CEDAR CITY, Utah A declaration uttered by his own pioneer ancestor, "We will trust in God and go on," was suggested by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as embodying the determination that must live in the hearts of their descendants.
Speaking Aug. 11 at the 2000 National Encampment of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "We have entered into a new era, a new milestone of time as we face the promising future. . . .
"But surely the question for us tonight is not in what we enjoy that they did not have, but what they had which we must make certain we never lose. The faith, the determination, the perseverance, the industry, the sacrifice, the love of Christ and the gospel, the loyalty to living leaders of His Restored Church, the belief that if we do our best before God and men it will be better for our children and our children's children in generations to come."
Elder Holland told members of the heritage and service organization: "I'm very proud to say that I am a son of Utah pioneers. I am even more proud to say I am a son of southern Utah pioneers. My roots go very deep in the pioneer soil of this part of the state."
He shared stories of the sacrifice, dedication, hardship and tragedy of those who, at the assignment of President Brigham Young, explored and settled southern Utah.
He told of John Stucki, a son in an impoverished family in Santa Clara who got permission from his parents to find someone who could feed him for the work he would do in return. He went to Washington, a nearby town, where the Iverson family from Denmark took him in and gave him food and lodging. Elder Holland quoted this passage from Brother Stucki's journal:
"I have never forgotten when on a Sunday morning I would go home the 11 or 12 miles to see how my folks were, and the good old lady would give me quite a big lunch of pancakes to take along for my dinner. How I used to rejoice to think that I could bring those pancakes to my little brother and sister so they could have a little better dinner on Sunday, and I could eat the pig-weeds instead of them."
Elder Holland commented: "Obviously, we are all deeply moved by such courage, such Christian compassion, such determination to see to completion the task Brother Brigham and the others had given them. I suppose that is one of many reasons I am grateful for your organization that you fan the flame and keep alive the stones of sacrifice and devotion which characterize these people, our forefathers and mothers."
Responding to a request from event organizers that he share something of his own pioneer legacy, Elder Holland cited an experience and memorable phrase from one of his great-great-grandfathers, Robert Gardner.
"When Robert left Cottonwood, made his way south and met some of his old friends in the city of Washington, Robert was truly afraid, perhaps for the first time," Elder Holland said. "The appearance of these friends was the source of the fear. Nearly all of them had malaria. They had all worked tirelessly in this hard, new country. They had worn out their original clothes and had replaced them from the poor cotton they had grown in their own lots and farms. The women had carted, spun, woven by hand and colored the cloth with weed dyes. Robert noted that these men, women and children were clothed with a color of cloth that matched the sickly blue of their faces.
"He then looked at his charming and beautifully dressed wife and his two children who were still fresh and dainty. He thought of the days ahead when the terrible stamp of sun and sickness and fever might be placed upon them. He confided in his diary that this experience tried him more than anything in all his long Mormon experience, but he looked away to the red hills, the black ridge, the muddy river ahead of him, took off his hat, scratched his head, spit, and said, 'We will trust in God and go on.'
" 'We will trust in God and go on.' Perhaps in this memorable Sons of Utah Pioneers millennial year encampment, nothing says more of standing on the shoulders of our pioneer ancestors than does that phrase."