Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the help the rising generation to do hard things. No one should expect everything in life to be fun and exciting; no one should think that everything in life is funny. We must teach the rising generation that they can do hard things.
To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, July 24th is Pioneer Day. This is a very important holiday when we remembered the people who crossed the plains in order to follow their beliefs and live their religion. I was reared on stories of the Mormon Pioneers and their trek across the United States from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valley. I learned many of the stories of my own ancestors – grandparents and great-grandparents – who made that trek under very difficult situations. I learned that children and teens can do hard things.
My father’s paternal grandfather’s parents were drive out of their home in Nauvoo, Illinois, soon after they were married. John crossed the plains with his parents when he was one year old and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley after being caught in a snow storm.
My father’s paternal grandmother was only five years old when she learned to milk cows. She helped with the work on the farm – raking and piling the hay with hand forks, drying applies and peaches for food to eat during the winter. As a child she knelt with her family around the bed of her ill mother and asked the Lord to let her mother live. When mother heard the prayers and witnessed the faith of her children, she gained the strength to live.
My father’s maternal grandfather was only 7 years old when he began herding the neighbor’s cows for a piece of bread or a biscuit. If he received nothing for his work, he dug Sego Lily bulbs to eat and then took some home to his family to eat for supper. He also trapped wild animals to provide food.
My father’s maternal grandmother was expected to work to help the family. One of her chores was to go to the neighbor’s home in morning to borrow a live coal to start their fire if it had gone out during the night. She helped to drive grasshoppers into piles of straw to be burned in order to save their crops. She gleaned wheat from the fields, flailed the grain out and saved it to buy her shoes for winter. She also spent a lot of time caring for babies and young children.
My mother’s paternal grandfather working in the mines in Scotland as a young child and was still working in there as an adult when he immigrated to the United States. My mother’s paternal grandmother left her home and family to come to America.
My mother’s maternal grandfather left England with his parents to travel to Australia when he was about ten years old. Before he was eighteen, his family left Australia for California and then on to Utah. We do not know very much about the childhood of my mother’s maternal grandmother, but we know she was brave and protected her children from the Indians while her husband was hauling freight. She even saw Geronimo after he was captured.
My parents also did hard things and taught their children to do hard things. I grew up on a farm and learned to do many of the farm chores. None of the work was easy, but it was satisfying. I learned to work hard and to do hard things as a child and carry that capacity with me to this day. I am not afraid to work hard or to do hard things. I know that life is not easy or even fun most of the time, but I also know that it can be rewarding. I also know that we can strengthen our families, communities and nations by learning to do hard things.