Sunday, June 30th, 2019
It felt sacrilegious to be loading a trailer on Sunday morning. Living directly across the street from us was the church we had been attending for two and a half years. I saw the Bishop arrive to organize his morning services. Members started arriving 20 minutes before the 9am services would start. And we, the most visible family in the ward, were in our most inappropriate Sunday attire, packing a trailer. From all appearances, it looked like we had sluffed off our sabbath responsibilities to go recreate.
We loaded a borrowed trailer with trash. Forlorn household items also went to the trailer destined to go to the thrift store. We worked earnestly with the intent to attend the sabbath morning service. But earlier that week, a shorted wire in the camper had robbed us of 2 days of repairs. So Sunday was a big Ox-In-The-Mire Day.
As Sunday goers filtered into church, a handful came across the street to wish us well. Some volunteered to help, but we shewd them to church with love. Most difficult was the visit from the young men of the ward. Serving a the president over the Young Mens organization, I found that I loved many of the boys as a father would. One young man, Dawson, a nappy haired live-wire had placed me in a patriarchal role in his life. For good reason, I suppose. I had pulled him and his brothers out of a t-bone car accidents, carried his pack on a gruesome hike or two, visited him at the hospital after a scary asthma attack, teased him about his football practices and so on. I really loved him, even after his adoption went through and he changed his name to “Rocky”.
As stood in front of me in his white shirt and tie, he pulled off a drawstring bag and withdrew his Jr. High year book. He asked if I would sign it. I was all kinds of breaking inside. But I scribbles some words in the front of the book, just under his mother’s remarks. Dawson is special. And I finally told him.
He gave me a big hug. Then crossed the street to carry out his church duties.
I could tell when the first hour ended. Several other boys came over. Mostly to see Ammon. But I was happy to have them over. Really, they wanted to get out of class. But I called them around, just like a football huddle: arms around shoulders, heads in. They allowed me to pray. I spoke my heart to God and ask a special blessing to be on them as they grew into men, that valiance and courage would be their badge, that honor to women would be standard, that they would become holy warriors.
The house was clean. We shut the doors. Locked them too. No one had much care for breakfast.
I took the borrowed trailer back to it’s owner. They would deliver the load to the dump the following day. The simple kindness of others is so tangible in times of need.
Like every vacation, we had family prayer. This was different – we would not be coming back. We prayed for the house, the ward, our friends. We asked for God to go before us and prepare the way. We asked for protection on the camper and truck. We pleaded for protection over Lily and Hayden, and Raelyn, our children who would not be going with us. We asked for God’s hand in Grandma Bairs affairs, which we knew was already the case. We prayed.
Then we left.
Nathan sobbed for quite some time. It made us all aware that we each had volatile feeling that we were smothering. Over the next couple days of travel, we would all cry, letting go of our tears, letting our future needs quell our present pains.
We met up with Lilyan and Hayden as we left the valley. It was just to drop off a vacuum. But we unwillingly lingered, struggling to let go.
A few hours later, we closed the Colorado boarder. Weed marketing let us know, better than the Highway signs, that we had crossed into new place, new laws. Utah behind. Change ahead.
There are so many symbolic and metaphoric meanings to our life change. As if the physical uprooting wasn’t difficult enough, the spiritual connotations have added deeper significance and emotional challenge.
It is reassuring that Lehi and his band of families left most of their possessions and livelihood behind in Jerusalem. Following the Lords instruction, they were obedient, even though it placed strain on everyone. The fought, toiled, played, cried, mummered, praised, and even experienced death. At the end, they were promised a land for their inheritance. That promise depended on sacrifice and trials.
Everything we now possessed was on the back of 8 wheels rolling towards Missouri on a Sunday afternoon.