The Vault of Heaven
Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson left a good journal record of her experiences in traveling with the Martin Handcart Company with her husband, their three little children, and her sister. She said:
"[We pulled] our handcarts filled with provisions and little children through deep sands and rocky hills . . . fording streams was a dreary time. We reached camp, cooked supper, ate and retired for the night to rest our weary limbs only to pursue our monotonous course the next day."
Elizabeth's husband, Aaron, died the week after the first storms came. Of that night she wrote:
"The night was enveloped in almost Egyptian darkness. There was nothing with which to produce a light or kindle a fire. Of course I could not sleep. I could only watch, wait, and pray for the dawn. But oh, how these dreary hours drew their tedious length along. When daylight came, some of the male part of the company prepared the body for burial . . . They wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a pile with thirteen others who had died, and then covered him up in the snow. The ground was frozen so hard that they could not dig a grave."
One night there were not enough men with strength to raise poles and pitch tents. Elizabeth recorded:
"The result was that we camped out with nothing but the vault of Heaven for a roof, and the stars for companions. The snow lay several inches deep upon the ground. The night was bitterly cold. I sat down on a rock with one child in my lap and one on each side of me. In that condition I remained until morning. . . . I was six or seven thousand miles from my native land, in a wild, rocky, mountain country, in a destitute condition, the ground covered with snow, the waters covered with ice, and I with three fatherless children with scarcely nothing to protect them from the merciless storms. When I retired to bed that night, being the 27th of Oct., I had a stunning revelation. In my dream, my husband stood by me and said, ‘Cheer up, Elizabeth, deliverance is at hand.'"
The next day the advance rescue team found the stranded Saints.
Elizabeth later wrote:
"I will not attempt to describe my feelings at finding myself thus left a widow with three children, under such excruciating circumstances. I cannot do it. But I believe the Recording Angel has inscribed in the archives above, and that my sufferings for the Gospel's sake will be sanctified unto me for my good . . . I [appealed] to the Lord . . . He who had promised to be a husband to the widow, [see Isaiah 54:4-5] and a father to the fatherless. I appealed to him and he came to my aid . . . Aaron was left there to sleep in peace until the trump of the Lord shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall awake and come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. We shall then again unite our hearts and lives, and eternity will furnish us with life forever more.
"I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events, thru which I have passed, that my children, down to my latest posterity may read what their ancestors were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the Gospel's sake. And I wish them to understand, too, that what I now word is the history of hundreds of others, both men, women and children, who have passed thru many like scenes for a similar cause, at the same time we did. I also desire them to know that it was in obedience to the commandments of the true and living God, and with the assurance of an eternal reward - an exaltation to eternal life in His kingdom - that we suffered these things. I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice all things that they may be required to pass thru for the Kingdom of God's sake."
Psalm 147:4: He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.