My Ma and Pa were Brother and Sister Morris. They were amazing. I had 9 brothers and sisters (so together, we were a family of 12)
Brothers: Jonathon, Seth, Jeffery(Max), Lehi, and Connor
Sisters: Megan, Lindsey, Hailey and Erin
I LOVED my family. Oh my gosh. The weirdest thing, though, was the similarities between Jonathon and I.
Jonathon is also a convert. He was born 12 days after I was. He was raised Catholic (just like me) and HE WAS BAPTIZED ON DECEMBER 15!!! Like, what the heck?!?!! How COOL is that?! He was baptized a year before me, though. :) Yeah, this is my big brother, except, I'm 12 days older. He really stepped up and took the big brother role, though. (My brothers, Pa, and I put flowers in our hats, that's the yellow ball thing, my flower died.)
In all, Trek was full of many trials and many tears. I loved every second of it.
At 4:00 AM on Monday I woke up to my alarm singing "Let it Go" :) The Thunell's came to pick me up and bring me to the Stake Center. We all piled into cars and we were off. I was in the car with Ben and his mom. For the hour and a half ride, Ben told me stories of the pioneers. It was really cool.
Oh, and it rained the whole ride. It was 60 degrees by the time we got there and got out. It was so cold I was SHIVERING. Totally unexpected.
So we got there and I started to meet my siblings. Since Ma and Pa weren't there yet, we helped put up some tents and got to know each other.
When Ma and Pa got there, we learned names, and went to a little devotional. After that we loaded up our buckets on our handcart and we were all off.
This isn't my company, this is from the green company. You can see the mud we had to endure. It was super slippery and really hard to push a handcart through. I almost fell 3 times and actually fell once. I got tired of slipping and falling, so I decided to walk super close to a bunch of trees. I got pretty scratched up, but when my siblings started to fall, I was able to reach down and hook arms with them and pull them back up. Seth couldn't get his footing at one point, so I held out my hand and we walked out of the mud together. We all got pretty close as we walked together. I loved it.
I get really dehydrated, really fast, which was a huge bummer during trek. I got really queasy around lunchtime. I went to Brother Quenzer (the YM president in my ward, who was also a medic on trek) and told him how I was feeling. He told me to go ahead and eat lunch and see how I felt after. So that's what I did. After lunch I decided to push the handcart for the first time (which was a bad idea). Soon I was feeling super dizzy, so I had my brother take over. I kept walking and I just kept feeling worse so I stopped and waited for the medics. They had me walk with them since I was struggling so much.
My favorite part of the first day was the Mormon Battalion. After a little vignette (a play type thing) they took our brothers and pa's away and marched them away, leaving their wives, ma's, daughters and sisters behind to push the handcarts. We had a talk on the importance of the priesthood and we were off. Sadly, I wasn't able to push the handcart because the medics specifically told me not to, but I walked behind my family as they pulled. Soon, we saw our men on a giant hill.
And we started to run. (Well, those of us who were allowed to)
And they SPRINTED to our aid. (I get chills every time I think of it.)
And helped them up the hill. It was so spiritual. I was smiling to myself as I was walking with my medic friend when I looked up and saw my brother Jonathan running back down the hill toward me. He stopped by my side and talked to me for a minute before putting his hand up like he was telling a secret and said "we have a surprise for you guys up there."
He hooked arms with me, turned to me and said "You can do this." and we ran up the hill, together. This was something that really impressed me about my family. We were all there for each other 100% of the time.
That "surprise was those really yummy frozen ice pop things. We all got one and went on our merry way to Zion.
After 7 miles, we made it.
I made a (required) visit to the medical tent and the doctor gave me some funky lemon water and let me sit in front of some fans for a little bit, then sent me on my way to have dinner with my family. I was fine.
Ma made us these really fun toys called whirly gigs. They were amazing. They became our family's little joke. We wore them around our necks and played with them anytime we were at a fireside, eating, walking, doing anything, really. After we ate, we went to a little fireside. All of the sudden I was feeling queasy and having some awful pains in my chest. Instead of getting the icecream they had for dessert after the fireside I went to my tent, laid down and stared at the roof.
"Why am I here?" I thought. "Mom didn't want me to come, and I came and now I'm in so much pain. Why am I here? Why did I do this to myself?" Tears welled up in my eyes when my sister came into the tent to check on me. I blinked away my tears and followed her outside. We lit up some candles and talked about "sharing the light" of the gospel and prepared ourselves spiritually for the trail tomorrow by singing a hymn together. (Teach Me to Walk in the Light) Then we all hugged and went our separate ways. Right before I went into my tent, I got a stabbing pain in my chest again. I went to my sweet sister, Megan, and asked her to come to the medical tent with me. She went and told Ma where we were going and Ma decided to come along. The doctor checked me out and told me that he didn't want me to walk the next day. I was so sad. I cried. I decided that I wanted to get a priesthood blessing to help me feel better. So when we went back to the base camp, Ma went and knocked on my bishop's tent then got my Pa.
As I was sitting there waiting for Bishop to come over and for my Pa to find his oil, I looked up at stars and prayed silently to myself. All of the sudden the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The cool air made me feel a ton better. When the wind quieted, I could hear my sisters talking about me, asking Megan, who had slipped into the tent, if I was alright. It was so sweet of them to ask about me.
Pa and Bishop gave me a blessing. It was amazing. I love the priesthood. I hugged them and Ma then went into the tent and fell asleep. It was a really cold night.
Like I said, I wasn't allowed to walk the second day, but I told myself that when they drove me up to my family for lunch I would walk the way back with them. So I had that little motivation in my head as I hugged my family goodbye and made my way to the medical tent. The trail they traveled was called the "Sharing the Light" trail. It was based on missionary work. I was so bummed I couldn't go.
I sat in the medical tent for an hour or so talking to Emma Thunell. She broke her foot the Saturday before Trek so she wasn't able to do the trails.
They brought the two of us up to meet with our families for lunch, I talked to the doctor before I left and he gave me permission to continue on with my family. So that's what I did. We walked the trails together and since it was the missionary trial, there were some "nonmembers" that were asking us questions. I taught the first discussion to the one that was asking me questions, then he went on to ask the rest of my family questions. He said that out of all the families he talked to, we did the best at answering his questions about the church. It was really cool.
So we kept walking. And walking... And walking.........
Soon every step got more and more painful. I had some pretty bad blisters. I decided to try and tough it out, I didn't want to have to stop walking. The pioneers did it, so I could do it, right?
Then I saw Bishop Poulter. He moved off to the side to make sure everyone was doing okay. (The weird thing is, this is actually where he was. We had a great photographer. He got like every little moment.) I decided to go tell him what was going on. He called the medics and they put some mole skin on my blisters and I started to walk again. It hurt bad, so I was really slow. Bishop Poulter asked if it was any better, I told him they still hurt, but it helped a little. He told me he had another idea. He jumped off his horse and told me to get on. WHAT. I told him I'd be fine, but he insisted. So I got on the horse and rode into the base camp. Earlier in the day I was petting the horse and feeding him the carrots Ma gave me for lunch (I don't like carrots). I even gave him a kiss on the nose. I love that horse. :)
So yeah, I was one of the only youth that rode a horse. :)
When we got back to camp I went to the Pioneer Village with my family. We made butter, candles, made music with wash boards, ate some monkey bread, bought bracelets and candy with our "money"(beads), and took family pictures. :) It was a blast.
That night we had a musical fireside. We danced some of the Pioneer dances and we sang songs and we listened to some different musical performances.
(Savannah and Bethany singing Come Unto Christ (Which made me cry))
For the closing song we sang a song that someone's sister wrote for treks for a bunch of different stakes. Pretty much everyone was in tears. It's called Fire of the Covenant. Click here to listen to it. It's such a beautiful song. I just love it.
So after we all went back with our families. We were all supposed to bring a pioneer story. Throughout trek, Ma and Pa would ask us to tell our stories. That was the night that we finished telling our stories. We prayed and went to bed.
Day 3 (Last day)
We woke up to one of our leaders singing at the top of his lungs about how beautiful the day was. It was SO funny. I peeked out our tent window to see him shaking tents and
We all got ready for the day. Oh, I forgot to mention that the doctor didn't let me walk the last trail because it was the hardest one with no access to any roads for emergency pickups. Because of how dehydrated I got and the blisters I had, he wanted me to stay safe. So my family got ready for trekking, I got ready for an uneventful day at the medical tent.
We got to have a testimony meeting as a family. It was so spiritual. I absolutely loved it. My Pa cried during his. He told us about a talk he heard that explained that the pioneers would rather do what they did than live in our day. After our meeting Ma asked us to pick a last song to sing as a family. We sang Come, Come, Ye Saints. The whole song, not just the first verse, because we all love the last verse so much.
And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!
I just love it so much. I don't really know why. I guess it's because I finally understand a tiny bit of what the pioneers went through.
After we sang, my brother Seth said our last family prayer. And they got it on camera... It is one of my favorite picture from the whole experience.
After that we broke camp and put our trash bags of stuff in the appropriate areas.
And we were off. I walked with my family part of the trail to see the vignette, then walked to the medical tent, after checking in, I went to go find some friends and I wandered a little bit.
For lunch, I met up with my family. This was another one of my favorite moments.
The final vignette was of Joesph Smith. The priest who played Joesph Smith recited the first vision and a beautiful song was sung. (Joesph Smith's First Prayer)
Afterwards we were delivered letters from home. My dad wrote one for me, but he got it in late so it was an email. This is what it said:
Well, leave it to your dear ole dad to goof up and not get this to your group leaders in letter form before you left. You know me tho, normal I'm not :).
By the time you get this, I'm quite sure you are exhausted, possibly wet from the rain, bug bitten, tired and aching feet and legs, a little hungry, and probably sunburned on top of your sunburn.. I hope not, but 5 minutes in the sun and, well you know what happens to you after 5 minutes in the sun... :).
Mom and I wanted to let you know how proud we are of you! I look back now and wonder where the time went. When did you become a young adult??? Closing the chapter of high school, becoming someone who thinks for herself, follows her dreams and making an impact on the lives of those she touches. It seems like just yesterday I saw this little girl, standing in front of that little tree, lunchbox in hand, backpack loaded down with supplies, ready to take on the trials and tribulations that would be kindergarten. Try as I might, I just couldn't stop time from moving on. In a blink on an eye, That ole tree has grown, spreading its roots to ensure a prosperous life. And then I look at you... In that same blink you have grown into a remarkable young lady, your roots are spreading, building your life, leaving your legacy and touching the lives of so many along the way. We couldn't be prouder!
To that little girl, we said have a great day, have fun and come home safe, mommy and daddy love you.... To the young lady you have become we say, shake off the tiredness, finish the job you started, help where you can, touch as many lives as possible. Most importantly though, have fun, stay safe and get home soon, mommy and daddy love you!
We miss you already!
With everlasting love,
Mom and Dad
Oh my gosh. It was so amazing. I cried. A lot. And then I read Sister Thunell's sweet letter and I started crying even more. I wrote in my journal then got on my knees and prayed. It was a super spiritual experience. I remember looking around at the people around me. Most of them were crying, too. I saw a couple other people on their knees as well, and some writing in their journal. I felt united with all the people around me. I felt the love that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us.
It was beautiful.
After that we ate lunch and I said goodbye to my family again. I was a little disappointed, but I realized something.
It was NOT easy for the pioneers, and while some of them were well enough to walk and trek on, some of them were not. They had to let their families go on without them. I got to see my family a couple times a day, the pioneers didn't. The feelings of worry and wonder that I felt for my family were similar to the feelings that they felt. They didn't know how their family was, or how far they were, or if they were cold or hungry or hot or sad or happy or hurt. And the families that had to leave the people they loved behind had similar feelings to what my family felt. My family lost a daughter. Our perfect family was missing a piece. I'm sure the families in the pioneer days felt the same. They didn't know. Just like we didn't.
I'll never forget what my Ma said when I saw her on the 2nd day after I had been gone for a while. She looked up and saw me, gave me a big hug and said "My little girl!". It was so sweet. I loved my family so much.
I learned a lot that day.
We had this little tradition of cheering on the last company that came in. That was one of my favorite parts, too. The joy that was felt. Oh my goodness. On the last day some people were even carried back. People were hugged, tears were shed, smiles were shared. It was amazing.
If you look on the left side you can see Madison and I hugging :)
Oh and we also got some watermelon :)
We had a final fireside.
Then we said goodbye to our beloved families and left with our sore feet, tired legs, muddy shoes and stronger than steel testimonies.
Man, I love this church.