Saturday, April 26, 2014

Did Someone Steal Your Pioneer Heritage?

In preparing for an evening to discuss the ancestors of our son Jason's family I found that they had at least 40 ancestors that crossed the plains as Mormon Pioneers.

Over 70,000 immigrants crossed the plains, beginning in March 1846. After much persecution and the assassination of Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother Hyrum it was clear the faith could not remain in Nauvoo, Illinois. For some the trek was brutal. Many died on the way. This video shows one of the worst that was suffered. It's short and it's sobering. It would be good if you viewed this next.

 Todays post is one that has been festering in me for over a decade. It was brought front and center as on the last few Thursdays I have been writing a story about an ancestor. So far they were all pioneers that crossed the plains.

The story title began many years ago when someone I know well shared her loss of her Mormon Heritage,as she put it. Her life had been full of turmoil and abuse by active Mormon Parents. The discord created was huge. At lunch she confided with me and a few others that she could never belong to a church that these people stood for. She said that it was beyond her ability to stay in such a Church. She said she felt cheated out of her Mormon Heritage. "They stole her Mormon Heritage".

I know, there are a lot of ways one could respond to this statement, I just listened, and remembered, and to this day am struck by it's impact. She has a child who has lost his too now. She has sisters who feel the same way, and they have children, and it goes on and on.

A few years back my sister connected me with some Bingham cousins. We met over lunch and it was joyful and delightful. It was obvious that I was the only practicing Mormon, or member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at this lunch. I finally couldn't stand it without bring up the question to my newly found cousins; "your grandfather was a stalwart Mormon Pioneer, and your family has abandoned that - what happened I hope I can ask? Without hesitation they said that their family was wealthy, liked to drink, and smoke and they decided they didn't need the church anymore. They gave up their heritage, rather than feeling it was stolen. To all that family I say, it too was stolen.

My mother shared stories with me about her mother and grandmother. All was not easy for either. Through multiple reasons I have concluded that Grandmother Nancy Porter has seen about 90% of her posterity lose their pioneer heritage, at least having membership in the Church that they were persecuted over, that gospel they travel by foot for months to be able to live and practice. Events caused 90% of her posterity to lose their heritage.

My relationship with my parents was difficult. I sometime found myself asking, why me.

Again, 70,000 pioneers came to Utah over their religion. Are you a descendant also? If you are estranged from their religion, what caused you to have it stolen? Was it your choice? Was it the actions of another?

I wish I had a solution to help you find it, and get back. I know how fortunate I am to have it. I am certain life goes on beyond this life. It gives me hope. I am certain that we have a loving Heavenly Father.

I expect part of the Saviors healing atonement will be to heal wounds so many have had to bare. Perhaps we can experience the fruits of the video below:

1 comment:

  1. I can certainly relate to what you write about. You are not alone.