Sunday, March 30, 2008

Though I Drove through the Valley of Death...

Today I did my visiting teaching, and for those who don't know what that is, it is a program set up for the women of our church to strengthen, assist, and to edify one another. This month we were given the opportunity to select a message from the current Ensign magazine that is published by our church and I happened to choose the article entitled Faith in Jesus Christ by Elder Russell M. Nelson. My focus was more on the concept of the Faith of a Child and what that could mean to me. I related a story from my "wild days" and it brought to mind many wonderful images and I wanted to share them with you.

In the Fall of 2000, I was given the opportunity to assist a graduate student in collecting water samples in her study site, Death Valley National Park. First off, yes there is water there, and second off, Fall is not the best time to go. However, I found it to be an amazing place - one I would have never have thought to take a trip to but now I can't wait until I can go again. Here are some pics to set the stage (sorry they are freebies off the web, my scanner isn't working and my pics were pre-digi-camera life)

Dante's View - a serene view and has long since been one of my favorite viewpoints
Artist's Palette formations - kind of reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream

Scotty's Castle - proof that someone thought that this place was inhabitable. Really, a beautiful oasis of sorts, built in the 20s.

I love the race track playa because it fits in the "weird science" categories. These rocks have obviously moved across the surface and it is theorized "that the elements of strong wind, and a wet surface need to be present. The dry lake is composed of silt deposits. Silt, when wet is as slippery as ice. If you introduce a strong enough wind force, a rock with a reasonably 'high' profile, can be pushed along the surface. The larger the rock, the greater the wind force required. Some tracks are as straight as an arrow, others seem to wander back and forth, even doubling back on themselves. Rocks vary in size from five or six pounds, to nearly seven hundred."

Ok, my story:
We, me and the grad student gal, went on this trip in a department truck, alone, and most of our sampling areas were extremely remote. We were driving along one dirt road and we happened to get the belly (excuse my terminology) of the truck caught in a deep section of the road between the tires. Our wheels were literally off of the ground. Oh, I forgot to mention this was pre-cell phone life too. So here we are, trying to stuff rocks under the tires, pushing the truck and it just wont budge. We were both getting a bit stressed out as hiking out wasn't a fun option and the heat in the open sun gets to be pretty intolerable.

After what seemed like ages of desperate attempts, we decided that we needed to enlist the Lord's help and I gave a simple prayer (I specifically remember giving thanks for a lot of things which strikes me as weird in this type of situation). After the prayer we decided to try one more time and the Lord saw fit to release us from that trial and we were shortly free and on the road again. We were obviously very grateful.

Well, not more than an hour later, on another obscure road, we blow out a tire. But I remember very clearly that I, without any hesitation this time, knew that things were going to be fine and we would find a way out of this new trial. Now, let me back this up by saying that I am a chronic worrier so this was not like me to be fine and dandy with this. I think we both felt extremely calm about it all, I seem to remember that we laughed at first impulse. Sure enough, not ten minutes later, someone drives by, again very remote area and the chances of them doing so were very slim. They helped us change the tire (which was bolted on too tight for us anyway) and we were on our merry little way.

I imagine the faith of a child is somewhat similar to my reaction to the second instance - without any hesitation, no questions asked, an instant belief that everything is as the Lord has planned and will be better soon. I wish I felt that way more often. Instead I often catch myself worrying, stressing, and questioning what is in store for me. Maybe it is with age or experience or just plain me-stubbornness. I am not perfect and while the Lord doesn't expect us to reach perfection in this life in many things (can I think of many more?), I do like what is said in 2 Nephi 31:20“Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”


  1. Nice post--and I love the virtual trip to Death Valley.

  2. Thanks for sharing that story, Jackie. I loved it and it reminds me of similar experiences where you just think nothing more could go wrong, but you're able to stay calm and with prayer it all works out fine.


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