Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Cassie

As of today we have another teenager in the house.  Cassie turned 13!!

Martin/Willie Handcart Company Pioneer Trek

Our ward decided 2 years ago that they wanted to take the youth (12-18 years old) on a re-enactment of the Martin/Willie pioneer trek.  The Mormon's were leaving the east where they were being persecuted to head towards Salt Lake City, Utah.  This was Zion.  Newly converted members of the church coming from England and other countries outside the US also wanted the temple blessings being promised in Zion and decided they too wanted to make the trek.  They had a late start and people did not know they were coming, so once they hit Independence Rock, so late in the season, with little resources and only handcarts, the Saints suffered greatly.  Cold weather, including blizzards hit, food was running out and many died. When the prophet learned of these Saints traveling to Zion, he immediately went to work to send out rescue parties to assist them.  The rescue parties eventually caught up with them, offered some aid and then helped them into the Salt Lake Valley.

Mark and I were asked to be a "Ma and Pa" to a trek family and take the 5 day journey to Wyoming.  The trek happened this past week.  On Wednesday morning (12:30am to be exact) we boarded a bus with about 55 other people and headed off for a 12 plus hour bus ride.  We arrived at the Willie 6th crossing site where we set up our tents.  We took our first turn at pulling a fully loaded handcart for a mile warm up.  It was fun, but also lots of work.  Once back at camp, the rain came down (and I mean down pouring).  Everyone took refuse in their tents, however due to the wind, many tents suffered water coming in and getting things like sleeping bags wet.  This was not the greatest way to start things out.  The rain ended, we enjoyed dinner and spent the night square dancing.  We then learned about Levi Savage, who warned the Saints if they were to take this journey many would die, but told them he would do everything he could do to help them with the journey.  

 The next day we took off for our longest, 10 mile trek.  This was an amazing experience.  The weather was a bit overcast and felt great.   We got to listen to missionaries talk about the trek, then about half way through our walk, they pulled the men out of all our groups and talk to them about how many men died on trek due to sacrificing their rations for their wives and children and also leaving to fight in war with the Mormon battalion.  We watched them walk up a long hill, leaving only the women and girls to pull their carts for the next 30 minutes.  Suddenly the sun came out and was hotter than had been for days.  The trail was deep sand and up hill.  My "family" had 4 girls and me.  We all got into position on our cart and began up the hill.  It was a difficult pull, but I knew we could do it.  As we crested the top, the men were all standing there paying honor to us women for the "loads" we carry everyday.  They all stood with their hands on their hearts.  Once we reached the top, I took off back down the hill to help those behind me.  When I reached their cart, they looked so tired and warn out and I was happy to share my talents with them.  Soon other followed and we were up that hill in no time.  The men all then took hold of the carts and off we went for the remainder of the journey.  Along the way "babies" belonging to "families" were dying and needed to be buried.

The next part of the trek was a re-enactment of a husband and wife who gave everything they had to the church in order to allow others to come to Zion.  they only kept enough money to purchase their handcart and supplies.  They had with them their son and a young girl they brought from Denmark with them, whose family could not afford to come with her.  Along the trek, the father became ill and could push the handcart no longer.  He asked his wife to leave him and continue on, which she would not.  Instead she loaded her husband into the cart and began pulling him in the blizzard for 27 hours.  The missionaries had one "ma" pull her large "pa" in the cart while we were all at the top of the hill watching.  She struggled to get the cart moving due to his large stature.  She eventually got the wheels rolling, but continued to struggle.  Tears were shed both by her, her husband (unable to help his wife with such a burden) and for those watching.  Eventually the missionary allowed other to run down the hill to help and talked about how the Lord will allow us to struggle until we can struggle no more and then he sends help.  He talked about sometimes as parents we rush in to help our children too fast without allowing them to struggle and other times we see people struggle and move in too slowly before helping them.  It was a very moving and powerful experience to be a part of.  We then continued on our journey.

We had to cross 3 river crossings.  Just as we reached the water, the clouds moved in, the wind began blowing and rain drops began falling (hard).  Come to find out there was a mud pit we had to cross prior to the water.  By the end, hail began to fall and it was freezing!  My hands were so cold and my wet skirt was stinging as it slapped my legs.  I kept thinking about how my "family" was going to get warm,with all their wet clothes and what those without more than 1 outfit would do for the remainder of the trek.  I truly gained an appreciation for what parents must have felt as they watched their young children freeze to death with nothing they could do to help.  What a helpless feeling.  Thankfully by the time we got back to camp, someone had come forward to "rescue" us.  They knew we were out in the storm so they built fires and took our muddy carts from us and cleaned them off and took all our items out of it.  After warming by the fire, the sun came out and dried everyone off, we had dinner and then a fireside learning about more pioneers that sacrificed so much.  

The next day we drove to Martin's Cove and did the 6 mile trek there.  We saw Devils gate and walked Rattlesnake pass.  We saw the cove pioneers went to to get out of the blizzard after rescuers found them.  So many still died while there.  We got to cross the Sweetwater River, in which at the time was frozen and rescuers stood in carrying people across to help them avoid the cold and further suffering.  This allowed the men and boys in our group to carry girls and women across.  Once back at camp we enjoyed some fun arm wrestling, leg wrestling and stick pulls.  Then after dinner we learned about the pony express, got letters from our families and held family testimony meetings.
above: our family
 Above: Kacey at a memorial statue of one of the rescuers
 crossing the water...

 fun and games

Our last day there, we went to Rocky Ridge where 13 members all died in one night while on trek.  they were buried there and it has now been dedicated as sacred grounds.  Thankfully in 1992 the temple work was done for all those that gave all in an effort for those great blessing and never made it.  they call that the  "second rescue" with the first being the physical rescue.  The missionaries there talked about how in our times we are now in the "third rescue".  This is where times have gotten so hard for our youth that we need to be doing everything we can to help them along so they too can receive blessings promised to them.  Again, it was an amazing experience.  We then loaded on the bus for another long 12 hour drive on a big, stinky (no showers for anyone all those days) bus.  We got home at about 1am on Sunday morning.  We then were part of  our church Sacrament program, with testimony bearing and singing the song, "Come, Come Ye Saints", which was the anthem for the Saints during the trek.  

Happy birthday Caleb...the big 18

On July 16, Caleb turned 18 years old.  Happy Birthday, Caleb!!  Before turning 18 Caleb was able to complete his Eagle project for Scouts, then just after his birthday he got his driver's license and now he is working to get his mission paperwork completed and turned in.  

Family Reunion continued

One of the biggest attractions to the family reunion is the "games".  A full half day is devoted to old time games and races and the winners all receive a golden dollar (this used to be a silver dollar when I was little).  These dollars were treasured.  I actually still have all the silver dollars I won as a kid at the games.  The day starts out with running races for all ages, then sack races, three-legged races, egg toss, water balloon toss and finally a pie eating contest.  Another big highlight of the games are the homemade suckers we all eat while watching the festivities.  The girls got to help their great-grandma and grandma make a batch of suckers the day before the reunion started.  Those are the good memory making moments.
Here are some highlights...
Chase doing his running race  
Chase won a golden dollar for the sack race
 Reyna and Madeline jumping away towards the finish line
The ladies (30 year olds) lining up for their running race (sprint).  I am the second from the left in the black shorts, next to cousins and then my sister (1 year younger) is on the right in the pink shirt
 Kacey trying to jump his way to victory
 Chase trying to figure out the potato sack thing...
 Cassie showing off one of her two golden dollars.  She won them with her cousin, Weston, doing the egg toss and the water balloon toss.  Who knew they were such a good team throwing and catching to beat all the teens.
 Mark with his mad jumping skills
 Madeline with egg splatter on her...they didn't win the egg toss

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Family Reunion Fun

Our family does a family reunion every other year and has since I was a young child.  It is held at a lodge owne) we decided we would load everyone up, take days of work and go enjoy a few days of fun.  These days are loaded with tons of activities, so there is always something to do.  There is sleeping at the lodge, but my sister was able to use someone's amazing cabin, just up the road from the loadge that had 6 bedrooms adn 7 bathrooms, vs. the lodge that is 65 beds and 4 shower stalls (2 for the ladies and 2 for teh men).  Kacey, Reyna and Madeline decided they wanted to stay in teh lodge, so they slept there.
So, we arrived on Monday in time to check things out, pick out beds for the kids that wanted to stay and then it was dinner time.  After dinner, they showed a slide show of last years reunion and then offered dance classes.  Mostly the kids partook of the lessons.  
Reyna and Madeline learning some mad dance skills 

Chase showing off his prize possessions that didn't leave him all day/night (have I ever mentioned he has hoarding mentality? but we love him lots inspite of it) 
My dad...just hanging out.  He is normally found at the reunion with a book in hand and snacks by his side.  this was a glimpse of him without his book.
This was a favorite past time for the older kids and cousins.  Mark and Kacey taking in a game of pool
Mark and Kacey, just hanging out
Chase, playing fussball.  He has a bandaid on his nose from a fall up concrete stairs he took the first night we were there.  Someone brought him in, blood all over his face.  We were not sure where the blood was coming from...I figured he needed stitches or his teeth had been put through his lip, but after a good washdown, his nose was the source.  I thought perhaps he broke it beucase it was swelling and bruising pretty fast and he just wanted to be snuggled without any cloth touching his nose.  He eventually asked for a kiss and a bandaid, which in his world fixes everything.  We did as asked and when we took the bandaid off the next day at his request, no swelling, no bruising and it would only bleed if he started crying.  He said, "see I told you". 
Cassie and Chase playing fussball
Mark and I having a mad game of ping pong
Chase, being goofy!
On 2 of the days at the reunion, they pulled out this big sheet of plastic and put it down the hill with water running over it and created a fun "water slide" for the kids to enjoy.  Here is Mark and Chase doing down
Kacey at the bottom of the slide
Our kiddos at the top of the slide
Kacey going down
Reyna going
Kids doing a train down the slide, cousin Weston, Reyna, Madeline and Cassie
More train fun, Madeline, Chase, cousin Liz and cousin Sophie
Mark got in on some adult fun playing volleyball
They had a night of "good luck" games that offered a variety of events that anyone could do.  This was the Elephant walk.  It consisted of trying to knock over bottles on the ground by swining the ball from your head.  Here is Madeline taking her turn
Mark and Chase making big bubbles
This game consisted of unwrapping a piece of bubble gum in your mouth (no hands) and then chewing and blowing a bubble. 
Kacey participating in an M&M game where you have to suck an M&M through a straw and put it into your cup before someone rolls doubles on dice
Chase playing his elephant game
Reyna at the elephant game
Cassie doing watermelon seed spitting contest
Reyna making bubbles
Cousins LOVED being together.  We don't get to see them much due to them living in Utah and Alaska, but it was great having the kids together for a few days.  They all got along well. 
Chase trying to move an oreo from his forehead to his mouth withouth his hands. 
Cousin Sophie and Chase enjoyed chasing each other and being buddies over the days
d by BYU called Timp Lodgein Provo, Utah, right above Sundance.  I haven't been to a reunion since Cassie was almost a year old (and she will be 13 years old in just a little over a week).  So, after 12 years (6 reunions