Elder Devin Kirk

Elder Devin Kirk
I am blessed to be the messenger that is permitted to bring this joyful message to those who are in great need. I have authorization from our Savior, Jesus Christ, to represent Him in this part of the world. I am given the ability to work miracles in the lives of the people. I am guided by His Spirit in all that I do and say. I am given power to testify boldly to all who will listen that Jesus is the Christ and that He has restored His Gospel in these days and that all can be forgiven and receive the blessings of living this Gospel. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have to be called to this position and be blessed with this assignment.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Arizona Week 34 - The Hike

Hey everyone,

This week had a lot going on. On Thursday, we went to the Gilbert Temple Open House with a family that wants to be sealed in the temple. It's a beautiful temple! And big! In fact, it's the biggest temple built in the last 17 years and its main sealing room is the largest in the Church with the ability to contain 80 people. The main motif throughout (and I mean throughout) is the AGAVE plant symbolizing learning from those before you and interweaving with past generations. It’s a wonderful message to send to people and to remember in the House of the Lord.

Also, we have had two wonderful experiences with fasting this week. I may have mentioned that our area will be splitting this coming transfer so that the two wards we cover will each have their own set of missionaries. Because of this, we have been trying to get more work in the more neglected of the two wards so that the missionaries who will be there after the next transfer don't suffer so much. We fasted on Friday for help in this endeavor. JUST as we were breaking our fast (the only closer to the exact moment of breaking the fast would be if my teeth were actually touching the food) we received a phone call from one of the members of this ward. She asked if we could come and teach one of her tenants on the coming Tuesday. She explained that she had been feeling prompted to ask him if he would like to learn more, and he agreed. The second experience with fasting came from the stake fast for snow. About the time that most people would begin their fast (after dinner on Saturday) sure enough the clouds rolled in and the snow began. We received roughly 3 inches of snow in answer to our fasting and prayer.

Now to the crazy story from which this email receives its title; it is long but I promise you will enjoy it. Here we go:

Remember Old 9? That truck that we are using that has basically unlimited miles...yeah. So, we were trying to plan what crazy things we would do on Monday (our preparation day) with our unlimited miles. We finally decided that we would like to go way out to the boundary of the Ward near a ski resort called Sunrise. So, Monday came, we emailed, shopped, got changed, and hit the road. In about 30 - 40 minutes we got to Sunrise. And then we went 2 miles past it to where the road is closed. We parked the truck so that we could look around. The time now was roughly 2:30 or 2:40.

In the distance, my companion could see a hill that was black. Probably just burnt but let's check it out! We crawled through the barbed wire fence and began our trek. The terrain was that of plains but rather bumpy and populated with many rocks and stones that tormented our feet. As we walked, we looked back periodically to see if the truck was still within sight. The truck is red; not too hard to miss.

So we continued. We crested a very small hill where the plains bottlenecked between a fence on our left and some dense wooded area to our right. We now entered the second portion of the plains that was fairly larger than the first. The hill we were aspiring to get to was a tad bit further than it had originally seemed. How deceptive. Yet we continued. Once we arrived at the base of the hill the confirmation of its burnt nature came to us. However, we had not come this far to stand at the base.

We began our ascent. About 1/4 of the way up we spotted some movement toward the crest. Elk! A herd of elk numbering about 50. Whoa! Never having encountered elk before, we called the man whose garage we live in to ask about the characteristics of their behavior. The reply we received was, "I wouldn't go pet one..." Alright, keep our distance but don't be afraid to keep climbing. Sure enough, they fled before we got much closer.

We continued the climb, and were becoming very winded, our pace decreased. We finally reached the top. The time was now 4:30. The plan was to climb up the bare face of the hill and come back down through the forested, un-burnt portion, go across the plains again and back through the forest part (where the bottle neck was) followed by the other portion of plains and back to the truck. --- Allow me to pause for a moment to describe our attire and equipment. For attire, I am wearing a pair of jeans and Vans shoes, a t-shirt and a canvas type jacket. My companion is wearing Athletic shoes, a pair of shorts, and a t-shirt. Our equipment included our phone and our cameras. Water, we had none. Food, I brought a single granola bar that I had just consumed. Now that you have a visual of our preparation, I will continue. --- We began our descent through the woods. It took us less time to go back down the hill than it had going up. We started across the plains towards the trees, shooting for the right side of them so that we would be roughly where we came through in the first place. As we walked, we begin to realize that we had been walking across a frozen marsh near a frozen pond. Hmmm...don't remember that. After we gingerly walked through the frozen waste (breaking through the ice occasionally) we arrived at the trees with cold wet feet.

There was a good amount of snow cover in these woods. We tried to walk across the top but with little success. We trudged through snow that was about calf-deep. It was very pretty through this area, and we were enjoying snapping pictures. I realized that the sun was starting to descend behind the mountains in the distance. I picked up the pace of climbing this much-bigger-than-expected hill when the snow deepened in an instant. When I say it deepened I am talking hip deep. My entire leg was below the level of the snow, and I continued that way all the way to the top of the hill (about 15-20 more steps).

Finally, we arrived at the top just in time to catch a picture of the sunset (the reason I sped to the top). Beautiful!

But there was a fence in front of us that was travelling perpendicular to the direction we expected. After a few moments, we realized that we were in the wrong bunch of trees. From the perspective of the top of the black hill we were on the right side of the section of trees to the right of the woods we wanted to be in. Between us and where we supposed to be was a frozen pond. With great difficulty, we crossed this frozen pond breaking through again and again as we went. So now, we didn't just have snow in our shoes but they were also soaked with ice water. The sun was down now…let's just establish that. We got to the bottleneck and couldn’t remember if we had come in along the fence line or if we gone cross country. We decided to travel at a slight angle away from the fence in the direction we assumed would land us right at the truck. With the sun down, the rocks and stones along the way tormented us all the more. Blistered feet with stubbed toes were attached to our bodies with twisted and strained ankles. Then, in the low light we could make out a pile of bones that had been picked clean by some predator. Companion began to worry about coyotes. I had wolves on my mind. – When we told people about this experience, they expressed that they were glad that bears hadn’t gotten us. -- We resolved to move back toward the fence hoping that it would lead to where we needed to go. This fence was not one that we remembered but we assumed it would lead to a fence that we did recognize. We paused for a moment along the way to again call the man whose garage we live in. We told him that we couldn’t find our truck. "You lost your truck?" he asked. "No", we replied, "We're lost." We told him that we figured we could find our way back but also told him that we would call him in 20 minutes or so. We then came to a fence that was perpendicular to the one we were following. Not knowing how turned around we had gotten; we prayed to know which way to go. After the close of our prayer, we looked to the right, and then to the left and there, off in the distance, was a little blinking light that was barely visible. We figured that it was a good sign of which direction we should go. We walked for about 15 minutes along that fence, and we come to another fence. In the darkness, we didn’t realize that our truck was literally 10 feet from this fence. We finally noticed it, crawled through the fence, got into the truck and we were safe. The light that we had seen earlier was the "road closed" sign that I mentioned at the beginning of my story. The time was now 6:50 and the outside temperature was 26 degrees. Needless to say, we learned a good lesson about preparation from this adventure. And boy, have we been using this in our lessons to teach doctrinal principals through spiritual parallels.

Anyway, I am safe and well. I hope you all enjoyed my thrilling story. Have a great week.

Elder Kirk

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