Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Church History teaches lessons Part 1
From "Sturdy Shoes and a Waterproof Tent" by William G. Hartley, Ensign Oct. 2001
Church history teaches many lessons about personal preparedness.
“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1831. 1 While it may sound surprising, a look at Church history can teach us about preparedness for our day.
Lessons from Crossing the Plains
For more than 60,000 Saints who journeyed to Utah during the wagon train period (1846–69), outdoor trail realities tested their preparation and showed what worked and what didn’t.
Lesson 1: When we ignore preparedness counsel, we can expect unhappy consequences.
Before leaving Nauvoo, members had Church-published lists of what to take with them. But when the first companies left in February 1846, several hundred members panicked and crossed the Mississippi River without proper clothes, food, or shelter. As a result, they brought suffering upon themselves, slowed down others, and drained resources from those properly prepared.
Lesson 2: Protect against nature.
Trail death tolls reveal that the highest numbers of deaths were among infants and the elderly. Some pioneers became cold and wet because wagon covers and tents were not waterproof. Others suffered sunburns when they lost their hats. Their lips chapped from the dry air, wind, and sun. Many suffered diarrhea and lacked medicine to stop it. Some travelers, while dressed properly for summer heat, lacked coats and gloves for the cold mountain temperatures experienced before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. In addition, pioneers had to guard against wildlife, particularly snakes and wolves. In many campsites they suffered from swarms of mosquitoes that badly hurt children and angered horses and cattle.