Friday, July 31, 2009

Hard but well worth every minute!

A few months ago Steve and I got called in to talk to a member of the bishopric. We pretty much knew what they were going to talk to us about so we weren't too worried. The stake had been planning a trek for the youth and they were in need of Ma and Pa's but they were also inviting any families that wanted to go. We had been debating whether to take our kids or just go as a Ma and Pa but after going to see Brother Blanchard our decision was made, we had been called to be a Ma and Pa. After going on the trek I am now VERY glad we didn't take our kids, it would have been sooo hard. Our good friends the Paynes took all their kids and they were so amazing, I think my kids would have had such a hard time. The Payne kids were so impressive and Shera and Clint did so well with them.

I'm not sure what I was expecting the trek to be like or how hard it would be and yes it was hard but all of that was so worth it. The evening before we left, everyone that was going met together so we could meet the kids that would be in our families. Not all our kids were there but the ones that were, were kind of quiet so I wondered what it would be like. They gave us this cool staff, water bottles for all the kids, red bandanna's and a red flag to decorate. The next morning we all met back at the church for breakfast and then we all car pooled up to Bone to begin the trek. Our family consisted of Brandon who was 16, he used to be in our ward, then there was Landon who was 14 I think, he used to be in our ward too and still is in my mother in laws ward. Then we had a boy called Corban who was 13, he was a lovely kid. Then we had Ben who was 12 and was so cute, he was pretty short but helped with whatever he could. Then we had 2 girls Rachel who was 15 I think, she was so sweet and kind and then there was Sarah who was 12 and was fun and bubbly. Also last minute they added one more boy to our family, his name was Mo Mo and I think he was 12 also, he was super quiet but opened up more as time went on.

Once we got there each family got a hand cart which we packed with our 5 gallon buckets and then it was time to begin! We didn't actually get going until around 11am and when we did start our boys were gung ho and going super fast. Then it began to get harder and harder as the day went on. After going about 5 miles we stopped for lunch and met up with the (real) families that were coming with us. Just before we got there for lunch there was a set of hills that were pretty rough but the kids did it and worked so hard. After lunch we were back on the trail and the hills continued. That first day we walked just over 10 miles, helped fix a couple of broken wagons, went up and down I don't know how many hills, our boys helped as many people as they could and we finally got to camp at around 7pm. Once we got there we had to set up camp and cook our dinner. They had square dancing while the food was cooking, it was 9:30pm by the time we had dinner and then the kids all went to bed pretty fast, they were wrecked and so were we! Just after everyone went to bed someone played the trumpet, I guess it's called taps, I don't know?! It was a long, HARD day and we were all really dirty but we did it and the kids were so impressive.

The next day we were woken up by the taps at about 7:30am. We cooked the breakfast, packed up camp and then it was back to walking by 10am. They had warned us that the first couple of miles would be hills and they were right. Our little Ben started saying his legs were hurting after the first hill so I said I would stay with him and we could just take it slow and steady. Mo Mo ended up walking with a leader from his ward, he wanted to go home because he was finding it really hard. He hung in there though and stayed so I was glad about that. The weather was a lot cooler the second day which was nice because the first day had been so hot. We stopped for lunch, the boys helped more people and we went up and down more hills. We stopped more that day because we wanted to make sure we were all staying together. Our boys were running back helping everyone all the time, they were great. Towards the end of the hike that day we got to a part where they told us that the men had to go to war so we were going to be left alone. The men had to all go up this hill and we then had to pull our carts up the hill on our own. I was a little worried because we were meant to have 4 girls in our family but 2 of our girls couldn't come so I only had 2 so I knew it would be hard. Sarah's Mom ended up helping us but it was still REALLY HARD. As we got to the top, the men were lined up on either side of us and been told not to help. I looked up once we got up there, thinking we were at the end but I was wrong. We were struggling but then next thing I knew our stake president came and took one side of the cart and our cousin Bryce took the other side. We had been close to the front but as soon as we got up there all the girls that had already made it ran back to help the rest of the sisters, it was so amazing. Steve and our boys said it was so hard to watch us struggle up the hill and not be able to help us. All in all that day we walked just under 6 miles and it was nice because we got to camp at around 3pm so were able to take our time and relax and have a fun evening. We had a big group devotional where we sang songs and then the pony express came to bring the kids letters from their parents. We broke off so the kids could read their letters and then we all got back together so President Fuller could speak to all of us. After that each family separated again to have individual testimony meetings around our own little camp fires. Brother Seedall joined our family and it went really well. I wasn't sure how our family would connect but we all did and I truly came to love each one of our kids, they were so great. That night when they played taps the kids were all still awake, what a difference a day made!

The last day it was way more relaxed. We took our time getting packed up and having breakfast. The plan was that the (real) families would walk about 3 miles and the rest of us would walk 8 miles. I think the leaders realised how shattered the kids all were so in the end we all walked 3 miles together. We didn't end up leaving until about 1:30pm so until then they had all these cool old games planned for everyone to play. The kids had a lot of fun doing that but as it got time to start walking again it was getting hotter and hotter so we were all getting eager to leave. The first half of the 3 miles had a lot of up hill and it was even harder because 2 of our boys went back to help other families which was great but made it a little harder for us but we made it. When we had just under a mile left we all stopped and talked for a little while. The first night when we met our families we had each been given a history of an actual pioneer that we were walking for. When we stopped they gave each of us the 2nd half to that history so we knew whether we had died or made it. All the people that died were told to start walking back to the cars and everyone else had to push the cart back. Three of our boys died but as soon as they made it back they were told to come back and find their families and be angles and help them make it home. As soon as we all saw the cars we all shouted for joy, it was a nice sight!!!

We all got loaded up and headed back to the stake center. We hung out there for a while until it was time to walk over to the Virlow building. We walked over there with our families and hand carts and the line was pretty long. They said there was 265 people on the trek. It was a pretty cool feeling walking into the stake pioneer activity. People started singing and they were cheering for us, it was pretty emotional. As we got to the end of the people I saw my mother in law with my kids, that was a nice sight. I really missed them and they were so excited to see us.

This trek was such an amazing experience. Even though I've written a ton about it, it doesn't really say how it really was. When I got home and looked at the few pictures I had taken it made me miss that time we had there. Even though we were SUPER filthy it was so worth every bit of that dirt. I'll never be able to fully understand all that the pioneers went through to walk all those months and lose so many loved ones so that we could have the church that we have today. Even though it was hard and we were tired I can't begin to imagine how much they had to endure as they had babies, lost babies, lost husbands, lost wives, and lost children. Then once they finally reached Utah they couldn't just jump in a car and go home to have a shower and get into a nice warm bed. They had to build their homes and continue to struggle and work. How blessed we are to live in a time where we have so much. Before we left Sydney had been watching a show about the pioneers and was so worried that we were going to die but we reassured her that we would be ok, that we had doctors, cars and all these wonderful things that could help us if we were to get hurt and they didn't have those things. We are truly blessed and I feel even more blessed to have been able to be a part of this trek. We had a fantastic family, our kids impressed me so much, our boys and of course Steve were willing to help everyone and do whatever they needed to do to help us and everyone else. I loved our little family and even though I hated feeling disgusting and dirty I would love to do it again. I can't believe it's already been and gone, time is just flying by. I hope I always remember the feeling we felt while on the trek, it was a great blessing to be there. Thanks to all those who put this great event on for us, it was AMAZING, thank you!

Summer, summer, summer time!!!

Since we've been home from England the time has continued to go by really fast. We had Rod's wedding reception, then the next weekend was the 4th of July, then we had swimming lessons for 2 weeks and during all that we've had park days, lots of cleaning and laundry and just lots of stuff going on! Even though it's been busy the kids have had lots of fun so all the madness is well worth it. The 4th of July was lots of fun like always. It started off with a fun BBQ with friends at the Layton's the night before, they're such great hosts. The morning of the 4th we went to the parade bright and early, we had staked off our usual spot and all the family joined us so it was lots of fun. Then it was off to Gma and Gpa Johnson's for our family BBQ and playing in the flooded lawn which the kids love. Then after a quick rest at home it was off to our staked off spot for the fireworks. This year they took peoples stakes out so Steve and his Mom spray painted our spots which was pretty funny. Scott and Kluane Dixon and they're kids hung out with us for the fireworks which was lots of fun. Hadley was the only one out of all my kids that stayed awake for the whole show.

Swimming lessons were fun as usual but this year was even more fun for Spencer because he got to go into his own class, not Mommy and me like he's done for the past 2 years. He gave his teachers quite a run for their money, he was all over the place for the first few days but his teachers handled him well. The last day of lessons the kids got to jump off the diving board which they loved. Spencer wouldn't get out afterwards though, I told his teachers sorry he was such a nutter but they said they loved him so that was good to hear. He really is a lovely boy but can be quite a monkey sometimes. The kids all did so well, Maddie almost passed her class, she was in quite a hard class this time. Spencer and Sydney both passed so that was good. It was fun because we went at the same time as Kristy and her kids so they each had a friend in their class. By the way, thanks Kristy for letting me push in line with you at sign ups!

Our trip to England

I've been so bad at writing my blog this summer so I thought I should get caught up before it's too late. Our summer started out with a trip home to England. We were there for 4 weeks but Steve only stayed with us for 2 of those weeks. We had thought that it would be a while before we got chance to go home again but just after Christmas my Dad called me to tell me that he had cancer. It was a crazy time but we decided it would be best to be home when my Dad got his surgery. After 12 weeks of chemo his surgery was scheduled and we went home for almost the whole month of June. Steve wasn't able to be there for the surgery but while he was there we had lots of fun together. My Dad planned a fun holiday to Scarborough which was great! I really love it when we go home and my kids get to do things that I did when I was younger. We went to the beach and weather was lovely and the kids got to go on a donkey ride, we even got crabs legs and the kids thought that was so much fun.

It was kind of weird going home this time, not because going home is weird but it was weird to realise how many things I had forgotten about. One thing I forgot about was buttercups, how crazy is that? I really do love being able to go home and being able to go home for my Dad this time was really important to me. The first two weeks we had lots of fun and we did the last two weeks too but there was lots of traveling back and forth to see my Dad in hospital so it was really busy and made the time go by so fast. It was so hard when I saw my Dad for the first time in the hospital after he had the surgery. My Dad is normally such a strong man but right after the surgery he looked so frail and it was hard for me to see him like that. Each day he got better but it was still hard to see him struggling. I was glad to be there to help my Mom and it was so nice to see the kids play together and have such fun with their cousins. Spencer and Ethan loved playing together, they were such a cheeky pair. The girls even got to go to school with Kezia and Ethan and they even wore uniforms and had school dinners so they could have the full experience.

Living so far away from home really is hard sometimes. I love being with my family and it's so nice when the kids can all spend time together, they really love it. I do feel blessed to be able to live so close to Steve's family, I think without them and some really good friends it would be so bad. I'm blessed I am able to go home so much and my family are able to come here so much too. I could write tons about our trip home but instead I've added a slide show of most of the things we did. I really do have an amazing family. We might a little nuts at times but I wouldn't have it any other way. My Mom and Dad are the best and I'm so lucky to be their daughter. My Dad is recovering well and hopefully he'll keep doing well. Going home was FANTASTIC but it went by way to fast. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me come home, you're the best and I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!