This year Dan and I were asked to be "Ma and Pa" to a family of 10 kids that we had never met and lead them in an LDS pioneer simulation up a mountain in central Oregon. Being apprehensive about hiking 27 miles and pulling a handcart up and down 3000 elevation feet, we were more than a little unsure about whether we should do this. But being committed to serving in this capacity we, with more than a few worries, persevered and led our new "family" for 4 days in the heat, dust and dirt. We pushed a handcart on a rough dirt trail, over rocks,and through bushes, with ticks crawling on more than a few of us. We made and broke camp each day ,(barely) sleeping on thin pads and repacking our handcarts each day. I, and many others, developed blisters, treated and taped them, and walked on. If I stopped my story right there most people would (and have) said, "you couldn't pay me enough to do that".
But my story doesn't end there...
With no electronics, no cell service, no TV, or recorded music there were no distractions. I found this "simpler life" so incredibly joyful. Just me, my husband, my "kids" and God to lead the way. I learned to lean on Him and to trust Him in a way I never needed to in my life. I had been entrusted with a huge responsibility of being a "Ma" to all these teenagers and I wanted so very desperately to say the things they needed to hear, and to love them in a way that they would feel loved. I prayed for guidance. I wanted to be able to walk on and be a good example to my family and inspire them to be the best they could be. I prayed for strength and perseverance. I wanted to keep up the spirits of my family so they would have the strength to keep walking. I prayed for inspiration. And I wanted to be able to keep this up for 4 days and make it to the end. I prayed for sleep.
And my prayers were answered. I felt God's love for each and every one of His children. He loves me and He loves you! He is only waiting for us to ask, to have faith, and to TRUST HIM.
And I learned to be so very thankful for the comforts of my life and for the sacrifice of pioneers that came before me. I learned to love without reservation and without fear of acceptance. I learned faith, patience and inner strength. I learned what God's and angels' hands feel like, guiding me in the right direction. I know more assuredly how my Savior helps and heals and loves.
Was it difficult? Yes, very. Did I miss my fluffy, cozy bed and my toilet and shower? Uh, ya. Were there times when I was miserable and utterly exhausted? For sure. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
To feel God's love that intimately is worth any sacrifice I could ever make. Because it was He, even Jesus Christ, that sacrificed everything, so that we might come back and live with God again.
It was SO worth it.