Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Valley View Stake Pioneer Trek

So many miracles happened not only on trek, but leading up to the days before it too! When Chad and I were asked back in march, we left the stake offices thinking that it wouldn't work out and wanting to save his vacation for work for another purpose. As weeks passed, the thought kept crossing my mind and I felt like we needed to go. We were on the fence for quite a while when my younger brother and his wife came to us and said they were prompted to offer to help with our 4 kids so we could go. It was an answer to prayer. So from that day forward we started making preparations to go!

The kids from our ward that we brought up.
We had a family of 11 to start with and had some fun activities to get to know them. Slowly, kids started dropping out and our large family was soon a small family. I felt like these kids needed to go so I contacted them and asked some of them to pray about it. One of my sons prayed about it and within minutes called me saying he would go. Another daughter didn't want to go but with some prompting from good parents, she chose to go.  Another son took right up until the time we left to make his decision, but ended up going. I can't help but think that the adversary was tying to lead them away from the spiritual experience he knew they would have and the stronger testimonies they would come away with. We were over joyed when we learned that these kids would be coming!

We started our trek with a family of 10! Josh, Spencer, Daccoda, Kassie, Megan, Kaylee, Clara, and Yoshalyn. The best kids your could ever ask for! Here we are all clean and shiny to start our trek!

Josh and Spencer looking like banditos! These 2 guys were our muscle for the trek. They pulled almost the whole time and worked incredibly hard filling up water jugs and helping set up and take down camp. I'm so grateful for them!

 Daccoda was our big brother of the family. He was in charge of keeping everyone happy, working together and encouraging any who needed it! He did a fabulous job and I am so glad he decided to come. Clara and Yoshalyn were so sweet! They were like little mothers themselves and took care of eachother and the other girls in our family. They were always watching out for anyone who needed a friend and willing to cheer anyone up who needed it. This was something WAY out of these girls comfort zone and they conquered many challenges and fears with grace! I love them so much!
 Miss Kassi was a trooper! She doesn't talk much, but I think she had an injury possibly before trek or hurt herself early on. She was struggling after a few miles and this amazing group of kids came running back with a cart and threw her on and ran up the mountain with her on it leaving me in the dust. The strength and big hearts these kids have are amazing! Kassi walked as far as she could through the pain and on the last day, even though I know she was hurting, walked the whole way back!
 The first day was 6 miles! There were many stops along the way and resting points. The first day was pretty warm and kids were tired when we reached our camp. We were excited to go on trek for many reasons, but one of those was the Eash Family was also coming along who happened to be our really good friends. We were happy to have them for comic relief when we needed it! Here is Chad & Sam striking a pose.
 Taking a breather. Those carts might be light, but by the time we got 13 buckets in there and 2 big jugs of water it was nice and heavy.

 When we arrived at camp, we had to set up 3 tents and cook our own dinner. The kids were tired! And so were we but it once we had camp up and food in our bellies we all felt much better.
That evening we had to do a skit about how a pioneer would react to a modern day item. We choose Ductape! We all came up with funny or useful things to do with it. The kids were crushed when a family before us came up with the SAME EXACT IDEA! But we stayed with it since we didn't have very much. It was an entertaining evening. 

After a good nights rest, and taking down camp we were off on day #2 (thursday) which was supposed to be a simpler day. Still about 5 miles but flatter. IT WAS HOT! And the wind was blowing lots of dust. It made for a long day. Our family was struggling to stay together at this point because eveyone was walking at a different pace. I spent my time going back and forth between the family and the ones who were walking slower. I really got my steps in that day!

 Again we had lots of breaks along the way and I was glad for them! Here are my cute daughters Kaylee and Megan.

When we got to camp the tent spaces were MUCH closer. About a quarter of the size of what we had with with first camp spot. A little grumbling started and a smart Pres Rogers was quick to pull us 'together and remind us of our purpose. A few expressed some concerns and another wise Pres Drais reminded us that if we were hiking with our real families there is no way we would leave them along side the trail if they were struggling and counseled us to stick together and help eachother and keep the spirit here in camp. It was a good pep talk! The campground, although small, was beautiful and many were quick to rip their shoes off and soak in the cold creek running through camp. Others (who I thought were crazy) couldn't wait to hike up the mountain. Where I'm standing is where all the tents were and below is where we would all gather,
The kids were very excited for "cousin time" that evening and had a blast running around camp exploring. I was most exhausted at the end of this day and grateful to go to sleep!

 This little cutie and I had the same matching bonnets. I'm not sure of her name but she kept coming up to me and calling me her twinner!
Friday oh Friday!!! Our family was offered to be at the front of the pack to set the pace on this morning which we were all excited about. We climbed to the front of the line and as we were waiting something awful happened. We were standing around talking while the medical people were getting set up on their 4 wheelers. One was about 20 yards up the trail from us. He seemed to be having some problems with it but I didn't know what. All of a sudden,  we heard the engine rev and saw the quad barreling down the mountain in reverse right for our family. He tried to send his back end up the mountain which caused it to tip and skid right into our family. Chad and I were in the front and Chad pushed me out of the way and I fell down right on the edge of the little ledge we were on. Chad, from his speed and quick action, continued rolling down the mountain edge he fell off of and I thought for sure he was gone forever! The quad then hit one of our boys and knocked him over the edge of the side bars of the cart and hit another's foot. The poor medical people were scrapped up pretty good. And everyone was shook up! Chads adrenaline was pumping and despite having just fell off a small cliff, hopped up and ran back up and was the first one to reach the crash and lift the 4 wheeler back up. He was unharmed and unhurt. Josh on the other had was in quite a bit of pain and although he tried to brush it off, we knew he was hurt and sent him the the medical car immediately. Our family knew that we would all have to step up since Josh was our strongest puller! And that they did!

One of the first obstacles after we got on the trail was crossing the river! It was cool and very enjoyable!!

 After getting through it, it was straight up for another 1-2 miles. Ask your kids about this part of the trail. It was treacherous. It was so steep that on the way down we had to tie ropes on the wagon and the family behind us would help lower us down. It was a long process but we all made it safely! Chad said he had never been that physically exhausted after making it up that steep steep hill. I was as well. I was glad we were one of the first to get up that mountain so that we could have a longer rest, but I was so humbled when I saw Kaylee and Spencer running back to help others up. I knew that we all wanted to but I dont think many of our legs would allow us to. When everyone was up we sat under this beautiful tree in the shade for lunch and rest. I was so happy when I looked up and saw THIS coming towards our family. Josh was determined to get to our family and Daccoda and Spencer very graciously helped him around. Our whole family ran to be with him and walk the rest of the way to the tree with him.
After a nice long rest, the boys were called away to represent those who were called away to serve in the mormon batallion, They would climb the hill and wait for us at the top. Chad told me they hiked in reverence knowing the challenge that laid ahead for us women. At the top, they had a devotional by Pres Eardley and they were instructed to call down the powers of heaven the help their families. They were told to wait in silence and not to reach out and help us no matter what. A feat that proved to be hard for them. 
At the bottom, the girls had their own special devotional about women being able to do hard things and relying on the Lord for help by Pres. Howland in a beautiful shady grove. When it was time to get on the trail, we were pumped!

 As we were making our flag as a family, I was impressed to put HYMAS STRONG at the top of a wheel with all our names on it. Signifying that it would take all of us to be strong together, just like a wheel needs all it spokes to be strong. I didn't know how often we would refer to that and use it as a strength

Above is our girls showing their 'Hymas Strong' muscles just before the women's pull.

 This trail was incredibly hard. Many of the men struggled hiking it without a hand cart behind them! It was rocky, and steep and unbearably hard! We didn't stop much, but when we did I quickly snapped this picture. I recorded the following:

As we pushed the cart up I thought I might die. Probably one of the hardest things I've done physically. As the men finally came into view I thought I can make it to that first man and then we can stop. I pushed hard to get there. What I didn't know is that the men (about 200 of them) were lining the path watching us pass in silence and tears. There was still a LONG way to go to get through the men. Lots of emotion came over me as I got weaker and weaker. The men were instructed before we got there to call down the powers of heaven to help our family. As I started to black out a little and lean a little more on the cart and move slower, somehow our cart was still moving. It was like we were in a protective bubble provided by the power of the priesthood. I Can't explain it as well as I want to but it was amazing. When I got to the top I was near delirious and there are a few moments I don't remember because of being so physically exhausted. I know the priesthood can bless us in so many ways. Ways I don't think we totally comprehend yet. Many women spoke of feeling the exact same thing. I know we were helped and watched over.
 When we reached the top, our men ran to us and hugged us and expressed appreciation for us. It was by far one of the most tender moments on trek. One son came to me and hugged me in tears saying that it was so hard to not reach out and help us. We then had a chance to sit and reflect and talk about what just happened. The spirit was very strong!

Through lots of help, Josh was also able to be there with us and I was so glad our family was so willing to help him with anything.
 We then started the decent back down the mountain with ropes lowering us as we went. As we went down I kept wondering how in the world we made it up there! It was a miracle in itself. At one point, Pres Eardley told us to turn around and see what we had just conquered. It was breathtaking as we gazed at the tall mountain behind us. It was so incredibly steep!!

As we rolled back into camp, my good friend snapped this picture of our family coming in. The incredible thing about these particular youth is that there was never complaining! They did whatever was asked of them and worked SO hard. AND THEY WERE HAPPY! Megan had the best smile anytime we talked to her and the Shirley girls were exhausted but so happy! I snapped this picture of them holding eachother up as we came back into camp. They are the sweetest sisters!

 After dinner, it was time to square dance! My legs and feet were so tired I really didn't know if I could. But it actually helped loosen up my tight muscles and it was really fun! Spence loved the dancing the most I think and was up in front doing his thing!

 At testimony meeting later that night, so many sweet things were shared. Our family became so close through serving each other and loving each other. Going through the challenges we did together made us HYMAS STRONG emotionally and physically and mentally. Many talked of the struggle they had to get to trek but were so glad they did. And how they had felt the spirit so strong. Many took time to tell each person what they admired about each one and it was a really tender moment.

 Walking back the 3 miles to where we started I had a lot of time to think. I kept tearing up knowing I would soon have to say goodbye. These kids have changed our lives forever and we will never forget them. We did one last Hymas SQUEEZE (ask your kids about this!) and hugged everyone goodbye. On of our daughters made the point that we probably knew eachother in heaven and were meant to be in this family together. I don't doubt it for a minute. We needed each member of this family so individually I know it was a tender mercy from God. He is in the little details in our life.

 The theme of the trek was ASK IN FAITH. We had so many opportunities to do this as a family and we saw miracles as we did so. Everyone was given a bracelet that signified many things. There were 2 knots in the bracelet which reminded us to Doubt "knot" and Fear "knot." I found myself saying that to myself in my head many times to get through the hard times. The bead stands for BEAD-eliberate (be deliberate) in the good things we do. Do them on purpose and with real intent. The 2 strings signify folded arms and a reminder to doubt not and fear not when we pray. I loved all the symbolism of a simple bracelet and will cherish it forever.
Thank you parents for trusting your kids to us. We grew to love them so much and are grateful to you for the strong kids you've raised both physically as well as spiritually. YOU are incredible. THANK YOU!

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