Nathan R. Kitchen
The moon was rising in the east as I parked my car on the side of the road in one of the remaining rural neighborhoods that pocket the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. The pastures, horse properties, and acre homesteads showcase old money and legacy Mormon families. This island is the seedbed of all four of my stake presidents since my move to Arizona in 1998, who from this seat presided over the new growth suburbs that surrounded them. For twenty-two years, I was a witness to the administration of Church government from this ultra-conservative pocket in the suburbs, where the echoes of the 1850s Mormon Reformation and the Ezra Taft Benson era still inform power today.
I stepped out of my vehicle and noted my direction. With no streetlights, the moonlight guided me as I made my way along the dusty shoulders of the road towards the home of my stake president. Before he moved here, he was my neighbor in the outlying suburbs of the masses. Ten years ago, I met with him in his home and spent a Sunday afternoon training him in his duties as a newly called second counselor in the bishopric in our ward. But tonight I was called to his new home here for another reason.
Large old growth trees surround his property. It is a walled fortress, with a keypad for entry through an iron gate. As I stood under a tree there on the side of the road, I squarely faced his house and reflected on all the events that brought me to that moment in time.
I felt the Spirit wash over me, telling me it was time.
I bent down and cast off the dust from my feet, brushing my shoes with my hands and wiping the soles of my feet as I spoke the words of an ancient Mormon rite, almost as old as the restoration itself, passed down to me while a missionary in Alabama.
But I was not finished, I still had one more place to go.Continue reading