Today is Pioneer Day. A day we celebrate the early settlers of our church. When I was a young girl, my "sew" talented mother made me a pioneer dress and bonnet that I proudly wore to my Primary activity.
I hold pioneers very close to my heart. Their trials, hardships, and loss of loved ones are unimaginable. I cannot fathom leaving my home, packing up whatever belongings would fit on a covered wagon and making a trek, on foot, across the country on unknown territory. I have pioneer ancestors. I love them. I cannot wait for the day that I can look them in the eye and thank them for their sacrifice.
There is one story that I just love and am touched by everytime I tell or hear it. It's a story of a woman, from England, that eventually made the journey to Salt Lake City, Utah. (Pregnant!) Her name was Ellen and she had been a beauty queen back in England. After she and her family had settled and started making a little bit of money, her husband bought her a new pair of pretty, lace-up shoes. She even knitted some new socks, blue and white striped, to wear with them. Shortly after, Brigham Young announced that there were more immigrants from England coming to the valley and they needed to gather supplies to help aid in their journey. Ellen's husband didn't think they had anything to offer, but Ellen removed her shoes and socks and gave them to the men that were gathering these much needed supplies. She then wrapped her feet in burlap to make due.
Eventually, the immigrants were due to arrive. The people of Salt Lake would gather on the streets to welcome the parade of pioneers as they walked into the city. Ellen watched for her shoes, curious to see who had received them. There they were! On her best friend she had left behind in England years ago!
What a sweet example this woman is to me generations later. How often are we faced with the opportunity to give the shirt off our back...and then do we?
(The above book, Betsy Buttons, was written by my great aunt, Erla Young. I grew up reading this story about a little pioneer girl, Eliza, crossing the plains with her doll, Betsy Buttons, in tow. She even bit the hand of an Indian when he tried to grab her doll away! Such bravery.)