April 19, 1997
Location: Winter Quarters - 1014 miles left, Nebraska - Location: 41:21:41N 95:56:45W Currently the site of Florence, Nebraska, Winter Quarters was settled in September, 1846 as a temporary resting place for the pioneers. It is located just west of the Missouri river in Nebraska.
Summary: Kick-off celebration at Miller Park, Florence (Winter Quarters) Nebraska.
Journal entry: Someone was banging on a pan and wouldn't stop. It went on and on. What is he saying? "Wake up time! Wake up time!" over and over again. But it's still dark! After fifteen minutes, there was no chance of going back to sleep. And then it stopped. OK. I'll get up. The crowds were already gathering at the stage area for the visit of President Gordon Hinckley. I hurried to place a blanket to save a place for us.
Missionaries from the LDS church arrived early. They are so energetic. They covered the back half of the stage and filled the cold morning air with lively singing- "Called to Serve", "Give Said the Little Stream", "The Spirit of God Like a Fire" and as Pres. Hinckley arrived "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet." Our souls were warmed.
Pres. Hinckley in his warm, friendly way spoke of the pioneers past and their great cause. He also spoke of honor towards the Omaha and Potto- watamie Indian tribes who aided the early Mormon settlers. Omaha chief Gary Lassli presented a beautiful blanket to Pres. Hinckley. In his closing comments, Pres. Hinckley blessed this wagon trek with protection, guidance, direction, unity, and love.
The rest of the day was filled with music past and present. A guitar/banjo duo roused the group with the toe-tapping song of the 1800s, "O Susannah". Children played pioneer games and rode wagons and buggies pulled by horses. "The Sunshine Generation," a local children's singing group entertained us all with their lively tunes. At the Pioneer Cemetery/Visitors Center, children were trying their skills at packing a pretend wagon. They were given different sized blocks labeled with things needed for a trek. The trick was to get all of the needed supplies into their wagon, a small replica of the real thing.
At the cemetery, six hundred yellow ribbons adorned the fences. Each ribbon represented a pioneer who died during the bitter winter of 1846-47. The sisters of the Rockbrook LDS Ward lovingly made and labeled each ribbon and tied them to the fence.
This morning was cold and damp. It warmed a little by noon. Clouds and light sprinkles of rain came by evening.
The South Group, also called the Ox-Bow Group, had a very early send-off devotional this morning. They left from the School for the Deaf located across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They are scheduled to travel 16 miles today. Their group is slightly smaller with about a dozen wagons.
More pioneers arrive every day. RVs are parked everywhere. We are excited and are anticipating our Monday morning departure. HappyNetTrekking!