I wrote all about what in the world that is back HERE when I got to go last time, but just real quick (and this is gonna sound weird to those who have never heard of it before), all the youth (and leaders) dress up as pioneers and head out to the wilderness to pull handcarts across the plains to reenact what the pioneers did.
And I love it!
...and carry all their supplies around in their handcarts during the day... just like the pioneers did all those years ago.
Why in the world would they do that? you might ask.
Well, to gain an appreciation for what the pioneers did.
To pause in this crazy technology-filled world to remember our roots.
To "turn the hearts."
To do something hard and grow and learn from it all.
And also, to live up to our reputation that Mormons are "peculiar." Ha!
I got to go along this year in a very different capacity than I did last time. Last time I was one of the photographers (which explains why there are a gazillion pictures in the post from last time).
This time Dave and I went as a "Ma" and "Pa;" leaders who are assigned a group of youth from the ward to essentially be the "mom" and "dad" for while they are out trekking and camping and learning and growing. (Which explains why I don't have a ton of pictures this time around...we couldn't take many things including cameras. But we did have our phones to keep in contact with our younger kids back home...and to snap a few pictures here and there.)
Everyone brings only a bucket with a few supplies they will need for the few days they'll be gone and a sleeping bag:
Last time I went on trek I got to be with these two kids of mine:
And this time around I got to go with these two:
As soon as we got to the site, we headed to our handcarts which had a list of the kids we'd be in charge of for the few days we were there (sometimes trek parents find out before they go, this time around they waited until the last minute...for lots of reasons...worked out great!)
Dave and I lucked out with the best "family" ever.
It's amazing how you can fall in love with kids so dang quick, especially in this capacity.
I don't have a great picture of all of us together, (I'm sure the photographer this time around will send it at some point and I'll come back and add it here), but here are our darling girls:
...and our awesome boys:
They all wanted to help with everything they could. They all switched around pushing and pulling and were so sweet to jump at the chance to help. What amazing "real" parents they have to teach them to be that wonderful! It was so fun to get to know them in this capacity.
Our ward (congregation) color was yellow (other wards had different colors).
And our theme was "Joy is the purpose of life and a choice we make," instigated by Dave's idea to use one of "grandfather's secrets" that he loves.
The kids designed our flag and signed it. And my friend with a real camera caught me holding it at the end.
One of the things that is so incredible to me is how much time adults take out of their schedules to make this work.
Aside from all the pre-trek stuff that had already blown me away (the bonfire kick-off, the prep to make clothes, work out the route we'd go on, figure out how everything would be run), others worked their tails off with food prep (they did it on a stake level this time around instead of having the Ma's and Pa's cook for their own "families"), evening firesides, you name it, everything had been thought of and prepared, time taken off work, so many personal resources donated all to make for a great experience for the youth.
And really, I was thankful over and over again.
One thing I loved the most were our family devotionals:
I thought this was a pretty ingenious way to use some time before one of the night activities:)
Everyone was pretty filthy from all the pushing and pulling:
See that thing around my waist above?
Kind of hard to see, especially since you can only see the first few letters, but it says "believer."
Right before the "Women's pull" one of the days (where the men all get "called away"...either hypothetically by death or separate missions...and the women are left to pull the hand carts alone), we had a little devotional given by the stake women leaders. They gave each of us two or three strips of fabric and had us write things that kept us going in life. Things that define who we are as daughters of God. People came up with all kinds of words...everything from "nurturer" to "grateful" to "friend"...and tied them around their arms, their waist, etc.
Armed with those things that make us uniquely who we are, we set off on the women's pull and I loved working together to get up that hill.
The women's pull was one of the highlights for me (it was my favorite part last time too.)
We made ready our little bonfire area by moving this huge tree....you had to be there but it was kind of funny.
Our bishop took a few pictures.
I know we have a picture with our Bishop too but I can't find it right now...
On the last day everyone was so tired (after walking and pushing and pulling up and down miles of hills and valleys), but as we got close to the end base camp (where there was such beautiful music beckoning us in), families started to run.
So glad someone sent me this picture of Grace's family all caught up in the joy of a job well done:
There's not much to compare to the feeling of doing something pretty tough and reaching the end.
We had a final meal all together and a closing devotional, and it was hard to say goodbye to these sweeties we got to hang with for the last few days:
Some last pictures of our girl with her friends;
...and this hunky guy I got to hang with...
How did we get so lucky to get to be there, the three of us together?
So grateful for all those ancestors who went before, whether they crossed the plains or not. They made such huge sacrifices to give us the life that we cherish. We talked through so many stories of those who have gone before, and the magnitude of what they did and the ripple effects it made.
Here's to making our own ripples with what we do each day as we "turn our own hearts" to our children and their children.
And theirs too.
Let's make some good ones.