Image from lds.org
I think I should write something about the pioneer trek that we were on last week, but it's hard to know where to start.
I was a somewhat reluctant attendee. My husband really wanted to go, but I wasn't so excited about it. He couldn't go without me, though—they wanted married couples only as leaders—so I agreed to come along. I guess I just didn't see the point of going and doing what the pioneers already did. I thought I understood and appreciated them enough.
I was wrong. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. Let me tell you, we had it easier than the pioneers (propane stoves, real food, nice shoes, sunscreen, allergy medicine, good weather, etc.), and it was hard.
These people gave up everything: their friends, their possessions, their comfort, sometimes even their lives, because they believed in something. Even if nothing went wrong, they'd still be traveling (usually walking) the 1,300 miles from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. That is no small feat.
We went about thirty miles. Even with good shoes, people still got blisters. Even with sunbonnets, hats, and sunscreen, people still got sunburned. Even with bug repellant, people still got mosquito bites and ticks. And even with several months' warning about exercise and preparation, everyone still got tired.
I learned so much from the ten teenagers in the "family" group that we led. Sometimes I wonder and worry about the rising generation when I see questionable looking teenagers loitering on the streets. Well, I'm here to tell you that there are some pretty amazing kids out there. I watched kids who pulled a handcart all day set up tents, carry water, and cook dinner without being asked. I saw kids with sprained ankles, blisters, and stomachaches keep walking on without complaint. When I think about the Sweetwater crossing, I know that many of these kids would have stepped up to help.
Sometimes I felt weak beside them—I'm naturally inclined to complain about everything, whether it bothers me much or not. But I have become stronger—and more positive—through these kids' examples. Hard work and cheerfulness are more useful than excuses and complaints.
The pioneers walked 1,300 miles because they believed in something—the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I went because I believe in it, too. And as is so often the case with church service, I feel that I gained more than I gave.
God made me sufficient to get through the few days I spent as a pioneer; I couldn't have done it without Him. How much more strength did he give the real pioneers, who had so much more to do? They are the ultimate example of standing up for what they believed in, and I hope that I will be able to be as strong as they were in living what I believe.