The Second Rescue: The Story of the Spritual Rescue of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers
Susan Arrington Madsen
Deseret Book , 1998. Hardcover:
Suggested retail price: $16.95 (US)
Anyone who has seen the Perry-Payne-Arrington production, Trail of Dreams,probably knows who Bodil Mortensen is. President Robert Scott Lorimer ofthe Riverton Wyoming Stake first heard of her after feeling drawn to theRock Creek Hollow gravesite where fifteen members of the Willie handcartcompany are buried. Upon his calling to the position of stake president,he asked his stake members to pray about "the Willie project," eventhough, at the time, he didn't know what it was. Their prayers led to thetemple baptism for Bodil on August 14, 1991 in the Ogden temple, and thenher other temple work. They led to the completion of temple work for allof the people of the Martin and Willie handcart companies, as well asthose in the Hunt and Hodgett wagon companies, who died without thoseblessings, and they led to a great spiritual experience for the members ofthe Riverton Wyoming Stake. This book is about that experience.
The author of this book starts out by saying that she has no Mormonpioneer ancestry, and yet this story is as important to her and otherslike her as it is to those with such ancestry.
She writes for those with no Mormon connection at all, but herexplanations of things Mormon are not without interest to those whoalready know about them. The only problem in the book is that some of thesections read as if they were written separately or as if the author hadforgotten what she'd already said, in that some explanations are repeated.
The book starts with the story of the handcart companies, goes on toexplain the doctrine of temple work, and then follows the "Willie Project"as it grew. Each stake member who was interested in participating wasgiven the name of a pioneer to research. The book tells how they wentabout this research, using new computer technology that had just becomeavailable, and how this effort brought them together as only love andservice can. Thirty pages of the book are dedicated to the spiritualexperiences connected with this endeavor, not only as told by the author,but in the words of some of the people who were involved. There are nooverwhelming miracles described, no visitations, just quiet, humble growthin spirit and community, miracles enough on their own. The book then goeson to describe the other things that were done: land purchase, monumentand bridge building, dedicatory services.
In the words of Robert Scott Lorimer: "The simple truth of the matter isthat the Second Rescue was not a program in any sense of the word. It wasa direct revelation to a stake president concerning temple ordinances thatneeded to be completed for members of the Willie and Martin handcartcompanies and faithful stake members who willingly sacrificed so this andother work would be completed. Included in the totality of the SecondRescue were more than 4,200 temple ordinances completed for the Willie andMartin pioneers in the Ogden Temple, the construction of three monumentsin memory of the handcart companies, several blessings given to themembers of the Riverton Wyoming Stake by their Church leaders, threededicatory services under the direction of Presiden Gordon B. Hinckley,and the purchase of large tracts of land at the Willie and Martin sites."
The book ends with a listing of the members of the Willie and Martinhandcart companies and the Hunt and Hodgett wagon companies. These listsgive names, ages (as of May 1856), and birthplaces, at least. They areenough to bring tears to the eyes all by themselves.
© 1998 Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury