Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012

Mike & I had the best opportunity in the world... we got to go on the Gilbert Highland Stakes (East & West) Pioneer Trek. We were Ma & Pa Larsen for 3 days and we had a blast! It's taken me awhile to write this post for a number of reasons, but mainly because I didn't know how to summarize our experiences into a blogpost. So I'll do the best I can! We went at the end of May and we did a lot of prep work before we left. The Ma's in our ward all got together and made leather bracelets, journals, and the girls purses. We also had all the Ma & Pa's go to the temple together and fast for the kids in our families (we got to know beforehand). We had a blast and I seriously love the other Ma's. I miss seeing and talking with them so much, but so glad for the new friendships! My parents were sweet enough to watch Hadley for us and we loved knowing she is so loved and safe! Hadley also got to play with her cousins Parker & Hudson for one of the days, thanks Erin!! She loves her cousins!

We left for the trek bright and early on a Wednesday morning. We rode up in buses and once we got there our sweet Bishop announced the family assignments. The kids were all so excited and everyone quickly got started making our family flag and assembling the handcart.

The Larsen Family - we loved ALL our kids!!
 We started walking and everyone was doing awesome! And then 20 minutes (literally) sweet little Amanda fell and took the handcart with her. So scary as her "Ma" to try and keep her calm while the doctor's looked her over. She had road rash up BOTH her arms - that alone looked so painful! She was such a great example in so many ways to our family! She immediately asked for a Priesthood blessing and on days 2 and 3 she walked with us! She chose to stay and she even tried to help pull and/or push (although being her Ma I banned her from doing so when I caught her trying to help!) When she got home, she found out her arm was broken in 2 places - the elbow and forearm. Wow, what a tough girl!! She is amazing and each member in our family learned something from her and her trial. We had many trials on the trek, but our trials are how we learned the lessons Heavenly Father wanted us to learn. Some things that were learned are faith, unconditional love for those in our family, patience, and having a positive attidue. The trek was not in any way easy, but worth it...? YES! The spirit was so incredibly strong on the trek and we were being watched over the entire time. Sometimes in life (and on the trek) it is hard to remember that especially when things are tough, but we always have the constant love of our Savior and the Holy Ghost as our constant companion if we strive to stay worthy.

 We got lost misguided the first day and went 4 extra miles that first day - totally 15! And those 4 miles we were wondering (with 2 other handcart families) we didn't have any water! We were out for about 2 hours. Our kids were tested to the limit, but they sure did awesome! We rarely had a break at all that first day but we learned we could do hard things!

Look how happy they are!!
 We had fun on the second day playing games after we reached our destination. Mike enjoyed Stick Pull and beat all his opponents
Don't you just love that face!

Loved watching this!
  He met his match! Brother Marty Martinson!! We all thought the stick was going to break since neither one gave in! It ended up a tie and I think they were glad to see that happen after pulling SO hard!

5 legged race??!!

My handsome studly husband!

 When the Ma's got together at one of our meetings, one had suggested the power of attitude and positive thinking so we all bought clickers and had a contest between the families to see who could have the most clicks for positive comments and service! What an inspiration that was and a blessing to have on the trek. Everyone commented that the Cornerstone Ward was the happiest while we pulled. It's so important to have a positive attitude, especially when things get tough. Your attitude really does make or break you!
Our amazing Bishop and the best Stake President!

Yes, my face is caked in dirt!

50 handcarts total!

Rocky Ridge!

500 youth and 200 leaders!

We made it to Zion!
Our Family names engraved on the Gilbert "Temple"
We had a blast and there are so many experiences that we had that are too personal to share on our blog. But in a nutshell we had so much fun and would never ever trade the experience for anything! We walked 32 (or 34) miles total - including those extra 4 in 3 days and pulling a handcart that weighed 500 lbs. through some tough terrain and steep inclines! We learned a lot and our faith was able to grow so much! Thank you to all the wonderful people who made this possible! It was a lot of work and we are grateful to those that freely gave their time and energy!

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