Thursday, July 5, 2012

trek day #3, for the modern day trekkers

On our last day of the trek, we woke after a much better night's sleep because this time there was straw spread under our tarps.  We also had had the added benefit of ending the previous day with a hoedown called by a barefoot Irishman backed up with a live folk-band.  Awesome.  Even though none of the kids really knew how to square dance, they were out there, blisters and all.  It didn't matter if they knew each other or that they were wearing weird clothes and no makeup.  It actually made it better.  Joseph and I even wore ourselves out dancing to Skip to My Lou and a couple others.  I didn't take any pictures, cause I was afraid my camera battery was going out, but it was a site to see out there in that field.  They were having a great time.

So, after breakfast and devotional, was when Brigham Young came and inspired us rise to the occasion of the men leaving the women to join the battalion.
The first picture is of the men and boys leaving.  After giving Joseph a kiss, we all said goodbye and someone starting singing "God Be With You Til We Meet Again".  The scene had become real and many of us were choked up or crying.  Before the women loaded up to leave, we had the opportunity to try some things the pioneer women did like weaving, candle making, crocheting, writing with quill and ink, making butter and corn husk dolls.  When we were done, we were off to conquer a tough hill, just us women. In order for us to do it, each of us had to help each other pull our wagons.  They asked if we would do 2 wagons but some of the younger and more willing girls did far more.  They just kept going back to help.  I'm glad they could because my old body could barely do 2.  It was tough!

Then if you'll look closely in the trees you'll see that the men and boys.  After a few activities of their own, they helped each other down the hill with a rope.  Some of them were able to cheer the girls as they pushed their carts up the hill.

Then the trail boss told us that our cart was "broken" and that we needed to load our things in another family's wagon.  If you'll look closely, you can see it's pretty full.  Then the two families worked together, some pulling with rope in the front and others pushing in the back, to get the heavy wagon up what was called "Testimony Hill".   Everything had been leading up to this.  They were learning their strengths and abilities and how to work together.  This hill was the test.  Every time they hit a turn and hoped it would be the end, there was another switch-back to climb.  Some took turns while others worked the whole way.  There were tears and pain and shouts of encouragement.

I actually didn't get to see our wagon finish because I was helping a young girl who felt she couldn't make it.  She kept wanting to turn back and quit.  Every word was negative but I kept pushing reminding her that it just takes one step at a time, faith that there is something wonderful in the end (watermelon and a beautiful view seen above) and that she had it in her to finish.  If she could get up this hill she could take that accomplishment home with her to use as a means to prove to herself and others that she can do hard things.  Through helping her, it helped me get up the hill.  I forgot about my own pain and concentrated on hers.  Isn't that how it always is when we serve others.  That's just one of the many lessons learned.

As we turned the last corner, there were others along the path cheering us on and Joseph at the top calling for us.  He came down and together, he and I, grabbed her arms and helped her the last few steps.  God puts people in our lives for a purpose.  We are here to help one another and through the process we are blessed ourselves.  At the very center is the family.  When we work together, we accomplish so much more than we could ever have as an individual.

We finally pulled our carts to their final resting place, cleaned up and had lunch.  Just then, our sweet mountain man, TJ, came riding in as though he were the Pony Express stating that he had letters for our company.  In his satchel he had letters written from the kids parents, youth leader, bishop and stake leader.  They either found a private place to read like Bekah did or sat quietly in a circle like our family did.  It was evident that their hearts were touched.  Many were in tears including my husband who read the thank you letters we received from our leaders.  One of the family's letters had been lost.  So everyone was looking for them when a young man came out of the orchard, where he was reading his letters, with the package wondering if anyone needed them.  Thank heavens he chose that spot or those kids wouldn't have had that moving experience.  At the time, the boy didn't even realize he was part of a miracle.

After that, we were directed to a beautiful grove of aspen trees for our testimony meeting.  It was amazing to listen about how they felt and what they learned.  The Spirit certainly was there.  I think it was with mixed emotions that we left that place.  Certainly we wanted modern plumbing again (if I never have to see a port-o-john again I'll be fine) but the feeling of friends, family and Spirit were hard to leave.   Thankfully, they have now become lasting memories that we can turn to for comfort, humor, instruction, direction, and inspiration as we trek through these modern days.

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