Well, I did it! We made it back and we survived! I am not sure where to begin or what to tell you about this experience. I can tell you that it has made a huge impression on my life. So I will just share some random thoughts that stand out to me right now!
I think in a nutshell, Trek was probaby one of the hardest things I have ever done. Not only physically of pulling the handcart and enduring through constant sun and heat, but it also taught me a huge lesson in loving and trusting people. For 4 days, myself and 8 other people relied heavily on each other for love, help, encouragement, loyalty and trust. For 4 days, I had 6 glorious, awesome youth as my children and I could not have been a more prouder mom in my life. Truly our youth are a generation of awe and wonder.
I first want to share some things about the family that we were a part of. They pulled kids from all different wards to build up each of the families. I had never known any of them that were now the youth that Brian and I were in charge of. A couple of the youth that were placed into our family I can testify that our paths crossed before in very unusual circumstances. Some of the other youth were in our family specifically to lift spirits and show love. I had 4 daughters and 3 sons. One of my daughters was a big sister who was an adult that was there to help. Her name is Brandy and she was an awesome Big Sister for our family. She was such a great listener and so very helpful to all of us. S was my shyest daughter and I loved her because she was always so eager to help. She was always at the front of the cart most of the Trek, pulling and working as hard as she could. C was our girliest girl. She loved hanging with her friends and talking. She just made the cheerleading team and was so excited to start high school. She was a joy to listen to and she has such great potential for the future. A is the daughter that taught me a huge lesson on life and people. She came to Trek with a past that had given her a bad reputation. I cannot tell you enough that this girl was the most obedient, loving, hard working girl I have ever met. When she was with Brian and I, she was nothing but the daughter of God that she truly is. She was our strength in pushing and I don't care what anyone else says about her, she is a very beautiful, loving girl.
With my sons, I had A who was our child that was always willing to help, run errands and he wanted to be at the front. He loved to talk and help anyone that he could. My other son, T showed me determination beyond any limit that I could handle. He was sick every day and threw up 3 out of the 4 days and still walked with us every mile. I tried to get him to sit in the cart, but he refused. He was so quiet and never complained of his illnes. I admire his courage and strength. My final son T was nothing but laughs. He and I started a club for our family called "Yay for Optimism!" or YFO! We would try to get our family members to laugh with our club rules and stories we would make up about Kujo, Redbeard the pirate, the candy leperchaun and any other comedic lines we could think of. Nonstop laughs when he was around.
My favorite moment of the trek was the womens pull. A representative came from the US army and gathered all of our men to join the Morman Battalian. We had nothing but girls and women left to push our cart down the trail and then up a hill that was extremely steep, rocky and nothing but sand. They lined the men and young men up the hill to watch the women push the carts up alone. It was so emotional I could not look any of the men in the face as we suffered and pushed our cart up the hill. My family wanted to do it on our own with no help. When we reached the top, never in my life had I felt more joy and love for our family as we pushed ourselves to the limit of our physical capabilities. We all hugged each other and cried. They made the men and boys wait until we were out of sight and then they told them that they could rejoin their families. Brian said it was like a stampede of boys that sprinted as fast as they could to go and help the women and girls finish pushing their carts. I know that for our little family, it was the bonding moment that made us extremely strong. It will be a moment I will never forget.
I could go on and on with stories that I would be happy to share at any time. I think that the post would be so long, so I will leave you with one last story. When we headed into Martins Cove and had a devotional at Dan Jones Cove, I felt the spirit so strongly that it was undeniable. The youth felt it too and it was a sacred area to be in and the words that were shared were so sacred and beautiful to me.These 2 experiences alone was well worth the sore legs, the 2 huge blisters on my heels, my sun burnt face and my huge, HUGE, HUGE swollen lip. I am so grateful for all of the Stake Presidencies and the committees that put together this huge ordeal. It was one of the hardest things I think I have ever done, but I would do it again in a heart beat and would recommend taht if the chance comes your way, take it!