What happens every four years besides Leap year and the U.S. presidential election?
In the LDS community it’s the Pioneer Trek.
Young men and young women of the Nevada Mesquite LDS Stake participated in the 2012 trek June 13-16 to more closely relate with their pioneer ancestors.
About 165 youth ranging in age from 13 through 17 made the trek with leaders numbering over 60. The teenagers had gathered from around the Virgin Valley, including Scenic and Beaver Dam, Ariz., and south through Mesquite and Bunkerville.
Finishing their four-day trek over mountains and valleys of the desert, the 19-handcart company was welcomed at the edge of Bunkerville by the greeters, who passed out Popsicles.
Trudging those last few blocks with the refreshing, frozen treats gave the trekkers their final wind to reach the end of the line at Bunkerville Park.
Virgin and Main streets were lined with parents, siblings, neighbors and friends as they rallied the return of the trekkers who endured the hardships of heat, thirst, fatigue and hunger.
Banners on houses, posters with balloons staked to the ground and hand-held signs spoke the theme of this homecoming event while words of pride were shouted out in praise of the trekkers’ feat.
Chosen to organize The Trek 2012 were Kenyon and Marianne Leavitt of the Bunkerville 1st Ward. They started their planning in July 2011. This was their second time to head the event as trail bosses, having previously planned the Trek 2008.
Marianne Leavitt said that she and Kenyon chose the committee heads based on recommendations by bishops within the stake: Brian and Joy Haviland and Aaron and Deborah Baker were “ramrods“; Keith and Luana Browning headed the medical crew; Randy and Nani Woods led the food committee; Shem and Cheryl Teerlink organized equipment; Brian and Kris Bingham formed the video committee; and Dirk and Amy Marshall took care of the publicity. Singles branch members formed the activities committee providing pioneer games, vignettes along the trail, and the Friday night hoedown.
The trek started early Wednesday morning (June 13) at a point nine miles south of Mesquite near the Riverside Road turn-off at Interstate 15. The handcart families, consisting of a man and woman in the role of “ma” and “pa” and from seven to nine children, followed a trail previously planned to follow the ups and downs of mountains and valleys.
Four days later the weary travelers were escorted by the Bunkerville Fire Department along the highway to reach Virgin Street.
The trekkers parked their handcarts on South Second West then gathered under the shade trees in the park where Kenyon Leavitt summarized their accomplishment while praising their effort. Encouraging words were also spoken by LDS Stake President Theron Jensen. He expressed how each of them were now different, more understanding and caring having shared the load and trials of their “families”. Jensen admonished them to “continue their trek in their hearts,” to be more than they were before, and to look for opportunities to serve and do good in the world. He also counseled parents to “expect more from their youth. They are capable of it.”
In the mid-1800s Mormon pioneers left Nauvoo, Ill., with horse or ox-drawn wagons and from Winter Quarters, Neb., with handcarts trekking over the plains, mountains and valleys to reach the Salt Lake Valley.
The purpose of the modern-day trek was to a provide similar experience to the current members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” learning endurance, compassion, leadership, obedience, sacrifice, perseverance, understanding, and unity in a common bond of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the eternal world, and charity to all.”