Pioneers in our families: Listening to the missionaries in Switzerland in 1954

After being baptized at 24 and immigrating to Utah two years later, Rosmarie Brunold Schneider set an example as a first-generation Latter-day Saint

Some Latter-day Saints have pioneer ancestors going back almost 200 years. Other Church members are themselves the pioneers in their families. In the weeks surrounding Pioneer Day July 24 — the annual celebration of the first wagon company entering the Salt Lake Valley — Church News staff members share stories of pioneers in their families, some from the 1800s and some from the 1900s. This is the fifth in the series.

On my father’s side, I have five generations of ancestors who were Church members. Four of eight great-great-grandparents crossed the Plains in wagon companies. The earliest convert to the gospel on my father’s side was baptized in 1856.

On my mother’s side, I’m much closer to the pioneer member of the Church. The first baptism was almost a century later, in 1954, when my mother was baptized.

There is more than 160 years of history in the Church through Dad’s ancestors, along with tidbits of family lore — some of which can be documented as accurate. Among those ancestors, I feel most connected to a great-great-grandfather whose 1890 missionary journal and letters I discovered 24 years ago while cleaning out a cellar.

Rosmarie Brunold as a young adult. | Schneider family photo

But that doesn’t compare to the first-person accounts I heard as a youth and young adult from my mother, Rosmarie Brunold Schneider, of her listening to the missionaries; receiving a testimony and being baptized, along with her mother, in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1954, at age 24; participating at the Swiss Temple dedication in 1955 as part of her calling as Swiss-Austrian Mission Sunday School secretary; and immigrating in 1956 to Utah, by steamer and Greyhound, rather than sailing ship and wagon train.

And while I have read some historical items from other pioneer ancestors, I have not come across any other first-person accounts of their conversions. Mom did write about hers, including: “I cannot tell you with what happiness and satisfaction I was filled. It was somehow a feeling of completion, of security. I wanted to do good, to be good and to try with my whole strength to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I’m blessed to have testimonies to read from ancestors in the 1800s. And I’m blessed to have testimonies that I’ve heard and read from a more-recent pioneer, and to have Mom’s example of accepting callings and assignments, some not particularly easy for her, English being a second language, until her death in 2016.

Rosmarie Schneider with her husband, Jay Schneider, and their five children, in 1968. | Schneider family photo
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