Tuesday, July 26, 2016

pioneer children sang as they walked {reflections on trek & gratitude for pioneers}

Trek was last October so you would think that I would have posted about it...but I guess not haha. I thought with pioneer day this past week now would be the perfect time to post about the pioneers, the tremendous sacrifices they made, my immense gratitude towards them, and the amazing lessons they taught through example. This is the talk I was asked to give after trek.
 The pioneers faced countless hardships, they walked thousands of miles and crossed rivers with little food and gave up almost everything they had. While it is impossible for any of us to completely understand what they did and the extreme suffering they faced, I had the opportunity to participate in trek last weekend October. For those of you who are not familiar with trek it is a pioneer reenactment. Youth from the surrounding area get together and we dress up in pioneer clothing, pull handcarts, and live without modern conveniences. The purpose of trek is to get a very small idea of what the pioneers went through.

Trek was a huge eye opener for me and I’ve got to say those pioneers were quite amazing! I could go on and on about what I learned but I wanted to focus on the top 3 things.

1)Be grateful in any circumstance. 

I don’t think my bed, a warm blanket, or a hot shower have ever felt as good as they did after trek! I should be grateful for these wonderful comforts everyday but it trek took my appreciation to a whole new level. I think of the pioneers with such admiration as I think about their singing and joy while enduring unthinkable conditions. They were hungry, cold, and tired; but they still were happy. Sometimes the littlest things can bug me and put a damper on my whole day, surely I can be happy even though I got wet in the rain if the pioneers could happily cross a deep river pulling everything they had behind them. The pioneers had mastered being grateful in every circumstance, they learned that like President Uchtdorf promised: “Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.” Because of their gratitude they were able to forgive those that had treated them unkindly which allowed them to find peace in their tribulations. I have a testimony that gratitude makes such a huge difference in your life. It has brightened my darkest days and brought me so much joy. I know that being grateful pays off now and in the future because the Lord has promised that those “who [receive] all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto [them], even an hundred fold, yea, more.”17

2) Dedication and faith
The pioneers were incredible examples of dedication and faith. They kept pressing on no matter what. No challenge was too big and they trusted that one day they would know the reason for their trials. Trek gave me the opportunity to reflect on my dedication to the gospel. Would I be willing to sacrifice everything for The Lord and his cause? Dedication and faith take work. How can we develop these qualities? The primary answers apply once again. Read your scriptures, pray, attend church, pay your tithing. As you do all of these things consistently I promise your faith will grow and you will feel the blessings of the gospel in your life.
One of the biggest challenges of trek was the big hill. At one point on our journey we came to a large, very steep hill. This hill taught me that even during our trials we have to keep pressing on. There were a few points during our journey up the hill that I wanted to give up- I wasn’t sure I could go on any further! But it wasn’t an option. Stopping in the middle would make it nearly impossible to start again without going back to the bottom. The same is with trials. We have to keep going even if we feel so alone. We have to keep relying on Christ and pulling as hard as we can even when our strength feels like it is about to be gone forever. I know, like President Uchtdorf said,  that no matter what we encounter and endure, “our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy, “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” I learned another important lesson when people came to help us pull our cart up the hill. It made to pulling a little bit easier and gave us the strength to get to the top of the hill. Without these wonderful people, who had already faced the hill and made it helping us, the journey would have been a lot harder. I think that applies to the gospel too. Heavenly Father hears and answers all prayers, but sometimes he chooses to answer them through another person. Are we prepared and listening so we can be that person? Are we ready to help our Heavenly Father collect his sheep? Our part matters, because we matter.

I am so grateful for trek and the experiences it taught me. I am awed at the sacrifices the pioneers made and I am grateful for them daily because of the opportunity their sacrifices gave me to have the gospel. And this gospel has brought me so much joy and peace. I know that there is a loving Heavenly Father who knows us and wants the best for us. He made a plan for us so that we could find the most happiness possible. Because he knew that we would make mistakes he sent his Son to atone for the sins of the world. Because of our Saviors never ending love I know that we can repent and eventually live with our Father in Heaven alongside our families forever. I know that no matter what, the Savior is always beside us willing to lift us up and carry us when we cannot walk any longer. I know that He lives and He loves us.

I know that the pioneers sacrificed everything for a cause and I know it was not in vain. There was a purpose and a plan and the cause that they were fighting for was worth it.

I am forever indebted to them, My Savior, and My Heavenly Father.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

(Please note that none of the above images are mine, i'm not quite sure who took pics for our trek but they deserve all the credit)

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