It took them about 30 minutes to get ready and load the Jeep. Then we drove over to pick up a friend, and met everyone at the church to caravan all those kids to their pioneer home for the next three days. That big group of youth was surprisingly alert and peppy despite the pre-dawn hour. There was definitely some excitement in the air!
As soon as we left the parking lot at 5:30am, the torrential rain started. Fortunately I had some really good natured, chatty kids in my car who played games and kept me entertained and distracted from the weather. Driving in the stormy dark isn't my favorite way to travel, especially when headed into unfamiliar territory. We finally made it to their muddy, wet destination at 7:05am, only 5 minutes behind schedule. Hooray for caravanning!
But, as usual, this little girl has the immovable resilience of a pioneer. She decided she was going on trek, with or without a fully functioning pair of feet, and she insisted that we ask for a medical exception to let her go. The doctor at the ER said absolutely not. Friends and family advised against it. Everything in my head said we shouldn't let her. But, a priesthood blessing and a kind trek medical specialist changed my perspective a little. The whole purpose of trek is to help these kids feel like they can do something difficult. It's designed to take them out of their typical, comfortable, air-conditioned environment and immerse them in something completely different. And by Sunday evening, as I watched Emma haul herself, her boot, and her crutches up and down the stairs countless times to finish packing, I realized that if anyone can do hard things, it's Emma. She is determined, resilient, stubborn, and relentless...just exactly what you need to be on a Mormon pioneer trek.
I met her Ma and Pa this morning when I dropped her off. They are kind and wonderful, and happen to have a son who recently spent three months on crutches with a boot. I'm sure there was some inspiration involved in that match. I made sure Emma had all the things I thought she would need to be comfortable for the next three days. I talked to trek leaders, ward leaders, medical staff, and her sisters, and made sure everyone knew to be aware of her. (I am more worried that she'll try to do too much than that she'll sit and complain.) And two hours later, I got back in my car and drove home, and tried not to think about all the possible dangers of my daughter, with her newly acquired and still unstable crutches, maneuvering around in the mud.
I am so proud of all of my girls for going on this expedition. I have high hopes for the potential for spiritual strengthening, bonds forged between youth and leaders, and their connection with the people who came before them. But mostly, I just want them to have a successful experience up there in the wilderness. I want them to come home on Wednesday night, flop on their beds, and marvel at what they have accomplished.
I'm so grateful for the opportunities my kids have to learn and grow. I'm grateful for challenges that make them stronger. And I'm grateful for the people on this trek with them who make it possible for me to sleep at night without worrying about my girls.