Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pioneer Trek

In June of 2014 our ward had a pioneer trek up at Camp Cumorah.  These first pictures were taken by the Cornetts and were staged, but they were taken right before we put our stuff in our handcarts and started on our trek.
As I look at these pictures I just have an overwhelming feeling of love for my family.  I am so thankful that our ward did this.  Jeff and I were able to go on a trek with Katelyn when she was 14 at Martin's Cove.  And now we were able to do this trek with the other 5 kids.

This trek had been in the works a long time before June.  Bishop Jones was excited and was very involved in the planning.  The Hermansens were the master minds and they delegated like champs.  As a result,with all those committee member how could it fail.

We drove into our campsite and unloaded.  Each family was assigned a company.  The three companies were the three bishopric members, Bishop Jones, Brother Brower and Brother Sondrup.
We each camped by our company, which I liked because you could watch out for each other.  I remember looking at the inspired list of companies and thinking they are all awesome.  I'd love to be in each one of them.  
 We had a sick wagon in case anyone became sick or injured during the trek and a 4 wheeler to rescue people on the trek. The Christensen's manned the sick wagon.  Tyler is a PA and Amberly is his awesome wife. Jeff was running around pretty much the whole time just getting things ready and helping where ever.  
I When we looked around at everyone we felt like pioneers because everyone dressed the part.  I had a few leftovers from our first trek and our cousins, the Oklahoma Jones loaned the girls some darling dresses for the first day.  I made a shirt for Kyle and got him some DI pants, I found an apron from my mom for Kris.  I had a very stylish 80's skirt for Kristen's trek day.  I made 2 skirts for the little girls with a few aprons and about 5 bonnets.  Julie Anderson had some gingham, lace bonnets for the little girls

Next we went and ate our delicious dutch oven chicken.  The meals were great.  The McCammons kept us well fed.

We then gathered for our first vignette.  I had never heard the word vignette before last year.  A vignette is a brief evocative description, account, or episode.  So the word evocative means bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind.  So we borrowed some of the vignettes that Nancy Jenkins had written when the 14th ward did their trek.  Then I was able to research and write others.  The Hermansens also researched and we came up with sixteen parts in total.  I was assigned to be the Vignette Specialist. The first one took place at camp with everyone.  President Merrill portrayed Franklin D. Richards reading a letter from Brigham Young where he called people to come to Zion.  I always wondered why the Martin and Willie companies were so urgent about coming to Salt Lake City.  I could understand why the saints in Nauvoo were anxious because they were being kicked out, but the European saints were following the call from this letter and they wanted to be sealed to their families. The letter that we found was powerful and President Merrill with his booming voice did it well.

Next was the hoedown.  I was also the Hoedown Specialist.  This was perfect for me because I love to dance and I love a hoedown.  We taught two of the dances before hand at the Daddy Daughter Dinner.  Then I was able to meet with the youth twice before to teach all three songs.  I had about 20 teenagers who were my leaders and they helped me a lot at each event.  Even Kyle danced and led at the hoedown.  The youth were helpful and willing and may I say, pretty darn good at square dancing.

A lot of the moms and dads came out to dance with their kids and with themselves, even though some of the kids were doing their own thing.  They can't really tell if they are doing it right or wrong as long as they are moving around.  Hence Olivia in the blue dress just dancing to her hearts content with Jeff. 
I had fun calling the dances.  We did Oh Susannah, Oh Johnny Oh and The Virginia Reel which was the favorite.
We had a cracker barrel then we went back to our camp where we sat around the campfire with other families and then went to our tent where Annalisa was sung to loudly.  It was her birthday.  She turned 18 on the trail.  The Hermansens had prepared a packet with questions to help us talk about the people we were remembering on our trek and to make it meaningful.  It was like a FHE on the trail.

The next morning we woke up to cows mooing.  It felt like they were right outside our tent.  We went to breakfast and then had our second vignette which the Bishopric did with the whole group.  It was called "The Vote".  We reenacted the decision the handcart saints made when they decided to go on even though they were late in the season.  They were Captain Willie, Levi Savage and Brother Atwood.

Our company was the first to go and we all had green flags. Each family was given a flag before hand and were supposed to decide as a family what they wanted to put on their flag.  The flags were very creative and unique.  They really showed the personality of each family.
We loaded up our handcarts and got moving.  They wanted us to have some weight in them so it would feel real.

The little kids looked so darling out on the prairie.  They just got dirtier and dirtier but they still looked cute.
The first stop  was called the "Miracles Vignette."  Six different people told their miracle story.  I was Anne Jewel Rowley and Kyle played John Rowley her son.  It was neat to do it with Kyle.  When we were planning this I prayerfully chose who should play each part.  Everyone said yes and they put their heart and soul into it.  So the rest of the vignettes were times three because each company had a different group of people.  I appreciated their willingness and the spirit they all brought to their story.  

At the first river crossing the Bishop assigned the 12 and 13 year olds to help each family and had road patrol.  It was so great to see them help like they did. 
The next stop was at the base of the hill/mountain.  An officer approached us and called all the men and young men 12 and up to go to the Mormon Battalion.  One 12 year old was so excited to leave with a rifle until he had to silently watch his mother with two sick kids in the back pull her handcart up the hill.  He wanted to help so bad.

Livvy watching them leave.

Zshanae portraying Mary Fielding Smith right before the women's pull.

The women's pull was actually impossible to do alone.  The kids did their best, but our company ended up needing everyone's help.  Eventually we had a system.  After we got someone up, a group of ladies would go help the next group.  It was a learning experience. Eventually we all made it. But it really helped us appreciate our priesthood. 
We took a break for lunch at the highest part of the trek and the Hermansens portrayed the Neilsens at Rocky Ridge.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, we took a little break.

We had a few more river crossings and the Taylors talked about the Sweet water crossing.  Then we each had a last gathering with our families and ate an unleavened biscuit as if it was our last and came into camp.  We were exhausted, but happy.

That night Jamie Merrill had organized a musical program like they would have on the trail.
The violin, guitar, ukelele, hymns, recorders and a wash board band entertained us.
Kristen, Natalie and the Anderson girls played Amazing Grace on their recorders.
Kyle played the spoons and Anna played the guitar.

We  ended with a testimony meeting and Bishop Jones final thoughts.
The next morning We woke up to a spastic cow mooing like an alarm.  We had breakfast and a  program to sum up what we learned.  One of the things that stood out to me was when Tristan John said that the men really wanted to help their wives pull the handcarts, and how we should want to help them with the little things that they need  at home and help around the house. And that the women really appreciated all of the work that their husbands did and missed them when they left and how we could try to appreciate the work they do to provide and try to live within our means.  It was a great way to take our experience and make it meaningful in our lives now.

 We broke camp and went home.  I felt like lingering.  I wasn't ready for it to be over.  When I went to church Sunday, I asked my 10 year old class what was their favorite part of the trek.  Some said the river crossings and the mud, some said the hoedown. One told me, "I know this is strange, but I liked helping Sister Sondrup."  I think he was talking about the Women's Pull.  The other one said, "I know this seems weird, but I liked helping the Hagadorns."  Their was a real spirit of service there and it made me so proud of our ward and all the people who were looking to serve.  I think doing the trek with families also made the needs real because it was hard and people needed help. It will always be dear to my heart.