Sunday, April 4, 2010

I See... The Longest Drive

“Road Trip!” These are the motions that make memories. When I was a youngling, almost every year for many years in the 60's and 70's, seven busy kids and two bold parents would pile in the family station wagon or van and spend two summer weeks making the family circle visiting extended family- San Francisco to Los Angeles to Salt Lake City then back home again. I carried on the tradition in the 90's when I grew old enough to play the part of husband and father. It was only four of us now, and the road trips were longer, but the memories were just as satisfying.

One summer, the summer of '97. we were five weeks on the road with our own family circle, from Maryland to California to Arizona and back home again. We commemorated the Sesquicentennial of pioneer ancestors who crossed the plains by driving the route as best we could, and reverently ran our fingers across the name of our great-great grandmother etched in a marble monument at Martin's Cove as one of the few survivors of the ill-fated Willie and Martin Handcart Companies.

However, none of these is the “longest drive.” The longest drive happens on Sunday afternoon when you live 40 minutes away from the Stake Center and you have 30-minute appointment with the Stake President.

The call from the Stake Executive Secretary came to my wife at home on a Friday afternoon. It was short and business-like but cordial. “Would you and husband be able to meet with the stake president at 3:30 Sunday afternoon?”

The next 48 hours was a blur of endless hypothesizing. We calculated that except for temple workers, the Stake President reserved his time and authority for issuing calls to Bishops and presidents of stake auxiliaries, so we prayed with all our hearts for the privilege to serve in the temple. “Yes, that has to be it!” we encouragingly coached ourselves, hoping for the best but bracing ourselves for the worst.

The Sunday afternoon finally arrived and we started the longest drive to the Stake Center. As the next 40 minutes slowly slipped away, we pondered precariously about our fate. We were both certain that other one was the Lord's target. I had been High Priests Group Leader for only six months, and my wife was wrapped up in the ward choir and her gaggle of activity days girls. They rarely called members in our small faraway ward to serve in big stake positions. We tried as hard as we could to make ourselves feel better by pretending to know that none of the stake leaders had been serving that long in their present positions. It kept us somewhat calm but not comforted.

We coasted carefully into the church parking lot on time. Bearing minds swept clean with overwhelming apprehension, we left our car there and entered through the back doors of the Stake Center, then timidly made our way to the tiny suite of Stake offices. The kindest and most Christ-like man on the east coast, our Stake President, was waiting for us with a warm handshake and a gentle smile. Or was it gentle hanshake and a warm smile? We were too distracted by the gravity of the moment to remember. “BrotherTait,” he queried quietly, “could I talk with you first for a moment?”

Once we were in his office, he graciously invited me to sit down in a cushioned office chair. He sat down next to me, and looked straight at me with penetrating eyes for an eternal moment. “So Brother Tait...” he started off gently. “How is your family?”


  1. We just went through the long drive... Only our appointment was a mere 30 minutes before a Bishopric was to be re-organized... We were sure that it couldn't possibly be a Bishopric calling (plus DH is just sooo young)... we were wrong. Quite a shocker!

  2. We went for a long a drive to our stake president a few months ago too(the drive really only took 5 minutes). Cory is now on the High Council.

  3. Great! Now he can legally fall asleep in Church!

  4. Who was GG grandma and which company was she in? Jim's forth great grandmother was in the Willie and made it to SLC...her names is Susannah Stone. It was fun to see you wife last Saturday.

  5. GG grandma was Elizabeth Xavier Tait. She was in the Willie Company.