Saturday, July 23, 2011

I See... the Ultimate LDS 4G Network

WARNING: HOLD ON TO YOUR ATTENTION SPAN AND YOUR TEAR DUCTS. THIS IS POSSIBLY THE LONGEST, YET MOST MOVING POST EVER. EVER.

The whole world is excited about the onslaught of emergent 4G networks. In the context of the gospel, more searching souls will be able to more quickly access the inspirational profiles at mormon.org via their smart phones. Certainly it will increase our capacity to bring souls unto Christ.

On this Pioneer Day, however, that's not the 4G network seen and appreciated by the Mormon Third Eye. The Mormon Third Eye sees a different, perhaps even more powerful 4G network- the 4thGeneration of saints in my ancestry. This is a story of love and sacrifice; of faith and discouragement; of dedication and discrimination; a story so real that it makes historical fiction history. This is the true story of my great-great-great grandparents William Tait and Elizabeth Xavier, the first in our family to enter the waters of baptism and heed the call to gather to Zion.

Handsome and dashing William Tait heard the glad news of the gospel in 1842 Scotland and was baptized soon thereafter. He later joined the British military and was sent as an officer to Bombay India. There he met a very beautiful, very young Indian girl of royal descent, Elizabeth Xavier. She was not your typical Indian maiden; as a member of Bombay's upper caste, she grew up privileged; highly educated, attended by servants, and familiar with the finer things in life. They fell madly in love, the kind of love you read about often but rarely witness, and Elizabeth Xavier made her first of what would be many courageous decisions; in 1850 she married William out of her faith and culture, and consequently risked being disowned by her family.

Not long after they wed the first set of Mormon missionaries came to Bombay. William and Elizabeth fed them and housed them, and she heard the glad news of the gospel from them. This time, in 1852, it was Elizabeth's turn to be baptized. Three years later they made their next big decision: they would leave the comforts and wealth of her family behind and heed the call to gather to Zion.

The plan was for William and the missionaries to leave first with their children; pregnant Elizabeth would follow later. However, their love was too deep to wait; bent on reuniting with her husband, she quickly secured passage on another vessel to England for herself and their new baby girl, a girl that William would never meet. On the voyage West and North, the anxious Elizabeth Xavier, trapped in the unaccustomed stench and filth of living ship board, had her first bout with tragedy; their 14-month old Mary Ann passed away! Once arriving in England, overwhelmed by the discouragement and loneliness borne of loss and separation, she resolved to end her journey there and call for her beloved William to come back from Zion and join her. An inspired mission president, however, persuaded her to continue on.

She crossed another ocean to America and met up with another group of saints at Iowa City in July 1856, determined to move on to Zion. It was late in the season, but she missed her beloved William terribly. She sold off the rest of her jewels and fine linen, put her trust in the leaders of the Willie Company, and bought her own handcart to push 47 pounds of belongings to the Salt Lake Valley.

The Willie and Martin Handcart companies left too late and perhaps with too much hope. Pioneer life was rough on this cultured, refined woman; unlike her other sisters in the gospel, she had to learn on the trail how to live and eat and pray day-to-day. She pushed mile after endless aching mile until she had to permanently rest at Martin's Cove. She would go no further. She would die there as a martyr for those who would follow. Or would she?

William joined the rescue company sent to save the handcart company saints trapped in the high snows of Wyoming. His cherished Elizabeth, the stout woman who gave up home, heritage, and wealth to follow the gospel and her husband, and who would eventually mother several generations of members, was dying in the deep snow! We cannot imagine the depth of William's despair and broken heart as he arrived at the cove and tenderly cradled the gaunt shell of his precious Elizabeth's worn, near-death body in his shaking arms. Perhaps he was just glad that she still had a heartbeat and not surrendered to the temptation to let the elements overtake her. Anyway, he carried his true love back to the homestead in Cedar City and slowly nursed her back to a semblance of health. The crossing left her with a weak constitution for the rest of her life. They settled into life as the typical pioneer family in Zion- she eventually learned how to sew and cook and clean house like the rest of her Relief Society sisters, and he ran the school system there for several decades.

I wish I could say that after all the courageous decisions and sacrifice wrought on their part, they settled peacefully in Zion and lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, their most formidable challenge lie ahead of them. Elizabeth was not the typical pioneer woman in more than one aspect; being of India descent, she had incredibly dark skin, which made her a target of discrimination. They also may have interpreted her initial lack of pioneer skills as a lack of preparation and dedication to the gospel. Hence, she was ostracized and treated poorly by her Relief Society sisters. She became somewhat of a hermit in her Southern Utah neighborhood, rarely venturing out to social and church activities. This treatment deeply disturbed William for the rest of his life.

My familiarity with this 4G ancestry network bestows me great strength in my latter-days. If Elizabeth Xavier could endure the trials of abandonment, loss, separation, near-death physical torture, and even discrimination among her adopted house of Israel, then perhaps I can make the best of my own trials.

I love my 4G network.

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Dear Husband. I'm so blessed by her sacrifice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have given me a great gift today, Richard! I am grateful for the gift that God has given you to put to words this great love story. I have been strengthened today! I hope you continue your ministry with words. …Rob

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. Such a powerful story to share. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful story Richard! Thank you for sharing it!!! Touched my heart it did!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Richard how are related to William and Elizabeth?

    ReplyDelete