Monday, July 16, 2007

Pioneer Trek

Stacey and I went on a Pioneer Trek for our stake last week. Stacey was one of the Ma's in our ward and I was one of the photographers for the stake. It was quite an experience. It is hard to put it all into words, but let me just say that it definitely changes lives. Many times during the Trek the question was put out "Was it worth it?" Over 200 pioneers died between the Willie and Martin Handcart companies, which is about 20% of the people. Was it worth it? Considering the faith strengthening experiences they had and the relationships that they were able to build with their Savior, the answer is a definitive YES! I was thinking just last night, that if you think about all the people who were affected by those handcart companies, the answer is even more definitive. 80% of the pioneers survived, but if you think about how many people have gone up there to re-enact the trek and how their lives have been changed, the number of people affected goes way up.

The women's pull was very touching. The young women in the stake struggled to push/pull the handcart up the hill and all the young men stood to the side of the trail and watched the struggle but were unable to help. It was amazing how this experience cemented the relationships that the youth had within their "families."

Another great experience was the crossing of the Sweetwater river. The stake re-enacted the crossing of the Sweetwater where the 4 young men carried the entire company across the river. Very few young women in the stake crossed the river themselves. Most of them were carried across by the young men. Brother Hunter, the Trek Master, had asked us all to try to envision the actual circumstances of the pioneers. For example, try to picture the snowy mountains, the ice floating down the river, etc. I was able to do that as I sat on the opposite side of the river and filmed the stake members cross the river. It doesn't sound that awesome, I know, but it definitely was.

I would do another Pioneer Trek in a heartbeat. It was so fun, and definitely life changing. If I ever do it again, though, I want to be the Pa with Stacey as the Ma. I think that would have been even more special to us.

Now that we are back, though, my real job begins. I get to take 7-8 hours of video and edit it down to a 45 min DVD to distribute to each of the youth. It should be pretty fun to go through and relive the Trek, but it will definitely be a lot of work.

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