I wish I could just post a transcript of what I said during my actual lesson. It always seems to go much smoother than these recaps. Perhaps because I pray for a week before giving the lesson and I just use the time I can get on the computer for these posts.
This lesson is on the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies. If you don't know the story or need a recap, here is the lesson, it has a good summary.
This quote from President Hinckley really stuck with me:
“It is because of the sacrificial redemption wrought by the Savior of the world that the great plan of the eternal gospel is made available to us, under which those who die in the Lord shall not taste of death but shall have the opportunity of going on to a celestial and eternal glory. “In our own helplessness, He becomes our rescuer, saving us from damnation and bringing us to eternal life. “In times of despair, in seasons of loneliness and fear, He is there on the horizon to bring succor and comfort and assurance and faith. He is our King, our Savior, our Deliverer, our Lord and our God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 54).The handcart companies needed two different kinds of rescuers; they needed the large scale, massive effort that involved hundreds of men, wagons and the whole valley to bring supplies together, but they also needed the individual attention described in the following story:
“ ‘The handcarts moved on November 3 and reached the [Sweetwater] river, filled with floating ice. To cross would require more courage and fortitude, it seemed, than human nature could muster. Women shrank back and men wept. Some pushed through, but others were unequal to the ordeal. “ ‘Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue; and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of that ill-fated handcart company across the snow-bound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, “That act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end” ’ (LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1960], pp. 132–33).When Christ was born the Jews were expecting the type of hero we think of in the movies. Someone to rouse the people, kick out the Romans, and set a up an all powerful kingdom with them in charge. They wanted the super-mobilized effort of the type Brigham Young sent to rescue the parties as a whole. But Christ comes to rescue each of us individually. At some point every single one of us reach a point when we have no strength left and we cannot go any further. At this point He carries us, one by one, across our own rivers of despair and hopelessness.
Once we have been saved, at least for this crisis, we have a responsibility. Referring to the suffering of the Martin and Willie handcart companies, President Hinckley said:
“I am grateful that those days of pioneering are behind us. I am thankful that we do not have brethren and sisters stranded in the snow, freezing and dying, while trying to get to this, their Zion in the mountains. But there are people, not a few, whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out for help and relief. “There are so many who are hungry and destitute across this world who need help. … Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness. “There are so many young people who wander aimlessly and walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality, and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices and that spirit of anxious concern which speaks of love. There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord. “My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).That seems clear enough, if slightly overwhelming. But we don't have to help the whole world at once. Just do our visiting teaching, fulfill our calling to the best of our ability, pray and try to stay close to the Spirit so when we can help, the Lord will show us how.