Monday, May 30, 2011

Reaching Out

Yesterday I spoke in Sacrament Meeting and shared this story:
(Jane Sutherland as a young woman)
My great grandmother, Jane Sutherland, grew up in a small fishing village in Scotland. As a young woman she chose to leave her home and accompany her sister and her sister’s three small children to Vancouver, British Columbia where they would meet up with her sister’s husband and another young man from their village, Daniel Davidson. While they were in Canada Dan introduced Jane to the Mormon Church. She read The Book of Mormon and gained a testimony of its truthfulness. For 10 months she studied until (in her own words) she was “thoroughly converted” and desired to be baptized. When her sister and brother-in-law discovered that she was investigating the Mormon faith, “they were simply furious and did everything they could to make [her] unhappy.” Jane’s brother-in-law even threatened to kill Dan if he didn’t stop preaching the Gospel to her.  This did not deter Jane, however. She wanted to be baptized and felt that the only solution for her was to go to Salt Lake City, Utah. Dan told her that if she was going, he was going with her.
(Jane and Daniel Davidson on their wedding day, June 21, 1905)
With continuing bitterness against the two, they secretly left Vancouver and arrived in Salt Lake City very early one cold snowy November morning. With no place to go, no friends, no job, and very little money, they waited for the gates of Temple Square to open.

That day Jane met up with a prominent Mormon family who hired her as a live-in housekeeper. Her first Sunday in Salt Lake Jane wanted to go to church. She still had not yet been baptized. The family, however, told her that she could not go until she finished her morning work. When the dishes and other chores were done she hurried off to church. Jane arrived during the passing of the Sacrament. The chapel was packed, but there was one lone seat up near the front.  Jane made her way to that seat and sat down. After the sacrament was passed and the Priests and Deacons returned to their seats, one fellow came up to where Jane was sitting and made it perfectly clear that Jane had taken his seat and he wanted it back.

Can you imagine how Jane must have felt as she got up and walked slowly back down the aisle searching and searching for a place to sit? She passed row after row—no room. She kept walking and walking and as she neared the back of the chapel, a woman suddenly reached out, grabbed her hand, moved over, and invited Jane to sit down. My great grandmother said that if it wasn’t for that woman, she would have kept right on walking—all the way home to Scotland.
(Jane Sutherland Davidson)
I, personally, am so grateful to that unknown woman who reached out to my great grandmother. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints soon after. Today she has over 1000 descendants—most of whom enjoy the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My life wouldn’t be the same without it. I am so grateful for my faith and for my knowledge of God and his plan.


Ginger said...

Oh! That makes me want to cry! We never know what one small act of kindness will do for another, do we? We also never know how much harm being unfriendly and petty can cause as well. Thank you for sharing this story. There is truly a lesson for us all in your Grandmother's story. I see the resemblance of her in you, by the way! What a beautiful couple of ladies you both are!

Jennilyn said...

Yes, on all the details of this Cinderella story, leaving the non-member maid to clean while the family went to Church without her. When my mom (Jane) told this story about Great G-ma Jane she acted out the friendly woman squishing her family over with her hip to make room for her and admonished us to always make room on the pew.

Sally said...

Such a great story! Shows how we can impact the lives of the people around us, through small and simple things. Thanks for sharing!

Faith, Trust, and a Little Pixie Dust said...

*Sigh* What a neat story & she was a beautiful woman.

Warmly, Michelle

Saimi said...

Wow, what an amazing story. I too am grateful for that woman who reached out to your Great Grandmother.

It really makes one realize the impact we have on people whether it be for good or bad. I hope I can always be like that woman.

You're Grandmothers wedding dress is beautiful as is she!

Deb said...

Thank you, Julie. I love seeing the documentation of our family history. Maybe you could make "Family History Friday" and tell us more stories! You are a very good story teller.

EmilynBen said...

I am also a descendant of Jane Davidson. I had never heard that story so thank you!! It makes me pause and realize how much good we can do in simple things.

Marianne said...

That is a beautiful story, Julie. Thank you for sharing it!!

Faith, Trust, and a Little Pixie Dust said...

Hi Julie, Congrats - you won the "Tickled Pink" giveaway! Would you please email me your address?

Warmly, Michelle

Garden of Egan said...

That was a great story. I wish I could have been there.

Amazing how rude some of those early members were.

For a real laugh you should get ahold of some of the VERY early Relief Society magazines. They were some pretty interesting ladies.

Sue said...

What a great story! With a great message attached.

Thanks for sharing it.


Dean and Sheri said...

Just so ya know...this isn't about a contest (I know it's too late anyway), but one of my favorite thing is PEOPLE, hearing their stories, learning about them and getting to know them. After all, we are the Lord's greatest creation! Thanks for a great post about a great lady! Loved it.

Julie said...

EmilynBen, can you please send me your contact information? It would be good to "meet" you.

Lacy@uphillandsmiling said...

This is an incredible story... I love to hear stories of our ancestors and how and why they came to America and how they found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... we are so blessed!

Em @ Inspired Coincidences said...

This is a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it! Not only is it a wonderful story of your great grandmother, it is also a reminder for me to be welcoming at church every week! Thank you again!

stopping by from MMB's post of the week=)