On this Day in Church History the first home in Nauvoo was built by a Latter-day Saint (June 11, 1839)

This week I learned about an early Latter-day Saint named Theodore Turley. It turns out we are distantly related! In his autobiography he wrote, “I came to Nauvoo with Joseph Smith the Prophet and built the first house that was built by a Mormon in Nauvoo.”1

I was intrigued by the phrase “first house” because my family and I are about to buy our first house, and coincidentally, even in the same city that Theodore Turley built his.

Although I can’t claim our experiences in coming to Nauvoo were the same, I can’t help but feel a connection and an appreciation for Theodore and his family.

They walked 200 miles to get here.2 We traveled by plane and car nearly 5,000 miles.

They slept in a tent for 13 agonizing weeks while Theodore built their house with his own two hands.3 We have been living with family while we have searched for a house.

This is how Theodore described their experience:

“We arrived in Commerce, Illinois, in the Spring of 1839. It being a new place on the banks of the Mississippi, hence without a house or convenience of a house to shelter in … Frequently when I come home I find my family wet through to the skin, and the fire all washed away and my dear little children cuddled under their mother’s cloak. Myself as wet as possible, and no fire to dry our clothes. Sometimes the bed wet when we would rise in the morning, this would try the faith and patience of all.”4

They endured so much, but they got through it. Their faith, dedication, hard-work, and stamina are inspiring. I wonder if they knew—on those dark nights when they lay awake shivering on the cold ground, I wonder if they had any idea how far-reaching their sacrifices would be. Because of them, a thriving city was built in an unimaginable location. Because of them, westward expansion moved from dream to reality. Because of their sacrifice, generations would be blessed.

In our daily comings-and-goings, I think it’s easy to feel like: What is it all for? Does anything I do make a difference? Does anyone appreciate what I’m doing? Maybe we won’t be like the early Saints who conquered unthinkable odds in order to carve their place in history, but maybe we have more of an impact than we imagine.

I recently read a quote from President Monson, “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”5

Every time we choose patience over anger—that’s a win. Every time we decide to show love and understanding rather than hate and criticism—that’s a win. Every time we mess up, but we decide to say we’re sorry, that’s a win, too.

I believe our little daily struggles add up to more. So much more. And I know two people in heaven who do appreciate our efforts. They appreciate them more than we really know.

Heavenly Father helped Theodore Turley and his family overcome their cold-starry nights. He’s going to help us conquer our battles as well—no matter what comes our way.

Be well,

Justina

Citations:

1. Theodore’s Autobiography, Theodore Turley Family Organization, theodoreturleyfamily.org

2. Lewis, Ann Laemmlen, “Frances Amelia Kimberley and Theodore Turley,” August 30, 2015. annlaemmlenlewis1.wordpress.com

3. Lewis, Ann Laemmlen, “Frances Amelia Kimberley and Theodore Turley,” August 30, 2015. annlaemmlenlewis1.wordpress.com

4. Lewis, Ann Laemmlen, “Frances Amelia Kimberley and Theodore Turley,” August 30, 2015. annlaemmlenlewis1.wordpress.com

5. Monson, Thomas S. “Love—the Essence of the Gospel,” Ensign, May, 2014, 94.

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