|This is the rickshaw which we took on our first day of training.|
I took a rickshaw in case Dorothy wouldn’t be able to walk the whole way. She wasn’t. I started pulling her up the hills. She was out of breath. We are at 6200 feet. Elder Jensen helped me pull her up the hills for the rest of the trek.
Totally, we went about 9 miles that day. Dorothy walked at least five, but we stopped from time to time, and the last year’s missionaries told stories because the stake leaders that were being trained needed to hear the stories. The stake leaders of their own youth are supposed to take charge of the trekkers. Our job is only to be there for assistance and tell stories if asked. Usually one missionary is in the front and one in the rear.
The next day was also a training session, but we went to 6th Crossing about 60 miles from Martin’s Cove. It is another Handcart Site, further up the trail. It includes Rocky Ridge, the hardest part of the Mormon/Oregon/California/Pony Express trail, not because it is so steep, but because of the large rocks the wagons and handcarts have to be pulled over.
|A handcart with Devil's Gate in the background.|
Here is one of our first letters, written on the day we reported to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah, to our family about our mission to Martin’s Cove:
"April 21, 2014, "Today we start our training at 10 a.m.
"We have been studying about the hand cart treks. After Joseph Smith and Hyrum were killed in June 1844, the Saints (members of the church) in Nauvoo were getting attacked more and more by mobs. The mobs demanded that the Saints leave, so they did, straggled out over the plains for years.
"Brigham Young wanted to help the poor Saints, so he developed the Perpetual Emigrating Fund (PEF). More wealthy Saints donated what they could, and it usually was not much because everyone had to leave their homes, businesses, furniture, and just get out, or leave the Church, or deny that Joseph Smith was a prophet. They wouldn't do that, so they just left their property. They donated their pennies to the PEF.
"After a while there was enough to make loans to families to buy wagons and food for the 1300 + mile trip to Salt Lake. Usually they donated in kind, grain, wagons, chickens, etc because the monetary system was not developed.
"The poor people promised to repay the PEF as soon as they got to the Valley and could do it. "It was dangerous anywhere in the United States to be a Mormon, so those who gained a testimony by praying and asking God if Joseph Smith really did see Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, and received their answer had no choice but to leave and go west or deny that God had spoken to them, too. Many gave up under the persecution, but thousands were faithful to their prayers and just packed up and left. Some packed their stuff in wheelbarrows and walked the 1000 miles.
|William Henry Jackson's painting of handcart pioneers crossing in front of Devil's Gate. Where the visitors' center now is.|
"The PEF was extended to the Saints in England. Persecution increased there too. One person would join the Church in a family and the rest of the family would kick them out, but there wasn't, enough money in the PEF to bring everyone, so faithful families waited years or began to send only one child or one parent to Zion.
"In 1855 there were crop failures in the Salt Lake Valley and people there hardly had enough food for themselves. Earlier, one missionary going east to start his mission met a man walking to the gold fields in California with all of his supplies in a wheelbarrow and wrote to Brigham Young about it. Brother Brigham figured out the hand cart concept. He said something like this:
|Dorothy is pointing to the daily ration of food available.|
'If the Gentiles (non Mormons) can walk across the plains and mountains for their God Gold, think what the Saints can do for the real God of Israel.'
" That's how the handcart system was started. In about 1854 there were 11,000 Saints in Utah, but 30,000 in England. Sometimes they would even get fired from their jobs there because they joined the Church, so they wanted to come, but the PEF was already in debt.
"I'll tell you more later as I learn it. To write the story helps me remember it so I can tell it at the visitor centers. "Got to get ready to go to a meeting now.
" Love, Dad, Grampa, Uncle, Stan, Elder Stark