A Different Kind of Pioneer

    “A Different Kind of Pioneer,” Friend, July 2018

    A Different Kind of Pioneer

    The author lives in Georgia, USA.

    Gabby didn’t have any pioneer ancestors … did she?

    “I want to know my ancestors through stories that I find” (“Family History Is the Story of Me”).

    a girl imagining her great-grandma planting flowers

    Illustrations by Simini Blocker

    “Are you excited for Activity Day?” Chloe asked Gabby as they sat down in sharing time.

    Gabby shrugged. “We’re supposed to learn about a pioneer ancestor and do a presentation, right?”

    Chloe nodded. “I’m excited. My great-great-great-grandma was from Scotland. She crossed the plains to Utah in a covered wagon. I think I’m going to bring her journal and read it in a Scottish accent.”

    “That’ll be cool.” Gabby looked down at her hands. “I don’t think I’m related to any pioneers, though.”

    “Hmm,” Chloe said. “Well, Sister James says we’re all pioneers.”

    Gabby imagined everyone in the room dressed in pioneer clothing and laughed. “I’m glad we don’t have to wear bonnets!”

    Later that day, Gabby was helping Mom cook dinner when she thought about Activity Day again. “So … what pioneer ancestors do we have?” Gabby asked, stirring a pot of bubbling red sauce.

    Mom threw some spices into the pot, then started chopping little sausages.

    “Ancestors? I tell you about them all the time. You should know.”

    “Wait, like who?”

    “Like your Great-Grandpa …”

    “No, I mean pioneer ancestors who crossed the plains. Ones who pulled wagons and wore bonnets and stuff.”

    Mom laughed. “Well, we don’t have any of those. But we do have other awesome ancestors who did pioneering things. Like your Great-Grandma Luisa.”

    Gabby smiled. “I love hearing stories about your grandma! She grew up on a farm in Spain, right?”

    Mom nodded. “Then she moved to Argentina and started her own business. Even though she never had a chance to finish school, she made sure her children got a good education.”

    As the sauce simmered, they sat at the kitchen table, and Mom told Gabby more stories about Grandma Luisa. She was a gardener and talked to her flowers. Whenever she went on a trip, the flowers would wilt a little, just because they missed her.

    “And the most important thing to remember about Grandma Luisa is her faith,” Mom said. “She would pray out loud as she did dishes, as she cooked, as she gardened … she loved talking to God!”

    Mom got a happy-sad expression on her face, like she was looking at something far away.

    Gabby reached out and put her hand on Mom’s arm. “Those are cool stories, Mom,” Gabby said. “I think I’ll tell the other Primary kids about Luisa. I wish I could have known her.”

    “Me too. She would have loved spending time with you,” Mom said.

    When the day of the activity came, Gabby was ready. She’d gathered a few of Luisa’s things to show: her favorite lotion, a beaded rosary she held while praying, and a gourd she used as a cup for traditional drinks. But Gabby’s favorite thing to show was a picture of Luisa when she was 18 years old. It made her seem so real!

    At the activity, Chloe presented first. She had dressed up like her great-great-great-grandma, with a bonnet and everything. Then it was Gabby’s turn.

    “I want to talk about my Great-Grandma Luisa,” Gabby said. “She was my mom’s grandma …”

    As Gabby kept talking, she felt really good inside. Even though she had never met Luisa, she loved her!

    “Because of Luisa’s faith, my mom learned about God,” Gabby said. “And then my mom joined the Church when she grew up. And that’s why I’m here!”

    As Gabby sat down, she looked down at her picture of Luisa.

    Thanks for being a pioneer, Gabby thought with a smile.