Thursday, July 24, 2008


All of my life I have celebrated July 24th. Pioneer Day. Its the day the saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. They sacrificed all they had to obey. I come from a pioneer heritage and I think about that fact often. At all cost, these men, women and children listened to the Lord and followed with exactness, even when the price required of them seemed too steep.

I know a lot of pioneers today. Those who sacrifice, obey and keep moving forward in spite of the price required of them. My Bethie is one such pioneer. And truth be told, so is the rest of her family. Bethany is 16 yrs. old, and she is my girls second mother. While we lived in Utah, she took better care of them than I ever could. She and her family have sacrificed and listened to the Lord, and trudged along the path. Over the last year and a half, they have faced cancer and all the trials it spreads onto your life.

Bethany wrote a poem about their family's experience. She entered it in a Pioneer Day contest. She won second place. For me, she deserves a lavish throne in heaven. In her honor, and on this holiday, I offer her poem:

The Handcart

By Bethany

Over a hundred years ago my ancestors pulled handcarts across the Mormon
Trail to get to Salt Lake City. I'm sure they were heavy, and many of them were
made with green wood that broke easily. Many of these people pulled them
through blizzards, across hundreds of miles with little to no food. Sometimes
the husbands pulled, sometimes the wives pulled. I'm sure the children did
their share of pulling. I know it was hard, because my family has pulled
a handcart this year.

Sometimes Andrew pulled the handcart. He pulled it and the rest of us pushed.
When he got too tired we let him rest and my Dad would pull. When Daddy
pulled he'd give it everything he had until he needed a break, and then he'd
rest. Then Mommy would pull. I don't know how she did it but she pulled
hard. She pulled her sick son and four girls and Daddy and somehow she
was pregnant too. She could pull and give comfort at the same time.

Sometimes I would pull. If there is one thing I've learned from cancer it's
that Heavenly Father will never leave me alone, and He will never make me
pull alone. He helped me pull the handcart when my brother was in pain
and my Daddy was at the hospital and my mom was either driving to the
hospital or coming home, and my sisters needed homework help.

Sometimes Chloe and Emily would pull. They're a great team, and they were
always there when you needed them. They did a lot of growing up this year.
They are strong girls and they are going to be strong women.

I don't know how she did it but sometimes Abby would pull. She has
sweetness and sensitivity and such great faith. One day we were all in the
car and Andrew was talking about how he was developing some very painful
sores in his mouth that are a side effect of chemo. Abby said, so pure and
strong: "We need to pray right now." And so she did, and that pulled our
family through that day.

In his own way, Nathan pulled. He didn't know he was doing it of course, but
when he turns his head and smiles a huge, sincere, toothless grin you can't
help but feel good. When we got to the bottom of the huge hills, such as an
infection or a failed skin graft, I wanted to sit down and stop pulling. How
were we supposed to get over this? But then our family, our neighbors and
our friends came and pulled, and kept pulling and are still pulling. They
brought in meals and prayers and hugs and service and countless other things
we didn't know we needed.

So here we stand, almost at the end of our journey. Our hands are blistered;
our legs are tired. We've braved the blizzards and the hunger and the aches
that come with pulling a handcart. It has been heavy, and it has been hard, and
it has been worth it, and now we stand stronger and better because of it.


Anonymous said...

Bethy rocks and I miss her and her family terribly! Love you guys!

Tana said...

What a wonderful poem. Thanks for the Pioneer Day theme!

Kerri said...

That is just beautiful!!!