Saturday, July 2, 2011

Near My God, To Thee

Day 3 of Trek.  Last day.

The boys and men got conscripted into the army first thing in the morning.


We sent them off singing “God Be With You ‘til We Meet Again”.  I knew it was all pretend.  Why did I keep crying?


There’s just *something* about a man with a rifle…mmm.


It was just me and my *daughters*…


Yes, we had a little tear…(this poor cornhusk doll never stood a chance with these girls.  But that’s a different story!)


But, you can see, we put a smile on our face and carried on.  It wasn’t so bad.  In fact, we did pretty well.  At one point, the boys came back and I hesitate to admit that I was a little disappointed. Honestly.  We could do more, we hadn’t been tested!

However, they were only passing through, not to stay.



It was too long and too steep for any one handcart family to make it up by themselves so we needed to work together with the other families in our company.

Which meant we needed to do it SEVERAL times.


This picture does not do it justice.

On one of my ways up the hill, the girl just opposite of me fainted.  We were mid way up the hill.  We faltered.  If we stopped we would roll backwards down the hill and take out the women pushing from behind.  Yet, going on seemed unforgivable.

“There is Jane James, finally pulling her handcart into camp toward midnight.  Her children had become scattered and disoriented in the whiteout on Rocky Ridge, but she has gathered six of them…Somewhere back on the trail are her husband, William, and her 13-year-old son, Reuben.  William had collapsed earlier in the day and sent Jane ahead to find the children.  Reuben had stayed with his father.  Over and over, Jane’s children ask, ‘Will Father and Reuben be here soon?  Do you think someone helped them?’  All through the night the uncertainty gnaws.  Finally, toward morning, one of the captains approaches Jane, bearing the dead body of her husband and the nearly unconscious body of her son.  He tries to comfort her and then goes back to work.  The look in Jane’s eyes frightens her children, but she calls upon the deep reserve of faith and has her family ready to move on the next day.”  (Andrew D. Olsen, The Price We Paid, 2006, pp. 209-210)

We continued up the hill, we had to.  The Captains (who had been coaching, but not pushing) swooped in and got her into the shade.  She recovered, and we were so grateful.  So much for being pretend.  Suddenly things were very, very real.

But, we weren’t done.

Now, we had to go DOWN.

Going up was hard.  Going down was petrifying.  Going up, it seemed like you could do it as long as you just kept moving.  It was possible, controllable.  Going down, you were never really in control.  It was way worse.

The reward was, at the bottom of the hill we got our boys back.  I have never, ever been so grateful to see them.


Together, we would face Testimony Hill.  It goes on and on and on.  Surely it is named so because you have to pray continually that you will be able to finish.


By luck or design, we were THE VERY LAST HANDCART in the the Camp.

Most of that last hour is a blur but here are some glimpses that have remained with me:

  • About a third of the way up the hills personages in white appeared to help lighten our load.  One of them happened to be the mother of one of my *daughters*.  The angel mother silently took her daughter’s place.  This daughter—SO strong in body and mind—had not expected her and broke down in tears.


  • Further along came a group of young men who had previously made the journey and came back to assist others until every last cart made it.  Tyler related later, “I never want to ask for help.  But I knew that I would not be able to do this by myself and it reminds me that I don’t always have to do it all on my own.”


  • One of those young men took the place of Jeff pushing from behind.   He said, “Brother, you’ve done enough.  I’ll take it from here.”  I know that if we do all that we can, in the end, it is the Savior’s atoning sacrifice that makes up the rest and takes us the rest of the way Home.


  • Our cart in good hands, Jeff and I looked up the hill to see our Bryce (remember, he’d been assigned to another family and had previously made it all the way up the hill) coming down the hill for US.  Ya, I can’t even say what that did to us.  We walked the rest of the way hand in hand.


Even just walking it without pushing the cart was HARD.  I had to remind myself to breathe evenly and deeply.

As we crested the hill we were greeted by those who had made it ahead of us as well as other well wishers.  I was sobbing.  I still couldn’t tell you why.

I had not expected to feel this way.  I was so full…

of gratitude,

of compassion,

of the Spirit.

And that is very



When we finished, we gathered with our *families* one last time.  It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  We talked about the memorial at Rock Creek Hollow.  One word… 

President Gordon B. Hinckley’s prayer of dedication at Rock Creek Hollow:

“O God, our Eternal Father, we thank Thee for the great inheritance that is ours, that we come of the strain of noble people who valued faith more than life itself, who were willing to work and sacrifice—even to give their lives in death—for the cause in which they believed.  Help us to be true to the faith, and help all generations who shall follow to remain true to the faith, that they may keep the trust which became so much a part of the lives of those who died here and elsewhere along this trail of tears.”

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