(Author Note – This is an update from the author. Please scroll down for more stories)
With sweat down our backs and dirt under our fingernails, we contemplated in Martin’s Cove, pushed and pulled up Rocky Ridge, were pelted by hail at Rock Creek Hollow, and felt the aid of angels. Every year more groups don the time-period clothing and walk ‘for’ an ancestor.
Dear friends, Joan and I have participated in numerous ‘handcart treks.’ In 1997, our stake called us to be a ‘ma’ and ‘pa’ on our first trek, and to assemble a trek band. Joan researched music, we wrote a few songs, and we enlisted family members to play and sing. On that first trek, we rolled into camp each night, performed family duties, then assembled with band members and performed music for the camp fireside and square-dance for hundreds of smiling youth.
In the years that followed, we were invited to other ward and stake treks. We’ve performed in mud, wind, rain, and snow. With gratitude, we also performed on calm nights when the painted prairie sunset slowly yielded to the stars exposing God’s eternal creations to his even more glorious children. We met wonderful people who came because of faith in God, who stood before the company in remote meadows bearing testimony of their love of Jesus Christ, their companions, and those who had gone before. We too love our ancestors and feel their closeness as promised by prophets.
Now, in 2023 our trek continues.
When Joan and I met years ago, the spirit of missionary work was a powerful part of our family beginnings. We knew that one day, we would serve as missionary companions in the Lords marvelous and wondrous work. The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful family of our own, who we love deeply. He has also provided means for us at this time to give a little more to serve him. We love Him.
While considering options for a ‘live-at-home,’ part-time opportunity, we were reminded of the church-run, ‘Mosida Handcart Trek Site’ near Elberta, Utah. We contacted the directors and within a day or two found ourselves touring a 21-mile trail in a four-wheel-drive pickup through a half-foot of snow (it was December). Elder and Sister Child told us the history of the site and the experiences that thousands of youth and leaders have each summer trekking to places that represent the actual handcart journey from Iowa City to Martins Cove to Rocky Ridge, and on to Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City. Within days we submitted our application and on January 15, 2023 Joan and I were each set apart by President Smith (of our stake presidency) as Service Missionaries.
On January 2, we attended our first Mosida missionaries meeting and met several other senior couples. Like young missionaries do, we stood and recited Doctrine and Covenants, Section 4, “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men…” Sister Smith, another senior missionary, stood and introduced Levi Savage (her husband) who then stood and in first person recited the Levi Savage story. We were then invited to get to work memorizing a number of stories that we would perform to youth at specific points this summer along the trail. We have since met each Monday at the Mosida lodge (Iowa City) for a devotional to pray, plan, learn, recite, repair, practice (even teaching the Virginia Reel), and receive assignments in preparation for this summer when new groups of stakes and wards will trek. Joan was assigned to sew a couple example banners or flags, representative of what trek families will make for their trek. This past Sunday we attend the kickoff fireside for a Stake in Lehi who will trek Mosida this summer. Videos were shown, stories were told, testimonies were born, instructions were given and scones were consumed. As we looked into the faces of those youth, all strangers to us, we immediately felt our united brotherhood and the christian cause we would experience together this summer. We love them already.
With this, ‘Mosida Missionaries’ blog, Joan and I will keep you ‘posted’ on our trek as Service Missionaries in 2023. As with handcart treks and the hard experiences that our ancestors endured before us, we feel power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ (as did they). We choose to trust and obey him because we believe and feel His way is the only way to ultimate happiness. God lives and loves his children. In his eternal wisdom he invites us to learn of him and become like him. We love you. Stand by for more…