Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy 24th!

Pioneer Day has always been a favorite of mine. This year I am feeling a little sad because we chose not to attend our stake Pioneer Day celebration. That decision was largely mine. I am tired of traveling, and hot as it has been up here, it is even hotter down in the valley.

For my non-LDS readers, Pioneer Day commemorates the day in 1847 when Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. Utah has a State holiday filled with parades and fairs and all sorts of events that I've never been to. Local church units tend to have their own celebrations as well and the ones I grew up with in the small Amherst Ward beat any big stake production I have been to out here.

I used to dress up in my Holly Hobbie bonnet and apron. We would gather in the church parking lot and eat pioneer food and have watermelon seed spitting contests and parades, complete with "ox"-drawn "covered wagons." We sang pioneer songs accompanied with an acoustic guitar and listened to Sister Tripp tell stories of her pioneer ancestors. Maybe it was because I was young, but these events always seemed authentic.

Celebrations in Southern California that I have been to feel more like county fairs. They are somehow less personal and a tad more modern. Still, they are a lot of fun to attend together, and my kids know nothing else. Every year I think that next July I'll make myself a pioneer dress and bonnet. Similarly, after each Halloween I vow that I'll make myself an Elizabeth Bennett costume for next. I tend to let myself down frequently.

This year I at least filled my Sabbath with a bit of celebrating at church. We had a newly-returned missionary speak in Sacrament meeting, but since I pick the hymns, we sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints" and "They, the Builders of the Nation."

Luckily, this was also my month to do Sharing Time with the kids. You can do a lot more with a Primary of 6 than of 75. So I brought "provisions" in a large basket and we set up "camp" on a quilt under a tree in front of the chapel. We ate dried apples and apricots and homemade Pioneer Hardtack, sometimes known as sea biscuits, which seems to me to be the grandfather of the Wheat Thin cracker. I told two Mary Fielding Smith Stories, illustrating how Heavenly Father heard and answered the prayers of the pioneers. Abbey had the talk, so I helped her tell the story of the Crickets and the Seagulls, which has also long been a favorite of mine. We sang "Whenever I Think about Pioneers."

It is always amazing to me to reflect on all of the sacrifice and tribulations that the early Saints endured voluntarily. I am thankful for men and women who "met the test" in a way that I am not convinced I could have done. I face adversity much better in a climate controlled environment. Because of their faithfulness and fortitude I can live the gospel in relative comfort. I certainly have many trials of my own, but my own desire to press on is strengthened by those who have pressed on before me. We are united through the generations by common faith and hope--by a common goal of salvation. Through their stories and examples they tell us all to take courage and face the world with a strong heart.

"Whenever I think about pioneers,
I think of brave women and men.
I like to remember that children came, too;
I would like to have been a child then.

"I would like to have sung with all the pioneers,
With their voices loud and strong.
'Hosanna, Hosanna, we've found our new home,'
Joy and thankfulness filling their song."

"Whenever I Think about Pioneers"
words by Della Dalby Provost
CS, p. 222

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back Home

Aren't vacations fun? I've always loved vacation. Traveling to different places, smelling different smells, seeing different landscapes. When I was little and living in Massachusetts, I just loved going to San Diego. There's nothing like getting off of the plane to palm trees and balmy sea air. My grandma's house smelled fresher to me, somehow, than anywhere else in the world. I miss that smell, and can never quite find its match anywhere else in the city.

We traveled up to Idaho this past week. We took the Suburban loaded with an atlas, duffel bags, DVD player, games, snacks, water, apple juice, coloring books and an iPod. We had dinner with friends in St. George, bought tee-shirts at BYU in Provo, and toured the Conference Center and Temple Square in Salt Lake. We saw the new Joseph Smith movie in the Legacy Theatre. We attended Sacrament Meeting with the Prophet and President Faust, and although we never saw them and didn't even realize it was their ward until after the fact, we stood and waited for them to exit the building before leaving the chapel.

We continued on to a small suburb of Boise where we stayed with Larry's brother Eric, his wife Kim and their 5 kids. The 13 of us then went up to McCall, in the nearby mountains, for a couple of days. The kids had a blast, and we grown-ups had a pretty good time ourselves. Back in Boise, #4 went shooting for the first time with Larry, Eric and Eric's #3. The girl cousins stayed home and made Buckeye Balls. Finally we stopped in Carson City on our way, but otherwise drove straight home.

On our trip we saw license plates from every state but West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, and North and South Carolina, from 2 Canadian Provinces and the Federal Government. We passed by 11 LDS Temples, only unable to see 1 from the freeway and stopped at the St George and Salt Lake Temples. We saw 3 State Capitols. All this, and more, we did in just 8 days. Whew!

But now we're home. Laundry is almost done, and only Larry's bag is left unpacked. I'll likely tackle that while he's at work tomorrow. I've gotten groceries to last us until I do a big trip on Tuesday.

I often return home from a trip to a new place wishing I could move there. It's not that I hate where I live, but the grass is always greener where there are no responsibilities or routines. I'd love to be able to move to Idaho. That's not really an option, with the business. And it's nice to be here. We returned to heat and fires, but we also returned to the lady at the Post Office who overheard me ask for my mail and came over to see how the trip went. We came home to my mom and our hamster and my brother. We came home to a branch that drives me a little crazy, but is full of people I have come to love. We came home to messages from friends, a birthday party invitation for #3, and a plea to coach another team for AYSO. This hill provides a full, if not so green, life.

Yes, I always love a vacation. But it's always nice to be back home.