Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shock and Awe!!!

I am just not up to doing the Hawaii trip, yet, so instead I wanted to write about our latest experience. We were asked several months ago by our bishop to be Ma's and Pa's for the upcoming youth conference which was to be a mock Pioneer trek this year. They do this every 4 years to help the youth appreciate their pioneer ancestors as well as their parents today and to find strength they didn't know they had. We were a little reluctant at first. 1) I was worried about our children for the three days we would need to be gone and 2) neither of us had worked with the youth in this area and didn't know much about them. The bishop said he was planning to help us find places for the children and that it didn't matter if we didn't know the kids as we would have a mixture of youth from all over the stake. The planning meetings were time consuming and not very convenient, the actually trek was just 6 days after we got back from Hawaii and I had to sew my pioneer costume to go. We also ended up buying about $200 worth of stuff to go on the trek. It was a late night trying to get ready, a very early morning where we got lost and didn't get there until an 1 1/2 late (turns out everyone else had just been standing around doing nothing the whole time anyway), and it was the hottest day of the year so far. I did not start out with a very positive attitude, but in the end it was the best experience ever. We truly enjoyed ourselves and loved working with the youth.
The group we had looked a little on the less muscular side, but in the end their heart, their spirituality, their strength of spirit and a few hidden muscles made our group the best one out there by far. Rob took us and the kids up the hill to the shade as we waited and got to know each other. We went down the hill to build the handcart and brought it up the hill empty. The kids decided right then and there that we must be the smartest parents of the whole group. The most muscular of the group said in his testimony at the end of the trek that he looked at our group and thought he felt sorry for them, until his name was called last and then he wanted to cry. At this point he had decided that he would just get a few more muscles then he planned on this trip and tried to have a more positive attitude. He ended up being the person we chose to be our Big Brother. He also said that he was wrong and that we were definitely the best group out there.
We had 5 girls and 4 boys. 2 of the boys weren't so much on the helping side, so our girls shouldered a big load and they did a great job!
The first day was the longest and hottest. The path was mostly through shaded areas, but also mostly hilly. Because we were already at the start of the hill, we got to be the first cart in the line. This was nice, because carts got confused, broken, took their own breaks, etc along the way. Our group moved out, trying in vain to stay up with the trail boss. We did about 1/4 of that long day out of site of anyone. We also did a lot of waiting to get the other carts caught up to us.
The first day was also the Women's pull. This is suppose to show the girls the kind of power they have, prove to the boys that the girls were pulling and show the girls how much work the boys were doing. The last time they did this, they had about 14 kids(boys and girls) to a cart. This time there was 8-9(therefore, less girls per cart this year.) It was impossible for the girls to get the carts up the very steep, rocky, rutted hill they wanted them to without helping each other. Luckily, the girls figured this out all on their own, before anyone even tried or someone would have been injured for sure. They all hopped onto 4 wagons and pulled those up first. Closer to the top we saw at least 1/2 the boys picking blackberries and staring at the girls. They got a sever talking to by one of the pa's (we heard later on.) The boys were not allowed to talk to the girls, but they were allowed to help any way they could think of without actually touching the carts or girls. Some fanned them, one continued to pick blackberries for them to eat afterwards, a few, includind a couple of ours, started filling in a couple of the bigger ruts and picking out some of the bigger rocks. Most of the girls helped 2 or 3 wagons up the hill. Our group of girls helped with 5-6. They just kept running back down. One even got sick and we had to keep yelling at her afterwards to stop her from helping with ours. Five kids went to the hospital after that first day with heat exhaustion. None of them were from our group, thankfully.

We ended up 2 1/2 hours behind schedule that day. We didn't get into camp until 9:30 at night and had to set up, build a fire and make stew and biscuits on an open fire from scratch. This picture is actually from the second night making dinner- I couldn't take pictures in the pitch black that night!
The families were given nothing to eat on the way that day so everyone was hungry, but almost too tired to eat. Our family kept a positive, all be it exhausted attitude. They did what they had to, ate quickly and got ready for bed. Even still, we had 3 girls who huddled around the fire or the one candle we brought to try and read their scriptures. We slept under the stars that night with cows mooing right next to us.
The second day, the leaders realized that it had been too hard on the kids the first day, so they tried to shorten the trek by a couple miles. Unfortunately, after about 1/3 of the wagons got down a very steep hill they stopped us and told us the way was impassible and we would have to go back up the hill and continue the original way. I was not at all happy!! But those kids of ours, just said, "oh well" turned the cart around and muscled up the hill. The other carts sent some of their bigger kids down to help those who had to come back up, but our kids told them that they were fine and to go help the other carts. They truely were an inspiring group!
Before we got to camp that day it started to pour on us. Everyone pulled out the tarps and set up shelter as soon as we got into camp. It rained a couple more times that night. The trail boss told us where to stay each night- the first night we were right in the middle which meant we were bombared with smoke from all sides. Even if it hadn't have been pitch black, I wouldn't have been able to see with all the smoke in my eyes! So, the next day, we broke away from where he put us and went down the hill, right next to the stream, between two trees to set up our shelter. There were quite a few jealous individuals out there when they saw that. We played games, had a hoedown and watched a demonstation on blacksmithing. It was a good evening.
The next day we had a testimony meeting, where all but two of our kids got up. Our Big Sister was the first person to bear hers, in fact. I leaned over and told Rob, theirs the Relief Society President for the college ward she will go to (when she goes!) I never got up on that first fast and testimony meeting, when I went to college, because I always thought I would wait until the next time when there was less people getting up- but I also never got much of a calling. I was the hymnal passer-outer one year. Seriously, though, how else are they suppose to guage the youth, if they don't hear from them. I realize that know! One thing this definitely taught me was, Be a Part of Life. Don't be a Bystander. Get in there, get involved! Our kids all amazed us, because they did that! They were so outgoing, spiritually involved, quick, smart, full of strength, not overly worried about what others thought, comfortable with themselves! Amazing for teenagers, don't you think.
Shock and Awe was one of the family names we came up with. We also called ourselves the purple people eaters and we liked to tell the Sunbeams (the yellow team) that we were going to eat them! Just a little bit of shock and awe from our group!
It was a great experience and I am glad we got to participate. It has helped us grow! We were so thankful to the people that watched our real children for us, as well. Even when Max got so sick (Fever and congestion). Thank you, Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Your one strong guy is a handsome youth and those are strong women. Didn't quite understand why one of the leaders got upset because the boys were picking black berries. You and Rob look very much the proud parents. Wish I could have made the trip as planned what a bumber miss out of the experience and for baby Max to be sick but not at his house. Mom

The monkey bunch said...

They were mad, because the boys were being less than impressive. The girls were working hard and they were glutting themselves on blackberries and doing nothing to help- the things they were allowed to do. Rob couldn't do anything, but he kept running back down the hill with each group and watching them- he said it was gut wrenching to watch.

Princess and A BYU Fan said...

That sounds awesome! I'm glad it worked out so well. And you did a great job with your pioneer outfit :)