Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blessed, Honored Pioneer

The Mormon Pioneer story is a story that is filled with faith, persecution, hope, trials, triumph, tears, and of course, lots of walking. It is sometimes hard to hear the stories about the trials but it is uplifting to know the results of those trials that were endured well. It is important to learn from history, not only the pioneer history, but all history. It is important to teach our children stories from history so they can learn from the trials and triumphs of others. The first weekend in June, we had the great opportunity to participate in a short reenactment of what some of the Handcart Pioneers experienced.

There were over 70,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that made their way west starting in 1856. The first wagon train entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847. Later, there were several members of the church that came all the way from England and other places in western Europe. It was an expensive journey so the leaders were inspired to provide a less expensive way to make the overland journey. Instead of using oxen and wagons they started building mini-wagons, or handcarts, and using people power, they were able to get to Salt Lake City using fewer resources. They did, however, need to walk every step of the 1,300 miles!

Our journey started in January. It was announced that the youth would be participating in a "trek" this year at Martin's Cove and there was a need for adult volunteers to be "Ma & Pa" over small groups of kids. Only the youth between the ages of 14-18 are allowed to participate. All three of our boys happen to fall between those ages. Jim and I had the opportunity to trek at that sacred place about nine years ago so when I heard the announcement I immediately thought, "Wow! Our whole family can all go on trek together!" Later I found out that Jim's first thought was, "Wow! All three of the boys will be gone on the same weekend! I wonder what Aimee and I will do?" It didn't take much to talk Jim into going.

We went through our "Ma & Pa" training. We started purchasing any equipment we were in need of. I made myself an authentic pioneer dress, apron and bonnet. About a week before it was time to leave we started gathering our equipment. Everyone was allowed to pack 17lbs. of clothing and personal items (not including bedding and tents) that would be pulled on out handcarts. I taped the checklists to the wall and put each of our buckets under the lists. Because we were "Ma & Pa", Jim and I were allowed/required to pack more gear. There were things we would need to help our "family" along the way.

This is what my living room looked like for about a week

There were almost 500 people that were heading up to Wyoming. Our journey started at 5am. The kids were excited and quite wild on the bus ride. Eventually, and after two stops, we made it up to our destination. Our gear was waiting for us (it was trucked up the night before). We found our cart and gathered our "family" and we were off...

This is our "trek family". These were the great kids we got to look after for the three days we were walking in the footsteps of previous faithful pioneers.

On the second day we were able to gather our real family together for a picture just before we made the walk into the cove. Notice our rain gear and ponchos. It was quite stormy and we got really wet that weekend!

Just before we made our way into Martin's Cove, we were treated to a well planned devotional. We listened to music that set the tone. We were told stories of why this place is sacred and why those pioneers willingly endured the hardships for what they knew to be true.

I love that place! I am so glad we went even though we had lots of rain, wet equipment, micro-burst thunderstorms and lots of mud. I am grateful for my husband and his knowledge of how to stay safe, warm and dry in any conditions. But most of all, and especially on Pioneer Day, I am thankful that pioneers did what they did. Weather they came across the plains in wagons, handcarts or they are like my parents and welcomed the missionaries into their home to hear the message of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They are an inspiration to me. They remind me that it is always best to stand up for truth and righteousness no matter what it might do to your immediate situation. It the long run it is always best to do what's right. God promises us that if we do what is right he will support us.

Even during the clean up process...

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