Monday, August 11, 2014

The Pioneer Trek – a journal entry

So we survived the pioneer trek. Not only did we survive, we actually quite enjoyed! It was a neat experience, and Spence and I have both mentioned numerous times that we are so glad that we didn’t pass up on the opportunity. Kudos to my Uncle Jim and Aunt Rose for organizing everything, they did a fantastic job. The whole experience made me fall even more deeply in love with my family. And God too. I know he is real. And that he is mindful of me. And you. This experience has given me a new-found will to develop a deeper relationship with Him. It put things into perspective and reminded me why I am really here and what is really important. Not that I had forgotten entirely, but a refresher is always a good thing.

The mosquitoes were terrible. The car ride long. The preparation consuming. At times it was really, really hot. And at another time there was a terrible hail storm with thunder so loud that it shook the tent and scared Marlee to tears. My camera battery died and I didn’t get to take many pictures. Our entire water cooler spilt on Marlee – drenching her from head to toe. And then our tent got taken over by ants. And I missed a lot of the pioneer stories because I was busy with children – I hope we weren’t too disruptive for others.

But the experience was one that made every bit of it worth it.

My little Jace was upfront pulling the handcart the entire time. Right next to his dad and his grandpa. It would choke me up from time to time watching him up there pulling our load, alongside two of my most favorite men. He was too short to see over the handcart, so he’d keep his head down, his hat barely above his eyes, watching his feet for direction. He was so determined and I was amazed by his strength to keep on.

We were the captain handcart the first day and so our handcart was placed in the very front.  Brynlee so enjoyed being in the front, and I had to remind her from time to time to not get to far ahead of the group. Out of everyone in our family, she was the most excited to set out on this adventure. She loved gathering pioneer clothes, and preparing our camping supplies. I said multiple times before we headed out on trek that I was doing it for Brynlee – she wanted to go so badly. The day before we left she got sick and I wondered if she would be well enough to go. I mentioned the idea of not going to her and she promised me by the time we made it to camp she would be all better. And she was. 

Marlee was a trooper. She rode the bumpy handcart pretty well the first day and only complained when she would have to be put back into the handcart after a break. But then, during the women’s pull, the water cooler tipped over on her. After that she was so over riding in the handcart. The second day I carried her for most of the trek, passing her off from time to time to Grandpa and Spencer to catch my breath as we hiked the mountain into the cove. That night, in the tent, as I watched my children sleep I cried. Maybe a little out of exhaustion, some because of a great testimony meeting that we had just had, but mainly because I realized that there was an object lesson in me having to pack Marlee around on my hip as we walked the six miles that day. What a simple task it seemed to Marlee for me to carry her as I hiked. Not because she was being selfish or because she expected too much, but because I’m her mom! And as such I’m her superhero – her protector, her strength, her safety. Just as I thought my mom and dad were superheroes capable of saving the world, my kids too believe that Spence and I are capable of … well, everything. I’m so lucky that God trusted me enough to allow me to mother Brynlee, Jace and Marlee. I realize that there will be a time - probably sooner than later - where my kids will realize that Spence and I aren’t superheroes; that we are actually quite average, at best. But I hope I am always strong enough to carry them (so to speak) when they feel tired, or scared or overwhelmed. And I hope they always trust me enough to allow me to do so.

Marie was asked to sing a song at the top of Martin Cove. The Prayer of a Walking Child. My camera was dead so I didn’t get to record it, but she sounded just like an angel. She has talent. I’m so proud of my baby sister. She’s a sweet girl, with a kind heart. A while back Zeb joked that it’s going to be completely overwhelming for the lucky guy that Marie brings home to meet her parents. He will have to be introduced to her mom and dad, and her mom and dad, and her mom and dad, and her other mom and dad, and her mom and dad, and one more mom and dad. Bless his heart. Because she is so much younger than us I think we all feel the need to mother her. But it’s because we love you, Marie. You are pretty special to all of us. 

We trekked with about 80 members of my extended family, ranging in age from about 6 months to about 66 years old, I believe.  A sight that I am certain made Grandpa and Grandma smile in heaven. After the women’s pull it started to rain. A steady sprinkle that was enough to cool you off and wet your hair but not enough to soak you completely. Brynlee asked if she could get her rain poncho out. The missionary that was trekking with our family that day overheard her, and told her that she might not need her poncho because it wasn’t really raining, that it was actually just Grandpa and Grandma crying in heaven. I believe him, and I soaked in that rain. Grandpa and Grandma had to have been so proud.

Because Spence and my little family and dad and Marie were the only members of our immediate family able to attend the trek we were put into a pioneer “family” with my cousin Willy, his wife Meagan and their sweet little girl Reece. Reece is five years old, a social butterfly, cute as can be, and also blind - but you would never know that unless you were told. I loved watching Reece. Her lack of sight did not slow her down in the least. I’m still in awe at her abilities. She was independent, cheerful, a little mother to the other children and certainly wasn’t defined by her inability to see. But as much as I loved watching Reece, I loved watching Meagan mother Reece even more. Sometimes I have a hard time allowing my children to define who they are without me hovering. I have this overwhelming need to protect them. I’ve realized this trait in myself and in the last year or so have been really aware and consciously trying to be better. And I think I’ve made improvements, although there is still room for more. But it’s hard at times, and sometimes it even hurts. But as I watched Meagan mother Reece I took mental notes. She never doubted Reece’s ability and seldom intervened – even when she could see what Reece couldn’t. She would let her discover for herself. Reece never said I can’t, and Meagan never told her you can’t. Because she could. And she would. And if Reece ever felt lost or confused she would holler out “Mom!” and that’s when Meagan would intervene – only when she was asked. “I’m right here, Reece. Turn left.” or “You bag is a far reach to the right Reece, next to the water.” or “Your almost there, Reece, four more steps in front of you.” She never said come back, or don’t climb on that, or you’re going to get hurt you shouldn’t do that. The day we were leaving camp we stopped in front of the Willie Handcart Company sign to take a picture. Reece wanted to “see” the sign. Her parents told her that it was way too high up in the sky to “see”. But she asked again, and again. So Meagan walked her over to the sign. She let her touch the metal base. Then the rocks that held the metal carving of the pioneers. Then she held her and lifted her hand up in the sky, pointing to how high up the sign actually was, and while helping her arm form an arch like the shape of the sign she read her the words of the sign. It was a sweet sight, Meagan not only being Reece’s mom, but also her eyes.

Life is good. God is real. We can do hard things. And will do hard things.  The flag I made for our families handcart had the quote “Come What May and Love It”. Which is easy to do when life is going smoothly, and all is well. But this is life. And like the weather, it changes. Trials come and go. Good times turn into hard time. Weaknesses are uncovered, and smooth sailing tends to get bumpy every now and again. No matter how good summer is, winter always follows. And when the hard times come and the rain starts to fall, I hope that I have the strength and courage to love it too. 


Jessica said...

That maybe made me cry just a little bit!! Glad you guys had a great experience!

Megan Bailey said...

Sounds like you had an awesome experience! What a special time with your family

Jaelynn said...

I'm so glad you guys had such a good time! I love all of your pictures. And I'm pretty sure you will ALWAYS be a superhero to your kids, and let's be honest- to my kids too. :)

Jami said...

Yep, the tears are falling! Your post always amaze me, but I think this one is my favorite in a long time! You are such an example to me Kim! Glad you were able to go and you didn't let the little things stop you!

Cody Branch said...

Just so you know, Jill and I were watching you mother your kids as well. You and Spence are my heroes. I really look up to you guys a lot. When Jill and I were dating I told her that I wanted us to be like you guys. I'm afraid we are failing.

Kimberlee said...

Codster- I love you man. You and Jill are certainly not failing. Especially if you are using Spence and I as your example - we set the bar pretty low. :) But your comment was so sweet and it made my day. You and Jill are adorable little parents, and your kids equally cute. I miss the days that we would all hang out - we should start that up again. You know, my town and your new town aren't that far apart from each other. Let's rally the troops and play cards or something.

Cody Branch said...

Kim, I just saw this comment from a while back... Love the idea. We would totally be up for it. We are willing to make the journey to good ol' Poky.

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