Friday, July 13, 2012

Pioneer Trek

Pioneer - a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.

(Synonyms - leader, trailblazer, forerunner, pathfinder )

Trek - a journey or trip, especially one involving difficulty or hardship

Yesterday more than 100 youth from our church began a journey back in time.  This spiritual journey is for youth ages 14-18 and will last for three days.  They began by assembling and loading wooden handcarts, like those used by our pioneer ancestors more than 150 years ago.  They were divided into "families" each led by a "Ma" and "Pa," a real husband and wife couple from our church.  Each family has their own handcart.  They load their handcart with the supplies that they will need for the next three days. Each individual is allowed to bring a sleeping bag and a five gallon bucket.  Everything they bring with them must fit into this bucket.  They are not allowed to bring modern conveniences such as cell phones or ipods.  They will eat pioneer food and sleep under the stars.

This is the wonderful group of youth from our ward, or congregation. Imagine, 19 teenagers choosing to do this...AMAZING!

Patience is a virtue!  They were all so anxious about finding out  who was in their family.

You don't know how hard I prayed that Shawn would get placed in a good family. He is not one to make new friends easily.  When they called his name to join his family, I could see the disappointment on his face.  He did not know ANY of the other kids.  He even said to me, "Even a girl would have been OK."  He did, however, know his Ma and Pa and joked with them that he would be their favorite child.  That's my boy!  And here's his family loading their handcart.

The families spent some time getting to know each other.

And then they started on their way...

Two of Shawn's friends got placed in the same family.  As soon as their handcart started out, stuff started falling out of the back.  They weren't sure what to do, so they just stared at their handcart continued to be pulled away!

Shawn started out in the rear of his cart.
Another family picture and then they were off...

Why would we send our kids on this trek?  Our hope is that they will realize that they are capable of more than they ever thought possible.  And that they will learn the importance of family.

Saturday morning the youth will take their journals to a quiet place in the mountains and reflect on what they have experienced.  They will also receive letters from their church leaders and their parents (the real ones) containing memories, praises and love before being welcomed home by their real families and enjoying a modern feast.

I miss him and can't wait for him to come home!  But as I write this post, I just received a text and a picture from a "Ma" telling me that Shawn is having fun...thank you modern conveniences!

Friday, July 6, 2012