Monday, April 8, 2013

My Covered Wagon

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. 


  1. Good luck with your journey! I can relate in an odd way because our family wanted so much to move to be closer to family and friends but after years of prayers and searching we finally found our new home where we were supposed to be it was a mile from our old one!

  2. HEATHER DEAR! First of all, congratulations on your new babe coming soon! Also, congratulations on moving out to the midwest! Drue and I live in Lincoln, NE which (as you may remember) is A LONG way away from our families, but we love LOVE L.O.V.E. living out here! Please call me if you guys want to break a journey or just meet up as you're passing through on i-80!!! Message me on FB and I'll send my number!!!

  3. Oh Heather I am so happy for you guys!I am going to miss you like crazy :( I love the idea of your Suburban being a covered wagon, what a great feeling to know that you are going to where the Lord wants and needs you to be. Let me know if you any last minute help! Love you!

  4. Good luck to you guys. I'm excited to hear about your adventures. I guess I'll just have to miss you as much in Iowa as I did when I left Utah. But hey, Brandon and I are always happy to have visitors, and willing to take trips out to the middle of nowhere too =) Love you guys!

  5. Where in Iowa? We live in Audubon, attend the Atlantic Branch, part of the Council Bluffs stake. Iowa is great and we need strong families like yours. And we too, drive a big ol' Suburban.

  6. You are going to love being just where the Lord wants ya! Good luck! And enjoy the journey!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this story! My wife and I have made several similar treks over the last 6 years, and though they racked us to our core physically and financially, we grew closer to each other and the Lord than I think we ever could in a lifetime without those struggles! Under the Spirit's direction, my wife and I with our first child moved from Kentucky to Texas, and from Texas to Utah (admittedly, Heavenly Father told us that living in Texas with my parents would be temporary even before we left Kentucky, but we had absolutely no ties to Utah). A few years later, after becoming unemployed and then homeless, we were directed to move with our now three children from Utah to Illinois, then to South Carolina, and finally back to Texas all because the Lord directed us to do so, and had wonderful purposes for us all in each place. I love the Lord dearly, thank Him every day for those trials, and I feel I can lift my voice with Brigham Young's when I say “I would not exchange [my own "Zion's Camp" experiences] for all the wealth of Geauga county!” Thank you, again, for posting your inspiring story!

  9. Having lived outside of Utah and the west for the majority of my married and adult life, I can tell you that it is truly wonderful. You'll have opportunities to serve within the church that are often not available in the "Mormon corridor". I've lived so far from family since my oldest was 3 years old. Of course, I miss my sisters and parents. However, we have been blessed with surrogate families who have reached out to us in absolute love. Moving to a new location pushes and challenges you to re-examine your life. Its a fresh start. Good luck!

  10. I adore my Suburban! My sister and I both drive one. She has tried to downsize several times and always ends up selling that vehicle and buying another "Burb". :) Best of luck on your new adventure. There are just so many blessings that come from following those promptings.

  11. That's awesome that you're moving to Iowa! My family moved to Iowa three years ago from New England, and we felt much the same way about it as you and your husband do. It seemed like the most random place for us to move, but we knew (and still know) that this is where we're supposed to be and that we're following Heavenly Father's plan for us. I love the pioneer history here, and being able to go to the Nauvoo temple is a blessing. I hope you'll like it. Good luck with the move!

  12. Beautiful post! Good luck as you continue on the journey the Lord wants you on! My husband and I are still in an area where we don't have any family close by (we have been here for 10 years now and never thought we would learn to call it home), but it brings an inner peace knowing how much the Lord's hand has been involved in all we have done!

  13. Love you lots! I hope things are going smoothly for you.

  14. This post really hits home for me.

    I have had so many of these same feelings; from watching my family (and family car) blossom past my expectations (8 children and a 12 seater), tearing up watching the family vehicle hurtling down the freeway with all I hold dear, to the call to move where we hadn't planned and hadn't really wanted to be (though in our case it was leaving Missouri to return to Utah).

    Thanks for reminding me of all the good things :)