Friday, August 19, 2011

Saying Goodbyes

Our time here is coming to a close as we had to say goodbye to our 12-week missionaries this week. There was a pulled pork barbeque on Thursday night with the Martin’s Cove Band entertaining before dinner and then cowboy music after dinner. It was a wonderful evening full of fun and good friendship and giving us time to bid our new friends farewell.

Last Saturday evening the missionaries were treated to a grilled steak dinner put on by the Casper members of the church. It was so yummy having steak, potatoes, salad and cobbler. Since we had spent the summer in Casper last year, we knew some of the Casper people so it was exciting to get to visit with them and catch up on news. For me, the moving part of the evening was the smell of the barbeque. We haven’t had one barbeque all summer due to the activity of all and the late hours of posts. So, just to smell the coals burning was quite relaxing.

After the dinner, there was a fireside with Sister Dorene Lloyd and Sister Joanne Baird (Sister Marjorie Hinckley’s sisters). They are the sweetest things and show such deep love for each other. They, their other two sisters and brother (until their death) have met every Wednesday afternoon since the late 1970s and done various activities. Now, that is truly commitment. Their grandmother is Mary Goble, whom traveled with the Hunt Wagon Company and grandfather, Richard Pay, who also traveled with the Hunt Wagon Company. They had a little reader’s theater telling about their grandma and grandpa’s experiences while traveling across the plains. Mary Goble’s toes froze that they had to be amputated when she reached Salt Lake. She rode in the wagon holding her dead mother’s head down Emigration Canyon. Her mom had died just two days before reaching Salt Lake. During the journey, the Gobles lost a baby after 6 weeks which died in Nebraska. Thru a series of small miracles, Sister Lloyd and Sister Baird were able to obtain the grave marker for this baby. They brought it with them to show all of us.

The marker is made from a wagon board; in fact, it still has some nails in it. It was carved out and then was burned with an instrument to make it dark lettering and keep it readable. The marker was in the hands of a couple which live in Idaho in the middle of nowhere. They had found it in a creek bed on their property. Their yard was decorated with old antiques and this was part of the d├ęcor for several years. One day, the husband decided he would look up the name on the internet and see if he could find out anything about the child. To his surprise, he found out it was related to President Hinckley’s wife. They tried to write a letter to President Hinckley asking if he wanted it but the people who got the letter thought it was a hoax since none of the pioneers died in Idaho from the trail. So, President Hinckley never saw the letter. They sent other letters trying to reach the family but to no avail. It wasn’t until the Hinckley siblings were scheduled for a fireside in Idaho and one of the members of the ward or stake who knew about this grave marker (friends of the owners) put the two interested parties together that the marker was able to be placed in the family of the Hinckley’s. How the marker got in Idaho is still a mystery but it is known that thru the years several Bedouins would travel through and maybe that is how it got picked up and then discarded at a later time.
Pay Sisters with Great Aunt's grave marker from 1856

Saturday was our preparation day (PDay) and we took advantage of having some time off. There wasn’t a real need for any groceries and such and I had everything pretty much caught up around the house so we went exploring. About 40 miles from here is Green Mountain and on the top of the mountain is a herd of wild horses. We went and found them. We were able to drive up fairly close but then got out and walked which got us a bit closer. We witnessed two stallions fighting and then mares protecting their foals of all different ages. It was an absolutely beautiful sight. I think pictures of them in the snow would be gorgeous. We then went to Riverton, Wyoming and decided that is not the town for us. We much prefer Lander.
The Two Stallions
What we got of the fight between the two
One of the small herds grazing

This past Wednesday was this week’s PDay and we once again went exploring. We traveled over to Lander to tour the Eagle Bronze foundry and Sinks State Park. The foundry was so very interesting. They were in the process of making a monument of two fighting horses which will be cast in stainless steel and are going to somewhere in Dubai as a sheik bought it. Oh, for the small cost of at least 2 to 3 million dollars. It was told to us that due to the shininess of this monument, it will be able to be seen from outer space. The process that goes on to make one of these monuments has sure changed the way I look at them now. I hope to go through the foundry again. The Sinks is where a river runs straight into a cracks in the mountain and goes underground for about a quarter of a mile and then comes right out of the rocks. I know you think I mean into a cave and then out a tunnel but no I don’t…I mean into the rock side of the mountain and then out from the rock pile down lower. They say the water that goes in takes two hours to come out. It was very interesting to read about and even more to actually see. We are enjoying exploring on our PDays and the next one is scheduled to take some missionary friends to Guernsey Ruts, Fort Laramie and Register Cliff. It will be a long day but a good one.
The statue of the horses being made.
The entrance of the water into the mountain. Sorry, but I didn't get a good picture of the water coming out.
This is when I was down closer to where the water disappears into the mountain.
Do you recognize these two?

Martin’s Cove experienced a first last Friday. Three bikers came to visit on their way to Sturgis. It was a gentleman, his friend, and his son-in-law. They were just enjoying a guy’s trip and stopping to see the sights along the way. They decided to walk up to the cove before leaving. As they were walking the gentleman started to not feel well. He rested for a time at one of our posts but then felt he could go on. He only made it about 50 yards and collapsed on the trail. The missionary called for help and then called for the truck to come out on the trail as it was evident he was in serious condition. Another visitor to the area was a registered nurse and started CPR which continued for over an hour and half until the ambulance could get out here. The gentleman didn’t make it. Once the EMT arrived they knew he was gone and probably was gone as soon as he collapsed. It was a very emotional day for all of us as several of us had our own special memory of this visitor. I sure hope we don’t have any more days like last Friday.

With the winding down of the season, preparation is made for the winter. During the winter, there are six couples who are housed here whom take care of the property and prepare for the next summer. These six couples are called “Polar Bears.” Rumblings were going around the missionaries as to who was going to get asked to stay. It has been fun to kid and threaten our friends that they were going to freeze, need warmer coats, enjoy being snowbound, etc. Well, to our surprise, on Monday we were called into the director’s office and given the call from the Presiding Bishopric to stay and be the assistant directors for a year. What an honor but what a change of plans. I guess all our training for flexibility from the Air Force days has prepared us for retirement years also. I know this will upset some but to be in the service of the Lord is the most fulfilling and gratifying opportunity. Elder Bruce Carlson stated, “Faithful obedience, regardless of the apparent size of the task, will bring the Lord’s guidance, assistance, and peace.” There are thousands of things we could be doing with our lives right now and have the time to do it but we feel we are where the Lord wants us at this time. A statement from Neal A Maxwell has carried me through many a time, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.” We are excited about our new calling.
This is how we solve the problems of the day. By the time we had them all solved there were eight more people around the bed of this truck.
Elder Smith dipping the handcarts into something that treats the wood and prepares them for next year. This was a cool contraption made by one of the Elders that saves a lot of brush strokes!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trek Season is Winding Down

Karl and Patrick were the first two to pull the handcart.
Randy and Addy entering the beautiful cove.
We had just listened to the stories from Elder and Sister Erwin and gathered on the benches at the head of the cove.
Mom and kids pulling the handcart. Everyone took their turn.
Family river crossing. It wasn't too cold just a bit swift.
Karl carrying Angela. Hold on Angela he doesn't like the rocks on the bottom.
Some of that unique Wyoming landscape we really enjoy.

This was the last week with a significant number of trekkers. There are one or two still on the schedule for the rest of the month but it is like the plug has been pulled and the sink is drained. We are hoping there will now be time to slow down and maybe even go and see some of Wyoming. As in two weeks, we need to gear up for trek leader training during the month of September. Our treks will now be with adults preparing to do treks with their families, wards, or stakes within the next two years.
We had a good break from all of our activities the weekend of July 22nd. Karl and Angela were able to come to Wyoming and visit for a few days. I think they wanted to check on us and make sure we were really as busy as we write about. They arrived on Friday evening; and to make the weekend better, Sylvia, Kathryn, Patrick and Addy came out and spent the night. We had a great dinner of fried chicken and potato salad which was a real treat. On Saturday, we dressed in pioneer dress (yep, all of us) and then did the eight mile trek into Martin’s Cove including a river crossing. Along the trek, we read accounts of five or six of the handcart pioneers enabling us to learn and understand more. There were so many special moments shared between each of us and was culminated with the river crossing as a family. It will be a day forever planted in my memory. Sunday was church and the big potluck which I think Karl really enjoyed. Monday, Karl, Angela, Randy and I drove to Sixth Crossing where the Willie Company was rescued and then to the base of Rocky Ridge. We then drove along the Atlantic-Hudson Highway to Rock Creek Hollow. Now don’t get to excited because the Atlantic-Hudson Highway is not paved it was a long dirt road. Karl was thrilled to get to drive the truck on back roads. Angela and Karl were able to see some Wyoming countryside, booming towns in Wyoming like Jeffery City, and explore Lander for a little time. Our day was cut a bit short as I had a part in the family home evening program and Karl and Angela just had to see a bunch of old people hold family home evening. Tuesday, we went into Casper and spent the afternoon with Sylvia and family. We really enjoyed spending time with the kids but it made us miss family again.
The following Wednesday and Thursday were our heaviest days for trekkers with 1800 on one day and 1200 the next and then the normal 500 to 700 all the other days. Elder Smith helped with greeting them and issuing handcarts (staging post) while I was in the office. It was very long days for us – 10 to 12 hour days. One of the groups that came in was from Houston Texas; a Spanish speaking stake from east Houston. They rode on a bus for 27 hours straight to come and, in several missionaries opinion, took the trophy for being the most special group of the summer. Randy was the orienteer for the group and even though everything was translated there was an instant bond once he said our address is Texas. A majority of these youth had never been out of the state of Texas let alone the city of Houston and every little thing they saw from the cottontails to the stars in the sky were so enthralling to them. They didn’t want to sleep as it would mean they would miss something. One of their buses broke down in Limon, Colorado and was delayed three hours to arrive but this did not dampen any of their spirits. Then one of the buses broke down before departing and they had to draw straws to see who would stay as everyone of them; young and old, volunteered to stay as they just didn’t want to leave. Their departure was seven hours later and they were not disappointed in the least.
Friday, the 29th, we were at the footbridge where river crossings happen. There were three river crossings scheduled but one occurred before we got on post. Our first river crossing was the Idaho Falls unit which did the traditional crossing with silently pulling their handcarts through the river as families. Then the Houston Stake started their river crossing. We were so excited to be there with them. They began with a devotional given by the young men’s president while violin music played on the banks across the river. After the devotional, the 14 to 17-year-old boys pulled the carts across the river and along the trail. The 18-year-old young men and adult male leaders carried every female across the river. The men and boys carried their wives/mothers and daughters/sisters across. There were over 150 females so this took a little over two hours. All the time six youth were playing violins and a flute with no talking or playing done by those crossing. The entire group was very reverent. I was on the side of the river with the music and it kept blowing off the stand so I went over and held it for them which was really difficult to do while tears stream down your face. I wish I could have recorded the entire experience for you.
So far this season, we have had units from Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Our visitors that come are from even more states and foreign countries. It is so cool to visit with people from all over. It helps me with my homesickness for the Air Force.
Again, this week was full of very long days from 7 am til 7:30 or 8:00 pm every night. Randy was over the staging area as the regular missionaries were campground hosts for part of the week. This is a very busy place as you have to be there early to greet the units coming in, receive the carts back from the units heading home and then be there at night for the units that come in and go out the same day. I spent the week in the office starting to put things together for the trek leader training and then helped Randy after 5 pm and all day Friday.
It is so hard to realize our time here is so close to ending. In two weeks, the summer missionaries go home, then the second year missionaries go home the third week in September, and then we go home the second week of October. It has gone by so very fast and I guess it is baffling to me as I really didn’t think I would have the health to last. It is so gratifying to know we have a wonderful Father in Heaven that will take care of us even if we question our capability.