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Getting lost as a child
August 10, 2009
by Jim O'Leary

Getting lost persisted past my childhood. Two times Mormons were involved.

Hiking on Superstition Mountain near Apache Junction, AZ, I got lost towards sundown. My wife had gone straight down the trail, but I had missed a turn and ended up lost. As darkness came down, three men who were attending a Mormon convention came upon me on the trail and drove me back to the parking lot where my frantic wife was pacing like a mother hen on a lakeside while her little ducklings splash beyond her control.

I promised my LDS rescuers that I would never speak ill of Mormons again.

I must have forgotten that promise, because only a few months later in the city of Cuzco in Peru, I once again was lost and once again was saved by a Mormon elder.

My party had left the train station for the hotel, but I had stayed behind because I had come across some nuns from Minnesota and a lively visit ensued. After their train departed for Lima, I set off in the dark to go back to my hotel, the name of which I had not noticed. I was on a tour and I hadn’t paid much attention to any puny details such as that since all I had to do up to then was to hold onto my wife’s hand.

Soon, I found myself all alone in a large, dark city, teeming with people who were indifferent to lost old gringos.

After wandering in circles, I stumbled into a hotel where the desk clerk noted my panic and called their uniformed security officer. After a few phone calls they located the hotel to which I belonged and found it was miles away. The streets, if lit at all, were lit by 20 watt light bulbs.

Seeing that I was still in a panic, the security officer told me he would escort me back to my hotel. On the way, I found out, with my broken Spanish, that he was a Mormon and the father of 10 children and had several granchildren. He took my proferred pesos for his trouble only after I told him he had to take them for his grandchildren. Perhaps God is telling me that maybe the Vatican should relocate to Salt Lake City.

I have been lost several other times, enough to know that there are some good things about my unintentional hobby of getting lost – being lost hopelessly in real life makes the nightmares less frightening.

It also teaches me this: That relying on the kindness of strangers just about my entire life has been proof positive that not only does God love us, but that love God has for us is manifested all the time and by all kinds of people. That love is impossible not to notice, especially when you are lost and scared.

(If you see him, return him to: 461 Claremore - Corpus Christi, Texas 78412. Call (361) 992-2618, and his wife will come pick him up. She won’t be at all surprised.)