Sunday, August 9, 2015

Our Trek Experience

I absolutely loved Trek! I feel so lucky to have gotten to go as a Ma and Pa with chad and two of our kids! The youth in our ward are truly incredible. I was impressed with everyone's willingness to pitch in and their amazing attitudes. Our group was definitely a group of workers!

We met at the church around 6:15 to start with a prayer and load up. We loaded the trailers up with all our goods the night before.

Then we met at Independence Rock for lunch, family assignments, flag decorating, and a quick devotional. Our Trek directors also passed out our amazing goody bags stuffed with journals, pens, lip gloss, bracelets, water bottles, and carabiners.

Then we drove to Martin's Cove and trekked to our camp grounds. Here is a pic of our first camp ground.

This was truly an experience to remember. Our directors did a fantastic job organizing our Trek. I was really pleased with the format they chose. With the help of the missionaries and all the planning with devotionals and spiritual thoughts it was just amazing! We were able to visit Martin's Cove, Sixth Crossing, & Rock Creek Hollow. Many of the experiences we had are sacred to me and will be burned in my heart forever. I imagine this will be one of the experiences the Youth will remember till the day they die. I know I will. Some of the more memorable experiences for me were the river crossings, the women's pull, Jens and Elsie's story, Martin's Cove, and Rock Creek Hollow.

The River Crossings

By this time of year (Aug) the water wasn't very deep at all, it was warm outside, but man the water was cold. I can't even imagine doing this in Oct, in below freezing temperatures.

By the time the saints reached Sixth Crossing they were low on rations eating anything they could, bark, leaves, and raw hide. Shortly after completing the crossing a blizzard struck and many of the members suffered from frostbite and hypothermia after wading through the frigid waters. I can't express how touched I was by their faithfulness, courage, and fortitude. The stories of the rescuers were also quite moving.

The Women's Pull:

During the Women's Pull (we had a group of exceptional girls) the leaders were instructed to pull against the cart. I found this to be extremely hard! My group of girls were so amazing. They sized the hill up and said "We got this". Their spirit was unconquerable. I was wondering what insights I might gain doing the women's pull. I expected a camaraderie with the girls and an appreciation for the women who lost their husbands and sons, but what I wasn't expecting was an insight into how our Heavenly Father must have felt. These were his beloved faithful saints. When I was asked to pull against the cart, I thought, how can I do this? All I want to do is make their path smooth, I want to provide for and protect these girls. Especially after I saw how incredible their spirits were. How could I do anything to crush that? I imagined how Heavenly Father must have felt, how hard it must have been to watch the saints suffer, but I came to know as He did that It was for their growth. I love my girls!

Jens and Elsie's story:

Chad and I got to reenact Jens and Elsie's Story. This experience is sacred to me. Jens' foot had become frozen at a right angle. He was crippled and hobbling. They had lost their little boy and a little girl they had brought over for a friend. Jens reached the point where he felt like he could no longer make it. He thought he was slowing Elsie down and told her to go on without him. Elsie told him she would not leave him, that she would push him to Zion. She loaded him up into the cart and pushed the cart by herself. The thought that came to me during this experience was that there must have been a time in each of those pioneer's journey that they felt alone as if they had no one else to turn to. I was reminded of the savior on the cross when he asked "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" I believe the saints went through what they did so that they could better understand their savior, and the sacrifices they made to "come unto Christ".

Martin's Cove:

"For five days and nights the cove was the best refuge they could find from the storm. They huddled in tents and clustered around fires to try to keep warm. Although the cove offered some protection, a raging wind flattened many tents the first night. With the temperature dropping to 11 degrees below zero, the cold penetrated to the core. With little to eat, people were drained of the stamina and will needed to succor life. Deaths added up as the cold and lack of food took their toll." - Taken from Selected Handcart Stories for Youth Treks.

Here we got to hike up into the stillness of the cove. Our bishop did a devotional and talked about his own pioneer heritage. As we hiked into the cove, the missionaries had us separate and walk in single file. My daughter Madelaine happened to be just in front of Chad and I who were walking together. As I saw her take off ahead of us my heart just about broke. I knew that there were girls her age who lost parents who had to carry on the journey and walk on taking care of younger siblings. It broke my heart to think of Madelaine having that type of burden placed on her, and again the idea hit me that at some point on their journey every saint must have felt alone save for their Savior and Father in Heaven.

Rock Creek Hollow:

Rock Creek Hollow was probably one of the most touching sites. Here 13 members died in one night.  2 of the strongest men dug their grave. They were dead before the company left camp the next day. I've often thought why the saints had to go through such trials. That winter was one of the worst. Surely the Lord could have lightened their loads, cleared their paths, and calmed their storms. I've felt impressed that the reason why the saints must have suffered so much was because the saints needed to be perfected. As we were on Trek, I kept asking my self, "So what does this mean for me, What does their sacrifice mean to me? Why did they have to sacrifice so much?" By the end of Trek at Rock Creek Hollow I realized that not only was their suffering so that they could be perfected, but also, so that the saints, today's saints could be perfected. I'm positive that before Christ comes again his people will have to undergo their own set of trials, but as I imagined the thousands of people that have passed through these sacred sites and the thousands that will continue to do so, I thought of the memories and impressions burned into my own heart and realized that their suffering was so much bigger than themselves. Their trials will serve to strengthen, enlighten, and perfect God's people of every age.

We also had our Testimony Meeting there which was wonderful.

I can't express my gratitude for being given this opportunity to go on Trek. It was the most wonderful experience! I would highly recommend it.

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