Emily Anne Jensen (9) lives in the woods of northern Virginia. It is almost like living in a zoo. Among the many beautiful trees that surround her home are foxes, rabbits, deer, opossums, raccoons, copperhead snakes, black snakes, squirrels, turtles, geckos, horned toads, and wild turkeys.
But the most exciting thing surrounding Emily’s home is a sense of history. Battles of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought nearby, and she has frequently walked the Civil War trail that cuts through the woods close to her home.
George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, is twenty minutes away, and Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, is just twenty miles north. Emily often takes field trips into Washington with her school class, her family, and visitors.
She attended President George Bush’s inauguration and waved to the Tabernacle Choir as the members passed in the inaugural parade, laid a flower at George Washington’s tomb on his birthday, listened to the National Symphony Orchestra perform at the Kennedy Center, visited the White House at Christmastime, helped decorate a Christmas tree in the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center, and represented her fourth grade class at a special conference on world hunger at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) headquarters.
One of her favorite memories is of seeing her dad, Larry, sworn in as General Counsel of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She also attended two of his confirmation hearings before a United States Senate committee when he was to receive presidential appointments.
In addition to the joys, Emily has known some of the heartaches that come with life in the capital. She has cried for the homeless people who lie on the city’s heating grates, and she remembers them every day in her prayers. Last Christmas she helped her sisters make huge gingerbread houses that were sold to raise money for the homeless.
Emily helps her mother, Terri, the stake Relief Society president, by being kind to those who come to her home; by entertaining children; by preparing and delivering food, clothing, and other items; and by doing extra chores around the house so that her mom is free to help those in need.
And Emily has had a calling of her own. When she was eight years old, she was sustained as assistant leader of the choir nursery. She and her sister Sarah prepared lessons, activities, and projects every week to help the children in the nursery learn about the Savior and His gospel while their parents practiced singing.
Every summer Emily and her family visit relatives in Utah and Idaho. She makes terrific memories at Grandma Jean’s and at Grandma Laynie and Papa Ace’s. At the Duncan farm in Idaho, she, her sisters, and their cousins write, produce, and direct their own theatrical productions each year.
Family is very important to Emily. All thirty-two of her great-great-great-grandparents crossed the plains as pioneers. She has heard wonderful stories about ancestors such as fifteen-year-old Mary Jan Nuttall, who traveled west alone, pulling a handcart.
Emily knows that pioneers aren’t all in the past. She feels that the families joining the Church today are the pioneers of this generation and that they will have wonderful pioneer stories to tell their grandchildren.
Emily shares feelings about her life in the northern Virginia woods in this poem:
When I think of spring,
I think of birds,
And when I think of birds,
I think of song,
And when I think of song,
I think of long
Grass tickling my cheek. …
I think of the wind going through my hair
And of unknown flowers everywhere.