Sunday, January 8, 2017

Brave Like Mary

I have so many things I wish I had time to write here. (...But I'm glad I'm kinda keeping up with the family blog.) But I did see this today on facebook, and I loved it. I love Ann Voskamp, she is a light in this world!
from her facebook: you look into the coming week, remember -- there will still be love when the worst happens and when the hope doesn’t happen, there will still be love when everything’s crumbling and there will be enough love to rebuild, there will be enough love to keep breathing, to keep believing, to keep being and being brave. Fear can be what we feel — but brave is what we do. There’s enough Brave in us to believe that though the world is broken, there is light getting in… Be brave. Your bravery wins a thousand battles you can’t see because your bravery strengthens a thousand others to win their battles too.

That quote reminded me of what my friend Rachael shared with me. She says "Be Brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be, cause no one can tell the difference!" Others will see us and think we are brave, and then they will try to be brave too. Being brave is faith in action, because faith is a principle of ACTION and of power (Elder Hallstrom's BYU devotional talk) - we show our faith by what we do. 

"Carry On, finish your mission"

Those were the words that my great grandmother Mary Williamson wrote to her husband Ambrose, as he was gone on a mission in England. It was summer of 1899. He had been gone a year and had a year left at the time Mary wrote that. She wrote that in a letter after telling him of the deaths of two of their sons~ 11 year old Ether and 1 1/2 year old Ambrose Junior. I can't even imagine... I think she was brave in her trials, and it helps me be brave. And if she didn't feel brave... well, I can't tell, all I see is what she did, and what she did was faith inspiring to me. I typed up this little history about her as my submission for a project that our Relief Society is doing. I am so grateful for Mary.


Corey began the adventure of starting his own company in October 2006. We've been praying for MovieMouth ever since. Now (Jan 2017) he has an office in Salt Lake and one in Campinas Brazil. They are getting ready to expand into Chile too. In mid December 2016, Corey took a 2 week trip to Chile and Brazil, leaving me at home with 11 kids to care for, which also happened to be when they all had school Christmas concerts to attend and other music commitments. It sounds like a lot to handle, right?! A few hours and days of those two weeks were hard, and I struggled, but I tried to remember my great grandmother Mary Williamson Hibbert. When I think of her, I know I've got it pretty easy.
So my dad is Kim Hibbert, and Kim's dad is Julian, and Julian is one of the sons of Mary Williamson and Ambrose (Julian is 2nd from right)
Let me tell you a little bit about Mary. Mary married Ambrose Hibbert after his first wife Sarah passed away (Sarah was Mary's aunt, Mary's mom Amy was Sarah's older sister)
So, some background to that story... in Apethorn, Cheshire, England in 1878, Ambrose Hibbert and his wife Sarah listened to the missionaries and joined the Church. They had a 6 month old baby girl named Nellie. While they went to missionary lessons, Sarah’s niece, Mary Williamson, who was 9 years old, would tend Nellie. Ambrose and Sarah loved Mary, as she was so tender in her care of baby Nellie. Ambrose and Sarah were baptized and in May 1880 and left England for America to settle with the saints in Zion. After they arrived they first stayed with family members of the missionaries who taught them. They lived wherever Ambrose could find work—and had 7 more children. Sarah also continued to write letters to her family back in England, and kept in touch with the young Mary Williamson who had tended Nellie so long ago.

When Sarah went into labor with their eighth child in July 1892, Ambrose hurried off to get the doctor. It was a stormy night and on the way back to the farm, the horse spooked from the thunder and ran off. Ambrose and the doctor were late getting back. Upon arriving at the farm home, Ambrose found his wife Sarah had died after delivering the baby, and his daughter Nellie, who was now 13 years old, was holding her newborn brother. What a sad and desperate situation, can you imagine? Ambrose was obviously grief stricken. The bottom had fallen out of his world. A neighbor took care of the newborn baby and Ambrose’s mother came to take care of the other children. What should Ambrose do with his little family? 

Through many desperate prayers and pleadings to God, his thoughts turned to Mary Williamson in England, who was now 21 years old. Now Mary was not a member of the Church, but Ambrose felt impressed that he should write Mary a letter. He wrote Mary about Sarah’s death, and entreated her to come to America, marry him, and be a mother to his children. When Mary received Ambrose’s letter, she was greatly concerned with the request. All that her family knew of the Mormons was the fact that a Mormon had taken one of their family, Sarah, away to America, and now she was dead. The thought of Mary going to America was preposterous to them. 

Mary worked in the Cotton Mills in Apethorn, and had to walk a few miles to get to and from work. As she was walking home from work one evening, Sarah appeared beside her and walked with her. Sarah pled with Mary to accept the call from Ambrose, her good husband, and be a mother to her children. Sarah said she would never know the joy of doing it herself, and willingly would trust them to Mary’s care and keeping. Mary was so impressed by this experience that she knew what she must do. She felt sure that the Lord had chosen her to do this work and she must obey. Surely God never would have felt it necessary to let Sarah come back and plead her cause otherwise. Mary had the courage she needed to face the future. Mary told her family of Sarah's visit and announced that she was going to America. After 3 weeks preparation, Mary left Liverpool, England. There were sad farewells. She would never see England or her parents again. She was coming all alone, to a new land, to a man whom she hardly knew. 

Ambrose picked her up at Echo Junction, in Wyoming, and took her to the Stake Patriarch Hyrum M. Smith's home where she learned how to ‘keep house in the American style’ as Ambrose put it—churn butter, make bread, care for farm animals, haul water to the house each day, and take care of a small farm. She was also taught the missionary lessons. She visited with Ambrose’s children every few days. After 3 months, on March 4, 1893, a hole was chopped in the ice in the Weber River and she was baptized. Four days later, March 8th, she married Ambrose in the Logan Temple and began her new life. She earned the love and respect of her step-children and lived to give birth to eight of her own. 

Mary raised the family while supporting Ambrose on two missions to England. The first mission to England was 2 years long. He left in September 1898 (4 days after a hail storm destroyed all their crops!! Perspective: I think it's hard to go to the store with kids in tow... imagine trying to get ready to feed a huge family during winter on the frontier of America after your husband just left for a mission and all your farm crop was destroyed!! I've got it easy!) AND during that mission, after he had been gone for almost a year, two of her children died, 11 year old Ether after being thrown from a horse, and then 2 days after Ether's funeral her baby Ambrose Junior, who was 1 1/2 died from dysentery. Yet she wrote with faith to Ambrose "Carry on; finish your mission." 

In the course of her life she accepted joys, tragedies, loneliness, happiness, and sorrow and ever acknowledged the hand of the Lord in everything that happened to her. She supported Ambrose and relied on the Lord to help her take care of the family while he was away. To me, Mary exemplified what it means to be a woman of strength. When she made the decision to come to America, she turned her life over to God. I always remember her and try to follow her example of courage and faith, especially when life is busy and hard and I could feel like I'm on my own when Corey is gone for business trips. Or when we've spent time in a new country that was hard and unfamiliar - atleast I know I will see my home and parents again, unlike Mary when she left England! I want to be willing to follow God promptings, no matter where they take me or what life circumstances it leads me through. Mary has always been an example of strength to me and my family. I'm so thankful for the wonderful legacy of faith that she left for her posterity.

~ and a favorite quote that goes along the same lines of trying to be brave, see the hand of God, and focus on the blessings instead of the hardships, fears, and worries:

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend" - Sarah Ban Breathnach (quoted in Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" - great book!)

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