Saturday, July 3, 2010

Walk As A Witness...Trek 2010

When Mike and I heard that it was time for another Pioneer Trek we ran to the Bishop and asked him to put our names in for Ma and Pa. We hoped that we would be picked and were thrilled to hear that we were! Neither of us were sure what to expect since we'd never gone as teens, and I will admit that I was kinda nervous. Ok kinda really doesn't do justice to the stress that I was feeling. I had never left Nick for more than one night! AND then there was the part where I got 7-8 teenagers to take care of for the week! As it turns out I had no reason to be nervous. It was amazing. I'm going to do a day by day account below, but I have to say that I haven't ever experienced anything like this. I have ancestors that were pioneers and I felt their spirit's around me as we were trekking. Start to finish the spirit was almost tangible.'s the story!

Day 1
We all had to gather at the Stake Center at 7:30. We had a little devotional that set the spirit for the week. Nothing big or fancy was said and I think that is what was so special. We were reminded why we were there and what was expected of us. President Shaw put my nerves to rest when he told us all to take a deep breath and relax. And then we were OFF! I hadn't been on a school bus for a VERY long time, and let me tell ya, those seats are VERY close together! Also the sign on the outside of the bus made me laugh. Did you know that it's against the law to get on a school bus if you are planning to do something that is against the law?
Anyway, we got to Wyoming, unloaded and they assigned families. I didn't know ONE of our kids. However I had nothing to worry about. They were all simply amazing. Austin, Quade Gideon, Beka, Sydni, Brook and Ashley all gathered around and as we ate lunch we tried to learn names and get acquainted. After lunch we packed up the cart and started trekking! The first day wasn't too much. A few miles. We all rolled into camp feeling pretty good about ourselves. A little tired but still ready for more! We set up camp, AFTER scooping cow pies to make room for the tents! Then the wonderful food committee fed us dinner and while we were eating we passed out our "Who we're walking for" bracelets. They were leather and we could write the name of the pioneer on it.

After dinner there was a square dance. Some weren't to thrilled but in the end we all had fun! The bandanna dance was a new one for me and Mike and I had to teach a few kids how to waltz.......and then we were done!
We headed back to our little camp site and gathered around our....lantern? There weren't any fire pits so we made due! We actually had an amazing conversation. People always say that "kids today" are so tough, but I beg to differ. AMAZING. Testimonies and internal strength that truly amazed me. We decided to hit the sack but of course the kids weren't QUITE so ready so they hung out trying to be quiet and Mike and I tried to sleep! A few boys (not ours) decided to ditch a few tents but none of ours so I had no complaints! The ground wasn't even too hard! Well that or I was to tired to care!

Day 2
Day 2 started WAY too early. We had a 6:30 meeting. ugh. Well, the powers that be weren't too happy about the mischief makers. They informed us that our "agenda" for the day had just gotten a little harder. We were also told not to help the kids with the hand cart. I wasn't really sure what that meant for our day but, I was ready to make the best of it!

Breakfast was quick and we were all chomping at the bit to get going. Our company was leading out and our kids wanted to be in the VERY front, so we had our cart loaded and ready before the devotional. TRUE we had to sit on the ground since our buckets were packed but it was worth it to be setting the pace!
The plan had been to follow the trail at the base of a hill. Thanks to our little trouble makers we went straight up the hill. STRAIGHT up. Mike and I both looked at it and said "No way". It was a crazy, steep, sage brush covered hill. Followed by another hill. And another. Yeah you get the picture. Well needless to say Mike and I couldn't just walk along side the cart and watch our kids struggle. I've always felt like I need to do everything I expect my kids to do. This was no exception. We had to push just as hard as they did. It's amazing how working hard with people you care about seems to cement your relationship. Our work mules (Quade and Austin) seemed to set the pace but everyone else worked every bit as hard and without a single complaint. Sydni had blister that covered the entire back's of both heels. The medical team kept telling her to ride in the truck but she wouldn't. She was NOT giving up.The powers that be kept saying "just one more hill" and MAN I didn't think I'd make it! But we finally passed a beautiful pond and found camp!!! Our kids had asked our Company Captain's if we could circle our carts. It was so fun! The other companies just kinda threw up their tents in the same general area. Our company looked like we were "one". It was so fun! It has taken us a lot longer to get to camp then planned so "game time" was cut back a little, but it was really a ton of fun! Horse shoes, the sign game, human ladder, Indian leg wrestling, Tug-o-War, and the coolest group game of catch. A very nice way to relax! Game time was followed by "American Idol". Each family was given an assignment. Either a skit or a song. The skits were hilarious. We were given a song. We had to make up new lyrics to "Called To Serve". I was at a loss, but Ashley sat right down and wrote a song! Here it is:

Trekking on our feet are very sore oh
pushing pulling see the handcarts go
Up the hill and over lots of sage brush
four more bumpy miles to go
trekking stumbling trekking as we push and pull the yoke
trekking stumbling trekking, I think our tarp just broke
trekking stumbling trekking holy cow pie my feet hurt
only four more bumpy miles till we all can stop for lunch

Anyway after laughing so hard that my sides hurt, we headed back to camp and our oh so toasty lantern! We all took a minute to share about the Pioneer that we were talking for. Mike and I were walking for Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson and Aaron Jackson. It was fun. Little by little I think that Trek and the handcart pioneers became very real and it all became VERY personal. It struck me that people were willing to suffer and die just so that they could get to the temple. I know that there were also other factors, but that was the huge one. And once their family members died it became even more necessary. I am so thankful for my family members that sacrificed so much so that our family could be an eternal one.

We were all so tired. I couldn't wait to go to sleep! the ground was starting to feel VERY soft!

Day 3

Day 3 started with the knowledge that the "Womens Pull" was coming. We had been reassured that it wouldn't be overly hard but the girls were kinda worried. We packed up, had breakfast, a devotional and......waited. Our company was last today. After being first it was hard to spend so much time "waiting". A couple of miles in we were stopped at the bottom of a pretty steep (but graded road) hill. The boys were told to get their buckets off of the hand carts. The boys went one way and the girls went another. Sister Shaw spoke to us for a little bit. She talked about how much the Lord loves His daughters. How special we all are as women, and how ready he is to answer our prayers. President Banner talked to the boys. Mike can't remember what he said.....Shocker. But I assume it was good:) ANYWAY, that hill was tough and we were feeling ok but tired and a little shaky when we got to the top. AND THEN....we turned and looked to our right to see the men at the top of a VERY steep, sage brush covered, bumpy rutted hill. We were all a little shocked and nervous. We said another prayer and started. It was SO HARD. About half way up I started to feel like we weren't going to make it. As I looked up I could see the men lined up on both side of the path. I knew that they couldn't help us. It seemed so far away. Then a wave of girls and women came running down the hill. We weren't alone. Not on this side of the veil or the other. It was a very emotional experience. I couldn't look up at the boys and Mike. I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep going. It was a life changing event for me. The strength of a group of righteous women is unlike anything else. A group of righteous women can pull together and accomplish anything.After a few minutes to recover we on our way again! On and on and on and on we went. We were heading to the Needles formation. It's where Brigham Young fell ill with Rocky Mountain Fever. We knew we weren't eating until after Needles, and the formation in the distance just kept seeming farther and farther away! We finally got there and it was well worth the work to get there! The rock formation was stunning. I love seeing things like that. We were met there by "Colonel Johnston" and "Brigham Young". They both shared stories that I already knew, but standing there, on Holy Ground, they seemed different. When Brigham Young got sick no one was sure if he was going to make it to the Valley. The members of the 12 that were with him dressed in their temple clothes and went to the top of a hill and prayed for him. He made it. He recovered and entered the Valley on July 24th 1847. I am thankful that I got to be there.After Needles we kept on trekking until we hit a little river. It wasn't very deep but it was VERY muddy. We girls walked across (except for those that were blistered. They got carried) while the guys got the cart across. A few went across barefoot which resulted in a cut foot and a few popped blisters. It also gave Mike and myself a chance to see Quade's blisters. He'd been limping a bit but had refused to have them looked at. He said he was ok. OH MY WORD! THE blisters were horrible! I had also developed my own blisters by this point only not too bad. ANYWAY, we parked and while I made lunch for everyone Mike bandaged feet! By this time it was 2:30. We were all beat. But we still had about 3 miles to go, so off we went! By the time we reached camp (which thankfully they had decided to set up camp a mile closer to where we were coming from and at the BOTTOM of a very big hill!) everyone was on the verge of collapse. We set up camp and just kinda died. That of course only lasted a few minutes before the horn blew. The "Pony Express" had arrived with mail. No one wanted to move. I didn't want to move! But I decided to tell the girls that if they went I would wash their hair when they were done. That got them moving. They got their letters and went out for solo time, and Mike and I made dinner! It's amazing what washing hair will do for a girl. Everyone was much happier! After I had their hair done they offered to help me wash mine! AHHHHH!After dinner we had testimony meeting. I was touched beyond words when I looked at the line of kids waiting for their turn and it was mostly boys. All of those future missionaries. All of those strong testimonies. The girls were equally amazing, but I guess I expected that one. After the testimony meeting we went back to our campsite and had our own little one with our family. We were all a little tired but that didn't stop the kids from driving an amazing conversation. They all have such strength. Such Faith. Once we were done we all just kinda sat there. No one wanted to end I think. Our kids who had been the last ones in camp to go to sleep for 2 nights were begging to go to bed! It made me laugh. Once the boys were in bed Austin's Mom came over and she and Brook wrapped the boys tent in string. It was so funny to hear Austin yelling that he'd be happy to turn in the trouble makers!Day 4
The beautiful sunrise over the bathrooms!

Day 4 started with a delicious breakfast cooked FOR us by the food committee! We had camp cleaned up and were ready to go. The day before when we saw the hill that was just past camp one of the boys said "Oh Satan". Well our day started with that hill. UGH. But as usual we made it only to find another one! On the way down the second hill I felt a POP and felt a gush and knew that a blister had formed and popped since leaving camp! We sent the kids on and Mike fixed up my foot. By the time we were done Mike and I were done we were at the back of the train! I ran and ran to try to catch up with the kids but MAN they were moving so fast! Quade had fallen behind because of his feet and so once we caught up with him Mike stayed with him and I ran ahead. There was a "vignette" set up on a hillside above the trail that just about put me over the edge. On the hillside there were people dressed in white waving. Adults, children, families. All representing the 6,000 people that died while making their way to Salt Lake. I now was trying to run while crying. UGH. I almost caught up to the kids but before I knew it we were done! "Brigham Young" was there to greet us and welcome us "to the Valley" and Riverdale City band was there playing! It was a very touching end to a great week!I had made sandwiches before we started our day so we all sat down on our bear box ( after unloading our cart) and ate in silence. I think that we were all to tired and touched by the whole experience to really say much! A little PB&J and we were all very ready to go home! The buses showed up, we loaded up and I...... fell asleep! 45 minutes later and MAN it was hot in Riverdale! WOW! But, there was real, soft grass to lay down on and we took full advantage! And I have to say that we were VERY dirty and Very stinky! A quick shower and we hurried to Mary's to rescue her(thanks so much Mary and Kami!!!) and hug my sweet boys! Trek was truly the experience of a life time and I am so thankful that we got to hitch a ride.

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