Sunday, October 21, 2012

Timely Twenty One

The sisters being funny
NPS Photo by Peter Jones
Photo Source: Aggie Speleological Society
The Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge continues...

Timely Twenty One
The year I was building up to twenty-one, I was on the second year of my LDS mission. I was just overcoming the heartbreak from my Dear John letter and surviving a short hospital stay for food poisoning.

I also become really good friends with one of the sister missionaries, Sister Lane. She teaches me a little Navajo and I like the way she laughs. Maybe when I get home... but I can't think those thoughts right now.

The Wrath of God
I learned a valuable lesson on my twentieth birthday: don't tempt God.

See, I'd always wanted to see the Carlsbad Caverns and El Paso was a short, 3-hour drive from there. I expected to head North sometime during the next few transfers, so I got permission from the Mission President to go to the Caverns on my birthday. Nine of us set out that day and it was a blast! The caverns were more gorgeous than I remembered and we had all the fun of a road trip.

The tempting God part? Well... while I was in the gift shop I was getting some souvenirs for my family and the clerk, in fact ALL the clerks, were jerks. Geez, I thought, these people are jerks. I'm glad I'm not serving in this area.

So guess where I get transferred to? Yup. Carlsbad.

Areas of Service
I was transferred a couple months after my birthday, so I ended up only serving in two more areas during my last year: Carlsbad and Taylor Ranch.

Carlsbad is a small town in south eastern New Mexico. The nearest towns of note are at least an hour away, and Roswell is two hours. I meet some wonderful friends in Carlsbad and figure out that it must be the people in the National Park gift shops that are jerks. I also get to spend my last Christmas here, which is a plus because I have some lifelong friends here. I'm made a district leader, but the district is so small it's just our companionship and one other in a satellite town. I never get to go there. For all I know, it's bigger than Carlsbad.

My first companion in Carlsbad is named Casey and I felt like his older brother. Sometimes it felt like a love/hate relationship, but he was such a great guy the good times easily outweigh the bad. He's an outdoors man, and with my love of caves, we spend a lot of our time off out in the desert. Carlsbad has some really pretty country, especially if you like the desert. We hike a labyrinth cave and get lost. We drive out to Sitting Bull Falls and hike every trail there.

After New Year's, I get transferred to Taylor Ranch. It's a suburb of Albuquerque and lies on the west side of the Rio Grande. I'm five months late for the balloon festival in Albuquerque, but there's almost always a balloon in the air there. Sunday mornings I usually wake up to the roaring of a balloon passing over our apartment.

Photo Source: Kathy Teston
This was a hard area for me. While I love the people and the sights around Albuquerque, I get an extra dose of stress here. I'm promoted to zone leader and I'm now responsible for eleven other missionaries. Not to mention, my new companion is an arrogant jerk. Since this is the last six months before I go home, and even though I've loved my time as a missionary, I'm ready to go when my time is up.

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