Saturday, August 7, 2010

Our New Way of Life

OK. As you can tell from the photo of our family (taken in 2008), my husband and I need to lose a few, OK, more like, lots of pounds. It has been a real trial for us to get healthy and fit. But we do have a goal in mind. In 2014, we are having a Bruce and Mary Johnson Family Reunion at Disney World. We will be using the time between now and then to get healthy and fit. It may take some doing as I have 100 lbs to lose and Peter more than 300, but we are going to do it. I'm not stating how much we weigh, but you get the general idea. We have our work cut out for us. I had made a goal that I would start or already have started doing something about my weight and lack of exercise by the time my birthday (#40) came. Well, my 40th birthday was on the 5th, and I'm happy to say that we, Peter, myself and the kids, have been exercising in one form or another for the past week. We have alternated walking and swimming as a family. It has been good for us as the kids need to build this habit before they have this rather "large" problem. Unfortunately, genetics is not on their side. So, we have just about 4 years to really make a difference in our lifestyle habits and have a great family reunion at Disney World.

My new carrier at DOC.

Well, my life changed around March 22, 2010. I'm no longer a bus driver, although I have kept my bus driver status. I am now working for the Department of Corrections at Coyote Ridge Correctional Center here in Connell. I am an OA3, or office assistant. I'm the one that makes sure that everything is in working order and everyone knows what's going on in the unit. Of course, there's not a lot to do if nothing is happening, but then that's government work for you.
I went through 6 weeks of CORE training. CORE is all the "necessary" information you need to know to do you job and so you can go home alive at the end of the day. I had to learn policies and procedures, self defense, how to do a cell search, a pat down search, hand cuffing, and interaction with inmates. It's all very intense stuff for an office assistant, but well worth it. It really opens your eyes to all the games that get played, so it helps to understand the players.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Trek...Continued

The second day began with the blow of the bugle, breakfast, and Bishop telling us that we were condensing the handcarts to only carry what was necessary and the kids. That ment, no buckets...YEAH! As our company scrambled to get things ready to head out first, I had the make sure the kids all went to the bathroom and were ready at a moments notice. Instead of following the route from the previous day, we headed across the road that brought us to the camping area. This ment that we were going to be circling around some of the fields, heading towards the lake. This time I was able to walk a little bit faster since I had put mole skin on my feet, but they were still sore.

We came upon the lake and there was a raft that was there for us to use to cross to the other side. It was a rope raft. The men would pull on the rope and the raft would glide through the water to the other side. Most of the kids and the women took the first crossing with one raft. I did get some great pictures of the event.
The women and children headed out to our next destination...ZION. Actually, it was the picnic area that was used for boy scout events. We did a lot more walking, mostly through weeds. At one point, Bishop arrived on a horse and directed us to the right road to follow. He then asked me to get some pictures of those who were following. So I was given a ride on another "horse" and waited for the rest of the pioneers to arrive.
I got to spend some time thinking more about the pioneers and the trials that they had to go through. I began to compare my life's trials with what they had to go through. Was my testimony of the Savior strong enough to be tested by physical afflictions? Or was my emotional and mental afflictions comparable to their physical ones? Did I have the right to complain about what I was going through? It really made a difference, standing there with no disturbances, being able to think and understand where I was falling short and where I needed to improve.
As the last company arrived, I started to follow, heading to our final destination. The pace was slow, the sun was very hot, and the road was covered in rocks. It made for painful walking. Brother Barrow showed up on his horse. I asked if he could let Jonathan ride on the horse. Jonathan is a 10 yr old boy who came with his grandparents on the trek. He was having a hard time keeping up as well. As he rode, I kept pace with the horse. Soon, Brother Hokanson arrived with a truck to rescue us. We made it to Zion. Lunch was served and people began to prepare to leave.
I was impressed by what Jonathan said. He said that the next time he would have better shoes to wear. There was no complaining about never doing this again, or wishing he had never come. I too felt the same way. I know that there were angels among us, helping us walk, pushing those handcarts, taking care of children, expressing testimony, and showing love and kindness. May God bless those angels.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Trek...What an AWESOME experience!

This will definately be one of those life changing experiences that I will never forget. I had decided to participate in this event once I learned that the ward was going to be doing this. Bishop Rick Nielson had been inspired to do this since the last "trek" happened 12 years ago and was only a one day event.

For the past three months, those that were participating were making skirts, aprons, bonnets, and vests. There was research done on the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. Stories were handed out to be told during the great event. Emails were sent out with lists of things to bring, companies were assigned, and the day of the event arrived. Was I prepared? For the most part. Peter wasn't able to come, so I was "widowed" for the trek with five kids. On Thursday, we packed our belongings into our "luggage", which were 5 gallon buckets. Peter John lost his medicine somewhere in the couch just before we left. I didn't want to leave without it, but if we were going to be at the site in time for dinner, we had to get going.

We camped in the wilderness with the sagebrush, cheetgrass, and red ants. About 150 people were participating in this ward activity. We ended up with three companies with five handcarts in each company. Our captain was Mike Hokenson. He is a gentle and kind man with a large family of his own. Their youngest is about 11 months old. My family was with the Bishop's family so there were 10 people for our handcart, while Bishop rode on a horse to oversee the events along the trail.

Rachel, my youngest (3 tomorrow), rode in the cart, but would rather have walked the entire way. The rest of the kids did really well, except when Brother and Sister Marshall showed up on their "horse" (a four wheeler). Then they all wanted to ride it. At one point, Alora (almost 8), got a ride on the horse behind Bishop. Peter John (11) was one of the first ones to reach our final destination on Saturday morning. I am very proud of him for having done this.

Our trail started from camp on Friday morning, heading west. Each company had to stop along the way to learn about events that took place during the original pioneer trek. At one point, the men were recruited to join the army and became what was known as the Mormon Battalion. All the boys were then escorted to another point on a trail that met up with the original trail again. Once the men left, the women then had to push the handcarts up a slight hill for about 3/4 of a mile. We were also told of the strength and trials that these women had to endure. Sickness, food being scarce, loss of children and husbands, extreme cold and bitter winds, several feet of snow, pushing and pulling the carts through the worst terrain possible, loss of limbs, and even their own life. What kept these people going was a great faith and testimony that God lives and loves them. They followed the councels of the prophets because they knew that it was God's words. They had nothing to go back to, and everything to look forward to. Zion.

The men joined the women again and the trek continued. We soon came upon "Rocky Ridge". This point represented the worst terrain that the pioneers had to cross. For us, it was a steep hill about 100 yards long. We also had the help of a rope to help pull the carts up. We all had to walk up that hill to get to our next stop...lunch. There were many men and young boys that helped pull those carts up and didn't even complain about doing it. They all wanted to jump in and help whenever they could.

It was during lunch time that we had our first fatality. We had a reenactment of burying a baby. We used a doll, but this really helped put across emotionally what they had to endure. Because of the time of year the saints left Illinois, the ground would be hard and not easy to dig through. Most bodies were put in shallow graves, hoping that the animals wouldn't disturb them. Once they were buried, rocks were place over the buriel site as the only marker that someone was buried there. The graves were then dedicated for the morning of the first resurrection. Our group didn't actually do a dedication, but we did bury the doll and cover it with stones. What happens to the doll, only those who organized this trek knows.

We then were off to our camping site. We were all in a hurry to get back to shade and a place to rest. By this time, my feet were hurting a lot. I kept praying that God would get me through this experience and that I would learn to depend more on Him. My company actually had left me behind and I was trying to walk with the company that came behind us. At this point, I had Rachel and Alex (6) with me. Rachel was wanting to play in the sandy dirt, and Alex wanted to be carried. Amy Phillips got my kids in their cart along with all the other kids in their company and we walked for a ways. At some point, I looked up and saw Lana Nielson walking back for us. Tears filled my eyes as I saw that I was not being left behind. Soon I was saved by Brad Casper, coming to help those who were needing help. At camp, I soon discovered that I had blisters under my callouses. The rest did me good. I was truly grateful that my kids were being taken care of while I was recovering from the first day of our trek.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

School is almost over...Summer begins

The kids are almost done with school this year. One more day, really only 2 hours of school left. That means the whole summer is available for fun and adventure. The kids and I cleaned the bus Saturday, but since I still have one day left to drive, it will get dirty again. I'll just have to spray it down and hope for the best. After driving the final route, I have to drive the bus back to Connell instead of Basin City. There it will be stored for the summer till it's needed again in September. After all the final cleaning and paper work is done, we will be gathering at Melanie Rankin's place for a BBQ. It will also be Peter and I's 13th anniversary. WOW!!! 5 kids and married for 13 years to the same man. That doesn't happen very often now adays. Lucky for the both of us, we are still madly in love with each other.

The ward trek starts this week as well. It will be a testimony growing experience for all of us. We will be spending two nights on the trail, push handcarts, sing song, bear testimony, and share stories about the pioneers. About half of the ward is participating which is incredible for such an event like this. Our handcart will have Bishop Nielson's family, the Walkers and me with the 5 kids. Thank goodness there will be others there to help with the kids. Peter will be taking us to the place and then picking us up on Saturday.

With school ending, the trek, Cub Scout's Day Camp, Scout Camp, 5 birthdays, Alora's baptism, our anniversary, my school starting at the end of June, and a family reunion in August, our summer will be full of fun and adventure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday disaster

OK. I got home at a reasonable time on Saturday after taking the softball team to Yakima. Sunday morning went as expected, with a few panic moments finding clothes and getting everyone showered and dressed. Peter wasn't going to be attending with us due to a physical ailment in his toe...don't ask. I thought that I could handle taking all the kids to church all by myself as this is nothing new to me, having done this in Texas all the time. The only difference was that Sacrament was first here and Peter John was out of his medication...not a good combo. With choir practice having already started, I got there and was able to warm up with a few distractions from children. As practice was ending, Rachel was crying in the gym (we were on the stage, so the sound was very disturbing.) I try to get the kids in the chapel without too much success. The bishop comes in and says "This too shall pass". Like that was going to help. I seriously thought about going home at this point, but thought, "No, I can do this." The meeting started and the kids started in on each other. Alex wouldn't sit up. He had to lean on everyone. Rachel was wanting to put her feet on everyone in the seat in front of us. Peter John wanted to sit where Alora was sitting, and Alora was complaining about the boys being all over her. Aaron was trying to get Rachel to laugh by trying to tickle her. During the passing of the sacrament, it didn't get any better with kids wanting to use the bathroom...all at the same time. Since the choir was singing soon, I tried to get the kids to settle down before I had to go up front. That only lasted for about 3 minutes. I got up front and looked at my kids, trying to see if they were paying attention to the fact that mom was up front looking at them.........let's just say that the only one paying attention to mom not being there was Rachel. She started complaining. Fortunately, Aaron was able to keep her attention. Thank you Aaron. The choir begins to sing and I try to keep my attention on Sister Gallinger, but the kids are too much of a distraction. I look over and Alora is hitting Aaron on the head to make Rachel laugh and Alex and Peter John are fighting over the fact that Alex is trying to lay on top of Peter John. I am so angry and frustrated as I see Sister Sanette Casper move over to sit with them. At this point, one of the lines in the song is "When all my trials are done..." I begin the cry. I can no longer sing and tears are streaming down my face. I was angry with Peter for not being there to watch the kids, I was angry that the kids were a disruption to the Spirit that was present, I was angry that I had to go through all this when all I had to do was ask for help. I know that if I had asked, someone would have sat with the kids. I couldn't face the sympathetic looks from the ward members. I had to leave. Well, only to the foyer. I knew that once Sacrement meeting was done, the Primary had to deal with my kids.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sometimes life throws you curve balls

Just when you think life can't get any harder, it does. I had to take Alex to the ER to have his face glued back together. His brother, Peter, accidently hit him with a shovel while flinging mud around. If he had hit him even 1/4 of an inch up, he would have hit his eye. As it is, Alex had a gash from the bridge of his nose almost to his tear duct and then across his cheek. Right now he is covered in dermaplast and this should allow his body to heal itself. Peter John was really sorry that this happened. This morning, Alex's eye was really puffy and not black and blue yet, but we are waiting for that to happen. The instructions from the doctor was to go home and rest and watch out for the shovel. Alex did really well holding still for the doctor while he got glued back together. I was able to inform his teacher this morning before school started so she was aware of what had happened and to help prevent any further damage, just in case. The lesson learned here...don't fling mud with shovels.