January 21 saw the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers enjoying their first luncheon of the new year. Guest Speaker was Craig Miles. Miles was born in Hooper, Utah. He met his future wife, Lauralee, while playing basket ball at Ricks College in Idaho. They have four children and has lived in Morgan since 2005. Miles spoke on his mission to Germany. He was originally called to serve in the Hamburg Mission. While there the East German Mission opened. Many of the things the members living in East Germany did, how they lived their lives, played a role in the Church being able to open a mission in East Germany. Living behind the Iron Curtain after WWII were not good times for members. They had to meet in secret, their meeting often being disbanded by the government. Over the years they gained more respect from the Government. Members wanting to attend the Temple had to request permission. They were only allowed to go if they left their children behind, to ensure they would return. This also meant that parents usually could not go together. Many of the materials the members taught from were copied by hand on carbon paper, smuggled into the country. Youth had to decide at a young age whether to stay strong in the Church or join the Communist party, which offered many benefits. Most chose the Church and had strong testimonies but could not enjoy the benefits of the Church that others had. In 1978 the government of East Germany un-expectantly approached the Church and suggested they build a temple in East Germany. It was completed in 1985. In October of 1988, President Monson and other leaders met with Erich Honecker. The government had respect for members of the Church, that they were family and service oriented, did not drink or smoke, and were good people. Honecker asked President Monson, “What can we do for you?” President Monson told them that they would like to have an opportunity for the youth of the Church to gather together in Youth Conference, which was not allowed at that time for fear of large groups conspiring against the government. He also said they would like to be able the youth of the Church to serve a 2 year mission outside of East Germany and to have missionaries from other countries come to East Germany to serve. Erik Honecker, the President of East Germany turned to President Monson and said “Granted”, then turned to the Minister of Religious Affairs and told him to make it happen. In 1989 Craig Miles, then serving as a missionary in West Germany, was called to be one of the four missionaries called to open up the East German Mission. They were told about the importance of this new calling, what they could and could not do, say or not say. They were told they could not proselyte, they would be followed, their rooms would be bugged, and to never talk with anyone about government affairs. Miles was assigned in East Berlin and North East Germany. Crossing Check Point Charley was an experience he would not forget. They would ask people for directions, and seeing that they were Americans they would ask what they were doing there. At that point they could talk about the Church. Miles talked about the relationships he developed with the saints in East Germany. He feels the members there are pioneers for the Church.
The Member/Pioneer of the Month Report was given by Jay Taylor. His pioneer heritage comes through his mother. His great-great grandfather was Perry Green Sessions, who was one of the groups driven out of Nauvoo, being a wagon master of a group that left shortly after Brigham Young. After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he would load his wagon with wheels and tongues, breaks and what food he could fit in, and leave his family to set out across the trail to help other pioneers on their way to the valley. One day he was approached by Brigham Young and asked if he would take his family and go north to settle that area, where he started the Sessions Settlement, near Mill Creek. The soon completed a dugout and lived there and in their wagon. That small settlement is now called Bountiful. Perry had nine wives and fifty-two children. Taylor’s grandfather was William Sessions, when he was 12 years old and herding cattle in Wyoming, he was given the nickname of The Prairie Kid by Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill came into his camp and scared William, he thinking he would kill him and steal his horse. Buffalo Bill laughed and asked if he was a Mormon. He said he was and Buffalo Bill asked if people who were not Mormons ever bothered him. He said yes, once in a while they would steal cattle and not give them back. Buffalo Bill said that from here on William would be known as The Prairie Kid. He told him that if he ever had trouble getting his cattle back, just tell them he was going to tell his uncle, Buffalo Bill. William never had a problem after that.