this trip was to focus on Church History. We stood by the very jail cell in Liberty where Joseph Smith and others were held for months. We saw the very same door that bullets ripped through in Carthage jail as the mob martyred Jospeh and Hyrum Smith. This was much more than a family vacation, it was a chance to see and feel what our ancestors went through in order to worship our Father in Heaven. I truly believe that the time is coming where we will be tested and tried and I hope my kids can look back to this trip and remember that others have faced tremendous hardships and trials but those are the moments that define us and that we can get through them by relying on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I love a good well planned road trip. Luckily James does too and even better for me is that my kids get just as excited about a good road trip. We are so grateful for our time overseas because we were able to see so many fantastic places. Ever since we moved back we have all been feeling a little bit restless and anxious to go and do something to satisfy our itch for exploring the world around us.
So we decided a couple weeks ago to plan a road trip and head out on a Church History tour. There are so many amazing stories in both of our families about ancestors who faced religious persecution for their beliefs that we wanted to show our children why we talk about the Mormon pioneers with gratitude and respect. They endured so much in their lives just to worship how they wanted. So it seems only fitting that for Pioneer Day we take our own family on a trek to discover a little bit of history and hopefully a better understanding of where we came from and who we are.
I can only imagine in my head how difficult it was to pack a family and head out across the unknown with a handcart and only what we could fit inside of it. It’s not the lack of stuff that is hard for me to imagine it’s how to fit basic needs for a family our size into a space that small. As I was packing and preparing for this trip the thought kept going through my head “I wonder what the Pioneers would think of all this?” We told the kids we were going electronic free except once it gets dark. So I did my best to be creative and plan activities and songs and games to keep everyone in good spirits. Because at least if you were bugged with your siblings as a pioneer you could maybe walk a little faster or slower to get some space, but in Tiny there is NOWHERE to hide. We have been rehearsing our pioneer hymns to sing while we do a short 2 mile family handcart trek once we are in Nauvoo.
I am not really a fan of being that family who pulls up to get gas and everyone stands there watching you all pile out counting like a clown car only to have each person kick trash and junk out the door as they jump out. So everybody gets one cinch bag for their entertainment and water bottle in hopes to keep the stares and gawking to a minimum. We are only traveling for 10 days I can’t even imagine 3 months like they endured.
So far we have only had 1 car seat filling diaper blowout and 1 lost tooth. Hopefully the tooth fairy has her act together enough to find the hotel room. I know there will be plenty of other “fun” things that happen before we roll back into the driveway but honestly those moments make the trips so memorable. We stopped off for a night in Dallas to see amazing friends who we haven’t seen in about 3 years. Way too much laughing and not nearly enough sleep makes for a fabulous pit stop. Now we are hanging around Oklahoma City for a couple days to see James parents who are serving a mission right now. We love getting to spend time with friends and family.