Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Trek

So a few months ago, Jarom and I were asked if we would be a Ma and Pa for our stake youth pioneer trek. (And yep, we got to spend our 14th anniversary dressed as pioneers dancing at the pre-trek hoedown party. Talk about exciting.) I have to admit, I was not looking forward to doing the trek.

I did a trek when I was about 14 and it was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Try pushing/pulling a fully loaded handcart in mud up to your ankles, pouring rain, and over the tops of sage brush, all uphill. Then, when you've reached the top, have your hair stand on end like you've rubbed a balloon over it because the air is so charged with electricity from a lightening storm. While you wait for your cart's turn to be taken down the hill, sit 100 feet away from the next person in case the lightening does strike, so that it will only take out you and not all your friends too. Yeah.....it was an experience I will never forget!

While it was physically exhausting and down right scary at times, it also taught me a lot and changed my attitude about life. My appreciation for the early members of my church grew 100 fold and my testimony of Christ was strengthened immensely. However, I really had no desire to physically abuse my body like that ever again and going as a 35 year old would certainly not be any easier than going as a 14 year old.

The only thing that helped me, was thinking about how much good it was for me as a youth, and I hoped it would be the same for the youth of my stake. I was going to go....for the kids. But then I realized that the "kids" were 14-18 years old, and I got scared...really scared. What if these kids had rotten attitudes and refused to help? What if they mocked me? How do you treat 14-18 year olds? Try too hard and you're annoying them, don't try hard enough and you're boring them. I had a million and ten reasons to hate every idea about doing this trek. But I went and tried my best to put on a happy face and a good attitude, remembering my own dear leaders encouraging me as a 14 year old to endure, learn from, and love the experience.

The morning of the trek came and while we were still fresh and clean, we posed for a few photos. The Ma's and Pa's from Rose Park Ward.

The entire group from our ward that went.

We met up with the rest of our stake and were assigned our trek families. Then away we went. None of us knew each other and we had 3 full days of hard work and nothing but time to change that. Almost immediately I knew that I had been given THE BEST kids in my family. I honestly can not say enough about my kids. I grew to love them beyond what I thought was even possible. Hard working, polite, obedient, respectful; just amazing kids. Truly an answer to my prayers.

My girls.

My boys.

We walked,

and walked,

stopped for a quick water break,

Hellooooo!

and walked some more. Love this shot. I call it "For Some Must Push and Some Must Pull." The first day we did just over 9 miles. The pioneers averaged 15-20 miles a day and sometimes more. We were exhausted by the end of the first day. The kids were begging to go to bed. Of course, after dinner they managed to find their second winds.

The second day was shorter mileage wise (only about 6), but WAY more intense. I don't even have a single picture from that day because we were all constantly working. (Not too worry, there was a professional photographer there, documenting the entire thing. We'll get those photos in September.) The terrain was either uphill or downhill, and we had to constantly dodge cow pies. We went through 5 gallons of water for 11 people in about 3 hours. We were sweating buckets.

There was also a "women's pull" this day. They took our men from us, reminding us that many women crossed the plains alone. Their men died, or were asked to help with the Mormon Battalion. The hill they chose for the women to do was the hardest hill yet. I can not tell you how VERY grateful I was for the strong group of girls I had. They were tiny little things, but they were all such hard workers. The put their shoulders to the wheel and got our handcart to the top of the hill. I dry heaved when we got to the top, that's how tough it was. Either that, or I'm REALLY out of shape, but I'm going to stick with the tough thing. It was awesome to see how much the girls appreciated the boys when we got to have them back. And I dare say, those men had some serious respect for the girls.

I LOVE this shot of James and the family flag all signed with our names after our 3 day journey. It just kind of sums everything up. Hard work, love, appreciation, and growth.

I'm not going to lie, it was hard and intense and there were ticks EVERYWHERE (and you all know how I feel about ticks), but this trek was such a great experience. I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of it. I know the kids each learned so much and took home many life changing lessons, as did I. Our pioneer ancestors sacrificed much, and suffered greatly so that we can believe and live as we do. Nothing will give you greater respect for their trials than reliving them in a small way.

6 comments:

Deanna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and writing about this!!! I didn't get to go as a youth, and have always wanted to go. I am secretly jealous of you... LOL!

But because of the ticks or the physical labor. :)

Brandon and Emily said...

Wow! God bless you and Jarom! What a experience. You guys make such a cute pioneer couple.

becky ward said...

i'm with emily! WOW! what an experience. thanks for sharing. and thank goodness there was so rain or lightening! (;

Elena's Mom said...

Glad you got to see both sides of a trek.

Brenda said...

I remember that trek when we were 14 years old. My dad was there and claims it was the grouchiest he had ever seen me:( Glad you survived the second trek..and I am LOVING the bunny fashion show. What cute and creative kiddos you have:)

Willy Happy Mama said...

You are AWESOME! I'm proud of you! You have impacted those kids for life in positive ways. Liz loved her experience and I only hear postitive things from everyone just like you. Yes, it was hard but so worth the experience. It shapes us for sure!