Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'll Show Them

This was the ONLY picture I could find of her... it's TEENSY...

I love the story of Louisa Barnes Pratt. Born in 1802 in Warwick, Massachusetts, she was educated as a school teacher. She and her husband, Addison Pratt, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lived for a time in Nauvoo.

In the fall of 1845, following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and following some intense persecution, Church leaders announced their decision to vacate the city. For Louisa, the news fell on her ear "like the funeral knell of all departed joys." Her husband was halfway around the world preaching the gospel in Society Islands. While Louisa was committed to the gospel and the cause, she wasn't quite sure of the reality of her situation--how to leave behind everything and go to Zion in the West with her four young daughters.

"What could I do with my little means and my helpless family, in launching out into the wilderness. I had no male relative to take charge of my affairs."

When no immediate help was proffered, she met the challenge with her usual display of spirit.

"I will show them what I can do."

And she did. They made it to the Salt Lake Vally in 1848, she and her four girls.

But that's not the end of the story. In 1850 she joined her husband on another of his missions to Tahiti, being set apart to aid him in teaching the gospel. She may very well be the first sister missionary in this dispensation. She lived on the island of Tobuai, where she taught English to the people there until 1852. She returned to San Bernadino, California, in May 1852 and in 1858 headed back to Utah, settling first in Cedar City and then in Beaver, where she helped organize the Relief Society in 1873, serving as secretary and counselor.

I love Louisa. I love her tenacity and her feistiness. It wasn't a rebellious "I'll show you." Well, maybe in the moment it was. Most importantly, it was an "I'll show you my commitment. Try me. Prove me now herewith" sort of proof.

I'm sort of in Louisa's shoes these days. I'm really getting discouraged with school. I feel like I've come up against every single deterrant: fellowship, lack of communication and support from professors, and the latest from yesterday--a very disappointing email about not passing an important exam. Luckily, I can revise. But oh, I'm tired.

I feel alone in this little journey--alone in the sense that my little head is crowded over with feelings of failure and insecurity--was I cut out for this? can I do it? do I bow out gracefully?

But I'm not. Last night I came home to a beautiful little bouquet of bright orange gerber daisies and a sweet note from Diedra. The other night Mauri came over and scrubbed my kitchen sink and played Skipbo with me. Rebecca lets me cry on our long runs, even if I wheeze. And Lindi keeps offering ice cream (I'm totally going to take you up on that, my friend!). So I know I'm not alone.

When Louisa was on her mission in the Society Islands, she brought seeds. The soil and climate were favorable and she introduced many new flowers and vegetables to the island. Not only did she figure out how make it across the plains with her daughters, but she lived a full life. She closed her journal with these words:

"Ah: but the Lord rules.... Let the faithful women trust in Him He will ere long adjust their cause, and help them to fulfill their destiny."

So be it.


Lindi said...

You better come quick...only three pints left!!

Laurel said...

this just might be my favorite post ever.

thanks for sharing these stories, Reeder. PLEASE keep 'em coming.

M said...

I'm here for you too, friend. Someday, a girl you've never met is going to write about an amazing woman named Jenny who overcame adversity with spunk and grace, and went on to become one of the most influential teachers of Mormon women's history of our time. I know it.

amy smart said...

Okay so I am finally getting caught up on my blog-reading and HELLO! I am a descendant of Louisa Barnes Pratt! (She's pretty much one of my favorite ancestors.) I can totally hook you up with a bigger picture too. :) Why was I not caught up on your blog before I saw you. Tragic.