I'm so glad that so many of the pioneers kept journals. Some wrote about the stuff they did each day, some wrote about how they were feeling, some wrote about the spiritual experiences they were having. Without these records, most of the inspiring stories would be lost to us - how tragic that would be! I read their stories and love their optimism - people are dying, they are starving, their feet are freezing, but they remember to write and be grateful for the one tiny good thing that happened that day.
During the year I was preparing for trek I read everything I could get my hands on about the pioneers (specifically the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies), but the best book by far was The Price We Paid by Andrew D. Olsen. He told the Willie and Martin stories separately instead of mixing them together like most books do and he did a good job of examining what could have been done differently. He relied, as most authors do, on journals to tell the stories.
In one of my favorite conference talks, President Eyring says: "Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him."
I know Heavenly Father has blessed our family more times than I could ever count. There have been blessings that have been accompanied by overwhelming feelings of the Spirit and blessings that I'm sure have gone unnoticed. I need to do a better job at recording these events! Action Plan - Write It Down!