Many 'great and noble' ancestors sacrificed much so gospel could go forward

Many "great and noble ancestors" sacrificed in material ways - and some their very lives - so the gospel of Jesus Christ might go forward, said Elder Lloyd P. George of the Seventy during the Days of `47 Sunrise Service July 24.

Addressing a congregation of about 250 in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, Elder George honored the early Saints who were seeking "a place of refuge, . . . a place sacred to our Father where they might worship according to the dictates of their conscience.""I am humbled," he continued, "and I am in awe that so much has been accomplished in a short period of time."

Elder George was the featured speaker during the early morning service that marked the beginning of the July 24 observance in Salt Lake City. During the day, festivities including a parade, a marathon and a 10K race were held to commemorate the arrival of the first group of Mormon pioneers into the valley 146 years ago. (See accompanying articles on other Pioneer Day activities.)

In speaking of the sacrifices and accomplishments of the early pioneers, Elder George related experiences from the life of his great-great-grandmother, Lydia Knight, a "stalwart soul," "a child of God who had great faith." She was the wife of Newel Knight, a prominent figure in Church history.

Quoting from faith-promoting stories about Lydia Knight, Elder George described events surrounding the death of her husband in a Mormon pioneer winter camp in northern Nebraska.

" `That evening [Jan. 11, 1847T Newel was buried. No lumber could be had, so Lydia had one of her wagon-boxes made into a rude coffin. The day was excessively cold, and some of the brethren had their fingers and feet frozen while digging the grave and performing the last offices of love for their honored captain and brother.'

" As the woman looked out upon the wilderness of snow and saw the men bearing away all that was left of her husband, it seemed that the flavor of life had fled and left only dregs, bitter, unavailing sorrow. But as she grew calmer, she whispered with poor, pale lips,God rules!' "

This young mother, who was expecting another child, continued to prepare for the remainder of the westward trek with the Saints, Elder George related. " On the day of the organization [to move westT, Lydia returned from the meeting and sat down in her home full of sad thoughts. How could she, who had never taken any care except that which falls to every woman's share, prepare herself and family to return to Winter Quarters and from thence take a journey a thousand miles into the Rocky Mountains? The burden weighed her very spirit down until she cried out in pain,Oh Newel, why hast thou left me!'

" As she spoke, he stood by her side, with a lovely smile on his face, and said:Be calm, let no sorrow overcome you. It was necessary that I should go. I was needed behind the veil. . . . You cannot fully comprehend it now; but the time will come when you shall know why I left you and our little ones. Therefore, dry up your tears. Be patient, I will go before you and protect you in your journeyings. And you and your little ones shall never perish for lack of food.' "

Continuing, Elder George reflected on the character of his grandparents and of the "noble souls" of others in early Church history. "A great debt of gratitude I owe today to all those stalwart souls who made it possible for us to be here, yes even today."

Providing music for the Sunrise Service was the Churchill Junior High School Boys Ensemble, directed by Susan Taggart and accompanied by Peter Steenblik. The choir sang folk songs and sacred pieces. In addition, Steenblik, who also sings with the choir, performed Chopin's Etude in E Major on the piano.

The modern Mormon Battalion conducted a flag ceremony at the beginning of the service, which was sponsored by the Pioneer Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.

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