Sunday, December 28 – Oatman Mesa, AZ

Previously, I’d been told that services at the closest LDS congregation would start at 11 AM, so we enjoyed a very slow start to our Sunday morning. Gila Bend is over 45 road miles away, so we headed out a little after 10 AM. This is the only Sunday we’ve decided to attend church services in our 1840’s clothing. In general, we feel it would be a distraction to be the only “smelling like campfire smoke pioneers” at church.

This week however, we’re far from support vehicles, don’t have access to bathing facilities (other than hot water from the camp kettles) and putting on our “Sunday best” would require a dry cleaning to remove the smell we’ve developed in the past three days.

Upon arriving at the chapel a few minutes before 11, our group of thirteen slipped into a pew as the congregation was singing a song. I really hoped it was the opening song - just a tad early, but from the words spoken during the prayer following the song, it became obvious we had arrived at the END of services. Ouch! All that way for nothing.

But, bless their hearts, the congregation leaders offered to hold a special sacrament service just for us and invited anyone who wanted to stay to do so. While the branch president and his counselor blessed the sacrament, Dow and I were invited to pass the emblems of the Lord’s sacrifice to the group. It was an unexpected privilege since we’ve been on the trail so long.

After the sacrament, we were asked to offer some insights into our experiences. Much of our group expresses a new appreciation for what has gone before and how our few days together has influenced our lives, our perception of this small part of history and how we relate to it.

We make some arrangements for later in the week and head back to camp with gratitude for the kind reception we’ve had in Gila Bend. It’s a small congregation there, but truthfully, many congregations are very similar to Gila Bend; small, busy up to their eyeballs and trying to do the best they can.

Mid-afternoon, the Wilson’s get packed up and leave for home. They’ve came all the way from California to experience some connection to their heritage, both family and religious. We hope they enjoyed their time with us and are safe on their way home.

After dinner, Peter, Denny and I sigh with satisfaction and contented weariness. It’s been a very, very busy Christmas week for us and we look forward to a less demanding upcoming week.

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