The Outside World

image0Woodruff was like a little tiny world trapped inside a big one. Inside were friends and family, the familiar and reliable. But the outside world seemed ugly and frightening. Out there were people like Adolph Hitler who started a war which eventually involved most of the world. It was almost unreal. Every day farmers would go out to their fields and feed their cows, the children would gather the eggs and go to school, and the wives would sew clothes and keep the families organized. Their small world was enough for them, but they couldn’t help thinking about what was happening elsewhere.

image1As isolated as they felt, they were aware of terrible things happening far away which they didn’t understand. Every family became involved in the World War. There was a son or a son-in-law or a husband or father from almost every household leaving the familiar sights and sounds of home and entering that outside world. Christina Stacey had two sons, a brother and a son-in-law taken off to World War II. There was nothing to be done about it. Every day she cared for the younger children, baked bread and cleaned house and tried not to think about that other world.

image2Almost immediately after Ruth Stacey and Reed Munns were married he was drafted. Ruth tried to follow him wherever he was transferred, but couldn’t find suitable housing and became alarmed at the huge cockroaches in Texas, especially since she was expecting a baby and those roaches seemed almost big enough to carry it off. She was relieved to return home to live with her parents.

When Bill Stacey left, Velma was expecting their first baby. It was a hard time to leave, but the nation was at war and everyone was making a sacrifice. They agreed that when the baby was a few weeks old, Velma would go to far-off California where Bill was in flight school to have the baby blessed. It all seemed so simple. It was a scenario being played out in thousands of other small towns across the country. The Woodruff family relaxed when Velma’s sister Norma and her husband Wayne Sims offered to drive her to California for a few days for the baby blessing.

But when the time came for Velma to leave Woodruff to join Bill permanently in California, both sets of grandparents panicked. Their son had been dragged out of the safe circle of Woodruff friends, but that didn’t mean their daughter and granddaughter should be pulled out too. But Velma was determined. She would go to Evanston and ride the train straight to Santa Ana, California where Bill was stationed. What could happen to her on a train? The grandparents thought they knew, but allowed her to go if she promised to phone or send a telegram the moment she arrived. She assured them she knew God would protect them in her effort to unite their little family.

image3Velma’s parents drove her to the train station in Evanston on Friday, and put her on the train. By Sunday there had been no word. Si and Lottie Dickson had no phone so they drove to the Stacey’s house at the other end of Woodruff to find if they had heard anything. There was no word and it was the third day.

Lottie was distraught. “I’m worried sick about her being so far from home with a three-month old baby. And those men in California…”

image4Si didn’t leave that for a moment. “I dare say the men in Utah have just as much ginger as the ones in California.” With that as comfort, the Dicksons went back home with no news.

It wasn’t long, however, before the Staceys heard from Bill. Velma and Janet had arrived safely and all was well. They sent word to the Dicksons not to worry. The big world out there hadn’t yet swallowed them up.

How puzzled they would have been to know that one day Velma and Bill would travel to many parts of the world as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Twentieth Century changed everything, including the people of Woodruff.

And yet things hadn’t changed that much. Woodruff people had been willing to give up everything to accomplish God’s work when they moved to the sagebrush hillside near Woodruff Creek in 1872 because their prophet had asked for colonists.

Bill and Velma inherited that willingness to consecrate themselves wherever and whenever they were called. Their descendants will be called to do other difficult things for their family, their church and their country. But it’s really all the same total commitment to the work of God on Earth, making the world a better place to live.

When you love God and your fellow men, nothing is too hard.