A Note to Trail Blazers


by Mary Ellen Edmunds

I’m not using this term hoping to get a lot of Primary children to read some thoughts I want to share (are there still Blazers? No?? Well… there used to be).

I’m sending some ideas to missionaries, including prospective missionaries. I can almost picture you. I know that may sound strange, but I’ve seen thousands and thousands of missionaries during my time as an earthling. I always wave when I see you, no matter where I am.

And I’ve done a lot of thinking about your call to serve.

This is a time of year when we speak a lot about pioneers. Perhaps we most often picture those who pulled handcarts or came with covered wagons, traveling thousands of miles.

I’d like to look at it a little broader than that. I’ve always felt the pioneering was about doing things you’ve never done before. Blazing trails, if you will.

So would all of you out there raise your hands if you’re doing something in your lives right now that you’ve never done before? AHA! Just as I thought!

And, speaking specifically as missionaries, I know those of you who are already “in the field” don’t sit around surfing the internet, so I’m talking to those of you approaching the field. You have a call, you’re waiting to get your wisdom teeth removed, you’ve been praying earnestly to know it’s time (for the call, not the wisdom teeth . . . although . . . .)

There is a hymn which we usually sing just once a year which has come to mean a great deal to me. I don’t remember exactly when it first meant more than just those who crossed the plains in the 1800’s. But it has become a very important hymn to me.

I’ll share the words – and please think about missionary work as you read them – and then I’ll have some feelings to share.


(Hymn # 36)

They the builders of the nation,

Blazing trails along the way;

Stepping stones for generations

Were their deeds of ev’ry day.

Building new and firm foundations,

Pushing on the wild frontier,

Forging onward, ever onward,

Blessed, honored Pioneer!

Service ever was their watch cry;

Love became their guiding star;

Courage, their unfailing beacon,

Radiating near and far.

Ev’ry day some burden lifted,

Ev’ry day some heart to cheer,

Ev’ry day some hope the brighter,

Blessed, honored Pioneer!

As an ensign to the nation,

They unfurled the flag of truth,.

Pillar, guide, and inspiration

To the hosts of waiting youth.

Honor, praise, and veneration

To the founder we revere!

List our song of adoration,

Blessed, honored Pioneer!

Did any of the messages in this hymn reach you in a different way than they had before?

This feels to me like an anthem for missionaries – the missionaries of NOW.

You’re pioneers. You blaze trails. Some of you probably feel like you’re on “the wild frontier” (no matter where you’re serving).

Service is your watch cry, love is your guiding star, courage your unfailing beacon, and yes, it radiates near and far.

Well, I could just repeat all the words in the hymn, but I think I’ll just finish this burst of enthusiasm for a beautiful hymn by encouraging you to keep your flag of truth unfurled as you forge onward, lightening burdens, cheering hearts, and making hope brighter.

Blessed, honored pioneers – missionaries – servants of God!

To read more by Mary Ellen Edmunds, please visit:
Young Women and serving a mission – should I go?

For more ideas, see:
“Go, Ye Swift Messengers”
It’s the Lord who Makes the Call
How to Be an Awesome (Sister) Missionary