POCATELLO — Children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s Chubbuck 11th Ward had a chance to celebrate Pioneer Day, learn about their ancestors and look forward to the opening of the new Pocatello Idaho Temple during an activity on Thursday.
The young children and their parents went on a short trek around the temple and then gathered for a picnic, where they shared stories about their ancestors.
The activity coincided with Pioneer Day, which commemorates the first group of church pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.
Thursday’s temple trek meant a lot to Emma Fisher, 9, whose great-great-grandma, Pearl Emma Phillips, went on a similar trek when she was 11. Her family, who lived in Minidoka County, traveled by horse and wagon to the Salt Lake Temple so they could be sealed as a family. It took them roughly 30 days.
“One of my great-great grandmas did her own temple trek, too,” Emma said.
Her sister Kate, 7, who shared a story about her great-great-great-great grandma, Kate Kemp, also participated in the activity, along with their 3-year-old brother, Jace.
He said “walking around the temple” was his favorite part of the activity.
Bristol Wickham, 5, also enjoyed going to the temple and eating popsicles during the picnic. Bristol’s 9-year-old brother, Owen, liked learning about his great-great grandpa, who had some incorrect beliefs about church members and was initially afraid of them.
“He ended up joining the church,” Owen said.
MaLea Averett, president of the Chubbuck 11th Ward’s Primary, a religious instruction and activity program for children, feels it’s important to get kids involved in family history and temple work. That’s why they planned Thursday’s activity.
The two go hand-in-hand for church members.
“Family history is discovering our family members, gathering information about them and their story, and preserving that information,” according to the church’s website, www.churchofjesuschrist.org. “It is also performing saving ordinances for them in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Church members believe baptism and other ordinances are necessary for God’s children to return to dwell with him, according to the website. They also believe such ordinances can unite families for eternity.
“The goal with this was to get them excited about family history work and researching their ancestors and doing their temple work so they can return back to their Heavenly Father,” Averett said. “That’s the purpose (of our) lives.”
Averett is excited that the children will be able to take another trek to the Pocatello Idaho Temple — this time going inside — during the public open house set for Sept.18 through Oct. 23.
“I think it’s so cool that they will be able to go in and see that before it’s dedicated,” Averett said. “It’s a beautiful place and I know our town will be super blessed to have it here.”