Shining moment: The extra mile

It was many months before I understood why Paul Garber and Wendell Butler would drive 14 miles of dirt road - one way - to pick me up for Church. It would be a while longer before I learned what it took to do as much on my own.

It was 1976, and I had just joined the Church, a 17-year-old with exactly one week's knowledge of a true and living God and no car.The missionaries who taught me had been assigned to our remote Colorado mountain region only weeks before as a trial run in the huge Lakewood District. They were transferred out five weeks later, due primarily to mileage expenses.

The missionaries took me to Church the first Sunday, the day after I was baptized, and introduced me to members of the branch including Brother Garber and Brother Butler. Unknown to me, they got together and worked out the plan for providing me transportation to Church each Sunday.

They were "neighbors" in the area near the town of Conifer in the Evergreen Branch, but for them it was still a 14-mile, bone-rattling climb to my parent's house near 10,000 feet elevation.

Then it was 28 miles to Evergreen where the Saints met in a rented basement.

The Church was still following the divided meeting schedule, so Brother Garber took me to priesthood meeting in the morning, while Brother Butler and his wife, Marge, took me to Sunday School and sacrament meeting about four hours later. I don't ever recall hearing a complaint from any of them about the added miles.

They faithfully picked me up for about a year. The trip was never easy for them, and sometimes poor weather made it treacherous.

I've since moved to Fort Collins, served a mission, married in the temple . . . and bought a car. But the hours spent in the company of those early friends laid a foundation of gospel knowledge and solidified a commitment to Christian service that will bless me for the rest of my life.

I've never forgotten Paul Garber and Wendell Butler and the higher truths of service they taught me. And I've never gotten over my need to let them know. - Coke Newell, Fort Collins (Colo.) Riverside Ward

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed