Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Exodus

Dave and I were asked several months ago to be parents for our stake youth Exodus (essentially a trek). We accepted not knowing quite what we were getting into. Our bishop kept saying how it was a life-changing experience, no words can describe it, etc. And, he was right. But, I'm going to try to describe lots of it, as best as I can.

We started out with a fireside Sunday night where the music and words spoken were so full of the spirit. We went home excited to be a part of the adventure.

4:30 a.m. Monday came too soon. We showered for the last time for a few days, and got dressed in our Old Testament garb -- regular clothes with a tunic covering them, a sash, and a headdress. We all met at the parking lot at 5:15 and were assigned our 'families'. Dave and I had 12 wonderful kids; 6 boys and 6 girls. We loaded our stuff on the bus and soon we were off for the 3 hour drive up into the mountains.

Our handcarts were 6X8 feet with two huge steel wheels. Once we had it all loaded with the tarp covering it and tied down, we were off. The trails were very rocky and muddy from the recent rain/snow. The wind was cold, but the physical effort kept us warm. We had been going about 2 miles when a stake helper tracked us down and told us we were going the wrong way. So, we turned around and went back and went a different, much more rocky path. After about 1 1/2 miles on this new trail, another stake leader came riding up on a horse and told us we were really lost and off the trail. Turns out we had been on the right trail to begin with and the other helper was simply misinformed. (It wasn't part of the 40 years wandering, it was a mistake). So, we all got to add a few miles to the first days' allotment. No one was happy about that! But, that is how life goes sometimes.

Mt. Sinai was incredible. It was this mountain -- about a 60 degree incline with pretty much boulders. They had a belay rope at the top that they tied onto our handcart so it wouldn't fall down. It required most of our ward to get each cart up. We would all help to get one cart up, then go back down the hill, and help with the next cart. I was on wheel duty one of the times and would be lucky to help it turn inches at a time.

We stopped to drink from water out of the rock and later some of us were biten by fiery serpents (in the form of candy as temptation).The only other thing I remember about Monday is how tired I was at the end of the day. I yearned for sleep during the evening fireside -- longed for my sleeping bag. It got down around 26 degrees that first night. Fortunately, my friend had lent me a really warm sleeping bag.

Tuesday was the most incredible day. We just had classes and a few activities right there at the campsite. But each class was so wonderful. We learned straight from the Old Testament all about the law of sacrifice, obedience, about the temples and tabernacles and about how leprosy is a parallel to spiritual sin. My favorite class was about the cleansing process of a leper. It made the atonement more personal and real for me than any other experience has.

That night we had a dance -- DJ and all. Dave impressed leaders and kids alike with his dancing skills. I just tried to keep up.

Wednesday came too soon -- after dancing til almost midnight! We got up and packed our handcarts and we ready to go when a man came and took away all the men to go fight against the Midionites. So, me and my six daughters headed out up another LONG hill (about 1/2 mile), not as steep as Mt. Sinai, but just as rocky. It was TOUGH. My girls did great. I was in the middle behind the cart just pushing with all my might, oblivious to what was going on around me. I was so focused on the ground and getting over each rock, that I didn't realize when all of sudden it got much easier to push. I thought angels were literally helping us. I looked up and it was the men in our group who had come to help us. They truly were angels!

The rest of the day was wonderful -- listening to counsel from our Stake President, participating in a life-changing testimony meeting with the youth, and pulling into the 'promised land'.

We didn't get home till about 6:30 p.m. that night and my shower never felt so heavenly! This was truly a great experience that I'm so grateful I got to share with Dave.


Dawn said...

That sounds awesome! I remember how much everyone loved the trek, and this looked like equally as rewarding for all.

Diana said...

Ah, you look great! Oh, and the man that took the men away, that was my brother!! I wish I could see a picture of that! Glad that you had an experience....

VikiViki said...

Jennie - Sounds like a great time for both of you. It reminded me of our Martin's Cove trek last year- only when the men left to fight ("There's a war with Mexico...")they really couldn't help us - but had to stand on the sides and watch us struggle up the hill. Hope your kids had fun while you were away. Great photos.

Linds said...

Wow, what a trek. Love the part about Dave dancing...can totally picture it! So happy to know you have a blog. Looking forward to being more up to date on your lives. Sounds like things are going great!

Wendy said...

Wow, that sounds incredible and exhausting. What an experience!

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