I, Refugee - Nagging Circumstances of the Promise
It was cold, and the tire was flat. We were up a mountain somewhere in Southern Utah trying to get to Salt Lake City the back way, apparently. GPS was not helping because it kept rerouting us further away from the original course—the ten-hour drive we had originally plotted. It would take us twice as long it seemed! That is how it started. That was our first indication that this trip was going to be an epic experience for the family.
If you are still with me, you know that my family and I were in Utah taking a family trip to General Conference for our church, April of 2016. Above is the last family picture we took before the trip. Yeah, we don't look like that anymore. I just wanted to give you an idea of us. You also know that we are Latter-day Saints.
What Came Before
I, Refugee - The Hero of My Life Story. I want you to know reader, that I was at the lowest point of discouragement I could be and still call myself a Christian when we started this Utah journey. This is the first installment of being trapped in Utah.
Standing in the Cold
So, back to me standing in the cold trying to change a tire to the family van up a mountain in Utah. The kids were complaining, especially my eldest.
He did not want to make the trip in the first place. All of his negativity put me in the mind of Laman and Lemuel nagging their father, Lehi. You can read about their deal in the Book of Mormon—it’s too much to go into right now. I bring them up because they were in a family just like mine with a dad, a mom, and some kids, but all they did was complain the whole time when they left Jerusalem for the Promised Land.
Laman and Lemuel thought it was a bad idea for their dad to take them on a journey away from Jerusalem just like my eldest thought it fool-hardy to journey away from Phoenix. That’s what he did; my son nagged me to the point that I wanted to lose my religion and smack him a few times, but I didn’t. I had to be the Lehi of my story, who also did not smack Laman and Lemuel (though he had more of a reason to smack them than I did to smack mine if some smacking was going to be dispensed!).
Hard Trip Promise Fulfilled
My eldest had legitimate points not to take the trip, though. The van had needed repair work before we left that ended up eating into our budget for the trip.
My wise wife and best friend Afryka wanted to wait for the next conference and save up some more cash. I felt determined in my heart that we needed to go. I needed to go! We had a family council and prayed about it. The majority of us felt the need to throw logic to the wind and still make the trip with limited funds. Xavier, my eldest, told us we were being foolish. He was right. We did not listen to reason; we listened to faith!
“You have health problems, Dad,” he reminded—something I did not need reminding of. “What if something happens?”
“We will be fine,” I returned. “God will take care of us. He told us to make the trip; so, it will all work out.”
That is what I said out loud. What went on in my mind promised me that we would have a hard trip. God let me know that this trip was going to try our faith. I did not quite understand what those thoughts meant, but I understood the reassurance the Spirit gave each time I wanted to abort the whole idea to continue.
The Spirit is what I call the good feelings we all get when we are doing something that is right--like being a friend, doing charity, or showing love and concern for people. That good feeling let me know we were supposed to go to Utah. We needed to go. God would help us with any problem. I needed to know that early in the trip and have faith in it because the problems did not wait long to happen.
The Flat Tire
I HATED it had to happen in the height of Xavier’s rant. The I-told-you-so’s flew off of his lips with relish. Apparently, the boom was the first indication that the tire was in trouble. I am sure God let the tire run on something because it lasted until we cleared some mountains and the sun brightened the sky. Don't be surprised, reader, that I attribute so much to God. It is normal to do so for people like me. If I know the source of my situation it makes me feel in control.
Xavier and I exited the car to change the tire amid his overly expressive advice that we should turn back and avoid further embarrassment. I became angry because I figured he was right, but I could not go back. I felt the urge to go forward and so did the others in the van save Xavier. No, we would not turn around. Aside from that drive to go that I shared with the other family members, I was not about to let a flat tire take away my goal to get to this conference. I did not make it to law school, but I WOULD make it to Conference!
“Get back in the van. I will change the tire myself. I don’t need your help” with that attitude. I left off that last part, though.
I did not want his help. I meant it, but I did need it. I do have health problems. There was no way I could change that tire with the tools I had and in my physical condition—heaven knows I tried! I do not believe either of us could have changed the tire in that cold weather we were unprepared to face. We had come from Phoenix, where it was hot! We did not expect freezing cold!
Afryka prayed quietly in the van as I prayed silently as I worked on the tire. The kids huddled together in the van for warmth as the temperature seemed to drop just because we had the nerve to drive in Utah at this time of day.
Aside from these real circumstances, I must admit, I spooked myself with stories that White people in Utah hated Blacks before we made the trip. I knew there were breakaway groups from the church in Utah that believed Blacks did not have souls. I just knew that one of those people would happen upon us and kill all the boys and take the women away to massacre them!
The GPS had told us to go the wrong way so many times—down dirt roads and towards spooky looking houses—I was frayed emotionally, but I could not let the family know. They were counting on me and my tire changing skills. I could feel the vinegar from the pickle we were in!
A truck drove by, turned around, parked yards away, and cut the engine. Out popped a man. Queue the suspenseful drama music that excites my faculties when it is on a movie screen, but not in reality.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony