Monday, April 28, 2014

Ups & Downs of Missionary Life

Life as missionaries at the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater River is never dull.  We have been here 2.5 weeks now.  The experiences range from the ridiculous to the sublime!  Starting with the ridiculous – we have had some issues with our trailer which we never expected as we are experienced living in it for extended periods of time.  When we first arrived we were having trouble with getting the propane to work for heating and cooking.  With temperatures ranging from -2 degrees to about 30 degrees heat in the trailer is a good thing.  Elder Guymon (Dad) figured out the way they had instructed us to have the propane hose hooked up sent the propane through two regulators so there was not enough pressure.  We hooked back up to our own propane tanks with our regular connection and that worked better but we were going to run out of propane in our own tanks.  The first Monday night we were here after Family Home Evening we just threw some things in a bag and went to Riverton to stay the night in a motel.  That turned into a less than exciting evening as we heard everything going on in rooms all around us most of the night.  The next day was a four hour goose chase from place to place trying to get the hose corrected because the guy who could do it was out delivering propane on the reservation because people had run out in the freezing weather!! Late in the day Dad finally tried another place and with less than $10 and about 3 minutes that guy had it finished.  Can I just say Riverton is not my favorite place in the world!  The people at the cellular phone place were nice though so we did come back with a rented phone that will work from our trailer for the summer. 

A few days later we found our black water tank would not drain and it was FULL! How embarrassing – I will spare you a picture of that! We used the bathroom in the Trek Center for a few days while Dad was contemplating what to do.  One of the other Elders had a tool that you could back flush a tank but it seemed like the gate valve was not working to even open it up.  Dad had figured out a plan that we would take it to town and work on changing the gate at the car wash where he could wash away anything that spilled.  The morning when we were getting ready to do that he checked the toilet and it looked like it had drained so we went to town happy as clams.  Alas when we returned it no longer looked so good.  Dad decided we would have to hook up the trailer and pull it out on a deserted gravel road somewhere and replace the gate there because it was too far to go back to town so late in the afternoon.  We packed up everything to get ready to move the trailer, pulled in the slide-outs and went to lift the front end with the built-in electric jack to hook up the hitch in the bed of the pick-up.  It started out just fine and then ground to a halt.  After trying to use the hand crank to lift it and some words not usually used by missionaries Dad could see we were not going to be moving the trailer.  The Elder who is our District Leader is an electrician and he had some testing equipment.  It turns out the motor was working but some gears had broken and would need to be replaced. 

The black water problem would have to be fixed right here in front of all of our neighbors.  I was just praying it would not spill all over the ground!!  With several of the Elders helping (what kind souls) and several more standing around offering moral support Dad was able to use a hack saw to saw through the gate he thought was stuck - which actually wasn’t – and with flushing water up from the bottom and buckets of water down from the toilet whatever was stuck broke loose and the toilet was working again and nothing scarry had spilled out on the ground! Hooray!! Dad replaced the gate and so far so good things have kept flowing in the correct direction.

I was so nervous I had left the area so did not get to see how they manually dropped the front end of the trailer back to level so we could be back to normal life and not roll out of bed every night.  When the guy from Riverton RV came out to check on other missionaries’ refrigerators and heaters that were not working he checked our gears and ordered the parts.  Unbelievably they were plastic and he said he has replaced lots of them.  He ordered some metal ones and will replace them next time he comes out here.  We will not be going anyplace until fall so he has plenty of time to get that done!

Moving on to the sublime parts – We got to hike the 6 mile loop out into the Willie Meadow and practice telling the Willie story and have lunch. 
 We were looking right up to the west where the rescue wagons with the food and clothing from Salt Lake came over the hill (eminence it is called in the journals) two days after they had issued the last of their crackers to the freezing pioneers. They were camping in the shelter of the willows here in the meadow.  Just imagine how excited they were to see help coming.
 I was proud of myself on the first hike not to be the last one back and not to have to get picked up in the truck like some did!

Elder Guymon has updated two of the training DVD’s for the trek leaders who come to learn how to run their treks next summer.  One is showing the different camps and activities of the Sixth Crossing Area.  The other more difficult one is to explain the BLM rules for those who get to hike over the National Historic Trail over Rocky Ridge.  After hours and hours of work and lots of Tums they were both successfully premiered last weekend for the first group of Trek Leaders.

Sister Guymon (Karen) has working at all the cleaning and organizing projects with all of the sisters.  There is a lot to get done before the summer rush of visitors begins.  One of our best projects was the creation of a little wool quilt a pioneer girl would have to hang in the room where they tell the story of Bodil Mortensen a ten year old girl who was coming from Denmark with friends to meet her sister in Utah.  The rest of her family would not come until the next year.  She was helping and watching the six year old son of the family she was travelling with as the mother puller the father over Rocky Ridge in a handcart because his feet were frozen.  After the difficult climb both of the children died that night and were buried as part of the common grave.  It is a very sad story. 
Interestingly we have discovered since studying the stories when we came over here – Bodil’s sister, Ane Margrethe Mortensen, she was to meet in Salt Lake, moved to Parowan with her family when they came in 1857 and later married Lafayette Guymon in 1861.

We are loving it here and appreciate all of the cards and packages and support we feel from our family. Stay tuned next week for more details on our activities rather than our difficulties.  





  1. OOOOOOOO This is awesome!! Love it! Well, not the black water part, but hearing how and what you are doing! I love the quilt that you did Sister Guymon. You are a HUGE asset to the group.

    Til next time~~
    be safe, and stay warm

  2. It is truly amazing to hear the personal stories of these pioneers! Makes me want to be better at keeping a journal. Glad the black water story turned out the way it did :)!