Friday, July 13, 2012

Pioneer Trek

I had the incredible experience recently to go on a pioneer trek with the youth in our ward.  I admit that I was dragging my feet a little to go, simply because of the time commitment involved.  I am so glad I made the sacrifice to be there. 
We drove about an hour from home to a small pioneer town called Chesterfield, Idaho.  Many of the original buildings still exist and it was fun to imagine what life would have been like for those who lived there back then.  We were driven from Chesterfield (representing Nauvoo) by an angry mob and we set off on the trek, pulling handcarts.  Our ward had 3 handcarts.  For the first 3ish miles, we were mostly on a gravel road, with various hills, but we just hiked and enjoyed visiting.  When it came time to turn off the main path and really begin the trail, all of our men and boys were called away to serve in the Mormon Battalion and the women (there were 12 of us) were left to pull the carts alone.  This was the narrowest, steepest, most rocky and rutted part of the trail, and with just 4 leaders and 8 girls pulling 3 handcarts, it was tough.  I think it really helped our girls to think about what those before us sacrificed to make it to the west.  Part way up the hill, the men in our group came as "angels" to help us push and pull our carts up the hill.  I was so impressed with our youth and their attitudes.  It was hard for me to imagine what the Saints gave up in order to cross the plains, but I imagine that their purpose drove them. 
 We treked for about 7 1/2 miles on the first day.  It was hot and hard, and even our teeth were brown from the dust by the time we made it to camp that evening.  I have never heard a group of people (about 150 of us total) be so quiet from exhaustion.  I think everyone just checked out for about 3 hours and tried to recover. 
 On the second day, as we treked back into Chesterfield (now the Salt Lake valley), we were asked to remove our shoes and to trek the remainder 1/4 mile into the valley in silence.  It was called the "reverence walk".  We had one young women who had sustained some serious blistering on day one, and for part of the second day, had to ride along our group in a truck, but she wanted to badly to walk in to "Salt Lake" on her own.  Regardless of her pain, she asked to get out of the truck and removed her shoes and silently walked into that valley with tears running down her cheeks.  What a great example she was to me, and to several others who knew her situation.  We do hard things!-and she was such a great example of that.  I think the pioneer message rang true in her heart maybe more than it did for the rest because she knew, even if only a little, of the "pains" some of the pioneers experienced, and yet, she pushed through. 
I truly  came home with a greater appreciation for what the pioneers experienced and sacrificed for me to have what I do.  And I am truly impressed with the youth of our ward.  

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