I am realizing that summer is just around the corner as the youth (both the young men and the young women) are preparing for summer camp. It sounds like they are all going to have a lot of fun. These preparations remind me of scout camp two summers ago.
The scouts were working on their hiking merit badge. For the merit badge they needed to hike 20 miles all in the same day. We had big plans, a scenic hike in the beautiful, central Utah Mountains. We kept telling ourselves that this would be good mission preparation for all the miles the boys would walk on their missions’.
We started out early in the morning on the day of the hike, with intentions of getting a good part of the hike completed quickly. But soon disasters began. We had only walked for about 10 minutes before someone had tripped and fallen and was bleeding. We “paused” our hike to practice our first-aid merit badge before continuing. This should have been a warning of events to come.
We were challenged continually throughout the day, both physically and emotionally. The steep hills and thick brush that we had to work our way through slowed our hike. Soon we realized that we would not make the trip as quickly as we had planned. That meant we were going to run out of food and water and possibly need to spend the night without any over-night gear.
Emotionally it was a challenge to wonder where the next watering hole would appear. In the deserts of Utah these can be few and far between. We filtered and drank water that I am sure should have killed us, or at least should have made us all very sick. The constant barrage from the sun, burned us all quickly, and yet we had to keep hiking. There was no relief from the heat. We faced challenges that should have made us quit. And yet we wanted to succeed, and knew we could. We were also blessed tremendously. We saw first-hand several miracles. However to keep a long story short, I will only recount one of many.
As the day had progressed, we had become separated into several small groups. Each group had not heard from the others for several hours. This was disconcerting as darkness was drawing near and we were still miles from the end of the hike. The trail we were following would split and rejoin itself and split again. In the thick brush it would be easy to pass another group and not know it. Several questions were constantly asked: what if someone was hurt and could not complete the hike? Would we pass by them and not know it? Would we need to return tomorrow to find them? Could they survive the night in the desert without any gear, food or water?
Each group decided (independently of each other) to pray for the other groups: prayer for safety, health, and strength to carry-on, and most importantly to be reunited. With blessings from our Heavenly Father, these prayers were answered. As the sun set and darkness enveloped us, we were all reunited. Everyone was safe and healthy. The decision was made to continue with our hike as we were ill-prepared to spend the night. We formed a line as we pushed our way through the thick brush. We had two flash lights in the group, one for the front and one for the back of the line. We hiked for at least 3 more hours in the dark before we emerged from the canyon at our destination.
As we told each other about the experiences we had while we were separated and anxiously hoping to be reunited, we began to see the blessings we had received and the miracles we had experienced. One young man told how he was too tired to go any farther, and somehow right at 8 pm he had gained strength to continue hiking. Another group told of how they stopped hiking at exactly 8 pm and prayed for that same young man that he would have the strength to continue.
Another group told how they had no flash lights and would be unable to hike in the dark. Just as the sun set they prayed one more time to be reunited with the others. Right as they said “amen”, they heard voices in the distance coming toward them. What a happy reunion in the dark! These prayers and many others were answered on this miraculous day.
Having our prayers answered was only one of many amazing events of that day. My testimony of the power of prayer was strengthened that day. I know our Heavenly Father listens, and answers prayers!
I have one lingering desire from this experience and it is that the young men will remember the power of prayer. I know there will be more difficult challenges ahead for them. I know that if they will pray for each other they will be blessed.