Friday, August 12, 2016

Trek

Our stake did a pioneer trek for the youth from July 20-23.  I was asked to participate as part of the food committee.  I am so glad I was able to go;  it was a wonderful experience.   My experience, obviously, was different than the youth and leaders who pulled the handcarts.  I was driven to the different locations and helped prepare and serve and clean up the food.  I served with great people and really enjoyed getting to know several members of my stake better.
One of my two pioneer outfits.
 



The area we did trek in was a bit desolate. It had some beauty but I just kept thinking about the pioneers.  Many of them had lived in the east in beautiful areas filled with trees and greenery...and they traveled for weeks or even months through this dry, dusty, fairly desolate land.  They must have felt discouraged at times to consider what they had left behind.   And yet they must have been filled with hope that they would "find the place which God for [them] prepared, far away, in the west.  Where none would come to hurt or make afraid."  (Come, Come Ye Saints.  Hymn 30)  Along with the greater suffering that some experienced (losing loved ones, suffering hunger, illness, pain, etc.), they must have been hot, dirty and tired.  And after pulling their handcarts all day (not knowing how far exactly they would go or where they would stop to rest), they still had to prepare their own food.  Our experiences were only a small representation of what they endured.  I have always loved and felt thankful for the pioneers, but that feeling of gratitude increased tremendously.

The youth were put into families with a ma and pa.  I was so impressed by most of them.  They were strong, physically and spiritually.  They were willing to work hard and work together even though they hadn't really known most of their "family" until trek.  Most of the youth (as well as the leaders) maintained such a positive attitude...even when you could tell they were in pain or it was difficult.  And they learned they could do hard things which is a valuable lesson.

My favorite part was the women's pull.  I was able to participate.  The women's pull was one mile long, which isn't too far.  But it was uphill so that made it more challenging.  For the first little leg, I was in the back and that wasn't easy but it wasn't too bad.  But then we took a short water break and moved around and so I went to the front.  That was much harder and I felt tired very quickly.  I really wasn't sure that I could make the mile (which was frustrating because I'd been exercising all summer and walking 3 miles, 4 days a week).  But the young woman next to me, Veronica, was so upbeat and so excited to be in the front because it was hard.  I figured if she could do it, I could too.  So I said a prayer and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  And it quickly got easier.  Partly because we got help... some of our kitchen staff had decided to participate in the women's pull and some had decided not to.  But at maybe the halfway point or a little past, they joined us.  Telsie said that she had just prayed to Heavenly Father to help because it was hard (those handcarts are heavy) and she called out to us to look up.  She looked up and there were the other women from the kitchen staff.  Her response was, "Heavenly Father, that was fast!  And I can see these angels."  And it did help adding another person to our cart.  But to me, the most remarkable part was when we reached near the end.  All of the men and young men were lining both sides of the path with their hats off.  We had been instructed that at that point, everyone was to be silent.  And the men/young men were instructed not to help us even if it was hard for them to watch.  Well, as we pulled alongside them, the cart was suddenly lighter.  My energy felt renewed and it felt as if we suddenly had many more people pulling with us.  Although I could see them and see that they weren't touching our carts, their strength was added to ours and the last bit of the journey was the easiest...and the most spiritual.  There is real power in the priesthood...and there is help from both sides of the veil.  I don't know if angels came and helped us with the women's pull...although I believe it is possible.  But I have learned this summer that"those that be with us are more than those who be with them."  That angels, seen and unseen, are sent by our Father to help us.  And I have learned that our loving Father is always there and knows exactly what we need.  Yesterday, Deseret Book posted this quote from Wendy Ulrich, "There are many reasons we keep God at a distance, all the while thinking He is the one who chooses to stay away."  I am thankful that He continues to find ways to help me know He is there...even when I occasionally find myself keeping Him at a distance rather than allowing Him to fully succor me.  How very thankful I am for my knowledge of the gospel and for the precious experiences I have had this summer that have strengthened my faith!!