Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pioneer Trekking Through the Generations

Painting Found in the East Foyer of the LDS Conference Center

Pioneer Trekking Reenactment: In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our pioneers are held dear for their faith, their hard work, for the path they blazed into the West and for the many, many sacrifices that were made on behalf of seeking to live the gospel of Jesus Christ free from persecution. They sought to establish a place of safety and freedom for the members of the church who were chased and persecuted, beaten, raped and murdered, and flushed with threat of bodily harm from one settlement to another, by various mobs. There was great suffering, but also great joy.

My ancestors on my mother's side of the family were a part of the great exodus from  Europe and then across the early United States and into the territories of the West. The stories of these various pioneers have significantly imprinted my life and my ability to put my own trials and difficulties into perspective.

My great-great, and great-great-great grandmothers traveled across the Atlantic from England, leaving in the dark of the night, as my great-great-great grandfather was bitter about the church and did not want them to join. They left by ship and then made their way across the United States to the Utah Territory. The mother, Caroline, fell ill right as she was boarding the ship from England, by the time the ship had sailed she knew she was too ill to be traveling but there was nothing to be done at that point. Her spunky little girl, Caroline Rachel, was 8 years old and was cared for and tended through the kindness of those around her. Apparently she was a vibrant, energetic child, and got under foot of the sailors whenever she would go up top to throw her face to the sky and the sun and to breathe in the freshness of the sea, but despite the inconveniences everyone managed somehow.

In their trek across the United States and into the wild West, eventually Caroline the mother succumbed to her illness, which has been stated in some records to have been Consumption, and died and was buried on the banks of the Missouri River. Caroline Rachel continued her trek alone, barefoot through the hot and pricker-filled plains, with strangers, or at least strangers that became friends and caregivers along the way.

Caroline Rachel made it out to Utah and was fostered out to a family to be raised and cared for where she was happy and healthy and grew up to be the mother of 12 red headed children, of which my great grandmother was one, and so our story goes through the generations. As a side note, her father, missing his family and not knowing that his wife had died, several years later joined the church and came speedily out to rejoin his family. He was ecstatic to be reunited with his little girl, who was no longer so little, but heartbroken and inconsolable when he heard of the death of his beloved wife. Because she was well established and happy in her adopted family, he decided to live in a home next door to her instead of taking her away from them to live with him. He died a short few years later.

A common activity among our youth groups, in the summer time, is to reenact in some degree the walking, or trekking, that the pioneers experienced. There is always a lot of walking, more often than not they are dressed in 1800s period clothing, the rations are limited and there are stories told and a lot of work done along the way. As you can imagine, participating in this type of an activity gives pause for thought, for gratitude, and for humility and soberness of mind as they think about what the predecessors went through many, many years ago.

The youth are generally sorted into "family" groups with a ma and a pa and they work and walk and pull handcarts together. There is usually a pull where the women and girls must trek alone, sometimes to represent the men being gone with the Mormon Batallion (the U.S. Army recruited the Mormons to help blaze through to California), sometimes to represent how many women and girls traveled alone because the men did not join the trek, were serving the church elsewhere or perhaps had died. The food is often simple and sometimes meager to represent the difficulties the pioneers experienced. Overall, it is hot and dirty and dusty, or perhaps rainy and cold and muddy, just like it was back in the 1800s.

I came across this article and thought it sounded like this group of kids had a great experience, so I thought I would share it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Night = Family Night

Monday Night: Family Home Evening. In the Latter-day Saint culture, Monday nights are generally reserved for the family. It is a time when families come together to learn about the gospel and how to implement it in their lives. It is a time set aside for bonding together, for creating deeper friendships and understandings with one another. It is an opportunity for peace and laughter, and maybe some cookies or brownies shared together, in the home. Family Home Evening, also called Family Night is a time to be together. 

Growing up our family implemented this tradition of learning, sharing and growing. Through the years for Family Home Evening, which we had in spurts, but never as consistently as I think my mom would have liked (we are definitely not a perfect family, but more of a learning, let’s keep practicing family), we learned to read our scriptures, to discuss our thoughts and ideas, we sang hymns and children’s songs, learned how to conduct music and say prayers. During family prayer we would kneel together, head’s bowed, arms folded, in a circle as we supplicated the Lord. Prayer was ALWAYS followed by a giant family, swaying, laughing hug, (with sometimes tipping over and silliness )and then refreshments (popcorn, cookies, brownies, cake or some other delightful treat one of us had helped my mom to make.) Family Home Evening was almost always a happy time, though there was the occasional pouting that occurred that wore off as we went through our lesson and activity.

Some of the activities that stick out in my mind are:  
    • Our family name is Zalit. People often fear the “Z” and panic and don’t know how to say it or use it, it’s pretty much how it is spelled. We have had any number of pronunciations, but “Salad” was pretty common. One year, we worked on a family mission statement and my dad, who was a dramatic, dynamic, creative man who loved fanfare, decided that we should have a family banner. So, we made a family banner. Now as I mentioned, the whole Zalit/Salad thing—well in addition to the mispronunciation, most of us, LOVED salad, so as a celebration of who we are and were, our family flag had a giant bowl of crazy exploding salad on it. It was very colorful and cheerful and we loved it. 
    • My mom and dad took turns teaching us a gospel lesson, sometimes, as we got older, we helped to prepare and teach the lesson. On this one particular occasion, we talked about prayer and how it was like making a telephone call to Heavenly Father. My dad had cans with string attached and we took turns talking and listening. We had to listen really carefully for the answer because it wasn’t like talking to each other face to face or shouting, but rather was a feeling, or thoughts, or whisperings. He taught us that this is what it was like to talk to God and to be impressed upon by the Holy Ghost: you needed to focus, listen with your mind, your heart and your ears.
    • We learned about our pioneer heritage, both those who came across the plains of the great wild territories of the United States, as well as those who crossed land and sea to achieve freedom in other countries. We learned about the heritage of sacrifice, of hard work, of building things up, of faith in God, and of the pursuit of dreams and righteous desires. We learned about our family’s journey from Latvia to Brazil to the United States. We learned about our German, English, Swedish and Scottish heritage, including our tartan, and professional artists, musicians, teachers, farmers, ranchers, businessmen and entrepreneurs. We learned about success and failure, joy and sorrow, sickness and health. The stories of our people, of those who paved the way ahead of us have given me strength and comfort in my own life as I have braved new paths and journeys and as I strive to leave a positive and strong heritage to those who come behind me.
    • We learned about the prophets of the Bible and also modern day prophets. We loved the stories of Daniel in the Lions Den, of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace, and of the beauty of the words and writing in Psalms and Proverbs, and of the strength of Abraham and Isaac and Ruth and Esther. We learned about the birth, and life, and death of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ and that He is our example in all things and that through the Atonement that we can return to our Heavenly Father again some day. We learned about the stories in The Book of Mormon: about Nephi and Sam and Laman and Lemuel and how to be a good sibling vs. a bad sibling. We learned about conviction and the 2000 Stripling Warriors and how they were taught to be righteous by their mothers, and of course about Samuel the Lamanite who stood up on the wall and cried repentance to the people. We learned about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel in this dispensation, and of course Brigham Young, and all of the prophets that followed, as well as stories of courage and faith of the pioneers. 
    • With great fanfare, costuming, and creativity we enacted the nativity every year growing up, with the last one with everyone at home, being the Christmas before I got married wherein I was a heralding angel in a white graduation gown, a tiara, elbow length white gloves and every sparkling piece of jewelry I could find . . . because angels sparkle, (did you not know??), my mother and sister a shepherd herding the family pets, brothers who were kings and inn keepers scowling at my grandparents who were Mary and Joseph, and lastly my baby brother, who was 7, squashed into a blanket filled laundry basket…unimpressed.
These are my memories and nothing was perfect and often there was the usual family drama and comedy that occurs in every family. But Family Home Evening is a fond memory and was an integral part to my learning and growing up and developing my own testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Family Home Evening doesn’t need to be something that is tedious or a pain in the neck. It doesn’t even need to take up a ton of time. Monday nights can be an opportunity to gather together as a family, to talk about the ups and downs of the day, to prepare for things coming up in the new week, and to read some verses of scripture together, to talk about the love of God for His children, or of the example of Jesus Christ and how it applies to our day to day living. Family Home Evening can be about serving others, any others that may be important to you: help a neighbor, surprise a friend or show kindness to a stranger or some other person in need. Family Night can be when you learn how to do something together: bake cookies, play a new game, read a new book out loud, build a fence, play outside, make popcorn balls, decorate the Christmas tree, and any other thing you can imagine.

Family Home Evening can be something you do whether you are a young family or a more mature family, whether you have children or no children, whether you are a single parent or dual parent household, whether you are married, divorced, separated, or single. Family Home Evening is what you define it to be for the needs of you and your family, however that may be defined. 

Give Family Night a chance, make it what you need it to be, customize it to your needs and the needs of your family. And remember, it may be rough sometimes or all you can do to get through it, but keep at it, it is one of those things that is worth the effort and the hassle, it is worth the balking that teenagers may put up, it is worth the complaining because somebody doesn’t get to play a video game, or be online or watching a show. The family time that you spend learning about the gospel, each other, and compassion and love, and the life of Christ will be worth it in the long run long after shows and games have been forgotten. People will remember the laughter and the love and the joy of being a family who are friends.

Peace be with you. Do something new that will bring joy and light and love into your home. Happy experimenting!