Saturday, July 28, 2012

On the Trail

On Sunday, it was announced that there would be a ward activity, participating in a hike.  The ladies in the Relief Society made it sound like a stroll and comparing my hiking experience in Taiwan, I figured that's pretty much what it would be.

Turns out a 'hike' means just that.  It took us about 7 hours to make it up the mountain and down again and you had to spend most of the time hiking up and down boulders in the trail.
The Trail: Izumigatake Mountain
As one of the members asked, "Do you call it trekking?"  I smiled.  "No, it's hiking."  But in many ways, it was a trek.

About 15 years ago, I went on a trek, one of those where all the young men and young women dress up in pioneer dress and push handcarts through the wilderness.  I was the mother of one of the groups (although how that happened is really still a mystery).  Within the first hundred yards, all of the handcarts we had built by hand broke down completely.  My group's handcart was the last one to break down and by then we were determined to see it to the end.  So when the wheels fell off, we pushed them back on and kept going.  When the wheels continued to struggle and finally failed completely, we carried our handcart.

This hike reminded me of that trek.  One of the men who showed up for the hike was confined to a wheelchair.  When we could, we pushed him, and when we ran into boulders, we carried him.  Somehow, though, carrying this man, even though I didn't even know his name, mattered a lot more than carrying a handcart made of wood.

That set the tone for the rest of the hike.  We had people of all ages and sizes on this hike and we looked out for each other and helped each other.  We cheered each other on and made sure everyone had food and water (which was nice since I was ill prepared for such a hike).

I also had a chance to talk with various members and find out their stories.  One dear sister told me how she came to join the church.  Apparently, her daughter had met and joined the church 10 years ago and the daughter was so happy from the Gospel that she decided she would look into this church too and ended up joining herself.  Her daughter was actually on the hike with us with her family.  And that family was so cute and wonderful that I spent a lot of the hike just watching them interact and wondering if I could have a family of my own like that one day.

You know all that stuff that Japanese people say all the time to be polite?  Or maybe you don't know.  They are always saying things like, "I'm sorry."  or "Thank you sincerely."  or "Please look kindly on me."  These people say it with real feeling and intent.  It didn't feel like something they were just saying of habit but something that they said to show their respect for the people they met on trail and with each other.  

 By the end of the hike, I was exhausted but grateful to be among such people.  In fact, I aspire to become like them.  Despite our language barrier (which was very very large) I learned a lot about love and friendship and unity.

Near the top of the mountain
It was a good day.

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