We live in a world full of discontent and contention. It is so very easy to get caught up in all of that. We are taught to love our neighbor, and that contention is not right, but when everything begins to fall apart around us, and everyone else seems to be bickering, we sometimes fall right into it ourselves.
We can’t turn our hearts to political leaders or ploys, not charismatic leaders that we foolishly follow blindly, not war, conflict, or hostility, but peace that only the Savior can bring.
I have two Palestinian friends; one was born and raised in an Arab-Christian home, close to Bethlehem. Sahar Qumsiyeh joined the LDS Church after accepting a scholarship to attend BYU in Provo, Utah. Her ancestral home, in Beit Sahour, and that of her Christian faith go back to the time of Jesus. The other, Emily Azar, is American, but married to a Palestinian who was also raised in an Arab-Christian home. Emily and her young family have been living in Ramallah, but have recently returned to the United States because war has gotten too close to their doorstep making life extremely hard to bear.
These two women are valiant disciples in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are few members of the LDS Church there, but these women have served faithfully in their callings as stewards, traveling through war zones and dangerous passes to visit sisters afraid and unable to attend Church meetings. Continue reading →
I am ancient. The blood of my ancestors – men and women of faith, humility, strength, fortitude, and wisdom – courses through my veins. I have English and Welsh ancestors who helped build temples in Nauvoo and Salt Lake, lending their might and skill to carving stone. They crossed the plains in search of Zion, losing children and spouses to death along the way. These pioneers settled in desert places building homes and raising families. The women were resourceful and caring, the men hard working and generous. Both were stalwart and brave. But I have other ancestors who were also pioneers. They never pulled handcarts or rode in covered wagons, never walked the dusty trail west from Nauvoo and Independence. Their gospel journeys were different but they were just as stalwart and brave. They are part of the “hidden heroines and heroes among the Latter-day Saints—“those of the last wagon” whose fidelity to duty and devotion to righteousness go unnoticed by anyone except the One whose notice really matters” (Dallin H. Oaks, Modern Pioneers, General Conference, October 1989). Continue reading →
Growing up in Canada, I often heard stories of the pioneers who settled my small village in Southern Alberta, those who came into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and in particular, my ancestors who were among the survivors of the Martin-Willie handcart companies. I grew up appreciating their sacrifices and loved hearing all the stories of their courage and faith. But when I was younger, it didn’t occur to me that people outside of the Western United States and Canada might not feel the same affinity towards the pioneers as many others did.
When my husband and I first moved to New Zealand, we were surprised to find so very little being taught about church history, including that of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the pioneers. These things were rarely spoken of unless in General Conference or unless they were part of the Doctrine and Covenants curriculum taught every four years. It was common to hear the church members say that while these stories were nice, they felt they didn’t have application or meaning to their lives. They felt too far removed from the dusty plains and the snow, the bonnets and the fiddle music. The idea of a handcart in the South Pacific was about as foreign and useful to them as a coconut would have been to a Utah pioneer on the prairies! Continue reading →