Chapter from Family Fireside Stories of Phineas II


Phin was even now more certain that he must go with the Saints than he had been before. He didn't know how he would earn money for a team, but knew nothing would stop him.

All of this weighing heavily on his mind, he spoke to his sister's husband Salmon. "We both have built a wagon to go with the Saints," he said. "The grass is greening and it' s time to leave; but I have no team. Perhaps you'll have to go alone and I'll wait until later to bring my family after I've found a team."

Salmon lowered his head and looked at his shoes. "My wagon may be ready," he said, "but I still have no team, and I' m not ready. There are things that need to be settled about my land. Eliza wants to go now, but I've changed my mind."

"Land isn't worth it, Salmon. Get rid of that land and leave now. The Lord will bless you for the sacrifice. My Pa can sell it for you after you've gone if you don' t sell it before. Leave now while you can still get away."

"That's just the thing, Phin. Land is worth it. I found a piece of land up north I want to buy too. This is too good to pass up. I just can' t leave it all. I thought to buy a team of oxen in the beginning, but now I've changed my mind and I'm buying that piece of land instead."

"Then my poverty is a blessing," said Phin. "Because I have nothing to leave and no desire to stay."

"You must go," said Salmon. "I have watched you suffer through Babylon long enough."

"You're right. If I don't go now, I know I'll never get away. I don't know how, but I believe the Lord will help me provide a team for my wagon. I've done everything I can do. Now I' ll plan to leave and let the Lord provide the rest."

Salmon looked at his fields and barn and took a deep breath. "Write me when you get to Kansas and let me know how the saints are. I find I worry that they are as bad as the reports we hear, and I have lost my desire to be with them. Write me and tell me how the saints are, Phin."

"I fear you are losing your testimony of the gospel, Salmon. Please change your mind."

"I won't change my mind. I'm staying. Eliza is heartbroken, but I'm not coming."

"Phin walked home through the fields, still brown and stubbly from last year's harvest but with shoots of green emerging. He thought of Salmon' s decision to stay in Michigan to keep his land and his security. And he thought of his fine new wagon sitting out in the yard at his father's house with no team to pull it. " It was a miracle we were able to finish that wagon. The Lord wouldn't carry me this far without finishing the job," he said under his breath. "I know I'll find a way to get with the saints."

Ann Eliza was waiting for him when he arrived back home. "What did you find out?" she asked. "Are they ready? Did they find a team yet."

"They're not coming," said Phin sadly. " Eliza wants to come, but Salmon has changed his mind. He wants to keep his land, and has decided to buy more land up north instead of buying a team for his wagon. I fear he'll lose his testimony for it. If we don't make sacrifices for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we won't be worthy to have the spirit with us. I, for one, would like to leave tomorrow, though it may take all summer to earn money for oxen."

"I too know we'll find a way," said Ann Eliza. "I'm so certain, I've already begun to pack our things in the wagon. In a few days I'll be ready."

"I'll get ready too," said Phin. "I feel as if the Lord will provide when we've done all we can do."

The next morning he began packing bedding into his wagon which was parked in the yard. Irene stepped out of the house and looked shocked. " Why Phin, do my eyes deceive me or do I see you carrying your bedding out to that wagon? Why, I declare it looks as if you think yor goin' someplace after all."

Phin swallowed all the pride in his whole body with a big gulp. "Ma, I have to have faith something will happen. I've done all I can do. From now on it's up to the Lord."

She broke out in peals of laughter. "Josiah, Josiah, come out here and see this boy." In the doorway stood Phin's Uncle Josiah Churchill whom he had not seem since he was a boy in Goshen. "You' ve come all the way from Canada to see this family. Now look at this boy. He has built himself a wagon and thinks he can find a team to pull it so he can go out to the west. Can you believe such a thing?"

Josiah stood in the doorway and produced a great big smile. Slowly he walked to his sister and put his arm around her. "Come here, Irene," he said. " Come to the corral and look at what I have brought with me from Canada."

Fascinated, Phin followed them, a bystander in an unfolding drama. Josiah led Irene to the corral behind the barn where she could see a pair of fine black oxen. "Why what are these, Josiah? Whatever are they for?"

"They're for my nephew," he said, looking at Phin with a twinkle in his eyes. "I gave fine wedding gifts to your other children, but have given nothing to Phin since his wedding several years ago. These oxen are my wedding gift to him."

"Irene's eyes widened in horror. "No, Josiah, No. Don't give that to Phin. That's the worst wedding gift you could have given him. Give them to me."

Phin stepped up to the fence where his uncle was standing. "Uncle Josiah, I don't know how you thought of it, but that's the best gift anyone has ever given me." He gave his uncle a hearty handshake. " I thank you with all my heart."

"It's my pleasure, my boy. I have nothing against the Mormons. In fact, I have known some fine people who went with the Mormons, and I wish you well."

Josiah turned to Irene. "Now let's go have that breakfast you were telling me about."

Irene was glued to the fence. It wasn't until the next day when Phin announced he was ready to leave that she had fully recovered.

He could plan to leave if he wanted, but a plan was formulating in her mind. It was her last chance.

Stay tuned for the next episode.