Emily Belle Freeman



A Tender Rescue

Summer of Tender MerciesJacob 4:12 - Jacob 5:65

Do you know the story of Jens and Elsie Nilsen?

They were pioneers who crossed the plains with the Willie handcart company.  They came from Europe and had enough money to trek across the West in a wagon train.  But Jens heard the call from a prophet of God, pleading for help for those who didn't have enough to emigrate.  He sold his wagon and came by handcart.  The money left over after purchasing his handcart was given to other families so they could make the trek to Zion.

You will remember how the handcart company got a late start.  You will already know that the winter came in October that year, it's cold fury stranding them on the unforgiving plains.  You will have heard how rescuers came to meet the people there in a moment that could have taken the life of every Saint.

As the Willie Company tried to make it to the rescue party the storm intensified.  What lie between them and those who had life sustaining food and clothing was a part of the trail that has been named Rocky Ridge.

I can't imagine pulling a heavy handcart in the midst of white-out conditions up an excruciating hill that was made up of slick black rock.

I wonder what Elsie Nilsen thought as she stood at the base of that hill.  Her husband was weary to the point of death.  He told her to go forward without him.  He needed to lie down for a bit.  She knew if he stopped he would never get back up.  So Elsie, who was 4' 11, begged her husband Jens, who was 6'3, to climb into their handcart with all of their belongings.

She pulled him all the way up Rocky Ridge.

She saved him.

Have you ever been on pioneer trek?

If you haven't, I hope one day you will.

We just returned home from Martin's Cove.  Our experience there was remarkable and unforgettable.

On the second day just after the women's pull we reached a large hill.  The missionaries in charge of the area told us that one of our carts was breaking and we needed to move all of the other supplies into the other carts.  Then they asked us to move on so we wouldn't hold up any of the other groups.

When we reached the top of the hill the missionary asked us to pull all of our handcarts to the other side of the trail and gather for a story.

He began to speak of Jens and Elsie Nilsen.

As he finished he directed our view down to the bottom of the trail.

There stood a ma and pa from our trek.

We watched Brother Murphy climb into the back of the handcart.

Then we saw his wife, Sister Murphy, begin climbing the hill.

We watched her struggle against his weight, against the rocks in the trail, against the steepness of the hill.

We heard her gasping for breath and moaning from the burden.

We saw her determination to succeed.

The missionary asked our group, "Look at what is happening, what should you do for people who bear a heavy burden...for people who are struggling?"

We watched her take step after painful step and we wept.

As tears ran down our faces he asked the question again, "What should you do for people who are struggling?"

Suddenly the sound of thunder filled that mountain top and vibrated through the valley as the youth in our Ward ran down that mountain.  They held nothing back, their footsteps echoed the sound of rescue.

Sister Murphy said in the moments just before the pounding footsteps could be heard she offered a prayer for help.

"For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people...And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people shall come up unto me...Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause."  (Jacob 2:31-32 & Jacob 3:1)

Sometimes tender mercies come in the form of a rescue.

The kind of rescue that comes after the prayer of exceeding faith.