Raindrops slowly began to fall and roll down the side of the car window. We had just finished a long and exhausting round of the Alphabet game after searching hopelessly for the letter X when the blessed arrival of a Nissan Xterra saved us. As we brainstormed different ideas for how to pass the time on the almost 8-hour drive, our driver received a text. One of the chaperones had sent an article that had just been released that the Governor of California had declared a state of emergency and banned mass gathering of more than 200 people. 

Not knowing how many people exactly were going on the trip, we all immediately began to panic and wonder what would happen for the rest of the trip. Thankfully our driver informed us that there were well under 200 people on the trip so we would be fine and the trip would resume. We spent the next 3 hours getting to know each other’s favorite summertime fruit or what they would do if they had million dollars through different games and riddles while sharing snacks as Harry Styles’ new album blasted in the background.

Our excitement seemed to jump through the roof when we noticed on a passing road sign that we were only around 80 miles away from Bishop and our trip would begin. Suddenly the phone began to ring and being that on the way up we kept losing a member of our caravan so we had gotten used to receiving a call from them or having to call them every hour or so, we did not expect much of it. It was then upon answering the call that we learned from Mr. Maietta that due to the new regulation in response to COVID-19, the city of Bishop had held an emergency meeting at the same time we were traveling up and had decided that the risk of all of us going was too much and being that there would be little for us do, it was decided that it would be better for us to return home. 

For a few minutes, we all sat in the car in silence in unbelief of what was happening. We then contacted the other cars in our caravan before stopping at a nearby gas station. As we all got out of our cars and began to talk with one another we all shared the same feeling of shock and disbelief. Out of everyone, the news, however, seemed to hit harder for us seniors in that this for some was their first mission trip, but for all of us it would be our last with the Missions Program and with a lot of our friends.

While the news itself was definitely hard on all of us, I was surprised by how well we all were handling it. As we called our parents, people began to play catch with a football or make plans with each other to make sure that no one was left with nothing to do in the coming four-day weekend. People began to take out the cameras and film that they had saved for the trip to take pictures with their car groups and everyone around them to show that despite what had happened, they wanted to hold onto to the memories they made with their car group.

Riding back to school, it felt almost as if nothing had changed and we were still on our way to NART. We continued to get to talk and laugh with one another which kept our spirits high despite the seeming barrage of bad news that kept coming in. 

Looking back on the past few days and the nightmare that it seemed for the world, I honestly am so thankful for the 10-hour road trip I was able to take up to Bishop and back to OLu. I am so thankful for all the new memories I was able to make and share with my car group that I will continue to carry with me during this uncertain and difficult time. While without a doubt, we were all hurting from the news, the general atmosphere of the trip was not one of pain, but of encouragement and making the most of the little time we all had left together.

This trip has greatly helped me through the trials of the past few days in that I was able to learn the importance of holding on to the good memories and feelings of the past and having hope it will return in the future. I also learned how important it is not only to be there for and encourage those around you who are going through similar struggles but being open to accepting the love that we may not notice those around us are waiting to give.

To end, I just wanted to encourage everyone during this difficult time to not only know how much they are loved and cared for but to know that better things are coming so keep pushing through the rocky roads.

Photo Credit: Ms. Drianna Litton