Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why the TREK?

Hughie looking out on the meadow.

It makes one pause to wonder why Hugh and I were asked to serve as a Ma and Pa on the trek.  We were older and me heavier.  We both felt we should go when asked.  We had six months to prepare and during that preparation Hugh had a bad bout with his knee and I with my back, but we made it.  We exercised, we walked. I also went to my chiropractor and allergist to be ready.  We felt prepared, but in spite of our preparation we know God helped us.  It's the only way we could have done it.  We only did four days, nothing compared to what the Saints had to travel and endure.  We were happy to serve and prayed we'd be able to do it and we did.

Hugh and I were both inspired by the youth.  They had such good attitudes in participating in this event.  No doubt they gained some understanding of the pioneer Saints and what they went through.  I feel my life is so easy in comparison to the pioneers.  I woke up that first morning after walking ten miles and prayed with such earnestness that I could endure yet another day.  I did.  I thought about my prayers at home.  I'm certainly not earnest in my pleas like I should be in my everyday living and I have had plenty to be earnest about in gratitude and help.  I think my prayers are better because of the trek experience.

I couldn't keep up with my family on the trail.  I felt like I turned into some pioneer ornament on the trek.  Surely they had the infirmed who lagged behind, but I just kept going just like I'm sure those of old did.  I lost a toenail and have had a necessary week of recuperation.  I've started exercising again and I notice that I'm stronger than when I left - physically and spiritually.  The benefits have definitely been worth it.  Maybe I need to go on another trek?  I'm sure I have more to learn, but then I've learned my life is a trek.  Here I go!  Forging onward!

"They, the builders of the nation,
Blazing trails along the way;
Steppingstones for generations
Were their deeds of everyday.
Building new and firm foundations,
Pushing on the wild frontier,
Forging onward, ever onward,
Blessed, honored Pioneer!"

Hymn #36 - verse 1
Text: Ida R. Alldredge
Music:  Alfred M. Durham

Monday, July 30, 2012

More Trek

All the Ma's and Pa's

Every morning we had a Ma and Pa meeting
to review the day and to receive counsel.

Our trail boss, Brother Sauer.
He and President Silva guided us on horseback.

A place to hang your hat.

Devoted Sisters
Six of our eight kids had other family members on the trek.
This is Elizabeth's "real" sister who was in a different family.
They'd get together when they had a chance.

Dallin's father served as Pa Mackay.
They had a chance to visit during our break
before our last leg of the trek.

Trek Sisters

We fixed all our own meals,
but two - our first and last on the trail.
Our cook station provided the food and the recipe.
Everyone pitched in and helped.
Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches
Chicken Stew
Fried Potatoes, Sausage, and Eggs
Beef Stew
Hardtack Biscuits
We didn't starve.
Lots of snacks and fruit too.
I gained three pounds on the trek.  I hope it's muscle.

Not much time to relax - we were so busy.
The hammock was a hit during leisure minutes.

Music was part of the trek everyday.
Mostly the kids sang as they walked.
I heard a bit in the evening too as the day would winding down.
Our Sunday meetings had music too
with all of us singing
or as pictured above,
a special musical number.

"Lord I Would Follow Thee"
Hymn No. 220 - 1st verse
Text:  Susan Evan McCloud
Music:  K. Newell Dayley
Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown.
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior may I learn to love thee-
Lord, I would follow thee.
Ready to move on.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Trek - Day 4

Gathering at the Cook's Place - Brother Sherman and all

Before heading into our
"entering the Great Salt Lake Valley experience,"
we were fed, muffins, hot coco, and fruit.
It was our chilliest morning yet, but it warmed up quick

 We also got some final photos.

104 youth
13 sets of Ma's and Pa's
Two on horseback
and a slew of support
to pull off the cooking, water, first aid,
and all the activities - AMAZING!

The Blair Family,
loaded up and ready to head out.

We walked for quite a while
and then we had a final break to say some closing words.
I ended our journey with this excerpt:
"Henry Clegg Jr. was a finisher.  He joined the Church with his family when the first LDS missionaries went to Preston, England.  Henry had a view of his destination in his mind as he and his wife, Hannah, and their two young boys immigrated to Utah.  Henry left his older parents, who were too feeble to make such a long and arduous journey, knowing he would never see them again.

"While crossing the plains, Hannah contracted cholera and died.  She was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.  The company then moved on, and at six in the evening, Henry's youngest son also died.  Henry retraced his steps to Hannah's grave, placed his young son in his wife's arms, and reburied the two of them together.  Henry then had to return to the wagon train, now five miles away.  Suffering from cholera himself, Henry described his condition as being at death's door while realizing he still had a thousand miles to walk.  Amazingly he continued forward, putting one foot in front of the other.  He stopped writing in his journal for several weeks after losing his dear Hannah and little son.  I was struck with the words he used when he did start writing again:  "Still moving."

"When he finally reached the gathering place of the Saints, he began a new family.  He kept the faith.  He continued his story.  Most remarkably, his heartache over the burial of his sweetheart and son gave birth to our family's legacy of moving forward, of finishing.

". . . All faithful modern-day pioneers are learning.  With the Lord, nothing is impossible, but we each have to finish our own story.  He sends His Spirit, we call out encouragement to each other, but we have to keep [moving] and accepting new challenges to the end of our own story.  "Still walking" [with faith in every footstep] is the fundamental requirement in the journey of life.  He wants us to finish well.  He wants us to come back to Him.  I pray that each of our stories will end in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the authors and finishers of our faith."

Gayle M. Clegg
"The Finished Story"
Ensign, May 2004

and a final round of hugs
from Ma and Pa Blair,
and we're off.


Banners, people, cheers, and food greeted us.

We made it!
Ma and Pa Blair with PJ

Time to unload.

Greeted by friends and family we had a yummy meal.
After packing the truck we drove down the mountain
and headed home.

Before we got home we stopped by the Smith's house.
Sam was there ready to leave for Scout camp.
We said our good-byes.
With Scout camp and Trek we are 11 days apart.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Trek - PLAY'N

"All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy."
Late in the afternoon of the 3rd day, the stake set up some optional activities. There was the opportunity to go back to the Black-powder area to shoot, and they had other competitive activities like horseshoes, two-man saw, tomahawk throw, etc. Some of our kids went and checked out a few things, but most chose to stay close to our camp.

The Blair's getting ready for a friendly tug-of-war competition
with our neighboring family, The McFarland's.

Blair's WON!
We had another competition - boys against the girls.
I might be slow on the trail,
but I knew my weight could come in handy here.
When the girls were starting to lose ground I jumped in.
I landed flat on my back, but we won! (No photo on that one.)

Swings are good.


Dallin taking a break.
Everyone took a turn on the hammock.
Alec even tried to sleep in it one night, but it got too cold.

A spontaneous game of Missionary Tag
Something we played with the McFarland family  many times.

Throwing knives - YIKES!

We also had a rope game we played in camp a lot,
but again - no photo!

Just talking and resting was a great pass time.
We enjoyed each others company.

A few relatives made a point to stop by too.
Rachel with her dad.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trek - Day 3

"God grant us the desire to want to win the greatest of all the gifts He has given His children—the gift of life eternal. May God bless us that we will understand our potential, that we will learn and grow and develop an understanding of our heritage and determine to preserve those great gifts that have been given to us as His children. I bear my solemn witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His way will lead us to life eternal."

Elder L. Tom Perry
"The Strength of Our Heritage"

No walking today,
but we still remembered the pioneers
on a Thursday with a
"kind of" Sabbath day agenda.

Waiting for Sunday morning Relief Society meeting to start.
The boys had a Priesthood meeting too
and then joined us for Sunday School.

Our family, ready for Sunday School.

Blanket - check,
Scriptures - check,
Journal - check,
Letter from home - check

2-hour solo time

After dinner,
all headed to the big sandbar across the meadow
for testimony meeting.

Gathering for our meeting at 6 p.m.
Three hours of testimonies.
Youth telling how the Trek made a difference.
They are truly modern-day pioneers.

Sharing a Pioneer Legacy

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trek - Day 2

The McFarland family were our friendly neighbors throughout the trek. They were always next to us - camping and walking, plus we rotated through the 2nd day activities together in the afternoon.

On the rocks at our campsite,
McFarland girls and Clay.

Packing up - getting ready to head out.
After a few hours of walking up and down and all around again. Brother Thacker galloped through our company calling attention in his military garb. We stopped and gathered as he reported to us that the US government needed assistance in fighting the Mexican War. Dare I say, the same US government who did not come to the aid of the Saints when they were being persecuted; not to mention Gov. Bogg's extermination order; not to mention the Saints were leaving the boundaries of the United States in the hope to find a home and peace. Even so, we believe in obeying the laws of the land. Brigham Young made it perfectly clear that 500 men should join the ranks. The Saints badly needed the money to continue their journey to safety. They were also promised by a prophet of God, if the men would join the Mormon Battalion that none would die in battle - none did.

Brother Thacker playing the part with his call to arms.

The guys marching off, two by two.
Up on the hill they settled in and received a presentation
on the Mormon Battalion from Brother Thacker.

The girls received a presentation from Sister Thacker
on how women many times had to pull the handcarts alone.

Heading out on the Women's Pull.
McFarland's ahead of us.

Kalie's mom jumped in to help our group.
Smiling faces here, but people were crying
and exhausted by the time they got to the top of the hill.

It was a rigorous event and everyone felt tested.  After a period of struggling the girls ended up pulling together on each handcart to get them up the hill.  The boys eventually joined in, but were instructed that they could not talk or touch the handcart.  They moved rocks out of the way, they took the water jugs off the carts and carried them, including the water jug holders which were very heavy.  Some even grabbed the ropes and pushed the handcart with sticks all avoiding the actual touching of the cart.

This part of the trek was referred to as the Women's Pull, but one boy, later in the testimony meeting, referred to it as the Men's Wait.  It was hard on the guys too. After marching up that hill and having pushed and pulled the handcarts miles by that point; they were astonished to think that the girls were going to push those handcarts up that very hill alone.  It ended up being like a giant pondering path as everyone quietly struggled, working together, and praying to get up that hill.  It was all I could do to get my own body up the hill, but even I ended up pushing the handcart a bit.  The hill was so steep.

Lots of drinks and taking a break after the pull.

The guys didn't want the girls in our family to help after their marathon effort in the Women's Pull,
 but the girls wouldn't stand for it.  They were happy to be altogether again doing their share.

Uphill . . .

 and . . . Downhill

In the strength of the Lord,
I can do all things.
(based on Alma 20:4)
Elaine S. Dalton,
"Return to Virtue"
Ensign,  November 2008

We went about 5 miles that morning. 
After setting up camp,
we rotated through a series of eight activities.

1st - The Blacksmith
Instruction:  Brother Alvey

Haun's Mill - boys working together
Instruction:  President and Sister Silva

President Silva and our boys - always encouraging.

The Moulton Family - Following the Spirit
Instruction:  Brother and Sister Reed
The kids were blindfolded.  They had to LISTEN to be guided

Always time to think about each of our activities.
What should I learn from this?
How can I apply this in my daily life?

Pa Blair taking his turn with Black-powder
Instruction:  Brother Morgan, Brother Thacker, and Brother Sauer

Crossing the Plains
Instruction:  Brother and Sister Price

Picking out rocks, spacing rocks, walking, and balancing;
again, working together.

Instruction:  Sister Bascom and Sister Heggam

Instruction:  Sister Sauer
The kids made butter . . .

and then put it on their fried scones with honey.

Instruction:  Brother Chronis

Working together, figuring it out.

Haley (from the McFarland family)
to the rescue!

Later that night after dinner they had a Hoedown.  (I didn't get any pictures.)  Everyone learned the Virginia Reel and did some western line dancing.  It wasn't long, but they kicked up some dust and then headed to bed.  We were all feeling relieved knowing we didn't have to walk anywhere in the morning.