Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Story for Sunday

Continued from here:

… Suddenly she knew she must find some relief for her tortured mind. Very quietly, so she would not disturb her husband, she turned in her bed and rose to her knees, still keeping the covers over her and tight against her husband so the cold could not creep in. And she began to pray. She had, of course, prayed many times, but never with such great intensity, and with such dire need for direct communication with her Father in heaven. She confessed to him her fears and her weakness in not overcoming them. She asked forgiveness and prayed for strength to meet whatever the morning would bring. Then, after submitting herself to God's will, she sank back on the bed and lay there looking up at the wagon cover. No voice spoke to her and told her all was well. In her own mind she found no answer to her problem, but over her there came a wonderful feeling of peace. With a sigh of relief she turned on her side and went to sleep.

When she awoke she knew it was late, and though the wind was still, she felt it was much colder than the night before. Her husband was gone from the bed, and outside the wagon she could hear the many sounds that told her that her family and the animals were stirring about. But something was missing. She lay quiet for a moment before she could determine what it was. And then she knew: she could not hear THE RIVER, not even a whisper of the sound of it.

Quickly she dressed and combed her hair, and putting her warmest shawl over her shoulders, she climbed out of the wagon. No one was close at hand, but on the bank of the river she could see her husband and children lined up, gazing across to the opposite bank. She ran to their side as fast as her small feet could carry her short but ample body, and then she too stopped in wonder. The leaping icy waves were gone, and in front of her spread a smooth expanse of ice that reached clear to the other bank.

As soon as Alice's husband realized what this miracle could mean to them, he began to organize every person in camp so they could take full advantage of the help it offered. First he tied a rope tightly around his waist and gave the end of it to the safekeeping of the two oldest boys. Carefully, step by step, he crossed the river, testing to see where the ice was thickest, and if it could safely carry a person. Then he returned and led a horse over the river. When he was thoroughly satisfied that the ice was strong enough, he moved quickly to make the crossing before the sun should become warm enough to soften their bridge. The cattle were rounded up and started across. In their hurry and jostling one against another, many of them fell and thrashed about so violently it seemed sure they would crack the ice. Quickly the father organized the children into a sand bucket brigade. They gathered every bucket and pan available, filled them with sand from the riverbank, and spread it on the ice so the cattle and horses could gain safe footing. A few of the animals were still so wild with fear that they could not be forced to follow the narrow path of sand. These were thrown to the ground, their feet bound together securely, and dragged protesting across the ice. The wheels of the wagons were locked, and they too were pulled quite easily to the other side.

During all this activity Alice kept pausing in her own duties to check to see that her children were all safe. After the sand was spread she looked around and could not find little Bert. Frantically she began to search for him. In a few minutes she found him on a little rise close to the river, entirely enveloped in the folds of a big red quilt. All that could be seen of him were his bright blue eyes looking out from the shelter of its warmth upon the wintry scene spread before him, with as much wonder and excitement as if it were a circus he was watching. "Why," she said to herself, "this is not hardship for him. This is high adventure. This is an experience he will remember all his life." And with that thought, a startling realization came to her. "Why, I am excited and happy, too--excited and happy about crossing THE RIVER!"

In a few hours everything and everybody were safely across. When it was all accomplished, her husband called the family together, and they knelt in prayer to thank the Lord for all their great blessings. To this Alice added her own private prayers that night and every night that followed, for she never lost her feeling of gratitude.

Alice did not return to cross the Colorado River ever again, but many of her family and friends did, and as long as she lived she never heard of that river ever being frozen over again. To the day of her death, the crossing of the ice over the Colorado River by her family was as great miracle to her as the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites.

This true story was written by my grandma, Ruth H. Johnson. "Little Bert" was her father and Alice, her grandmother. This story was published in the March 1975 issue of The Ensign. She used to always tell us stories about when she was young, which is why I know so much about her. I'm glad she shared these stories with us all before she lost her memory to Alzheimer's. Maybe that's why I'd like to pass these stories and others about my family down to my children. Thus, a Story for Sunday: an effort to get me off my rear and get these stories written. If you ever want to do the same on your blog, you can comment and I will link you at the bottom of my post for you to share with others as well. Thanks for all the stories, Grandma. I miss you!


Anonymous said...

Amazing story! And so well written - I've been just waiting to see what happened! Thanks for sharing!

debi9kids said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful story.
I too had been waiting to find out how it ended.
Such a testament to faith 7 endurance.
:) Debi

Anonymous said...

I love love love that story!!!

It is so good that you are keeping your grandma's stories alive! That is soooo important!!!

I love the way you wrote it, too!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea! Blogging can be a terrific motivator sometimes.

I love that picture - they look so happy.

I can't imagine being that "distant face" in a photograph one day, living only in someone's memory, but it does happen. Time marches on, and it is becoming more and more obvious. :)
Another motivating reason to journal and blog!

Maddy said...

This is why we blog. Thanks for the photo to fit the face to the trace.
Best wishes

Theresa said...

Family History is a new interest of mine. Like I need another hobby, I can hear Curtis saying! is NOT my friend. LOL.

I love that you are preserving the stories. Your children my not appreciate them until they are OUR age, but they WILL one day thank you!

Love T

Anonymous said...

oh, i love the picture! love it.

Jam said...

You look just like your Grandma. Thanks for the story! It's one I'll share with my family for Pioneer Day. I love your blog!!!! Jam

Elizabeth said...

WOW. Great story...sort of Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish. I love those amazing stories of faith and miracles!
Blessings, E

The Cranes said...

Funny thing, Shellie, I was thinking of putting this story on my blog, too. Just had to give a talk on Sunday (the 13th) and the subject was on pioneers. I have been studying family history for two weeks to prepare and it has been great! I don't know if I have ever seen that photo of Grandpa and Grandma--where did you get it?

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

What a great story.... miracle! Amazing! I really enjoy reading your stories, thanks for sharing.