Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Life is What Happens to You While You're Making Other Plans"

So, the PLANS were set:  Blake would report to the Missionary Training Center on Wed., Nov. 19.  His open house was scheduled for Saturday evening, the 15th, and then Sunday we would go to the 10 a.m. Phoenix Temple Dedication, meet with our stake president for Blake's setting apart in the early afternoon, and head for Utah.  We had a box of food packed so we wouldn't have to buy anything on our drive up Sunday.  It was a great PLAN.  But... "life is what happens to you while you're making other plans."

Well, Saturday night after the open house Blake went next-door with friends for his final little hurrah.  They were being normal kids (big teenage kids), running around and playing on the trampoline and everything else available.  The merry-go-round was a big hit, and they spun each other as fast as possible.  Blake was one of many who took a spin on it.  But as he jumped off while it was still spinning fast, and took off running to keep from falling, he ran his big toe right into a shovel and sliced it deep under the nail.

I knew nothing about it until I got a text from the mom next-door saying, "All I have to say is, I'm so sorry... =/"  So I asked more questions and found out what had happened, and that she had cleaned it out and bandaged it for him.  I was grateful to her, and really not too concerned.  We agreed that he was practically a missionary and would be blessed.  It was fine.

The next morning Rob found Blake on the couch with some liquid bandage, ready to glue his toe closed so we could leave for the temple dedication.  We hadn't seen it before now, since it was already cleaned and bandaged the night before, so when Rob took a look at it he told Blake that gluing it might not be a good idea; that it would likely need stitches.  We found out it had bled a LOT when it first happened (to the point that one of the other boys threw up when he looked at it--haha!), which we knew was good and hopefully meant it was well cleaned out.  But we still decided we might need to give it more thought.  We needed to leave soon for the dedication, so Blake wrapped it up and we left.  (This is the least graphic of the pictures--I won't post the rest!)

When we got home from the dedication Rob decided to see if we could contact a wonderful foot doctor we know, that we absolutely LOVE, who we've been to with injuries before.  We hated to bother anyone on the Sabbath, and especially him as he's a very busy man.  He currently serves in a mission presidency as well as continuing to work full-time.  We thought a text message would be the least bothersome way to contact him, so Rob sent him this, with a close-up picture of Blake's toe:

"Dr/Pres ______, this is Rob Ferrin. Hate to bother you.  My son, Blake, is being set apart at 1:00, and we were leaving today for the MTC shortly after, and he just showed me his toe that he cut open last night running into a shovel.  He had super glue out, and I stopped him, looked at it and told him it looked worse than that to me.  I'm not sure you can see it well enough in this picture, but I'm looking for some advice. Does it look like something we could attempt to butterfly bandage up, and take him to someone in Utah before dropping him at the MTC if it gets worse, or should we change plans and get it taken care of before we leave town???"

Rob almost immediately received this reply:

"I would not leave town with that wound. I am just leaving for the [1:00] dedication and would be able to see him in my office @ 3:00 if that is agreeable. The wound is over eight hours old and is already potentially colonized with bacteria. Let me know ASAP if that will work for you.  If you close that wound at this point without proper preparation it will be significantly infected within 48 hrs."

Wow.  We had underestimated how potentially serious this could be.

So we went for Blake's setting apart (AWESOME experience), and then Rob and Blake left to meet the doctor in Gilbert.  I wanted to go to support Blake, but then when I heard about it afterward I was glad I hadn't been there.  It was a pretty gruesome and painful 5 stitches (including 2 numbing shots that didn't really take effect). =(  Thank goodness Blake is tough! =/

By the time Rob and Blake got home it was evening (and the kind doctor was late to a family gathering because of his time spent helping us).  We debated whether to still leave and drive a small part of the way, or just go to bed early and leave the next morning.  We opted to wait.

We got up early and were driving away at 3:30 a.m.  The kids were just getting comfy enough to go back to sleep when Rob's phone rang at about 4:10.  We were all surprised, wondering who could be calling at that hour.  Everyone was silent as we listened to Rob's end of what we quickly realized was a serious conversation.

It was the doctor, and he apologized profusely for waking Rob, although Rob assured him he hadn't.  He then told Rob that he had been awakened in his sleep with concern that he had done the wrong thing; that he should have performed Blake's procedure in an operating room rather than just in his office, and done a more thorough job of cleaning out the wound.  He advised us to turn around, come back and have surgery, and keep Blake home to rest his foot and recover before going.  Yes, it would postpone his mission for a time.

My first thought was that we had no choice but to heed his advice.  We hadn't really been concerned about the injury until this phone call, but this phone call changed everything.  We have a great deal of respect for this man.  We know he lives his life very close to the Spirit, and for him to call and say he had been awakened in the middle of the night with concern automatically caused us great concern as well.

How would we feel if we continued to Provo and something went terribly wrong?  How could we question a man who's a very knowledgeable doctor, a member of a mission presidency, has seen serious consequences from similar injuries (he told us an injury like this definitely has the potential to cause a missionary to be sent home), and is just so very inspired?  We've literally had a spiritual experience every time we've been to his office, even though we were simply there for medical treatment.  Before knowing him, I never knew that was possible.  We've never known anyone like him.

On the other hand, Blake received his call to leave at this time, and we felt good about that and weren't sure that it should change--for any reason.  Maybe we needed to continue with our plan to get him to the MTC as scheduled.  We knew the doctor was feeling the weight of responsibility for the outcome of Blake's foot, and we wanted to believe that his feelings were just out of fear of the worst-case scenario.  What if we kept Blake home a little longer to heal, and therefore his mission was postponed, and in that time the decision was made to reassign him to another mission?  That would be heartbreaking, when Blake's been so excited about going to Hawaii, and most of all that's where he was called to go.  But the same could happen if we took him to the MTC as scheduled, he got a bad infection or suffered a setback of some sort, and had to be sent home and then possibly relocated to a new mission.  We also thought about the fact that once he's in the MTC we have only weekly contact with him, by mail or email; we can't just pick up the phone or text him to check in each day and make sure all is still well.  And a lot can happen (i.e., infection) in a week's time.  So many thoughts were going through our minds...

Since we were already on the road, and Rob wanted to get through Phoenix before rush hour traffic in case we continued, he kept driving as he thought over the conversation.  (Getting another half hour or hour down the road wouldn't make that much difference, even if we did end up turning around.)  We had all been silent during his conversation with the doctor, and except for filling us in on what had been said we continued to drive in almost complete silence.  Rob was visibly consumed by the decision at hand, as were the rest of us.  It was horrible.

We came up on Pinnacle Peak Rd. and took the off-ramp.  Rob knew that that was the road the new temple is on, so he drove there.  He pulled into the parking lot and parked facing the temple entrance.

Even though our minds were in turmoil, I loved the dark of the early morning with the temple lit up against the black sky.  We sat looking at the temple, our minds heavily weighed down.  Rob suggested we say a prayer together, and asked me to be the one to offer it.  Before I started praying I asked the family if we could all make sure to be silent after the prayer, and simply listen for direction.  I struggled through the prayer, pleading with Heavenly Father to bless us with His guidance in this critical decision.  It's very humbling to pray urgently for an answer that is needed immediately, realizing that the Lord is truly the only one who knows what the outcome will be and what direction needs to be taken.

We sat in silence once again for a few moments afterward.  Then Rob traded places with Kaybree in the middle seat so he could reach Blake in the back seat, laid his hands on Blake's head and gave him a beautiful father's blessing.  About 20 minutes before we got to the temple I had felt impressed that Blake had been set apart as a missionary and was probably the one most entitled to receive the needed guidance in making this decision; in fact, that it needed to be his decision.  I kept these thoughts to myself for the time being, as we continued to drive in silence, but when Rob laid his hands on Blake's head he blessed him with the exact same things I had been feeling, only better.  He told him that he had been set apart as a missionary and that with that came an added measure of guidance that he could draw upon.  He told him that this decision needed to be his to make, and that he needed to make it, move forward with confidence and trust in the Lord, and not look back.

One feeling that surprised me during the father's blessing was the gratitude I suddenly felt for having this experience.  We were still in the middle of the struggle, and yet I somehow already felt grateful for it.  Sunday, as I was saying my personal prayers in preparation for our trip, I prayed that this trip would be good, bonding opportunity for our family.  With the kids getting older and going more directions, I miss our family trips that used to be more frequent and easier to schedule.  And I knew this would be our last one all together before a lot of things will likely change--(the baby coming, Ashlee could find the right guy and get married, Spencer could leave on his mission before Blake's even back...).  I knew it would be our last trip with our family as we've known it, and I wanted to be sure our time was well spent and that it brought us all closer.  I've realized that prayers are often answered in ways far from what we're expecting or what we think we're asking for.  But as Rob blessed Blake in making this decision I actually felt gratitude for this challenge and the opportunity it would be for all of us to exercise faith and especially for Blake to receive guidance.  It was truly the bonding experience I had asked for, although I never would have thought it was what I wanted.

After the blessing, Blake said he wanted to get out of the car for a little while.  Before he got out Rob told him that as he sought this guidance he shouldn't worry about what other people thought he should do, or be swayed by what he wanted either; just to be in tune with the promptings he received and go with what he felt.  Blake got out and walked over to an area (still within our sight) where he could be alone.

While the rest of us waited in the car for Blake, Rob asked us if we had any thoughts/feelings.  Kaybree told us she had just been reading her scriptures on her Tablet as we left home, and had read 1 Ne. 7:12.  She cried as she shared with us, "Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him?  Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."  I love the way the scriptures can speak to us the exact words we need, right in the moments we need them.  It's happened in my life more times than I can count.  (Just a quick sidenote:  As the rest of the kids were all getting comfortable and starting to go back to sleep before the phone call, I saw that Kaybree was on her Tablet.  Twice I almost told her to put it away and get some rest, as I assumed she was on Instagram or something.  I'm glad I was stopped from saying anything, since she was in fact reading her scriptures.)

As we continued waiting for Blake and sharing our thoughts, Spencer said, "At first I thought it couldn't be coincidence that we ended up waiting until this morning to leave and then the doctor called while we were still close to home, so it seemed like we needed to stay.  But then I thought about how Satan will do anything to keep a missionary from going, and I thought maybe he was just trying to throw one last obstacle in Blake's way."  Emmee said, "I feel like whatever Blake decides, the Lord will bless him in his decision and it will be ok."  We all agreed that we had also felt exactly what Emmee expressed, and it was very comforting and confirming to us all.  Ashlee added, "I feel like no matter what his decision is, he's going to be able to look back and see why he needed to be where he was at the time, with the people he was with, and why it all needed to work out the way it did."

We came to the conclusion that this experience probably needed to happen exactly the way it did so that Blake could go into his mission with a difficult decision to make first-thing.  This decision itself could set the tone for his entire mission, teaching him to call upon the Lord, to trust in Him as well as in himself, and to move forward in confidence with what he feels.  Having such a big decision to make, with potentially far-reaching consequences that would directly and immediately affect his mission, is such a difficult but valuable experience.

When Blake returned to the car we talked for a minute and then Rob asked him how he felt.  Without hesitation, he said, "I felt most impressed that we should keep going."  Immediately when he said the words, every one of us felt peace regarding his decision.  We talked about how incredible it is, in times of difficulty, to be able to go from feeling such turmoil to instantly feeling calm and assured.  We all felt it, the quiet and calm but sure confirmation that Blake's feelings were the guidance we had been seeking.  We knew there would still be things to figure out, but we also knew we could get back on the road and continue on our way with confidence.  It reminds me of the scripture in Philippians 4:7 that speaks of "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."  Feeling immediate peace like that can only come from one source--our Heavenly Father.  It's not something the world or any human power can provide.  So many other feelings can be mocked and imitated by the adversary, but true peace cannot.  I am eternally grateful for that.

We knew this answer wasn't the end of the trial, but it was the direction needed for the time being.  We didn't know if we would get to Provo and then seek further medical help, or what would happen over the course of the next few days/weeks.  The Lord seldom tells us the whole story; He just guides us through one step at a time.  It was very powerful to see Blake act upon his decision in full confidence, and not waver for a second.  A huge burden had been lifted from all of us, and we were truly able to move forward without looking back.

We felt so good about things, yet we knew the doctor was waiting to hear back from us and it would be very difficult to tell him we were choosing to go against what he had advised.  Rob took some time and sent him this text:
"Dr _____, I don't want to call and wake you up, I hope you can sleep now.  Thank you for your call and concern.  Your timing was perfect, we talked about it as a family and ended up going to the Phoenix Temple and pulling over for a while.  We said a family prayer and then I gave Blake a blessing.  My wife and I both felt impressed that Blake has been set apart as a missionary, and this is a decision that the Lord would like him to make.  Blake walked around the temple for a while and at this time feels like we should keep going.  His decision was confirmed to all of us.  This has been one of the most spiritual experiences our family has had, so thank you for listening to the Spirit.  I don't know what will be the end result, our inspiration right now is just to 'keep going' so that is what we will do.  We will need to keep seeking guidance for the next few days.  We feel peace, which the adversary can not replicate.  Please feel comfort in knowing that you did what the Lord impressed you to do, now Blake is in His hands."

As we got back on the road, the music playing in the car was "Sometimes He Lets it Rain."  The next song that came on was "Be Still and Know."  Both just seemed so fitting, and further added to the peace we felt.

On a lighter note, Ashlee had a text conversation later that day with an Elder she knew on her mission, who is now home from his mission too.  She shared with him a little bit about the situation, and he replied:  "Whoa!!!  This is awesome!!  Go Blake!  Tell him I think he is a stud and I respect him a lot.  Man he sounds epic!  Satan's like, 'Stop him!' And Blake's like, 'Get thee behind me Satan' ha ha!  I love it."  =)

So, the trip went well, and we contacted the MTC on Tuesday to give them a heads-up about Blake arriving with an injured toe.  The receptionist in the clinic didn't seem to be at all concerned, even though we told her it was a deep cut and that our home doctor was worried about the potential for infection.  She said they have two full-time doctors available, and also that they remove stitches all the time.  We told Blake to plan to go in soon after arriving at the MTC, to have it looked at so they could keep an eye on things.  We felt better just having talked with her.

On Wednesday, just before we dropped Blake off at the MTC, we parked near the Provo Temple and talked some more as a family.  One large paragraph of Blake's patriarchal blessing talks solely about his mission, so we read some of his blessing together and talked about the powerful things he's been promised.  One thing we had forgotten was in there was a promise that he would be blessed in mortality to be able to interpret the answers to his prayers, as he goes before the Lord with a humble heart.  We were grateful to read this, especially after going through this experience with him, and to be reminded that he will be able to draw upon these promised blessings again and again as he faces challenges on his mission and throughout his life.

We all realize we're still in the "exercising faith" portion of this experience.  Blake's toe still has plenty of healing to do, and we don't know how everything will turn out.  But having felt the peace we did as the initial decision was made, we can be confident that anything that happens now is part of what the Lord wants us to experience and learn from.  Each day that goes by gives us more hope that everything will be fine, but we know it won't be completely behind us for awhile.  All we can do is pray and wait and hope for the best.  We know he is in the Lord's hands.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Balancing Needs

I think for most moms there comes a point when we realize the tricky choices in life aren't between the question of our own needs vs. the needs of our families--it's the fact that members of our family have needs that we can't meet simultaneously.  One kid needs to get to kindergarten each day at the same time as another needs to nap.  One needs help with homework while another wants you to jump on the trampoline with her.  One wants to sleep cuddled up next to you, but your hubby is tired of getting kicked in the face all night and really would appreciate some cuddle time too....  What's a wife/mom to do?!?!?
As I look back on these many (daily, sometimes hourly) opportunities for balancing needs, I still wonder what the solution is.  It really is one of the hardest ongoing struggles we have as moms.  I remember times when the family needed to eat, and I was fixing dinner in the kitchen while verbally giving a piano lesson to a kid in the other room.  The piano lesson consisted of me yelling words like, "Your bottom note needs to move 1/2 step up!" or "Slow that last measure down--those are half notes!"  Sometimes the kids don't have the clean clothes they need, because I've been so busy addressing other needs--for days. =/
I remember a conversation with a sweet friend years ago.  She had grown up in a family of 9 children, and had recently been talking with her mom, who asked her, "Kristen, was I ever a good mom?  All I remember is doing laundry, and more laundry, and more laundry!  Did I ever do anything else with you?"
Kristen's answer was something I'll never forget, and she cried as she said it to me.  She told her sweet mother, "Mom, you gave all of us kids the greatest gift you could ever have given us.  You gave us each other."  Kristen went on to tell me about her relationships with her siblings; that they're her very best friends, and that she can't imagine life without them.
I've thought of this so many times, when I've wondered how I could possibly ever meet all of my family's needs.  I hope that my choice to bring six children into this world, so that they could all have each other, outweighs the fact that with that choice comes all the demands of running a full household (and not keeping up very well, I might add).
I watch my kids interact with one another, and I see their love for each other.  I see them tease and annoy each other, and then be inseparable best buds.  My struggle to keep up with the demands isn't something I expect to change anytime soon, but I'm so grateful for a wise friend who has helped me put it all in perspective and see the big picture.  Some needs around here will continue to go unmet, despite my best efforts.  But if I accomplish nothing else in this life, Rob and I gave our kids each other.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Can Do Hard Things: Hiking Havasupai

We've talked as a family about doing this trip for quite awhile now.  Thirty+ miles in 3 days.  Rob and I both understood that this wasn't something we were doing for ourselves; it was something we were doing so our family could have the experience.  We could have spent less time, money, and effort, and just done a fun or relaxing trip--but we purposefully chose this.  And it couldn't have gone more perfectly.  (Not easily or smoothly, but perfectly.)  It provided just the right set of circumstances for us to learn more about working together, accomplishing difficult things, tender mercies, and exercising faith.  I truly believe that when parents are united in a common goal for the benefit of the family, events unfold in exactly the right ways.

Tues. night--packing up to go.  Uggghhhhh!
We headed out mid-day Wed. (7/10) so we could be ready to hike down first-thing Thursday morning.
In Flagstaff, looking for a post office to mail Ashlee a letter on our way.  Every road leading to the post office was closed.  Twenty-five minutes later we finally found another post office and drove in just as the mailman closed up for the day.  Uggghhh...  But that's how much we love our Ash-lash!  Oh, well--so she got it a day later than we hoped.  We tried!!!
Singing the Cup Song on the drive in the motorhome.

We got to the top Wed. evening, where we would park for the night and sleep in the motorhome, and then get up and leave early the next morning.  We ate some taco soup and called it a night.
Thursday we got up, made sure we had everything we needed in our packs, and got started.
All ready to go!

Here goes nothin'!
A little way down the trail.
I loved the way Rob and Kaybree would hold hands sometimes.

A few miles into the hike we came upon this little horse.  A mule train happened to be passing and we thought the little horse was with them, but when they went on we realized otherwise.  Look at him next to that dog--so tiny!!
We looked up on the side of the hill and realized his mama was up there.  She was so thin and malnourished, and we were pretty sure she had just had him in the last 24 hours.  We also wondered how they got separated...  Poor things!

The kids loved petting the little horse.

A little heart-shaped hole in a rock.

Peek-a-boo!  Too bad you couldn't see all the way through...

The "rock rock."  We each added our own on the hike out.
Interesting and sad find on the way in.
Stopping for a rest.
The kids thought this mountain looked like stacked blocks.
One of the many mule trains we shared the trail with.  It was a little scary sometimes, especially if they were running.  We couldn't always hear them coming until they got close, since our steps were noisy too.  I don't think it would have bothered the mules at all to just walk--or run--right over the top of us!
More hand-holding.  Melts my heart... =)

Nature is so awesome.
Almost to the village!
Beginning of the village.

These funny little beetles had fuzzy red butts.
Woohoo!  8 miles down, now just 3 to go...

We mailed a letter to Ashlee from the Supai Post Office.  I don't know if she'll notice on the envelope where it's from, but it was fun anyway, knowing it would go at least part of the way by mule.

We found out that school in the Supai Village only goes through 8th grade.  Kids who want an education beyond that go to boarding schools back east from Sept.-May.
That's a pink house!
We passed this in the village.  Evidence of children playing, making mud pies.  Love it!!!

Ahhh... Nature.....
Now these are trees with character!

Chase catching a little frog.  They were everywhere!

It was a little unsettling to see this hill of flowers across the way, apparently in memory of those who have died here.
Between the village and camp it started raining.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but we all got DRENCHED!
Holding a baby frog.

And more frogs....
Tiny little one.
Heading into the camping area.  I loved these vines that were growing everywhere--so pretty!
And this is how Chase arrived at camp, 11 miles down--soaking wet, whistling, and happy as could be!
Our perfect little camp spot.

The boys just chillin' after camp was set up.

They say that the more time a woman spends in nature (hiking, gardening, just being outdoors...) the better she feels about herself.  I believe it.  It's just about impossible to spend time in this beautiful world and not be amazed to see God's hand in everything.  And before long you can't help but realize that you and everyone around you are a part of the miracle too...

After we set up camp and had some pbj's, we headed up to play at Havasu Falls (about a mile up from camp.)
Em and Kay getting ready to jump off the little waterfall at Havasu together.

And there they go!

Chase getting ready to jump in with me.
Chase and Emmee taking the plunge!
Rob, Blake, and Spencer going behind Havasu Falls.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous watching them.

They're back there somewhere...

Blake diving out through the Falls.

Popular playplace!

Blake and Spencer getting ready to jump.
The next day when we went back I didn't bring my camera (phone), since it had been such a pain to carry it around in a trash bag to keep the rain off the day before, and since I thought I had all the pics I needed.  So I missed getting a pic of Kaybree cliff-jumping (I think from the spot where Blake is in this pic--about 15-20' high), and the girls going behind the Falls with Rob.  Rob also jumped from the higher spot, which I missed too.  And of course the 2nd day there was no rain while we were there anyway....  Grrrrrrr!

There goes Blake!

There goes Spencer!
Chase learning that it's ok to pee in the water. =)  He just thought it was the most disgusting thing ever, even though we told him everyone does it.  He wanted us to walk back to the bathroom with him, so Rob threatened/chased him down to the water and gave him the 101 on sitting there long enough and swishing around to get it all out of your shorts.
I know what's going through Chase's mind right here:  "I can't believe I'm peeing in the water...."
Mission accomplished!
Then we headed up to Navajo Falls (about 2 miles up from our camp).
On the rocks behind Navajo Falls.

The girls down below while the boys went up top.

Boys getting ready to jump off.  Kaybree wanted to do it too, but Rob said NOPE!
There goes Blake!
And there goes Spencer!

Right after this it started POURING again, so we headed back to camp.
Some burnt trees we saw.  Still so pretty.
Havasu Falls from above, just after the rain.  Already looking muddy.
Watermelon vines we would see occasionally throughout the campground.
Little baby watermelons, about 3" in diameter.

A couple of them hiding underneath.
Time to make dinner...
I personally think Top Ramen is about the least nutritious food around... So we never eat it.  Therefore the kids thought it was such a treat that we were having it for dinner.  Rob heated our water in the jet-boil, and the kids' vacuum-seal bags were their bowls.
After dinner we got ready for bed, knowing it would likely be a miserable night for all.  And it was.  We were expecting rain, so 5 of us tried cramming into our small tent (along with our packs and most of our belongings, to keep them dry).  Blake and Spencer slept in their hammocks, with tarps hung over a clothesline above them to keep dry.  Chase told us his ankle was hurting, but we didn't think much of it.  We were all sore from the hike, so we figured his ankle was no different than the rest of our aches and pains.

The next morning Chase tried to stand up and realized he couldn't put any weight on his right foot without his ankle hurting terribly.  He tried several times to just stand on it, but couldn't even touch it to the ground without pain.  Rob has had ankle problems for years and knew this one was bad news.
We started talking about how we could get Chase out the next day.  Eleven miles is a long way to carry someone--(thank goodness he only weighs 50 lbs.!)--plus we'd also have to redistribute one of the packs and make everyone else carry more.  Rob's pack had holes in the bottom (intentionally, haha!), so at least Chase could put his legs through there...  Wow, this was gonna be fun for all!!!
Chase soaking his ankle.  (The closest thing we had to ice!)
As we were figuring out how to get Chase around for the day, I asked Rob whether we should bring Chase's water shoes just in case his ankle improved.  Chase had already heard all the discussion about putting him in a backpack for the hike out, and he hadn't heard the whole conversation right then to know we were talking about his shoes, so when I said (talking about the shoes), "We could just put 'em in a Walmart bag," Chase said, "NO!!!  I am NOT riding in a Walmart bag!!!  That would just be weird."
Cracked us up!  =)

Rob putting water through the purifier to fill our camelbaks.

Blake helping Chase into a hammock.  The kids were great at helping him get around all day.
When we hiked to the water, the oldest 4 of us traded off carrying him piggyback.
Hiking down to Mooney Falls.  Scary, steep ledge! =/

And back up...

Mooney Falls.  (Yes, that's a man in a red shirt down at the bottom.)  We couldn't get much closer than this, since it involved an 80' climb down very steep steps, holding onto a chain.  Blake and Spencer went down and stayed for a little while, but the rest of us opted out (especially with Chase having to be carried... Impossible!)

After Mooney we had planned to possibly hike down to Beaver, but we asked one of the villagers about going and he advised us not to, since rain was expected soon.  So we went back up to Havasu to play again.
On our way back to camp from Havasu we were met by a villager/worker who told us to get to high ground, that a flood was coming.  He said it was passing through the village right then, so it would be down to our camp before long.  Our camp was one of the lowest, down by Mooney, so we were a little worried about our stuff.  We headed down to gather up the important things, in case the water got too high.
As we gathered our main things, we started thinking maybe it would be easier to just pack up everything and start the hike out then.  We were planning to leave in the morning anyway, and we didn't want to pack/unpack/pack again.
So we went ahead and took down our camp and packed everything up.  It involved some arranging and rearranging, to leave a whole pack open for Chase to ride in.  Our plan was just to get as far as we could and then put our sheets on the ground and sleep.  It couldn't be any worse than our first night's sleep, anyway! ;)

Blake getting Chase situated in the pack.  We teased Chase and asked him if he felt like a baby getting a diaper change. ;)
Giving the pack a try.  Chase looks more sure about this than Blake does...

Ready to hike out before the flood hit harder.

The first big hill out of camp, going past Havasu Falls.
After awhile Blake traded packs with Rob and carried Chase.

We never heard a word of complaint from Blake.  Such a good big brother...
Navajo Falls when we were playing there.

Navajo Falls (from above) with the muddy flood water coming down.  What a difference!

And Havasu Falls with the flood water coming down.  Crazy that that's the same place where we were just playing in the bright blue water a little while earlier!

Doesn't even look like the same place!

A closer shot of Navajo Falls.  Muddddddd!

Kaybree spotted a centipede crossing our path.

As Kaybree and I were bringing up the rear =) coming from camp into the village, we passed this woman who was sitting down under some trees near Navajo Falls.  We smiled and waved as we went by.
A little while later she came walking behind us and called to us.  She had seen the rest of the family go by a few minutes before and so she asked us about our hike.  I told her we had planned to hike out in the morning but had instead decided to just go ahead and hike out then, because of the flood.  She mentioned the LDS Church in the village, and said that we might be able to stay there.  She said that people camp out there sometimes, but she also said that her husband is the 3rd Counselor and has the key to the building.  (We found out that the rest of their branch of 60 is in Peach Springs, and their family are the only active members in Supai.)  Her husband was down warning people about the flood, but would be back later.  (I'm hesitant to mention this, because I don't want to publicize her hospitality and cause them any problems.  I know they can't offer this to everyone who comes through.  But at the same time, this was such a special part of our trip, I have to include it.)  I'm not sure what caused her to decide we were such weary and deserving travelers, but her offer was so kind.
We walked the rest of the way to the village with her, and had such a great chat.  We learned that she has 7 children and 4 grandchildren, that she and her husband have lived in Supai their whole lives (except for his high school years, when he lived in foster homes in San Diego so that he could attend school).  She basically never leaves the village.  She has lived within the same few-mile radius, in a canyon, her entire life.  She told us she had gone down to Navajo Falls to wait for her husband so she could walk home with him, but then she realized he would be later than usual that day, so she headed back.  What a sweet and simple gesture that lets her husband know she enjoys spending time with him; something I'm sure she does regularly.  Sadly, for most of us in our fast-paced world, things like that are a foreign concept.
I'm always happy and sad at the same time when I get to cross paths with someone like this.  It's so neat to instantly feel a connection with them and to find out incredible things about the life they've lived.  But at the same time it's sad to realize what a short time you're actually going to be spending together before you'll be going your separate ways, back to your normal life, and likely never meet again.  Times like this remind me of one of my favorite sayings:  "Friends in the Gospel never meet for the last time."  Carol is a kind and generous woman who I definitely now consider a "friend in the Gospel."  I pray we will have the chance to meet again one day.

The LDS Church building, built in 2004.
We walked to the church, not sure whether we'd just be camping out on the grass or actually going inside.  We were just grateful to be settling down for the night.  (Yes, Rob is braiding Kaybree's hair.) =)
We were only there a little while before Carol's husband, Delbert, came walking up the path.  He opened up the building for us and we all went inside and had a nice talk.  It was inspiring to see their strength as we talked about the Church there, and how few members actually attend with them.  On a given Sunday, sacrament meeting consists of Carol, her husband and their 19 yr old son, any hiker-visitors who happen to stay for church, and a member of the stake or branch who comes in by helicopter to speak.  Delbert talked about "experimenting" when he was 15 years old, to find out for himself whether the Church was true.  He said, "It's all about faith."
So true.
The chapel.

They currently have no functioning Primary organization, since there are no children in the village who attend, and the same with a Youth program.  But they have a small room for each, ready to go, if the opportunity should arise.
We were so grateful for a shower and a washer/dryer.  We didn't want to put our dirty sheets--or selves--on their clean bed!  Of course we hadn't brought laundry soap, though, so we just used our little bottles of shampoo...  Better than nothing!
The church building is really more like a house, with a chapel that can also be used as a living room (or in our case, a big bedroom).
Chase continued hobbling around on one foot, like he had all day...
Unfortunately the village has some phone service, so out came the electronics!  One of the best things about this trip was the lack of electronics...  We talked to each other...  actually interacted...  AMAZING!!! =)
It felt strange to camp out in the chapel, but it was obvious that this place was intended to be a stop for weary travelers as much as a place of worship.  We still did our best to treat it with reverence, and gratitude for the kindness of those who have charge over it.

This guy crashed in about 2 seconds, literally moments after our family prayer asking that he would be able to get the rest he needed.
Just before this, Rob had given him a Father's Blessing.  We knew the ankle situation was going to be a hardship for all of us, and that a blessing would help.  Rob's expectation was to bless Chase that our family would be able to help him, but when he laid his hands on his head he instead blessed him with the faith, courage, and strength to walk and get himself out the next day.  I have to admit, I was surprised by the words I heard.  But I know that faith brings miracles, and I trusted that Rob knew what he was doing.
Campin' out.

We all crashed pretty hard and slept well (except for Rob--another rough night, too much going through his mind). =(
When morning came, Rob got up and started gathering our things to pack up.  Chase woke up and Rob simply asked him, "Chase, do you think you can walk today?"  With no hesitation, Chase literally jumped up and started walking around the room.  I was still in the bedroom, so I missed seeing it.  Rob said it reminded him of the story of Zeezrom, in Alma 15:  "And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying:  O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people..."

These are Chase's words in a letter he wrote to Ashlee after our trip:
"...Our family hiked in the Grand Canyon. I sprained my ankle on
the way there, but it didn’t hurt until we got to the camp spots. Then it hurt
so bad that I couldn’t walk....
Dad gave me a fathers blessing for my ankle. The next morning dad
told me to start walking I just stood up and started walking around perfectly
fine. Now that’s a miracle!"

~~~Oh, the faith of a child!!!~~~

As we were cleaning up to leave the church-house, Emmee was sweeping and spotted the tiniest scorpion any of us had ever seen.  This is Blake's hand next to it.  We were all walking around barefoot, so we were a little creeped out!  Thank goodness Emmee's focus was on the floor right then--otherwise one of us probably would have found it the hard way!

The Church is true wherever you go... =)

We obviously weren't the first grateful travelers to pass through, so we had to add to the note on the chalkboard in one of the classrooms.  They also keep a guestbook, which was full of names, probably mainly of people who go there to attend church.  (Carol told us that most people don't know until they get there that there's a church they can attend, so they don't have Sunday clothes with them and just have to wear their hiking clothes.  Then she laughed and said, "So, we just wear normal clothes too!")  We would have loved to extend our trip and be there to have church with them, but we decided that would definitely be overstaying our welcome.
We tried to leave things at least as good as we found them.

Just before we had gone to bed, Delbert Jr. had knocked on the door and told us they had found a young horse abandoned by its mother, and asked us to make sure we didn't let it out the gate when we left in the morning.  He said they had tried putting it with their horses, but their horses were mean to it.
 We knew it had to be the same one we had seen on the way in.  So-far they had only been able to get it to drink water.  Poor little guy--and his mama too!!  So sad....
The kids said goodbye to him as we left.
Chase getting his shoes on for the hike out, still amazed at the miracle.  (Yes, he's in the same clothes he put on yesterday afternoon and slept in.  Don't judge...) ;)
Off we go!

The girls adding their rocks to the "rock rock."

The remains of a dead horse on the trail. =(

This sign means we have the last--and hardest--1-1/2 miles to go... But it also means we're close to finishing!

Our first glimpse of the top (we're parked near that antenna sticking up in the middle).  The end is in sight!
As we passed this man and stopped to rest by him for a minute we found out that his whole job is to be there and make sure all the hikers are alright.  (You can see the back of his horse on the left and he's sitting on the wall closeby, with a hiker coming up the trail.)  We just thought he was giving his horse a rest.  I'm glad we found out more so we could thank him!

Heading into the final, "excruciating" uphill part of the hike (Rob's words in preparing us for it).

Kaybree's look of relief when we realized we were getting close to the end.

Tender mercies.  During the last (hardest) 1-1/2 miles, going uphill with the sun directly overhead and very little chance of finding shade, there were several times when clouds would roll over and keep things overcast just long enough for us to cool off a bit and regain our strength.  People can argue all they want, but there are times when you just know it's not coincidence.  Moments like that feel like a little hug from heaven to cheer you on.  I couldn't help smiling and just saying a little prayer of gratitude in my heart.

The top is in view...
Made it!!!

We all got out alive!  Chase walked all 8 miles from the village--in fact, he jogged and even sprinted some of it!
Although there were a few times the kids asked why we were doing this, they commented on the way home about how good it felt to have accomplished this goal.  We can do hard things!!!
Swollen fingers.  I wouldn't even attempt to get that ring off right now!

A little rock Kaybree found and gave to Blake.  She thought he would like it since it has a Nike sign on it. =)

I had to snap a picture of this motel we passed in Peach Springs where Rob (and sometimes Ashlee and I) would stay when he went to work there, almost 20 years ago.  It still looks the same.  The first time we went along, Ashlee was 3 weeks old.

In Seligman we stopped for a late lunch at the Roadkill Cafe.  We like to try to find the most "authentic" places to eat when we're away from home.  This one got the unanimous vote!  We had worked up an appetite, and it was pretty tasty!
We had heard on the radio about the world-famous pies at the Rock Springs Cafe (how had we not known of this place before?!?), so we had to stop there when we hit Black Canyon City.  We took some home and called it dinner. =)
Other than some sore muscles, this was the worst thing I had to show for the trip.  Not too much to complain about!