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This is the Right Place

Pioneer Day


Doctrine & Covenants 136:2, 4


2. Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.


4. And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.



President Brigham Young led the Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley to establish Zion. The Pioneers had made covenants (promises) with Heavenly Father. Keeping these same covenants today will help us to be “Pure in Heart.” We make covenants when we are baptized, when boys receive the priesthood, and in the temple. 


“Like the early pioneers, when we receive the covenants and ordinances of the gospel, we too begin a journey toward Zion—for Zion is not only a place, it is also a Christlike purity of heart. 

President Young taught that we prepare for our journey by receiving ‘the ordinances of the holy Priesthood of the Son of God, which are necessary for the perfection of the Saints’. Ordinances not only help us become pure as individuals, but they also unite us as a people…It was in this spirit of unity that most of the pioneers came to the American West.” 

~ James E. Faust


How did Brigham Young know that the Salt Lake Valley was the right place to build Zion? (He had seen it in a vision.)


What is Zion? (The place where God lives and is worshipped on earth. Zion is often referred to as the Lord’s people [the pure in heart] or as the Church and its stakes.)


What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? (Discuss ideas.)


Have we made covenants with the Lord to build Zion? (Yes. Discuss.)


What can we do as a family to help build Zion? (Discuss ideas.)



How Shall I Gather?


Amanda and her three small children huddled under the torn feather bed in their small cabin on the outskirts of Nauvoo. The mob had ransacked the cabin earlier that evening, while the widow and her children had hid in the cornfield. After it was dark, they had crawled back into the cabin to their present hiding spot.


“Shh, shh. Don’t cry little ones,” she soothingly whispered to try and calm her frightened children, “It’s going to be okay! The Lord will send help.”


One by one the children stopped their whimpers and fell asleep as Amanda lied next to them praying for help to come. Seven-year-old Jonathan awakened just as the first signs of light crept through the cabin windows.


“Has help come yet, Mama?”

“Not yet, Johnny. But it will!”


Just then Amanda heard footsteps outside the cabin. She placed her hand gently over Jonathan’s mouth and whispered in his ear, “Shh. There’s someone coming.”


The door of the cabin pushed open and they heard men’s voices, “Looks like no ones here. I pray Sister Morley and her children made it out of here safe!”


Amanda pushed the feather bed off of her and the children. “Oh, I knew you would come. I just knew the Lord would send help!” she cried with relief.


Amanda held Jonathan’s hand as they followed the men carrying the two younger children to the wagon. A third man shuffled through the contents of the cabin before exiting with a quilt in his arms. “I’m afraid about all that’s left of your belongings is this quilt, Ma’am!” he solemnly said.


Tears burned Amanda’s cheeks as she took the precious quilt. “It was a wedding gift to my John. The first quilt I ever made completely by myself,” she said, clenching the quilt to her trembling body. She missed John terribly. “How could she and her children possibly go to Zion, now!” she thought to herself.


Some of the sisters in town helped Amanda and the children get settled into one of the homes that had been abandoned when the first group of Saints had left Nauvoo. “We’ll be here a few more days, Amanda. If you need anything else before then, just send Jonathan over.”


Amanda closed the door after thanking the women for their generosity and then knelt down to thank the Lord for sparing their lives and sending the help she had so fervently prayed for. “Father, are we to be left behind?” she asked.


Amanda heard the voice clearly; “You will gather your family to Zion.”


With added strength and determination Amanda rose from her knees and looked toward the small desk that stood by itself in the abandoned home.


Finding a piece of parchment paper and a quill pen, she sat down and wrote a letter to President Brigham Young. “How shall I gather?” she asked.


As the days passed, Saints left Nauvoo in droves and still Amanda had no word from President Young, but she didn’t get discouraged. She knew the Lord would provide a way for her and her children to join them. Meanwhile she busied herself, helping other families prepare for their journey west. “You must let us pay you Amanda!” Sister Gheen pleaded.


“I surely hope you’re not trying to keep me from receiving the Lord’s blessings!” Amanda answered with a chuckle.




“Hush now! You have barely enough as it is for your own family!” Pleaded Amanda.


The two women embraced before Brother Gheen helped his wife into the wagon. Sister Gheen couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down her face as she watched the brave young widow, waving her
good-byes, until they were out of sight.


The next morning Amanda awoke to a fervent knocking on the door. “Amanda, Amanda. Wake up!”


Amanda rushed down the stairs and opened the door to find Sister Gheen’s arms embracing her. “He sent us back to get you!” she exclaimed in racking sobs.


“Who? Who sent you?” Amanda asked.


“President Young!” Sister Gheen continued to sob. “He said, ‘Go to Nauvoo and bring Sister Gilbert and Sister Morley and all the Saints back!’ We have a wagon for you and Sister Murphy to share.”


Amanda’s eyes were swimming with tears of joy.


“Mama. How come you’re crying?”


Surprised, Amanda looked down to find her three little ones, awake, and standing next to her. Amanda knelt down and gathered them into her arms.


“Because I’m so happy!”


The children looked bewildered.


“These are ‘happy’ tears,” she explained. “The Lord has provided! We’re going to Zion!”


by Margie Nauta Lee

Activity idea:

A Covenant Wagon

The pioneers made a covenant to help every Saint reach Zion!

This is the Right Place for your family to not only have fun making and loading this COVERED WAGON, but to help them gain a testimony of keeping covenants and becoming “pure in heart” like the early Saints.

Treat idea:

Dutch Oven Vinegar Taffy

Buttered hands, twist and pull to make this yummy Pioneer treat!

DUTCH OVEN VINEGAR TAFFY was a special sweet treat for the pioneers and it will be for your family, too. It takes only a few basic ingredients, it is fun to make and a small piece can last a long time!

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