Our stake just completed its first ever Pioneer Trek activity. In our fast & testimony meeting this weekend, most of the speakers talked about their experiences as leaders or participants. I would have thought these contrived experiences wouldn’t be as touching as they were, but some of their experiences were moving and instructive.
Several of the men & boys who had just gotten back from Trek talked about the Women’s Pull being the hardest part of the experience. The men were told to trudge up a hill and wait at the top while the girls in the “families,” without any help from the adults (the Ma leaders), had to pull the handcarts up the hill alone. Several of the men commented that the hike up the hill was in and of itself very difficult, with a lot of large rocks, and a steep incline. They got to the top of the hill winded and sweaty, and then had to watch in silence as the girls pulled the carts without them.
The men were told they couldn’t help, and they weren’t even allowed to cheer them on or provide any kind of visible encouragement. One of the boys whose family we care deeply about explained with emotion that he kept thinking about how his mother has breast cancer and is about to undergo her surgery this week, and that it will be for him like this activity was, albeit much closer to home. You want to help, but you really can’t. You can just watch and hope for the best. You have to trust all will work out and admire the strength of women. It was a lesson in faith and patience, among other things.
One of the male leaders, an admitted rule-breaker, said he was ready to just break away from the men’s group and go help because one of the girls in his assigned family had been injured on the first day, but it dawned on him that if he did that, he would be undermining all the girls doing that pull. He would be sending them a message that they aren’t strong enough to do hard things without a man to bail them out, and that it’s important we treat the women as strong as they really are and let them do tough things. How often do we let our good intentions get in the way of other people’s experience and growth?
It was actually a pretty great fast & testimony meeting, one of the best I’ve been in, from a rather unexpected source.