Missions are Fun

Preston Temple photo taken 21 Nov. 2010

A missionary is someone who leaves his or her home for a little while so others can have their families forever.

Curious about Mormons? Go to the source and find real people at mormon.org--read what they believe and have live chats if you wish! (an official Church website)

Or, go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, official web site: lds.org.

Note: The Blain's England Manchester Mission blog is a personal blog that is not endorsed, approved, or sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Our Mission Scriptures

Our Mission Scriptures:

"Oh, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart . . . Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth." Alma 29:1-2 (Book of Mormon)

" . . . be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Bible)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blackburn Ward History: A Holy Land 1840-50s

From A Corner of the Vineyard
by Denise Johannsen
All historical images used with permission as
provided by Blackburn with Darwen Borough
Council for use in the Cotton Town digitisation
project: www.cottontown.org

A Holy Land

5 o'clock in the morning, the knocker-upper makes his way methodically down the quiet streets--row upon row of two up and two downs, tacked together [terraced houses] tall and straight in long dismal lines.  Every brick [is] a memorial to the wealthy cotton bosses' ingenious plan; a plan to house their prospective workers as near to their place of work and as cheaply as possible.  He pauses for a brief moment, tapping on the upstairs windows with his long wooden pole.  With a booming voice repeats, " Five o'clock and all's well."  As his voice fades into the distance, bodies begin to sir and wake from their slumber.  Children must be woken, as tiny as they are.  For these little ones, of four year old and upwards, there will be no time for school, no time for play.  Sadly, once again, the spectre of the mills is calling them yet again this day.
Breakfast for most consisted of a meagre bowl of watery porridge, with a pinch of salt added in a vague attempt to make it more palatable.  Milk was a luxury, not to be squandered on the morning meal.  The porridge was cooked in a huge black iron pot, which hung suspended from it's handle on a large hook above the open coal fire.  Still with bellies rumbling, they prepared themselves for the arduous day that lay ahead of them.
India Mill, the most predominate mill still stands today in Darwen
5:30 a.m., as if by some automated mechanism, grey figures appear.  Men in cloth caps and scarves tied around their necks.  Women with their woollen shawls around their heads and shoulders to stave off the chill of the crisp morning air.  Little ones dragging their heels, lingering reluctantly behind.  Some are barefoot, others more fortunate have wooden clogs making a clip clopping sound on the stone flagged pavements as they shuffle along the street.  There is hardly a sound until, suddenly, a loud noise breaks through the silence.  Almost immediately others follow, bellowing from every direction.  Sinister sirens, calling across the town, yet despite the harshness of the droning, it seems to have some mystical power over them.  It's as if the Pied Piper himself was willing them, drawing them, until they reached the forbidding iron gates and on into the huge oppressive building which loomed ominously before them.  An awesome monster that would hold them captive for the rest of the day.
India Mill smoke stack
Working in the mills
 These innocents of modern times, sick of trying to force a living out of their harsh moorland homesteads, lured by the promise of a decent meal and a regular wage; the latter, they would soon find to be the only reality.  Yet, there were many times when even this was often to elude them.  They forsook the majesty of the rolling hills, open spaces, sweet smelling air and headed towards the towns with their families and few precious possessions.

Blackburn, like other industrial towns at this time, was dominated by the mass of factory chimneys.  They towered menacingly, like dark sentinels reaching ever upwards towards the sky.  Belching out thick murky smoke and soot that stuck to everything it could lay hold of.  Especially the unsuspecting inhabitants below.  Sanitation was virtually none existent.  Consumption, diphtheria, and scarlet fever ran rife.  Yes, the industrial revolution had arrived, a new era.  Changing the face of not only the north, but the whole of England and its people forever, benefiting only the elite, at the expense of the working class.  Whilst the minority wallowed in luxury, the masses suffered in extreme poverty and misery.

The Apostle Heber C. Kimball, was by now familiar with such scenes of extreme deprivation.  Never the less, they still touched his heart and overwhelmed him with sorrow.  He had returned to England via the port of Liverpool in April, 1840, with a desire to visit his beloved brothers and sisters in the branches he had formed on his earlier visit of two years previous.  Which were situation south of Preston and along the Ribble Valley.  He proceeded to build up the saints in Blackburn.  Upon leaving, he felt the spirit so strongly that he wrote this account later in his journal.

He says that he had visited Blackburn, and that he had to leave the road three times to go to the streams of water to wash his eyes.  The prophet, Joseph Smith, told him in later years that this emotional experience, when he was leaving the people of Blackburn, was real and justified.  He told him that the reason he felt that way in the streets of Blackburn was because the place was indeed holy ground, as some of the holy men of God had travelled in the region and had dedicated the land, and that he, Heber C. Kimball, had reaped the benefit of their blessings.

A holy land [with] special souls, a breed of men and women with such strength of character, such spirit, who had and overwhelming desire to be with other saints [who] were brothers and sisters in the gospel; sharing the same beliefs and aspirations.  Besides, they had absolutely nothing to lose.  What were they leaving behind? . . .  Poverty, disease, soul-destroying work under the fearful hands of their hard taskmasters.  No, nothing could be worse than what they were now experiencing.  The prophet, Joseph Smith, who in the previous year of 1839, had founded Nauvoo, after being forced to flee Kirtland with other saints in 1838, pleaded with them to, "Come and build up Zion."  Zion was Nauvoo

If Nauvoo was to be a delightsome community, pleasing to the eyes of the Lord, the valuable and numerous skills that they [saints in England] possessed were sorely needed.  Skilled men and women such as joiners, glass makers, potters, painters, stone masons, butchers, bakers, sawyers, saddlers, gun makers, watch makers, engineers, farmers, shipwrights, basket makers, miners, power loom weavers, cutlers . . . Many of these people could be found among the saints in Blackburn.   With the promise of freedom, owning their own land, and a chance to be in control of their own destinies, many heeded the call setting about the task of raising the necessary funds to finance their passage to the promised land.

The fare for their passage was at this time 3 British Pounds (BPS) per person, plus they had to provide their own food.  It was classed as steerage passage and it meant that they were bunked in the ship's hold.  For 24 guineas, you could travel first class, if you were a wealthy immigrant.  Most of the converts had to travel by the cheaper fare.  To these saints, 3 BPS was a fortune, and if you had a family, the problems were astronomical.  They sold all their possessions, scrimped and saved.  Those who failed to reach the desired amount were often helped by more prosperous members.  If they had the determination to embark on this perilous adventure, our Heavenly Father helped them succeed in miraculous ways.  Thus it was that the exodus from Blackburn began.

The Lord required some to stay and keep the tiny branch open--to tend, water and nurture.  Keeping alive this tender young olive tree, of which the Master had planted in this small corner of His vineyard.  For He and His Father alone knew, what this little shrub would one day aspire to be.  Many young olive trees [branches of the Church], through the necessary mass exodus, withered and died---until their appointed time in the not too distant future when the Church in the British Isles would once more blossom and bare fruit in abundance.  Because of the very special task that lay ahead, they desired that all costs Blackburn must succeed, must win through!!

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