Families of early missionaries often unsung heroes

In discussions about heroes of the Restoration, the Mormon men who left their wives and children to serve missions often take the spotlight.

It is important to remember that their wives and children were heroes, too.

Thursday evening, The Church History Department kicked off its Women's History Lecture Series with the stories of the unsung heroes of the Restoration. Chad Orton, archivist for the Church History Department, related experiences of missionary wives and children while their husbands were away.

For more than 100 years, married men were called by church leaders to serve missions that required them to leave their families and farms behind — some, for years. With the men gone, their wives and children stepped forward to perform some of the greatest acts of faith and sacrifice in order to survive without their men.

Although the mission calls were issued to the husbands, the wives received, in effect, mission calls of their own. One wife, Mary Bennion, wrote, "I failed to realize that I have a mission to perform at home and feel that I cannot do it without the aid of my Heavenly Father." While their husbands suffered hardships, it was their families at home that faced a mission more trying.

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