Monday, June 01, 2015
all is well
This past weekend, Mike and I dressed up like pioneers and pushed a handcart through the mountains with a group of teenagers we had never met before. We were asked to be their "ma" and "pa" for the trip. I can't believe I am saying this, but it really was incredible. It was so difficult, but so rewarding, too.
My parents both converted to the LDS church as teenagers, so I don't come from the traditional pioneer stock (those early members of the church who sought refuge from persecution and a place to practice their religion peacefully by traveling 1300 miles on foot through extreme hardship), but I quickly learned that it doesn't matter whether we descend from those pioneers or not. Their experience is something we can all claim and something from which we can all gain.
Because of our experience this weekend, I have chosen President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's address, All is Well for this week's conference address. It is what our stake's pioneer trek was based on, and is full of so many good things we can draw from the pioneers' lives to help us today.
This photo is a little deceiving, because the road we traveled was definitely not all smooth. We climbed mountains with our handcart - rocky, rough, and steep mountains. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But not one of those kids complained about the difficulty of the task. They put their heads down and pulled with all of their might. And with the help of the strong boys in our "family" and a few "angels" along the way, we made it to the top. Like the real pioneers, we worked hard.
President Uchtdorf said, "Today we sometimes struggle in the morning to get out of our soft beds and into the bathroom for a hot shower. We eat a nutritious breakfast and drive in comfortable cars to air conditioned offices. We can learn something from the pioneers. They woke up each morning with clearly defined purposes and goals that everyone understood--to serve God and fellowmen and to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley. Every day those purposes and goals were clear to them; they knew what they needed to do and that each day's progress mattered."
He continues, "In spite of feeling overwhelmed, in spite of many good reasons to become discouraged and disheartened, they did not give up. They could not give up. No matter how difficult, no matter how much they wanted to do something else, they kept their eyes on their goal and on their purpose."
Here is the blessing of hard work: "But the pioneers did not work only because they had to. In the process, their labors enlarged their character and broadened their understanding. Work diminished their natural tendencies toward self-love and magnified their understanding of their divine nature. It heightened their compassion for others. In the labors of each day they discovered and solidified an inner strength and profound spiritual depth. They learned that doing hard things--even applying themselves to the tasks they really did not want to do--deepened and strengthened body, mind, and spirit."
In the midst of these rough roads and hard times, I would look up and see smiles on the kids' faces. I felt myself smiling, too. We were happy. We hardly knew each other, and yet we became a family who worked together and found joy in our journey.
About happiness, President Uchtdorf says this: "It is one of the great ironies of our age that we are blessed with so much and yet we can be so unhappy. The wonders of prosperity and technology overwhelm us and shower us with security, entertainment, instant gratification, and convenience. And yet all around us we see so much unhappiness. . . Those pioneers understood something about happiness. They understood that happiness doesn't come as a result of luck or accident. It most certainly doesn't come from having all of our wishes come true. Happiness doesn't come from external circumstance. It comes from the inside- regardless of what is happening around us."
I know that the pioneers had their trials and we have ours. But acting like a pioneer, just for a minute, helped me to see that I can be strong like they were. I can have the same resolve, and the same goals- to serve God and my fellowmen, and to live so that I can return to Him someday.
Read the whole talk here.
posted by stephanie at 7:00 AM