Our car broke down a few weeks ago. We were on our way to Idaho to visit my family, in the middle of a bad snow storm, when our car started to make strange noises. Jon exited at the nearest exit and as soon as he turned off we heard (and felt) something snap and our car lost power. Luckily we were at the top of a hill and were able to coast down to the nearest gas station, with only a minimal amount of pushing on Jon's part. Needless to say it was quite an eventful weekend, as family drove out to rescue us and let us borrow their cars so we could finish our journey.
When we finally got back home Jon and I had a pow pow and decided that it was time for our little Pontiac Sunfire to finally go the way of the earth. We really did need a bigger car. Three car seats crammed into the backseat works but isn't much fun, and in five months four kids are definitely not going to fit. We figured that now was as good a time as any to get a bigger car.
We ended up buying an older style Suburban. It was a really good deal (we didn't want to take out a car loan) and even though it is older it has low miles and has been treated really well inside and out. We had to drive about 40 minutes to go pick up the car and on the way home Jon drove the Suburban with all the kids in it, while I followed behind in another car.
Never in a hundred years did I ever imagine that I would have (or want) enough children to justify a behemoth of a car like a suburban. Yet, as I watched that huge hunk of metal, filled with everything I loved most in the world, roll down the road my eyes filled with tears.
In that moment that suburban transformed itself into my very own "covered wagon".
In the 1800's thousands of Mormon pioneers traveled from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley. They crossed it on foot, pulling all their belongings in covered wagons or in handcarts. These pioneers left behind families, homes, careers, and possessions to travel where they felt the Lord was directing them. The journey was filled with much joy and sorrow, babies were born and died on the way, young people fell in love, sickness and exhaustion took lives, but thousands of pioneers made the trek because they had faith that God was leading their path.
In a few days Jon and I will be loading up our "covered wagon" and leaving behind family as we re-trace that pioneer trail, going from the Salt Lake Valley back to Iowa, not far from where the Saints began their trek. The idea seems scary and overwhelming to me, much like I am sure it did to those early pioneers. Yet just like those early pioneers I know it is where the Lord wants us to go.
I really had to smile during Elder Stanley G. Ellis' talk during General Conference this weekend. The transcripts of the talks are not out yet, so I won't be able to quote him directly, but in his talk he said something along the lines of " 100 years ago the prophet would call people to go settle new areas. Today we have thousands of people who would go wherever the prophet told them to go, but with 14 million members you can't wait around for the prophet to give you a call. You just need to go."
This made me smile because in the past year, as Jon and I have struggled to figure out where the Lord wants us to be, I have often exclaimed that I wish I lived 100 years ago and that the prophet would just call us up and say "Jon and Heather I need you to go to the middle of nowhere and build the kingdom." I didn't care so much where we went, I just wanted to know that we were going where the Lord needed us. The problem was that none of the doors Jon and I were trying were opening. We had put offers on several different houses in Utah and none of them had worked out, and we just had a feeling that we were not suppose to stay here.
Which, isn't what we wanted.
We wanted to stay close to aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. We wanted to stay where we had grown up and what was familiar and safe.
Yet, the door to Iowa is the one that has opened up and we feel a lot of peace about going.
In my own little way I really feel like a modern day pioneer. Packing up my children and belongings in my covered wagon and heading along that well worn trail between Iowa and Salt Lake. Hoping, beyond hope that the Lord has a place and a work for me to do there.
Though, I will say I wish my modern day "covered wagon" got as good as gas mileage as those pioneer wagons did! But, hey, at least we will be making the trek in 2 days and not the 6+ weeks it took them.
And I won't have to sleep on the ground... hopefully.