Thursday, July 20, 2006

Elissa

One muggy summer night, I emerged from one of the homogenous, burnt-orange, brick MTC buildings. I had returned from my mission to Mexico only a few months earlier and, that night, I had just finished my first session of MTC teacher training. The air in the room had been thick with the Spirit and I savored the sensation as I walked toward the crosswalk.

It was about 9:00 and the missionaries were returning en masse to their dorms. A wearying day of classes had largely quieted the Elders and Sisters and, though they thronged about us, a relative stillness wrapped itself around us.

As I passed the wrought-iron gate, I heard a familiar voice, though I had to turn to place a face and name with the sound: it was Sister Wiscomb, though I had always known her as Elissa. "Tyler--I mean," she stammered, looking at my nametag, "Brother Johnson."

"Sister Wiscomb, how are you?" I inquired as I extended my hand. I had known her fairly well as I grew up in Salt Lake City. We attended the same Elementary and high schools and, though we had never been particularly close, ten or so years had formed between us some significant friendship.

As the sun cast it's long refleciton onto Utah Lake to the West, tinging the top of Mount Timpanogos to the East with sprigs of pink, we spoke quickly, cramming as much information into three or so minutes as we could: how was her Spanish? How was the food? How was her companion? What about her district? Did she get along with her branch president? How was my family? How was Salt Lake (strange how a place so close can seem so far removed)? Had I seen her family? Did I like being back?

The minutes slipped quickly away, and then:

"Sister Wiscomb, when I get home, I'll call your mom, what would you like me to tell her?"

"Tell her I love her. Tell her my Spanish is coming along fine. Tell her I'm fine, but mostly, tell her I love her."

With that, we said good night.

I had things to do, but, upon arriving home, some beautiful urge prompted me to call, right now. So I grabbed an old directory, looked up the Wiscombs and called the elder sister Wiscomb.

"Sister Wiscomb, I don't know if you remember me, but my name is Tyler Johnson, I went to high school with Elissa and I saw her tonight in the MTC. She said to tell you she loves you, and she's fine, and her Spanish is coming along well but, mostly, she loves you."

Sister Wiscomb lapped up every detail about her daughter like a puppy does milk: what was she wearing? what did she sound like? did I hear her Spanish? Did she look healthy? Did she smile? Did she seem happy?

We spoke and, inside, we both glowed, softly, like candles.

Some weeks later a friend wrote my mom the following note:

"Today I spoke with my friend Jill Wiscomb whose daugher...is learning Spanish in the MTC. She and Tyler were classmates at East. Jill had been missing Elissa, her eldest child, terribly and has been concerned for her. Just last night she was praying tearfully for Elissa. As she arose from her knees, the phone rang. It was Tyler, who had seen Elissa at the MTC and was delivering a message for her. Elissa had told Tyler, 'tell my mom how much I love her and I'm doing just great.' Jill wept as she told me how Tyler's phone call was an answer to her prayer."

1 Comments:

Blogger annegb said...

This was nice to read, Tyler. A nice reminder to listen to our inner voice.

9:28 AM  

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