Friday, September 18, 2009
So I have slacked off a bit--actually, I have not been sitting around. Just the opposite. I haven't had enough time to sit and write as I would like because I have been so crazy busy! July was a whirlwind of events starting with the Kalispell Stake Youth Trek where Jim and I were a Ma & Pa and Mary and Billy were children in other families. It was absolutely awesome! I was asked (a few hours before) to speak at the Post Trek Fireside so I will post my thoughts on that here:
When the Trek was announced, I have to admit, I was one who secretly wanted to go and so I volunteered for the journals—something I knew I could do—to get as involved as I could.Then when Brother Westover asked my husband and me to be on the activities committee, I was thrilled to be able to help.It was neat to discuss and plan the activities and study about the Pioneers and what they went through and then try to find ways to share those experiences, and more importantly the feelings and lessons that the Pioneers went through, with the youth.
About 3 or 4 weeks before trek, at a stake mtg, we were discussing the Ma’s and Pa’s and that we needed to replace some who were no longer able to make it. That’s when Bro Allen and I were asked to step in—we already were planning to be there to do the activities, so it was an easier transition and though I knew it would be a lot more work, I was so excited for the opportunity to be there with the youth for what was perhaps one of the neatest experiences I have ever had.
I have to admit that before the idea of Trek came out, whenever a pioneer story was told I only listened half-heartedly, thinking that it really didn’t apply to me and since history wasn’t my strength (don’t tell my husband—he was a history major!), I would start to tune out. Since my involvement with trek, my perspective has changed completely. After having pulled the cart and gone through a scaled down version of experiences that they might have faced, I now have an inkling of any understanding and appreciation for the things the Pioneers must have faced. And most of all, I am so thankful not only for what they were willing to endure, but what they established: a legacy of hope for a better world where they were free from persecution to worship as they pleased.(Ether 12:4)
It didn’t take long to realize we had a very special group of youth in our family. Our first trial was crossing the river—twice. We saw the cart in front of us break and so as we took the lead, our youth stepped up to the challenge 100%. They scouted out and then after several attempts, found the best way to get up out of the water, straight up the 7 or 8 foot bank and onto the trail. And once our cart was up, they were not done. It amazed me how willing our family was to help cart after cart and pass on what worked to those behind them. They taught me from the very first day what it means to serve one another as the Pioneers must also have had to help and serve each other.
My favorite part of trek is hard to choose. We learned a lot about the Pioneers, but perhaps my most spiritual experience was the Woman’s Pull. First, to watch the YM and men leave was humbling and hard. I sat there and imagined what those Pioneer women must have felt as they watched their husbands and sons leave to defend their country, not knowing if they would see them again or not. And then, as we got our carts ready to go, and pulled them without our YM, I know our family realized right away just how much work our men had been doing. But it also taught me a few other lessons: if need be, we can do it ourselves. Whatever challenges arise, it is easier if we are a whole family unit. But, if we have to, we CAN make it ourselves. Pioneer women had to be strong, not just physically but just as important, spiritually and mentally. And the other thing I learned from this experience was the power of uplifting music. We certainly did not sound the best—as we huffed and puffed and belted out as many of the words of the song as we could between breaths, but something about the messages and the spirit of music kept us going. I know that had we stopped singing, we would have been tempted to stop pushing and pulling.
I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that they have provided for us the gospel principles and teachings that will lead us back to them. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to participate in Trek. What a great body of youth we have in this stake and what an awesome opportunity this was to teach me about the Pioneers so that now I can relate better to their stories and experiences. I understand better now what it might have been like—timesed by about a million.