Hope in the desert

Have you ever been stranded in the middle of the desert, and wondered if you would make it out alive? Oddly enough, I have experienced this event one time in my life. No, it was not in a dream. It was very real, and luckily I was not alone. It is an entertaining story that I will present in a light-hearted way, but at the time the circumstances seemed hopeless.

When I was 12 years old, my family took a road trip out west. Our goal was to be stereotypical tourists for the long summer excursion and see every site that came to mind. We had fun seeing shows and swimming in Las Vegas, hiking on beginner trails at the Grand Canyon, and my brother and I secretly giggled every time our “dam guide” said the word “dam” at the Hoover Dam (don’t judge me…I was 12). It was an incredible vacation and we became much closer as a family. Well…until…IT happened.

It was time to go home after our adventure filled vacation, and we all hopped into our 4-door red Cutless Supreme. It was hot and sticky, and I was certainly glad we had a robust air conditioning system. After winding up and down mountains, and my mother fully expressing her hatred of heights (by digging her fingernails into the console, and keeping our car from falling over the edge using some sort of telepathy) we came to a long stretch of even, flat, open road with no cars in sight. At that moment, our car started to expel smoke and eventually came rolling to a stop. We were stranded in the middle of the desert. It was hot. There were no cars around and cell phones were still luxury items for celebrities and weighed about 10 lbs. We were initially thankful that this had not happen minutes before considering we would have been on a mountain’s edge. The only thing we could do is get out of the car and walk until we found a town with a repair shop. So, we did just that.

You can imagine the scene. My parents were trying to retain their composure while their two adolescent sons argued about every thing they saw. Meanwhile, my mother jumped every time she saw a lizard, and one could imagine the other implications as our bladders became ticking time bombs. The guys had it easy. Mom…not so much.

After a few miles of walking, we came to a little town called Kingman, AZ, and found a payphone to call a tow truck. This man, who should have focused a little more on his dental hygiene, told us a time to meet him at our car. So, we made the trek back to the abandoned vehicle. When the tow truck got there, we noticed something interesting…there wasn’t very much room in the cab of the flatbed truck to haul our family of 4. “Wait”, we collectively thought, “this guy doesn’t expect us to walk all the way back to town, does he?” Luckily, he gave us another option. He hoisted the car on top of the tall flatbed, and told our family to climb up and get in the car. What? Yes…you read that correctly. Our family of 4 was securely strapped into our seats about 10 feet in the air on the back of a rusty old truck. By the way…this is illegal. So, off we went winding around mountain edges and going slightly above the speed limit while the Beverly Hillbillys make their peace with Jesus in a 4-door red Cutless Supreme coasting through the sky. My height-hating mother once again used her telepathy and pure grip strength to somehow keep us all from falling off the edge of the mountain. Mom’s can do that you know…it is incredible.

My parents were devastated by the cost of the repair and the draining effect of the whole experience. As brothers who always loved a good adventure, my brother and I loved it! After a few days waiting on the repair, we set sail for home with less money in our pocket and more stories to tell. God kept us safe and we were so thankful. There were points in which we had lost hope, and despair became the default position.

Looking back on this experience, I think I understand how people can be overwhelmed when dealing with their own desert experiences. It is never fun, it can feel like you are stranded, but if we can attempt to find the adventure and lesson in our pain and suffering, and allow ourselves to be strengthened, our story of tragedy can transform into one of hope for someone else.

Friends, no matter how dry it is, there is hope in the desert. Don’t fear. It may take time, energy, and resources, but there will come a day in which someone close to you will need to know that someone else made it through.

Love you all. Hope on!

-Landon DeCrastos

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