This summer my family went on a massive road trip, two days after we moved into a new house. We started from the North East of Scotland down the North coast of England, to the South of England, across the bottom and round back the West Coast of the country, in a big circle of the UK.
We celebrated birthdays, saw cultural and historic sights, visited with family and the tail end of our trip was a visit to the very first British Pageant. Perhaps it might be the only one, and so I am glad we got to attend. I’d heard about the pageant for months and was interested to see what it was like. The word pageant is a bit hard to describe. I talked to several of my Scottish ward members who weren’t sure, was it a like a parade? I wondered if it would be like the pageants in the United States. And I’ll admit, a tiny part of me wondered, uncharitably, if it would be like a glorified roadshow.
Thankfully it wasn’t like an American pageant. It wasn’t a glorified roadshow either. It was its own beautiful tribute to the people of the British Isles. Written by British intelligence, sung with British voices, danced on British feet. It felt especially resonant to me because you see my ancestry first heard the gospel on British soil. They heard and recognised the teachings of Apostles who testified of Jesus Christ. The joined with the saints and sailed from Liverpool. They pushed hand carts across the plains and lived their lives in a way that ensured a heritage of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for generations. And ultimately that heritage led me circling back to Britain. As I watched the story of people like my ancestors play out on stage, I pondered again the choices and what I believe to be the influence of God that have led me to live in Scotland for the last 12 years.
I met a Scottish convert to the church one very hot summer in California. We were camp counsellors at a summer camp. It took me three times to understand that he was trying to tell me that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I couldn’t understand his accent you see. Finally he gave up and said loudly and clearly: “I’m a MORMON” and I got the picture. I came to understand that this was the guy for me. And we went to live in that very romantic land of Scotland. We had intended to stay one year and have lived here nearly 12, with 3 University degrees, 3 children and 3 homes to show for it. The desire to return to be closer to my family is ever present. I think of them and miss them every day. But time and time again we have been gently reminded by the Lord to stay a little bit longer, to do our part in our little corner of the kingdom. I know we have been blessed for this, and probably don’t fully know the blessings that might be in our future. I can’t envision what the Lord has further in store for me and my little family. All I can do is take it day by day and step by step. I’m sure my ancestors had to do the same, as they made their way in a land foreign to them. They didn’t have the blessings I do, ability to communicate with my family immediately. I can see their faces on my phone, I can hear their voices and know how they are doing with immediacy.
I wonder what my ancestors would think of me living in Scotland. Would Mary Meiklejohn Smith from Dumbarton be amused that I was an Aberdonian?
She danced Scottish dances with her sister on a ship full of Mormons crossing the Atlantic while her father played the bagpipes and violin. Would Samuel Washington Orme be glad I was back in the land of his heritage? He crossed the plains with the Martin Handcart Company with his mother and sisters. The family all arrived in safety in the Salt Lake Valley to begin a new life.
I hope they know the great debt of gratitude I feel to them for their choices made in faith a long time ago. And I hope my children and their children remember my choices made in faith, and recognise the hand of the Lord in their life wherever it may take them, circling back to importance of faith and family.
Editors note: Amelia is one of the wonderful who contacted us to write for this blog. If you’re interested in contributing, find out more.
And of course, if you haven’t already checked out the great Storify of the British Pageant, do it now!