First the Photo: Can you name this National Monument? Can you find where it is located on a map of the US?
Second the Question: Do you know it is referred to as the Gateway to the West? There was once a time in American history when many families packed everything they owned in a covered wagon and headed out on a journey that would last months. It would required them to walk miles each day, cross raging rivers, climb mountain passes and go for weeks without seeing another living soul. Can you imagine leaving family and friends behind, knowing that you will never see them again and heading to a place you have never seen, even in pictures, to begin your life anew? That is serious courage. Many people would never survive the trip. They went for one reason: the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. Would you make such a journey? If so, where would you go?
Third Next Steps: Spend some time as a family imagining life on the trail. First what would you pack up and bring with you..a treasured piece of furniture? A keepsake from a past relative? Remember that your wagon could only hold the bare essentials..and needed to have space for all of you to sleep too. Next using just recycled items build a diorama of a homestead you would live once you arrived. This is a fun thing to do around Thanksgiving. As you build your diorama remember that everything you include, someone would need to create…every sock you wear, someone needs to knit. Every new piece of furniture you acquire, someone needs to cut and split the wood to build. Every meal you eat, needs to be hunted, gathered or grown. It boggles the mind the talents and courage that people needed just to survive. Would you move and be a farmer, a rancher, a store owner, a teacher or pastor? What skill would your family offer to a new settlement of people? Go to the library and check out some books about pioneering life. It sure makes us thankful for the comforts we have today. Whenever we feel stressed by our modern life..spend a few minutes remembering people of the past and let the gratitude of their sacrifices sink in. How grateful we are for their courage and our comforts.