Geoff and I were asked several months ago if we would be willing to be a Ma and Pa for a made-up family of 8 teenagers (ages 14 – 18) and be a part of a pioneer handcart trek reenactment.
Yesterday we boarded buses with 250+ people to a very remote area in eastern Oregon where we will be pulling handcarts for lots and lots of miles across a dry and arid desert.
You certainly don't have to watch the whole thing, but this YouTube video done by another group in California will give you an idea of what these pioneer treks are all about.
As I've prepared myself (pioneers clothes and water bottles aside) I've come to better understand the importance of remembering. It's easy to get caught up in the minutia of everyday life — especially at the pace it unfolds today. It takes intentional effort to slow down and remember and be grateful.
How about while I'm out walking this weekend, you take the challenge to pause and remember a grandparent or another ancestor (or even a religious or political leader) that worked and sacrificed to go somewhere or do something that has benefited your life. I don't think we give credit often enough to those that have gone before — I think we'll be blessed for simply remembering. If we then allow the awareness that ensues to strengthen our resolve in positive efforts and challenging tasks we will be more mindful of how we can have a pioneering influence on the next generation and generations after them.
I love these words, written by Gordon B. Hinckley. They are taken out of a much longer context, but I think you'll catch the meaning of them:
Remembering, in this case, is more than a mental exercise. Rather it implies an obligation, a call to action … we stand today as recipients of their [the pioneers] great effort. I hope we are thankful. I hope we carry in our hearts a deep sense of gratitude for all they have done for us … Our forebears laid a solid and marvelous foundation. Now ours is the great opportunity to build a superstructure, all fitly framed together with Christ as the chief cornerstone.
When it's all said and done, and I've survived this weekend. I can remember that I don't need to work and sacrifice in the way the pioneers did. I do need to follow in their footsteps of faith and prepare and develop myself and my children to make critical decisions and assume far-reaching opportunities that can influence the world for good.
I've got my writer's notebook with me, so hopefully I can capture some of the emotion I'm sure to experience. It might be wise to pray for me
(edited Monday, August 17th)
We made it. What a crazy and amazing experience.
Here we are before we left. Clark, Geoff, me, Chase and our adorable friend and neighbor, Britany.
We were each allowed to pack clothes and personal items not exceeding 17 lbs. in a 5 gallon bucket. We tied our sleeping bag to our bucket. It's truly amazing how little you can get by on when it comes right down to it. Lucky for us, food was provided (and porta potties too!) I'm still processing the whole experience, but the major take away for me, other than the fact that we really cannot begin to approximate or understand the sacrifice the pioneers made, is that when you work together you can accomplish great things and that when you have done something hard with a group of people, you feel absolutely connected to them — even if that hard thing only lasts 2 and half days.
It was so encouraging to see so many teenagers without their cell phones, banded together, working and pushing and pulling and then laughing and playing and singing and dancing — it was incredibly rewarding.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.