October 11, 2011

22 Miles of Thoughts

On our red shirts: "Seattle Washington Temple, I'm going there TODAY! Oct. 8, 2011"

It was such an awesome experience to participate with our Young Women in a 22 mile walk to the Seattle Temple. Some of our ward leaders had this in the works for a long time now, even before Sister Dalton mentioned the experience of a ward in Utah doing the same.  It was amazing to see how it all came together and how strong our young women are.

I have had so many thoughts throughout this whole experience so I am going to try to record some of the things that stood out to me.

This was actually the second time I made the long journey from our church building to the temple. Back in May, I got the chance to test out our route with three other ward Young Women Leaders. I will never forget those women and the 8 hours and 15 minutes and sore hips of that first walk. As we walked, we thought of the girls and tried to imagine what the experience would be like all together. We discussed the many parallels of a physical walk to the temple in a day and getting to the temple in life.

There were many hills and long stretches without a change of scenery. Our bodies were stiff and sore and tired. Likewise, we have trials and challenges that make it difficult to stay worthy or just simply to take the time and effort to get to the temple regularly throughout life.

At one point, one of us sat down on a bus stop bench to fix up some blisters. Right then, a bus pulled up and opened its doors. Temptation! We laughed about how easy it would've been to climb on that bus and ride the rest of the way there--especially for the one who had all the blisters. But we resisted and waved the bus on. We have so many temptations that may seem like the easy thing to do, but they keep us from our goal and don't let us learn how strong we are.

We appreciated each others company and encouragement along the way. We need good people around us to get to the temple.

I was also glad that I brought water and snacks with me to give me energy and nourishment throughout the day. I wouldn't have lasted long without something in me. We need nourishment from the scriptures, prayer, church, and home teaching/visiting teaching.

One of our bathroom breaks was at a 7-11. Two of us purchased slurpees. Not me. But they let me have a taste. It was the best slurpee I have ever tasted in my whole life! It was so refreshing. I really wanted more though. But I hadn't bought one. They had given something up, their money, for one and I hadn't. Listening to the spirit and strengthening our testimony takes a little bit of something from us--usually time and some work. We can only share so much of someone else's testimony and spiritual experiences. When we have our own testimony and strengthen ourselves spiritually we will have that extra burst to get to the temple.

Those last two miles were the hardest. I had to literally say in my head, "left foot move, right foot move, left, right". But we were all determined. I knew my goal. I knew what I wanted to do. And so I did it. If we have a goal in mind, if we are determined to get there, we can do it no matter how hard it is. We can do it.

When we walked with the girls on Saturday, it was more than just getting myself to the Seattle Temple. I also wanted each and every girl to make it there, to know that they could do hard things, and to know how important it is that they make it to the temple throughout their lives.

Another leader and I were assigned to lead up the rear of our 60 person procession. Back there, I saw a lot of blisters and swollen knees. I was glad to have that spot though. We didn't want to lose any one on our way.

I feel such a strong connection to those girls that I got to walk and talk with along the way. They are such strong girls!

There was one girl who I spent a lot of time with. She was injured, but I was impressed how she kept going without complaining. She was a strong, determined, and bright girl. I enjoyed chatting with her. Towards the end of the walk, I found myself walking with one of the leaders of her ward. She shared with me how emotional this walk was for this particular girl. As her mom was driving to a temple a few years ago, she died in a car accident. Since then, this girl has had a lot of struggles in her home situation. She told her leaders that she was going to walk to the temple for her mom--she was going to make it. She did.

There was another girl from my ward who was having a hard time after the first mile. Her dad had come on the walk with us and he stayed with her and kept her going. Around mile 17, they stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station that was not part of our checkpoints. While there, they got behind the entire group. This girl was really struggling now and they didn't know how they would be able to catch up with the group. They decided to pray together and asked that they would have the strength and speed to catch up with everyone and finish the walk. They walked just a little more and then, right there on the side of the sidewalk, was a grocery cart! The girl climbed in and her dad pushed her to catch up with us. As soon as she saw me, she said "My prayer was answered! We prayed and we found this grocery cart!" Our prayers our answered in all sorts of ways, but they are always answered no matter how big or small.

About a mile out from the temple, the Seattle Temple President and his wife waited for us. They gathered our big group around and spoke to us. In preparation for this walk, most of the girls had also memorized "The Living Christ". We all said it together. It was powerful. The Spirit was so strong. The temple president shook each of our hands and his wife gave each of us a hug.

As we approached the temple, the families of the girls lined the sidewalk. They held up signs, cheered, and gave high fives. We had also had many other cheerleaders along the way--two girls who weren't able to walk with us and other leaders and parents in cars with water and snacks for everyone. They each made us so happy and gave us such encouragement to keep going.

The temple was such a welcomed, glorious sight. We walked onto the temple grounds and stood together for a picture. We had all made it!

The aches, soreness, and exhaustion were all worth it. I really can't put into words all that I took from this experience. We just may have walked away like crippled, old woman, but we also came away knowing that we can do hard things, whatever our own personal hard things might be, and that the temple is a reachable, important goal.
AnneMarie said...

Powerful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life parallels.

Stefanie Hyer said...

I am so proud of you! That is so amazing! It is so inspiring! I will and already have shared the idea with others! Love you!