I’ve had an incredible weekend leading into my birthday. I was able to go on a Pioneer Trek with the youth as the photographer. My job description included going on Wednesday-Saturday to take pictures and then making a video that would be shown at a Sunday night fireside meeting. I knew the turn around time would be short and tried to prepare beforehand with a skeletal project with music already picked out, however, life kept me busy and I did not have anything done until Friday evening.
It was requested that the finished project be six to seven minutes long. With over 300 pictures taken on the first day, I knew there would be a fair amount of carving away. I also had some footage on the GoPro to work in–time lapses that I imagined would play with quick banjo music. There were 11 families created with a couple leading each as “ma” and “pa” which divided about 125 youth from ages 14-18. There were other adult leaders serving as logistics crew, trek master chef, family historian, nurse, and overall support including all three members of the stake presidency. Everyone worked together to create a spiritual experience for the teenagers who dealt with rain and mud, cooking meals in dutch ovens over fires, sleeping outdoors, walking and pushing handcarts for 13-15 miles over three days, and imagining what the Mormon Pioneers endured to get across the plains from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Each teenager was given an old fashioned name that they were called from the first day. It wasn’t until they received a letter on Friday afternoon that they discovered that their names were actual names of pioneers. In the letter, they were able to read the story of the person whose name they were given, and for some the pioneer was an actual ancestor. Some of the youth in one family discovered that they were all related pioneers and their stories coincided. Some youth were given pioneers with life stories that struck them as closely related to their own. On Saturday morning, many of the youth bore their testimonies on what they had learned and how the stories in the letters had touched them. I was unable to be there for it, but received many photos via Google Drive from ma’s and pa’s who had taken pictures of their family. The video would not have been complete without these contributions.
When I picked up my kids on Saturday afternoon they were tired, dirty and flying high on their experiences. It was great to hear them talking and laughing. I was giving a ride home to one of our neighbors and she exclaimed, “Look how far we’ve come already! And we didn’t have to walk,” and everyone started laughing just from sheer joy of driving in a car. My daughter was beside herself being able to sit in a chair and not on a 5-gallon bucket which had served as her luggage and her camp seat. All of them talked about how great their families were and how much they loved their ma and pa. None of them had any complaints. And once we got home, they all gloried in being able to be clean and dry. They were also very excited to be able to sleep in a bed.
Sunday night came and I was scrambling to make some last minute touches to the video. I showed up at the church only to discover that there was no cable to connect my laptop to the projector. We were finally able to find someone who had the right thing and she went back home to get it for us. With all the craziness, I was worked up and nervous, hoping the video would play, hoping everyone liked it…
I got the nod to come up and play the video and I was able to sit up in the front while it played. It was the best being able to sit in the dark watching all the faces upturned and lit by the projected images. There were smiles and laughter at seeing themselves or their children on the screen. Most of the images were still pictures, but I did interview a few people on the first night asking them what was for dinner. Plenty of laughter when those came up. The biggest roar of laughter came when a piano piece was interrupted by an instrumental of the children’s song “Book of Mormon Stories”. Some ladies complete with toddler in a papoose had dressed up as Indians who then traded with the pioneers. Ma’s and pa’s had beaded necklaces in their handcarts which the Indians were given in exchange for ice cream sandwiches for the youth–such a cool idea that was not deterred by the weather.
Many of the pioneer games planned were unable to take place because of the standing water on the ground. There were still stick pull competitions and I was able to get some pictures and a video of one bout in the project. The end of the trek was shown with Brigham Young greeting the pioneers in Zion. Because the youth walked the last leg so quickly, the brisket lunch was not done, so they were given an alternate lunch while the brisket was cooked completely and served on Sunday night.
Even before the video was done, I received a text that said simply, “Well done.” My project was actually almost 17 minutes long, but I was told by more than one person that it could have gone longer. I was so relieved at the response. Even the five or six second mistake where no music at all played with the still pictures near the end of the video could not dampen my spirits. I was so glad it was done on time, was able to be played, and was well received. My husband had to warn me about pride and getting addicted to praise. I came home smiling and unable to stop singing the music from the video.
Another thing that contributed to my high was that the thing that I was wishing for, happened. One of my friends came up to me afterwards and said that when I had walked across the front of the room she had noticed that I was looking really great and she wanted to know what I was doing. Cindy had promised me that after using Isagenix for two weeks I would have someone asking me what I was doing, either because of the weight loss or the high energy and happy disposition. So excited that it came true! Now I just need my toes to appear… that’s the end goal.
Oh! A cool thing happened that has nothing to do with health or church… my big brother moved to Texas. He showed up on Saturday night and rang the doorbell at 10:30pm. He has taken a job in a nearby city and is rooming with some friends who have also come out from California to work a job which may last anywhere from 18 months to 5 years. It is so weird for him to leave and say, “I’ll come back later,” and we are excited to spend time together.
We were able to have dinner together on my birthday, and I don’t think we have been together on my birthday since high school. It is so weird! But in a fun way. It’s too bad that my family lives so far away, but at least absence makes the heart fonder.
My birthday was such a great day. My Facebook wall blew up and I answered every single message left for me. I had texts and visits and presents… I felt like a million bucks. A couple of friends came by with lunch for my kids knowing that I would not be eating. Then they were able to sit and talk which we never seem to have time for. They also brought a homemade cake with coconut flakes dyed green covering the outside. I was told to enjoy it with my family later when I would actually be eating a meal. A few friends came by with thoughtful gifts and cards. I got a gift card to a beauty store. I got a beautiful wax melter thingy with different flavors of wax to make the house smell good. I got some green gum, green mints, and a green Gatorade drink with an open invitation that never expires to visit Utah. That takes the sting out of them moving away, but only a little. My friend who made the cake came back with the gift she grew from seed for me… cilantro, dill, and thyme in planters. To top it off, she brought her daughter’s friend who was not wearing green just so that I could pinch her and make my whole year.
I take great pleasure in pinching people on my birthday. I don’t have to know the people I pinch. Last year, I pinched some people in an elevator. They gave me some pretty strange looks, but I just smile and tell them that it’s my birthday and they should be wearing green. Duh! It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Show some Irish pride.
I know, I’m weird. I also love kitchen appliances. My husband looked around the table as we ate ice cream and cake and asked if anyone felt like there was someone missing. He went into his office and began walking backwards while pulling his office chair along. Sarah leaned to me and said, “This is creepy. Why is Daddy so weird?” When he turned the chair around, there was a big box with a Bosch mixer in it! I think I screamed for a full 30 seconds. Now I can be like my friend RuthAnn and bake ten loaves of bread in one go. She already gave me a kitchen scale for Christmas. Now I just need a grain mill, but I need to calm the kitchen appliance coveter inside me.
My children can further their pioneer experience by grinding wheat for me by hand. Ha!