I have so many posts floating in my head and a couple I've started on my computer, but I can't seem to find the time to sit and finish them. I read this story in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's book Broken Things to Mend, Chapter 11, "When the Call Comes" and wanted to share it. It is from an address on November 4, 2007 at an eastern and southern Utah stake conference. It has been in the Ensign before, but maybe someone doesn't remember it or never read it.
In the late 1800's (from what I gather) there was a group of people sent to an area in Utah that was along the Colorado River (fairly close to Orderville) called the Muddy. They were sent to settle the area, grow cotton and teach the Native Americans. Apparently, this area was barren and living there was very difficult. Most people who were called there would say, "Of all the places on earth, why the Muddy?" I think I would have felt the same!
Elder Holland tells about a teenage girl named Elizabeth Claridge McCune (1862 - 1924) who lived in Utah. If any of you have ever been to (or through) Nephi, you might chuckle at Elizabeth's thought that the city of Nephi was precious, but compared to where she was sent, I'd agree.
“No place on earth seemed so precious to me at fifteen years of age as [the city of] Nephi [Utah]. How eagerly we looked forward to the periodical visits of President Brigham Young and his company! Everything was done that could be thought of for their comfort and entertainment. And with all it was a labor of love.
“We went out with our Sabbath Schools and all the other organizations, with bands of music and flags and banners and flowers to meet and greet our beloved leader and his company. On one occasion the people were lined up on each side of the street waiting for the carriages to pass. Among them were twenty-five young ladies dressed in white who had strewn evergreens and wild flowers along the path. Bro Brigham, Bros Kimball and Wells with the entire company got out of their carriages, and walked over the flowery road . . . to our homes, [where] dinner was prepared and served.
“We all attended the afternoon meeting, the girls in white having reserved seats in front. The sermons were grand, and we were happy until President Young announced that he had a few names to read of men who were to be called and voted in as missionaries to and settle up the ‘Muddy.’ This almost stilled the beating of the hearts of all present. Many of our people had been called to go to settle the Dixie country—but the Muddy, so many miles farther south! And so much worse! Oh! Oh! I did not hear another name except ‘Samuel Claridge.’ Then how I sobbed and cried, regardless of the fact that the tears were spoiling the new white dress. The father of the girl who sat next to me was also called. Said my companion, “Why, what is you crying about? It doesn’t make me cry. I know my father won’t go.’ ‘Well there is the difference,’ said I, ‘I know that my father will go and that nothing could prevent him, and I should not own him as a father if he would not go when he is called.’ Then, I broke down sobbing again. . . .
“We had just moved into a new house and were fixed comfortably. Many of our friends tried to persuade father to keep his home and farm; to go south a while and then come back. But father knew that this was not the kind of mission upon which he had been called. ‘I will sell everything I own,’ said he, ‘and take my means to help build up another waste place in Zion’” (in Young Women’s Journal, July 1898, 292-93).
What an example of obedience, faith and service Elizabeth's parents must have been for her to know without a doubt that they would heed the call, despite the challenges and dramatic change in lifestyle. I hope that I can show my children that same example with my actions. Not that I want my decisions to move them to tears, but I would feel so proud if my child ever said or thought such a thing of me! And apparently Elizabeth learned a lot from her parents, as shown in her comment "I should not own him as a father if he would not go when he is called" and in her later callings. I know that I have learned the meaning of selfless service as I have seen my parents serve in their callings, whatever they have been called to do. I am grateful for their example to me and I hope that I can teach my children to serve willingly as well.