Shanel Murdock – Ma
During the women’s pull our cart was third in line from the front. We started the pull with a huddle and cheer. We powered through and reached the top exhausted but full of adrenaline. My “daughters” really carried me up those hills with their positivity, song and strength. They were amazing. After we reached the top they turned right around and went back to help other carts. I didn’t want to just stay up their by myself so I followed them back down the hill. I helped another cart up the hill and then the thought came that I needed to find my real daughter, Wren. She had been struggling with her knee and had been in a lot of pain and was nervous about the women’s pull. I found her about half way down and their cart was stopped getting ready for another big hill. Their family was refusing help from others but when I saw Wren she burst into tears and said she couldn’t do it anymore. I told her I was here to help her, would stay by her side and I would help her push that cart up the hill. We pushed together up those hills and when we reached the top we fell into each other’s arms hugging and sobbing. She had made it to the top and I was so proud of her for pushing through her pain and exhaustion and sticking with it. Later that night at our family testimony meeting I shared that experience and likened it to our lives. All of us will climb many mountains in our life and right there by our sides will be loved ones but more importantly our Savior, helping us along, cheering us on, waiting at the top to embrace us and tell us we made it.
Nate Murdock – Pa
It really was a positive and memorable experience for me. I felt like Shanel and I connected to our trek family and I think they had a favorable experience as well. On Wednesday, I was sick…my stomach was in knots and was hurting all day. This experience helped reinforce how hard it was for the actual pioneers. Physical ailments were part of the struggle…on top of everything else they had to overcome. This experience helped me to relate to my pioneer ancestor, Wee Granny Murdoch. She was 73 years old when she came across the planes. She died and was buried in Council Bluffs, Nebraska. Historically, that has been my “go to” pioneer story every July. Having been on trek and being “sick” (nothing more than an upset stomach), I gained a much greater appreciation of what they went through and what they were truly willing to sacrifice.
“Tell John I died with my face toward Zion.” -Mary Murray Murdoch (Wee Granny Murdoch)
Tara Lund – Ma
The night before the woman’s pull one of the girls came to me very concerned. We prayed together. And the next day as we were preparing I felt a great love for her and love and gratitude for all the pioneers and their sacrifices. The other thing that I found amazing (and one of the boys in our family commented on it too) was our group started out as strangers and by the last night we felt like family. I am very thankful for how well they all worked together and helped out even when they were tired.
Laura Hubrich – Ma
I think that the testimony meeting we held was wonderful. It really let the kids share their love and support for each other. It was a little slow to start. One of our kids mentioned that he gained a testimony of prayer as he overcame some concerns during the trek. His testimony was simple and pure. You could feel it as he spoke. By the end of our meeting, some of the kids actually did a couple testimonies as they shared their thoughts and advise to the rest of our family. It was great!
I think the women’s pull was wonderful. It was an emotional day from the beginning. I saw some of the other ma’s huddle with their daughters before they left and I did the same. We talked about accomplishing hard things and relying on the Lord, Heavenly Father and angels to help us. I suggested thinking of people in their family that had passed on as they would be support to us as we pulled/pushed up the hill. One of my girls mentioned to me that helped her as she thought about a cousin that had previously died and could feel her there.
For me, I had a clear impression as we finished the last pull on the last part of the hill that it was similar to our climb into heaven. As we went by the men, with their hats off in a humble and dedicated mode, we had to push and work to get to the top. It was as if we were climbing to heaven, passing those that loved us, supported us and were waiting for us. It was very powerful to me. (These words do not really do justice to the feelings that were experienced on this climb)
It was difficult for the men to watch as we worked but they realized that they had to let us do it. I know that was extremely testing for Ron to watch us suffer without jumping in.
Brett and Kimber Jones – Ma and Pa
We had Karoline Busche and Wren Murdock in our group. Our handcart ran over Karoline’s foot coming out of the parking lot the first day. She didn’t say anything about it until the first night. She ended up in the medical tent and walked most of the rest of the trek with a boot and few complaints. She did the entire Women’s pull with the boot. Wren Murdock had a knee injury and also did the Women’s pull. The girls in our family chose to sleep under the stars on the last night. In the middle of the night, Brett instantly woke up from a deep sleep and heard Karoline, Wren, and Indai Edgar up talking about the pain and difficulties they had each experienced. They were homesick and needed some comfort. Brett was able to give them blessings which helped bring them peace in the morning and stamina to carry on until the end. Their sacrifices were admired by the family and helped draw us together. The boys in our family really rallied around the girls and it was a great experience to see the strength of the youth in our stake.
Jon and Allison Stromberg- Pa and Ma
Before we even started out on trek we had two of the kids in our family flat out tell us that the only reason they were there was because their parents had made them come. We talked to them about how we couldn’t make them have a good experience, but that they would get out of trek what they were willing to put into it. To their credit, those two kids went to work and were on that handcart the entire trip; most of the time in the hardest places. We never heard any whining or complaining out of them, and in the end they told us that they had had a good experience and were glad they had come. They also expressed how this experience helped them to gain a better perspective on what those early pioneer ancestors of theirs had gone through. That’s one of the greatest things about trek, it helps youth to start thinking more about others than about themselves. It also helps strengthen their testimonies, builds unity, and helps them to see that they are capable of doing hard things. We feel that it is a valuable experience for them to have, and feel blessed that we have been able to be a part of so many; as youths ourselves, and as adult leaders.
Rebecca Findlay – Ma
I felt like everyone bonded well in our family. The women’s pull was amazing but really hard. I told the girls to have a relative or someone who has gone before in their mind as they worked hard to pull, then half way up the mountain we all felt as if spirits from beyond the veil that knew us personally helped us have enough strength to pull that heavy cart to the top! One of our Daughters, Meg Barlow, said “Did you feel the cart getting lighter just then?” We all agreed and felt extra strength and help. Later at testimony meeting most everyone shared their testimony about this and what they knew in their heart about the gospel and I think it was an awesome day and night.
Robyn Austin – Stake Young Women President
Many of the families gathered for prayer as they left their handcarts on the side of the trail just prior to the women’s pull. I had the opportunity to help several handcarts up a steep part of the women’s pull. As one family was struggling, a YW popped her head out from around the back of the cart and asked her Ma if they should stop for a prayer. I was impressed with her faith to know Heavenly Father would strengthen them. Another time as I was helping push a cart up a steep incline, just the Ma and I were pushing as all the YW had gone to the front to pull. Something happened in the front of the cart and the Ma immediately went to see what had happened. That left just me in the back to hold the cart as it came to a stop (on the hill). Even though I was trying with all my might to keep the cart from rolling backwards, I knew I was not strong enough to hold the cart by myself. As I said a silent prayer, the cart stopped rolling and the pressure I had been feeling lessened. I am sure there were unseen angels helping me.