In 1842, while on a mission to Scotland, Parley P Pratt met and baptized a young man named William Tait. Sometime after his baptism William joined the British Military and was sent to Bombay India where he met a beautiful Indian woman named Elizabeth Xavier. Elizabeth was a member of the royal family in India, she was a woman of privilege, highly educated, attended by servants and familiar with the finer things in life.
William and Elizabeth fell madly in love. William had continued to profess his beliefs in the mormon church, although it had been 8 years since his baptism and he had no contact with the church members. Elizabeth, was in love with a man who was out of her culture and out of her family’s religion. She was upper class and expected to marry within her culture and religion. She married William in 1850 and joined the church in 1852 when Elder Hugh Findlay was called to serve a mission in Bombay, India. She was ostracized and disowned by her family.
William served in the Branch Presidency of the fledgling branch and helped bring 19 souls to the gospel, He and Elizabeth had two children while in India, Her younger son passed away of cholera while in India, her oldest son John would leave with his Father to join the saints in Salt Lake while Elizabeth, now pregnant would remain behind while she delivered her baby and then she would quickly join them.
On April 22, 1855 Mary Ann Tait was born. Then on Monday October 15, 1855 Elizabeth finally set sail to Liverpool England with her infant daughter Mary Ann, after a torrent of pleas from her people to stay and abandon this church and people. While on her journey, little Mary Ann contracted pneumonia and died, only to be buried in Liverpool. Lonely and distraught Elizabeth could not go on. She was heartbroken and longed for William. An inspired mission president of the Liverpool mission encouraged her to Move forward in faith. Elizabeths soul ached as she boarded the ship Enoch Train which departed Liverpool for Boston on March 22, 1856 leaving her dear Mary Ann behind.
Elizabeths journey would continue where she would join the ill fated Willie Handcart Company. Alone she traveled pulling a handcart as she witnessed and lived the many tragic events that occurred in that fateful journey. It is reported that William was part of the rescue party that left Salt Lake in October 1856 to rescue his beloved bride and daughter, for William did not yet know that Mary Ann had passed away. When Elizabeth saw Williams red hair and red beard reportedly her screams filled with tears of Joy at the reunion could be heard echoing in the camp.
Elizabeths story doesn’t end there. William and Elizabeth settled in Cedar City Utah, yet her most formidable challenge was still ahead of her. You see, Elizabeth had incredibly dark skin as a result of being of India descent, she was the target of discrimination, her wealthy upbringing provided an initial lack of preparation as pioneer, as such, she was ostracized and treated poorly by her relief society sisters.
Elizabeth had given up her wealth, her religion, her culture, her family, her people, her status, her children, suffered immensely crossing the plains, to become ostracized and treated poorly by her adopted house of Israel.
Her story doesn’t end there! William and Elizabeth are my Great Great Great Grandparents. They taught us through their faithfulness and example how to Move Forward in Faith:
You see, William and Elizabeth never questioned the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They had a great love for the Lord and a deep testimony and conviction of their Savior and his love and atoning sacrifice for us:
They listened to and abided the counsel of the prophet and apostles.
They kept an ETERNAL perspective on life.
They exercised FAITH, they understood well that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mindset and that without faith there cannot be any hope
They heeded and hearkened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost
They served the Lord in every capacity asked to do so. They walked to the edge of the light. They lived and understood Ether 12:6 “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”
They found Joy in the Journey
They Proceeded with Trust in the Lord
They did not take counsel from their own FEARS
They waited patiently upon the Lord and his revelation for them
They knew and understood that God would provide
And they MOVED FORWARD in all things asked of them, understanding that Faith Precedes the Miracle.
In D & C 121: 7-8 we read that “Peace be unto thy soul:” “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but for small moment:” “And if then thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high: Thou shalt triumph over thy foes.”
The Lord is providing comfort and speaking peace to us. He wants us to be at peace and have joy. He wants to exalt us if we will endure well. To endure well we must be moving forward. We must do so in Faith. Sometimes we must move forward in faith until our way is illuminated. The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God, line upon line, precept upon precept,
When we are uncertain of the path ahead, we fill up our hearts with faith, go forward into the unknown and stop and pray again and again, Then we move forward. Faith is a principle of action. The answers to prayer and the solutions to our problems generally come as we begin to act.
May we always act in Faith as we move forward in this Joyous Gospel plan. May our testimonies reside in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement.