Monday, November 4, 2013

Follow Me To Zion {Deseret Book Review}


James G. Willie knew the trek would be arduous when he left Iowa City in July 1856, leading 500 handcart pioneers on a 1,300-mile journey across the plains.But he could not have known that his people would run out of food while still hundreds of miles from Salt Lake City nor that the winter of 1856 would begin in the middle of October with prolonged, severe storms. Sixty-nine members of his company would die along the way. Yet from this tragedy emerged triumphant stories of personal endurance, courage, heroism, and unwavering faith.
Follow Me to Zion recounts 20 compelling stories of members of the Willie handcart company and their rescuers. Dozens of full-color images by artist Julie Rogers enrich this keepsake volume, which pays tribute to the men, women, and children who have become enduring witnesses of the power of faith and sacrifice. 
Here you will find excerpts from their own accounts of the journey, learn what those faithful pioneers did after reaching the Salt Lake Valley, and read reflections on their lives by descendants.
 
The simple words “Follow Me to Zion,” cross-stitched onto small pieces of fabric kept in the journal of a handcart pioneer, are an invitation that still calls to us today.The stories and paintings in this beautiful volume can inspire us to live true to our faith and reach out to help others do likewise.This book also contains the most comprehensive, up-to-date listing of members of the Willie handcart company.

When the movie 17 Miracles came out, was the first time I had ever really put much thought into the plight of the Willie and Martin Handcart companies.  I was overwhelmed with emotion by the movie, and I mean completely overwhelmed.  (It required a LOT of tissues).  I had an opportunity to read an inspiring little book that accompanied that movie called More Than Miracles that told the stories behind the miracles.  It was SO good!  (Did I mention it was "stocking stuffer sized?")

Now this year Deseret Book is WOW-ing me with two more amazing products about these dedicated and faithful pioneers.  First, (I haven't had a chance to see this one yet, but it is on my Christmas list!) is Ephraim's Rescue, a DVD that tells the story of Ephraim Hanks as he sets out from the Salt Lake Valley to rescue the stranded saints.

Then, this amazing book that we are discussing here called Follow Me to Zion by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin.

Follow me to Zion has taken all of the stories of the Handcart Pioneers and compiled them into one volume.  There are photos and personal stories of these courageous men and women - and even little children!  Each story is several pages long and the paintings by artist Julie Rogers is amazing.  (You can view a photo gallery of Julie Rogers' paintings on LDS Living.)  The sacrifices of the early Saints, as they pushed toward Zion, makes my trials today seem so small.  Even as members of their traveling party were freezing and starving to death, they continued to press on, never, ever wavering in their testimony that God was with them.

Each chapter also includes Epilogue that tells you what happened to each individual after their rescue as well as "reflections of a descendant" where they share their testimony of that person and that event.


Through this book you can get to know the amazing pioneers personally.  Put a name, with a face, with a trial.  Follow Me to Zion will build your testimony and motivate you to press forward in faith in today's trials.

Follow Me to Zion retails on DeseretBook.com as a beautiful hardcover "table" book for $26.99.  You can also purchase it for your Deseret Bookshelf as an eBook for $14.99.


Disclaimer:  Thank you so very much to Deseret Book for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  :)

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