So I get this call last night from the sister missionaries, asking if I'd be willing to help them out for a few hours this morning. So I'm thinking...Okay, I can do this. I served a mission. I know how much missionaries appreciate members that are willing to accompany them to an appointment, or do exchanges, or whatever. I'm actually getting kind of excited, as I think about sharing my testimony, and assisting the sisters in answering questions...
But then Sister Sheffield says, "Well, actually, we need you for something kind of different. We'd like you to go out to Phoenix with us, to pick up an investigator, and then we'll just bring her back here, to Mesa".
"Okay, " I say, "that'll work...I'll be there to pick you up at 6:30." And then, I hang up the phone, and John starts questioning everything... "What's their investigator doing out in Phoenix?" and "Why is it their responsibility to go pick her up?" and "That's surely out of their zone, and probably even a different mission...do they have permission to go outside their designated boundaries?" Honestly, they were all legitimate questions, just not ones I had initially thought of. Nonetheless, I had given my word, and really felt fine about it, and like I said earlier, I was happy to be able to help, and to serve.
So it's 6:30 AM, and I'm waiting outside the sisters' apartment...ready to take them where they need to go. When three cute, young, vivacious missionaries, jump in the car, and announce "Okay, are you ready to take us to the Prison?" Suddenly my car comes to a screeching halt...no, I'm kidding, but I did say "Oh, the prison...are you serious?" (but in a really polite way.) They went on to tell me that it was a 30 year old woman, whom they had been teaching, and who also had a bit of a drinking problem. Apparently one night, her drinking caused her to do some unthinkable acts, which ultimately landed her in prison. Well, according to this woman's husband, she had served her time, and was being released. He hadn't been able to get work off, and so she had requested that the sisters come and get her. They had indeed, received permission from the President, but were instructed not to take their own car, but to have a member drive them out there. So here we are, four girls driving the scary streets of south Phoenix, passing through all kinds of homeless, scary, diverse (to say the least) groups of people. We had been instructed to pick her up at 7 Am, at the circle K, just down the street from the facility. We waited, and waited, but no Julianna. The girls go in the circle K. They come out. They scour the parking lot. They give a homeless man a Book of Mormon. But still no Juliana. By now it's like 7:45. So we decide to just go to the prison, and ask for her ourselves. And this is where it gets really bizarre. The lady at the counter says, "yeah, we definitely have an inmate by that name, but she did not get released today. In fact, she doesn't even have a release date. She's not going anywhere for a while!" The sisters were super disappointed, and confused...and I was (I'll be honest) relieved...but also confused. Why did her husband tell us that she'd be released today?... when she really didn't even have a release date. Why were we supposed to pick her up at that scary circle K, swarming with, how can I put this politely?...destitute souls? Did the president really approve this? and if so, did he know the whole story? I don't know...it all seemed a little weird; but, like I said, I was happy to help...and especially glad that we made it back unharmed. When all was said and done, I considered the trip an adventure; but hope and pray I won't ever be asked again to...transport prisoners.