Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the trek. Which is basically a short reenactment of the Mormon pioneer’s journey to Salt Lake. We (as in teens 14-18 and some adults as “Ma’s” and “Pa’s” and company commanders) dress up in pioneer type clothing, we pack all the basics in a 5 gallon bucket, then we pull a handcart for miles with no idea of where we are actually going.
All this and more, for what reason?
From this experience I have learned very essential life lessons that I would like to share. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience.
The first lesson that was taught to me was by my ma, Ma Romine. One of the first things she told us was that our family motto, or chant, was, “We can do hard things!” She told us that whenever we felt like giving up, or the load was too hard to carry to push has hard as you can and yell, “We can do hard things!”
When we arrived at the trek location it was pouring rain. I am not exaggerating when I say I was soaked the first 2 minutes outside of my car. It was raining and it was cold. My brother and I got checked into and we got our family assignments. Gathering with those in the same company, we finally were able to start putting together our handcarts. We got our handcart assembled and we got our first hike assignment and it was up to base camp. We ate a quick lunch then shortly after started up this hill. It was already harder than most of us expected but we pushed through.
After getting up the hill and getting our home settled in, we were told to grab our coat, poncho, and our dishes and head back down with our wagon. Without really knowing what was going on, we headed down the hill and soon came to realize that we were going on a hike.
This hike that we went on started at about 5:30 p.m. and we didn’t get back to base camp until about 1:45 a.m. The mud was deep and the wagon was heavy but there was no turning back and definitely no quitting.
Multiple times on the way up we chanted, “We can do hard things!” and others soon began to follow. At about 9:30 p.m. we were half way! We sat down, laid down, and some even slept. We had about 30 minutes to pull ourselves back together and get ready to head back. We finally got word that we had to get going again. Exhausted (mentally and physically) we got back up and we started pulling again. We finally made it to where we would have one scoop of dinner. Even though it was only one scoop and probably not the best food it was worth it.
That hike was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I did it. We did it. From this I learned a lot about “doing hard things”.
First, the journey is long, it is hard, and it will be muddy and have hills but WE can do it. Heavenly Father has given us a support system we can pull with. We don’t have to do it alone but we must do our part. In life, there will be times where it doesn’t seem like there is an end to the hard times. But because Heavenly Father loves us, we do not have to do it alone. In fact, He doesn’t want us to do it alone. There are a lot of people trying to get where you are going. There are people who have a load to carry as well but we have to do it together. For example, my family on the trek. There were times where I felt like giving up but a sister would start singing hymns, or a brother would tell a joke that would give me that much more motivation to keep pushing. Ma was injured but she kept going and she kept motivating us to do our best. Pa would constantly check on us and ask what he can do for us and then he would do all in his power to give us the strength to keep going. We would sing, we would joke, we would struggle, we would push. The journey back would have not been possible without my family. It wouldn’t be possible without the people Heavenly Father gave to me work with.
Second, while doing hard things you must stay positive. I was so excited to go on the trek but I knew it was going to be hard. When it was raining when I got there I immediately thought, “This will be more difficult but something great will come out of it.” With my family it wasn’t hard to stay positive. But there were times that inside I would get down because it was hard. I would be upset that it was raining. I would be hungry and I thought I had a reasonable excuse to be a little upset. I noticed as soon as I would do that the load seemed to get heavier and the journey just seemed harder. I noticed that it wouldn’t be as fun and everything just got worse. Then I remembered the promise I made my grandpa, that I wouldn’t murmur or find a reason to murmur. As soon as I remembered this, I was able to find the positive in all things. It became fun and the Spirit was able to be with me more. I was able to love my family on a more deeper level and I was able to thoroughly enjoy pulling a handcart in the rain and in the deep mud.
Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.”
We may not always have to pull actual handcarts through mud but there will always be a journey. At times it will get hard, and you may want to quit, but don’t. Have a happy spirit and you’ll soon come to realize why you are currently making that journey. It may be to make you stronger, it may be to teach you hard things, it may be to help you build stronger relationships or it may be just because you have to. Even though you may not know the reason, you can be happy but you must choose to be happy. It won’t come any other way than you choosing to keep going with a smile on your face.
With that being said it leads to the next thing I learned in strong force while on the trek. We are never alone, even in the hardest times. The women’s pull was one of the hardest experiences the whole trek. All the men left us and we were asked to make this hike alone. Our Pa was allowed to walk beside us but that was it. We hiked up our skirts and started pulling (the following comes straight from my journal). “It was a nightmare. It was muddy, slick, and heavy. I wanted to give up then I would look up to see my sisters giving their all. I saw Ma in pain pushing through and I saw Pa walking beside us holding back tears but longing so bad to help. We kept pushing for the end. We saw our brothers, which helped me be stronger. I pushed harder, then all of a sudden the wagon got lighter and started to speed up, until we made it home.” Each little part of this was symbolic in a special way for me. Let me break it down.
“Hard and wanting to quit- Sometimes in life there will be extremely hard hills, there will be slick paths, a heavy weight, and you’ll want to give up. You’ll feel as if you’re alone.”
“My Sisters- My sisters, no matter how hard it was, gave their all. They pushed with all their might because they didn’t want to give up each other. And they knew we needed each other.” They are those who are really pushing around us even when we don’t have the strength or courage to look up. We have to look up to see them, to see that we aren’t alone.
“Ma- Ma’s role was a good example of the Savior. She sprang her ankle on the Sunday before the trek and it killed her to push. She did it anyway because she loved us too much not to push.” The Savior gave His life so that He can push with us. He felt everything and more so that we can be stronger. I became stronger as I saw Ma pushing with us. The Savior should be who we turn to in the midst of pushing up the hills. He will always be there to help us through even when we feel alone.
“Pa- He reminded me of Heavenly Father. He couldn’t help us physically push. He could only watch us fight to get that wagon up the hill. You can tell it killed him. You can see the hurt in his eyes. Heavenly Father must feel similar, watching us struggle, feeling alone and he cannot physically help us.” Pa walked beside us and longed so bad to help us, all he did was whisper small motivations. He could have jumped in at any minute and helped us push but how could we learn that we can do hard things.
“My Brothers- I needed them. We came up the hill and saw them and they gave me the courage and strength to push harder. I cried when I saw them because I realized how much I need them, how much the strengthen me, and how importantly they truly are. Then suddenly, I saw our brothers running to come save us, to help us push. We need each other in life because we are answers to each other’s prayers. Heavenly Father does help us by sending angels. Right before we are about to give up, He’s there.” My brother’s helped me realize that it is okay to need help. They helped me realize that in life we need each other. That we have to trust others so that we can make our journey home to our Father in Heaven. They were a strong representation of why it is so important to have someone worthy to hold the priesthood because it is essential in our lives.
“End in sight- A lot of the hill we couldn’t see the end, but we knew where we were going. In order to get through the hard times we must remember where you are going and fight to get there.”
I can go on and on about what I learned on trek but you probably don’t want to read anymore. But I am so grateful for the trek and the blessing it has been and always will be in my life. We ended having to be rescued and it was amazing the amount of people that are always there willing and ready to save us.
I want to talk about my family for little bit. It was just amazing how after a few hours, we were able to love our family so deeply. I know it wasn’t some mistake that I had the people I had in my family. They are people I can love and depend on for the rest of my life. I was able to make eternal friends on the trek because we did hard things together.
I am grateful for our pioneer heritage who taught us what it truly means to do hard things. They have helped me appreciate this gospel more deeply. I love my family (biological and trek) so much, I am so grateful that I get to spend eternity with my best friends. I know it is true. I know that Christ lived and died and lives again so that we don’t have to be alone. I know that life will be hard, but I know now that I can do hard things.