Rachel Z., 15, Des Moines Stake
When people think of vacations, they usually imagine going someplace warm and sunny, attending a water park, or something along those lines. Well, I didn’t go to a water park by any means, but I did have the amazing opportunity to attend my stake’s Trek with my older sister, Sarah, and younger brother, Richard. I enjoyed Trek so much, I would go back in a heartbeat. Two months ago, if anyone had told me how much fun and joy I would experience, I wouldn’t have believed them.
I was honestly really worried about Trek. Not only was I going to be in a family with nobody I knew, I was going to have to stay with them for three days. As soon as we reached the place where our handcarts were waiting for us, honestly, I was mortified when I saw so many strangers’ faces. But when I was led to my family, it was as if all the fear that was bubbling in my chest just disappeared. I connected with my family instantly. Everyone in my family was so easy to talk to, I could carry on hour-long conversations with anybody in our group.
Before I participated in Trek, I never could have imagined the amount of sweat and hard work I would have to put into it. It was easy at first, walking by the handcart, but as we went on, I could see exhaustion in everyone’s faces as the sun beat down us. I noticed that as people grew tired, and as it was almost too much for them to bear, there was always someone around to help. When our ma fell back a couple handcarts away, someone in my group would go walk with her. When someone was so tired they could barely stand to walk, someone would help them to the escort vehicle or comfort them as they pushed along. And this wasn’t just in my family. I could see it happening all around us.
Around the end of day one, I could see the worry in our leaders’ faces as they glimpsed the radar and noticed a huge storm heading toward us. Miraculously, through the prayers of every pioneer there, the storm went completely around us and continued the normal course that the radar had originally predicted. We were faced with only rain. This was mind-blowing, but it didn’t end there.
On day two, our camp received a tornado warning. And do you want to know what happened? The tornado went completely around us. This was no coincidence. The Lord was there, directing those storms, and with the prayers of the 200 people there, as well as the prayers of family and friends at home, the storms completely missed us. And even though the weather was hot and almost unbearable, everyone kept a smile on their face throughout the whole thing!
And that’s when it hit me. The pioneers faced all manner of miserable conditions, including death and persecution, but they still managed to sing and smile as they walked for days and weeks on end. At the end of day one, having pushed for nine miles, I could feel every muscle in my body hurting. In fact, I even found muscles I didn’t know existed. But I thought about how the pioneers fought and pushed through every aching muscle in order to travel to where the Lord wanted them to be. No complaints, only smiles. The 20 miles we traveled in three days, the pioneers completed in one day. It’s crazy to think about, but it makes me that much more grateful for the gospel. This was such an eye-opening experience. I understand why the pioneers trekked all those miles for the gospel. They felt the truth of it and the hand of the Lord in every step of their journey.
Yes, I felt gross with my unwashed hair, but I barely thought about it as I continued to walk along. Trek, for me, was full of miracles, fun, happiness, a loving and amazing family, hard work, devotion, sweat, so much sweat, and much more. I miss it, honestly, and truly am so glad I was able to at least glimpse a part of the pioneers’ lives. That glimpse was enough to turn my heart to the Lord all the more. Until the next Trek, I will be eagerly waiting.