The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon Church was established on 6 April 1830. Even before this time Joseph Smith was being persecuted because a vision he had seen of God the Father and Jesus Christ and because of the gold plates he was given for a short time to translate into The Book of Mormon. The persecution became even greater after the Church was established. The Saints were forced to move from state to state until the violence against them became so bad that the only way they were going to be able to worship Heavenly Father and Jesus was to go West out of the then known United States.
Years before this Joseph Smith had seen a vision where the Saints would be able to worship in peace and as they pleased in the rocky mountains of the west. Many of the Saints had already migrated west to Utah starting in 1847. In 1856 a group of Saints joined with a man named James G Willie who led the fourth handcart company which was one of the two that was stuck in present-day Wyoming in the late autumn and early winter and had many members die from freezing and starvation.
To Latter Day Saints the sacrifices and sufferings and deaths of those Pioneers that lost their lives on these treks holds great meaning. These Saints were willing at all costs to cross the plains to Utah where Zion had been established, where they would be able to worship in peace along side others that believed as they did.
To commemorate and get an idea what those Pioneers went through my Stake (a Stake is an area that has a certain amount of Wards or congregations) went to Wyoming where many of the Saints died in 1856 and where they were eventually rescued, for a four day trek.
I won't go into details about each day of the trek because I already wrote all of that in my journal and there are 15 pages on it. Maybe I will write about other experiences here and there but not all together in one blog because you probably wouldn't read all of it.
On the second day we started early because we had a 14 mile trek ahead of us pulling handcarts. I know for many the thought of walking 14 miles while pushing and pulling a hand cart was very undanting. I have to admit that I was looking forward to it. Three miles into it I was still doing pretty good and planed on making it to our camp site with no worries. That was until we came to Rocky Ridge. The G.I. (Government Issue) boots I was wearing that I thought I had already broke in, produced blisters galore!! Thank goodness for duct tape. Who would have thunk!!
Before we headed up Rock Ridge we were told of how hard it was for the Pioneers to make it up the ridge because of the amount of snow that had already fallen and because of the fatigue they were all feeling. From hearing that I knew that I wanted to be one pulling the hand cart up. I asked Lynsie to pull along with me so we could both have the experience together. I think everyone was pretty psyched for the challenge because it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. There were four of us pulling and four pushing. At times I felt like all I was doing was keeping a grip on the cart just to say I was there. I was actually hoping it would have been harder. Along the trail I asked those pushing to stop so I could have the experience of actually pushing the hand cart to feel what it is like to put some energy into it.
Two thoughts come to mind: one: I CAN do hard things! You have a lot of time to think on a 14 mile trek. I pondered the theme of the trek and realized that I have been doing hard things my whole life: running away from home; dropping out of high school, getting into drugs and drinking, being baptized and giving up a life that had become normal to me and start living a life I had never conceived; going on a mission; joining the Army; being deployed; getting married. There are times that I have feel like I fail at doing hard things because I complain, or fell that I don't give enough of myself. But in reality I give all that I can and even though I do complain I still do the best I can and for that I am blessed!
The other thought is: There were times on the trek as I was pulling the hand card along side others in my ward and as others were pushing from the back, that all I had to do was hold up and onto the cart. I wonder if that is all that is expected of us at times? That all we have to do is hold onto life and allow the Angels and Jesus to do some of the work. Of course we do eventually need to do our part, but I believe there are times when Father wants to do His part and all we have to do is stay on course and allow Him to help