One early March I traveled with a group of about sixty fifth-grade boys to Clear Creek Camp located up Spanish Fork Canyon. Shortly after we arrived, the principal of the school informed us that we would be taking a two-mile hike through nearly three feet of fresh snow. When we left the valley there had been no snow on the ground, and many of the boys did not think to bring boots. However, we were all required to make the trek, so we were told to dress as warmly as we could.
The hike proved to be exciting, as excursions usually are with eleven-year-old boys. Within the first hour we stopped to discuss wildlife and the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees and paused to climb a twenty-foot, handmade wall.
As we were beginning the last half of the hike, I noticed the boy in front of me was missing a shoe. We searched all around but could not find it anywhere. The scary thing was his foot was so numb with cold that he hadn’t even realized he had lost the shoe, and he had no idea how long it had been missing.
As a mother, I was worried, and we decided that the boy should put on both of my boots, because his feet were so wet and frozen. I resorted to the next best thing. Each of the boys had been asked to bring a large plastic garbage bag on the hike, so I put two bags on over my socks and then pulled his wet socks over the top of the bags to keep them in place. Once we had made the switch we began to hike again through the snow.
The principal had passed us in the process of switching boots and was fully aware of the situation, so it really surprised me when he directed us to continue up the mountain instead of returning home. Since we had been hiking for more than an hour, I didn’t want to turn back alone, and so I followed. I made it for about five minutes before the cold started to sink in. With the use of a pair of snowshoes I was able to keep from sinking, but my feet still came in direct contact with the snow with every step. I was freezing, and still we were making our way up the hill.
I tried thinking of the pioneers to convince myself that this sacrifice was minimal compared to what they must have walked through, but that lasted only about fifteen minutes, and then I was fighting back tears and frustration. I wondered what the principal was thinking. By the time we finally stopped our climb, I realized we were more than an hour from our cars by the way we had come, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it back; I was pretty sure they would have to send in a helicopter to rescue me. I looked with some irritation at the principal, who was now explaining to the boys why some of the trees on the mountain had grown in the valleys and why some areas had no trees at all. We were standing almost at the crest, with the mountain falling below us at a steep angle, and far below us, I could see our three cabins nestled in the trees. By now I was standing on my heels to keep the rest of my feet out of the snow, and I wondered how I would ever get back. I figured the principal had forgotten about me. Surely he must have, or he would have raced us all home the way we had come.
Then, just when I thought I couldn’t take it any longer, the principal did the strangest thing. He lay down flat on his back on one of the large plastic bags and began sliding down the hill, full speed toward the cabins. The rest of us were shocked! And then it dawned on us what he was doing. This was the purpose of the plastic bags. We were to sit on them and slide home.
I have never been so grateful for a plastic garbage bag in my life! I sat down and started sliding and found myself back at the cabins within ten minutes. I had made it! And I realized that all along the principal had known what he was doing. He knew I would be fine, because he knew the plan, and he had prepared the quickest way to get me out of a tough situation.
In a small way, this experience reminds me of how many scripture stories testify to the fact that the Savior truly does deliver His people. Think of Moses and the Red Sea, Noah and the flood, or the people of Alma who were in bondage for so many years. History proves the love the Lord has for His people and His willingness and ability to lead them to a promised land. The power of God is amazing. The scriptures provide countless examples of times when the Lord stretched forth His hand to offer relief for His children who were struggling. In every dispensation He has provided miracles for His children as they have wandered through the wilderness toward a better life. They have proved the Lord, and He has been there.