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While working on this project I was asked by several of my friends, “Why do Mormons do trek?” I gave the easy answer, “Because it is our heritage”. But the question deserves a more complete response and I have enjoyed contemplating it; rediscovering the depth of my own feelings for that heritage. So here goes…

Mormons have a deep sense of and commitment to family. Those who have descended from pioneers know the stories of their ancestors through journals and writings. They are stories of hardship, selfless sacrifice, and of deliverance. They are epic stories about heroes who, despite persecution, chose to serve the Lord and keep the commandments at all cost. They are stories about a people who, rather than raise arms against their neighbors, fled to an unknown wilderness. They tell of divine intervention where lives were saved, and where lives were given in service to others, freely. The pioneer trail was a trail of blood, but foremost it was a trail of hope and of faith - a faith that has endured even to the fifth, sixth, and seventh generation. We love to honor them, and even at times, measure our own faithfulness against their example. Participating in Trek helps our children understand the sacrifice and dedication of their forbearers to the Savior and to gospel principles.

Mormons believe that families are eternal. When my father passed away my mother, brother, sisters and I were standing around his hospital bed when he began to reposition us around the room. There were others arriving, unseen to us. My father wanted to see us all without having anyone stand behind someone else. I knew the exact moment when my grandfather arrived. In life he was a jokester, and apparently still is. As my father pointed his finger to an empty spot in the room, there was joy on his face as he gestured, “Don’t you give me a hard time.” In contrast, two times previously when my father suffered a stroke, he grasped my hand and in a haunting way that I will never forget, pled for me to help him, fearing death. Here was a man that I revered for his intelligence, leadership and strength - knocked down. I had never seen fear in his eyes before. But in the end, there was no fear, only a peaceful passing as those whom he loved came to accompany him home. On trek, leaving our daily routine, we have an opportunity to focus on spiritual things. My grandfather was a craftsman and I inherited some of his hand tools. When I build something with them I remember him, his hands held those tools, and I build as he did… well, probably not as skillfully. So to, walking on the same wilderness trail, literally in the footsteps of our pioneer ancestors, helps us to become acquainted with them. We feel close to them. I’m sure the Savior was grieved at their suffering and we feel His love in greater measure because of it.

Finally, I walked on this Trek for two of my fifth great-grandparents, William F. Carter and Roxena Mecham. They were married and traveled with the first company of pioneers. Through them I have ancestors who immigrated to the Americas in 1640, seeking religious freedom. Through them I have ancestors who fought for an independent free nation, established on Christian principles that grant liberty and freedom to all. Through them and others, I am related to seven signers of the Declaration of Independence – men who risked everything for that which they believed... and I can go on. These men and women worked to establish everything that we enjoy today. This heritage belongs to all of us. It is the heritage of the church whether we descend from Mormon pioneers or not. As we research further back we will discover where you and I are related. Mormon’s believe that the hand of the Lord guides us and our families. Therein, we share a common heritage. Knowing our heritage, we have a greater understanding of who we are in God’s plan for us. That is why Mormons do Trek. I invite you feel the spirit of Trek in the videos, audio clips, ancestor stories and in the testimonies of our youth in the Trek Family journals. Discover their goodness and their faith in Jesus Christ. We teach of Christ, we testify of Christ, and we invite all to come unto Him. I testify that He lives, that He watches over all of us, and that He is mighty to save. In His worthy name, Amen.

Greg Garfield
Historical Committee Chairman

P.S. You are invited to participate on Trek. Contact a local Branch, Ward, or Stake. Visit lds.org to find a congregation near you.

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