Friday, April 16, 2010

Could I Do That?

I finally finished Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's book Broken Things to Mend. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but I enjoyed reading it, felt inspired and got so many wonderful quotes that touched my heart that I added to my quote file. Here is one story that Elder Holland tells. (When you look at the map below, you can see cities we went through to get down to New Mexico last week--Monticello, over to Colorado where we passed through Cortez and Shiprock.)

In one of the great moments of pioneer history, one by one the company took the wagons down the treacherous precipice. When, miracle of miracles, they reached the canyon floor, they eagerly started to ferry across the river with a flatbed boat they had fashioned for that purpose. As it turned out, the Joseph Stanford Smith family was the last wagon to descend that day.

Stanford Smith had systematically helped the preceding wagons down, but somehow in their one-by-one success and consequent disappearance, the others apparently forgot that

Brother Smith's family would still need help as the tail enders. Deeply disturbed that he and his family seemed abandoned,... (Stanford) stood for a moment and looked down the treacherous "Hole."

(He) turned to his wife and said, "Belle, I am afraid we can't make it."
"We must make it," she replied.
"If we only had a few men to hold the wagon back we might make it," he said.
"I'll do the holding back. We will make it," she said.

Positioning herself behind the wagon, Belle Smith grasped the reins of the horse hitched to the back of the rig.

Stanford started the team down the "Hole." The wagon lurched downward. With the first jolt the rear horse and Sister Smith were literally catapulted into the air. Recovering, she hung back, pulling on the lines with all her strength and courage. A jagged rock cut a cruel gash in her leg from heel to hip. The horse behind the wagon fell to his haunches. The half-dead animal was literally dragged most of the way down the incline. That gallant woman, clothes torn, with a grievous wound, hung on to those lines with all her might and faith, and with her husband muscled that wagon the full length of the incline all the way to the river's edge.

On reaching the bottom, and almost in disbelief at their accomplishment, Stanford immediately raced (1,300) feet back up to the top of the cliff fearful for the welfare of the children. When he climbed over the rim, he saw his three children literally unmoved from the position their mother had placed them in.

Carrying the baby, with the other two children clinging to him and to each other, he led them down the rocky (path) to their anxious mother below. At that point, in the distance they saw five men moving toward them carrying chains and ropes.

The Smiths had been missed from the larger party. Realizing the plight they were in, these men were coming to help.

Stanford called out, "Forget it fellows ... (Belle) here is all the help a (man) needs (to make this journey)."

Elder Holland, “When the Call Comes”, address given at a 2007 eastern and southern Utah stake conference. ---Elder Holland's account was adapted from David E. Miller, "Hole-in-the-Rock: An Epic in the Colonization of the Great American West," 1959.

I can't even imagine trying that, let alone succeeding, especially after having climbed the mountains last week. She left her small children there where they easily could have wandered off or fallen down great depths and then she made her way down with all that weight. While I am sure she had some heavenly help, she first had to show her determination and faith and then secondly she had to work and suffer. Our Heavenly Father is there helping us through everything, but He doesn't always take away the need for us to suffer and to put forth effort.


  1. I haven't heard of this book by Elder Holland (I still call him Pres. Holland because he was Pres. of BYU when I went there) but it sounds like a great one. I love history so I will have to check it out.
    I DID just finish reading Gerald Lund's book "The Undaunted" a few months ago. It is the story of The Hole In The Rock Pioneers and has this account in it. It is just incredible what these pioneers went through to get to that hole, to make the hole bigger and then to get through it. It is an amazing story and this woman Belle Smith is so courageous!!

  2. We just got the book and are reading it. I love Elder Holland's words.
    He spoke at a Stake Conference here right after my husband was put in as bishop. He was so personable.
    I do need to have more faith.

  3. While reading the story I was struck by a totally different thought, probably because I've been studying Pres. Packer's and Sis. Beck's talks from this past General Conference.

    "Stanford called out, "Forget it fellows ... (Belle) here is all the help a (man) needs (to make this journey)."

    How important it is that we as wives are there for our husbands as we journey through life together, equally performing our God given roles!

  4. Cherie, I didn't know exactly what that book was about, but now I'd like to read it. I'll put a hold on it at the library and maybe I'll get it some time this year. :) I know it's popular.

    Tauna, how great that you got to have him at stake conference!

    Montserrat, I was thinking along the same lines, even though I didn't mention it. Am I all that my husband needs to help him with this journey? Of course, I quickly thought of all the ways he has needed me to hold the weight and haven't so I got a bit discouraged. Although, I am trying to concentrate on the times I do help in the journey.

  5. It's easy to say "I can't" when we see a task that is over whelming. The Lord will give us power to do what ever is necessary. I too read the book "The Undaunted" and it's amazing how much those pioneers did. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.


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