El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Dean Kellio

Driving down Alpine Boulevard last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see many businesses adorned with colored Christmas lights. It was as if by magic, Christmas elves stayed up all night to decorate the gables, fences and windows of many businesses up and down Alpine’s Main Street commercial area.

It actually caught me off guard to see such a display of Christmas spirit as I was in the middle of complaining about Alpine’s increased traffic, lack of community involvement or how difficult it is to back out of parking spaces along the boulevard.

The store is crowded today. I am running behind in my schedule, so I rush through the sliding doors to get ahead of several other people who were walking in front of me. While looking down at my shopping list I turn a corner sharply and bump into an elderly lady who was surveying the shelves for pickled okra. As we collide, her glasses fall to the ground.

It is Sunday here in Utah as it is back home in Alpine, California. It seems like I have been traveling for a long while, first three weeks in Peru’s Andes Mountains and now a week in Utah. 

I wanted to share some thoughts about my trip, the people here and the beautiful countryside that fills every nook and cranny of Utah’s vast expanses.

What if God was one of us? What if he was just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home? Would you want to see his face or know his name? The idea that God would tabernacle with his creation is profound, provocative and leads us to ponder these questions from Eric Brazilian’s song “One of Us” made famous by Joan Osborn in 1995.

It has been said that when a nation begins to decline, that morality, respect for others and virtuous living become absent or nonexistent within their population.

The nation of Israel went through this same cycle over and over again. When their situation in life worsened they would call upon their high priest to make intersession for them through sacrifice and prayer. Unfortunately, before they came to this point they would often turn their backs, falling away from the God of all creation.

The sun was just coming up over the mountains as a steady stream of droopy-eyed customers repeatedly opened the swinging door into the coffee shop. Outside, tables were being filled with various groups who were busy discussing their kid’s soccer games, what they watched on TV last night or the latest gossip circulating around town.

Off to one side, the Ridge Lake Christian men’s group was meeting for early morning prayers and devotions. Hot coffee and cranberry scones were being devoured as fast as the waitress could haul them out.

Everything was peaceful as I watched another set of waves break against the shore.

So far, today was going exceptionally well as we were able to find a parking space near Law Street public beach access, several semi-clean, open bathroom stalls as well as a small patch of unclaimed sand that was surrounded bya mote of kelp. Sand flies attracted by the rotting kelp seemed to sense a better meal had arrived and immediately began to devour me from top to bottom.

I pushed on the heavy revolving glass doors and quickly stepped into the space created as they turned us slowly out into ninety-degree Portland weather.

Elise was patiently waiting curbside as my wife and I carried our carry-on bags atop our roller-equipped suitcases.

The car was completely packed. My daughter had followed my instructions to the last detail. Everything had been neatly and perfectly packed into the Japanese commuter car I had asked her to rent for our trip.

Demetrius begged his owner “I just want to be your bond servant. I give back my freedom, my freewill to you; please allow me to serve you all the days of my life!”

Moshe chopped up the cilantro, garlic and jalapenos for the salad.  His style of cooking was spicy as well as a bit on the hot side. The church’s kitchen was small and there was very little space for more than one cook. Sofia was a wonderful woman who had taken over the preparation of the church’s fellowship dinners for the past two years. She was extremely stressed as she kept trying to work around Moshe who had a cutting board, several sharp knives and salad fixings spread out over most of the kitchen’s limited counter space.