I had the marvelous opportunity this past Friday and Saturday to stay in a tent at Martin's Cove in Wyoming. There I learned the tragic and inspiring stories of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers and their rescuers. We pulled handcarts over the dirt paths. I cried for two days. There is a special spirit in Martin's Cove. It is sacred ground.
As I thought about it, I realized that we wouldn't have the amazing stories of the faith, obedience, sacrifice and courage these pioneers exhibited if they had not taken the time to write them down. Here is an excerpt from the writings of Elizabeth Whittier Sermon:
Many trials came to me after this, my eldest boy had the Mountain Fever, and we had to haul him on the cart, as there was no room in the wagons. One day, we started him out before the carts started in the morning, to walk with the aged and sick, but we had not gone far on our journey, when we found him lying by the roadside, unable to go any further. I picked him up and put him on my back, and pulled my cart as well as I could, but could not manage for very far, so I put him in the cart, which made children, my baggage, my failing husband, besides our regular load. The captain put a young man to help me pull for a short time. My other son, Henry, at seven years, walked almost the entire 1300 miles.
I was an avid journal keeper during my teen years, and then again on my mission. These past months I've dusted off some of my old journals and read about my experiences and perspectives as a teenager and young adult. I had avoided reading my teen journals for years, fearing that what I had written was silly and embarrassing. What I found was a little of that, certainly, but also I found accounts of some significant events written from my teen-aged point of view. I wrote about the Jim Jones massacre in details that I had completely forgotten about. I wrote about the Manifesto of 1978, now recorded as Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Nine years ago I wrote about 911 and how I felt about it.
Often we think our lives are insignificant. Who would want to read about my life? we think. I personally believe that many people will want to read what we write about our lives and the times we live in. If there is anything consistent it is change. Our descendants will want to know how we handled our life challenges. They can gain strength from our examples, attitudes and testimonies.
If you aren't already keeping a journal, start today. The longer you wait to write something down, the fewer details you will remember. We are the pioneers our future posterity will want to read about.