Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Walk With Me.......Kearns Central Stake Trek 2013

This post is a little overdue! 

This summer Kelly and I had the opportunity to participate in a pioneer trek with our stake.  We were asked to be a ma and pa to 9 pioneer children!

It was such a fun experience.  We walked for 28 miles.  We pulled our necessities in a handcart.  We camped on the ground underneath the protection of a tarp.  We played games.  We danced.  We sang. We laughed.  We cried.  We grew. 

And by grew, I mean we grew spiritually.  Trek was a wonderful way to have my testimony strengthened.  I never could have imagined what Trek would do to me spiritually.

In the days leading up to Trek, Kelly and I made a family flag.  We picked the name Jenkins.  The Jenkins were ancestors of mine that traveled from Wales to come to Salt Lake City.  They had incredible experiences of faith and obedience.

 Here we are on the first day (notice my nice clean shirt and my clean face because we hadn't yet started up the dusty trail!?)  Just waiting to be put into families!

 At first, I was a little bit scared.  We were given 9 youth who were to be our kids.  They ranged in ages from 12-18.  We had one 18 year old girl and one 16 year old girl.  The rest of the boys and girls were aged 12-14.  These kids seemed so small to me! They were just teeny tiny things!  And to top things off, these 9 kids were so quiet.  On our first gathering, they hardly spoke a word.  When asked a question, they gave one word answers.  My first thought was that this was going to be a long 4 days!

It was not long into our walk that the kids began talking with each other and laughing with each other.  Their small frames were pulling this handcart!  I also learned very quickly that we had some of the happiest kids in our family.  Kids whose attitudes were positive and their complaints were minimal.  I was happy!

These were some of our daughters.....and their Ma in the background!

 My pioneer feet not long into the journey!

Our wonderful Stake President, President Parker! 

My handsome pioneer hubby!

Three of our pioneer sons!

Some of our hardworking and happy children!

Our family was assigned a "Grandma and Grandpa."  We were so lucky to have Cheryl and Pete in our family.  I often see them on Sunday because our wards share a building.  I can't help but call them Grandma and Grandpa when we see each other!  They were such fun people to have along!

Very soon into our trekking, I could feel this incredible spirit. I looked around me and I saw that I  was surrounded by good people, both young and old. And as I looked around at all of these modern day pioneers, I could feel the presence of those early saints who had trekked before me. My mind turned to them as I thought of all their struggles and of all their desires.  I couldn't help but get choked up as I thought of their faith and their obedience.  What great strength it took for these brave souls. They left their native lands, their livelihoods, their families, their belongings.  They lost and buried loved ones along the way.  They did all these things because they loved the gospel and they loved our Heavenly Father.  These thoughts and feelings I was experiencing, strengthened my testimony of what great sacrifices each of these pioneers gave. 

The best watermelon EVER!  I had never eaten a piece of watermelon that tasted so good!  After a couple of hours of walking, we entered our camp to delicious, cold watermelon.  YUM!

Remember day one, when my hair was nice and clean and falling softly down my face?  Well, that is the back of my not so clean, bedhead!  Isn't is great?  This picture makes me laugh because I was completely unaware that my hair looked that awesome! 

Enjoying some solo time!

We had a great opportunity to have a lot of family time.  Time when we sat around on our buckets.  Telling stories, playing games, and even having some nice spiritual moments with one another.

The morning of day 3 was the infamous "women's pull." It is to represent the many women who journeyed all alone.  Some lost their husband's to death along the way or some husbands left to join the Mormon Battalion or to serve missions. There were many who pushed and pulled without their loving husbands and fathers.  So, at this point in the trek, our husbands, brothers and sons were given mission calls and they headed off on the trail.  Leaving their handcarts, their sisters, their daughters, and their wives behind.  It was such a spiritual moment.  Again, not expecting to have felt what I was feeling.  I knew the pull was going to be hard, but the spirit that I would soon feel was indescribable. 


 We would push and pull up the steep terrain for about a mile.  It was physically one of the hardest things I have ever done.   I prayed so hard that me and my tiny little daughters would be able to accomplish this task.
At last, we were headed for the top of the hill.  We could see our other family members waiting for us.  It was just as hard for these men to wait along the side watching us push and pull.

It was a sweet reunion at the top.  Lots of hugging and crying and "congratulations you did it!"


Trek taught each one of us that we can do hard things.  We could leave the modern comforts at home. We could be put into "families" with people we didn't know.  We could sleep on the ground.  We could walk and walk each day.  We could pull a handcart weighing hundreds of pounds.  The women could pull all by themselves and the men could only stand to watch.  These were all hard things.  And we did it!  And we got to learn and laugh and grow at the same time.  And it was a reminder that life is hard.  This earthy life will bring challenges.  Our faith will be tried.  Our level of obedience will be tested. But we can do it.  If we love the Lord, we can do it!  If we look to our pioneer ancestors and be grateful for what they sacrificed, we can do it!

The Sunday after Trek, Kelly and I spoke in church about our experiences. Well, I mostly blubbered!  This was a quote I shared in my talk.  It sums up perfectly what I learned and felt as being a participant of Trek!

"Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage.....Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!”
Elder M. Russell Ballard
I will forever be blessed by going on this Trek.  I feel honored that I was able to be a Ma with my wonderful husband as a Pa.  Our testimonies were strengthened beyond measure!

The "Jenkins" Family.  Trek 2013
And thanks to my dear friend, Tia who took all these amazing photos along the way!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

5th, 3rd, K, and Preschool!

School has been in progress for well over a month now!  Coming up on 2 months actually.  We have been busy with our fall activities such as dance, flag football, soccer, tball.  Not to mention our other regular things like homework, scouts, and church meetings!  But it has been a good couple of months being back in the swing of things! 

So far the kids are all doing really well.  We recently had their first SEP conferences and their teachers all had good things to say about them.  In the days leading up to conferences, I always wonder what their teachers will have to say to us. Will it be good?  Will they say my kids are terrors or angels?  Luckily, their reports were all good!

Connor is doing really well in the 5th grade.  His teacher has him in an enrichment group.  Which means he is doing a little bit harder work and doing some extra projects to keep him busy.  He loves math! (he did not get that from me! And he is always happy to help his little brother with his math homework!)
Carson's teacher said she just loves him.  He isn't at the top of the class as far as test scores go but he is a happy and positive student and she is grateful for having such an easy going kid in her class. She said he is nice and helpful to everyone!  He loves art!

Katelyn's teacher also said how happy she is to have Kate in her class.  She listens and follows directions and she is a smart little cookie!

And then Jace.....I was really nervous to put him in preschool.  He can be wild and all over the place and sometimes he doesn't like to share or be nice.  So I wondered how he would be.  Would he be nice to other kids?  Would he tire his teacher out? His preschool teacher is our neighbor and she hasn't had anything but great things to say about Jace.  Whew! It is nice to know he is good and pleasant for others. : )
Hopefully the year continues to go well for our kids!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

July: Fun Times With the Zierses

In July, Kelly's brother came for a visit from Las Vegas.  We had a good time visiting, playing, and spending time with each other.
Baby Sydney had her blessing.  We all gathered for dinner afterwards!

 We were all together!  It doesn't happen all too often. 
 The ladies!
The gentlemen!

One of the activities we did was go to Lagoon.  This was one of those occasions that we weren't all together.  Some had to work and some were sick.  The beginning of the week a nasty bug was floating around the family.  Luckily, it passed us and our kids, but others weren't so fortunate!

This was the group that made it to Lagoon. Even some of the adults weren't feeling all that awesome.  But we all plugged along for the sake of the children! They loved it!
Along with Lagoon and the blessing, we had girl's night, which is always a highlight.  The men golfed. We played games.  Kelly's parents had their annual "grandma and grandpa night."  This is when all the grand kids come and eat dinner, have activities, and sleep over at grandma and grandpa's!  They always look forward to this night.
We had a fun visit and spending time with our family!

A Trip to Phoenix

After Easter we took a road trip to Phoenix. It had been a few years since we had made the 12 hour drive.  The kids had a whole week off for Spring Break so what better thing to do than go somewhere warm!
Plus we really missed our very good friends, the Carneys!

One of the days we spent the afternoon and evening 4 wheeling in Wickenburg.  The kids of course loved it.

I forgot how pretty the sunsets in the dessert are!

We also spent an afternoon at The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale.  No trip to Phoenix is complete without a stop at our favorite park!

Waiting for a train ride!

 All the kiddos!  Look at Kate and all those boys!  I love that our kids just pick up where we left off.  They are all such great friends.

Keeping with tradition and playing the "jail game!"  This is a silly game that Kelly made up with the boys when Connor and Carson were 3 and 5 years old!  They always play it, even though Connor is now almost as tall as Kelly!  He still picks him up and drags him around as if he were still 5!

And lucky for us, Hotel Carney comes with a swimming pool.  We spent a lot of time in the pool.  And by we I mean the kids and their dads!

 Last summer when the Carneys came to visit us, we put plastic wrap around their car as an effort to try and keep them from leaving.  They returned the gesture!  They hid our car keys and blocked us in with their cars.  They left us messages on our windows. It was hard to have to leave.  We really love the Carneys!

We had a wonderful time.  We stayed up late and laughed a lot.  We always reminisce about our Buckeye days and talk about the memories.  It is always sad to say goodbye.  We are so grateful to have some great friends!