Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Heritage

her-i-tage

n.
1. Something that is or can be inherited; an inheritance.
2. Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition.
3. The status acquired by a person through birth; a birthright.

Today in Utah and in the LDS church we celebrate Pioneer Day.  On July 24, 1847 the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.  Pioneer Day is not just a celebration of Mormonism, or of Utah however.  It is a celebration of the religious freedoms sought by those early pilgrims, and again by the Mormon Pioneers, and by others who have been persecuted for their faith, and the beliefs they hold dear.  We celebrate those freedoms protected by the constitution of this great country.  For members of the LDS church, we are celebrating those freedoms which allowed our church to be founded and organized.  For Utahns it is a celebration of everyone, regardless of faith or nationality, who emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley during the pioneer era.  It is a celebration of our heritage.

I LOVE Pioneer Day.  I love going to the parade and all the fireworks.  I love celebrating those who came before and who I owe so much to.  

I've always loved hearing the conversion stories of those who have joined the LDS church, who weren't raised in the church the way I was.  My family has been members of the church for many generations.  It wasn't until recently, while helping my daughter prepare a talk for church that I came across the conversion story of my family.  This is the story of Martin Horton Peck.  He is my pioneer ancestor who first joined the church.  He is why I was blessed to be raised in the church.



First, if you aren't familiar with the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you need to know that the early members, under the direction of the prophet Joseph Smith, were greatly persecuted by others who did not trust them, and wanted to cause them as much trouble as possible.  There was much harassment as well as violence directed towards the early members of the church.

Martin and a number of his neighbors were working together on a "house raising".  He suggested to them that once their work was finished, they should all go together and break up a meeting which he had heard the young Prophet Joseph Smith was holding in the nearby woods.  Intending to cause a disturbance for the members, he found himself converted instead.  Many times after, he was heard to testify that before the Prophet had spoken five minutes, he (Martin) had received a thorough assurance of the divinity of his (Joseph's) mission.  This testimony remained with him all his life.  He was baptized in 1833.

Martin Horton Peck was my great, great, great grandfather.  He is the reason I was raised in the church. However, growing in my knowledge of the gospel, and my absolute certainty of the reality of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of His church is the reason I have remained an active member.

I am so grateful for ancestors who paved the way, who lived the gospel, and who sacrificed so much so that I might be where I am today.  I am grateful for my heritage.  So today, along with my family, I celebrate.

4 comments:

YeamieWaffles said...

I've never heard of pioneer day but it sounds like a truly great one. Beautiful post Xazmin, I think it's always good to have respect for those who paved the way for us in the past, an inspirational bunch.

Amy said...

Aren't those stories wonderful? I had a prize fighter in England in my family, who was going to kick the missionaries out of his house (they were teaching his wife). When he got there they were even sitting in His Chair! He went in and said he could not physically move, and sat listening to them teach his wife. By the end he no longer wanted to throw them out but instead wanted to be baptized. Such dramatic faith building stories. I sometimes wonder if they were for the benefit of our ancestors or for our benefit. :)

Ivie Clan said...

My favorite family conversion story is joseph taylor. His family lived on the bank of a river wher zion's camp stayed over a rainy weekend. They held church services there. Not only was the entire family converted and baptized that weekend, the father and son in law left with zions camp. From that line came a bodyguard to the prophet, aleader of a wagon train, settlers of many towns and so many that I dearly love. I am so grateful to remember once a year those who came before us.

Ivie Clan said...

My favorite family conversion story is joseph taylor. His family lived on the bank of a river wher zion's camp stayed over a rainy weekend. They held church services there. Not only was the entire family converted and baptized that weekend, the father and son in law left with zions camp. From that line came a bodyguard to the prophet, aleader of a wagon train, settlers of many towns and so many that I dearly love. I am so grateful to remember once a year those who came before us.