I'd like to start doing Sunday posts with a little different flavor, either borrowing from talks or lessons prepared for class or just whipping up something mildly edifying on the spot. I'll do some posts on Paul and his letters later in the year. For now, I'll share a passage I ran across in connection with President Hinckley's talk The Faith to Move Mountains from the October 2006 Conference. He recounted the story of how Brigham Young, in October 1856, sent out rescue caravans to find and feed migrating Saints stranded in snowy Wyoming and escort them back to Salt Lake City. I looked up the relevant material in Allen and Leonard's The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Quite a tale.
However, the paragraph I really liked talked not about the rescue mission of 1856 but instead talked about how regular emigration companies that trudged into the Salt Lake Valley (the ones that got there under their own power) were greeted as they arrived.
When new immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, they were usually met as they emerged from Emigration Canyon and escorted to a block appropriately named Emigration Square. After being greeted by President Young or some other Church leader, they were treated to a celebration feast by the wards of the city. Then they were placed with families or in campgrounds until they could be permanently located. Some were sent to distant settlements or assigned to help colonize new areas, while others were given land and work in the Salt Lake City area.
Still quoting from Story of the Latter-day Saints, here's how a visitor to Salt Lake City described with admiration the process of placing the new arrivals:
An emigrant train had just come in, and the bishops had to put six hundred persons in the way of growing their cabbages and building their homes. One bishop said he could take five bricklayers, another two carpenters, a third a tinman, a fourth seven or eight farm-servants, and so on through the whole bench. In a few minutes I saw that two hundred of these poor emigrants had been placed in the way of earning their daily breads.
One can only imagine the thrill of receiving such a warm welcome and the gratitude at having a helping hand and first job or piece of land extended to the settlers upon arrival. I hope we in the Church of the 21st century are as welcoming to the thousands of new members who join our various congregations each year.