Oh the Adventures! Part Two

Service Opportunities

There is never a dull moment on the Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission.  When we are not serving at the Visitor’s Center, leading tours of the historic Sun Ranch buildings, trekking with groups through Martin’s Cove or re-enacting stories from the lives of the pioneers, we get to do other interesting assignments.

Welcome Post

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As you approach the homestead, you see the welcome post greeters, a day long assignment to get visitors and hundreds of trekkers where they need to go. Trek groups come from states such as California, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

Chinese tour buses traveling around the United States purposefully stop at our site on the way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota because we have super clean restrooms. They walk through the visitor’s center and snap a ton of pictures, especially if a missionary is wrangling a snake off the lawn.

Welcome Post can be relaxing, with enough time to read a book, or it can be very busy. On the last day of trekking in September, we counted 450 visitors in 120 vehicles. During the height of the summer trek season, the numbers soar.

Handcart Parking

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We really do park handcarts as the trekkers come from the homestead part way along their journey into Martin’s Cove. There were about 600 trekkers pulling 45 carts in 3 groups while we were hosting one day.  Parking can get tight!

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Using colored flags to distinguish between the treks, Base (which acts like an air traffic controller) knows where each group is at all times as we take our trek groups  from place to place. Constant radio communication with base keeps each trek group from running  into each other so that each can have a great experience.

 

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The trekkers are then ready to quietly walk up into Martin’s Cove for more spiritual experiences.

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Dan Jones Amphitheater

Cherry Creek Campground Hosting

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That’s a supply shed behind the host cabin, not an outhouse

When trekkers get off the buses, they load handcarts with 5 gallon buckets containing their personal belongings and walk 3 miles from the homestead to Cherry Creek Campground, where a missionary couple greets them, directs traffic and gets all the different groups and their myriad of support vehicles situated for the night.

 

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After dinner, the groups learn square dancing (with missionary assistance) and have fireside talks as the sun sets.  After doing ‘Oh Johhny Oh’ square dancing, the tune sticks in your head all night long as you try to sleep.

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Trekkers water-coloring pictures of handcart pioneers and their rescuers.

It’s a long, hot, windy time during that week of campground hosting, but it’s also fun mingling with sweet and enthusiastic young trekkers.

 

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Medical Advisor/Emergency Preparedness Advisor

Everyone has skills and talents they use to the fullest on this mission. Ours happen to be medical doctor for the mission and emergency plan creator.

Since we are 50-70 miles from the nearest medical facilities, being able to triage a problem before it gets worse is a great way to serve. I diagnosed everything from infected Russian Olive tree thorns, severe positional vertigo, TMJ, chest pain requiring 3 cardiac stents, torn knee ligaments, corneal flash burns from welding, to a bad case of shingles.

Independence Rock Volunteers for Wyoming State Parks

 

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Six miles from the homestead, heading east on the highway to Casper, is Independence Rock, the pioneer register of the trail, where travelers carved their names on the granite monolith.

 

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We serve as volunteers for the State and tell people about the rock and encourage them to check out Martin’s Cove as well.  We also get to climb the rock!

Independence Rock partly got its name because if your pioneer group got there by Independence Day, July 4th, you were almost guaranteed to get across the Rocky Mountains before the snows came.

The Martin Handcart Company arrived at Independence Rock around November 2, 1856 and had to trudge through deep snow and a fierce cold wind.

Wyoming State Highway Volunteers

As part of our volunteer hours, we pick up trash along the highway several times a year.  There’s some interesting stuff out there, folks.

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Cleaning up the highway in front of Rattlesnake Pass- where all 500,000 pioneers traveling on the 4 historic trails came through on their way out west between 1843 and 1969.

School Groups

The missionary sisters dress in full pioneer outfits, complete with bonnets, aprons and bloomers, and take the Wyoming 4th grade school children on tours of the homestead ranch, visitor’s center and let them pull handcarts.

 

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It is a favorite field trip for the kids and we enjoy it too, as they are encouraged to call us ‘Grandma’.  Many kids have gone home and insisted their entire families come back to see this place, sometimes that same afternoon.

 

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Pioneer Grandmas: front row L to R: Sisters Chandler, Bushman, Turpin, Maxfield. Back row L to R: Smith and Shugart

Stay tuned at this same bat time, same bat channel for more to come in Part Three!

-Wendy

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A Gift Freely Given

The most important things I choose to do in life, I do for free.  When you do something with no expectation of compensation, it says something.  It says you are sincere.  You may be misinformed or mistaken, but you are definitely sincere.

I have taken countless people flying, for free.  Why?  To share the joy of flight with them. To see the wonder and thrill of it in their eyes.  Check out this video of an adorable 4-year old getting her first airplane ride.  This is what I’m talking about!

Let’s go fly!

Although I was a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) for many years and managed retirement portfolios, I much prefer using my experience and knowledge now to teach people to manage their own investments.  Imagining my friends becoming financially independent is reward enough.  I love investing.  And I so enjoy teaching those few souls who can catch the vision, and have the courage and clear thinking to take control of their own financial destiny.

Wendy and I have had a habit, our entire lives, of volunteering at church.  And we love it! I have had so many amazing adventures as a scout leader, a public speaker, a teacher, and a leader through these volunteer church assignments.  I’m convinced that I get far more out of these experiences than those I’m supposed to be helping.  I learn, I grow, and I feel satisfaction.

As Wendy and I looked at our schedule for 2016, we saw a great opportunity to volunteer this year.  So we went through the process (with the help of Bishop Jon Allen of the South Mountain Ward, and President Porter of the Phoenix Arizona Stake of our church) of applying to be senior missionaries for the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints. And Monday, January 18, we received a formal letter from President Thomas S. Monson, the President of our church, inviting us to serve for six months, beginning May 2, 2016.  He has assigned us to serve in the Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission.

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Trek group at Martin’s Cove starting their river crossing

 

What will we be doing?  Helping people understand and appreciate what it was like to walk with their families, pulling all their earthly belongings in a hand cart, 1300 miles from Illinois and Iowa to join other members of their faith in the desert of the Utah Territory during the years 1847-1868.  I love this history and am fascinated by what motivated these ordinary people to do such extraordinary things.

There are several historical sites where guests are led on treks, pulling hand carts to reenact and experience for themselves what the journey was like.  And there is also a visitor’s center where missionaries can tell the stories and show video reenactments.

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So that’s where we will be from May through October of this year.  Again, the most important things I do, I do for free.  And I’m looking forward to honoring these pioneers who helped build the character of our nation.  Freedom of religion and the desire to be with others of the same faith was so important to them, they gave up their homes and jobs, sold all that they had to pay for ship’s passage from numerous countries in Europe, to come to America.  Then they took ferries and trains to what was at that time, the western edge of the United States, in Iowa.  And from there they walked with their children to over 1,000 miles to the Salt Lake Valley. I expect to learn a lot from these pioneers as I dig into this part of our nation’s history.

More details to come once we get there and get our assignments.  It’s going to be a fun and meaningful year.

Clay