It was a good hour and fifteen minutes before the 11:00am meeting. I pulled my navy blue paisley jumper out of the fleece pull string bag I was using alternately as a suitcase and a pillow, shoved my arms and torso quickly through the hole, careful to get the straps in the right place, and zipped up the tent. Balancing on each foot in turn, I slipped on my Chacos and after grabbing my dusty Book of Mormon, ran to catch up with Rachel and Rob. We were headed to church.
It's a two mile hike from the camp ground at Havasupai to the village where the Supai tribe lives and manages their tourist attraction. It's a small farming village where horses and dogs, mangy and under-fed, roam around at their own leisure. The houses are small and many look run down with trash all over the yards. The occaisonal cable dish or bench set for lifting weights look oddly out of place. But just off the dirt trail amid the barbed wire corrals is a small white building with a steeple on top. Near the front door, a sign reads The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints and a faded picture of Christ adorns the window. The branch in Havasupai is small, consisting mostly of rugged looking group of backpackers only there for the weekend. But there are a few Supai tribe members and the Branch President - a heavy, long-haired Native American - welcomed us with open arms.
We used the hose outside to spray off our dusty feet. Many took their shoes off, leaving a dusty assortment of outdoor footwear on the porch, but I let mine dry and stepped into the meeting house with my feet shod. I've never seen a more grisley crowd at sacrament meeting but the opening hymn sounded like it was sung by a choir of angels as we all raised our voices in praise and gratitude for the opportunity to be at church. The sacrament was blessed and passed by volunteers from the congregation, boys in cut-off tank tops with sunglasses perched on their heads. But the ordinance was the same and seemed to mean even more in our humble circumstances. I got a little choked up thinking of the faithful saints in Nicaragua that might be having a similar experience, routine for them but eye opening for me. The speakers were a high councilman and his wife, flown in minutes before by helicopter from Kingman. Again, the closing hymn sounded glorious and I left feeling uplifted and edified. It's wonderful to know that the Spirit of the Lord is the same and blesses all of His children, wherever they happen to be, when we are gathered together to make promises and remember Him.