My Good Trek Family Children,
Daughters: Hope, Faith, Charity, Grace, Mercy, Harmony and Felicity
and Sons: Lehi, Ammon, Mormon, Mosiah and Nephi
I trust this letter finds you each in good health and condition. We have, with tender feelings, sent you all back home today to your 'former friends and birth [parents]' (see Hymn 292). I told your trek Ma that it felt like you were all leaving our trek home on the same day. I suppose that's sometimes what happens when you adopt twelve-uplets along the trail.
In a similar way, Hope was able to find her missing bag of allergy medications, with the assistance of our family prayers for that specific need the night before. We are thankful that she was able to find them the next day, in answer to those prayers, and return to good health herself. She served valiantly as our elder sister and family captain. She was usually the one pushing at the back of the handcart .. 1, 2, 3, go! Hope, we are so proud of you and thankful you were called to be our trek family leader.
One of the lessons I recall from one of our Sunday meetings was on 'always remembering'. I had then supposed that it only pertained to remembering Christ and striving to live the gospel more perfectly, but now wonder if it also could mean remembering to ask for help when we need it, remembering to listen for and follow the promptings we receive. Life is so busy and demanding, with twelve mouths to feed and to get ready for Church (or another trek) in the morning. We sometimes simply do not always hear that still small voice when it is truly needed. The trick is to stop and repent and get back ..
As Mercy mentioned in our family council, it was hard for her at first to accept the help everyone wanted to render along the trail. If everyone was as capable and tenacious as she, there would be no one available to give service to. She bore testimony that it was a good thing to learn to graciously accept offers of assistance as well as to give service to our fellow family and other needy pioneers. Doing everything yourself may not be the best way to magnify a calling – as we all need to pull together to get to the top of that next hill ..
Ammon is equally as tenacious as his trek sisters but is not physically able to do everything he would like to do, through no fault of his own. I remember Lehi going back to give him a quick piggy back or a lift across the stream. Ammon taught me you can serve wherever you are called – it doesn't have to be at the front of the rescue party. It can also be graciously back home preparing for their return, even if you really wanted to be out there helping on the front line .. with Lehi and Grace (and all the others) ..
Speaking of Grace, I would like to thank her for her wise council in our trek family discussions – with or without the hat, and for the willing participation from her other trek brothers and sisters. Harmony impressed us with that same willing participation in all the challenges of trek. We love you all!
Mormon and Mosiah, you each have great potential. In many ways I see us standing at a crossroad of decision. You can choose to put your shoulder to the wheel and go one way, as you often did during our trek, or be pulled back by the world and worldly things another way. You have such great talent and questions to find answers to. Did you feel our trek family experience will help you make those choices correctly? I hope so. As Nephi's namesake wrote: “did you think to inquire of the Lord?”. He knows what will truly make us happy. Hint: It is not the easy downward path .. it is the challenging upward handcart slope over the ridge that leads home and on toward the valley and finally to Zion.
When I think of Felicity, I remember her as always happy and smiling – hmm, much like the meaning of her name. Charity also lived up to her name with willing participation and brought a happy spirit into our trek family home. You will remember we decided to give you trek middle names after reading Helaman 5:5-6 where he explains why he named his own sons 'Lehi' and 'Nephi'. Your trek names have meaning, that are meant to help you remember to do good, as they did .. that “when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good .. do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.” We have a GOOD trek family!
I joked along the trail that somehow our family seemed to be missing Faith, despite having plenty of Hope and Charity and other remarkable virtues among our trek children .. That all changed Sunday afternoon, when our family participated in the emergency rescue mission for those lost somewhere back along the trail. With your brothers standing to immediately respond to the call at Priesthood meeting to go and find them - now, as well as the rest willing and able to stay and prepare for their needs back at camp, with some effort we helped find the 'lost sheep' and return them safely to the valley. I was surprised to find so many in the group to be rescued. After getting them all safely across the creek, Bro Zobell extended our family a call to accept a new daughter into our trek family. I felt impressed to present her, right there and then, with a dark pink bandanna, our family color, from off my own neck to wear. Upon our return, Hope and Ma each immediately agreed with me that we should call her Faith. She fit right in with the other trek children and enjoyed a glorious Sunday afternoon with us in the valley. The Sacrament and testimony meeting, our breaking the fast meal, letters from loved ones, and time to reflect and ponder and write in our journals were all spiritually uplifting and even somewhat emotionally draining. Ma and I had moments to talk with our new daughter all that day, until she had to return back home with the Bishop family. We love Faith and plan to keep in contact with her as much as possible and encourage each of you to treat her as a beloved trek family member. She is now included as part of our trek family and we are responsible for her continued well being.
Despite not knowing you nor your names before trek began, we were taken by surprise with the overpowering sense of family love your Ma and I felt for each of you. I believe it to be a gift from our Heavenly Father – a trek miracle. He loves each of us so much and is just waiting for us to remember to turn, look and listen and then act and obey. Sunday morning I witnessed a glorious sunrise by myself and would have loved to have shared that moment with my entire trek family. In the same way, He can see what glorious possibilities you have coming up just over the next hill. It is human nature to want to know everything now, but not knowing in advance made our trek journey that much more memorable.
With much love from your trek Ma and Pa.
Safe journeys and be Good!