Awhile back, my family and I took a magnificent trip to enjoy the Manti Pageant. None of us had ever attended and we were thrilled to be going. Months ahead of time, the preparing started. A nice camping spot for our family and another camping spot for friends who would join us were reserved. A date was chosen to leave, the route we would drive, what we would eat (having three boys, this is a very important part of the planning) and what we would do during the day before the pageant. Everyone anxiously awaited the special vacation.
As the day arrived, we carefully arranged everything into our Yukon XL. Tent, sleeping bags, pillows, food, stove, and everything that we could possibly need. Everyone was so animated and full of energy. We camp often but we were especially thrilled about this trip where we would meet some special friends and see the pageant.
We arrived early and started setting up camp. The tent was securely staked to the ground. Our truck was unloaded. Matches were made easily accessible near the door of the tent as well as flashlights and extra batteries. Sleeping bags arranged in perfectly aligned rows with each person’s backpack at one end of their bag. Then, we lit the fire, cooked dinner and waited for our friends to arrive. After several hours of anxiously waiting, we went to bed. Sometime after midnight, they finally pulled into camp. We quickly threw our jeans back on and helped them to set up. We were stunned when we could not find the stakes to their tent. My friend frantically went through her car pulling items out and rearranging, and still no stakes anywhere. They opted to disregard them for the night and worry about getting some the next day.
The dawning of day brought unexpected strong winds. The misplaced stakes were desperately needed to keep their tent from blowing away. We quickly evaluated how many stakes we could afford to take from our own tent. Our family tent required 21 stakes and quite a few guy lines. By sharing a few of our stakes we would still be safe, but if we gave too many, we would be in peril of losing our own tent to the ferocious winds.
Strong winds continued throughout the day and into the evening blowing just about everything away. Even eating became a challenge. Plates, napkins, and food were like dry leaves in the fall weather. My children even complained about the wind in their ears. We abandoned camp for a couple of hours and followed the highway north of Manti to a McDonald’s for a little respite. As we returned to our campsite at the base of the hill to the Manti Temple, we were astonished to see our friends’ tent nearly collapsed from the strength of the wind as there were no guy lines attached, but our tent remained strong and tall. The wind had little effect. Stakes were essential to its strength.
The last day necessitated breaking camp and taking down the tents. The wind continued to howl and blow. Cracking accentuated the noise of the weather and six playful children. As we investigated the noise, we discovered several of the tent poles broken on the tent without guy lines. They could not withstand the power of the wind.
As we drove the long journey home, I pondered how this experience related so well to the gospel. There were essential gospel lessons when comparing the strength of the two tents. The stakes and guy lines were vital to the strength of the tent.
In our own lives, we are securing our tents -our testimonies. Each correct decision and obedience to a gospel principle adds another stake to our tent. We are learning and growing. We are becoming stronger and stronger so that we can withstand whatever trials may come into our paths. We are becoming more like our Savior and enabling ourselves to return to his presence.
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.