News Release

A Trek Through Time



Pushing heavy handcarts through 40 kilometres of bushland in period costume and sleeping under the stars helped Cece Vaha’i appreciate the sacrifices of her forebears.

Cece was one of over 60 teenage members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Wyndham area who participated in a three-day trek in the Wombat State Forest, re-enacting the arduous journey of Mormon pioneers across the United States over 170 years ago.

The actual pioneer migration began in 1846 because of hostility and expulsion from Illinois and took early members of the faith west, through harsh weather and rough terrain to the barren desert plains of Utah, where they could finally live freely and without fear of persecution.

The Wyndham trek helped youth gain a glimpse of what the early members of the church sacrificed for their faith. Youth were grouped into ‘families’, working together to push their handcarts up and down hills over great distances each day. They cooked simple food on campfires, went without showers and left their smartphones at home. For many of the participants, this was the most difficult physical and emotional challenge they had ever faced.

Without the comforts and distractions of home, youth reflected on their blessings, particularly those that originated from their faith in Jesus Christ.

While initially reluctant to attend, one of the youth commented on how grateful she was for the faith-building experience.

“It really helped me to understand how important it is to pull together and support one another,” Cece said.

“Near the end I could feel myself getting weak and I was the last person,” she remembers. “I tried so hard to carry on because I didn't want to fail. Then out of nowhere John Vave came to help. That was when I realised that we are never alone in this gospel. Although I was the very last person someone still came back to help me.”

Trek organizer Sam Ellis observed, “There was a special spirit of unity on our trek this year.”

He continues, “This was perhaps the most challenging trek that I have been a part of organising due to the difficulty many adult leaders had in finding time off work to provide support. However, even though the trail was hard and the distances long, the harmony and unity amongst the youth made the trek journey itself the happiest and easiest I have ever participated in.”

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