Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thoughts from the Trek

My favorite part of the trek was preparing for it. I loved attending all the trek firesides and learning more about the pioneers. From all the stories, the thing that impressed me most was that the pioneers were real people that had the same feelings as we do today. They may have spoken and dressed differently but they still feared others’ opinions of them, they still placed a high value on their worldly possessions and comforts, yet they were willing to face persecution, poverty and even death in order to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ.

In preparing for the trek a story in The Book of Mormon stood out to me. In an attempt to call the people of Zarahemla to repentance, the prophet Alma asks “. . . you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?” (Alma 5:6) The same can be asked of us about the pioneers. We are asked to remember their sacrifices so as to keep us humble and encourage us to repent and come unto to Christ.

Alma 5:7 “Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
8 “And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay they were not.

9 “And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.”

The Lord did great things for our pioneer ancestors and continues to do great things for us.

While on the trek, we hiked to the entrance of Martin’s Cove where we left our handcarts and ate a snack before trekking in. While we ate, trek organizers passed out envelopes to each family containing name tags with names of real pioneers along with their story. We wore the names as we went through the cove. After returning we ate lunch, then loaded up our handcarts and moved on to our next destination, the Sweet Water River Crossing Monument. As we were walking, I turned around to find that Mark and Ivy were gone. I couldn’t see them anywhere. Another woman with my handcart explained that one of the organizers had taken Mark and Ivy because the pioneers they represented had died on their journey to Zion. I was heartbroken! They were taken without warning, and although I knew they were not really gone, I missed them and my heart ached for those pioneers who lost their loved ones – often without warning – to that terrible thing called death. A friend of mine also lost her husband and was left to carry their daughter alone. We sat next to each other during the devotional and cried as we felt each other’s pain, for we knew we had experienced the tiniest taste of what the pioneers experienced. After the devotional we pressed on, but as I looked back in the distance I could see all of those who had been taken, following along behind the last handcart and I imagined the spirits of those deceased pioneers silently walking alongside as their families pressed on, anxious for their welfare and supporting them in their trials.

We were soon reunited with our lost family members as we prepared to cross the Sweet Water River. But later the men were once again taken from us, this time to the U.S. Military to serve in the Mormon Battalion. As I explained to Millie that her father had been called to war, my heart went out, not only to the pioneers, but to all those families who are parted from a loved one to military service – never knowing the outcome of their absence. A trial I hope I will never really have to face.

So with Ivy on my back and Millie crying in the handcart for me to hold her, I helped push our cart up the amazingly steep and sandy hill known as the women’s pull. We were the last cart and observed that speed was our friend in keeping the cart moving forward. We raced up the hill, but slowed quickly as our feet and carts sunk in the sand. To our amazement the women from the first handcarts, knowing our plight from experience, dropped their own carts and in the true spirit of the Relief Society, ran down the hill to help ease our burden, pushing until our cart finally reached the top. The men watched silently in appreciation of the women in their lives – some crying or holding back tears. Emotions were high from the intensity of the experience, and I too wanted to cry. Mark put Ivy on his own back once more and stroked my arm and back as we listened to the medley of “As Sisters In Zion / We Are As the Armies of Helaman” play. I felt as though he had gained a new appreciation for me, and I had gained a new appreciation for the women of my ward. We must learn from the experiences of others and helped those who come after us. And even when we feel all alone, the Savior is always there to help us.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity this experience gave me to gain these insights. The pioneers are not so different from us. We are all brothers and sisters and children of God. We all have our challenges – we aren’t asked to give up everything like the early saints, we’re only asked to hold true to our baptismal and temple covenants and endure to the end and I know that if we do this we will be blessed with Eternal Life. Remembering the pioneers will help us do that. This is my testimony.

Friday, June 26, 2009

For Some Must Push and Some Must Pull

We survived the trek! It was no picnic, but we made the most of it, and I'm glad we went.
The first night was the worst with two bawling babies. Mark had to get out of the tent with Ivy at 2 a.m. to get her to stop crying, meanwhile I'm sure she woke up half the campground. The next two nights we gave the girls Benedryl (for their mosquito bites of course) and put Ivy in a snow suit so she wouldn't get cold, and we all slept much, much better. Oh, and I wasn't entirely joking about the mosquito bites. I took inventory of how many bites Millie brought home . . . a whopping 49 bites! Poor thing! I'm sure I have a good 30 or so. Mark and Ivy must have the same blood, the mosquitoes bit them but they didn't react with an itchy breakout. I am so very very jealous.
Moving on, here we are in our ultra-attractive pioneer attire, complete with sunglasses and running shoes.
At first Millie enjoyed riding in the handcart, but it got old and she insisted that I carry her, well that wasn't going to fly. I told her she could walk or ride in the cart, but all she could say was, "Hold me, hold me." So . . . I held her hand as she walked for a mile, crying the entire time, "Hold me, hold me." Such a mean mom, I know. She was much happier after we met up with grandma and grandpa (Mark's parent's came as organizers, so they drove from place to place) and ate some snacks. No handcarts are taken into Martin's Cove so we all took turns occasionally carrying Millie. (I just wasn't going to carry her when a handcart was an option!)
At one point during that longest day of hiking (7+ miles), all the men were called to fight with the Mormon Battalion and the women were left to pull/push the handcarts up this amazingly steep and sandy hill called the women's pull. So I had Ivy on my back and Millie crying in the handcart as I helped push the cart up the hill. It was pretty intense. (You can see all the men walking up the hill behind me.)
Luckily, Mark carried Ivy for most of the trip. We were so blessed to get this backpack from a friend in our ward the day before we left. We had planned to use an old school one we inherited some years ago, but this one was much nicer. Complete with canopy and detachable backpack. Unfortunately I now associate the backpack with a certain rodent. . . . As I pulled my jacket out of it one morning a little mouse came out along with it! So gross. I'm told I jumped 5 feet off the ground. We had left the backpack outside our tent overnight and the zipper must have been left slightly open. It still gives me nightmares.
All-in-all, Ivy won the happy camper award. She took many-a-nap in that backpack. It was really hot and I think it just wiped her out. What a trooper, can't say the same about Millie, but she had her good girl "moments."
We are all glad to be home, and are eternally grateful to the pioneers who made our many blessings possible.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We're heading to Wyoming on Monday to visit Martin's Cove and the like with our ward. We will be there for four days. I am excited for the experience even though I know I will be crying every time they tell a pioneer story. The only thing I am not looking forward to is the "tenting" as Millie calls it. I don't especially enjoy sleeping in a tent, but I'd rather sleep in a tent than NOT sleep. I'm afraid the girls will keep me up all night. Only time will tell. And no matter how bad it gets I know it will be no where near as bad as our ancestors had it!
Anyway, I am very proud of myself for sewing! I made 95% of Millie's dress (I needed a little help) and 100% of the apron. My kind mother-in-law made the pantaloons and bonnet.
We have to pack our things in buckets, so for family home evening we decorated them with random stuff I could find (I'm not a scrapbooker so our options were very limited), but it was fun.
And this photo has nothing to do with the trek but I just loved Ivy's messy face. Look at those pink lips!
And Millie has learned how to take a self portrait . . . sort of.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Breaking the Bank

. . . the piggy bank that is. After only 6 months of collecting, Ivy smashed her piggy bank to bits (regardless of the fact that it had an easy-to-remove plug under its belly). I guess she really wanted to go shopping!
Actually I'm the one to blame. I let her play with it on the ground while I took a shower and later moved it up on a chair to get it out of the way. She eventually found and knocked it off onto the tile floor. Sorry Barbara, it was such a cute piggy too. Unfortunately it's not the first fragile item to shatter on that floor!
Sweet Ivy. I just love this knit hat my mom sent to her.
After I took pictures of the broken piggy (that was totally staged btw, I misplaced my camera the day it broke and couldn't take a picture right away) Millie took advantage of the camera in the bathroom and started snapping away. Here are some of my favorite shots of the bath tub: