Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday thoughts


The youth in our ward, and many adults, returned home from our stake Pioneer Trek last night. Today's sacrament meeting was dedicated to Trek, with 3 youth speakers, 2 musical numbers, and 1 adult speaker.

As a parent of one of the trekkers, I was really glad to hear more about the experience, from several different perspectives. Maybe it's because I hadn't had a whole lot of time to talk to Max about it, but I was feeling like I didn't have a good grasp of what they had done and felt, and today changed all that.

They had pouring rain, howling winds that ripped tents and broke tent poles, and even hail. (Max didn't sleep the last night because his sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow, and clothes were soaked through.)

One young man divulged how grateful he was to come home and have a couch.

President Kimball said, "The comforts we enjoy today were bought at a terrible price. Sacrifice has always been essential in the gospel of Jesus Christ."

I learned that each family on the trek was assigned a "baby," which was really a swaddled sack of rice with a face and name. One young woman in each family was chosen to be the baby's mother, and at the end of the trek, the families learned whether or not their babies survived the journey. Surprisingly, they became very attached to their bag of rice babies, and were devastated if they perished. I would never have predicted that.

At one point, they got to a substantial hill. To honor all of the pioneer women who became widowed and fatherless during their journey, all of the men and young men climbed the hill and then removed their hats and watched quietly as the women and girls pushed the handcarts up the hill. I asked Max about this later and he confirmed that it was hard to watch them struggling and not go to lend a hand. According to a non-LDS man who researched the Martin & Willie Handcart companies, "their women were amazing." Amen.

The man who spoke was there as a support person. He related his experience of crossing the Sweetwater River. The current was so strong that his wife lost her footing. He held her with one arm and held to the rope with the other. She kept encouraging him and telling him that if anyone would save her in this life, she knew it would be him. He carried her across the river with tears in his eyes, recounting all of his blessings. He told us that he is 52 years old, and he went to the front and back of the line of trekkers probably a dozen times, checking to see if people were drinking, wearing sunscreen, and just generally holding up okay. He said he had never had more energy in his life.

We knew that my maternal grandfather's grandmother had crossed the plains with the Willie Handcart Company when she was 2 years old and that her name was Sarah Hurren. Max learned that her father, James, was the strongest man in the company. He never got sick, and he was able to carry extra bags of flour or young children who were ill or exhausted because of his great strength. Pretty cool to learn that about my great-great-great-grandfather. I got a glimmer of the excitement that so many people find in doing genealogy work.

Everyone in our ward who had participated in the trek were invited to go up and sing, and it looked like more than half the ward was on the stand! They sang Come, Come Ye Saints, and an original song one of our ward members wrote for the trek:

The Fire of the Covenant

There was a sound rising high above the plains;
Gentle voices were singing songs of praise.
And there were prayers carried forth upon the wind;
With nothing left, they still kept their faith in Him.
Their hope was brighter than the fire of cruel and angry men;
Their love was deeper than the snow and stronger than the wind.

The fire of the covenant they made burned in their hearts like a flame,
Unwavering, unquenchable, undimmed by the night,
The fire of the covenant burned bright.

There was a shout heard above the bitter storm
From faithful saints who had come to take them home
Where they would build up a place of peace and love
And raise a temple to bind our souls as one.
The storms will come and sin will rage and enemies deride.
Hold on thy way, be not afraid, for God is on thy side.

We are the youth of the great and final days
Armed with truth and a legacy of faith.
And we will rise up and shine the light He gives,
And with the saints, we will testify: He lives, He lives.

The fire of the covenants we made burn in our hearts like a flame,
Unwavering, unquenchable, undimmed by the night,
The fire of the covenant burns bright, burns bright.
We'll keep the fire burning bright.


I am just so glad that Max was able to participate. We were told that because our youth have been strengthened, our families will be strengthened. Such a beautiful promise.

This was the first time I've been to sacrament meeting in 4 weeks, and I am oh so glad I didn't miss it.

12 comments:

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I'm so glad it was such a great experience for your ward Michelle. David O. McKay once said that the activity of a ward is commensurate with the activity of the youth. I believe it and am glad Max got to be a part of it.

Jill said...

What a great experience for all who got to go! I'm sure they were humbled by the crazy weather and all they experienced.

I have heard before that the part where the women have to make it up the hill alone is one of the most amazing parts of trek.

How wonderful to find out that you come from good, strong Pioneer stock!

Rachel Bagley Wurtz said...

a nice reminder how truly blessed we are, even amidst our struggles.

Paula said...

I've heard that these treks are truely memorable. Thanks for sharing your version. Happy to hear that you are feeling better :)

amyfm said...

i love the promise.

I didn't get to go to trek as a youth, but when I went as an adult I kept thinking about my girls and hoped they would get the chance to participate. It's such a great testimony building experience.

Marie said...

I loved Trek as a teenager, but our Stake doesn't do it anymore. Now they do Moroni's Quest and it is a Book of Mormon themed outing. I've heard good things about it, but I've never gone.

patsy said...

I am SO glad you didn't miss this meeting!

My husband was the trail boss & then the stake YM's president for the past two Treks. Trek is such a great experience for everyone. I love it! My kids have been richly rewarded for going to trek-- including--- the cutest guy in H.S. was in hailey's family last summer & therefore-- they were friends all year this past school year (he a senior- her a sophomore.) He would say hi to her in the hall & all her friends would just about pass out! Then when she started having seizures.. it was he who would stay with her a lot of the time- what a great kid! They are true friends & what a blessing for a sophomore girl with anxiety!!
anyhow- i just had to share this story with you. I hope Max experiences hidden blessing from his trek experience :)

patsy said...

I hope that didn't seem like a silly example, but it really was a big deal to a 16 year old girl!

Claudissima said...

Wow...what an experience. I had the opportunity to go as a teenager, and that was sooo coool and hard, I specially remember the one part of pulling the cart by just the girls!!! and a wheel ran over my foot....I got to rest a bit....fur it left a scar....did you know that on your dad's side we had NORMAN TAYLOR he came with Brigham Young as a his second man...he is on the plate (here is the place) with a little star next to his name. He was my mom's great grandfather, making that your dad one generation more great great grand father....

Susan said...

I'm so sure that this is a life-changing experience that won't be forgotten. I'm so proud that Max went.

I am always awed by the stories of our great grandparents as well. I didn't know the story of James! I just posted a tribute to my father tonight, and I'm pretty sure that James and Grandpa came from the same mold! Endurance and hard work...great family traits!

Thanks for the post.

rebekah said...

My sisters went on a trek with our ward, but I never had the opportunity to. A trek, in my mind, is the perfect faith building activity for teenage youth. Not only are they taught, but they are able to work and prove to themselves their own capabilities. I think that's the key to leading the youth. They blossom so much when they are shown how much ability and possibility they have within themselves.

rebekah said...

Oh no, my previous comment didn't post...:(

Well, I'm glad that Max had this opportunity! I am envious of the experience. I never felt close to the pioneers before, but in the last two or three years I have wanted to learn more and more about them. What an astonishing, steadfast, sacrificing, and faithful group of saints they were. It's wonderful that these youth treks really try to give the kids a strong sense of not only what happened to the pioneers, but the spiritual struggled and mighty triumphs that they experienced.

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