"Our journey in life is unique to each of us. As we press forward with faith, we leave a legacy of hope for future generations to follow."
In 1846, the saints were forced to abandon their Nauvoo home and move westward. They sought peace and the freedom to practice their restored God-given religion. In the east, the saints had faced much persecution, starting from the time of Joseph Smith's First Vision, and continuing until even today (though the persecution is not nearly as intense). They left homes, jobs, possessions, and sometimes family to seek Zion, a place where they would be of one mind and one heart, a righteous city unto the Lord.
Thankfully, the saints today worship and practice their religion free from legal action or mob brutality.
Today, we celebrate the courage and faith of those early saints, and remember those difficulties. We thank the Lord for these people who protected the truths of the Restoration, that they can be available to us still today. We revere their patience and enduring spirits.
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Familysearch.org has a lovely page celebrating our pioneer ancestors. Here are some graphics from that page:
As far as I'm aware, I did not have any pioneer ancestors on the grueling "Mormon Trail." But I am so grateful for the courage and valor of these early saints. No one (that I know of) in my family is a member of this Church. Every morning when I wake, I remember the covenant I made at baptism, to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ. I must take His name upon me and be an example to my family.
Because I am the first, I am a pioneer. I am a pioneer for my family - those who passed before me without the gospel, those here now, and those yet to come. I hope and pray each day that I will be able to bring my family home with me.
The pioneers of the 1846 exodus trekked across the American prairies for eighteen months. I trekked across the fields of misunderstandings, broken hearts, and valleys separating points of view for six months. I am a pioneer because I never gave up.
My steps will be followed, no mater what they are. I pray that I will make the right steps, so that those following me will also be on the right path. I pray that I will be an example. I pray that I will find a righteous man and raise my children in light and truth, training them up in the way they should go. I pray that when we find our eternal homes, ours will be in the mansions of the Father.