I swung myself up the gangplank amidst the waving handkerchiefs of my school-mates who were bidding me goodbye. I remember standing still, holding on to the railing as the boat glided out into the wide, soft darkness. I stood my ground without a tear until I saw a sweet, tear-stained face come into view. It was my mother. As she squeezed through the crowds, the heat and confusion almost overcame me. I remember whispering through the dark and the stillness, 'Oh God, be with us that we may meet again in that land out West.' '
So writes Valborg Rasmussen of her departure to America in 1888 when she was only 13 years old. I Sailed to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers Who Crossed the Oceans contains 24 first-person accounts of children and adolescents who left their homes to sail to America.
These young people experienced many adventures on the high seas: from seasickness and separation from loved ones to raging storms and burials at sea, from the simple pleasures of playing marbles or eating a well-cooked custard to the profound joy of seeing land as their journey came to an end. Whether alone or with family, these young pioneers were motivated by the quiet burnings of the Spirit whispering the gospel was true as they sailed to Zion.