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Good Pioneer Stock?

By Jessie Christensen

Although I grew up in the Church, I don’t remember hearing the phrase “good pioneer stock” until I came to Utah for college. I didn’t like the phrase then, and I still don’t. It carries a whiff of faulty, outdated ideas about heredity, “good breeding”, and eugenics. I’m a logical thinker and still can’t understand how the fact that most of my ancestors joined the Church in its infancy has any actual bearing on my life right now. Additionally, although I come from “pioneer stock”, I have no idea whether it is “good” or not. None of my ancestors bear the names you hear sprinkled throughout Church history or see flash across the screen at General Conference. Some joined the Church in the Eastern United States, some in European countries like England, Sweden, and Switzerland. Some crossed the plains in wagons or handcarts, some came later by train. After arriving in the west, they primarily settled down as farmers and ranchers scattered throughout Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.

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Prose Journal Entry: “Generations” by Ranae Rudd

Generations by Ranae Rudd I used to run away from toilets. Not because of their unnatural gargling sounds or because of the sucking, swirling motion that came from flushing. I ran because the movie Jaws convinced me any water, no matter how shallow or clear, contained a great white shark. Pipes and porcelain were no …

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Pondering about the Temple

By Emily Milner

I returned a few minutes ago from attending the temple. Cars packed the parking lot; people waiting for the next session (a good hour and a half wait) filled the chapel and overflow area. The organist played “Be Thou Humble” and “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus,” both of which were particularly appropriate for me right now.

Because of counsel received there, and echoed here, I want to be very careful about what I say. I will tell you that I believe, as I wrote here, that the temple is for real. I believed it then, and I believe it now.

I had a lot of time to ponder before the session began. And this is what I thought about:

I. God of Miracles:Mormon 9:7-11

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;

8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.

9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

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Finding My Grandfather by Sylvia Newman

By Sylvia Newman

Finding My Grandfather by Sylvia Newman My paternal grandfather died at the age of 44, decades before I was born. My maternal grandfather died when I was two, and I have no memories of him except the stories I’ve been told. My dad’s mom married again, and I knew my Grandad Ray until he passed …

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Journaling a Life: forty-four diaries and counting

By Terresa Wellborn

When I turned eight I wanted white leather roller skates with bubblegum pink wheels. The gift box was hefty enough, but no luck. It was my first journal. My early ones were red leather from Deseret Book with Journal embossed in gold on the front. If Napolean Dynamite owned a diary, it would be one …

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Honorable Mention Poetry: On Bornholm

I look for stipples of myself in white-washed, rough-walled rundkirker, where infant ancestors were baptized in stone fonts next to Viking steles. I listen for echoes of my pulse between the pooled velvet of wheat fields and the Baltic kissing the feet of island pines. Velkommen til Bornholm. Cornflowers twine the sign for Arnager —no …

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Pioneer Grandmothers and Helping Babies Breathe in Nepal

By Kimberly Sears

My eyes still well up with tears when I recall the excruciating ordeal of my first baby’s birth. The most comforting thing during those thirty-one hours was when my mom whispered to me, “Kimberly, all the grandmothers are here, in this room, watching over and helping you.” How did she know my pioneer foremothers were on …

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Family History: One Hour a Week

By Emily Milner

Ten years ago my stake president gave us a challenge to find some names to take to the temple. Bless my heart, I tried. I looked through the threads of my Family Search tree, tracing them back through generations, overwhelmed by the number of names and uncertain where to start. People in my family have been doing family history work for lo these many generations. As I wrote a few years ago, the low-hanging fruit on my family tree has been canned. In the absence of low-hanging fruit and easily found names, I have focused sporadically on family history stories, which I enjoy; there are pioneer journals and personal histories and all these are good for me to be aware of, to have stories to tell my children

In spite of my off-and-on attempts to do family history, I’ll be real, it has mostly been a source of guilt. One more thing I should be doing that I’m not, one more way I fall short.

But that changed with my current stake president’s challenge last year to spend an hour a week on family history, half on that on Sundays.

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Names

By Justine Dorton

MY GRANDMA HAS LIVED two lives. She’s lived one life here, in St. Louis, as my Grammie—feeding her grandchildren cucumbers dipped in sugar, taking her first driver’s ed class when she was seventy-two, yelling into the telephone to make sure her voice made it all the way to my house, bossing her daughter (my mother) around …

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Surprise: Happy, Happy, Happy Anniversary

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Engagement photoIn July of 1994, my two sisters and I sifted through the belongings in our widowed mother’s home. She lay in a hospital nearby, unconscious and dying of a massive stroke at the age of 78. She lingered in that condition for nearly three weeks before she finally passed.

During those weeks, we hunted through the disarray of her home for documents, policies, and other papers that might be helpful for the disposition of her estate. It was grim and devastating work.

One trip to the dumpster behind her apartment complex allowed me (at last) to get rid of the embarrassingly poor plaster sculpture I’d made in high school two decades previously. I had never liked it, but my mom kept it in a place of honor. While there was a frisson of relief to see that thing go, my knees buckled with wordless grief when a set of Mom’s dentures tumbled with other “trash” into the dumpster, too. That she would never need them, never speak again, was more than I could fathom. My being the only Mormon in the family didn’t make my grief any easier to bear right in the midst of our loss.

My sisters Susan and Holly meanwhile had discovered Mom’s car insurance policy tucked into the 50th Rockford High School reunion program; stock certificates for companies long since defunct in one stack of papers; and boxes of old family photos – few of them labeled.

Holly pulled a small metal lock box out from one pile. Among the papers inside was one that baffled us all.

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