05 August 2012

Remember, Reverence, Rescue

About a year ago, Kris and I were asked by our local
church leaders to plan and prepare a handcart trek for the
youth in our area.  We were overwhelmed at first with
the enormity of the task.  Planning an event of this sort
was unfamiliar territory.  Once again, however, I have learned
that Heavenly Father knows our hearts. He knew that mine would
be blessed with greater peace and calm by 

becoming intimately engaged in learning about the early 
Pioneer members of our Church.  Their
lives, their stories, their faith have changed me.

Our theme and our logo.
Artwork used with permission by:
KKincaid: thetwirlingdragon@hotmail.com
Layout by Liz Evans

Approximately 100 youth and 50 adults participated.  During our three day Trek we learned first-hand of the many personal sacrifices made by so many of the Mormon Pioneers who emmigrated to Salt Lake City during the 1850's using handcarts.
Reenactments took place, including this very touching burial for an infant.
Seven first-person stories were shared including the miraculous
 events experienced by that of Elizabeth Crook Panting.
 She received enough meat from a stranger to 
fill her apron which she shared
with many starving saints in her company.  

Whitney Hess, Jill Gauthier,
and Janelle Myrick handed out homemade jerkey

 (thanks John Gauthier) to the youth following the
 beautiful first-person story shared by Janelle.
(Janelle...far right.)

Gauthier Family

The youth were placed in 'families' for the three day
Trek each with a 'Ma and Pa.' Each family
wore different colored bandanas.

Rachael Haskins portrayed Maria Jackson
Normington who often lifted the spirits of the saints
with her beautiful singing voice.  Many of us
were moved to tears by Rachael's sensitive
and moving representation of Maria.

Kris and I decided to arrange the Trek in a somewhat
 historically accurate way. We began our Trek at 
Fort Kearney (forgot to take photo of that sign) and
ended, of course, in Zion with stops along the way at other

 historically significant places. Brent Stout
 made our fantastic sign-posts.

 Hoping to help the youth internalize as much accurate information as we could, we chose ten of the many handcart companies that crossed the plains and trekked in their chronological order. Upon arrival at each location the companies would check the burlap bag(s) we had hanging on the signs to see if they had any specific instructions for their company to follow.  In this way we heard authentic journal entries from the various groups.  In addition, we observed "experiences" that the different companies
were asked to participate in such as the burial mentioned above.
Soooo many hands performed acts of service so this experience
could be possible and positive.  Our cooks were unbelievable.
They moved from spot to spot.  They barely glimpsed what was taking
place on the trail.  They were cooking and cleaning and packing up
and setting up and cooking and clean.....etc.  Such service.

And, speaking of service...the Stake YM were wonderful
to take care of all of the Porta Potties.  Now there's a
thankless job!
The Tilby's secured this amazing 'potable water' truck for our use.
 It was donated by a man, not of our faith, who had heard of these 
Treks from an employee of his who is preparing to serve a mission. 

President Mangrum spoke at our sunset fireside.
The McDades

The Mangrums

The Lees
The Martinez Family
The Haskins Family


Each Ma and Pa were instructed to make and bring
their own family flag.They were given their
  company banner at the start of the trail.
The flags were just awesome...personal and
 fun. The banners absolutely  perfect. 
Our Trek band!  They were amazing!!
They added such a great element to Trek.
Thanks to them and Ron Stone!

McDade's Family Flag
Fun on the trail!

Brother Haskins portrayed Ephraim Hanks
at our "SweetWater 6th Crossing" stop.
Ranger Frank helped us in securing our locations
in the El Dorado National Forrest.

Jill Gauthier shared an inspiring and motivational message with our
Young Women just prior to the "Women's Pull."  It was 

not unusual for women to pull their handcarts alone for 
various reasons.  Some began the journey alone.
Others had husbands who died on the trail. 

To help develop reverence for womanhood and their innate 

personal strength, the 'women's pull' is just that. Pulling together,
the Young Women pull their handcarts up a hill without any help
from the Young Men.

The Young Women helped each other.  Once they
had their own cart to the top they would run down the hill
and help bring another one up...

As sisters in zion we'll all pull together...

Sister Gauthier was asked to share the story of Emily

 and Julia Hill in her remarks to the girls just before 'the pull.' 
 These two sisters helped each other survive their trek
 to Zion during extraordinarily difficult circumstances. 
 Emily wrote the familiar hymn "As Sister's
In Zion."  
The original text utilized the 

word "pull" rather than the word "work" we
 are familiar with singing today. I prefer pull.

Immediately following the Women's Pull we paused in 

our journey so the youth could have some time to rest 
and reflect.  Letters were collected from the parents, 
grandparents, or youth leaders of each person on Trek.
The "Pony Express" arrived just as they were beginning their
"solo" time.  These letters of 'encouragement' from home included
personal testimonies and feelings regarding our theme
Remember, Reverence, Rescue.

Ty reading his letter from Grandpa Rowan.

Back on the trail...

Nancy Stout and Nathan Johnson
They stayed at the front of the trail...part of the medical
and communications committee.  And, so much more!

Julia and Madison Hixson and Deirdre O'Rourke
provided FUN activities for us at the perfect time!

Madison helped the girls make the cutest little rag babies.
Deirdre showed us how to make "Trek12" bracelets,
and Julia showed the kids how to make Pioneer Yo Yo's.
ALL were a big hit.

Bryan Hixson took care of the physical activities!

Kris put up a map in camp showing the actual route the
 Pioneer's traveled.  At each of our stops he told the youth the number 

of miles they had figuratively just walked.  (The pioneers walked
1,500 miles.)

The Seversons.  We all look forward to receiving their
photographs of Trek.  Chuck Denny took hours and hours
of video, too.  

One of the "experiences" found in the burlap bags on the trail
called for youth to make a pair of moccasins from the provided
kit and to wear them for the remainder of Trek, if possible
without injury.  Included with their instructions were  a couple of 

journal entries outlining the severe weather conditions many 
of the pioneers suffered through. They often 
wrapped burlap, clothing or any number of things around
 their feet, including rawhide, in
 order to protect them from the freezing cold.

Ty and Weston Freitas.  They were assigned
to Trek in the same family.  They did not know each
other prior to Trek, but they hit it off just great.
(I see a pioneer yo yo in Weston's hand!)

Brent Stout...wonderful sign maker, deliverer of burlap bags
to sign posts, communications expert, and a whole
lot more.

(And, everyone loved 'Dug the Dog!')

Time for a good' old hoedown!

Special musical number by a few Young Men
to open our 6:00  A. M. sunrise testimony meeting.

This photo can't be large enough.  Trent and Nancy Tilby were
the couple Kris and I asked (begged) for to help train our
Ma's and Pa's.  They brought a most beautiful spirit to our
entire Trek.  From their organizational skills to their spiritual
souls...these two helped 'make' Trek. Seriously, nobody will
ever know how much Trek was blessed because of
their efforts and desires to make it meaningful.  Their care and 

personal concern for many on Trek was something
special to witness.

Brother McDade protrays John Chislett

Turlock 2nd ward trekkers
(minus Johnny Davis who left the evening before)
Boice Family

Hess Family

Centeno Family
Falke Family

Brad Falke delivered our final Pioneer story and message...that
of Reddick Allred whose obedience and faithfulness 

played a significant role in the rescue of many
 stranded, starving, and dying pioneers.

The Fords
The Woodruffs

The Woodruff's gave Kris this wooden sign they made
at the end of Trek.  He is putting it above his
office door here at home.
Our band welcomes everyone to Zion!
Ty welcomed them with his bagpipes, too.

We wanted every youth to be able to personalize

 the trek in some way. Each of them were assigned
 the name of a pioneer to 'reverence' while they
walked.  The lanyard included the name and
 age of the person at the time they crossed the plains
 along with a two or three sentence 'biography.' 
 Holly Meiners prepared these.
Trek Journals included a few pioneer stories,
quotes from prophets, and a few
questions for the youth to ponder and write

One of our 'flour' babies
before it received clothes!

Our home was filled with burlap as we
inched closer to 'take-off!'

Cutting black ribbon to be tied
on the arms of youth during a time on trek when
we walked 15 minutes in silence in reverence for
and remembering all those who lost their lives.

Just marking the 'drop-off' buckets so Brent
would know which ones were to be

set up at the various stopping points.

Hymnbooks made by Ron Stone.

Pony Express Letters bundled up and ready to go.

T-shirts everyone received at the end.

Kris and I came home exhausted, dirty,
and satisfied.  Just like a lot of other
 folks from the Stake.  We will always be grateful for the 
willing hearts and hands who helped make Trek 2012 possible.