Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brother! Right on Trek!

It's here, finally, here!

I get to tell you about Brother at Trek!

I am sure that any parent in the world who has a child with special needs and impairments does not exactly dream of the day that their child gets to go spend 4 days living and trekking as the pioneers did.

It's not something I had dreamed of, but I'll tell you, it was something I dreamed about all summer while trying to prepare myself and him for this daunting endeavor.

Wyoming was where it was to be held.

The actual sites where Mormon Pioneers had crossed to come to Utah Valley.

These sites and areas are reverenced and hallowed, not because of what they look like, but because of what happened there.

I wasn't sure how Brother would react to such long walks/hikes (one walk was 14 miles), pulling a handcart, being away from Mom, and doing it all in pioneer type clothing.

Do you remember the whole thing about my kids being texture defensive. Ya, trust me, getting Brother to wear something other than his ordinary skinny jeans and a T-shirt is like pulling his teeth... impossible.

All summer Marc and I debated whether or not Brother should go. We didn't know how much work it would be for others caring for him on this adventure and we weren't positive that he would even have any fun.

After much prayer and preparation Brother had decided he was going. We couldn't argue with that and knew that if he had made a decision to go, that he would do better than we thought.

And he did!

I'm glad I wasn't there because I don't think he would have done as well with me there, but I do wish I was there to witness all the funny and wonderful things he did while on Trek.

He was happy to pull the cart as often as possible. In fact they had to force him to take a break and ride in the cart once in a while. He worked so hard pulling carts that he had a big blister on his thumb and he still wouldn't stop pulling. He always wanted to be in the middle where the load was heaviest.

He never complained except for on the first night when he didn't get to sleep in the tent where the older boys were. Things were arranged and he was able to be with other friends his age and all was well.

The way Trek works is that there are groups of people together like a family, so there is a Ma and Pa and the kids in each group. They were encouraged to call the leaders of the group "Ma and Pa," but Brother had to call Scott and Cindy (Lindsey's parents) by their first names on the first day and then decided to follow the example of his peers be calling them appropriately, but not without his own twist—Mama and Pops! Tee hee!

I heard of Brother doing monumental things (to us as his parents) like reaching out his hand to help the girls get up the river banks after crossing... that is SO out of his comfort zone. He walked through the rivers and got his pants wet... unheard of! He danced pioneer-style when they all learned square dancing! He let everyone get to know him for him and not hide behind his hands to avoid social interaction!

I was told that Cindy and Scott were not the only ones taking care of and watching out for Brother. One incident involved and empty handcart—Brother was constantly pulling the handcart around even when it was resting time—but he also tends to wander. He had taken his empty handcart far away from camp and to a river that he saw his friends going to and he wanted to go to. Just as Cindy had noticed he was missing she saw one of the older boys run after him and kindly encourage him back to camp.

I love that he was looked after by the youth and not just the adults.

I heard of him doing funny things:

- naming a bunny he saw at camp, Lindsey
- getting excited about one of the horses that got to come along with its rider one day and he named it Strawberry (I'm guessing it must have been a strawberry roan)
- when the older boys leading the "family" were deciding on types of whistles to use for different directions, Brother requested that they come up with a Gypsy Horse whistle
- hopping on Tammy's rickshaw when no one noticed
- teasing and laughing to make everyone smile

There were spiritual experiences too.

You see, this Trek experience is not to just give participants and idea of the physical hardships these pioneers went through, but, more than anything, to help them feel the spirit of Christ as they walk the path of those who walked for so long just to get to Zion. There is a special feeling there in this area and Brother felt it. He cried when they came to some of the unmarked graves of the pioneers who did not make it and he cried because he was sad for what they had been through. Those who were around him at the time knew that he was being touched by the strong spirits of those how had taken these trails many, many years ago.

After Brother was home Lindsey asked if he saw any pioneers. Brother replied, "No. I felt them though."


One of the neatest things that were said about Brother wasn't even on Trek but a few weeks later in a report given in church about experiences of Trek.

Alan, we'll call him, was a "Pa" on the trek. He wasn't over Brother's family but they all were together often enough to interact with each other. I feel bad that I missed this beautiful report that was given as we were gone that day, but I heard about it over and over again, what a wonderful talk and tribute it was to Brother.

Lindsey even jotted down a few notes so that I would know part of what he said (and this is not a direct quote but a compilation of the notes Lindsey took and what I had heard from others who were excited to tell me about all that Alan had to say:

"...this I am giving in honor of someone who would not stand here and tell it all himself, I do this in honor of [Brother]. I am honoring him because he was the most genuine and helping spirit and was such and inspiration to him. [Brother] helped me laugh and cry and I will always be looking for a way to thank him. Not only did [Brother] help me, but he helped everyone..."

I am so thankful that Brother was not only safe and well, but that he was such an example to those around him.I couldn't be prouder!

Brother, thanks for being you all the way! You are so amazing and truly inspiring to us, as parents!

Like I have told many people when they comment about Marc and I being amazing parents, "It's not us who are amazing, it's our kids. We're just trying to keep up with them."

So enjoy a few pictures:

Here's the family (minus Pops as he is taking the picture)

You can see Brother is enjoying watching our friend, David, leading the way.

Listening to talks while impending rains lingers before them, the weather was VERY windy and a little rainy

Here's the whole family!

This is probably Brother "running like a gypsy horse" down the trail.

On of the few times he rode in the cart

Look at him going through the water!

taking a "break"

I'm guessing this is Strawberry...

Watching on from above

He had some great friends in his family and I am so glad the helped take such good care of him!

He he! This is Tammy who made great friends with Brother by being funny and playing Four Corners

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