|An 1866 party of pioneers in Echo Canyon east of the Salt Lake Valley (courtesy mormonnewsroom.org)|
Though the Church was restored in the modern days on United States' soil, it is a world-wide organization with more members outside of the USA, than in it. Even today, people still make sacrifices to follow their beliefs. Some lose the support of their families, their friends, their jobs, or their homes so they can have the gospel in their lives.
My grandmother and grandfather joined the LDS church while living in New York. Because there was no temple there at the time, they moved their family to Arizona so they could be sealed together--not just for time, but for eternity. This is a sacrifice that I am grateful for, and I am sure others may take for granted. As a result of their conversion, many other families also have the blessings of the gospel in their lives.
My best friend from high school made the decision to be baptized and joined the church between our junior and senior year. Her family supported her, yet they were not 100% happy with her choice. I know it hasn't been all easy with many struggles along the way, but she was able to be sealed in the temple to her husband and is starting a pioneer legacy all her own with her husband and her children.
Whether you come from a long line of pioneers, or you are the very first to join the church, the heritage of the church's beginnings are a part of your life and American history. The Church began not quite 200 years ago, in 1830, and has grown to over 14 million members with about 140 temples throughout the world. It is the 4th largest Christian religion in the USA. Also, it heralds one of the largest (and oldest) women's organization in the world, the Relief Society, which works to take care of one another and provide aid to people of all religions in 170 countries and territories throughout the world. The growth is amazing.
People like my friend and my grandparents and the early pioneers inspire me. Their examples of steadfastness make me want to be better. I want to have the faith and strength of pioneers past, present, and future. I don't know that I could have endured the physical strain of crossing the plains, nor the heartache of losing family and friends to death along the way. But, I am here now enduring challenges that are equally difficult, but in a different way. In a world where so many are struggling, I am trying to be strong in my faith and testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I try to help those around me to strengthen their faith and testimonies so they can be strong enough to endure the onslaught of trials in the latter days.