Saturday June 7th was a really special day. Our Bishopric took a number of months to plan and execute a 13.1 (half marathon) hike to our temple in Bellevue. The inspiration for this hike was John Rowe Moyle, a stonecutter for the Salt Lake Temple. His story, as found online:
"Both a farmer and a stonemason, Moyle travelled nearly 22 miles from Alpine to Salt Lake City every Monday morning to work on the temple, returning home on Friday to do the work of his farm over the weekend. Moyle installed the Temple's circular staircase and carved the inscription "Holiness to the Lord" on the east side of the Temple.
Moyle suffered a compound fracture of the leg when he was kicked by a cow, necessitating the leg's amputation by his family and friends. Moyle subsequently carved a wooden leg for himself so that he could continue traveling to Salt Lake City and working on the temple."
His story alone is inspiring. What a great man who represents sacrifice, hard work and dedication.
The Bishopric wanted to do this hike to help the youth understand the importance of the temple and sacrifice. All that we are working towards in this life is getting to the temple. Once we get there, it is always living in a way that we can keep going back to the temple. Back in the days of John Moyle and the other pioneers, and even today in many countries, much was/is sacrificed to build temples and to get to the temple. We are blessed to live in an area where there is a temple so close, so we don't have to sacrifice as much to physically and financially get to the temple. This 13.1 mile hike would be a sacrifice- the kids would sacrifice their Saturday, their sleep and their comfort (13 miles is a long way) to get to the temple, in hopes that when they are older and preparing to go to the temple, that they will remember this experience and the sacrifices they made for just that one day and hopefully make it a goal to sacrifice whatever is needed to always make the temple a priority.
We started our journey at 3:30 a.m. at the church. Each youth and leader was given a matching shirt to wear for the day. We had an opening song of "Come Come Ye Saints" and an opening prayer. An outline was given for the days events, then we were all given a sack breakfast and the youth assigned to a car and we headed off. We drove to a park in Preston where our hike started. From that point forward, it was 13.1 miles to the temple.
Our hike started on a backroad where no cars even passed. We quickly ended up in a wooded area, off of all public roads and completely in nature. We got to see the sun rise and a new day start.
It was a beautiful day- sunny and the perfect temperature. Not too hot but not too cold. The trees and all of nature seemed extra beautiful.
We had aide stations and stops every few miles. We were given food and water and a minute to sit down.
Each stop had a speaker who would share an inspiring story with us.
We came out of the woods and into the middle of a town. We came across and were right in the middle of this town's big road bike race.
At one point, we were on a very busy road where cars were zooming right by us. To the left of us, where you see all the cars, was I-90.
Group selfie- Young Women leaders rule!
Here are all of the Young Women leaders in our ward (minus one, who was the photographer for the group, and the lady in white who is a mom of one of the youth)! What an amazing group of leaders this is. I was tight and sore for most of the hike, but hiking with these fabulous ladies was such a treat. We had such a great time and I have never laughed for 13 miles straight. :)
Our last stretch before the temple took us through a big field. Just beyond all of those trees was the temple. We knew we were close, but it sure didn't feel/look like it.
As we came out of the trees, there was the temple. The youth all stopped and someone started singing "I Love To See the Temple" and everyone softly joined in. It was such a neat moment.
We then walked over on the temple grounds.
We made it!
This group of youth was so amazing on this hike. There were a few youth who had some physical challenges on the hike, but even then they fought and over came and pressed on. For the most part, the youth were champs and there was laughter, team work and lots of energy. I was so impressed.
After our group picture, we headed over to a spot just off the official temple grounds. Our Stake President, who walked the entire hike with us, spoke to us then. It was one of the most amazing messages/talks I have ever heard. I so desperately wished I would have had pen and paper with me to take notes. I have since forgotten most of my favorite tidbits from his message, but I will never forget the way I felt. I was extremely sore by the end of the hike (remember I just turned 30 and am already going down hill), but as I sat and listened to him, my aches and pains literally disappeared for an hour. His message was on the temple- the importance of it and always keeping it in our sights. He quoted from a conference talk by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, "You are never lost when you can see the temple."
I had a 2 fold purpose going into this day: I wanted to feel the spirit and I wanted to learn something. I came away with an overwhelming abundance of both of those missions. It was such a wonderful experience for me and I will not soon forget it. In talking with our youth, it seemed to have a lasting impression on them as well.
To end the day, our ward had a ward temple night that evening. Our ward temple nights are a big deal and we have close to 80 people who attend these. It is really awesome to be in the temple with that many people that you know and love (including my parents and my sister and her husband, who were in town and came along). It was such a special day from sun up until sun down (literally). We had a late temple session that evening and by the time I climbed into bed that night, I had been up for 21 hours. I was bone tired, was walking with a limp and had a number of blisters on my feet, but it was a good reminder of an amazing day. I'm so grateful for temples- for what they stand for and for the wonderful, eternal blessing they are for me and my family.