32: On the Road Again
Stories in this episode: Brooke’s love of buying cars on eBay sends her on an epic road trip through Church history; an unexpected breakdown in a small town puts Cheryn’s family in the path of miracles; Retta discovers the power of reaching out when her travels to the Greek Isles land her in a precarious position.
KaRyn: Welcome to "This is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. I honestly don't think there's anything quite as satisfying as that moment on an airplane after you've been herded down the jetway, and you've listened to the safety instructions and put away all your devices. That engine starts to whir and your body lurches back against your headrest as you barrel down the tarmac for takeoff. I love that little stomach flip as the plane takes flight. Or what about when you finally settled into your spot in the backseat of the family station wagon, and you've got pillows tucked all around you and a huge bag of Twizzlers, not Red Vines, never Red Vines, and you're ready with the next installment of your book series. And don't even get me started on the virtues of trains and boats. I love traveling. There's just something about that space in between everything. Between where you've been and where you're going, that seems to ignite every ounce of my imagination. And listen, I'm also a huge fan of arriving at my final destination, especially if I've been squeezed into a middle seat in coach. But I think it's possible to focus so much on the endpoint that we might miss some of the beauty inherent in the act of getting there. This can be especially true of our spiritual lives as we labor in our faith. Well, in this episode of the podcast, forgive me for saying it, if course I have to say it, we are celebrating the joy we find in the journey. We've got three stories of travel and how the trips we take can become solid spiritual touchstones along the road of discipleship. Our first story comes from Brooke, whose epic solo road trip started with eBay, and ended with a very important lesson about where we put our time and our energy. Here's Brooke.
Brooke: Okay, I just need to tell you, I never wanted a new car. And when I say new car, I mean a used car because I don't buy new cars. And in my life, cars have always been a thing. I grew up with a dad who just had a thing for cars, not nice cars, not fancy cars, not fast cars, just cars. And when we would hang out together, he and my mom and I would go out to town. And we could cruise the used car lots. And that's what we did. And he tell us all the specs and the make and model and why this is good. And so I knew a lot about cars. And the funniest part about it is my dad had, you know, back in the early 90s, mid 90s, I guess discovered eBay. And so all of a sudden, this was a new source of cars. People would put a car on there for $1,000 and then the bidding war would start and then you just, you win or you don't, you know, and it was very exciting, this adrenaline rush, plus, you get a car out of it. And then, since my sister was a flight attendant, he would jump on a plane and, you know, go look at the car and usually drive it home to Montana. And so all through graduate school, I drove just kind of a clunker car that got me from here to there. I mean, they were kind of these, like it was an Acura, but it had like 200,000 miles on it. And if a car could get you from point A to point B, that's all we really needed. And so as we're nearing graduation, we're, all the classmates, are talking about what we're going to do with that first paycheck and what they're going to buy. And a lot of my classmates wanted, you know, a new car. And they were all driving clunkers, well, I was driving the clunker and I was totally fine with that. And I didn't need a new car. And my dad's eBay wisdom was working for me where I hadn't had a car payment, didn't need a car payment, didn't need a fancy car. Well, sure enough, my first day as a therapist, I am, you know, making a left-hand turn and another woman just went through a red light and t-boned me and totaled my car that I was just going to drive forever. So here I found myself needing a new car with the first paycheck that I was going to have as an adult. So what do I do? Look on eBay. I knew what kind of car I wanted. And again, nothing fancy. It was $8,000, which is more than I'd ever spent on a car. So I bid on this car, and I won and the car was in Florida. Great, perfect. So I get on an airplane and I fly to Florida to pick it up.
PILOT’S VOICE: Ladies and gentlemen this your captain speaking, prepare for takeoff.
Brooke: Now mind you, I'd done this the time or two. But this is probably the longest distance that I'd ever traveled to purchase the car. But you know, excited. I'd never really spent any time in Florida. I get the car, it's everything I thought it would be, it runs great. So I start driving. Of course, I was smart enough to pack a huge binder of CDs. This was actually 2005 and so I had a cell phone. But you know you didn't have music anywhere else besides CDs. And so I had a binder of CDs and realized very quickly that there were at least 40 hours of driving I was going to be doing and my CD and music selection was probably going to get boring, and definitely did. As I was flipping through my CD binder to find something new, I came across the CDs of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. So my dad had burned these CDs for me, probably, I don't know, maybe two or three years prior. And you know, going to school and I was working full time. Yeah, I just didn't think I had the time to, or maybe even didn't want to, you know, listen to the Book of Mormon. And I'm about 25 and I would say I'd kind of coasted in my life a little bit spiritually, I was focused.
I'm in the car, I'm somewhere around Tennessee, Nashville and I find these CDs of the Book of Mormon. I'm like, all right, well, all I got is time now, so maybe now's a good time to, to start listening. And I'd read the Book of Mormon a couple of times, just kind of going through the motions. So I pop in the CDs to start listening. And I was surprised like it was one of those CDs where, I can't remember the narrator, but he kind of comes in and gives a little inserts about what's happening in the Book of Mormon at that time. So it kind of helped me understand on a new level. And I was kind of like, oh, wow, I'm learning a lot here. This is great. I realized pretty quickly, like, Hey, I have all this time. And I don't really have to take this southern route home. Man, I could probably hit some church history sites like that's out here somewhere, right in the Midwest. So you know, I pull out my Atlas— and oh, I literally had an Atlas. There was no Google mapping at that time, or at least probably not that I was savvy enough to use. But yeah, I pull out the Atlas and realize like, Oh, hey, if I just went north a little bit, like I could hit Nauvoo. So I called my dad, which he was obviously well versed in road trips with all of his eBay car purchases. He's like, yeah, you should really yeah, you should go to Nauvoo and then you could hit Independence and Liberty Jail and you can kind of do that route. And I was like, cool.
So I start heading north, and I'd gotten, you know, probably halfway through the Book of Mormon and I realized, oh, I'm headed to these church history sites. And I have all these Doctrine and Covenants, CDs, maybe I should get some background. And so I popped in the CDs for the Doctrine and Covenants and started listening. You know, pioneer stories, that sort of thing we're never really a huge part of my life, my parents are converts and I didn't grow up in Utah. And so I just feel like I probably breezed over that in seminary and just, you know, thought, oh, must have been hard for them.
So as I'm listening to the Doctrine and Covenants, and I get to Nauvoo, again, never having been there before, and probably not really feeling the sacrifice and having the vision of that place. I was really just struck. I think when I walked up to Carthage Jail, and, you know, just reading the plaques and the story, again, I don't know how to explain it. It just, I mean, it touched me, it hurt a little, it felt like, how did I not know this? Or how did this even happen to our prophet? And I think that's really what it was, is that the Spirit confirmed to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet there. I mean, I feel like I knew that, kind of. Because honestly, if you would have asked me, I would have said, "Yeah, you know, I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet." And, of course, I believed that those people, the saints, and the pioneers made that journey, that was never a question in my mind, necessarily. But it was almost like this fable that had come true to me. You know, it's something that I'd heard for so long, but it was real. And the people were real. And their hardship was intense and real. I spent a long time in Nauvoo and it was the most gorgeous night. I mean, the sunset was incredible on the river. And I just sat there for a long time and I remember just lingering there. And I didn't leave until dark. I think I just, I think, really, my mind was blown.
So I finally I left Nauvoo and the next day drove to Independence, Missouri. And again, you know, now all the sudden, this, like fire was inside of me, like this curiosity. I was like, oh, give me all the church history. Why don't I know about any of this stuff? Like, who has been keeping this from me? And I'm calling my parents like, "Okay, what happened next? What's in the story?" Like what, you know, and where do I find all of this, and my dad is probably laughing at me. But I think he was also like, really eager to share, which was fun. I'm like still kind of listening to the Doctrine and Covenants and then the Book of Mormon, you know, I kind of switch back and forth. So I come to Independence, Missouri. Well, first of all, when you pull into a church history site, and there's missionaries and senior couples everywhere, and you know, people eager to show you the sites or help. And they're like, "Hey, what are you doing here?" And I said, "Oh, I'm on this road trip."
"Oh, why are you on a road trip?"
"Well, I bought a car. And I'm driving, you know, back home."
"Oh, well, who are you with?"
Well, I'm by myself."
And oh, that sets off alarms with these senior couples, they get very worried about you, by yourself. So I raised a lot of eyebrows, I think, and again, cool experience there. And that just kind of learning about what had happened there and drive from Independence to Liberty, Missouri. When I arrived there, I remember a senior missionary couple, greeting me and welcoming me and, you know, asking again my story about why I was alone, traveling, and I think I was the only one at Liberty Jail at that moment. And if you've been to Liberty Jail, you know, there's kind of a visitor center section, and then they walk you down where you can sit right in front of the room where Joseph Smith was held. They led me down to the jail area. And it felt a little awkward because this senior couple was kind of following me around a little bit and hovering, which was kind of nice. But then, she sat me there on the bench and we just kind of sat in silence for a minute. And then she left. And I was just alone. Before I got there, I had listened to the Doctrine and Covenants, to those verses that Joseph wrote during the jail and his hardships there. And so of course, my emotions were definitely on the surface. And I just was sitting there with this piece of history of the church. But I think even more than that, it was like the piece of the puzzle of just the restoration for me, the gospel, like what I believed in. I don't think I ever questioned that Joseph Smith was the Prophet, but he was so pivotal to this gospel, and that he, being a human, being flawed, just like the rest of us could receive such inspiration and guidance, and to set that example, that I can do the same thing. And I think I learned that in those moments, especially in Liberty Jail when he was at such a dark place, questioning himself probably, questioning was this revelation, was this his path? Was this what God wanted him to do? I mean, I think we've all been there. And if he did what he did, and all these saints did what they did, to bring forth this book, that I was now gaining this understanding of the Book of Mormon as I was listening, that I knew that my savior lived and, and died for me. So it was a moment that I'll never forget. And I feel so grateful to have had that time to just be quiet, and to listen, and to feel the words of the Book of Mormon, the words of Joseph Smith, and to feel their sacrifice. I mean, it really is, you know, kind of this anchoring point as the years go by, and a witness that I feel like I can never, that I can never deny.
When I got home from my road trip, I started back into work. But I realized, I think I realized what I was missing. There was this desire that had never been there before. I started taking three Institute classes. I just, I just that's what I wanted to do. I took a church history class, and I think I had an institute three or four times a week, different classes. And the funniest part about it is that's how I met my husband at an institute class. But to have a desire as now "adult" to learn, and really, like, dive into the gospel. I feel like Heavenly Father knew that I was kind of coasting. And I, you know, I've done that since. There are definitely moments that I coast in my spirituality. I remember saying this in church, actually, this year, when we change to the "Come, Follow Me" program. And I was like, oh, man, wait a minute, this isn't being spoon-fed to me anymore. And I think that's what that road trip taught me is that I have to seek after it, I have to go after it. I have to make the time, I have to be present, be open to learning, be quiet. Because I can coast, I can fake it and if I don't take the time, I won't receive a witness. I won't have that desire, that fire to make my testimony grow, unless I'm quiet, unless I take the time.
KaRyn: That was Brooke. Since that road trip, years ago, Brooke's eBay car-buying criteria has changed just a little bit to include room for four more people and some car seats. And as you can imagine, the time for quiet seeking is even harder for her to find. But that's the whole point of Brooke's story, right? We have to choose to keep the fire of our testimony even when, and especially when it's harder to do. I also find it so interesting that it wasn't until Brooke was on the road with a relatively solid plan that God offered her the opportunity to take that detour that would affect her testimony so powerfully. Maybe those unexpected but holy deviations in our path are the place where God finally has our attention fully enough to show us something new. And I also think that whether they are thrust upon us, or offered as an option, we have a choice to show up to those detours with a curious heart to learn what he wants us to learn along the way. Our next story comes from Cheryn and while it's also about a car and a road trip, her experience is so unique and so surprising that we couldn't help but share it here Cheryn.
Cheryn: Around Christmas time my family had gone to visit my grandparents who lived in Preston, Idaho. When it was time for our trip to end, we headed home. We were going along and as per normal for a family road trip, our car broke down. My dad got out of the car to see what was wrong. And if it was something that he could fix, but it was so cold. And the thermometer said that it was 17 below outside and that didn't take into account the wind chill factor and it was crazy windy. It was so windy I remember sitting in the van and it was just shaking from the wind blowing it. And he kind of looked to see if there was anything obvious that he could see and he got back in the car. And we said a prayer. And I remember that we prayed that we could figure out what was wrong, that we could get somewhere where we could fix it or that we would you know at least get home safely. As we waited in the car, a state trooper stopped and he asked us what was going on. And he actually called the tow company for us. So we were towed to the closest town which was on the border of Utah and Nevada. Now I had six kids in my family growing up. And this was before you could ride in the car as it was being towed. And so we had to all pile into the cab of a tow truck with the driver. And it was so crowded and cramped and crazy. And the tow truck driver kept asking my brother to get his foot off of the accelerator because there was just no room and his foot kept spilling over into his space and he'd move his leg and his knee would pop the gears out of place. We were very cramped, there was a lot of groaning as we would turn or hit a bump and a lot of laughing. We just laughed so hard because it was exactly something that would happen to us on a vacation. But we ended up at a gas station.
We all slithered out of the tow truck as our legs were numb from sitting in those positions for so long. As we were there at the gas station, my dad was trying to figure out what was going on. But it was so bitterly cold that taking his gloves off, it just was killing his hands. And so he couldn't have his gloves off for very long, which made it difficult to figure out what was going on and how to fix it. Meanwhile, the kids, you know, it was just an adventure for us. We were running all around trying to stay warm and to stay positive and play. One by one, we each needed to use the restroom. And so my mom, you know, first she took my oldest brother, they went to the bathroom and came back and five minutes later another had to go. And then later another had to go. And so she kept going back to this gas station bathroom. And you could tell that they were not very happy with us there. She even bought snacks to try and you know, say well, we're customers, can we use your restroom? But they were getting irritated. And by the time my youngest sister had to go to the bathroom, my mom was feeling a little insecure about the thought of using the restroom again. And so instead, we walked down a little ways to a little cafe that was open so that we could use their bathroom.
When we walked into the restroom, I saw a woman from my Sacramento, California ward in the bathroom. And I said, "Mom, look!" And they, you know, they looked at each other and they recognized each other and they started chatting.
"Well, what are you doing here?"
"Well, we were visiting family, we're headed home. What are you doing here?"
“Well, we were visiting family, but our car broke down. And so we're stuck here just trying to figure out where we go from here."
And as they chatted about it, they decided that they were not going to leave us until they knew that we could get home safely. And so they joined our family at the gas station. And the two dads together tried to fix the car. And after not having any success with that, decided that they were going to use the 20-foot tow rope that my dad had in the car, and they were going to tow us home. So most of my family joined them in their van. And they had a lot of kids too. I can't remember exactly how many they had, but I think that there were about 13 of us in their van. And it was a, you know, big passenger van. And I think if I'm remembering correctly that all of the seats were taken out except maybe a couple of them. So we were just a pile of kids, tons of blankets, lots of pillows. And I remember being very warm. I remember being in there very tight and snuggly and secure. And we were singing and playing games and falling asleep on each other.
But my parents and my older brother had a very different ride home. They rode in our van and it had no power to keep them warm. So they were bundled up in sleeping bags. They were just really cold in the van riding home and trying to keep that tow rope tight. We were traveling home over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which were very, you know, it was the middle of winter, so it was really icy and very slippery. There were five times that the driver of the good van would, the brother and our ward would start too fast and the rope would snap. It snapped five times. And they would stop and you could just feel, you know the van as a kid, I just remember thinking, oh, you know, there's a little extra power here. And that's because the tow rope had snapped and they'd have to pull over, back up to my parents. They'd get out, retie the rope, and we'd be on the road again. We really finished our trip with about seven foot of the rope left because it had snapped and broken so many times. So they ended up taking us all the way home from the border of Utah and Nevada to Sacramento, California to our little suburb of Alberta. And they dropped us off at our house. I remember thinking how grateful I was. And I remember, at 10 years old, how that experience solidified my testimony of prayer and that prayers are answered. Because we got home, we didn't know, you know, we didn't fix it. We hoped we could fix it, we hoped we'd be able to get ourselves home. And it didn't work that way. But because of the love of our neighbors that we found in a bathroom, in the middle of nowhere, 520 miles away from home, we were able to get home and they were willing to make their trip home harder in order to get us home safely. Through the years I've thought about this, as my struggles have come personally or as a parent now with a family of my own. There are times that you just you feel maybe a little defeated. But I know, because of this experience that I had when I was 10 years old with my family, that prayers are heard and answered. And you never know how they're going to be answered. And you never know who's going to answer them. I just hope that someday that I can be the hands of the Lord in the life of someone else who needs a miracle.
KaRyn: That was Cheryn. We received Cheryn's story from our pitch line and while I love the miracle of bumping into her board member at a random cafe, I honestly think my favorite part was the role the grumpy gas station owners played in helping God's work get done. It's a total testament to me that our Heavenly Father can use every circumstance, including people who are not having their best human moment, to show us His goodness. It's an invitation for all of us to give everyone in our stories, including the ones behaving badly, just a little more grace than we might otherwise.
Our final story of travel comes to us from Retta, who despite her best attempts to learn the language, found her communication skills lacking when she was struck with a sudden illness on a trip overseas. Here's Retta.
Retta: I don't really consider myself an adventurous person, although I love to travel. Even though I really wanted to see the theater of Dionysus and the theater of Epidaurus, Greece seemed a little far. It just seemed a little too exotic and out of my comfort zone to go there. So when my son called and said their friends had backed down on a trip that they had planned for Greece, my husband and I were up for it, a little nervous, but we thought it'd be really fun and I thought it'd be pretty exciting to see the Parthenon. My daughter-in-law had planned this trip out to the T, we knew exactly how many days we were in Athens, how many days were in the Peloponnese. Everything was planned out, where we were staying, everything. So we felt secure about that, it's just the difference in culture, language. I had tried to learn some Greek before I left. I put an app on my phone and found out how terrible I am about languages. I kept getting the wrong consonant sound. I couldn't say much. That made me really nervous because I like to at least know how to say, "Where's the restroom? How much does this cost? Is it left of the building," or, or whatever, just little common things that you could say. It took me forever to learn to say "thank you" and "hi" in Greek. And it just seemed impossible to me. When I landed in Athens, we took a bus into town which took about an hour and a half. It was like a spiritual experience looking up and seeing the Acropolis and the Parthenon up there. I took my breath away every time I looked at it. I've been a high school and middle school theatre teacher for many, many years, so it was exciting to see all of the things that I had been teaching all those years.
So we're moving along on the agenda, and everything's going wonderful, but I'm starting to feel some pain. And I have had some health issues a number of years ago. So I knew exactly where this was headed. And I started to get a little concerned that I was going to be very sick because it comes on pretty rapidly. So we had, for our next destination, just a little town. And by this time, I'm really not feeling well. We arrived in the early evening, we had dinner, I'm starting to feel more and more pain and feeling more and more concerned. And we are in lodging that's called the "Captain House." And it's a beautiful, redecorated home that that's very old and historic. But I can barely enjoy it now because I am feeling so much pain. And I asked my husband if he could give me a blessing. Because in the past when this happened, I would end up in the hospital and I had surgery. He didn't have any oil, but he gave me a comfort blessing. And he started to search on his iPhone for some medical facilities. We found out there were no medical facilities. We were like two and a half hours to three hours away from Athens. We were out in the middle of nowhere, literally. And in this little town of Galaxidi, they had a clinic that was open once a week from seven to 10 on Monday morning, and that was it. This was Friday night and I knew that would not make it, especially when we're supposed to fly out Sunday.
So he looked around in the area to see if there was anything that was even available. And he found a little Hospital in a little place called Amfissa and it was a half-hour away. But that was the closest thing. So we thought, that's a possibility. But as the pain increased, I just really felt the strong need to reach out to some of my friends and my niece to pray for me. Now, this is really unusual. This is not something I do, I feel very private about health issues. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers for other people. I just didn't think that this is something that I needed to ask for. So this was really unusual. And my husband was shocked when he asked me, "What are you doing?" And I said, "I'm texting to have my friends pray for me." And he gave me a strange look because he knew this was very, very unusual. And then he, I think he thought is that bad that you really feel like you have to ask people to pray. In fact, I was getting to the point where I just felt like I needed to go home. And it was just ridiculous. The flights were like 10-hour layovers in London, another layover in New York would've been like 20 hours. And I knew with this kind of pain, I would not make it. So what we decided is that in the morning, if I could make it through the night, we would drive up to Amfissa, the little town that had the hospital. I think the blessing helped me through the night, I really do. I know the Heavenly Father could have just stopped the pain and healed me right then, but that didn't seem to be the answer that I needed. But I did make it through the night. So I felt blessed. I felt like I had been blessed. So my son drove us 30 minutes away up to the little hospital. And when we pulled into the emergency entrance, we pulled clear and back at the hospital because we didn't know how to get to the front. And you went in and there was a little desk and the two doctors that were on duty were around that little desk talking. And then there were three beds, not far from that desk where, I guess, they'd put people who'd come in for the emergency. And I thought, "Oh, dear." It was so different than our medical facilities in the United States. But they asked me what was wrong. My son understood some Greek, but not anything medically. And I couldn't say anything but hello, or thank you. But the two doctors did speak some English. And then they had explained to me that I needed a blood test and some lab work. When they got the results, they called me in and said they were actually quite surprised that the infection was as bad as it was. They said, "You need to stay in the hospital tonight." This was Saturday and we were supposed to fly out of Athens for Naxos the next day, that was the next step of our agenda. And I was going to ruin the trip for everyone. And I said I can't stay in the hospital tonight, we're supposed to fly to Naxos tomorrow. And the doctor looked at me horrified, "You can't go to Naxos." And I said, "Well, I can't stay here." I said, "Is there a train or some way I can get to Athens from here?" And she said, "No, I'm sorry." And I said, well, then I have to leave with my family tomorrow. I was starting to panic because the pain was really, really severe at this point. It was nonstop, it didn't even let up. I didn't know what I was going to do. And then she told me I had to stay in the hospital that night. And I thought I can't do this. It's going to ruin it for everybody and I have no way to get home. So I was really panicking. And she looked at me and she said, "Well, what we can do is admit you and put an IV in with some very strong antibiotics and just see what it's like from there." And I said, "Please," because that sounded like our only option. So she sent me up on the second floor.
No one, and I mean, no one was in the hospital. A nurse came in who didn't speak English at all, and she let me know, "No English." That was what she said, don't even attempt to speak English to me, because I don't understand one word. So we would gesture, but she put the IV in. They said that this would take till five o'clock. That was the time my son was supposed to come back and pick us up. And the doctor came in to talk to me for a little bit. And she said, "Are you sure you can't stay tonight?" And I told her that wasn't a possibility. So she gave me a very strong prescription that we need to fill at the pharmacy and gave me, before they took the IV out, a very strong painkiller. And that is the last pain I had. It was like a miracle. Because the doctor had told me I would not feel well. She still tried to talk me out of the flight, she said, "You will not feel well tomorrow, you could probably go to the even the next day where you're not going to feel well." But the minute I left that hospital, I felt better. And I kept feeling better and better until the next morning. I literally woke up and felt great and I knew that I could get on the flight to Naxos. I made it through the rest of the trip without any further incident. I took it easy, but I was fine. When we finally landed in Naxos, I texted my friends and my niece back because they were concerned how I was and had found out that not only had they prayed, but they had texted their extended family and had them pray. And my niece called and had my name placed on the prayer roles in two different temples. Besides the blessing my husband gave me, I really felt like their prayers were answered. I guess it was just— this was a time where I needed to learn that sometimes you're in a situation where you need more than your faith. Sometimes Heavenly Father wants you to know that you have to ask others to help you. And as uncomfortable as that may be, to ask other people to pray for you, sometimes maybe that is going to be your only solution. That their prayers, their faith, sometimes when you're feeling weak, and not strong enough, their prayers can get you through it. And maybe that's why I wasn't just healed immediately. Whoop dee doo, I'm, you know, I'm healed, you know. So maybe that's what I had to learn, that no matter where you are, even if you're in a little remote area in Greece, where you don't speak the language, where you don't have access to church members or the most up-to-date medical facilities, I could have other people pray for me, and that I was taken care of.
KaRyn: That was Retta. When we were recording this story. I was so surprised to hear her say that while she believed that her prayers for others reached the heavens, she wasn't sure that prayers from others could help her. Because I have truly never met a person who embodies generosity of spirit more than Retta. But I actually think that the lesson she learned is one that we could all use, I know I could use it. If it was only so easy to strike that balance between selflessly extending God's love to others while also believing ourselves worthy of God's love, I don't think the Savior would have had to spell it out so clearly when he told us that greatest commandment to love others as we love ourselves. Asking for help and seeking support is one of the most self-loving things we can do. And sometimes, I think it can take a lot of courage to believe that we're worthy of it, and welcome to it. But the thing that struck me about Retta's story is that God knew. He prompted her to reach out and when she courageously obeyed, she was blessed to know just how He felt about her. We have one more part of Retta's story that I wanted to share. It's short, but I think it's important. Here's Retta.
Retta: I do have to say, though, I listened to "This is the Gospel." The night I was in pain, I sat and listen to other people's stories. And I particularly listened to the podcast about the simple things. And when the lady told about the story about the woman from Nigeria, bringing her a cup of sugar, it really touched my heart and gave me the strength to spiritually stay strong, even though I was so frightened.
KaRyn: There's this part of any trip that doesn't work really make the cut when we're picking out all the pretty pictures for our Instagram feed. It's that moment when you've been driving for seven hours and everyone else is asleep, but you. You're in the middle of nowhere and the radio is just a mishmash of jumbled signals. You're tired, but you have to keep going because what waits for you on the other end of the cornfields on those never-ending cornfields is something worth driving toward. Or maybe it's that dark night in a Greek hospital bed, wondering if the pain will subside in time for you to make it to your scheduled flight off the island. Those lonely moments where exhaustion and doubt and even boredom threatened to derail our hope is the exact moment when we need our fellow travelers to find us. Of course, God knows where we are, but He definitely expects us to help illustrate it to one another. To meet each other on the road or in the cafe bathroom on the border of California and Nevada. He needs us remind one another that our travels are worth it and that we are connected to something more than ourselves. He wants us to walk together as we traverse the sometimes rocky terrain toward our Savior. And isn't it amazing to think that your stories, our stories, can do this for one another even when we can't be there in person? We give each other strength in the middle of our travels and detours and dark nights when we bear witness of His goodness with our authentic true experiences. They don't have to be perfect, we don't have to be perfect. We just need to show up and get on the road, He'll take care of the rest.
That's it for this episode of "This is the Gospel." Thank you to Cheryn and my friends Brooke and Retta for sharing their stories and their testimony. We'll have the transcript of this episode as well as some fun pictures from Brooke and Retta's stories in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. That's ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. Go to the episode and then down at the bottom you'll see the transcript and the show notes. So head on over. We love hearing from you on our pitch line. If you have a story to share, leave us a short three-minute pitch, a story pitch at 515-519-6179. You can find out what themes we're working on right now by following us on Instagram and Facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast. And don't forget to tell us about your experience with this episode or with the whole podcast. Take the time to leave a review on the Apple Podcast app or on Bookshelf PLUS+ from Deseret Book. Believe it or not, your reviews actually help us to move up in the rankings on Apple, which helps more people find it, and couldn't everyone use a little more storytelling in their lives?
This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay, with story producing from Katie Lambert. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios and our executive producer is, as always, Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts. Have a great week.