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These talks recount some of the lessons we learned from our Youth Conference Trek last weekend, namely, "faith in every footstep" and "with joy wend our way."
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Two Talks Given at the Post-Trek
Stake Youth Conference Fireside
in Ashburn, Virginia
By Janet G. Andrus and D. Calvin Andrus
Youth Conference Co-Chairs
17 July 2010, Version 1.0
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A little over a month ago, we were in this same place trying to build enthusiasm for Trek and to begin our preparations for our journey. Hopefully we all have a sense of accomplishment in completing what was a very difficult trek--difficult in terrain, in weather, in bodily exertion, and in spiritual exertion.
As I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting this morning, I was impressed by the topic of the meeting as it related to our recent trek experience. That topic was sacrifice. The definition of sacrifice was related as “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important.”
We had an interesting observation point to watch as sacrifices were made relative to Trek. There were many sacrifices of time and talents of leaders and organizers to carry out trek. The love of the leaders and other adults in this Stake for the Youth was readily apparent.
We watched you sacrifice in your preparations and on the Trek itself. We watched you rehearse musical numbers, live without cell phones and the internet, struggle over rugged terrain pulling and pushing handcarts, run low on water, and all this in adverse weather conditions. Some of us learned as we went that we couldn’t have made the journey relying only on our own strength. Some of us learned to pray for strength as we wended our way. Others learned from reflecting on their experiences after trek was over.
I have reminded myself at least daily this week how grateful I was that Trek was only three days long--every time I was able to cool off in air conditioning or get a cool drink of water when needed. This caused me to appreciate the sacrifices of the early pioneers who sacrificed family, money, comfort, and convenience to go to a place where they could gather with the other Saints.
We can apply these lessons as we progress throughout our lives. Let’s think back to the Women’s Pull. This was difficult for many of the Young Women, and yet others were strong and undeterred by the experience. Young men are no longer asked to serve in the Mormon Battalion, but to serve missions; and Young Women are asked to encourage and support them and serve themselves as missionaries. Wives aren’t asked to send their husbands for years at a time on missions, but they are asked to support their husbands as they serve in demanding Priesthood assignments.
Someone asked me when I got back from Trek if I felt like singing the Primary song “Pioneer Children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, and walked” as we wended our way on the Trek. As we watched you struggle over terrain with your carts, I felt it was much more difficult than just walking and walking. Watching you struggle to get your carts over steep hills reminded me of the trials we face in our lives, and of the daily sacrifices you make to live the Gospel under social and peer pressure in your school environments. Even the downhill sections weren’t easy--there were holes to be avoided, rocks to be conquered, carts to keep under control. Similarly, even when our lives seem to be going more easily, we need to watch out for pitfalls and keep our lives on a straight and narrow path and be diligent in seeking the Spirit for guidance.
As you worked with your Trek families, you found ways to work together to lighten each others’ burdens and to accomplish your difficult journey. You accomplished your journey by using your strength and combining it with the strength of others and with the strength of the Lord.
The Lord really took control of this Trek starting Thursday morning, and when His work was accomplished He sent us home. We witnessed President Simmons being guided by the Spirit to make inspired decisions to change the course of the trail, get us safely back to camp in spite of washed out roads, stay the rainy night, and leave early in the morning. Both running out of water on the trail on Thursday and our rain-drenched crossing of the rising Rappahannock on Saturday morning were as authentic as trek experiences can get.
I would like to close with a quote from the Gospel Principles manual:
- Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God. People have always been tried and tested to see if they will put the things of God first in their lives.
I want to thank all of those who sacrificed to make this Trek happen--those who have organized, served and participated. We saw the work of the Lord going forward through this Trek to strengthen and unify our Stake and build and strengthen our testimonies.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Uncle Paul and Aunt Fran
My father's older brother and his wife live in Hawaii. They are my Uncle Paul and Aunt Fran. They are declining in health. My dad and my mom decided they wanted to visit my Uncle Paul and Aunt Fran one more time before they passed on. So, about four months ago my mom and dad bought plane tickets to Hawaii, for a trip in June. Unfortunately, my Dad had a heart attack and passed away before he and my mom could take the trip to Hawaii. In spite of their plans, The Lord called my father home and left my mom with two tickets to Hawaii she couldn't really use. What should my mother have done?
Our Church Meetings This Morning
Our youngest son, Trevor, is a deacon. On Sunday mornings, he has an assignment to arrive early and set up the chairs in the primary and Relief Society rooms in the Sterling building. This morning when we arrived, the Bishopric told him not to set up the chairs. The air conditioning in the building was not working, and church was going to be dismissed after sacrament meeting. The rest of the congregation found out as the Bishopric announced at the beginning of sacrament meeting that the second and third hours were canceled. I thought of the primary presidency who had prepared a sharing time lesson they would not give. None of the other teachers would give the lessons they prepared. What should the teachers have done?
The Trek Experience
The morning of trek, there was a traffic jam on Route 66 and half of the participants arrived late. The handcarts themselves also had a traffic jam on the trail and arrived at lunch 3 hours late. By the time we left lunch, we were 4 hours behind schedule. Even though we changed to a shorter path on Thursday afternoon, we did not have time to do the first night's program which so many people had prepared. Friday night on the trek it rained about 3 inches, with more rain predicted for Saturday morning. We decided to break camp and head out, rather than have our solo time, testimony meeting, and bishop's time on the trail. In short, much of what we had prepared for trek was changed or deleted as we went along the trail. We prepared presentations that were not given. We'd planned food we did not serve. People had changed personal and work plans and were not needed. What should we have done?
Our lives are like trek. We plan and prepare the best we can, and The Lord intervenes and sends us in a different directions. We need a fair amount of faith in every footstep of our lives. To have joy as we wend our way in life, we must have faith that the Lord has our best interests at heart even when He changes our plans out from underneath us--sometimes, as in the case of my mother's trip to Hawaii, with little or no notice. What should we do, when the Lord calls on us to make a hard right turn in our lives when we were planning to go straight? We have all been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will guide us, and as importantly, comfort us. Acting under the guidance and comfort of the Holy Ghost, we will have joy as we wend our way, even as our lives make unexpected turns.
We appreciate so much how cheerful and happy you all were on trek. Even the older Mas and Pas were cheerful. We appreciate the loving hard work of the Trek staff. We are grateful to be led by inspired Priesthood leaders. We also appreciate the testimonies that were born last week. I bear my witness that we are engaged in the Lord's work.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.