|Kaysville West Stake - "Lift Where You Stand"|
Pioneer Trek is one of those experiences you wouldn’t trade for the world, but that you can hardly wait to never do again, unless you are a die hard “Rut-Mutt” living for each and every trek opportunity to come along. One way to discover if you are a true “Rut-Mutt” is if you actually miss the taste of sand in the bottom of your water bottle after returning home. The only rational explanation for this is that you must have dirt running through your veins!
If you have been called as a trek leader of any kind, you will find that you are living, eating and breathing trek! Not a minute of the day will go by without your thoughts turning to the monumental task of planning and preparing for trek, no matter what your calling may be. From the Trek Director to the bag check-in people searching for "contraband", trek is a lot of hard work!
The most important thing to remember is to pace yourself. Make sure that you take the proper time to prepare physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- Start walking now, no matter how far away your trek date is. And if you’re addicted to Diet Coke, you may want to start weaning yourself off now. Water is the drink of choice while on Pioneer Trek. Trust me, the headaches are just not worth it, and your trek family will know if you try to smuggle two cases of the stuff onto the handcart. I’m sure it probably weighs much more than the 17 pounds allotted to the original handcart pioneers anyway.
- Prepare yourself for the fact that you will be outside in the elements and that things may not go according to YOUR plan, however they will go according to the plan of the Trek Committee called in Heaven. You and your group WILL be blessed with the experience you need to promote growth and appreciation for those who have gone before.
- Start reading everything you can about the Martin/Willie Handcart Companies. Your appreciation for what they endured will grow and you will never be the same. I heard a great definition of “Endure” the other day. It said – “Endure: To withstand with courage.” That is what the pioneers did to the very center of their core. Here are a few of my favorite books.
Fire of the Covenant by Gerald Lund. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a Gerald Lund junkie! I read everything he writes, and love every word. I finished this book in two days! I would tell myself, OK at the end of this chapter I am going to put this book down and get something else done. Then I would rationalize and say, OK, I’m just going to read the first paragraph of the next chapter . . . and before I knew it, I had read the last page of the book and felt sad that it was done! Fire of the Covenant is fiction based on fact and no one tells a story like Gerald Lund, he brings his characters to life! I’ve found myself thinking of the characters in his books as I have visited the historical sites along the Mormon Trail – knowing full well they were not real people, but in the back of my mind saying, wishing they really were . . .
My next favorite book is Tell My Story Too by my friend Jolene Allphin. Jolene is a true “Rutt-Mutt”. She was called to put some stories together for the participants in her stake many years ago. Each time she thinks the book is complete, she feels the importance of those whose stories have not yet been told and pushes to find more to add to the collection in her book. Story after story in this book shows the many miracles that took place because of the great faith, perseverance and endurance of these heroic people. Visiting with Jolene at her home, you can feel the presence of those beloved pioneers as she shares her love of their joy and sacrifice as they made their way to Zion.
Andrew Olsen did his homework in his book The Price We Paid. I love how the first half of the book tells the story of the Willie Company and the second half of the book tells the story of the Martin Company. What I love most is that Andrew begins in England, and explains the events that led up to the tragedies both companies endured. You will learn more about specific people and families along the way. It’s fun to see what happened to these Saints after they reached the Salt Lake Valley as well.
The photos and artwork in Sweetwater Rescue: The Willie and Martin Handcart Story by Lee Groberg and Heidi Swinton are breathtaking – especially the cover. There is also a video as well.
Speaking of videos, the crowing achievement is 17 Miracles by T.C. Christensen. T.C. has a gift for historical Church movies like none other. T.C.’s father was a dentist as well as my stake president in Layton for many years. His brothers are all dentists as well. Glad T.C. didn’t go into the family business, the stories he brings to life build testimony, appreciation, and gratitude. This is a must have for every home library.
More to come next week . . . Happy Trekking!