One highlight this past week was the facilities management group that the mission is under provided a “thank you” dinner for us for all our hard work. It was a prime rib dinner and it was absolutely delicious. The old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is definitely true.
We are getting closer to coming home and this of course brings many mixed feelings. I have grown in many ways by serving here and it has been a blessing in my life. If I tried to tell you all of them, it wouldn’t be the short version so I’ll just save that for another day. I see the Lord’s hand in my life. I know that he lives and loves us.
Read on for the longer version:
Fall definitely is here. I have seen the geese flying and we all know what that means when it is this time of the year—cold weather and snow is coming!
Elder Ward is our wanderlust missionary and always has a map and is always out exploring and discovering. So this little adventure was with a topical map and knowing some places like Muddy Gap (which by the way only has a gas station there). So we all piled into one vehicle and headed off from the paved highway to a dirt road and through some cows on some guys ranch on to Bureau of Land Management land to Whiskey Gap. We actually found it the first time and didn’t have to do any turning around. When we got through the gap we looked for a place away from the big longhorn cows or whatever breed they were so we could have our little picnic. It was actually quite nice but funny at the same time because we could see where our home was just off in the distance a little ways to our right. We felt bad for everyone back there in their homes having the same usual evening and not a fun one like us.
For our picnic we had hot dogs, chili, chips and French onion dip, cookies, soda and condiments to put on our hot dogs like chopped onions, mustard, and ketchup. Elder Swingholm had a nice little cooking oven that uses propane to cook the hot dogs and even heated up the chili in a small sauce pan too. It worked out quite well.
On a Sunday we had Jolene Alphin the author of “Tell My Story Too” come and talk to us. If you are unfamiliar with her she had written a book. It is a compilation of journal entries which have been gathered for several of those who travelled with the Willie or Martin Handcart companies or the Hunt and Hodgett Wagon companies.
It was interesting and I enjoyed listening to her. She is good friends with Julie Rogers who is an artist. Some of Julie’s paintings are depicting some of these scenarios from journal entries she has read or stories she has heard. Julie doesn’t do only pioneer paintings she does others as well. They make a great team in sharing their information and paintings with each other.
Here is a picture of her while she was talking to us and showing us different pictures from different things. The picture on the TV below is actually of youth in Micronesia having a trek for the very first time. Their handcarts were interesting and how they had to adapt things was interesting too.
With the weather starting to change and the end of the season here we have begun the process of preparing things for winter. One of the things we do at Martin’s Cove is restain and fix the handcarts every other year. This is the year for handcarts. It is something we have been working on here and there all the time we have been here. Different people have worked on them as they have gotten work assignments which are handed out every day. But now it is a little more intensified. The handcarts have been all lined out and they are set up by the different stages they are in—Sanding, Pressure Washing sanding dust off, Staining, or Lacquering.
Also with this time of year comes Trek Leader Training. This is where those people who will be heading up the next year treks come and get trained on how things work at these 3 historic sites. What we provide, what they need to plan for and what it might all entail. It is a day and a half of training. It starts on Friday morning and ends Saturday at noon. They come to Martin’s Cove and all those schedules I have been helping with for the month to two weeks before are handed out. Sister Bowden and I have been frantically working on creating their schedules from what they have chosen and told us they want for their trek while they are here. There are many variations depending on the time they come, the day they arrive or where they plan to camp, etc. Do they want to just come to Martin’s Cove? Go to Sixth Crossing? Do Rocky Ridge and go into Rock Creek Hollow or just drive over to Rock Creek Hollow? So many decisions and so many schedules to choose from!
So they arrive and get their Trek Leader packet filled with tons of helpful information for food medical, driving directions, stories they can tell, music they might want to have if they square dance, dress attire, etc. On top of that packet is their schedule we have put together. After they check in they get assigned to a handcart in families just as if they are trekking so they can see how it all works. While this is going on there is square dancing demonstration done by some of our missionaries.
On another note the end of the season also brings with it many emotions. We have people who are preparing to go home, others who will be staying the winter, those who will be coming back next summer and some who aren’t sure if they will be back next summer--time will tell-- but will if things work out they will. There are also those who will not be back at all. Those that will stay the winter need to move from their locations to the Homestead. They also have 2 weeks to go home and get things arranged and situated for them to stay the winter and next summer here in Wyoming. RV’s will be going home and things moved into their new place of residence. But those who have been here this last winter are packing and getting ready to leave for home.
So there have been goodbyes and RV’s disappearing. Things just are not the same and there is something definitely wrong with this picture. The Turpins have left for home and the Taylors have taken their RV home and have left an empty space with just some stairs that go nowhere. It is sad. The next big wave is when our group goes. There were about 14 couples who came together to the Mission Training Center together and so in about 10 days we will all be heading out to our various destinations. A few have decided to stay the winter so they will not be going but the rest will.
As I watch people teach a lesson or give a talk there are so many thoughts running through your head. This person has touched my life by their example. I have to see them again they are a part of my family now. What a joy they have been to me. I am going to miss seeing them every day. I am going to miss laughing every day (Karl isn’t that funny lol). I am going to miss walking to here or there. This place has really gotten under my skin and is a part of me. There aren’t words to describe it all or even convey all the emotions and experiences I have had here. It is like a picture sometimes it just doesn’t do it justice compared to seeing it in person. This I do know. I am not the same person who came here almost 6 months ago and hopefully I have touched someone’s life for the better by crossing paths with them. It hasn’t been a cake walk but at the same time I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am amazed at what I have been able to physically do while being here and I know that the Lord has blessed me in so many ways. I probably will not do another post before I leave but I also know a new chapter will be beginning. In some ways I have enjoyed being in this little safe protected, beautiful spot of the world (I am not saying I haven’t missed internet or my phone working) but I am also anxious to see family, friends and my home again. I also know there are many ways to serve and I know I will I just do not know what that looks like right now.
Thanks for being a part of our journey and we love you and hope all is safe and well with you.
Elder and Sister Sigmon