He Carried Us Up the Mountain

He Carried Us Up the Mountain

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

He Carried Us Up the Mountain

And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.

Ether 12:18

We were the last of the entourage, Kari Ludwig and I, charged with getting two very reluctant young women up Fairview Canyon to camp. Because of both our schedules and theirs, we had to leave a day later than everyone else—and, on top of that, we had to leave much later in the afternoon than I had planned. One of the girls was my own: Jessica had stubbornly resisted going to camp and had acquiesced only when I assured her that I would be there with my own car—and that she could let me know at any time if she absolutely had to go home. The other young woman was a stubborn, rebellious, but beautiful girl who lived through the back field from us—the little sister of Jessica’s best friend. Shortly before six, we finally tucked the last of our supplies into the trunk, said a heartfelt prayer for safety and guidance, and started on the two-hour drive to Camp MIA Shalom.

The camp, nestled at the top of Fairview Canyon in central Utah, is sheltered by towering pines, fringed by delicate aspens and dotted with wildflowers. Groups of tents are clustered along the hilly terrain that spills from the main pavilion. A shimmering lake, fed by babbling streams that cascade through the trees, divides the camp into two main sections. Tall grasses stand sentinel at the shores, waving gently in the breeze that keeps the camp cool during even those hours when the sun is at its highest point in the cloudless sky. To get there takes an hour over well-traveled paved roads to the town of Fairview, then an ascent over winding, gradually narrowing mountain roads. Located almost at the top of the canyon, the turnoff is a rocky unpaved section of roadway that hairpins through the pines until it reaches camp.

We made the first hour of the trip without incident— Kari and I laughing and visiting in the front seat, Jessica and Amber hunched angrily in the back, heads buried in their pillows. Every once in a while one of them would interject something into our conversation, usually a defiant expletive about being forced to go to camp.We did our best to keep the spirit in the car light and happy, and even elicited a chuckle or two.

We stopped in Fairview at a convenience store where I filled the car with gas. Kari treated everyone to a round of ice cream treats, I bought a bag of red licorice, and we started up the road that would lead us to the top of the canyon. It was unseasonably hot for the second week in June, and I ran the air conditioner as we started up and around the curves that had been engineered into the rocky mountainside. About one-fourth of the way up the canyon, the car began to stall; after a few sputtering lurches, it stopped completely.

Kari and I looked at each other. The air outside was heavy with heat and oppressively silent; the only sound that broke the stillness was the occasional chirp of a cricket. The sun skirted near the edge of the horizon, and we knew it would soon be dark. We knew, too, that the road was traveled only twice a week: once by the caravans going up to camp, and again five days later when they came back down. Despair flooded my heart. Should we try to walk back to Fairview? And what about those at camp who were waiting for us—two of the leaders—to arrive? What would we do with the girls, who at their best refused to cooperate with even the simplest requests? It was clear to us that the adversary didn’t want Jessica and Amber to partake of the spiritual feast that awaited them at camp. . . .

After a few minutes of quietly controlled conversation, we decided on the obvious solution: We would petition Heavenly Father in great faith and humility to help us get to camp.We knew we had no other options. The girls bristled and shrugged off the suggestion with snickers, but we invited them to participate. With bowed heads and pleading hearts, first I and then Kari asked Heavenly Father for help. We spelled out to Him our vulnerable situation and confirmed that He was our only source of rescue.

No one in the car spoke as we concluded with the final “Amen.” The four of us sat, heads still bowed, drinking deeply of a sweet and assuring Spirit that brought comfort and peace. Within a minute or two, we heard the lazy drone of an engine; as we looked up, we saw two men in a green pickup truck grind to a halt in front of our disabled car. Both ambled out of the truck and approached us, smiling. They were covered with dirt and grease; their sweat-stained shirts were worn, and their Levi’s were torn and patched. “You ladies need some help?” one of them asked, ducking his head in the window.

The girls stayed in the car while Kari and I popped the hood and stood helplessly by while the two inspected the tangle of hoses and metal. After some grunts and groans, the two exchanged knowing looks and then explained our dilemma: The car was in serious trouble. In no way was it safe—or even possible—to climb the rest of the way up the mountain. Our best bet, they said, was to try to coast down the road we had just traveled, back to the hamlet of Fairview, where we could possibly find a mechanic who could work on it in the morning. The taller of the two rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You want us to follow you down the mountain, just to make sure you make it?” he asked. Against all logic, I shook my head. “No, we’ll be fine,” I said, “but thanks so much for the offer.” They shrugged with wonder and clamored back into the truck. Within less than a minute, they were out of sight, and the cover of dusk was creeping up the mountain to where we sat, disabled at the edge of the road.

“We can do this,” I told the girls. Kari nodded. “Heavenly Father will help us. We’re expected at camp, and that’s where we’re going.” The girls were incredulous.

“What?” Jessica cried. “You heard them! We can’t make it! We’ll get stuck in the dark!” The angry tears stung her cheeks; Amber stared sullenly out the window.

“Yes, we will make it,” I said softly. “Heavenly Father will help.” Outside the car, as the sun rapidly disappeared below the distant horizon, Kari and I dropped to our knees in the grasses at the side of the road and offered a desperate prayer. Settled back in the front seat, I started the ignition and eased back onto the road. The car hummed quietly and drove smoothly, with no sign of engine trouble.

Within a minute or two, I glanced into the rearview mirror and saw with relief that another car was behind us. “Look!” I said to the girls. “There’s a car behind us!We’ll be just fine. If anything happens, they can help us.” The girls turned around and rested their heads on the back of the seat, gazing at the car that kept a close distance behind our own. As we ascended higher and higher up the mountain without incident, I monitored it closely as well. Its pair of bright headlights stayed in perfect sync with us as we rounded curves and negotiated sharp turns. “I wonder if they’re going up to camp?” I asked Kari. “There’s really nothing else up here, unless they’re going over the mountain to Scofield.”

By the time we reached the turnoff to camp, the darkness was inky black, broken only by the beams of our headlights and theirs. Approaching the turnoff, I slowed perceptively in order to make the turn onto the rocky, unpaved road—and I watched in the rearview mirror to see if the other car would follow or would ease around to our right and continue down the road. I blinked with astonishment to see the headlights vanish.

I punched the brakes and slammed to a stop. The girls bolted upright. Kari looked at me with surprise. “The car,” I stammered, “it’s gone.” All four of us turned around and intently gazed through the blackness. Nothing. There was no car, no headlights, no familiar sounds of engaged engines or tires crunching through the gravel. We were alone, there at the little dirt road less than a mile from camp.

The car that Heavenly Father had sent to escort us safely to camp had done its job. The headlights that penetrated the darkness—His light, carrying us up the mountain— were no longer needed. We had arrived at our destination, safe and sound.

As we rolled into the grassy parking area, girls and leaders ran toward us, shouting their questions simultaneously. What had taken us so long? Where had we been? We were so worried about you! Imagine my unbounded joy when, from the backseat, a small but deliberate voice related the first miracle she had ever witnessed: “Our car stopped working. Sister Frandsen and Sister Ludwig prayed. Heavenly Father carried us up the mountain to camp.”

He did, indeed. Delivered safely from His arms, we brought with us the spirit of faith in and gratitude for a loving Father who watches over even the smallest sparrow.

Kathy Frandsen

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