Legends and tall tales of the keystone mission
The Story of Kokum Crow
(Related by President Bryan Espenschied at the Special Interest Conference at Raymond, Alberta, February 2nd, 1975.)
Kokum Crow lived on the Piapot Reserve in Saskatchewan. Kokum means Grandma in the Cree language.
The reserve was totally dominated by the Catholic Church. As a result, it took great faith and great courage for Kokum Crow and her family to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The missionaries came to the reserve in 1941 to teach the Gospel. Kokum Crow and her family were taught the Gospel and after they discussed the possibility of joining the Church, they came to a positive decision - they would join.
Kokum Crow was a widow with six children. Everybody on that reserve turned against her and she never heard another kindly word on that reserve, just words of bitterness. The missionaries were withdrawn. The persecution and hatred that existed there was terrible.
President White, a Branch President, walked many miles about three or four times a year to pray with Kokum Crow and to extend his thoughtfulness to her. Her children, because of torment and indoctrination of the Catholic Priests, turned against their mother also. One son left home twenty-five years ago because of his bitterness and she has never heard another word from him.
After many trials and heartache, Kokum Crow received the sweet overcoming of the Spirit of the Lord and this gave her the feeling for compassion that was needed to give service to others. Many children on the reserve were orphaned because of the liquor situation. She gathered in these children. Over the years she mothered 28 of these children. She would rear them until they, like the others, were poisoned by the adversary.
President Espenschied and Elder Pine went to visit her in her little two-roomed house. She had been beaten. She pointed to the bedroom and told them that in this room were two girls she had raised. They too had been overcome with hatred and bitterness and they had taken away her most valued treasures: her pictures of the missionaries and her tithing receipts. They told here that anytime she had anything to do with the Church, she would be beaten again by them. Then she took out a little Hymn Book and asked President Espenschied and Elder Pine if they would sing with her, "I Need Thee Every Hour". They began to sing and she started to weep as if her heart would break. They knelt at her feet and prayed for the Lord to bless her. President Espenschied said that he never before had felt the closeness of Heaven to him as he did at that time in that humble little home.
Later, Elder Theodore Tuttle and President Espenschied went to visit her. Someone had reported that she was found in a woodshed, beaten black and blue, and had been there for three days before she was found. This time she asked Elder Tuttle and the President to sing again with her, "I Need Thee Every Hour".
Eighty years old, gnarled fingers, beaded brim eyes, yet she made two beaded necklaces. These she gave to the two Priesthood holders and asked them to take them to their wives. This necklace is a very valued possession of those wives. Elder Tuttle gave her a beautiful blessing.
There was a terrible snow storm with heavy snows leaving great drifts on the Piapot Reserve. Anxiety was in the hearts of the missionaries for they felt great concern for Kokum Crow. Travel was impossible. The snow plow came and the first followers behind it were the concerned missionaries who went directly to the little home of Kokum Crow.
She was in bed. All the things she could find in her little house were piled on top of that bed to help keep her warm. The little house was bitter cold. Kokum Crow was very ill. She was taken to the hospital for she had double pneumonia.
While there she died. She had passed the tests and a loving, merciful Father had called her home to receive a loving embrace from the Savior. What a beautiful reception this must have been.
Tried in the fire that sanctification might come. May we stand the ill winds that blow and hold firm to our faith that we might build our testimonies every day. The Lord will give you rich blessings for your faithfulness. Endure to the end if you desire all the blessings our Father in Heaven has promised.
Paul Young who served from 82 to 84 wrote.
I wanted to mentioned the Christmas of 1983, and the difficulty that we had in getting everybody to Winnipeg from Saskatchewan because of the weather.
Everybody that was serving in Saskatchewan met in Regina to take the train to Winnipeg. During the trip, they had to stop the train and put the passengers on several busses because the extreme cold had contracted the rails enough that the the train couldn't travel. President Bird, Elder Nibley, and I were up all night shuttling missionaries as they arrived by bus to various apts (pits) in Winnipeg. To me, it is obvious that we were up all night when I look at the mission picture that was taken the next day.
Incidentally, the weather reports we heard indicated that it was -100C that night (with the windchill)
Bryan Erickson who served from 96 to 98 wrote.
"During the month of December of 1997 my companion and I taught 42 discussions in one week in Flin Flon Mb. We beat the record that was set at 38 the previous week up in Thompson Mb. by Elders Cameron Sawyer and Haws. Let me Know when someone does 43 or better."
Elder Tyler Ross & Erickson
Randy Gilson who served from 85 to 87 wrote.
"I covered the whole mission many times over as an AP but only heard stories of Elders that went to Churchhill. That may be of interest to many, did they really get put on a train at gun point and told to stay out? Did St. Boniface Cathedral really get dusted by some missionaries and that is why it burned down?"
Randy Hawkins served from 76 to 78. Here are a few snippets from his letter.
"...the Stake was formed and Pres. Lund prophesied that a temple would be in Winnipeg some day..."
"One of my companions Elder Lewis was reported to have held up the front end of a pick-up to help a lady change the tire. He had a size 19 neck and you didn't want to mess with him..."
"Lots of fond memories were had and yes the rumors of going to Churchill and being given a gun and that's it were all in place way back before you' all were even born..."
Read the whole thing it reads like a history lesson. Randy Hawkins
These Legends were still circulating in the 90's.
Jason Baxter who served from 94 to 96 wrote.
"The winter of 1995 was the coldest in 100 years. We were one day short of breaking the all time record!"
Dave Abbott a local member wrote.
"I thought I would share a story with you about President Lund. I had
been recently called as the public communications co-ordinator for the mission
and President Lund and I decided in January of '79 (I believe) to go up to
Falcon Lake, grab a snowmobile, and spend a day of R & R trying to catch some trout.
Elder Trevor Thompson wrote.
"In mid Jan of 96 My comp, Elder Malcholm Macleod and I were awoken to a very loud ruckus outside our CTK apartment located on Highway #1 in the small town of sintaluta Sask. Apparently one of the early morning Freight trains was derailing and was sliding through the mud!! It was quite the sight!!We called Pres. Mendenhall and he instructed us to leave town due to the evacuation of the town because of Hazardous fumes from the trains wreck.The first time in CWM history that missionaries were evacuated from the area."
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