Where Are They?

My parents were hours late and out of reach. I began to panic. What had happened to them?

Where Are They?

“Now your parents do remember they have an oldest daughter, right?” asked Susan, the girl I had shared a room with for the past two weeks at a BYU-sponsored summer camp. Her parents came to pick her up right on time. Mine were late.

“Well, they’ve always got seven other kids if they forget,” I laughed as we carried luggage down to her car.

Before Susan left she handed me a package. “Here,” she said. “For some reason, I just felt like you should have this.” Inside was a picture of the Savior.

“Thanks,” I said, not knowing what else to say. I loved the gift, but it seemed like an odd present from a girl who had known me for only two weeks.

I took the picture back to the dorm where I was staying and waited for my parents. They were driving to Utah from Arizona, a 14-hour drive, and had planned to split the trip over two days. Maybe they left later than they had planned.

After several hours, I grew nervous. My parents were often late picking me up, but never this late. As evening drew near, I began to panic. Where were they? I tried my house on the off-chance they were still at home, but the phone rang endlessly. I called my dad’s work and my grandparents’ house. No one had heard from them.

Finally I decided to talk to a camp counselor. “I think something’s happened to my parents,” I said, bursting into tears. After I told the counselor my story, she gave me a hug and pulled out her scriptures. “I don’t know what to tell you, Elyssa, except somehow I think everything will be all right.” She began reading to me from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

“You’re welcome to stay and talk with me until they get here, but you seem exhausted. Maybe you should try to sleep,” she said.

A bit calmer, I returned to my room. But as I lay down I was again consumed with worry. I read the verse my counselor had shown me over and over. I looked at the picture of the Savior Susan had given me and imagined Him speaking the words to me. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I knelt down and asked Heavenly Father to help my parents arrive safely. Immediately I felt calm, and the feeling came over me that everything would be all right. I felt peace. After a few minutes, I fell asleep. I awoke later to a knock on my door.

“Your parents are on the phone. They’re okay,” said the counselor. I picked up the phone. My dad was on the line. “Where have you been?” I asked. “You scared me to death.”

My dad apologized and said they were delayed and left much later than they had planned. He had called the number I gave him several times, but there was no answer. He said he left four messages, unaware that I didn’t know how to access the dormitory voice mail. And the camp’s main line had been busy until just now.

“We’re in a town just south of you. We’ll be right there,” Dad said. Relieved, I hung up and went back to my room to say a prayer of thanks.

At home I quickly forgot the trauma of the experience, but I will always remember the power of the Savior’s words in John 14:27. Now, whenever I feel scared or like my life’s starting to unravel, I read the scripture I learned as a 14-year-old at summer camp. And feel peace.

[photos] Photography by Matt Reier; posed by model