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Book cover images provided by the publishers
"Sweet is the Work" by Breanna Olaveson and "Frontier Grit" is by Marianne Monson.

These two books share the influence of women in history — one through the LDS Church's missionary program and one in the frontier United States.

"SWEET IS THE WORK: Lessons from the First Sister Missionaries,” by Breanna Olaveson, Covenant Communications, $9.99, 98 pages (nf)

From Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, to Amanda “Inez” Knight, the first official, single full-time proselyting sister missionary, “Sweet is the Work” shares a dozen lessons and accompanying experiences from female missionaries that are just as relevant today as they were then. Before Knight was called in 1898, there were about 200 women who served as missionaries.

Megan Kelly
Breanna Olaveson

For Lucy Mack Smith, the lesson is to “Speak Truth with Boldness” as author Brianna Olaveson shares several experiences where Lucy spoke up to defend the new faith. For Knight, who served in Great Britain, the lesson is “We Can Overcome Fear with Faith” as she was anxious about speaking in public.

Other experiences include those who were wives of men called on missions in New Zealand, Hawaii and Tahiti, and brought their children with them, too.

Elizabeth Claridge McCune and her family helped support the missionaries in England and she spoke at a conference there to help clear up misconceptions in the lesson “Women Have a Unique Convincing Ability.”

Christine Bentsen in Denmark was a new convert to the LDS Church, not long after missionaries first came to the country, when she was called to help the missionaries there, including helping Erastus Snow learn the language. The lesson is “If You Have a Testimony, You Have Enough.”

“Sweet is the Work” also includes the context of when wives were called as missionaries with their husband and also some of the challenges they faced as they served, from language barriers to adjusting to new climates and cultures, along with health challenges. Sources are noted in footnotes throughout the book.

Olaveson shares in a concise and interesting way how the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were able to serve.

FRONTIER GRIT:The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women,” by Marianne Monson, Shadow Mountain, $19.99, 198 pages (nf)

From a freed slave looking for her family, to a successful stagecoach driver who dressed as a man, to those who helped others wherever they were, women left their mark in the history of the ever-expanding United States in the mid-1800s.

Deseret Book
"Frontier Grit" is by Marianne Monson.

“Frontier Grit” shares the stories of a dozen women born in the 1800s from many backgrounds, including Europe, Native American, Mexico, African-American and Hawaii, who faced challenges in their own lives and found ways to succeed, along with helping many others along the way.

Author Marianne Monson shares each story in a about a dozen pages — enough to share the woman’s life, her struggles and her accomplishments in the context of the history. Also, Monson has a short section for each where she gives her perspective. Monson lists sources and notes at end of each chapter along with list for further study.

Two of the women have connections to Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon was a physician who ran against her husband for the state Senate seat and won, becoming the first female state senator in the nation. (Mattie, as she was known as, was also a typesetter for the Deseret News when she was 15 years old.)

“Perhaps more than anything, I admire Mattie’s determination to pursue her ambitious goals and dreams,” Monson wrote.

1 comment on this story

Makaopiopio was originally from Hawaii and saw the changes to the islands, including Christian missionaries coming. She and her husband joined the LDS Church in 1854 and 1862 and her daughters later moved to Utah. She followed several years later, due, in part to challenges getting permission to go.

She was one of those who helped settle the Iosepa community and was the first to die in the colony.

It’s inspirational to see what these women accomplished, some with little resources, as they helped tame a frontier.