A few weeks ago I taught Gospel Doctrine class while the regular teacher was out of town. The lesson was about the adversities of the early Saints during the Missouri period. I had already had an itch for a while to make a church history tour, and this just made me want to go even more. There were not many weeks left of summer, and those few were filling up fast. I came up with a brilliant idea that we could make a quick trip to Independence, Missouri and visit Liberty Jail and surrounding church history sites. It's about a twelve hour drive for us. We could leave on Wednesday and return on Saturday. That would give us a couple of days to see the sites. I am aware that many people will think this is a crazy plan. It is a whole lot of driving and just a little bit of site-seeing. We've been known to do crazy things before, though, so why should that stop us now?
Well, things came up and we didn't get to leave until Wednesday afternoon. We stopped in Fort Smith, Arkansas that night and finished the drive Thursday. Thursday afternoon, we visited the Independence Visitor's Canter and Liberty Jail. Then on Friday, we drove to Omaha, Nebraska to see the Winter Quarters Visitor Center, and to Council Bluffs, Iowa to Kanesville Tabernacle. We drove somewhere near 2000 miles total on this trip.
With all the driving, we didn't have time to see everything we would have liked to have seen. Was it worth it? Without a doubt! There is something special about standing on the ground were the pioneers stood. We learned at each of the sites about the struggles that these good people endured and overcame. We didn't hear anything that we could not have read or heard from books or other sources, but there is a spirit there that cannot be felt any other way. I walked through the cemetery at Winter Quarters and couldn't help but wonder how I would have felt at this exact location over 160 years ago, burying my child as so many of them did. I wondered if I would have been one of the faithful who left that place of refuge, where things were finally going well, and gathered to Utah as they were counseled to do. As we sat in Kanesville Tabernacle, I could imagine sitting in that freezing log building and raising my hand to sustain Brigham Young as second prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When my two youngest daughters go back to school tomorrow and face the rocky roads they are sure to face in life, I want them to have fresh memories of the examples of the early saints who endured their hardships well and made it possible for us to have the gospel today.