Called to Serve

As you may or may not know many of the men in the Mormon Handcart companies died because they gave their scant rations to their wives and children. As a result, by the time they reached Rocky Ridge, those pulling the handcart were mostly women. In order to simulate this great sacrifice, the older men “passed away” and left the group and the young men were all called on missions. They were each issued a mission call and given a companion. Then they marched up the trail ahead of the ladies with their companions. We all hiked up a steep, sandy pitch with many rocks. At the top, all of the men were given instruction that we were to line the sides of the trail going up this steep pitch and encourage and cheer on the ladies as they pulled up this hill. We were also instructed that we could not help them physically in any way.  I hurried down the hill as the women were starting to ascend, but as I watched these women pulling so hard and I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do any cheering–the lump in my throat would not permit it. How difficult it was to just watch and encourage while these ladies struggled their way up the hill. In the end, they all made it up the hill just fine. In fact, the first ones up were on their way back to help the rest when the last handcart made it up the hill. The women pressed onward up the trail and the men assembled again. At this point, President Sleight, the Stake President, talked to the young men and told them that their duty now and always would be to support and help women. Then he released them from their missions and told them to “go help those sisters with all due haste.” You should have seen it! Forty strong, young men took off running as fast as they could to get to the handcarts and help push them along. As they took off, some of the more experienced men said they were going to take it slow and for a moment I thought I should stay with the leaders as well, but the moment got the better of me and after only 3 or 4 steps, I broke stride and ran as quickly as I could to catch up to the handcart. Now, I’ve never been a good runner–just ask my PE teacher–but I felt like my feet weren’t even touching the ground! In fact, I even outran a few of the young men! It has rarely been the case in my life to outrun anything but cows that were chasing me. Call it adrenalin or the heat of the moment, but at times the pioneers would look back to see who was pushing their carts and no one was there. Considering this, it is entirely possible that I was being helped by someone I could not see. Either way, it was a remarkable experience and it stirred within me such a feeling of love and respect for these wonderful young men who did as asked by their Priesthood leader and truly did run as fast as they could to come to the aid of the sisters! It is something I will never forget and gives me great confidence in the future because I know that these young men are willing and able to press forward and carry out the Lord’s work.

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One Response to “Called to Serve”

  1. Leigh Says:

    I love reading of your experiences on this trek. What a wonderful opportunity you’ve had to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers.

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