Tag: history

12 Years a Slave: A Review

12 years 6

(This is a somewhat detailed review so if you are the type that wants no plot or analysis before seeing a movie mild spoiler warning.  I couldn’t talk about it any other way.  I tried)

So I finally did it today- I watched 12 Years a Slave for Family Home Evening.  I’ve been debating for months whether I should see it because I had heard how intense and violent it was but being convinced it was an important film I decided to rent it and see what I thought.

I know many of my friends have had the same reservations so let me start with the violence. It is disturbing, sad, tragic whichever adjective you wish to use.  There is no doubt about it, but I do think some of the worry is a bit overblown.

It’s kind of a hard movie to review. At least I’m struggling to put my reaction into words. (I’ve written this like 3 times and started over unsatisfied with my portrayal).

12 years 4

12 Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a freeman in pre-civil war Washington DC who is abducted and forced into slavery for 12 years.

It is not a hopeful movie, and perhaps that is appropriate.  Even when Solomon is rescued after 12 years it is done slightly begrudgingly with more persuasion than the audience feels should be required after witnessing such things.  I have no doubt such hesitation is completely accurate but I’m just saying it is not a sentimental movie in any way.

In fact, at the beginning Solomon is kidnapped with a woman who is torn away from her children (who she is tricked into coming after and then captured).  This woman cries for days to the point of irritating all around her.  That’s where the movie starts- the most guttural humane reaction of Mother for her children is an annoyance and a bother.

I’m not saying this as a criticism but it is much more disturbing than any of the violence displayed (which again is very disturbing).  It’s almost as if the movie is saying ‘stop crying and listen’.

Another running scene that is almost crueler than the whippings is when the slaves are forced to dance before their masters as if all was well and happy.  It makes you sick.

In a lot of ways this  movie reminded me of one of my favorite books Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs/Linda Brendt; however, we as readers feel more invested in Harriet’s story than Solomon’s and there is one great friend in the book that gives some hope.

It’s kind of like in the telling of the Holocaust.  I think there is a place for hopeless, tragic versions like Night by Eli Weisel, but also for Man Search for Meaning or The Hiding Place.  I’m glad I read all of them.

Anyway, Solomon goes through a lot of masters/white men played by Paul Giamatti (as one of the slave merchants), Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch (as a slave owner who seems kindly but fails to do the right thing), Michael Fassbender (as the main master and a man who has convinced himself that all he does is validated, even required by God), Sarah Paulson is chilling as Fassbender’s jealous wife, Brad Pitt as a Canadian who finally has some courage.

DF-02868FD.psdOddly enough there aren’t many developed black, slave characters.  Besides Solomon there is Patsey. She is played by Luipita Nyong’o. Patsey is tortured by Fassbender, and she is a quiet, shy sufferer. (In certain scene Fassbender even has a strange dependence upon Patsey) More briefly seen is Alfre Woodard who is excellent as a fellow slave that has risen through the ranks and now has slaves of her own- very chilling.

12 years 12A good movie to compare 12 Years a Slave too is Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad, which tells the story of a mutiny aboard a slave ship in the late 18th century.

12 Years is a much smaller movie than Amistad.  Spielberg seemingly can’t resist the dramatic music cues and soaring speeches but even without that Amistad’s story is about a ship full of slaves, the Congress, an ex-president and a case before the Supreme Court.  It all feels bigger than 12 Years a Slave.

Now I think 12 Years is a better movie than Amistad because of it’s smaller, more intimate nature.  At all times, the audience is kept at a bit of a distance from the story, violence and even Solomon himself.  Most stories like this have narration or a scene where someone explains why these things are wrong.  That is not necessary.  Everyone knows why.

However, some have criticized the film as being too small. Peter Malamud Smith of Slate said:

“We’re more invested in one hero than in millions of victims; if we’re forced to imagine ourselves enslaved, we want to imagine ourselves as Northup, a special person who miraculously escaped the system that attempted to crush him”

I can see why Smith feels this way, but I disagree. I think I can learn more and feel more empathy for one person’s story than a slew of faces.  This is Solomon and Patsey’s story and only one of them escapes- a pain that is as much if not more deeply felt than a shipload of humanity suffering in Amistad.

Like I said, both have their place and are worth telling, but I think 12 Years a Slave is the better movie.  In some ways I wish we got even more inside Solomon and Patsey’s head. They are the emotional core of the movie, and I could have done with one less beating montage and more of their discussion.

That said, I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would in the movie and that kind of disturbs me  given the images. But when I think back to the beginning with the slave girl sobbing to the point of annoyance I wonder if the movie-makers are trying to teach me something, and that perhaps my response is intended?

Maybe by showing that lack of empathy early on, the movie is cautioning us against such sentimentality and asking you to think and absorb what really happened to these people with no exclamation points needed?

The most heartbreaking scene in the movie for me (mild spoiler) is when Solomon thinks he has found someone he can trust with a letter to his friends up North. You see the relief and hope in his eyes (again the movie has little hope) and when that trust is betrayed it was more brutal than any beating for me.

slave 13Sarah Paulson also has some of the most shocking scenes as Fassbender’s jealous wife.  In many shots we see her hovering in the corner watching the horrific scenes, and even encouraging them to take place.

The ultimate example is when Patsey goes to get soap from Alfre Woodard because Paulson has refused to allow her to clean to the point where her stench is making Patsey ill. Worried she has ran off Fassbender becomes enraged and Paulson stands by to watch.

If I’m going to nitpick the movie is a little cluttered and I kind of wish there were a few less white guys and a few more slaves to know and feel for, but I see why they did. Still, a few characters could have been trimmed.

Also some of the accents are very strange. I read that director Steve McQueen was going for specific regional dialect but it sounded like Brits and Germans trying to sound Southern.  Surely they could have gotten a few authentically Southern actors?

But like I said, that’s nitpicking.  It’s a very strong movie.  A few months ago I got in a debate with a person on twitter over Gone with the Wind and it’s portrayal of slavery.  I wish that person could see 12 Years a Slave and then tell me with an ounce of sincerity that Gone with the Wind is anything but complete fantasy (entertaining fantasy you can make an argument but at best it’s a well-meaning soap opera).

So, in the end- the violence is bad but not as bad as some have made it out to be.  It’s uncomfortable and will make you squirm in your seat but I think that’s appropriate.  It’s a small movie focusing on 2 slaves and 6-8 white masters.  It’s not heavy-handed with modern preaching (like The Conspirator a couple years a go…)

It’s a movie that will make you think.  Think about evil and how we rationalize freedom away from people because of a label.  How we make it ok to do horrible things to each other because that person is black, christian, jewish, muslim whatever.

The performances are all excellent and as an educational experience I highly recommend 12 Years a Slave.

I can see why you wouldn’t want or need to see the movie because of the intensity and violence, but I would at least challenge you to learn about what really happened from as many angles as you can. Do not be satisfied with anything too neat or dainty.

You should be left wondering why.


Last week I made 2 recipes from a very special cookbook- ‘the best white bread’ and ‘italian chicken’.  Where did I get these recipes why from my very own cookbook. See below:

a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
yummy salads

When I was 17 I was heading off to college I wanted to take my mother’s best recipes with me, so I gathered them together into a 3 ring binder on blue paper separated into categories like drinks, bread, salads, desserts.  The thing that I love is even though it was just for me I did my own drawings to accompany the recipes.   How many 17 year old’s who can’t really draw to save their life do that?

Isn’t it interesting because I could have just written the recipes down.  I’m not an artist so why did I feel inspired to add the drawings to my little cookbook?  Who knows exactly what inspired me but I would like to think it was because I knew that the recipes were special, that they deserved to be memorialized in some way and even if I was the only one who would see the drawings (which I pretty much am until this post) it was still worth it.

And you know what? It has been worth it.  I feel happy whenever I look in my cookbook and see the drawings.  It’s like 17 year old me waiving and saying hello to 33 year old me.  Over the years flour and guck has built up on the plastic covers of the pages and even had several that got briefly melted but I haven’t changed them to new covers.  I like seeing the years and remembering the time I made candy and it melted the on the fudge recipe or seeing the flour and remembering the pancakes that I’ve made over the years.

Other recipes remind me of the cooking contests we used to have (some are actually from the contest like the Green and White Lasagna one below).  That is one of the best times of my childhood cooking with my siblings.  Pancakes also remind me of my Dad and how he tried diligently for weeks to make the perfect pancake.  A recipe for spaghetti  makes me think of my Mom and how we ate pasta and sauce at least once a week growing up.  I also see the apple pie recipe and think of all the family gatherings where my Mother made the perfect pie and wistfully wonder if I will ever have such a culinary moment (her’s are seriously the best)

Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
Even have the butter label stuck on the pancake page1

It’s an amazing thing because at the same time that my cookbook brings back all those memories it is creating new one’s that I will look back on 5 years and see the flour from when I first made bread in my new house or the raspberry pies I made and brought to my friends the Porters. I don’t if I can think of anything else that is both a time capsule of past and present more than this cookbook.

For some reason I had an idea when I was young that this would be important so I not only made such a book for myself but when my sister got engaged I made a similar (if a bit nicer!) cookbook for her.  You see, she and her husband and spent much of their courting time with me and I had done most of the cooking.  At the time I was working and it was fun for me to cook for hungry guests and hear about their plans and adventures.  So, when I made Megan a cookbook it was more based on the recipes that I had made for her and not as much about the recipes Mom had made.

Megan’s recipe was all based on things that were quick that I had made for them as they were courting and engaged.
You’ll notice I have hand drawn drawings on Megan’s too. It just makes it more special.
Chili was a favorite of mine in college. It was sort of dotored up canned goods but always tasty and cheap.
the cover. So fun.

You will see in hers there is also the hand drawn artwork which I still find amazing as I am not much of a drawer but there was something about making a cookbook that made me draw by hand.  It’s like passing on a bit of who you are with what you cook so nothing else would work but your own hand at drawing.  And maybe the memory of making the drawings becomes part of the time capsule for past and future memories.  I hope it has been that for my sister.  I know she uses it often.

As I was making bread I said to myself ‘I wonder if most people would just look online for such a recipe?’ I’m sure they do and I look online often for sure but I hope that with the advancement we haven’t lost the value of creating family cookbooks, with personal touches of story and art for your life, your family to share and add on to.  Such a legacy of flour and egg cannot be transferred to an email or a pinterist pin.

Food has such a link to our survival, to what makes us literally alive; therefore, the stories it can tell can be monumental or sublimely small.  Without the family, homemade cookbook we lose some of those stories and some of that life.

So make a goal of it this year to write down your family recipes, add some illustrations (you’ve seen mine, don’t have to be so great) and then give similar gifts to those you love for their memories and by transference now your memories.  It’s just a good thing to do!

Don’t get so lost in the world of blogging, even food blogging, that you forget to make things that make memories.  Writing is powerful but so is art and beauty and cooking, so make a cookbook as a gift to your life! You’ll love it!

Ps.  I know there are companies that can make it all professional but I would discourage from that.  Make it you and everytime you see your wobbly version of a salad or a turkey you will smile and say to yourself ‘thanks 17 me love ya’ and those are the sublime moments of life.

Carousel of Progress?

Today is a lazy Saturday with not much to do and I found myself pondering.  Here’s an interesting question-

Do you look at history as a history of progress or one of regression?

Here’s what I mean:  At school, history was always shown as a history of progress.  We started out as caveman ended up as civilized human beings living together.  We started out with strict classes and slavery and learned from those mistakes. We went from strength and money meaning everything to individual rights being guaranteed for all.

Certainly if looking through purely ease of living and technology we can see progress.  Where once we had to work so hard for water, power, and proper sewers, now we take those things for granted.  Now I can get to Tokyo in a day of travel . I can work from home with people all around the world.  I can interact with friends, even date from my own home.  Progress…

But then there is another narrative.  At church we often hear about how the signs of the times have produced a wicked generation.  That pornography, attack on the family, and sin are approved even encouraged.  That in previous eras right was protected and enshrined and Satan has done his best to muddle our modern sensibilities.

Even if you take away the religious element there is still a narrative of regression.  For instance, the philosopher Martin Heidegger  believed that industrialization had hammered the humanity or ‘being’ out of each of us so that what was once of great value is now just a product.  He told a story of a boy who looked at a moon.   His mother believes the moon was God or where God lives.  The boy responds ‘Its just a big rock’.   (I couldn’t find the exact quote so Heidegger scholars be nice.  I am certainly not one).

In other words, what was once spiritual, wonderful, magical has now been turned to its bare minerals, its menial existence and usefulness as a product to be sold.  Technology has in many ways made us cold and turned people into boxes instead of the individuals we were so reliant on for survival in earlier ages.  Regression…

(Heidegger was also sympathetic to the Nazi party so take it for what you will).

I don’t know if its still there but Disneyland used to have a show called ‘A Carousel of Progress’. This ride takes you from one vignette of family life in 1900, to 1920, to 1950s to the millennium.  It leads with the song ‘There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow just a dream a way’.  Cheesy I know and nice in theory but I think the truth is more muddled.  We certainly haven’t made much progress in war, hate, divorce, poverty and despair, etc.

A pessimist could argue such a ride should be called ‘The Carousel of Repeat Offenses’.  To use the cliche, ‘history is bound to repeat itself’, and it certainly has.  We seem to never learn but that wouldn’t make for a very chipper ride! 🙂

I do appreciate the optimism of Walt Disney’s view.  It is a very happy, if possibly inaccurate, way to look at the world.

Anyway, what do you think?  How do you look at history- progress or regression?  This has been a topic I’ve always wondered about.  I remember discussing it with one of my young woman’s leaders and she looked at me like ‘Whoa…I have no idea what to say in response’.  I got that a lot back in the day!

Perhaps it depends on what lens you are looking through? For example, I doubt the native American’s would see history as one of progression!

Many people I know look with equal nostalgia at both the simpleness of the past and the ease of living promised in the future.  Woody Allen captured much of this type of yearning for the past in his wonderful movie Midnight in Paris.  Look at our recent infatuation with the 60’s and its Mad Men culture? Do we not sometimes look at the past and think ‘if only things could be like the good old days?…’.

Progression or Regression?

I suppose the answer is probably somewhere in between but I think most of us  have to decide which way we lean towards in our views of life, politics, and history.

Nobody ever reads my thoughtful posts but on the off chance they do- what do you think?  I tend to side more on the side with the realists but not so much that I lose hope for a bright future.

Carousel of Progress

PS.  I love Disneyland…

An Author

Last week a friend told me about a service that coverts blogs into books.


Using this service you upload your blog and can chose from a number of different formats, with everything from a scrapbook style to more of a traditional book.  With my blog being more word-heavy and being 4 years old I naturally chose the latter.

IT IS AWESOME!  2 volumes, 751 pages with black and white photos (I also got a color pdf copy with links included).

Even though it is just for me it feels so satisfying to hold volumes in my hands that I wrote.  That have my thoughts and ideas inside. It really does make me feel like an author.  It is exciting!

I remember a writer told me once to bind your first book whether it is published or not, and I can see why.  Its extremely satisfying to see your hard work in paper form, not just electronic.

Its just neat to see the proof of my life over the last 4 years! It makes me want to keep writing.

The front and back cover. Don't they look great!
Text with photos
the inscription

Food Matters

Food is Not the Enemy

Excuse just a little bit more venting.  My trainer and I were talking today and she told me about this trainer that she knows who was spouting off about how we should ‘look at food as a survival tool, nothing more.”  We both agreed that this is the stupidest thing We’ve ever heard.

It may be true that food should be less important, more neutral in our lives and that emotions attached to food can often be dangerous; however, to pretend that food should have no impact on our lives is just denying reality.

It is impossible to talk about any culture without discussing food.  Most historical events are tangled up with food.  I can’t think of a single tradition that does not involve food or food traditions.  When was the last time you saw someone blowing out a pile of rocks? No, its cake people!  Every culture that I am aware has food involved in the celebration of weddings, birthdays, Christmas, harvest etc. To pretend that this connection is unnecessary is stupid and naive.

Some may argue that we put too much of an emphasis on food, or that we don’t appreciate it enough because of our lack of farm to table produce.  To these people I would heartedly agree.  We use food as a reward too frequently and we could tone down the number and boost the quality of the food celebrations we participate in, but to pretend like  this is not a part of human nature is ridiculous.

The thing that gets my goat about is any trainer or health professional who is preaching this type of lifestyle to his or her patrons.  They are setting them up for failure.  Its like the people who push the green drink (or any other radical change diet).   Yes, you will lose weight, yes it may even be healthy but it does not work with the culture we live in.  It does not accept reality, work with it, and create a real solution.  I am so glad my trainer gets it. 

You may ask- what about my sugar fast?  Is this not denying reality?  There is some truth to that, and I have struggled with such a drastic lifestyle change (and not been perfect I might add); however, it is not a permanent fix.  We are attempting to change my habits and cravings so that when I immerse myself completely in my world I can make better choices.  I am also just trying to get through the holidays with as few cheats as possible. I have no delusions that this is a better way to live or that I would even want to keep it up for an extended period of time.

If someone was planning on doing a sugar fast long term I would strongly discourage them.  We have an entire organ in our body basically designed to taste food- all types of food.  That’s why we have sweet, salty, bitter taste buds and we should engage all of them.  Food is part of the human experience and as healthy individuals we simply have to learn to control the times we do engage and keep a healthy overall lifestyle.

Its like people that argue we should only live with the bare essentials.  If that was the case I suppose we don’t need music, art, theater, or literature to survive.  The difference between humans and animals is that we don’t just survive, we don’t act on mere instinct, but we engage socially, politically and culturally on a daily basis.  Someone like a Mozart or a Julia Child may not be necessarily for human survival but I sure am grateful for them!

Ok.  So, in conclusion- food is a real part of our lives.  To deny this fact is foolish and to teach it is irresponsible.  We must learn to work with food and create a dynamic interesting life.  It is difficult to do but with the support of loved one’s, competent trainers, health professionals and friends I am confident each of us can find that balance by enjoying food but not frequently overindulging.

There I said it! Done!

Dolley Madison- A Modern Woman in an Old Fashioned World

Last week I watched a documentary on the PBS program American Experience about Dolley Madison.  Previous to that moment, I knew nothing about Dolley except that she had carried the painting of George Washington out of the White House when it was on fire in the war of 1812.  If you get a chance to watch the documentary do it.  See if you can get it at your local library.

Dolley was the wife of our fourth president James Madison.  The documentary has: historians, actors portraying key figures in Dolley’s life, her letters and even actual photographs of Dolley late in life.  Becoming first lady was only one of many fascinating aspects of her life.  She was raised as a Quaker with strict parents who monitored her social life, behaviors and even strongly encouraged, if not forced, her to marry her first husband John Payne Todd.

As a young married woman she had 2 boys and did the best to be happy and love her husband.  By all reports she was beautiful and vivacious.  However, just 3 years after marriage, in 1793, her husband and baby boy died from a yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia.  With another son to support Dolley knew that her only choice was to marry again.  Luckily she was charming enough to be highly courted and the government was still being mostly run out of Philadelphia bringing Congressman and other dignitaries calling on Dolley.  One of the men was James Madison.  A shy founding father who was 17 years older than Dolley.   Despite his non-quaker status (which meant Dolley was removed from the religious group) the two fell in love, married and rarely spent a day apart for the rest of their lives.  (It was interesting to see that Dolley and James have few letters because they were always together unlike their popular contemporaries John and Abigail Adams).

Unlike almost all women (and certainly all proceeding first ladies including Abigail Adams) Dolley became involved in the politics at hand and she did so in a very savvy way.  Instead of pounding the street corners or giving speeches, she held dinner parties, introduced friends, and forced sparring debaters to enjoy an evening together.  I admire how she used whatever power she had to make a difference- to make her stamp on the world.  One of the scholars in the documentary claims that Dolley was the first true grass roots campaigner.  This is significant coming from a woman with no formal education, in a time where a woman with political know-how was considered a scandalous notion.   One biography describes her as:

“Once Dolley Madison became first lady in 1809, her status as the central figure of Washington society was confirmed. The vivacious Dolley’s expansive memory for names and ability to make everyone at home in the White House attracted guests by the many. Her lavish dinner parties were noted for the surprise delicacies served.  She began holding Wednesday evening “drawing rooms”  (receptions) that became immensely popular with politicians, diplomats, and the citizenry. Not only was Dolley renowned for her charm, but her knowledge of politics and current events was significant as well. She proved an asset to James’s political career in two ways: her outgoing demeanor complimented his reserved and stonefaced disposition and her political insight influenced his decision-making. Undoubtedly, Dolley was one of the reasons James won reelection in 1812.”

Then there is the famous incident that I mentioned above- removing the artifacts and paintings from the White House before it was burnt.  The interesting thing I didn’t know is that the reason she was at the White House (most of Washington being deserted at that time)was due to her refusal to leave until her husband had returned from a meeting with his generals. With the British coming closer she realized that nothing would give greater glee to the invading troops than to lord over the documents of our founding and the painting of George Washington.  Deciding that such disgrace was not going to happen on her watch, she loaded a wagon full of such items and when her husband raced back they sneaked into hiding until the invasion was over.

I am sure I will learn much  more about Dolley as I read her biography, but what I have know so far gives me much respect and admiration for her spirit, spunk and determination.   All of the women in America owe a debt of gratitude to founding women like Dolley Madison, Abigail Adams and more.   Their husbands sometimes get all the glory, but we all know where most men end up without a strong woman to guide them (and vice versa- especially back then).  I highly encourage you all to find the documentary and learn something about a fascinating woman who made America great!  (Shouldn’t they make a movie about her?  Why does it seem like they only make movies about the scoundrels?)

True to the Faith…Legacy of Pioneers

Today is a holiday in Utah. We celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.   This first party led by Brigham Young was called to leave their homes for the third or fourth time- most of them in a matter of hours.  Gathering their few meager possessions and loved ones, they willingly left all for a better, more free life.  This exodus on the heels of the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith and the  extermination order by the governor of Missouri Lilburn W. Boggs calling for the “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State”.  In the country founded by religious pilgrims and Christian ideals they were literally kicked out because of their faith.  Making things harder  is that the initial party only knew they were heading west – no more.  Brigham Young didn’t even have an exact idea of the final destination. While on the way Brigham Young happened upon famed tracker Jim Bridger who discouraged the Great Basin as an eventual landing place for the Saints.  Bridger claimed the soil was too salty for crops and the winter’s too frigid.  He recommend they move on to California’s more furtile lands.  However, Brigham Young knew the Saints needed a place that other’s found undesirable, so the Saints could have the peace and space to prosper.   Eventually arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham and his counselors climbed Emigration canyon and exclaimed by revelation “this is the place”.

The Mormon pioneers continued the exodus until the arrival of the railroad in 1869.  While still difficult, most groups traveled without serious problems.  This all changed in 1856 when two handcart companies, leaving late, found themselves in the middle of a brutal Wyoming winter.  Hundreds died of exposure, fatigue and even despair.  Finally, word came to Brigham Young of the suffering and he sent relief parties out immediately- halting all further addresses at the General Conference, which was occurring when he found out.   To rally the people Brigham Young said:

“The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them up. You know that I would give more for a dish of pudding and milk, or a baked potato and salt, were I in the situation of those who have just come in, than I would for your prayers, though you were to stay here all the afternoon and pray. Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place.”

Even with relief, hundreds died in the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  The suffering and sacrifice was great.   Here is an emotional video with President Gordon B. Hinckley describing the price that was paid for religious freedom by the pioneers:

I often think- “Could I have done it?  Could I have been a pioneer?”.  I know that I am a pioneer in some aspects of my life, but I do not physically suffer for my beliefs.  Could I do it?  The simple answer is- “I don’t know”.  I suppose many of the pioneers didn’t know if they could do it before they were forced on the path.

The closest I can come to estimating my physical stamina for my faith is my mission.  Compared to the thousands of miles walked by the pioneers, it is nothing, but to me it was a grueling experience.  With my foot condition I was in serious pain everyday.  Sometimes I handled it well and at other moments I wept in pain.  This was one of the many difficulties of a my mission.  Why did I keep going? The simple answer is I knew it was true.  I wanted to tell the people of Indiana that  God does speak to a prophet today,  He does love us, the Book of Mormon is true, and His gospel has been restored.  This was worth any sacrifice .  The few people I was able to teach made all the achy feet seem like a small price to pay (or at least medium price!).  I am grateful to my companions for walking slow with me and putting up with my bad days! I wonder if the pioneers had bad days where they complained about their aching feet and muscles?  They probably did!

Still, as a group they were amazingly optimistic- even taking time for joyous events while on the trail.  When I think of my mission I had tough days when I wanted to give up, and I was certainly not pushed as hard as the pioneers in any way.  How did they do it?  How did they hold on to their faith so hard that they not only kept walking but danced at night and held concerts to sing the hymns? They even had a band, which preformed along the way.  It’s an inspiration!

I hope  I can face my small challenges with the same courage, happiness and religious devotion as the pioneers.  I challenge all of you to look at their example and with me, try a little harder to serve the Lord each day. This way their legacy will not be wasted or counted for naught.

The pioneer anthem was Come, Come, Ye Saints .  Please listen to it and remember the sacrifices they made on this pioneer day!