Saturday, July 21, 2012

pioneer trek

{Britta Davis Photography}

The primary {children's organization in our church} had an activity today to celebrate our pioneer heritage and do a very small-scale reenactment of the pioneer's trek west from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley. I almost didn't take Leah - I was debating around 10:00 last night. But I decided Leah shouldn't miss out on an activity simply because I'm tired or don't want to make the effort. So, I whipped up a bonnet {tutorial here} and we were ready to go.

They divided all the kids up into families with "mas and pas". They sang songs, played games, stopped at places like Winter Quarters and Fort Laramie, pulled wagons and helped each other along. They got to share stories of their own pioneer ancestry.

{Leah shared the story of her 7th great grandmother, Ann Stephens, who immigrated from England to America without any of her family. She then trekked west, settling in Salt Lake where she worked for Brigham Young. At that point, her family in England decided to join her. Also while in Salt Lake she met her future husband, who was from Canada and didn't speak a lick of English. They courted without much speaking, I suppose!}

I wasn't sure how well Leah would take to walking around and around, so I brought the trusty Maclaran. I also planned to push her around myself, Kate strapped in the Bjorn, simply because I never expect others to do it for me. At most of these activities, parents drop their kids off, but I just don't feel like I can do that. 

It ended up being such a wonderful activity. It was hot, and they were in direct sunlight, but everyone was in such good spirits and really helped each other out. I'm glad Leah was able to experience this mini trek, but I have to admit, I'm glad I took her for much more selfish reasons than that. 

As Leah's ma and pa sort of took over, not expecting me to help out at all {why do I always underestimate others??}, I sat back and watched the activity unfold. I thought about how grateful I was that I wasn't a pioneer. And how much I'm sure they wished they could be wearing the Toms and Nikes and Keenes that were on the field today. How I'm sure the pioneers would have loved some sunscreen or bottled water or bug spray. But what really got me is that had my little family been a family on earth just 150 years ago, Leah most likely wouldn't have made it. 

I teared up thinking about it and I'm tearing up now just writing that blasted sentence. 

They didn't have the medications she needs. They didn't have the therapies that have helped her to thrive. They didn't have space in their wagons to let someone ride the entire way - she would have had to walk or be carried.

They did have families - ones with wonderful mas and pas and siblings like the ones in Leah's family today. Having a family would have provided support and love and joy in the journey, but sometimes just having a ma or pa that is willing to do anything physically for their child isn't enough. And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been enough for Leah 150 years ago. 

When the activity finished and we had gobbled up our yummy potato stew and homemade bread with mouthwatering homemade jam, I gave Leah and extra long hug. I'm forever grateful for Leah's fighting spirit - and for the blessing it is to be fighting this fight now, not then.


Kelli Marshall said...

bean looks SO cute!!!! love the fabric on her bonnet... "pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked ANNNNND walked" :)

lis said...

Maren Layton, why don't I read your blog more often? Because I am a forgetful dork. Thank you for this uplifting post.

Michelle said...

gosh, thanks. now i'm bawling reading this. by the way, who just "whips up" a bonnet? you're ridiculous, in a fantastic way.

Rob and Marseille said...

i have thought many a time in makayla"s short 3 month life that she wouldnt be here if it werent for modern technology. if she did happen to make it being born breech w/the cord around her neck twice, how would i have fed her w/her cleft palate?! i feel so blessed that we live today.