Pioneer Trek 2017 was the BEST!! This past weekend was one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences of my life. I am a changed person and I will be forever grateful for this sacred opportunity we had. Todd and I, my three teenagers, and 465 other youth and adults headed out to windy Wyoming to walk for 20 miles in honor of our Mormon pioneer ancestors. One might wonder why nearly 500 people would want to leave the comforts of their home, wear hideous pioneer clothing (those poor women!) and trek through the dust, wind and dirt for three straight days in burning hot sun. And, did I mention WALK? And push a cart?!?
Although to some it might seem like it was a waste of time, there is something powerful that happens when you remember those who came before you. I am so grateful for past ancestors who sacrificed so much so that I could have the life I enjoy today. They lost their lives, their family’s, their homes and every comfort you could imagine to set off for thousands of miles to a new land. Why did they do it? They did it because of their belief in God. Their conviction in what they believed meant more to them than any earthly possession.
One of my favorite moments on the trail was watching a sweet 16 year old boy named Conner (the one on the right side of this picture with a bandana around his neck). He is blind and walked the entire 20 miles with nothing but a smile on his face. On trek the youth are put into groups of 10 kids with a ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ that many of them have never met before. It’s so neat to see them learn to love each other as if they are a real family in just three days.
My daughter had the privilege of being in a family with this amazing young man Conner. For 20 miles, Conner would walk along the trail holding someones hand or arm to keep him safe. The trail was extremely rocky at times, had large badger holes along the trail, was muddy, filled with cow pies and extremely windy. Despite all of these trials of the trail, Conner was nothing but happy and positive the entire time! He was an inspiration to all of us. There was a time his family was playing a game and would put Conner’s hand in someone elses in his group for him to guess who it was (each youth in their family would take turns walking Conner along the trail). For some of them it would take awhile for Conner to figure out who was holding his hand. It wasn’t until his Pa put his hand in Conners that Conner exclaimed with excitement “Pa, I know it’s you! I love you Pa!”. When he said this the spirit touched me and I had the thought that we all are like Conner in this life. We can’t ‘see’ our Heavenly Father but if we listen and take time to know Him, we will know when He is with us along our trail of life. There are times in life when things feel all uphill. We might even feel like we have fallen into a big badger whole. But if we have faith and learn to ‘walk with God’, He will guide us and help us back home.
The pioneer sacrifices are such great reminders to me of how I want to live my life. I want to live my life in a way that no matter what comes, I will never deny my knowledge and love for my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know they live. I know Christ sacrificed for us so we can rely on Him through our good days, as well as our bad. He is everything to me and I’m grateful for all the people who came before me who showed through their example their love of Christ. I add my testimony and witness with theirs that I know God lives. I pray we each can live in a way that hundreds of years from now we will have those we love look back and be inspired by the way we lived our lives.