Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!!

Our stake youth just got back from a Pioneer Trek to Martin's Cove. Thinking about Pioneer Day over the weekend and then hearing the testimonies of a couple of the ward youth today in Sacrament meeting got me thinking.

I don't know how most people feel but when I graduated from high school I was done with Young Women's. Although I still felt very out of place in Relief Society. Our ward was doing a Trek that August and had asked me to go several times, but I just didn't want to. I wasn't a "youth" anymore, but I wasn't one of the adults either. My brothers were still in young men's and would be going on the Trek. My dad was going as a leader. Mom was staying home with the little girls who were still just 3 1/2 and 5. And mom made me go.

I complained and complained and complained. I wanted to stay home and work and hang out with my friends and figure out who I was. But I still lived at home which meant that Mom and Dad still had the final say in my life. I am SO grateful that they did!!

I don't think I ever recorded my experiences from the Trek. I have a dvd with clips and music of the whole thing, but I never sat and wrote down my personal experiences. Unfortunately, it's seven years later and I don't remember all the details. I couldn't even tell you where we went or how many miles we walked.

What I do remember is having a wasp (or bee or hornet or yellow jacket...whichever one it was) fly up my bloomers the first evening. I started dancing around to get it out and one of my leaders started swatting at my behind with a rolled up paper of some kind. This angered the bug and it consequently bit or stung me in the rear 6 times before the leader grabbed my pants and yanked them to my ankles. (This story is, sadly, not one bit exaggerated).

On the second day of the Trek, we passed a creek. It was hot. We were sweaty. The water was cold and refreshing. We stood barefoot in the river and splashed our faces. It was heaven. Some boys standing on the riverbank opposite me started to throw rocks into the river to splash a girl near me and myself. We threw rocks back. All in good fun. Until...I slipped in a mossy rock. I grabbed the girl next to me for balance to avoid falling in face first. It worked. Only I ended up smashing my face into the rock she was holding. It hurt. A lot. I didn't cry. Until...I spit half of my front tooth out into my hand. I ran to my dad crying that my mile was ruined. I had been asked so many times over the years if I had worn braces. I hadn't. I was proud of my teeth. I spent the rest of the Trek with a hillbilly smile. And a terribly sensitive exposed nerve. Ouch. Minutes after it happened one of the men on the Trek (namely Steve Shrader) found a deer skull with the same front tooth missing. He held it up to my face to make "funny" comparisons. In the moment, it was not so funny. Another man commented (these were LEADERS, not boys!) that I shouldn't worry. If no one would marry me I could always just serve a mission! This seriously offended the sisters standing nearby who HAD served missions. :) I waited a good four days to get that tooth fixed. You can still see the ugly crack down the middle. Yuck.

Each "family" (we were assigned a male and female leader, a "Ma" and "Pa" who were the older ones like me, and two children per handcart, if I remember correctly) was given a flour sack baby at the beginning of the Trek. After a couple of days, ours burst along the trail. We buried our "baby" and held a graveside service. At the end of the Trek a prize was given to the baby who was kept in the best condition. We joked and argued that the pioneers could have done their absolute best with their children and still lost them along the way. We had had a real pioneer experience and should be considered for the prize!! It didn't work. But our funeral service was caught on video. It's pretty funny.

I remember crossing a river. With 6-8 of us pushing and pulling a loaded handcart through the water and stones, we couldn't make it. So we all (the older and stronger "pioneers") pulled together until one cart was across the river and then we turned around and worked on the next handcart. It was hard work. It was time consuming. But we felt so united. United to each other as we served alongside one another, and united with our ancestors who had blazed this incredible difficult trail for us.

Another day two uniformed men rode up to us on horseback. I remember Brother Thurgood calling himself Colonel Focker. Ha ha ha ha!! Everyone gasped and we all laughed. They called away all the "men" to fight in some battle or war. (These are the details I can't remember). We joked and laughed and waved a sad goodbye to our "Pas" and "Brothers" as they went off the fight. When the boys were gone, we girls and women were left to pull the handcarts. It was a little harder but no huge deal. Until we saw the mountain ahead of us we had to climb. Again, we worked together to push and pull one handcart at a time up that hill with a reverence for those women who had gone before us. Those incredible women. Soon after we began our bishopric arrived. They symbolized the help those women received from beyond the veil. We worked quietly, with tears streaming until each handcart was up the mountain. Later that night the boys and men returned and spoke of their experience watching us reverently from a distance, unable to help.

I don't remember much else from the Trek. There was a testimony meeting. We received letters from home. We cooked out own meals. We laughed and cried and gained an appreciation for the sacrifices made on our behalf by these courageous men and women.

What I thought over and over again today was what a shame it was that I wasn't recording these kinds of experiences for my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. I keep this blog and record all kinds of silly other things. But the truth is, I don't usually record things that are worth recording. The same can be said looking back at my junior high and high school journals. So today I'm recording what I can remember of a worthwhile experience and setting a personal goal to record these more often so that I can return and remember the feelings that I had that are truly worth remembering.

Hopefully I'll find time in the upcoming weeks to record some other experiences that I should have recorded years ago. My experiences at Nauvoo and in Palmyra New York. The day my family was sealed for time and eternity in the Mount Timanogas Temple. The incredible things I've learned through the spirit in the previous days and weeks and months and years in quiet moments of study and prayer. Unlike what I think of a popular tv show or what I've eaten that week, those are things worth recording and remembering.


r said...

Excellent post!! I laughed so hard at the antics of Bros. Shrader and Thurgood! Sounds like a wonderful experience (for the most part). I also never think to write about the more meaningful things in life. Thanks for the reminder :)

aubrey said...

Oh man, I completely forgot about this! How funny. It was a funny trip, I'm glad you remembered so many details, much better than I would have done :)

M&M Kemp's said...

What a great...yet crazy experience...reading it brought back a lot of memories for me too! I'm not sure I would have lasted much longer after the tooth...and bee and everything else! It sure made me laugh...But what a legacy left behind by the pioneers...I too am grateful for the treck made...and the freedoms I enjoy because.

linda said...

I am very thankful for what the pioneers sacraficed. Can't imagine doing what they did.
Blogs are the best journals. It's easier for me to blog than write in my journal.

Megan said...

Good for you for going. I remember Sister Twiggs asking me to go repeatedly, and I honestly didn't really consider it. Oh well. And I hope my dad wasn't one of those "insensitive" men. :)

Jason & Kelli West said...

i am so sorry you had such a non good week! i love you though, and hope that this next week gets better. I always love how open and honest you are on your blog. you always put yourself comepletely out there and i admire that. I really do hope a week like that doesn't happen for another year atleast (or non at all-but we all know how life can get)! stay strong!!