A. This last week we have been engaged in Stake Youth Missionary Week. Last Sunday the Young Women and Young Men went to a kick-off fireside at the Hamilton Building. While there we heard the inspirational testimony of a young man from the Leesburg Ward who was baptized about a year ago, and is now waiting for his own mission call. We also heard the story of a young woman who told of the conversions of her aunt and grandfather as the result of good examples. Finally, President Hamula, of the Washington, D.C. South Mission, told of the rescue of the Martin Handcart company, and likened the rescue of their temporal lives, to the modern day rescue of the spiritual lives of our friends and family.
B. On Friday evening the Young Women and Young Men of our ward participated
in the rescue of our forebears though baptisms for the dead at the Temple.
A number of your children had prepared for this event through genealogical
research and the submission of names to the temple. At one point, Bro. Jason
Mikels and I were confirming Peter Hale as a proxy for a deceased brother
while Bro. Randy Hymas was recording. The room was full of other young men
reverently waiting their turn. During this confirmation the Spirit bore strong
witness to me that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, that these are the
saving ordinances, and that these young men were doing the work of the Lord.
A little later in the evening, the series of baptisms with our young men
as proxies was interrupted for two patrons with three family file names.
The temple workers brought out a chair so that the confirmations could be
done right after the patrons came out of the water. The temple worker asked
me to be the voice in two of the confirmations. At this time the Spirit was
very strong, witnessing to me that these deceased people are very real and
they take these ordinances very seriously.
C. Last night our young people went to a reader's theater at the Hamilton Chapel. They were to invite a non-member or less active member to attend with them. Some of the young people in our ward did just that. The reader's theater was the story of a young woman named Elizabeth who joined the church in England and migrated to Nauvoo by herself. There she met her husband, David. While crossing the plains, David left with the Mormon Battalion and Elizabeth crossed the plains by herself. David and Elizabeth were reunited in Utah. (And lived happily ever after!)
D. After the reader's theater, refreshments were provided in the cultural hall, which was ringed with a number of displays by the full-time missionaries and the Stake YM and YW. Later, those 14 years and older went to the Stake Dance and had a good time.
II. PIONEER MISSIONARIES
A. The reader's theater reminded me of a different couple that had lived
in Nauvoo. Their names were Milo and Abigail. Their story begins before Nauvoo,
however. Milo and Abigail joined the church near Kirtland in 1832. They were
married one year later--he was 19 and she was 18. Over the next 3 years,
Milo served two missions and went on the Zion's Camp trek from Ohio to Missouri
and back. In 1836, Abigail had one child and one on the way. The three and
1/2 of them attended the dedicatory services of the Kirtland Temple. The
couple also received the limited temple ordinances that were given at Kirtland.
Milo, now aged 22, was called to be the branch president over the Florence,
Ohio branch with the specific instructions to move the whole branch to
B. The Florence branch left Ohio in the fall of 1836 and went as far as Terre Haute, Indiana where they wintered over. They reached Far West in the spring of 1837, early enough to put in the crops. While in Far West, Milo and Abigail attended the ceremony when the corner stone of the Far West Temple was laid. However, less than a year after arriving in Far West, in February 1838, Milo and Abigail and their now three children were forced to flee. They spent a very cold month in a wagon, reaching Quincy, Illinois in March 1838. Milo and Abigail moved to Nauvoo and built a comfortable house on the corner of Mulholland and Horner streets. They lost a child in the malaria epidemic that swept the city in the summer of 1839.
C. In the fall of 1839, just after the Apostles left for their famous mission to England, Milo--now aged 25--was called on a mission to Canada, from which he returned in the spring of 1840. In 1841 the couple attended the ceremony when the corner stone of the Nauvoo Temple was laid. Thereafter, Milo donated every tenth day to work on the Temple. By 1843, Milo--now aged 29--had served another short mission to Indiana and was called to be Bishop of the Nauvoo 5th Ward, which included the Temple site. The ward was three blocks wide and 32 blocks long. He and Abigail had two more children.
D. In 1844, Milo was part of the group of Elders sent out to advocate the Presidential Candidacy of Joseph Smith, and was in southern Ohio when the Prophet was killed. At the October General Conference of 1844, Milo was called into the First Quorum of the Seventy. One year later, in the fall of 1845, Milo and Abigail received their endowments in the Nauvoo temple and spent 6 weeks as temple workers there.
E. In the spring of 1846, Abigail was 31 and Milo was 32. They and their four living children left Nauvoo and drove a wagon to Winter Quarters. Milo and Abigail were chosen to stay behind and farm in Winter Quarters during the summer of 1847 so there would be food for the Saints who were on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. They were told that they could join the main body of the Saints going to the valley in the Spring of 1848. Just before they were to leave for the valley, Milo received another mission call--this time to England. Abigail, at age 33, took the now 5 children across the plains by herself in the Heber C. Kimball wagon train. She would not see her husband for two years.
F. When Milo's mission was finished he was assigned to lead a group of Saints from England to Salt Lake. The trip took them from Liverpool to New Orleans, up the Mississippi and then across the plains. He lead 55 wagons and 206 people to Salt Lake.
G. Once in Salt Lake the pioneering was not over. Milo settled south of Salt Lake. Four years later, in 1854 he was then sent back to St. Louis, Missouri to be the Stake President. The next year they shut down the St. Louis Stake and Milo brought the whole stake of 880 people across the plains, arriving in October of 1855 at age 41. In 1856, members of the Martin Handcard company found their way into Milo's home in Salt Lake. In 1859, Milo was sent back to England on another mission. When this mission was over, he lead his third wagon train to Utah. This group of 337 people arrived in Utah in 1861.
H. After three crossings of the plains, Milo was sent to colonize St. George. (This just proves the old adage that "No good deed goes unpunished.") While in St. George, Milo helped build his third temple. After 10 years in St. George, at age 67, Milo was sent to colonize Emory County near the Green River. (And I thought I was too old to go camping.) After leaving Emory County, he settled in the Idaho part of Cache valley in 1884 at the at of 70. Milo finished out his days there as the Stake Patriarch.
III. MODERN DAY PIONEER MISSIONARIES
A.. So why do I tell this long story of my great, great, grandfather Andrus? Milo and Abigail were pioneers before and after they crossed the plains--not just while they crossed the plains. And their pioneering was mixed with missionary work. And both their pioneering and missionary-ing were mixed with temple work. This is the kind of experience the young men and women of our stake have had this week: missionary-ing, temple-ing, and pioneering. They all go together.
B. We are pioneers. Nobody before us has lived in a world like ours. It is our assignment to cross the plains of the last days to the valley of the Millennium. And this pioneering is inextricably intertwined with missionary work and temple work. May we be as faithful as those who went before us.
C. To this I bear my witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.