I know this is kind of like a week late, but I just read this article and then I read part two. As I read these articles, I was reminded of my own experiences on trek and how they have strengthened my life and testimony.
trek was hard.
It was hot and dusty. There weren't a lot of breaks. My feet were killing me (although I didn't get one blister!). The food was... interesting. And by the end I was so sick of yellow Gatorade if I was given another cup of it, I might have dumped it on the ground (okay, so I would have drank it because I was ALWAYS thirsty... but you catch my drift)
like I said earlier, trek was hard.
The first day we were assigned into our families. I was in the Felix family and couldn't have asked for a better Ma and Pa. In the beginning it seemed easy. But then we started to pull our handcarts through the hot sands of the wash. It was incredibly hot, but we still pulled. When we finally got to the stopping point, we set our handcarts down only to be told that we couldn't stay there for the night. So, we packed up our carts and headed out again. We walked for what seemed like days. I thought my Dad (my real Dad, my parents were in charge in 2008 as well) was trying to kill us. We had been walking all day long and it was hot and the sun was starting to go down and we still hadn't started on dinner. I was tired and hungry and getting restless. When we finally got to camp, we unloaded our carts and started the preparations for dinner. I was so ready to eat some good food and refill my energy.
And then they gave us soup.
Needless to say, I was not filled. But, we had talked about not complaining and so I did my best.
Day two... On day two we didn't walk as far... during the day. At lunch time we got to play pioneer games and eat watermelon! I wasn't supposed to play the games because the week before I had gotten myself into a pretty gnarly accident and was banned from fun physical activity. But I enjoyed watching my friends play the stick pull game and the balance on the bucket game and whenever my Ma or Mom wasn't looking, I would join in on the fun. After lunch we packed up our handcarts and headed off again. We came over this little hill that took a little more effort than most, only to see a bigger hill just ahead. We pulled our handcarts off of the path and then gathered into a meadow thing. And then the Mormon Batallion came. And they took our men from us. We, the women, were told by the Trail Boss (my Dad) that we needed to keep pulling. We weren't done for the night. If we were going to be on schedule we needed to keep going. And that meant pulling up that big hill by ourselves. I started to cry. I knew that the girls in my family could do it, but I also knew it was going to be extremely difficult. We said goodbye to the boys in our family and then we waited. We watched them all leave and disappear into the night. Our Stake President's wife gave a talk and told us how strong we as women are and how we would be able to do this. And then we picked up our handcarts and started on our way again. After walking for a while we got to a harder part of the hill. I looked up and saw all of the boys and men standing alongside the trail-- watching us struggle. Some were crying, some couldn't even watch, and some tried to hide their emotions. Little did we (the girls) know that the boys had been told that they were not allowed to help us in this time of struggle. They were told to watch. After we passed the boys, they caught up to us and walked alongside us, encouraging us to press forward and to keep moving. A little bit later, the boys were told they could finally help us again. And then I don't remember having to pull at all the rest of that night. When we got to camp, we were physically and emotionally exhausted and hungry.
and then they gave us broth for dinner.
Well, at least that's what everyone else got. My family was the second to last family in the wagon train that day and the food people ran out of broth right before my family, so we got chili. It was a huge blessing!
The third day was probably my favorite day of trek. It has meant the most to me since then and I will never forget that day.
Day Three: Angel Hill
After the women's pull, we were feeling pretty close as a family and we felt like we could accomplish any hill. We were walking and pulling and singing and laughing and just enjoying ourselves. It was the hottest day and water was running low. There wasn't a lot of shade (and by wasn't a lot of shade, I mean there wasn't any shade), but we kept moving. Our Stake President rode by on his horse singing, "Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day..." like he had every other day... We had been told that we were going to be coming up to a big hill that day, but we weren't prepared for what was ahead. We pulled our handcarts up this big hill; the boys from the other families ran down after their families made it to the top to make sure everyone made it up this hill. We thought we had conquered the "big hill".
And then we looked up the trail.
The "big hill" we were told about wasn't a hill. It was a mountain. We watched as the water truck struggled to make it up that the side of the mountain-- the side we were going to not only be walking up, but pulling a handcart up. At that point, I knew there was no way we were going to make it up that hill alone. I thought for sure they were going to make us all push each handcart up the hill as a Stake. We sat on the side of an adjacent mountain just staring at the trial that was ahead. We had a short testimony meeting, but I wasn't able to focus on that because I was still trying to figure out how in the world we were going to get up that mountain. I thought for sure there was going to be a different path. There wasn't. After the testimony meeting, we were told that angels were going to help us make it up this mountain. That we were not on this path of life alone. We have angels all around us. (I'm not going to lie, I was pretty doubtful at this point. In my mind there was no way we were getting up that hill) But, we packed up our things and started on the trail again. At the base of the hill they stopped us again and told us to wait. We waited for what seemed like a really long time. And then the angels came. All of a sudden a crowd of white appeared at the top of the mountain and then they started to file down the sides of the mountain-- our Young Mens and Young Womens leaders, our parents, our Bishoprics, our teachers, and our coaches. They pulled us up the hill (literally, with a pulley system. It was pretty cool.). But I will never forget that moment that I saw them. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
The last day of trek seemed like it took FOREVER. We could see home almost the entire day, and yet, we were still pulling. But we made it home and when we got into town our families lined the streets with white handkerchiefs, popsicles, sodas, hoses, and more. It was great! We gathered into the Chapel and then noticed how badly we smelled. (They aired out the Chapel for about a week and it still smelled of smelly trek kids... And when my little cousin Marian hugged my Dad she said with a scrunched up nose, "Uncle Kenyon, you smell like stink!" hahaha. little kids. they rock.)
Trek was a great experience. I can't describe the feelings I have for trek, but I do know one thing. My ancestors were incredible. I only got a small glimpse of what they went through for the Gospel and for me. Yes, we walked 33 miles in the heat. We didn't have electricity or showers or any of the handy gadgets we have available. And we struggled a little bit. But we had good shoes, plenty of water, a medical crew just in case something went wrong; we knew everything was going to be okay in the end. But my ancestors didn't know that. They took a huge leap of faith with each step. They traveled over 1,300 miles in the harsh winter and in the blistering heat of summer. They gave up everything they owned in faith, only to have that same faith tried over and over again. Many of them lost family members along the way-- husbands, wives, and children. But because of their faith, courage, and endurance, I have been blessed. I was fortunate enough to grow up with the Gospel. I know this Gospel is the Gospel of Christ. And I know that if we endure to the end and move forward in faith, we will be blessed and because of our faith our posterity will be blessed.