Monday, June 19, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Short Version:
It sure has been busy couple of weeks. We are in the beginning of the busy trek season and broken equipment has had to stack up in the shop. I know the Lord will provide and we will get everything fixed someday. It never ceases to amaze me who comes through Martin’s Cove who I had association with. The other day a gentleman by the name of Don Hausteddar came through the Visitor’s Center. He was the owner of Don’s Kawasaki in Alamosa when I bought a motorcycle from him 40 years ago. Of course he knew my father and was telling me about the time my dad gave him a ride in an old stock car that he had. He said he loved my dad and always admired him. We had a great visit. We had various assignments over the last few weeks from Trek Hosts to Campground Hosts, cleaning restrooms, work assignments, Visitor’s Center, etc. I really don’t have a favorite cause I am blessed every time I serve in any capacity. I have been thinking a lot lately about families because that is what we get most coming through the Visitor’s Center. It is so neat when we take them through the restoration room and ask the children questions about Jesus and Joseph Smith and to hear them answer with such conviction and humbleness. I also know many families are struggling in the world and as we ask many of them to think of who they can rescue their eyes become filled with tears as they think of someone in their own family that needs help whether it be a kind word or a kind deed. We also have many motorcycle clubs come through. Some of them just want to use the restroom and others will come through the Visitor’s Center. Even these adult men have the inherent need to be in a family. We are doing great here. Every day seems to bring new challenges and new successes. Hope everybody is well.
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Things are getting into full swing and getting busy. We are having bus & van loads of kids, leaders and support staff coming in for their treks.

  • What happens with the groups are several different things. They can have anywhere from 1 day up to like 4 days scheduled on their itinerary. They can arrive the same day as their trek and then leave for home.
  • They can arrive in the afternoon, pick up handcarts and trek to the campground, Trek the next day and then go home. Or camp that night and go home the next day all at Martin’s Cove.
  • Some groups come into Sixth Crossing, an hour away, and do camping and trekking there and then come over to Martin’s Cove for a day of trekking and go back and camp at Sixth Crossing.
  • The groups can also add on going over to Rock Creek Hollow and camping and spending a day there too. Rock Creek Hollow is where the pioneers came into and camped after climbing Rocky Ridge.

I know it is a little confusing but I wanted to lay a foundation for how the treks work since there will be a time when Elder Sigmon and I will be over at Rock Creek Hollow for a week being Campground Hosts there and tending to those duties needed out there. We will be there the end of July and first of August. While we are there we will have in one group 800. That is going to be a lot of handcarts to get washed and returned. There will be another couple with us from Sixth Crossing. I’ll explain more when we have experienced it and done it. Rock Creek Hollow is 2 hours away by car but not by trekking.

Sister Harris and I were asked to do the pie story for a group as they trekked out to their campground after picking up their handcarts. The next day they will go out for their trek. I had heard that it can be an interesting experience. We are acting out the Louisa Mellor story where her mother is so tired, hungry and weak. She had lost twins before boarding the ship to come to America and left her father behind which took a toll on her emotionally too. She had hit a point she just couldn’t go on any more and kissed her children and her husband to send them on their way and wanted to be left on the side of the trail to just give up. Louisa stayed with her and encouraged her to continue. Her husband promised to get the other children settled into camp and then come back for her. After everyone had moved on Mary Ann, the mother, sat on a rock and wept and told Louisa to go on and leave her, saying she was tired, hungry and didn’t think she could go on. Louisa didn’t know what to do and so she went off a little ways and knelt in prayer asking the Lord that he would protect them from the wolves and help them reach camp. Louisa wrote:

“As I was going back to where Mother was sitting, I found a pie in the road. I picked it up and gave it to mother to eat, and after resting awhile we started on our journey, thanking God for His blessings. A few miles before we reached camp we met my father coming out to meet us. What a joyful meeting that was. Many times Mother felt like giving up and quitting; but then she would remember how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and she offered a prayer of gratitude instead.”

I love this story and it reminds me of the tender mercies that the Lord does bestow up us and we need to remember them when times get hard. The Lord is there for us and can buoy us up when times get rough.

I had been told when we were trained and going over doing some of these vignettes that we will be surprised how those fake tears will actually become real tears as the spirit comes into play and you actually feel those emotions.

Sister Harris and I were prepared and walked out to our assigned rock and had our fake pie ready and waiting for those unsuspecting trekkers to come along. (the leaders knew and had arranged for us to be there but not the rest of the group.) Sister Harris was Mary Ann and I was Louisa. It was a sweet experience. As Sister Harris was crying on her rock I was trying to stop the trekkers and get their attention saying “Help me, I don’t know what to do. Mother is tired and hungry. She doesn’t want to go on.” Meanwhile Sister Harris is crying saying “Louisa you are only 15 go on you are young, I’m tired, I’m hungry. I can’t go on.” A boy in the group said “what do you need?” Another said “Get in our cart, we’ll take you. We’ll help you.”

The leaders gathered the group around to hear what we had to say and so we began our vignette. It was so true I remember feeling those emotions Louisa must have felt in this situation. Her franticness of not knowing how to help her mother continue. The thought of maybe having to leave her here. Then the total wonder and surprise, the miracle of a pie appearing out of nowhere in the road. The joy of it all and feeling the love of a most caring, loving Heavenly Father to be mindful of them at this time. I was totally in character. (So not like me lol).

When we finish we are hugging each other and grateful for the Lord’s mercy. So to get the group to move on we say something like “Ok mother let’s go find father and head to camp.” So I say that and start to move her and Sister Harris says “Let’s not forget the pie.” We had set it down to hug each other. It caused some giggles from me and some in the group.

Here is a picture of us waiting to go out and meet the group. And then us doing the pie story.
 Magpies have become not one of my favorite birds. They are pretty to look at but that is the only positive I am discovering about them. They will tear open trash bags, they steal baby eggs out of other sweet innocent birds nest and eat them, PLUS they poop on everything so we have to clean off their poop from benches, picnic tables, statues, bridges and fences. Anyway, Sister Roundy, our most loving person you will ever meet. If you are around her or she hears any hint of you desiring a certain food she will feed you or give you some. Even if it was her food. She is always doing someone else’s cleaning assignment so they won’t have to, etc. You get the picture. Well one day in correlation she said “If President Pace will let me shoot one magpie then all the others will come to the funeral and we can get them all.” The room filled with laughter because we couldn’t believe Sister Roundy was the one who said that. It apparently is the custom for magpies to gather when one has died. It was hilarious.

Then later on in the week there were a bunch of magpie feathers on the visitor center lawn and President Pace joking said “we aren’t sure what happened but it has been reported there are a bunch of magpie feathers on the Visitor Center lawn, Sister Roundy.”

One afternoon I was working at the visitor’s center and a magpie came along and ran the bird out of her nest just above a light under the eve. It managed to grab 2 eggs and had them in its beak. I was able to scare it off and it dropped one egg into the grass and I got it with a Kleenex and put it back in the nest. The mother accepted it and sat on it. The magpie ate the other one. Later on during the week I noticed the mother bird was not there anymore and so that darn magpie obviously came back and finished stealing the eggs. I was not very happy with it. I have added a picture of these naughty birds. If I was home the mother bird would still have some eggs in her nest.
We had a trek on Friday, June 2nd with a group from Omaha, Nebraska. Any way things were a little crazy with it and it was a big group of about 220 people. We had us and the Wards as Trek Hosts. When it was all said and done it ended up splitting into two groups and our backpack was on the lead handcart. We usually pack things in the backpack we may need on the trek such as water, neck coolers, water misters, aspirin, duct tape, bandaids, rain coats, our lunch, etc. Well by the time Elder Sigmon and I came in with our group the first group of handcarts were all emptied and cleaned out and our backpack was nowhere to be found. We looked and other people looked but it was gone. We determined it must have made its way off to Omaha. It was an old backpack one of the kids had used in High School making it a little sentimental to me. Then I started thinking of the things in it. Most importantly my light weight gray down jacket which is so important in my layering in this crazy weather. Elder Sigmon was telling me it was okay we can buy a new one. (I wasn’t in agreement since it is the wrong time of year). The other sad thing was we had put our lunch bag in there. We have many at home in New Mexico but we forgot to bring one and had to buy one at Walmart. So now I am going to have to buy another one I don’t need (Sigmon luck). After a day someone reminded me of another missionary and how her shoes went off to Canada with that group and they called them and they mailed it back. So I talked to Sister Scussel and she made a call.  After about 4 days our backpack was finally found and they were going to mail it back. I was so excited. If nothing else I wanted the jacket. I can’t believe they found it and it is going to be coming back. It really did make me kind of sad to lose it even though most of it was easily replaceable. We had even used those rain coats on that trek.

Our 35th Anniversary was on Sunday, June 4th. It was a nice day and we got a candy bar each from the President and his wife and everyone sang us a Happy Anniversary song. Later in the evening our neighbors, the Wards had their daughter visiting and they had made a fire ring in their yard. They had an impromptu campfire gathering. Everyone was invited and we brought chairs and roasted marshmallows and enjoyed each other company. It was a very nice relaxing evening. Although when we came inside later I realized my clothes and I smelled like a campfire lol.
Well so far there are definitely snakes out here. Elder Sigmon has been blessed to not see any rattle snakes. Although we have seen bull snakes. I am not going to lie I have seen a rattlesnake but apparently Elder Sigmon missed it. The Lord is blessing him. This bull snake we saw was along the road into Martin’s Cove. It was about 5-6’ long. In the picture part of his tail is still in the weeds.

The next picture is a crazy one. We watched as this bull snake first tried to go in the bathroom door with his little head hitting the door but it was closed and so he headed over to this tree you see him on. The significance of this tree is it is right by the sidewalk where we all walk from the chapel to other places but it is by the sewing center building. It is also a tree which Sister Tobler walks under a million times a day to a water hydrant to water the various hanging flowers and window boxes. We couldn’t believe it was going straight up the tree and ended up in the branches. You could barely see its tail and if you weren’t looking you would have no idea the snake was there. It may have been on a mission to get eggs from a birds nest but whatever the reason I kept expecting it to fall off the tree. Of course I showed Sister Tobler the picture of the snake and let her know she should look very carefully before going over to the water hydrant. She was very appreciative of my information. I thought it would be nice to know instead of some snake falling on top of you and figuring it out that way. If you don’t like snakes just skip the next couple pictures.

Thursday, June 8th we went on a trek with Ceadar City North group from Utah of 269 people and it went very well. They came in to trek with us for the day at Martin’s Cove. They had all the stories and events covered so we only had to be there to make sure they had permission to leave from one site to the next so we weren’t bumping into other treks and that everything went ok. From what I have observed it seems so much better when the groups come prepared with their own people doing the stories and participating either by singing, playing an instrument or bearing their testimony. They all know each other and it means more to them when it is someone they know doing their part. Some groups think oh we want the missionaries they know everything and it will be wonderful for them to do it. But those people don’t know us and we don’t have the same connection that someone from their group would have with them. I’m not saying we can’t or won’t do a good job and they won’t enjoy it. I’m just saying I think there is deeper feeling and meaning when it comes from their own group. The spirit is just a little stronger because of the connection they have.

That day was a busy day. There were 9 treks on the trail and 1600 people. At one time there were 23 buses in the parking lot as the kids were coming and going. Everyone was busy and it was a warm day in the upper 80’s. I enjoyed the trek leaders we worked with. They were organized and had prepared well. At the river crossing they had a girl sing a song and it was beautiful. I have attached a picture of the girl singing at the river.

From what I understand it is one of many weeks which will be this busy. Oh my goodness!
By the time we left for the day there were only 13 buses left in the parking lot. We weren’t the last group of trekkers. There were some other groups behind us so there were other missionaries still out on the trail with their groups but there were also others who were ahead of us and those missionaries and trekkers had already left.
On one of my work days I put together a baby quilt so that there could be something for the woman to do on a day when they needed to be in doors or when the work was heavy labor and the woman needed something lighter to do while the men did the heavy work. They had quilt frames and stands but they only had plain wood and used thumb tacks to hold the fabric. As many of you know I have been around quilts all my life being my mother’s daughter. Sticking a thumb tack into fabric and then into a piece of wood is NOT what I have grown up doing and do not understand. So I went and talked to the Mission President and his wife before altering their quilt frames. Of course I don’t want to do something they wouldn’t approve of and I also wanted to explain my reasoning for wanting to alter them. So when I spoke to President and Sister Pace and explained I only had 3 thumb tacks so we will need to buy more if they want to keep it that way or I propose since we have an abundance of fabric--stapling fabric to the wood and then you can just pin the quilt to the fabric to be able to work on them. They both looked at each other and said great as they remembered a quilt they had worked on trying to use thumb tacks and how hard it was to put them in and to take them out. Not to mention sometimes it can tear your fabric. So I got the go ahead and President said he knew we had a staple gun and someone could surely help me get it done. I assured him Elder Sigmon could do it and has done it many times for me and my mom already. I with the help of another Sister picked a fabric we thought no one else would use for another project. I also put a picture of one of the done quilts.
Monday is usually our preparation day for now and we had a trek coming in and trekking to their campground and having the pie story on the way. We weren’t sure how this was all supposed to work since they were to be coming in during the afternoon time. What we found out was we could just let outfitting know that we wouldn’t be there and to tell them we would meet with them later at their campground.

Well we had been checking out the weather and it was supposed to be 54 degrees, 20% chance of rain and 20 mph wind. As you know we lost the backpack with some important items. I was just sure it would show up on Wednesday, the day after the trek. So while we were in Casper we bought another lunch box and rain coats. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a coat and was pretty sad about being cold. I hate to be cold! 

As we got closer to the Homestead about 5 pm we can hear the chatter on the radio of what is going on and we realize our trek is just getting in. They had some car troubles and were about 3 hours behind schedule. So we stopped and met them and were introduced to the group at the Trek Center as their Trek Hosts but we didn’t take them to the trail to trek to their campground. We let outfitting do that since we had groceries still in the truck and it is an hour drive from Casper and then the time we spent with their video, etc at the Trek Center. 

BUT for the cool part! Before leaving to where we stay we stopped to pick up our mail and lo and behold there was a big box, our package, from Omaha, Nebraska!!!! Our backpack made it home from its field trip just in time for me to use my lightweight down jacket! I was so excited. I also discovered my water shoes were also in that backpack. That would have been very hard to replace. What a tender mercy to have it just in time!

Well the river has been rising again with the last of the snow melt and the water is crossing over the trail in several places. It was decided Monday night while in conversation with one the guys from Base and the Trek Coordinator when we were trying to figure out how high the river was and how much of the trail was covered. The Trek Coordinator suggested I have some of the boys let me ride in a handcart over the part of the trail covered in water since in some places it was up to mid-calf and the first section is about a quarter of a mile long. The last section is much shorter but also still a little deep. This way my knee brace wouldn’t get wet and it would give them a little more of the real feeling. 

So when we talked to the Trek Leaders that night at their campground we asked if they would do us a favor and have some of the boys let me ride in the cart. They totally agreed. They were very nice and it is a small group of 33 people. I’m so excited to have a small group and I will even be able to see Elder Sigmon with only 3 handcarts in our whole group! 

While we were waiting for them to come up the trail on Tuesday morning from the campground Elder Sigmon and I were busy taking some selfies, shadow pictures and how we look pictures to use some of the time. So you get to see them lol. Ok I want you to know in my defense in the how we look pictures I did mention the high was going to be 54 degrees and I am a California girl and I don’t like to be cold. Hey but my Carhart jacket isn’t even zipped up! The sun helped some lol. Now on the other hand Elder Sigmon is from Colorado and wearing a jacket is cold weather attire even if it appears to be a lightweight jacket.

As we got to the first stretch of water the last cart closest to me had 3 boys with it and when I talked to them they were very kind and happy to carry me across in their handcart. It was very nice of them and from what Elder Sigmon said I also didn’t end up with cold feet.
We ended our busy week with being Campground hosts at Cherry Creek Campground which is about 4 miles from the Homestead and about 6 miles from where we live. It is in the middle of both. Part of the responsibilities is to be there 45 minutes prior to when they need to leave the campground to meet their Trek Hosts at the footbridge bathrooms. Also in the evening if they have square dancing then we made sure there was a sound system where they were going to do that. We would have their group send us 2 priests to help lift the equipment into the rover and ride with us to the location and unload it. Then repeat the process when we returned it to the shed they are stored in. So a couple of the mornings we had people needing to leave camp at 7 so we needed to be there at 6:15 a.m. which meant Elder Sigmon wanted to be up at 5:15 so we wouldn’t be late. Let me just tell you with 20 mph winds it doesn’t take me that long to get ready. I just need a handy dandy hair clip, some clothes, breakfast, and a toothbrush. Especially since I can come home, eat lunch and shower before having to run back out again. But I don’t always win the discussion of what time would be best to wake up.

Here is one of the groups getting ready to leave camp, trek to return and clean handcarts before going on to Sixth Crossing for their activities there. It was cute because the trek leader was proud that they were on time and ready to go at their assigned time of 7 a.m. but we couldn’t let her go because their medical vehicle wasn’t over at base. It has to be there before they can start trekking. We had told him 3 times. She was bummed.
Hope you are all well and doing good.
Love you—Karl and Monica


  1. Monica - you inspire me with your dedication and courage! We love you both and were happy to read your blog post today!

  2. Wait. This is a pretend pie? I woke go for 100% authentic if I were you. Real pie and eat it!