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Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter Willie (Handcart) Thoughts

For the last couple of years I've written a 'Winter Woes' blog post, but everyone knows how much I despise winter and I won't beleaguer readers with another winy post about cold, snow, and frost and how tired I am of being cooped up in the house instead of working in the yard.  I'm trying to focus on the positive aspects of having a winter season and the importance of it in my personal life.

A few years ago I read a book entitled Tell My Story, Too - A Collection of Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Rescuers of the Willie, Martin, Hodgett, Hung Companies 1856.  There were so many compelling accounts of valiant pioneers who traveled across the US by handcart under extreme conditions.  So many faith-promoting stories of converts from Europe whose desire was to join with other saints in Zion.  So many in these companies died of the cold and starvation and those remaining were in terrible shape under the harsh conditions they had endured over the trek to Wyoming and for the many weeks they had been stranded there.  Brave liberators from Salt Lake made their way across the frozen mountains to save those survivors of the marooned companies.

This winter my mind has often gone to an entry of a young girl who recalled her rescuer coming to her where she was huddled on the ground with only a blanket for warmth.  The man rode up to her and asked her if she wanted a ride and she answered she would.  He told her to take his hand which she did assuming he would pull her up by him on the seat of his wagon.  But instead, he started cantering the horse and while holding tight to her hand, forced her to run along side him.  She cried out in pain because she was so cold and stiff, but the man continued to have her run even increasing the pace of the horse until she was to the point of collapsing and allowing herself to be drug, when he finally pulled her up into his wagon and gave her another blanket.

She says she didn't realize it at that time, but afterwards recognized that getting her blood moving saved her feet from freezing and possibly even her life on the ride out of the Sweetwater Camp to Salt Lake Valley. There were numerous stories in the same book about those whose tenuous lives were extinguished on that rescue ride and also many amputations performed on the survivors of these Handcart Companies upon arrival in the Valley.  My mind has played and replayed this young woman's story as I've considered if her rescuer knew that he had to get her blood pumping to warm her and help her to survive this last leg of her arduous journey or if he was just prompted by the Spirit to do that.  In 1856 there wouldn't have been the scientific evidence to show how human blood circulation becomes limited in cold temperatures and eventually stops flowing to the extremities in an effort to keep the blood temperature as warm as possible in the truck of the body.  He was probably aware that activity warmed the body, but not the science behind it.  I wonder if thought about the tasks this young lady would perform through the rest of her life that would require her health and her feet?

The man must have initially appeared cruel and heartless to this poor girl as he compelled her freezing body into a painful jog.  But how wonderful that for the rest of her life (and she lived a very long and full life according the rest of her account) she praised God and was grateful to that unnamed rescuer for his foresight and wisdom in obliging her into such a difficult and painful run before finally pulling her into the wagon.

I've been considering parallels in life.  Our rescuer, Jesus Christ, who loves us and only wants to save us and see us happy, realizes we have to go through difficult things. Sometimes we are at the point of collapse, but we have to have faith that he will pull us into the wagon when we have done all we can to to learn, grow, and move our blood through our veins enough to be saved.

1 comment:

Dean and Sheri said...

It's a typical, busy Saturday morning here at the Mossi home. I've been doing laundry, vacuuming, the usual. I sat down for just a few minutes to read blog posts. I did not expect tears. I've heard this story before. You've retold it in a moving fashion. I too, despise winter's cold. Just thinking of the suffering these saints endured is painful. Thank you for the perspective and the parallel of how the Savior works in our lives. Beautiful.