Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Vacation in 1856

William Stimpson Family Statue in Temple Square, Salt Lake City
(Nathan's 3rd Great-Grandfather)
William and four year old son Frederick made it to Utah. 2 year old son Joseph died on the trail 2 weeks prior to his mother. Rebecca, 7 months pregnant, died at Independence Rock due to complications from childbirth. Pre-mature infant son died 15 minutes later. Nate comes from the family line of the woman William married later in life.
Water Crossing

Mud Crossing

Cactus Flower (these were everywhere along the trail in Martin's Cove)

The Handcart Line of our Stake, you can glimpse the last stragglers coming over the ridge in the distance if you click on the enlargement
(we had close to the 300 person capacity limit on the trail)

Games during a company bathroom break

Lunch at the Martin Center with our family
Left: Me, Porter, Jayden, Natasha, Magoli
Right: Madison, Clara, Preston, Mandy, David
Not Shown: Nate (He was photographer)

Morning Sunrise

This summer has blurred right by so I will have to play catch up soon and fill in the gaps but this was a highlight in our vacation. We learned all about Nathan's ancestors in the Martin Handcart Company and the joys and sorrows that those pioneers experienced. Nate and I were called as a Ma and Pa for our stake youth conference to Wyoming for 4 days of trekking along the pioneer trail. I believe the final mileage was 36.6 (Day 1: 4 in Martin's Cove, Day 2: 16 along the historic trail, Day 3: 16.6 through Rocky Ridge, Day 4 home). We wore pioneer clothing, and camped in tents along the trail. We had special devotionals and private moments to reflect on the handcart pioneer whose name and biography we wore around our necks. The last night was spent at the Willie Memorial and we learned about the 14 individuals buried there. Marjorie Hinkley's two sisters came to share their ancestor's story and testimonies. There really aren't words to express my grattitude to those who planned everything but this was a truly sacred experience for me. I love those 9 kids that we were assigned as a family like my own. A few days is really only enough time to glimpse at what they experienced but one that truly touched my heart was when the boys were crossing the muddy river. Porter and Jayden weren't able to see the massive boulder that was in the middle of the path and they had taken their water shoes off so they wouldn't get sucked away. They cut their feet and while they were being bandaged up I caught my breath in a moment of reflection. I just adore these boys and I was so grateful they had taken the load for me so I wouldn't have to wade through that particular stretch of the trail. We had trekked up Rocky Ridge earlier in the day and it is a two mile stretch of the trail that is referred to as the Trail of Blood. It has steep inclines of jagged rock and must have been so daunting with the addition of the cold winds of 14 below and deep snow packs. The pioneers had lost their shoes or worn through them and now simply had burlap sacks wrapped around their feet as the trekked up this rocky, ice-encased terrain (I saw a sole of a tennis shoe in the garbage from one of OUR kids shoes so I can imagine what the handcart pioneers shoes must have been like walking from Iowa to Utah). The pioneers feet were so badly torn that they left a trail of bloody footsteps behind them. Then I thought of our Savior and His Atonement, taking the burden of my sins on my behalf. I can't put those feelings into words but I could just glimpse for a second a small portion of the love He has for each one of us. I thought how just like those beautiful cactus flowers that bloomed from the spiky, cruel-looking orbs; that through our Savior's Atonement, a horrible inexplicable sacrifice, blossoms the most beautiful plan of salvation and redemption for all mankind. It was a moment in my life I will never forget.

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