Sunday, July 31, 2011

Notes from our Week as Campground Hosts

This was taken Friday morning at the campground. This is only about a third of the campground.
Before sacrament begin while instructions for the day were being given by the trek leader. Isn't it beautiful?
1800s Silver Sacrament Trays

Campground week proved to be very rewarding even though it was the busiest week of the year with fourteen units coming, a total of 1912 trekkers staying at Cherry Creek for various lengths of time. These are just excerpts from my seven page journal about the week.

Our first unit in was Batesville Ward from Utah. They were our guinea pigs for giving them information and get their support vehicles set up. I guess we did okay as we were quickly invited to dinner with them which consisted of Hawaiian haystacks; not a typical pioneer meal but delicious all the same. This unit was led by a Bishop that was facing knee replacement surgery for both knees the very next week. He never once shirked his duties and walked the entire way with his ward. It was a humbling experience to see him travel with them using his walking stick knowing how much pain he must be suffering and more so, knowing we have much easier modes of transportation to get him around rather than walking. This unit arrived so spiritually prepared from their youngest member to the Bishop; it was a pleasure to rub shoulders with them.

During our morning visits with the units, one of the cooks of the Lynnwood unit shared a heart rendering story with us. He is the grandfather to a set of conjoined twin girls. They lived for three years and passed away a year ago during surgery to give them transplanted hearts. They had a shared heart and liver. I sat several times and just listened to him talk and he was so touched by my sincere interest that he gave me a picture of the girls to keep.

One of our units, View First ward returned from trek with a pretty seriously injured young lady. While visiting with her, I discovered she had injured it during the women’s pull. She was pushing on the back and the cart started rolling back so she dropped to her knees to stop it and in turn it slid her some causing her knee cap to slip to the side. This story made me think about how many accidents of that nature must have occurred during the 1300 miles the pioneers traveled and they didn’t have medical service just a quarter of a mile away.

An interesting item was noticed today with the Pueblo CO Stake which would be staying the next three days. First, they came in rented vans instead of the buses and there were about 20 to park. Their unit functioned in individual families instead of as a whole unit like most stakes do. They came in their vans as a family of about 10 to 12, camped as a family, and cooked their own meals as a family. They did many of the story telling and events as families with only the main ones of Ephraim Hanks and the daily trek as a stake. It brought a realization to how it must have been with the companies of old to function just as families to get sustenance and keep going but yet be part of the big company.

During our sweep of the area once all the units departed, we noticed a plastic bag outside a tent of the Taylorsville Unit. These are seagull magnets and it would be shredded by evening time when the unit returns. So, we went to the support people which stayed with camp and told them it needed to be moved inside the tent. When we rode up in the rover, they thought they were caught and wanted to instantly repent. We were a bit puzzled and asked them why they were repenting. They shared with us they were in the process of burning their paper products from breakfast in the campfire when two seagulls started fighting over food scraps. As they fought, one of them got knocked into the campfire by the other seagull. Needless to say, he met his demise since the fire was really going. After we had a good chuckle, they had the gull (pun on words) to invite us to dinner. Who do they think we are? I am not up for blackened seagull. To add to the story, when we returned later that evening to check on the units, we noticed not so many seagulls were in the area. We mentioned this to the leaders and their reply was, “You are still coming to dinner, aren’t you?”

One of our units, Garden City Kansas Stake, arriving gave us an evening of excitement. After my rest, we returned to the campground where I stayed at the shack and Elder Smith went into the homestead to try and locate the support vehicles for the stake as we knew their youth were on the trail. They were very late and we were quite concerned. He found one sister with her vehicle and found out they had had some vehicle difficulty. After awhile, the sister, Sister Clemm, came down to join us at the campground with her suburban full of food as she needed some company while waiting for the others. It was great to visit with her. Thru conversation we found out she worked on a ranch near where I grew up, they now own a buffalo ranch in Kansas, and other great tidbits of information. Their car trouble was her suburban tire had received a flat from the Rock Creek Hollow road of tailings and then when they went to put the spare on the suburban it was also flat due to damage. One of the other vehicles was a suburban with the same size tire so they were able to use that spare to get her back on the road; what a tender mercy. Then, her husband was in the process of taking the two damaged tires to Lander to get them repaired. On the way there he smelled smoke. He stopped his vehicle and found that when he had received new tires on his truck prior to coming, the lug nuts had not been tightened so they were now hot and smoldering. It was so bad it had rounded off the bolt and wheel. So there was nothing to do but crawl into Lander and hope to find a new wheel. This was their other support vehicle that had the equipment including cook stoves in it. As we were visiting, Sister Clemm was getting quite concerned as to how she was going to fix supper for the trekkers. She had the food just not a way to cook it. Elder Smith said he would go ask the Taylorsville Stake if they would loan a couple of their cook stoves. He did just that but was met with some opposition. Not opposition to help out but opposition that she should fuss with fixing the meal instead they wanted to share their dinner with them. A little side note to add tender thoughts to this story, when the Taylorsville unit food committee was getting their supplies they felt prompted to purchase some extra. Even though they couldn’t figure out why, they followed the prompting. Now, they had their answer and were so touched to be able to share with another stake. We witnessed the third rescue in action. So, we had dinner taken care of for this unit and was just awaiting their arrival. When we saw them coming down the trail some distance off, Sister Clemm drove her vehicle down to where they would park. We were going to do a check of the other areas prior to going to the head of the campground to greet them. As we were getting ready, I turned just in time to see Sister Clemm drive up at a very fast pace. She let her window down and said they had a medical emergency and she needed to get to the medical vehicle about two miles up the road. I jumped in with her to guide her to where it was parked while Elder Smith stayed behind to help where he could. About a mile down the road, we noticed their medical vehicle pulled off the side of the road with the hood up and doors open. She stopped to see what needed to be done. Two young ladies had suffered a bad asthma attack and needed their nebulizer but the inverter wasn’t pulling the unit. I directed them to go straight to the campground shack for the generator we use when square dancing. It was closer than turning them around for the homestead. So, we all started towards the campground shack and just a short distance down the road, Sister Clemm and I noticed a commotion with a group of the youth at a pull off. So, we pulled off only to discover that one of the other girls went into a panic attack triggering yet another asthma attack. So, she got loaded into the seat I was in and I said I would walk back. I started walking with some of the youth and leaders when one of the leaders just broke down and needed consoled as she thought she had pushed her daughter too hard and was afraid she was going to suffer. I did what I could as we walked a short distance until they cut off for their camp. While I was walking back, Elder Smith had another one of their trekkers run up and let him know a young man was down and hurt his ankle. He was going to take the rover to retrieve him but I had the key in my pocket. Through conversation on the radios Elder Smith was able to get the Base missionary, Elder Nickell, to come pick me up and get me to the shack quicker. Elder Smith was able to take the rover to get this young man who was also really despondent. In the meantime, I asked if I could help with the young girls as they only had a couple medical people. One of the young girls wanted out of the vehicle to lie on the ground. We put her in the shack, first in a chair so she could breathe better. Her leader helped her take off her wet clothes from the river crossing and then needed to go help the other girls do the same. So they asked me to stay with her. I didn’t mind at all but didn’t want to be in there alone. Luckily, some missionaries were arriving to prepare for square dancing that night and I asked Sister Peterson to come sit with us. We eventually had to lay the girl down on the floor in a big fluffy sleeping bad and wrap her tight to get her warm and calm her from shaking. After some time, not sure how long, she finally rested and made the turn for betterment. She then asked if she could sit up and if I would hold her. No problem as I was already sitting on the floor trying to comfort her. As she was getting better, she would share stories of her family and then she shared with us that she felt the pioneer spirits helping her get better. She was a very special girl, Sierra Medina from Lamar, Colorado. Our camp shack turned into a little infirmary for about three hours and was it ever exciting. I am not sure what happened to help all the others as I was with Sierra the entire time but all of them were able to return to their camp late that evening. Another example of the third rescue was when members of the stake, came up to the camp shack with plates of food for the medical team and even the sick trekkers. Again the third rescue in action.

The Toole Stake had permission to hold sacrament at the campground in Amphitheater A under the direction of their stake presidency. Since we were the camp ground hosts, we were asked to attend sacrament with them. What an absolute beautiful experience! To attend sacrament while facing Martin’s Cove over the Sweet water river was so touching. I am sure it was very similar to when the pioneers held their Sunday meetings while traveling across the plains. The young men used a sacrament pitcher, bread tray and water tray dating back to the 1800s from the Rush Valley Ward which was established in 1856 while administering the sacrament. They were pure silver and gorgeous. Now passing the sacrament took a bit of time as there were over 500 people. Prior to sacrament, Toole unit had loaded all their equipment and cleaned their area so there would be no loss of the spirit after the meeting. To our surprise, all of them were ready by a half hour prior to sacrament starting. The three members of the stake presidency gave talks with special musical numbers given by the youth. It was so uplifting and powerful. After sacrament, the unit then was to go for a single file silent walk thru the cove. Again we were asked to assist with this as only about 100 could go into the cove at a time. So, we stayed at the lower post of the cove and assisted with keeping them reverent while waiting for their turn. Even though I was very exhausted from a really long week, the week ended on a high note.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Fourth -- A Week Late

Just one of the beautiful sunsets we watch every night. Don't you wish you were here?
Top Notch Square Dance Caller!! He forgot to take my picture but that is okay as I lost my voice halfway through my calling.

I know this is a week late but last week got away with me. You will soon understand when you read the post for this week in a couple days. I had this written but just get it posted, so here it is.

Martin’s Cove was very busy over the weekend. It was expected with a holiday but didn’t think we would top our visitor numbers with 290 on Saturday. We are not sure where the holiday went nor what we signed ourselves up for as with our prior life we had the Fourth of July off. Family Home Evening for the 4th was great though. There were several flags that were thread bare from the Wyoming wind so we had a flag retirement ceremony. After the ceremony, some of the missionaries went to the fireworks at Alcova where they are shot from an island in the reservoir. We didn’t partake since we had early morning shift.

Since I spend at least three days a week in the office, there is only a couple days for doing posts. This week, I was blessed to work in the humanitarian center. As mentioned before, the sisters continually make quilts, knitted hats, and other articles for those in need. I worked on my first quilt since being here. It was a pink baby quilt and was so cute. I know I should have taken a picture but I was so excited to learn to tie and hope someday to be able to learn to bind a quilt. Then the ladies in the center did service for one of our sister missionaries. She was ill and was assigned to the flower watering around the homestead which is a good four hour job. Well, we divided and conquered the job for her. It felt good to be able to do service for another; oh yeah, that is an all day job now with being a missionary!!

The past week was actually fairly slow. I am truly grateful though because next week we are campground hosts. I did have a bit of an experience while working in the office on Thursday which I wish to share. At one of the multiple busy points of the day, I was transmitting on both radios and both telephone lines were ringing. At this point, an Elder came to the office to let me know the copier in the visitor’s center wasn’t working. I knew there were difficulties with it and couldn’t leave to fix it right then as I was the only one in the office. So, I told him if he sent the book over with whomever needed copies, I would just copy it. After a few minutes, a lady appeared with the book. I greeted her and asked her which page she would like copied. She mentioned she had several she needed copied. No big deal, I can do it. So, she turned to her first page which was Amy Loader and explained she was a direct descendant. I told her this was really neat as I was assigned to give the Amy Loader story for Prayer Meeting the next morning. I then started copying the pages. She asked if I would like to hear a story and of course I would as I miss most opportunities for stories while I am in the office. Her story was this: She and her husband went on a tour to England three years ago. Since their tour started on Monday, they went over earlier to spend the weekend finding the old home place of the Loaders. They went to the village and couldn’t find the home place but went to the church the Loaders attended before converting to Mormonism. They walked and walked around the church trying to get into the church to look at records but all the doors were locked. Now, this is very unusual as the churches are left open in European countries. Feeling a bit discouraged, they traveled to the next village as they knew some of the Loader children moved there when Amy and James left for America. They found another church and there was a gardener outside. So, they spoke to her about getting into the first church. She said it was not a problem just go in the blue door. They could not remember any blue door and that was very odd for there aren’t blue doors on the churches. After spending a little bit of time at the second village, they decided to return to the first and see if they saw a blue door. Sure enough, as they circled around the church they found a blue door which was open to access. This blue door led into the room where the records were stored so they were able to open books and see recorded christenings of the Loader children. When they were finished and as they were leaving, there was a lady approaching them on the walkway. The other lady asked who they were looking for and they said Loaders. She said she was a Loader. She was a descendant from one of the children which stayed in England. The couple and this lady discovered they were cousins. How exciting!! Since their tender mercy meeting, they have been able to get together in Utah, found the old home place, and shared family memorabilia which included letters Amy wrote back to her children in England. Family links being put together and I got to hear about it.

Saturday was our day off and we took advantage of it. I just wanted to do something other than buy groceries, clean house and laundry. So, we decided to take a drive in the country. We have purchased a gazetteer which shows some of the back country dirt roads. So, Randy drove and I navigated. We went to Alcova and drove the Alcova/Seminoe Cutoff which went through a really pretty canyon area. Half of it was easy gravel and half of it was paved. Not a bad drive at all so I was ready for some more adventure. After refueling and picking up a few groceries in Rawlins, I found a back road to the camper around the Ferris Mountains. From the gazetteer it looked just like the roads we had traveled. I am so glad my husband is as adventurous as I am. As the roads I took him on this time almost earned him a new truck. We ended up on jeep trail which hadn’t been traveled in a very long time. There were several spots that were washed out and then several sand trap areas. It was not designed for pick-ups but my pilot made it through for us. We ended up coming up behind the church property and through the actual Bar-11 ranch house and corrals. It was loads of fun and Randy was able to use his 4-wheel drive A LOT!!! But…I think I better wait a couple weeks before suggesting we do this again.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

All God's Creatures

Two months of fun and exhaustion sure goes by fast. There have been so many tender mercies and great spiritual experiences we feel we are walking on cloud 9 all the time. Again, these past two weeks have given us the opportunity for even more. The most prominent blessing for us has been noticing the doings of God’s creatures. As I have written before, we have antelope that make their home right (and I mean right) outside our camper door and wander all over the campground with very little fear of us. Last Tuesday, mama antelope brought her twins by to visit for awhile. They sure are getting big and boy, can they run. They look like a movie on fast forward all the time. They love to run circles around the older antelope (literally) until mama makes her bleating sound and then they either drop down in the grass or run over to her. It is very entertaining.

One morning last week, we were headed into the homestead to work and noticed what we thought was a large coyote out in the grazing field between the highway and the visitor’s center. I watched it for awhile and then we figured out it was a wolf. The binoculars are in the truck within quick reach. Now that was cool, seeing a wolf in the wild. Maybe we should have been late for prayer meeting and kept watching it but we were good missionaries and carried on with our duties. Also for the past couple weeks, we have been watching a silver fox den. It was on the way to the campground where we square dance every night. Since we would head out in the evening, the kits were out and about playing. There were three of them but they sure didn’t stick around long and have moved out of the den and to wherever little foxes move on to. Mama Fox and one of her little ones.

Now some of the creatures we encounter aren’t quite as cute. Last week, a four foot rattlesnake decided to set up residence right outside the door to the office at work. Now, luckily I was safely tucked in the office working while one of the Elders kindly disposed of my guest. We have to constantly be walking with our heads down because these friends are quite plentiful this year. The missionaries have had to encourage at least one if not two to cross the veil every week. So far, Elder Smith and I have not been the ones to do the encouraging.

Last week, we were given the opportunity to be the missionary couple for the men’s callout/women’s pull. We had a stake of over 400 youth to speak too and tell them the significance of these two activities. It was a great experience which gave each of us a couple fond memories to hold on to. The young men are told of when the men left their families in the most meager of circumstances either to respond to mission calls or death. To help them grasp how this might have impacted the ladies, they form two single file lines to go up the hill leaving the ladies to fare for themselves along the trail. The young women are told about the sisters who instantly had to shoulder the responsibility of leading their families when the men left. We then share that each of these youth will have hard things to face in their lives but if they hold onto their faith, these hard things can be overcome and endured. There is a lot more spoken about which I may include in one of the weekly stories as it is fairly lengthy. After our opportunity to share with the youth, I was touched to see one of my young women sit down with her journal and write in it. She reminded me of Patience Loader who kept a great journal in 1856 and thanks to her writings, we have the stories we know today. Another touching moment was one of their young women was confined to a wheelchair. We have handcarts special made to accommodate wheel chairs and she was in one of these and had made the entire trek. We were at a point where she was going to watch the girls pull their handcarts up the hill and then the priesthood would come back down to get her. But to our surprise and touching memories, all the young women came back down the hill and pulled/pushed her up the hill. What an absolutely touching site! Elder Smith’s touching moment was part of the instruction given to the young men at the top of the hill. They are to remove their hat, stand along the edge of the trail and remain until all the women are at the top. After the young lady in the wheel chair was pulled up, I then started up the hill to join the group at the top. Most other groups just start gathering while the sister missionary comes up, but there was one young man with this group that stayed there and waited for me to get to the top. He listened to his priesthood leader and obeyed. What an example!

After this week, we have now had the opportunity to serve in all the posts for a shift and done each of the extra circular activities. So you ask, which one do you like best? That is almost as difficult to answer as the question when we are asked where we are from. Each post has special significance and wonderful stories to share with those who visit and each activity brings smiles, peace or understanding to the youth we are serving that I really wish we had the energy to do them all; all the time. The really sad part is we only have about six more weeks of busy season and then we will be occupied with more maintenance around the area. We just love it here! Square dancing with the youth. Elder Smith is in the middle of the picture and doesn't see what is coming up behind him. It soon got very wet.

This week’s tender mercy was reconnecting with a childhood friend after 40 years. I am so grateful I have a sister which is willing to reach out and ask the question; “do you want to know us?” My sister, Patty, our daughter, Sylvia, and her children, Patrick and Addy, came to Martin’s cove Tuesday afternoon with our friend, Kelly. She lost most of her family members during the past years, so we have opened our arms and she now has sisters, nieces and nephews, and cousins in her life. We all met for lunch to celebrate Sylvia’s birthday on Wednesday along with two of our cousins and she was formally introduced and accepted by all family members. We are only an extension of the true love of Christ and one big family which can be eternal.

Last Sunday we were graced with the utmost special fireside. We had Joseph and Emma Smith’s great, great granddaughter with us. She attended church with us, sat at the same table with Randy and I at the potluck (we felt honored), and then gave us a very touching fireside. Growing up, Gracia knew little about her relationship to Joseph Smith. She told us a story of when her mother saw the Prophet's name in her history book. Telling her he was her great-great-grandfather, she quickly urged her not to share that fact with anyone. Gracia then learned about Joseph and Emma when she began babysitting for an LDS family, who eventually introduced her to the missionaries. When she was baptized in 1956 at age 18, Gracia became the first descendant of Joseph Smith Jr. to join the church and remain active. Her whole story of learning who she was; led to a lifetime mission of reaching out with love and compassion to unite all the posterity of Joseph Smith. During her fireside, she had this long scroll of paper which got unrolled that was over 50 feet long that had the family tree she has put together so far. She travels all over finding more and more people for the tree and even pencils in the names if they haven’t been added. Her husband, Ivor, shared several parts of the fireside and you can truly see how much they love each other and are dedicated to their mission. It was one of those moments to always remember.
Gracia and Ivor Jones.
This teapot belonged to Emma Smith. The death mask behind the teapot is a reproduction from the original of Joseph Smith.
After a heavy rainstorm, the mountains around us have several waterfalls as water doesn't seep into the rock. All of us say the mountains are crying just like we do when touched by those who suffered and died here.
This little guy lost his mother so he is now part of the homestead family.
Old school lawn mowing. Sure glad the yard is only 12'x14'.
Colleen and Oscar. I am not so fond of dogs but Oscar thinks I am.
Oscar will not cross a bridge. He swims the rivers every time.