After a few more minutes of instruction by Elder Miller, the missionaries were given a light lunch. During the lunch break, they were individually taken into a room with Elder Miller and another leader and formally set apart to serve as a full-time missionary for the Church.
Nathan listened carefully to his blessing and felt a surge of power pass through him as Elder Miller promised that angels would be watching over him to protect and guide him. He was also promised that opportunities would come to give healing priesthood blessings, and he would witness many miracles in the coming months.
After the blessing, Nathan turned around to shake hands with the men and thank them for their inspired words. Elder Miller smiled at him and said, “The Lord has great things in store for you, Nathan.”
After eating, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire that gauged their interests and skills. As Nathan went through it, he realized he had no desire to herd animals or work as a medical assistant. Besides, he didn’t have any experience in either of those areas. He’d been required to get a Commercial Drivers License to work at Toys-R-Us, though, so he made special mention of that on his questionnaire.
The group soon moved outside, where the men were put through their series of tests, including shooting a handgun and driving a large moving van through a maze of orange cones. Nathan did okay on the shooting test, but he really excelled at the driving exam. He had the fastest time and didn’t hit a cone.
By late afternoon, the men were divided into six different groups. Nathan found himself standing in the parking lot next to seven other men. A middle-aged man walked over to them.
“Hello, I’m Samuel Pickering, and I’m the coordinator for our fleet of delivery vans. The eight of you have been selected to serve in one of our most important assignments—getting the food supplies from this warehouse to the camps. You’ll each be assigned your own truck, and each day you’ll have a delivery to complete. You saw the map inside of all the various camps. Some are within a day’s drive, while others will take longer.”
He motioned toward a set of housing units in the distance. “In a few minutes I’ll take you over to your living quarters. They’re actually one-bedroom apartments that were originally used by senior missionary couples who worked in the storehouse, but our circumstances have obviously changed.”
A missionary asked, “Do we have an assigned companion?”
Samuel shook his head. “One difference in this round of your missionary service is that although you have a roommate, you don’t have a designated companion. Sometimes you’ll work with others, but often you’ll be working on your own, particularly as we transport items to the camps. Time is short, and we need every one of you. You’ll be staying busy now that the snow on the mountain roads is melting and we can get the supplies to the camps.”
“Aren’t the camps well-stocked already?” one man asked.
“No, most of these sites were used as girls camps or Boy Scout camps well into last autumn, so there wasn’t space available to store the supplies,” Samuel said. “Can you imagine leaving a pile of food within reach of hungry Scouts? That’s not a good idea!”
The group chuckled, then Samuel added, “Besides, I’ve heard through the grapevine that the prophet didn’t have a distinct impression on the timing of the coming national problems until a few weeks ago, so that’s why we’re hurrying now.”
“What clothes will we wear?” Nathan asked. “Do we have a uniform?”
“No, you’ll wear regular work clothes—a nice shirt, jeans, and comfortable boots that we’ll provide for you. Your main objective is to blend in. The General Authorities will never say it, but I will—let your hair grow. Even look a little scruffy. We want you to essentially be hidden from the world, even though you’ll be among them every day. No one will realize what you’re doing.”
Some of the men smiled at each other. “This is going to be a lot of fun,” one said.
Samuel turned on him. “This isn’t a laughing matter. There are people out there who want to kill you! Unless you find ways to evade them and escape their plots against us, they’ll get you.”
Samuel’s comment silenced the group. He finally said, “Sorry I spoke that way, but one of our drivers was shot last week and is still in the hospital. He thinks he was targeted, so please take this seriously. Well, let’s show you your new homes.”
They walked to the apartment complex and found their suitcases waiting for them. Then Samuel gave them each a key and let them go inspect their new living quarters. Nathan’s key was stamped with a “7” and as he approached the door, he saw a muscular, blond man standing in the doorway.
“Welcome,” the man said. “I’m Chet, your roommate. Come on in.”
Nathan entered the apartment and could smell a delicious aroma coming from the small kitchen.
“I’m guessing this isn’t your first day,” Nathan said.
“No I’ve been serving for two weeks,” Chet said. “It’ll be great to finally have a roommate. Where are you from?”
“Orem. I got home from my mission to Minnesota just a few weeks ago. How about you?”
“I’m from Fillmore and got home from Oklahoma about two months ago.”
Nathan noticed some well-worn work gloves on a chair. “So I suppose you’re already making deliveries?”
“Yep. I just got back from delivering cans of wheat to a camp near Logan. It wasn’t too bad.”
The two men hit it off quickly, and as Chet pulled a loaf of bread from the oven, there was a knock on the door. Nathan opened it and saw Samuel standing there. He came in and put two manila envelopes on the table, then handed Nathan a bag that held a cell phone, a handgun and two boxes of bullets.
“Nathan, these envelopes hold your assignments for the week. Chet, go over the basics with Nathan tonight, and let me know if you have any concerns. I’m not worried, though. You did well today on your driving.”
“Thank you,” Nathan said. “I’ll do my best.”
“Also, my cell number is the first one listed in your phone. Call me if you have any questions or problems during a delivery.”
Meanwhile, Chet had buttered three pieces of bread and now handed one to Nathan and Samuel before taking a bite out of his own piece. They all savored the taste, then Samuel said, “You lucked out with your roommate, Nathan. Everyone here is top-notch, but no one can cook like Chet.”
After Samuel left, the pair spent several minutes going over their upcoming assignments. Nathan saw he would be making daily deliveries to a camp near Vernal, Utah.
“Do they usually send you to the same place every day?” he asked.
“Yeah, at least for the first week,” Chet said. “It lets you get the hang of things. Then they’ll start sending you on longer trips. It looks like I’ll be heading into Canada, so I might not make it back for a few days. It looks like you’ll be cooking for yourself a few times this week!”
“Where do I sleep if I don’t make it back in one day?” Nathan asked.
“The guys who do the schedules try to make it work for you to be able to stay at a Church camp, but sometimes I’ve slept in my truck at rest stops along the way. You do what you have to do.”
“Do we load everything in by hand?” Nathan asked.
“No, thank goodness,” Chet said. “Sometimes you do when you unload at a camp, but here they use a forklift to load the truck each night. The trucks are ready to go first thing in the morning. We’ll be down at the loading dock at 7 a.m.”
“Then I’m on my own?”
“Yep,” Chet said with a grin. “They throw you right into it, but I can tell you’ll do great.”