Witness the courage of the pioneers as you listen to their journals and watch the video clip, “The Trek West.” Discuss the importance of keeping your own journal with a story of a young mother inspired by journals of her ancestors, making your own journal, and preparing “Graham Cracker Journals.” The music MP3 “Oh My People” is also included.
If you wish to print sheet music or have an online music file to accompany you click on the song link to visit: http://www.lds.org/churchmusic
46. For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language.
Watch chapter 8 from The Docudrama of the Restoration, The Trek West DVD or CLICK FOR CLIP
The Savior emphasized the importance of keeping records
“‘And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded’ (3 Ne. 23:6–13). One of the most valuable records is the one you keep of your own life...We urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their descendants in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives. Your own private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you.”
The courageous experiences of the pioneers would be lost if not recorded in journals. Someday you may have the opportunity to go on a pioneer trek and experience for yourself some of the hardships the pioneers faced. By reading their journal stories we can learn of both the emotional struggles and physical hardships that can help us face our own trials.
“I will not try to describe how we traveled through storms of snow wind and rain, how roads had to be made, bridges built, and rafts constructed; how our poor animals had to drag on day after day with scanty food; how our camps suffered from poverty, sickness and death,” wrote Bathsheba of the Iowa trek. “… The Lord was with us, and his power was made manifest daily in our journey.”
Bathsheba W. Smith, Autobiography, typescript, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
“What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity.”
Turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to children.
“I am sure you will never turn your own children’s hearts more to you than you will by keeping a journal and writing your personal history. They will ultimately love to find out about your successes and your failures and your peculiarities. It will tell them a lot about themelves, too. They will get a great desire to raise a family of their own when they see what a great blessing they were to you.”
“And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious; … that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.” (Jacob 1:2–3.)
“Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Angels May quote from it." Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”
Jennifer opened the dusty chest that her Grandma Smith kept in the attic. She remembered the summers she had spent staying with Grandma and Grandpa, exploring the contents of the old chest.
She unfolded the faded tissue paper protecting the small book. The cover was well worn and the pages had turned yellow. Jennifer closed her eyes, remembering her baptism day. Grandma had given her a beautiful leather bound journal. “This is for you Jennifer.” Grandma had said, “ The Lord counseled us to keep a book of remembrance of our lives.”
“But what will I write about Grandma?”
“It’s simple sweetie. Write about your life.”
Grandma then carefully unwrapped another book, “This was my Grandmother’s journal. She wrote about her life while crossing the plains over a hundred years ago.”
“Will you read it to me Grandma?” Jennifer had pleaded.
“Of course. Just like my Grandma used to read it to me.” And she did every time Jennifer came to visit.
Tears welled up in Jennifer’s eyes. The chest and its contents had always been passed down to the eldest granddaughter. Jennifer had promised Grandma Smith that when it became her’s she would read the journal to her children and grandchildren. Jennifer sat in the old rocking chair, opened the book and began to read.
“This is the journal of Martha Ann Cox. June 11, 1846. A gift from Momma. I’m to record our journey to the Salt Lake Valley. I am 15 years old. Got 3 younger brothers. David age 11, Stephen age 7, and Henry age 3. Helped Papa and the boys load the wagon. Most belongings left behind. I worry the journey will be too much for Momma with the baby coming soon. Momma says we do all we can and then God will do the rest.”
Jennifer looked at her bulging abdomen. Her baby was due in three weeks. “I could never have crossed the plains like Great-great-great-grandma Cox did.” She whispered. Grandma’s familiar loving voice whispered in Jennifer’s ear, “Yes you could Jennifer! If the Lord asked you to.”
Jennifer continued reading. Pausing now and then to contemplate the events that had taken place on the trail.
“June 30, 1846. The baby was born last night. We named her Hannah. Papa buried her under a willow tree.”
Jennifer wiped her eyes with a tissue. She had heard the story dozens of times, yet it always brought tears.
“July 24, 1846. Camped near small stream. Waded in the cool water and washed miles of dust from our feet and faces. Ate a meager supper. Brother Granger played the fiddle. Danced and sang well past bedtime.”
Jennifer smiled as she thought about the fun times she had experienced with her cousins wading in the stream near Grandma’s house and the many July 24th celebrations the family had spent, dancing and singing around a bonfire, just like Great-great-grandma had done when she was a girl in 1846.
“August 10, 1846. Can’t sleep. Henry cries with hunger. Pains me to see the little ones go hungry. Papa and others going to hunt for game. We pray for their success.”
Jennifer’s stomach growled. She had been reading for hours and it was well past lunch time. She felt a twinge of guilt for feeling hungry. She went downstairs to the kitchen where she found a note on the table, “Didn’t want to disturb you. There’s a sandwich and a glass of milk in the fridge. Love Always, Paul.”
Jennifer took her lunch and went outside where she found her husband Paul, pushing Eva on the tire swing that hung from the big willow tree. “Mommy, look how high I am!” squealed Eva.
“If you were any higher you’d touch the clouds!” Jennifer called back. Sitting at the picnic table, she ate her lunch. When she finished she crossed the lawn. “It’s time for your nap, Princess.”
Jennifer held Eva’s hand as they walked into the house and climbed the stairs to the attic bedroom. She tucked her into the antique bed near the window. “Do you want me to read you a story about your Great-great-great-grandma, who was a pioneer and walked to the Salt Lake valley?”
“Did she sing songs as she walked Mommy?”
“Let’s read and find out!” Jennifer skimmed through the pages of the journal, “September 8, 1846. Walked 5 miles today. Hot and dusty. To lift our spirits and help pass the time we sang songs.”
Eva yawned. “Were you a pioneer too, Mommy?”
Jennifer caressed her daughter’s face. Just before she got the words out, “I would never have the courage it takes to be a pioneer!” she remembered saying the exact same phrase to Grandma Smith.“No, Princess. I wasn’t a pioneer, but I will always try to be as courageous as my pioneer ancestors were.”
After Eva drifted to sleep, Jennifer knelt next to the chest to replace the journal. There tucked in the corner of the chest was a gift-wrapped package with a card on it addressed to Jennifer. Opening the card she read:
You are a wonderful granddaughter. I know that you will cherish the memories in this chest, as I have. Remember Moses 6:46: “For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language.”
Until We Meet Again
Jennifer carefully unwrapped the package. Inside was another well-worn, leather bound Journal that she had never seen before. She opened the book. “This journal belongs to Jeanette Ann Marsh. My Grandmother, Martha Ann Cox Farr, gave it to me at my baptism, to keep a record of my life. I am 8 years old...”
Tears fell as Jennifer realized the book was her beloved Grandma Smith’s journal. Looking to the Heavens, Jennifer exclaimed, “Thank you Grandma for all you’ve taught me and will continue to teach me as I read your life story.”
In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, honey, vanilla and egg until creamy.
In a medium bowl stir together graham or whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda.
Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Beat or knead by hand until firm dough is formed (similar to the texture of pie crust).
Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill until dough is firm enough to roll.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to form a rectangle that is approximately 1/4 inch thick (easier if dough is divided in half).
With a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut dough into 6 x 8 inch rectangles (makes about 15 crackers). With fork tines pierce the rectangles down the middle length wise. Then pierce evenly on each half in a 2 x 4 pattern (see picture).
Use a thin metal spatula to carefully lift the squares onto a well greased baking sheet (about 1/2 inch apart).
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Remove crackers from sheet and cool on a wire rack.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups graham or whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cups butter
1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cups honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
Frost with white frosting to create a journal page. With chocolate frosting in a decorator bag (or a sandwich bag with a small cut across one corner) let children write on the journal pages. (Packaged graham crackers may be substituted for the homemade crackers).
Younger children will need help from an older sibling or parent.
Explain to your family that one important reason to keep a journal is that we have been asked to by the Savior and His prophets. Developing a habit of keeping a journal while you are young will help establish the journal habit. You don’t have to write in your journal every day, but you should write in it often about everyday events as well as special occasions.
1. Discuss with your children the kind of things he or she might want to record in their journals (joys, sorrows, special occasions, feelings, challenges, testimony, triumphs, failures, etc.). Your journal should contain your “true self”, but don’t dwell on the negative.
2. Share an entry from your journal or from another family member.
3. Help each child record an event in their journal (be sure to date entries). Parents or an older siblings can write for children who don’t know how to print. Be sure to write it in their own words. They may also choose to draw a picture of an event. Encourage children who can print to write themselves. (You may choose to assist with spelling but helping a child to articulate how they feel is more important.)
What you need:
A copy of “My Journal Activityl” plus several extra journal pages (art work included with this lesson) for each child who doesn’t have a journal, other family members journals, and pen or pencil for each family member. Staples or needle & thread for binding.
Print out the art work.
Fold art work in half.
Place journal pages inside cover.
Bind by stapling together or sewing together with needle and thread.
For added durability have cover laminated or put in a plastic sheet protector.
3. Would we know of the courageous experiences of the pioneers if they had not recorded them in their journals?
Someday you may have the opportunity to go on a pioneer trek and experience for yourself some of the hardships the pioneers faced. By reading their journal stories we can learn of both the emotional struggles and physical hardships that can help us face our own trials.
4. Explain to your family that one important reason to keep a journal is that we have been asked to by the Savior and His prophets.
Developing a habit of keeping a journal while you are young will help establish the journal habit. You don’t have to write in your journal every day, but you should write in it often about everyday events as well as special occasions.
5. Discuss with your children the kind of things he or she might want to record in their journal.
(Joys, sorrows, special occasions, feelings, challenges, testimony, triumphs, failures, etc.). Your journal should contain your “true self”, but don’t dwell on the negative.
6. Share an entry from your journal or from another family member.
7. Help each child record an event in their journal (be sure to date entries).
Parents or an older siblings can write for children who don’t know how to print. Be sure to write it in their own words. They may also choose to draw a picture of an event. Encourage children who can print to write themselves. (You may choose to assist with spelling but helping a child to articulate how they feel is more important.) (See activity for copies of journal pages.)
“Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”