July 17, 1997
Location: Henefer, Utah - Twenty miles from "This is the Place" State Park.
Summary: Rest day in Henefer -- We'll make the air with music ring.
Journal entry: Today was a rest day in beautiful Henefer. I took my time waking up and then looked around for Amy. I couldn't find her, so I started looking for something to eat. That proved much easier. Amy did finally appear, with a red bag slung over her shoulder. She said, "I'm headed into Coalville to do some laundry. Do you have anything you want washed?" I told her no, but asked how she was going to get there. "I'll just start walking, and someone from the wagon train will give me a ride." As funny as it seems, it is very true. For the past two months, I have never even thought about getting rides. It just happens. All you do is start walking in the general direction that you are going, and someone from the wagon train pulls over and asks if you need a ride. I don't even doubt or worry. My faith is becoming perfect in this thing.
There was a final showing of the latest Legacy West episode at the LDS church building this afternoon. It focused on the handcarts and the events that took place at the Sweetwater River near Martin's Cove. After the viewing, the wagon train members gave the film crew a standing ovation that lasted many minutes. I think that they have done a superb job documenting this trek and comparing it to the original pioneer companies. Their skill in capturing the spirit which is here is best demonstrated through the beautiful cinematography and music. Although it is only showing on the Oddessy Channel (which very few people have), we hear that it might be carried on a few public TV stations in the future.
Leaving the chapel, I walked down a street towards the city park. I passed the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers museum. It is an old pioneer cabin with lots of photos and other old objects inside. I glanced around, not too impressed. Then my attention was drawn to a large photo on the wall above a bed. It was taken on July 24, 1897, almost exactly one hundred years ago at some kind of celebration on Temple Square. It was a black and white photo that reminded me of a large class photo. There were probably 3 or 4 hundred people in the shot. Some were bystanders, but most were all lined up in rows Each of them was wearing a yellow ribbon on his or her lapel, and none of them was wearing a hat. Grey and white hair was common. At the bottom of the photo was a caption: "Pioneers of 1847". My eyes welled up with tears as I looked closely at their faces. They weren't sitting there with a smug "look what we did" look on their faces. There was little emotion in their expressions. Obviously, everybody was at least 50 years old, and most were much, much older. They had a look of wisdom and seasoned understanding that was lacking in the faces of the young bystanders. They had passed through the refiner's fire. They had trudged through sagebrush, mud, and sand, and passed unmarked graves and probably even buried a friend or family member. They had dug irrigation ditches and planted crops in untouched soil. They ate sego lillies. They warded off Johnson's Army. They had battled crickets and cholera and gossip. They had crossed the Missouri, the Elk Horn, Platte, Sweetwater, Green, and Bear rivers. I didn't even try to hide as I wiped a tear from my sunburned face. They have become real people to me.
At four in the afternoon we had choir practice in the baseball field. The conductor of the Utah Symphony was there to give us some final pointers. The symphony hadn't yet arrived, so once again we practiced with the CD recording. The symphony conductor had the same problem as Sister VanLeewen -- the recording refused to follow his lead!
By 7 PM the baseball field was packed with people in lawn chairs or on blankets. Elder Ballard was the speaker. He thanked all those who have made this celebration a success, and then he told about the pioneers, especially those who settled Henefer. There was no room to sit, so Amy and I climbed up a nearby tree. It was the best seat in the house.
After Elder Ballard's remarks, the Utah Symphony arrived and gave a concert. It was like a pops concert, and we came down from the tree to sit on the lawn near first base with the other choir members. After many different numbers, they called our choir up to sing "Come, come, Ye Saints". The symphony played much differently than the recording, but we tried to follow along. The audience must have heard a sound quite different than what our scraggly little choir was producing, because when we finished, they gave us a standing ovation. Tonight seemed like the last of enjoyable celebrations. The rest are going to be in the hot sun with mobs of people around. But, for right now, "All is well."