Peder and Helena Mortensen had eight children ages 28-6; Morten (28), Kirstine (24), Anders (22), Hans (19), Lars (13), Mette (11), Mary (9), Caroline (6). As soon as Peder and Helena heard the gospel they accepted it quickly. The Mortensen family decided to sell their home and farm in Denmark and gather with the Saints in Utah. Leaving their home was the first of many sacrifices the Mortensen’s would make. Their oldest son, Morten, was asked to remain and preach the gospel. Lars recalled “We had forsaken friends, relatives, and now were asked for the eldest son to be left and separated from us, perhaps never again to be together in this life.” was part of the Willie handcart company.
The thought of being separated was difficult for this closely bonded family, but an even greater worry was that they would need Morten for the long journey ahead. “Our family was not in a very good condition for such a journey,” Lars said. Peder had been crippled by an accident in his youth and suffered from rheumatism. The oldest daughter, Kirstine, had a bad knee. The two youngest children were nine and six. Could they make such a journey without Morten’s help?
Peder was promised by those in authority if he would come with the handcart company and help others to come, that not one of the family should be lost. The mission president told them, “if you will consent to his staying and filling a mission, I promise you in the name of the Lord that you shall, everyone, reach the land of Zion in safety and that God will protect you on land and on sea.”
Lars wrote that the family’s faith in these promises and their determination to serve the Lord were “ever a stimulant to press on through trials and difficulties to the end of our journey.”
Lena said: “We had to have stout hearts and great faith in meeting these great trials…We wept as we went on our journey. We went before the Lord and pleaded for him to make good the promises which were given us by his servants when we were in old Denmark. How we implored Him to raise the sick and give us strength to carry our burdens without complaints.”