Here's what I wrote about our experience with our missionary son.
I want to tell you about a cool experience we had. Dad, the (13-year-old) twins and I did a 22-mile bike ride in the mountains! It took all day from 9-3:30. There were tears from three of us, and not Dad. Mostly from one of the boys. I had tears three different times while praying on the trail. The first time was on a relatively easy place on the trail and I said a prayer in my mind, asking "What would Thou have me learn from this experience today?" The answer came back, "That you can do this." Those were the words, but I knew the meaning was more like, "You can do hard things with my help."
Once we were at a point where most of us were out of water and it was super hot and sweaty and the terrain was so hard all we could do was walk our bikes through the really rocky, steep terrain, both of the boys broke down in tears. We crouched next to a large rock to get a bit of the only shade available on that scorching mountain side, and I offered an aloud prayer. I thanked the Lord for bringing us this far safely and giving us the strength to do hard things. I asked for continued strength and protection, and asked that this experience would build our faith. When we finally biked all the way back to the van we still had several miles to go, but we took a nice break to eat our sack lunch, get ice water from the cooler (the best!), and rest in the shade before going back and forth to finish our last several miles. It was such a triumphant moment when we finally finished the 22 miles! We were tired, sweaty, dirty, and thrilled we had finished it.
We actually took a lot of short breaks through the day. Each time I was amazed at how battery-recharging it was to drink water and rest in the shade for a while. It made such a big difference each time. Taking a rest in the sun with no water didn't really feel rejuvenating.
It reminded me of the many small and simple ways we rejuvenate our spirits along our path of life, and how much we NEED those spiritual recharging times, like prayers, scriptures, journaling, church, temple, conference talks, discussions with spiritually-minded family and friends, and yummy family time.
Those are the wonderful, refreshing, battery-charging rest stations along our trail that give us the living water we need and the respite for a while to rebuild our strength to get back out on the trail. Without those breaks, both on the bike trail and on the trail of life everyday, we would be too exhausted, spent, and discouraged to keep moving on. We need those drinks of living water and respites that come from small and simple holy habits.
Our "before" picture. We're all clean and ready to go. We meant to get on the trail a couple hours earlier than we did, but no sense in pouting, let's just get going! A great life lesson. Life rarely goes exactly as planned. Rather than pouting, move forward and make the best of it.
Stop and smell the roses. I mean, stop and feed greens to the llamas. Life lesson: We need to do that in life, don't we?
It looked like we would need to turn around on the trail, but our son found a biker's way to get through. Life lesson: Don't give up just because a solution isn't obvious. Keep looking, asking, praying, and working to find a solution.
This blew me away. I grew up in Plain City and rode a school bus all the way to Weber High School on the mountain in Pleasant View, Utah. When I realized we had biked all the way from above Mike's high school - Ben Lomond in Ogden, to my Weber High, I couldn't believe it. What a feeling of accomplishment! It was a thrill to look across the mountain and realize how far we had come. Life lesson: When you dig in and do what you're supposed to do, sometimes you're amazed at your progress, growth, and learning that has happened in the process.
Stickers and burrs are part of the journey in the mountains. Take the time to stop and pull them off, or stop and empty the little rocks from your shoes. Life lesson: This reminds me of repentance and forgiveness. Both are best done immediately when you notice there is a need for either one. If you wait it just causes more pain and discomfort. Get it over with and you'll be so glad you did.
Part of the dirt and rock trail turned into a paved trail, sometimes with shade. That felt amazing after the bumpy ride we'd been experiencing. Life lesson: When the journey changes to something nicer, do a "whoopee!" and enjoy riding faster and easier for awhile. When the journey changes to something more challenging, don't stop biking. Buckle down and keep peddling.
One of our sons saw this field and told us his dream was to own a large piece of land like that and farm it, along with beehives and lots of animals. Life lesson: Along your trail of life, let your mind soar and dream big.
We could have climbed the boulders and tried to maneuver our bikes on the right side, but instead my husband offered to lift them over the gate for us while we easily just walked over the boulders. Life lesson: Christ's Atonement and grace are there for us, to lift our load, carry our burden, and strengthen us. Let us use it.
Those rests in the shade with water were so rejuvenating and restful. Life lesson: take time every day, multiple times a day to pause the hustle bustle of life and do things to drink Christ's living water, like power praying, scripture feasting, being present with a family member, and so on. Even if the shade or time to drink living water is hard to find, work at it and ask for God's help to find it. It's worth every effort to keep filling your spirit with living water.
Take time to wipe the sweat out of your eyes so it won't burn any more. Life lesson: same as the stickers and burrs. If you have any repenting or forgiving to do, even for something very small, do it now so the burn can stop and you can feel relief.
The hills were my favorite parts of the trail! Going up, up, up was so worth it when you get to scream and shout on the way down. Life lesson: That's how life is, isn't it? We look back at the biggest times of growth and blessings, and they often involved riding life uphill.
Be prepared by bringing along food, water, and good tools. And know how to use them. Mike purchased a mini tire pump, and what a blessing he was well prepared. Life lesson: We know that half of the ten virgins were prepared and half were not. All of them represent members of the Church when the Savior comes back. Let's prepare temporally and spiritually, and in toughness, for the challenging times ahead. One of the most important tools for preparedness in the last days is knowing how to receive personal revelation. It's worth learning how to use, because we will all need it.
Aaaahhhh, back at the van for ice cold water and a delicious lunch. Even though we weren't quite done, the break was very refreshing.
We were so hot on a July day that the cool water of this canal tempted me to jump in to cool off. My husband warned me that people have died that way, having been pulled into the fast current. Never mind then... Life lesson: It's so handy to have wiser, more experienced people around when you're tempted to do something dangerous. That's the beauty of listening to prophets, scriptures, personal revelation, and wise advice of parents or others. It reminds me when the Ammonites or Anti-Nephi-Lehis tempted to break a solemn covenant with God not to fight any more because they felt guilty that others were dying while fighting. Ammon was an inspired, wise leader and friend who reminded them of the importance of keeping their covenant with God and they ended up raising one of the most righteous generations of sons who became Helaman's stripling warriors. Keep your covenants, and seek wise counsel to help you overcome temptations.
Sometimes you gotta turn around and go the other way. Life lesson: Rather than beat yourself up that you need to change paths, just move forward with faith.
Woo hoo!! We did it! What an incredible feeling of accomplishment! Life lesson: We all know that when you do something hard with God's help, especially if it's so hard that you didn't think you could do it, the feeling of triumph when you do succeed is DELICIOUS. And you remember that feeling the next time you need to do something hard, knowing that if God helped you do hard things then, He will help you do hard things now.
A beautiful site. Let's go home. Aaahhhh....