Last week our Stake Youth Conference was a Pioneer Trek through the mountains.
About 4 months ago, Glenn and I were interviewed by the Stake Presidency and asked to be a "Ma and Pa" couple. Right after that, Glenn injured his knee and had surgery. We were praying that he would be well enough to go, and our prayers were answered!
The night before the trek, we gathered at the Stake center and met our 9 kids! We had 5 boys and 4 girls. They were amazing and so much fun! We made our family banner and created a family yell.
The next morning we set out for the hills! When we got there, we set up our handcarts and had a re-enactment of Joseph being tarred and feathered. Then Brother Brigham announced our journey and we took off!
We hike about 4 miles and then stopped for lunch. After we ate, we hiked another 3 to 4 miles and stopped for the day. We camped at a farm on the ground. This night was my favorite! We had our family devotional. It was so beautiful. We all sang beautiful hymns together and many of us teared up during the songs. We all kept singing, hymn after hymn. Then Porter Rockwell came and talked to us for a while and told us all of his wonderful stories.
The next day we took off with the handcarts and went uphill for a long time. It was hard on one of our strongest boys because he had blisters all over his toes. But, like a true Pioneer, he carried on. This day was a challenge for me because the stake leaders wanted the kids to do what they wanted. Our boys were big and strong and wanted to prove themselves, so they literally ran the handcart up the hills. Their pace was too fast for me and some of the girls. I was constantly trying to catch up.
We were stopped by the wagon master and told that we had to cross a creek. We had to unpack the cart and carry it across the gorge. We all had to help each other. It was a great learning experience for all of our youth. They all worked together and helped each other even though it wasn't their cart.
Then we had a play about the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies.
We travelled on and stopped in a valley for lunch and pioneer activities. The kids learned so many things! They shot guns, arrows, made axes, chopped wood, and sawed logs. Glenn and I got to be in charge of the two beautiful Belgium horses, Marty and Mason. We taught the kids how to drive them. I got lots of exercise walking them up and down the hill dozens of times!
After that, we hiked on until we came to the top of this hill that overlooked the gorgeous valley. The girls got to sleep in rope bunks and the boys slept in wagons, pig pens, or out under the stars.
We ate a good dinner of BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn cake. Then we played pioneer games. Then the kids had a square dance! They all loved it! It was so much fun to watch them!
The next morning we packed our handcart for the last time and had a meeting. I was dreading this time. The men were called to war. I started to cry. I wasn't crying because of the emotional moment, I was crying because of how scared I was to do the Women's Pull. You see, I had 4 girls with me. Two of the girl's were prone to exhaustion, and two of the girls had asthma. The day before I could not keep pace with the boys and I had never pulled the cart yet. I didn't know how I was going to do this, but I also knew that I couldn't abandon my girls. Rebecca Chase (a Mia Maid from my ward) saw me crying under my bonnet and came and put her arm around me. She told me that we'd all help each other pull. Her beautiful offering struck my heart.
While the men left, we women had a couple of activities to do. We made dolls, embroidered, wrote letters, and made butter. I was still on the verge of tears at this point. As I was walking to the activities, a thought came to my mind: "Fear is the opposite of Faith." I stopped right there and prayed to my Heavenly Father for the strength I needed for the women's pull. I felt a calmness come over me. When the time came, I put on my gloves, climbed into the yoke of the handcart and pulled with my girls! It was amazing! We did the whole thing and all of us did it together! When we came to the huge hill that we had to do without the men, I was right there and did it. The Lord gave me the strength to do more than I could do on my own. It was such a testimony to me of faith.
Right after we did that hill, the men came down the mountainside to help us. The next leg of our journey was called Testimony Hill. It used to be called The Widowmaker! All of the families were mixed at this point because it was so difficult to maneuver. It was insanely steep. I could barely walk up it. I was useless to pull. But, the men and boys were awesome! Some of the boys were up and down that hill over and over. But, some of the kids overdid it and we had 5 kids end up in the hospital after that hill. I am surprised there were only 5.
After we all made it to the top, we enjoyed some watermelon. Pres. Young came and welcomed us to the valley. We hiked down the hill and enjoyed a bbq. The kids got letters from their parents and we unpacked our carts.
The experience was so amazing. I am so grateful I got to go! I loved my family and my only complaint is that I wished we could stay longer!!