The Trip: Prologue

“Not Knowing Beforehand the things which I should Do”

The Groberg Cabin

The Groberg Cabin

It’s because I’m a Blair. My father has set me in Middle-of-Nowhere, Mexico and instructed me to figure out how to say fifty different words in some dialect spoken there. He once told my siblings and me in the middle of Guatemala City, “I’ve got a conference, but I hear there’s a museum around here. Go find it. I’ll meet you back here in five hours.” I have a long tradition of leaping before anyone can stop me. Clearly, it’s genetic.

In 1978, I was living in Momostenango, Guatemala while Dad was elsewhere in the same country, working with RMs to make dialect dictionaries. One day, I decided to visit him. I knew he was living around Coban, so I simply boarded a bus. It was dark by the time I got to Guatemala City, where I boarded another bus for Coban.

A woman sat down opposite me and put her packages on the shelf above her. Moments later, she moved the packages to my side of the bus and took the seat in front of me. She looked at me as she sat, and we began a Spanish conversation.

She asked where I was from, and I told her. Utah.
Utah? Isn’t that where the Mormons are?
Yes. That would be my state.
“Yo soy Mormona.”
Excuse me? In 95% Catholic Guatemala? You’re a Mormon?

I told her where I was heading. She responded, “This bus won’t get you there. It’s a long ways from Coban. But as it happens, my son works there. You will spend the night with me, and my son will take you there in the morning.”

I have no idea of what might have happened to me had I been stranded overnight in a Guatemalan city. Did I mention that I had spent the last of my money on the bus fare?

I’m writing this thirty-five years after the fact. Yes, I spent the night at the woman’s home. She fed me tortillas and beans. Her son took me to my destination the next morning, and I saw my dad. I’m not sure I even mentioned to him that I had received some protection in making my way there. It had simply happened.

Four years ago, I took my son to my grandparents’ cabin. We were beginning a journey together as he took on his substance addiction. I had no idea how difficult it would become. I felt that I should take him to the cabin, but could not have predicted what kind of foundation our time together would lay for us.

Before we went to the cabin, my son packed a notebook and immediately realized it was silly to pack a notebook when he would be spending most of his time fishing. Then he packed a pen.

I don’t know what experience he had late at night, because he has kept it to himself. It is a sacred thing, something he says he might share with his wife someday. He felt a need to write it down, and got his notebook out. Then he looked for a pen—remembering suddenly that he had already packed one. He said to me, “It was like God knew I would have that experience and that I’d need to write it down. He gave me what I needed.”

The three-week journey I have just returned from was full of such miracles. I thought I was simply doing fund raising and a few firesides. I had no idea of everything which awaited me, nor how I would be tooled to receive it.

During a phone call, my husband said he had been reading scriptures and found one which described me perfectly:

I Nephi 4:6: 6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

In another fifty years, it might well be my epitaph.

About Margaret Blair Young

Margaret Blair Young teaches literature and creative writing at Brigham Young University. For the past fifteen years, she has specialized in the history of blacks in the west, particularly black Mormons. She has written six novels and two short story collections, but has lately become interested in filmmaking. Her current endeavor is a film to be shot in Zambia called Heart of Africa (www.heartofafricafilm.com)


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