*There were particular young men that were told to stay with their hand cart no matter what- and they did. Down to the last washing and returning. It was kind of tender watching them care for their carts and not letting anyone else take responsibility for them. The leaders didn't even have to remind them.
*It was so interesting to watch the youth's relationships. Boys and girls that aren't remotely in the same social circles on a regular basis were talking and joking around with each other. In one instance I saw a young man (quite popular) taking care of one of the young women (shy, plain looking, extremely quiet) by watching her water intake. At one point I saw him insist she stop pushing the handcart and drink some water. I love the idea that by taking away cell phones, iPods, and regular clothing we gave the youth a temple-like experience. By equalizing all those things, just like in the temple where everyone is wearing white and has the same level of dress and appearance, the youth's relationships flourished.
*I went alone. Matt stayed home with the kids (I will forever be grateful that he has a job and desire to use his vacation time to allow me to participate with the youth this way). I didn't realize how hard it would be for me not to have him there. I was the only woman in our ward that didn't come with some sort of support. The other women had children or spouses with them. On one hand this was very difficult. The first evening as we came into camp, I watched the couples come together, as they had been most of the day, and minister to each other. Husbands rubbing wives feet. Wives getting plates of food for husbands. They were being couples and I was insanely jealous. On the other hand, this allowed me to really minister and serve everyone else. I had no one to watch out for me, although I suspect now that many were from a distance, so I watched out for everyone else. I became our camp nurse. I bandaged so many feet, and helped so many ailments. I was able to minister, particularly to the youth in a way that I wouldn't have been able to had Matt participated. I felt so connected with everyone else's needs that mine disappeared. I think it's the first time I've felt true charity for such an extended period of time.
*THE NINETY AND NINE. There was an instance when one of the young women was having an allergic reaction that was affecting her breathing (only an hour or so before we hit the women's pull). I had to get her down a good sized hill just to get her medical attention, and then to get her really taken care of we had to get her even further down the mountain through vehicle transport. Knowing that she was in good hands- although hands she didn't know, I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her. She said yes. She was scared, I was torn. I decided to stay with her. A difficult decision as we both really wanted to participate in the women's pull, knowing that my girls needed me. They needed more adult women (the morning had been riddled with ma's and grandma's being put out of commission) It was at that moment that I felt a bit of the absolute discomfort that it is to have to leave a group to go after one. My heart was torn all day. I was physically with the one I needed to be with, but my heart was on the trail. She needed me, they needed me.
*EVENING'S RETURN. The same evening that I was unable to Trek with the group was quite an eye opener for me. The camp had been passing along information that the trekkers were thirty minutes out, then fifteen, then five. After a long day, praying that the youth had journeyed well, it was a sight for sore eyes to see the very first handcart flag of the stake trekkers. And it was one of ours. I jumped up, eager to greet them and start bandaging some sore feet. The young man that was carrying the identifying handcart flag was a pa. He was standing straight and tall, pressing forward, as I got closer I noticed he was covered in mud and dirt from head to toe, but still had a pleased look on his face. He passed, and then another, and another. I started noticing the mud and dirt as a pattern, the trekkers were dragging their handcarts in- few had smiles on their faces. Finally I saw one young woman I've been very close to. She ran to me, crying, and hugged me tightly. She related to me the events of the day. Everything from a very charitable women's pull to mutlitple extreme mud holes. She said that she and most of the other young women had been expected me to come back and join them after the women's pull. Every corner, water break, or bathroom break they had been looking for a vehicle that I would get out from. It kept not coming. Finally this young woman realized that I wasn't coming back, and decided that it was her job to keep the morale high. She started singing, and talking about glad things (something she and I had been doing the previous day). I'll never forget how tight that hug was. Once again, I couldn't help but relate this to a more eternal lesson. There will be a time when we greet our Heavenly Father. And we will probably be dirty, and tired, some of us may be slightly broken, others will have met the challenge with a pleasant spirit. But He'll be waiting for each of us, not caring what we look like. Ready to bandage us and care for us, knowing full well what we went through to get there.