I’m not going to lie about how disappointed I was when I was called to serve a mission to Phoenix, AZ. I didn’t maturely smile, hug my family and say “The Lord must need me to help His children in Arizona” and then call my folks and tell them the good news. In truth, I started crying as my fantasy of serving in Australia, where the men speak in the sexiest accent ever, slowly shriveled up and died a thousand deaths. I believe the first thought that went through my mind was “oh sh*t.”
I didn’t figure out why I was called to Arizona (aka: Hell) until I only had three months left to serve. I was able to see the Grand Canyon with some other missionaries. I stood there in awe for 2 whole minutes until it started to snow. Not getting my fill of the splendor of one of the 7 natural wonder’s of the world (only 6 more to go) I decided to buy a couple postcards for myself and also to send to my family. As we were returning home, I was writing a letter on the back of one of the postcards to my brother, Captain, who was on a mission in Japan. It was in that moment that I realized that Captain was the reason I was there in the “dry” heat of Arizona. My mind began to go over the events that would eventually lead me to spend 18 months of my life in the most forsaken land I had ever beheld…
Two and a half years previously; Captain and I decided to move from Washington to Utah to go to school (me) and for Captain to prepare for his mission. We were going to make the 12 hour drive in my cute little red car. We would take turns driving so the other one could sleep or read, pick our nose. We started out our journey with me driving; thinking of the adventures and boys to come. After a few hours I started getting tired so I asked Captain if he was ready to drive. He had a look on his face that I had seen many times, guilt, so I asked him what was wrong. He told me everything was fine, I glared him down until he admitted that he’d had his feet up on the dash and his sock got caught on the little vent adjusters (you know, the ones that you move to direct the air flow) and he’d ripped his sock and the vent right off. I was a little mad because I took care of my car and my brother had started with the same habits he had always had of destroying cars. I expected him to roll down his window and reach over and break the antenna off my car as he had done to every other car my folks had owned. He said he was sorry, I forgave him, we switched seats and commenced our journey. I started drifting off to sleep as I looked at the long stretch of road ahead of us. A long distance away I noticed something right in the middle of the road, as we got closer it kept getting bigger. About 20 yards away I realized it was a huge rock about the size of a basketball but with sharp jagged edges just reaching out to grab the oil pan of any car that tried to pass over it. I grew increasingly nervous as the rock continued to grow and Captain showed no indication of moving into the other lane. 10 feet from the evil rock I yelled Captain’s name and grabbed the wheel, pulling the car to the right (and in retrospect, running a good chance of getting us in a horrible accident) we swerved and missed the rock and Captain got made at me. I asked him what the heck he was doing, hadn’t he seen the rock? Oh, he saw the rock; he was going to swerved when he got close enough. I made him pull over and I drove the other 8 ½ hours to Salt Lake City.
I’ve been telling you this while story so you know why I did what I did to my little brother. He had already rubbed me the wrong way and so revenge was in order, something I too would learn. As we were driving through southern Idaho we decided to stop at one of the towns to get gas and grab something to eat. To get to the town, you had to cross a big bridge built over a large canyon. My brother, innocent little guy, asked me if this was the Grand Canyon. Never one to miss an opportunity to play a prank, I told him it was. “Isn’t it beautiful?” I asked him. “It’s so big, no wonder it’s one of the 7 Natural Wonder’s of the World.” The whole time we were driving across the bridge, Captain had his nose stuck to the window marveling over opportunity of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time in his life. Every once in a while he’d turn to me with a big smile and say “I can’t believe I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, I’m so happy.” You would think that at that point I would have said something, I didn’t, I was still mad about the “rock incident.” We ate and filled up the gas tank and made are way back across the bridge to find the freeway. Again, Captain was pressed up to the window admiring the size of the canyon and that a bridge had been built across it. Suddenly he turned to me and said “Can we stop? I really want a picture of me standing on the bridge over looking the Grand Canyon.” Now, is the reason I was sent to Arizona, I replied “Sorry, we’re on a time schedule, we don’t have time to stop for you to take a picture.” He nodded his head understandingly and turned around in his seat to see a last little glimpse of the Grand Canyon. The next hour was filled with his little murmurs of “I got to see the Grand Canyon” “That was so neat” “I can’t wait to tell everyone” It was at this point that my conscious kicked in. “Captain, that wasn’t the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is in Arizona and it’s so big that there’s no bridge (that I knew of) that you can drive across.” I can’t describe the look of devastation; I don’t mean disappointment, not sadness, nor dejection. I had broken his little heart.
And there I was, frying in the hot sun during the summer in Phoenix and as an added kick in my naughty rear, freezing in Flagstaff during the winter, with a postcard of the Grand Canyon writing to my brother. I ended with “Here’s a postcard of the Grand Canyon, I’ll have to bring you here sometime; we’ll take a picture.”