Pioneer Day Tips for Mormon Muggles & Mudbloods

Attention muggles:

We recognize that you don’t have amazing magical families like so many of us do, but we are still glad you are here at Hogwarts [1].  Some of you have demonstrated real promise on your Newts and Owls despite your lack of inherited magical blood!

While you are here, you will be sorted into houses named for famous pure blood wizards that many of your better-pedigreed classmates claim as ancestors.  We invite you to honor and revere the heads of house for whom you are named:  Salazar Slytherin, Helga Huffelpuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Godrick Gryffindor [2].  These are amazing wizards of pure blood on whom this entire school was founded, each representing the virtues we hope you will learn despite your muggle upbringing:  cleverness, friendship, intellect and bravery.  They endured great hardship, uniting the wizarding world that we now enjoy.  Your lessons will refer to their stellar examples throughout your time at Hogwarts [3], and you would do wise to emulate them.  As you build friendships with your betters within your houses, we hope you will quickly become accustomed to our magical ways, leaving behind your quaint muggle customs and inferior birth.

Although some of you may be of mixed wizard blood, we do not condone the use of the term Mudblood.  Bear in mind that some wizards are rather proud of their strong magical heritage, after all who can blame them, and therefore you may occasionally be subject to the occasional racial slur due to your more ordinary ancestry.  This should be expected.  It is impossible for us to police every interaction between students, but for those from non-magical families who feel somewhat sensitive about your inferior parentage, we recommend you steer clear of the Slytherin house which is known for its pure bloodlines.  Don’t let their superior genetics intimidate you!  We suspect a few of these old houses may be secretly harboring a squib relation here or there, a thing far worse than even a Muggle or (excuse the term) Mudblood.

Pay these students no heed, or if you must interact with them, be sure to demonstrate the proper deference due to their honorable family names.  Many of their families supply the donations that keep Hogwarts running, whereas your families are, shall we say, freeloaders to the magical cause, generally unaware of the powers they are dealing with and often unappreciative of your special gifts.  Your new magical family welcomes you and hopes you will strive to live up to the honor of your new associations.

If you focus on your studies and listen to your elders, you too can achieve your potential regardless of your unpromising backgrounds.  That’s the beauty of education in general and Hogwarts in particular.

Yours in magic,

Dolores Umbridge, Acting Headmistress

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I grew up in Pennsylvania where there really weren’t many members who had pioneer ancestors.  Most were either first or second generation converts from that area who had never lived out west.  Pioneer day wasn’t celebrated by our ward until one year when one of the families who did have pioneer ancestors felt we needed to celebrate it, so we held a Primary parade for their famous forebears.  They proudly shared stories about the challenges these people faced in crossing the plains.  It seemed a little desperate and attention seeking to me at the time.  Nobody else was asking for parades to celebrate their family trees, and some of them had some pretty cool ancestors of local fame!  It didn’t seem like a Mormon holiday so much as a Utah holiday; none of the parents had the day off work for it.  Not until I went to BYU did I realize that Pioneer Day in Utah is competing with the 4th of July in terms of patriotic fervor, not just some lame founders day.  It’s apparently big stuff.

As our current Arizona stake announced the trek the youth will be reenacting later this week, they asked all the kids with pioneer ancestors to stand.  60% or more of them did while a few remained uncomfortably seated.  Then they further recognized those with ancestors in the ill-fated Martin & Willy handcart company, the elite of the elite (as the less tried & tested were asked to sit down).  Speaker after speaker talked about how the church would not exist if it weren’t for these pioneers and their sacrifices, and that although many of them endured great suffering, none of them wavered in their testimonies.  Ever.  Even as they cut off frostbitten extremities or buried baby after baby or had to leave all their possessions behind.  Given what I know about some of my own ancestors and human nature in general, these perfect pioneer stories strain credulity.

The hope is that by reenacting their trek (the theme is Faith in Every Footstep), the youth will likewise build testimonies through physical endurance, hiking in a circle around a cell phone tower within sight of the freeway behind trucks loaded with porta-potties.  Participants were asked to trek in the honor of one of their pioneer forebears.  They will dress in period costumes [5].

The last person who spoke at this trek kickoff mentioned that for those who didn’t have any pioneer ancestors, their ward could assign them someone else’s pioneer ancestor to research [4].

My feelings about the pioneer worship at church have moved from mostly negative to ambivalent.  My own kids are mudbloods whereas I was a muggle.  There is some value in having a shared narrative of sacrifice and community.  Even better if we can avoid the baggage of elitism that seems so frequently to sneak onto that handcart.  The handcart’s heavy enough for some of us to pull.

How do we honor the narrative of pioneers as fewer members have pioneer heritage? [6]  Or is it more valuable to create a shared narrative, even though a shrinking number of members share a direct connection to that narrative?

Discuss.

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[1] or our sister schools at Hogwarts-Provo, Hogwarts-Idaho or Hogwarts-Hawaii.

[2] aka Allred, Bingham, Bennion, Turley, Kimball, Young, etc.

[3] including our manuals Teachings of the Living Wizards.

[4] While that sounds like a lame substitute, I do heartily approve of any activity that takes electronics out of our kids’ hands for three days in a row.  A true hardship to be endured.

[5] Also available from White Elegance for $80–and two outfits are required.  It seems ironic to honor your impoverished forebears by spending exorbitant sums of money on a costume you will wear once!  But of course, they are all modest (wink, wink)  if also immodest in their materialism.

[6] Apparently, this isn’t a concern as handcarts have been shipped to Australia for their stakes to do trek reenactments.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I have pioneer heritage. When I was young in northern Illinois our small branch celebrated Pioneer Day with a picnic or something, but my perception was that that was basically because we were a small branch and we just did everything together. There was no researching or tales of ancestors that I can recall. In my ward and stake now, I can only vaguely recall one year a long time ago when we celebrated Pioneer Day. It was a stake level celebration and involved handcarts somehow; I just dont remember the details. But for the most part we simply don’t celebrate it out here in Illinois.

    If you want some real true to life stories, I could tell you about my GGG-Grandfather who was asked by BY to operate the ferry just west of Casper. Which he did. But when he finally made it to the valley, all the good land had already been grabbed up. My understanding is that there were hard feelings over the way that was handled. True to life pioneer story!

  2. Some of my ancestors came across the plains, but the ones I admire most waited until there was a train*. So I suggest riding local transit (or even taking it to a neighboring city) as a way to honor all pioneers (including modern-day third world ones who often have to travel long distances to get to church services or attend the temple), and it comes with the bonus of giving the youth real-world, useful experience.

    * Granted they didn’t convert until after the golden spike was driven, but still…

  3. As an adult convert I never really understood the fuss about pioneers or Pioneer Day, until several years ago I took a group of Young Women an an overnight trip to Nauvoo and kind of “got it.”

    Even if the pioneer’s faith did waver, which I’m sure it sometimes did, they still made amazing sacrifices the name of what they believed and that’s inspiring. It may not be part of your personal family history, but the church is sort of like your adoptive family and you can still “own” those stories, and that’s pretty cool, too.

  4. Michael says:

    Our stake here in Missouri did a trek a few years ago. I told my daughter she was grounded and not allowed to attend. She’s still grateful. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, rationed water supplies, live chickens distributed for dinner, and pointless climbs up a rocky 10% grade. I think the Geneva Convention specifically prohibits this kind of treatment towards prisoners of war. If we treated convicts like this, there would be no end of stories about barbaric behavior, but as a form of forced penance, it’s just fine. Character building, even.

    Our youth leaders came back extolling the virtues of our teenagers, claiming “We can ask our youth to do hard things.” Our youth came back knowing that leaders will ask us to do difficult, dangerous, and pointless tasks.

  5. Having participated as an adult leader in one trek, and having pioneer ancestry, I absolutely hate any contrived hardship. Fortunately, our trek didn’t involve water rationing, Vodou-;like sacrifice of small animals, and only one steep hill climb., fortunately short. I felt that the whole experience was positive for most of the kids, and was geared towards building a community of LDS young people who knew each other, despite being scattered amongst multiple school districts in Washington State.

    However, there were few real similarities. Real handcart pioneers were limited to 20 lbs or less of personal belongings, as I recall, and our kids loaded our carts with an average of about 50 lbs each, by the time everybody put in their sleeping bag, pillow, scriptures, changes of clothes, and one girl’s 10 pound makeup kit, plus a couple of dutch ovens, a shovel, firewood, and most of our food and water. Also, our handcarts were built to last decades, with steel wheels and spokes, and were much larger than what I suspect the pioneers actually used. So you can imagine the effort needed to pull a 700+ pound cart up a steep ridge,with 2 deacons, 3 Beehives, a MIA Maid, and two Laurels, one of which was the formerly mentioned owner of the 10 pound makeup kit. The other adult and I that were assigned to this cart were not supposed to help the kids pull the cart, but if we hadn’t, we’d still be out there 18 years later.

    I have also tried to be more restrained about my own pioneer ancestry. It does not make me a Prince of the Realm.

  6. “Not until I went to BYU did I realize that Pioneer Day in Utah is competing with the 4th of July in terms of patriotic fervor, not just some lame founders day.”

    Yes. I grew up in MN, and didn’t even know what Pioneer Day was until I got on my mission and we celebrated it. In Belgium. With a massive parade of missionaries and members doing Trek-style wagon-pulling and wear.

    Related, I remember being a teen, and seeing an “I have a question” in one of the Church magazines. The visual was an Asian girl frowning, arms folded defensively, with out-of-focus white people passing behind her. The question was something like “My parents are converts, and kids at school make fun of me because I don’t have (something like) pioneer ancestors, or 5th-generation Mormon heritage….” And I was flabbergasted.

  7. I was asked to give a Pioneer Day talk in Sacrament Meeting a few years ago, and I focused on my great-grandfather, who I knew well and who passed away when I was a teenager. He came to the U.S. in the early 1900s as a young child, after his parents joined the church, traveling by boat and train. He returned to Germany as a missionary, first right after WWI, and second after WWII, where his responsibilities included being an architect for several meetinghouses.

    Most of my other lines came to Utah on covered wagons, and one line I very recently discovered was early church “royalty” (at least until the line fell into abject poverty) and as interesting as that is, to me the more interesting pioneer story is of my great-grandfather and his family, even if, coming to Utah in the 1900s, they no longer fit the pioneer stereotype.

    So I guess my advice is to talk about non-stereotypical pioneer ancestors, if you have them–parents, grandparents, or even further back. We talk about handcarts so much that I think some members think all pioneers came in handcarts, and we hardly ever talk about the dangerous sea voyage many pioneers took, or the train route many of them took. Leaving a home and going somewhere entirely new, never to return, especially a new country where they speak a strange language, is difficult in its own right. So is joining a strange religion with strange rules. Compared to that, walking a few thousand miles is a breeze.

  8. I got a laugh out of your Hogwarts opening. I have pioneer heritage, though it’s a mixed blessing. I kind of consider it the heritage of all of us, like the founding fathers of our country belongs to all of us. It’s these people who got it started and kept it from being wiped out, so I appreciate that, but I don’t think we are honoring “my ancestors” when we do that sort of thing. I had a few that I would rather not mention too, as do we all. I thought the research idea was mainly to make sure that when you were reenacting the trek that you could relate your journey to someone who was actually on it. No one here in Colorado (my two eldest sons when on the very first trek ever) has every treated it the way that your stake did. I would chalk that up to the person who did it who should have been a LOT more sensitive. But then, I think that could be said of a lot of talks and testimonies. We always need to be aware of those who are new or visiting and realize our terminology and culture may be confusing to others. I married a first generation to be born in the church man, and four of my five siblings married non-members who all later joined.

    Having the “pedigree” only means you don’t have as many excuses. As many of our GA’s have said, “we are all pioneers” since something about our experience can be the first time for us or our family. Just breathe. Help others to see things from your point of view. I think you’re on the right track with humor. ;)

  9. Desert Rat says:

    My parents are converts, and we have no pioneer ancestry. In fact, we are fifth generation Arizonans. My ancestors owned the ferry that brought the Mormon pioneers across the Salt River to settle Lehi/Mesa on land they purchased from my family. Eventually they got sick of having to compete with the Mormons for water and grazing area, so they moved to the higher desert near Florence. They didn’t particularly care for Mormons, but one hundred years later, their descendants were baptized (and so were they… haha).

    I dislike when the descendants of the Mormon settlers act like they found a deserted territory. They did not. They took a ferry across the river! We don’t really celebrate Pioneer Day here in Mesa beyond a few talks around July 24, but those talks always seem to forget that there are OTHER pioneers who settled the west and were here even before the Mormons were. And even before them, there were Indians who I also claim as ancestors (and not in the Elizabeth Warren way, we know names and have pictures of them from just a few generations back–my siblings and I all look white, but our grandfather was half Native).

    That said, I do see a purpose behind Pioneer Day. I value the celebration. I view it as a sort of Mormon Independence Day. I feel like I own it just as much as any LeSueur, Sirrine, or MacDonald because my own primary identity depends on them and their sacrifices. I honor them. I don’t mind celebrating them. I do mind when their descendants act like they themselves personally did us a favor, nearly 150 years later.

  10. it's a series of tubes says:

    Having the “pedigree” only means you don’t have as many excuses.

    This, exactly this. The first time I looked at my FamilySearch fan chart, and cross-checked the names against the pioneer records on LDS.org, I had highlighted nearly every single name in that generation. All it means is that the Gospel was handed on a silver platter to me by people who had to pay a real price to obtain it.

    If I can’t live in a way worthy of that sacrifice, I suspect I will be judged harshly, and deservedly so.

  11. It is obnoxious when someone touts their pioneer ancestry as if they are royalty. I’ve gotten the same thing from people who are related to general authorities.

    But the pioneer narrative we all share should be celebrated. Back in 2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gave dueling campaign speeches in Selma, Alabama. The Obama narrative at the time was that what happened at Selma really didn’t involve him. He certainly was not the descendant of people involved in that civil rights struggle.

    Anyway, he gave a speech that I think applies to all of us muggles and mudbloods and the celebration of pioneer day:

    “And what happened in Selma, Alabama and Birmingham also stirred the conscience of a nation and it worried folks in the White House who said, you know, we’re battling communism, how are we going to win the hearts and minds all across the world if right here in our own country, John, we’re not observing the ideals that are set forth in our Constitution?

    We might be accused of being hypocrites. So the Kennedys decided, we’re going to do an airlift. We’re going to go out to Africa. And we’re going to start bringing young Africans over to this country and bring them scholarships to study so that they can learn what a wonderful country America is. And this young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country.

    And he met this woman, whose great-, great-, great-, great-grandfather had owned slaves, but she had a different idea. There’s some good craziness going on because they looked at each other and they decided, we know that in the world as it has been it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child.

    But something stirred across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks were willing to march across a bridge. And so they got together, Barack Obama Jr. was born.

    So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I’m here because somebody marched for our freedom. I’m here because y’all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

    For the record, I am not saying Selma = the Willie and Martin handcart company. But we stand on the shoulders of the pioneers. What they built has influenced all of us today. So I think we should celebrate our shared heritage.

    If someone wants to be an obnoxious pureblood, who cares?

  12. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Trek is absolutely a contrived experience. If we have to create events in order to have opportunities to teach youth (or adults) spiritual lessons, we have already failed. If the point is for them to learn that they can do hard things, there are countless hard things to accomplish within one’s community that can make a real difference. At some point, in a global church where Utah is a distinct minority, we will need to rethink the amount of attention we give to the pioneer moment. Increasingly, this just does not resonate with the bulk of LDS membership.

  13. “Trek is absolutely a contrived experience.”

    What church activity isn’t? We chose to do trek because we good feedback from other stakes. I went with the kids in 2013. A kid from my group decided to go on a mission during trek. Many felt very spiritually uplifted.

  14. Nathaniel James says:

    I’m proud of my pioneer ancestors, but along with all the inspiring stories, my family also has its share of messed up people. Whenever I get into conversations about how long my family’s been in the church I usually make jokes about my ancestor who stole cattle from Brigham Young or the one who helped publish the Nauvoo Expositor. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people being proud of their ancestors, but we should all recognize that everyone has a little bit of everything in their family tree.

  15. Angela C says:

    Desert Rat: “but one hundred years later, their descendants were baptized (and so were they… haha).” LOLZ

  16. .

    Pioneer stories are valuable, but we should move beyond conestogas and handcarts. What about the pioneers in Korea or Thailand or Cote d’Ivoire or Switzerland? All those nations have stories and they should belong to the Church generally, not just the locals.

  17. MDearest says:

    My kids missed the trek craze and I am glad, because I would probably have enthusiastically “encouraged” them to participate. My niece however, wants to go with her stake this year, and her parents are reluctantly giving her the support, and crazy-modest wardrobe. (expensively covering her up in multiple protective layers that will be worn once)

    In my imagination, I wonder if our Willie company ancestors can witness this extravaganza, and what their opinion would be of this as a testimony-building exercise. Thinking about their real lived experience compared to this contrived 3-day hike, and knowing their stoic Danish pragmatism, I’m embarrassed to think what their take would be

  18. John Mansfield says:

    The 24th of July is the day we remember that band of hearty pioneers who reached their destination after a long journey, stepped out of their canoes, and founded Detroit in 1701. As founders’ days go, though, the ancestor remembrance makes Mormon Pioneer Day more democratic than most, remembering thousands of individuals just because they managed to have living descendants.

  19. I have always liked this turn of phrase from the April 1954 General Conference by Adam S. Bennion of the Council of the Twelve Apostles:

    “In living our lives let us never forget that the deeds of our fathers and mothers are theirs, not ours, that their works cannot be counted to our glory; that we can claim no excellence and no place, because of what they did; that we must rise by our own labor, and that labor failing we shall fall. We claim no honor, no reward, no respect, nor special position or recognition, no credit because of what our fathers were or what they wrought. We stand upon our own feet in our own shoes.”

    Focus on pioneer ancestry is an unfortunate twist on genealogy/temple work, because the story of the pioneers is my history, too, even though I’m a first generation member.

  20. Our stake does trek every four years, and I think it is well received. The youth can bring only what will fit into a bucket, so no issues with overloaded handcarts. :) I’ve not participated, but they seem to focus partly on the hardship and sacrifice, and partly on the history.

    I don’t have pioneer ancestors, and I truly am grateful for those who travelled west and kept the church alive until it was strong enough to spread back east again, where my family and I were baptized. Thank heavens for those pioneer saints.

    Oh, the kids in our stake were asked to bring stories of how their families joined the church – and many of those stories were very recent, so they recognized modern-day pioneers as well.

  21. My parents were converts and they moved to Utah shortly after I was born, and growing up in Provo/Orem it was a bit awkward being white mormons without a slew of pioneer ancestor stories.

    We never did the treks (thank goodness) and Pioneer Day wasn’t much of a thing for us either, we’d just go the ward barbeque or whatever for a free meal.

    Nowadays I actually feel MORE proud NOT to have several generations of pioneer/mormon ancestors. You always hear those stories of 100% pasty white wards up in northern Utah where everyone is related to each other with uncomfortable suggestions of inbreeding. I’m glad not to be descended from all that.

  22. I have no pioneer ancestry, but the ushering in of The Restoration took place in the beautiful Empire State where I was born and raised. Without New York there would have been no Church, so in my mind that counts for plenty.

  23. not Ivan says:

    So our stake did a modified trek last year. First day was 19th century pioneer theme, second day was to dress like a pioneer of any era from your family, my daughter dressed reminiscent of her dad… And then last day was for them to wear modern with the cool shirt. It was a very nice compromise.

  24. Angela C says:

    EOR: I grew up on the banks of the Susquehanna (our property actually bordered on it), so that’s got to count for something, too, right?

  25. Clever! I have a bunch of pioneer ancestors, but I regard July 24 as a Utah day. That said, I think lots of upper level church leaders tend to come from 19th century Mormon heritage, and there is a certain level of pride about that. I’m happy to see Utah celebrate its founders, but maybe we can leave that celebration to families outside the Beehive State who want to remember their crossing plains forebears. It’s got to seem a bit strange to whoop it up in Nigeria over the day.

  26. wonderdog says:

    I always thought that I didn’t have pioneer ancestry, until I used the app that shows distant famous relations. Now I can proudly say that I am distant cousins to J. Golden Kimball and Porter Rockwell.

  27. John Mansfield says:

    So, how to reconcile the dislike for Pioneer Day with the enthusiasm for Ardis Parshall’s work? Different people, some disliking one thing and others liking the other? [Disliking is a strange-looking word in its written form; it just looks wrong with the s next to the l, and the k and all those i’s.]

  28. Suleyman says:

    A pioneer is any first-generation member of the Church. Period. We all have them or we actually are one. Yes, I think we should celebrate Pioneer Day on a global basis. It should be a celebration of change, making commitments, building families, meeting challenges and making things better for subsequent generations. Whether we honor the day with references to the Pioneers of the 1840’s, 50’s and 60’s is completely beside the point. And the hero-worship of the Martin and Willey companies ignores the large majority of even those plains-crossing pioneers. I challenge any of those among us who are assigned to speak or teach in Church this summer to describe the contributions of our “other” pioneers.

    And I think I prove Angela C’s point by thinking the Harry Potter comparison is absolutely horrible. There are no pure bloods in this church, we are all converts, and we all rely upon the work of pioneers in some way. But I do think that Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf are great wizards.

  29. Here’s an attempt I made last year to reconcile some of these different objectives or possibilities with celebrating Pioneer Day: https://bycommonconsent.com/2014/07/24/pioneer-day-2/

  30. People have referenced Trek, which isn’t something I’ve ever done, not as a youth and definitely not as an adult who likes running water and climate control. Last summer the kids in our stake all went out and pulled their handcarts and were called up to talk about it afterwards in sacrament meeting. They all described a positive experience in glowing terms. So far so good.

    Even though they’d been in different “families” a lot of them referred to the same hardship: their Ma’s and Pa’s died unexpectedly and they had to carry on alone. More than one of them talked about gathering around with their brothers and sisters and praying for help in continuing on without their parents. Which is where it started sounding weird to me: they were praying over a simulated experience. Which I guess you do every day on trek since the whole thing is a simulation, except that praying for good weather and safe hiking, which are actual concerns when you’re out in the wild, is one thing. Praying about a nonexistent situation (you have real parents waiting for you at home, and Trek parents hanging out in a pickup truck on the other side of the campground) is – contrived? Manipulative? Dare I say irreverent? Or just weird? Anyone?

    (I realize this is probably off topic. Sorry!)

  31. Angela C says:

    Karli: I’m with you on that one, but it gives me an opportunity to coin a new term: “pray-acting.”

  32. Mary Ann says:

    Growing up in Utah, I always viewed Pioneer Day as a state holiday. I was a little flabbergasted to find out that small Mormon towns in other states routinely had parades and activities on July 24th. Eventually it clicked that they were more celebrating the church finding a permanent home, a place to build Zion. It still felt weird to celebrate Utah pioneers in wards outside Utah. It felt more right when locals would take the opportunity to emphasize Mormon pioneer connections to their own community. I think the church has been doing better about incorporating modern-day pioneer stories into the narrative (thinking of Elder Andersen’s recent GC address about pioneers in the Ivory Coast).

    Having 19th century Mormon pioneer ancestors is kind of neat if you have an interest in church history. Most people don’t, though. Usually they might hear a couple choice stories and then go on with their lives. Once you start to look deeper, you start discovering those pioneers who became inactive in the church or straight-up excommunicated (sometimes multiple times). You discover disagreements among pioneers, and church position being used to trump legitimate concerns. You discover that many descendants of even the most stalwart pioneers left the church long ago. Sometimes people get uncomfortable with those facts. Those fascinated by history tend to prefer discovering the complex humans behind the historic efforts (warts and all). Most people interested in history don’t actually need ancestral ties in order to be inspired by ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things – hence Ardis’ work at Keepa.

    I’ve never had to suffer the trek experience, but I sometimes wonder if it was originally meant to help 5th-generation members growing up in Mormon-dominated communities actually connect with what it’s like to make sacrifices to join the church.

  33. Karli, I completely agree with you on that. We shouldn’t have them praying about pretend situations. What is wrong with us? Seriously?

  34. Very clever write-up! Harry Potter & the Conestoga of Secrets…

    (in sing songy voice) I had more pioneers in my family than you did! Mine were more righteous than yours! More of mine were asked to practice polygamy than yours! More of mine died on the trail than yours did!

    I am an adoptive mom and look at these situations through that same lens. Whether we are born into the church or adopted in, all of the blessings are exactly the same. Except for birth into that family, every pioneer story in the church belongs to each one of us.

  35. Kent Gibb says:

    I was asked to talk in Sacrament meeting around Pioneer Day. All of my grandparents were born in the states in LDS families before coming to Canada. I live in Edmonton, Alberta. The first LDS building was dedicated in 1953, so I talked about my in-laws. They joined the church in England and stayed there for many years, building up the church there. Then they came to Canada and built up the church in Edmonton. To my mind, they were no less pioneers than the early “pioneer” saints. They left their home, they made sacrifices and they helped the church to build. I am glad that I grew up in a branch which became a ward and eventually, today, 4 stakes. Pioneer work goes on every day. We cannot sit on our (or our ancestors’) laurels.

  36. Jack Hughes says:

    Why do they strive for authenticity on pioneer treks (wagons, costumes, simulated hardships, etc.) while completely overlooking polygamy, as if it never happened?

  37. Jack, my stake in MI is planning a pioneer trek for the youth next summer, I’ve been hesitant about supporting it. But your question supplies me with the justification I’ve needed to do so. I can go and help with the activity as long as I get to select several Laurels or Mia-maids to be my “child-brides” for the trip. The young men I displace can be sent away on a Mormon Battalion reenactment march.

    I think if I present my new-found enthusiasm to the other stake leaders in the right way, I just might get excused from having to participate.

  38. My ward in Tennessee did a twist on pioneer worship. We did a Christmas in Nauvoo dinner with stories about Tennesseans who had converted and moved to Nauvoo. Few had these people as ancestors, but everyone knew the places these people were from. Some families, however, were descendants of saints who came back to Tennessee instead of going to Utah.

  39. My brother in law said that the reason he went on a mission was because of a pioneer trek. My sister said the reason she is active today is because of EFY. Each of these events touches different people in different ways. But this should come as no surprise to those of us who are parents. What works for one child doesn’t work for another so you keep trying different things until something touches their heart.

  40. Our last ward celebrated pioneers as the ones who came to the church…so who in your heritage is the pioneer, or are you the pioneer. They related the travel and leaving things behind as the travels that converts take and talked about all they leave behind. I thought is was very interesting and reminded all of us who we have to thank that we are sitting in church today.

    My ancestors cruised over…not literally, but one of my favorites is a teens record. She and her friends walked and laughed and had a great time. Nothing remarkable happened on their journey. One woman died, but she was in her late 70s and had begged to come because she felt she would die but wanted to die on her way to zion instead of sitting and waiting.