or, The parable of the pack mule.

When we were raising our Evnily we enjoyed going to the mountains together. We usually wanted to go to some remote place by packing in on Pack Mules. In the process of experience and learning we learned a few things about packs and mules. If you have good equipment and good mules then the job is much easier especially if you know what you are doing. The way to know what you are doing is to have experience and be taught by those who know and have had experience. In our lives The Lord is the one who knows all things and has had experience. If we look to him as our teacher we can surely learn to do it right. The process of packing a mule for our camps was as follows: First we put a good substantial pad on the mules back to protect his back and make the pack feel good. Then came the pack saddle or we used an "Aparejo" an Aparejo is what the Early Spaniards used on their mules to haul the ore and machinery in and out of their mines. It is an ingenious device that permits the packer to tie any thing, all shapes and sizes on the Aparejo. It consists of two leather bags joined in the middle These bags are filled with a spongy, tough Aparejo Grass. This goes over the mule's back and surrounds the mules body between his front shoulder and flank and down to the lower part of his belly. Attached to the back of this a tail piece about eight inches wide goes back over the mules hip with a padded tail piece that goes under the tail and back the other side to the back of the Aparejo. A heavy leather cover goes over the Aparejo to protect it. A 7 inch wide, leather cinch strap and Horse Hair Cinch go around the Aparejo and under the mules belly to firmly anchor the Aparejo to the mule's body. The weight is evenly distributed over the mule's back and rib cage and enables him to carry heavy loads with ease. I am making a point to describe the Aparejo because it forms a good foundation on which to place all of the burdens of the whole pack. The Aparejo is then cinched down tight and the mule is ready to receive his load. The first items of the pack are two pack boxes one hung on each side of the Aparejo. We used a short rope that went over and under and around each pack box crossing in the middle on top of the Aparejo with the ends tied in a square knot to facilitate untying. These boxes were meticulously packed with food and cooking equipment and balanced as to weight as evenly as we could judge. They were also packed so that they would not rattle and scare the mules. The lid was clamped on tight making the boxes waterproof. Then the boxes were adjusted evenly on each side of the Aparejo making sure that the rope was tight and tied securely. Then a sleeping pad was placed on top of each box. These Rubber foam pads were folded over and rolled from each end and tied to form a neat package. On top of the Bed pads a three-man tent was placed on each side. Then two or three sleeping bags and other personal bags were balanced in the middle on top of all of the pack. We covered all of this with a canvas pack cover and tied it down with a pack rope. The pack rope was a long rope with cinch on the end of it. The cinch had a hook tied to it made of "Manzanita Wood". This hook facilitated packing because we didn't have to pull the rope through a ring we could just hook the rope in the hook and throw it back over the pack to form the Diamond Hitch. The Manzanita Wood is very smooth so the rope can slide through the hook easily. With a man on each side, the Diamond hitch is completed and tightened with all of their weight and strength and the end of the rope is secured on one side of the pack under the box. If the pack is well balanced it can go the rest of the day without having to adjust or retie the pack. If the pack is not balanced equally on each side the pack will soon turn and lean to the heavy side and the mule will stop to have his pack adjusted and repacked. On the Trail the mules take their places in line in the order in which they usually travel if a young mule tries get ahead of the others he is promptly put in his place to follow the older more experienced mules. On the trail there are many obstacles which the older and more experienced mules carefully avoid, knowing exactly the width of their pack. After the inexperienced mule has hit a rock or a tree a few times he soon learns to guard his pack to avoid the shock of a solid jolt. If the pack is too heavy for the mule to bear he will sometimes protest and lay down. If you help him up and lighten his load just a little he can continue on the rest of the journey.

In our lives we need a good substantial pad of knowledge and experience on which to place the solid foundation of our Testimony. Like the Aparejo our Testimony can give us a good foundation on which to place all of our burdens and the work of our lives. As the different responsibilities, callings and duties accumulate, like the pack we must be sure to balance them evenly in our lives so that our lives do not become unbalanced. We need to place the heavier and the more solid responsibilities, Such as Home and family and our vocation and work, as the foundation of our pack and tie them securely with love and devotion. As we place the other burdens of our lives carefully on the pack we must be mindful of the total balance. We can use as our pack cover faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the love and hope that living his Gospel gives us. This can protect us from the storms of life and branches of the trees of evil that are there to tear our precious pack. We can tie it all down with the strong rope of service and work making sure that it secures every part of the pack with the Diamond Hitch that tightens every comer of our lives. Service in the church and to our fellow men; Service in our daily vocation whatever it might be. Service especially in our family. On the trail we can teach our children to avoid the jolts of life and even help them by lifting them up and lightening their burdens enough for them to continue on in their journey of life. As we develop our capacity to serve we develop our capacity to love and to enjoy life and find happiness. "When ye are in the service of your fellow men ye are only in the service of your God". Let us not become one-sided in our lives but live life fully and abundantly in all its phases. This can only be done by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by keeping all of his con3mandments, which will balance every corner of our lives and fill every need in our lives. The Lord will abundantly bless us with everything we need if we live for it.