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Pioneer Day

Classic FHE Lesson: Pioneer Day

FHE Scripture

Scripture

D&C 98:3

3 – Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been aafflicted shall work together for your bgood, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.

FHE Lesson Hymn

Hymn

To Be a Pioneer – Primary Songbook #218 or Come, Come, Ye Saints – Hymn #30

To Be a Pioneer

1. You don’t have to push a handcart,
Leave your fam’ly dear,
Or walk a thousand miles or more
To be a pioneer!

2. You do need to have great courage,
Faith to conquer fear,
And work with might for a cause that’s right
To be a pioneer!

Optional descant
We are marching, ever marching.
We are marching, ever marching,
Marching onward, ever onward.
We are pioneers;
[1st time only]: we’re marching.

Come, Come, Ye Saints

1. Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
’Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! All is well!

2. Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!

3. We’ll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the Saints will be blessed.
We’ll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we’ll tell—
All is well! All is well!

4. And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell—
All is well! All is well!

FHE Lesson

Lesson

*For Younger Children* Explain the purpose of “Pioneer Day”. Read or retell “Saving the Wheat” (Friend, July 2012). Discuss the story. Testify of the sacrifices the pioneers made.

Explain the reason why Pioneer Day is celebrated in Utah and in the LDS Church. You may use the following information from Wikipedia to explain it’s significance.

“Pioneer Day is an official holiday celebrated on July 24 in the U.S. state of Utah, with some celebrations in regions of surrounding states originally settled by Mormon pioneers. It commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, where the Latter-day Saints settled after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois and other locations in the eastern United States.”

“In addition to being an official holiday in Utah, Pioneer Day is considered a special occasion by many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). On Pioneer Day, some Latter-day Saints walk portions of the Mormon Trail or reenact entering the Salt Lake Valley by handcart. Latter-day Saints throughout the United States and around the world may celebrate July 24 in remembrance of the LDS Churches’ pioneer era, with songs, dances, and pioneer related activities.”

Read or retell “Saving the Wheat” (Friend, July 2012)

Saving The Wheat

By Marianne Dahl Johnson

(Based on a true story)

“Margaret and Neil, take this wheat to the gristmill on City Creek, please,” Mother said.

Neil smiled happily. He was only four years old, but he liked to help Mother as much as he could. He proudly took the small bag of wheat kernels in his arms.

“I’ll carry it,” Margaret announced, snatching the bag from Neil’s arms. “You’re too little. You might drop it, and you know we can’t afford to lose any of it!”

That was certainly true! When the Gardner family had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 3, 1847, they had rejoiced that they had reached this sanctuary for the Saints. But that didn’t mean that everything was perfect. Now it was winter, and Neil was often hungry. Each family received a little wheat given out by weight. They ate sego and thistle roots. Once in a while hunters brought meat to the settlers.

When they got to the gristmill, Neil watched carefully as the wheat was ground. When a handful of kernels spilled on the floor while it was being ground, he and Margaret sprang to gather it up. Margaret wrapped it in her handkerchief. That evening they would parch it on the top of the stove at home. No food could be wasted.

After that cold, hungry winter, spring finally came, and Neil’s family moved to Mill Creek, a few miles from Salt Lake City. They planted a small crop of wheat. When the grain came up, it looked so strong and good. How wonderful it would be to have plenty of flour next winter! But then the crickets came.

Crickets were everywhere. There seemed to be no end to them. They were big and black and ate everything in their paths. Everyone worked in the fields, trying to kill the insects. But it seemed useless. There were just so many crickets.

Finally a day of fasting and prayer was planned. Father and the other men went to Salt Lake to pray for help from Heavenly Father.

While Father was gone, Neil, Mother, and Margaret went into the fields again to fight the crickets. Neil was tired, and the thought of another hungry winter made him want to cry. As they worked, it suddenly became darker. Neil looked up and saw thousands of gulls in the sky. Mother threw up her hands in despair. “What the crickets won’t take, those birds will!” she exclaimed.

Mother sat down and cried. Neil cried too. He didn’t know what would become of his family.

Too tired to fight the bird invaders, Neil and his mother and sister watched the seagulls.

“Mother, look!” Neil shouted. “The gulls aren’t eating our wheat. They are eating the crickets!”

“I believe you are right!” Mother said.

Mother, Margaret, and Neil held hands and danced in a circle. They hugged and laughed. The gulls were saving their wheat!

Suddenly, Mother stopped dancing and dropped to her knees. “Come, children,” she said. “These gulls were sent by Heavenly Father to save His children. Let us give thanks to Him.”

The three of them prayed right there in the wheat field. Neil never forgot the miracle of the gulls.

“God is mindful of the fasting and prayer of all of His children, young and old.”

Discuss the following questions.

  • Where did Neil’s family move to in the Spring?
  • What started eating Neil’s family’s wheat?
  • Why did Neil’s Father and other men in the town go to Salt Lake?
  • What happened when the Seagulls came?
  • How did Heavenly Father bless Neil and his Family?
  • How has Heavenly Father blessed you and your family, just like he blessed the pioneers?

Testify of the sacrifices the pioneers made.

*For Teenagers or Adults* Explain the purpose of “Pioneer Day”. Read “The Strength of Our Heritage” (Ensign, July 2012). Discuss the article. Testify of the sacrifices the pioneers made.

Explain the reason why Pioneer Day is celebrated in Utah and in the LDS Church. You may use the following information from Wikipedia to explain it’s significance.

“Pioneer Day is an official holiday celebrated on July 24 in the U.S. state of Utah, with some celebrations in regions of surrounding states originally settled by Mormon pioneers. It commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, where the Latter-day Saints settled after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois and other locations in the eastern United States.”

“In addition to being an official holiday in Utah, Pioneer Day is considered a special occasion by many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). On Pioneer Day, some Latter-day Saints walk portions of the Mormon Trail or reenact entering the Salt Lake Valley by handcart. Latter-day Saints throughout the United States and around the world may celebrate July 24 in remembrance of the LDS Churches’ pioneer era, with songs, dances, and pioneer related activities.”

Ready the following excerpts from Elder L. Tom Perry’s address, “The Strength of Our Heritage” (Ensign, July 2012)

I’ve always been excited about pioneer stories. My grandmother lived next door to us when I was a child. At the age of eight she had walked most of the way across the plains. She could remember enough pioneer experiences to keep me fascinated by the hour as I would sit and listen to her.

President Brigham Young (1801–77) has always been one of my special heroes. His answers to problems were basic and fundamental and benefited the people. I marvel at his spirit and enthusiasm as he led the Saints west.

When it became apparent that the cost of moving new converts from Europe to Utah would be prohibitive, the idea was presented to President Young that they use handcarts to cross the prairies. President Young could immediately see the advantage, not only in the cost savings but also in the physical benefit it would be to the people to walk that far and arrive in the Salt Lake Valley full of vigor and vitality after such an experience. He said:

“We are sanguine [confident] that such a train will out-travel any ox train that can be started. They should have a few good cows to furnish milk, and a few beef cattle to drive and butcher as they may need. In this way the expense, risk, loss and perplexity of teams will be obviated [avoided], and the saints will more effectually escape the scenes of distress, anguish and death which have often laid so many of our brethren and sisters in the dust.

“We propose sending men of faith and experience, with suitable instructions, to some proper outfitting point to carry into effect the above suggestions; let the saints, therefore, who intend to immigrate the ensuing year, understand that they are expected to walk and draw their luggage across the plains, and that they will be assisted by the [Perpetual Emigrating] fund in no other way.”

Between 1856 and 1860 a few thousand Saints successfully made the 1,300-mile (2,090 km) journey by handcart. The success of their travel was marred only by two fateful trips, the Willie and Martin handcart companies, which left too late in the year to avoid the early winter snows. Again, notice the genius of President Young. At the October 1856 general conference, he devoted the entire conference to organizing the relief effort to assist those distressed Saints. And he instructed the brethren not to wait a week or a month before they went. He wanted several four-horse teams ready the following Monday to go and relieve the suffering of the Saints caught in the snows. And that’s exactly what happened.

The first relief parties were on their way the following Monday. The description of the Willie company’s joy upon receiving that first relief party brings emotions close to the surface. Captain Willie had left his small band and gone out with a single companion in search of the relief train.

History records: “On the evening of the third day after Captain Willie’s departure, just as the sun was sinking beautifully behind the distant hills, on an eminence, immediately west of our camp, several covered wagons, each drawn by four horses, were seen coming towards us. The news ran through the camp like wildfire, and all who were able to leave their beds turned out en masse to see them. A few minutes brought them sufficiently near to reveal our faithful captain slightly in advance of the train. Shouts of joy rent the air; strong men wept until tears ran freely down their furrowed and sunburnt cheeks, and little children partook of the joy which some of them hardly understood, and fairly danced around with gladness. Restraint was set aside in the general rejoicing, and as the brethren entered [the] camp the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with kisses. The brethren were so overcome that they could not for some time utter a word, but in choking silence repressed all demonstration of … emotions. … Soon, however, feeling was somewhat abated, and such a shaking of hands, such words of welcome, and such invocation of God’s blessing have seldom been witnessed!”

Just as the pioneers made the desert blossom as a rose, so too our lives and families will blossom if we follow their example and embrace their traditions. Yes, pioneer faith is needed as much in the world today as in any period of time. Once again, we need to know that heritage. We need to teach it, we need to be proud of it, and we need to preserve it.

How blessed we are. What responsibilities our knowledge and our understanding carry. Arnold Palmer, a great American golfer, is reported to have said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to is.” What a great statement: “Wanting to is.”

God grant us the desire to want to win the greatest of all the gifts He has given His children—the gift of life eternal. May God bless us that we will understand our potential, that we will learn and grow and develop an understanding of our heritage and determine to preserve those great gifts that have been given to us as His children. I bear my solemn witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His way will lead us to life eternal.

Together as a family, discuss things from the article that particularly struck you. Brainstorm a list of things we can learn from the pioneers. How can we apply these teachings to building a strong family?

Testify of the sacrifices the pioneers made. 

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FHE Game / Activity

Activity

1- Pioneer Games – Enjoy an evening with your family, playing games the pioneers played. Here are a few ideas.

  • Stick Pulling – The Prophet Joseph Smith excelled at stick pulling. This activity is for two people and would work best if both people are approximately the same size. Several groups of two could participate at the same time. The two participants should sit on the ground facing each other. Each person’s feet should be against his opponent’s feet. Each person holds on to a thick wooden stick, such as a broom stick. When the start signal is given, each person tries to pull the other person off the ground by pulling on the stick. The winner is the person who pulls his opponent off the ground or who maintains a hold on the stick when his opponent loses his grip on it.
  • Laundry Relay – Pioneers did not have washing machines or clothes dryers. They had to wash all of their laundry by hand. Divide the participants into teams of equal numbers, and have a laundry relay race. Have a washtub with water in it, a t-shirt and some clothespins for each team. Have a clothesline strung between trees or poles, and put the other supplies along the clothesline area for each team. The first person runs to the washtub and dunks the t-shirt all the way into the water, then wrings it out and hangs it on the clothesline with the clothespins. She then races back and tags her next team member. That person then runs to the t-shirt, takes it off the clothesline, dunks it all the way into the water, wrings it out and hangs it on the clothesline. When the final member tags the team member who went first, the game is over. The team that finishes first wins.
  • Dancing – The pioneers often danced to fiddle music. Have a pioneer dance, and learn some old favorites, like the Virginia Reel. Bring recordings of music from the 1800s or ask a violinist to play some popular songs from that time period.
(Ideas taken www.ehow.com)

 

Comments

comments

About Aleah Ingram

Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a social media manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and is addicted to organic milk, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

13 comments

  1. I love the thought and preparation you put into these newsletters. I have especially loved this one about
    our pioneer heritage even though I have no direct
    ancestors among these people. I am a convert and
    I claim these as my pioneers of long ago, too. Love the recipes and activity ideas also. Thank you.

  2. I loved this lesson!!!!!!
    Thanks for making this web sight

  3. thanks for the lesson. it is verry helpful to me becuse i am only 12 and i have to teach this weeks family home evining

    • Abby

      Kayleah – You are most certainly welcome! That is great you will be teaching your family’s FHE lesson. I hope it goes well!

  4. I am not very creative and so my FHE lessons tend to be very booring. Thanks for giving me some great ideas and now my 5 year old can enjoy this lesson on pioneers as we play some of the games!

    • Abby

      Anita, I’m glad this lesson is a helpful resource for you and your family. Let us know how the games go! Have fun!

  5. Please keep me on your emailing list for lessons. I use them all the time and enjoy them. Especially loved this pioneer lesson.

  6. Wednesday is Pioneer Day.There are pics somewhere of me all dressed up as a pioneer. I used to push a “handcart” in the parade. It was a really big deal because my grandmother on my mothers side was a pioneer. One tough woman…..

  7. i love this so much i look forward to them each monday

  8. thanks for such great ideas. we are making butter in a jar and rolls, but i will save the ginger cookie recipe. thanks for the adaptation for different ages too

  9. Wonderful lesson! Thank you so much. My son really enjoyed it. We are new converts and it was so helpful. “Saving the Wheat” is a great story and the questions were very good.

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