“It’s a dirty job – but somebody’s got to do it!”

As a ‘Missionary’ we occasionally get a job like that.  This past week I had to build an outhouse.

Now before you feel too badly for me I should mention that I built the outhouse in the bottom of Canyon De Chelly, twenty miles from the entrance to the Canyon.  De Chelly is a world class destination where visitors spend hundreds of dollars riding in 4-wheel drive sightseeing trucks and they all say “it was worth every penny!”.  The Canyon boasts sheer thousand foot cliffs, ancient cottonwood groves (now a flaming yellow), and stunning Cliff dwellings. It really is a nature photographers dream.  And I had to drive my Jeep way past the point where all the tourists turn around…sigh.  Actually the driving is part of the fun because the canyon is usually “4-wheel drive all the way.”  This week the sand was so deep that a mistake would quickly lead to a badly stuck Jeep and a very long hike out.

After a rough two hour drive the road ended in an apple orchard at the base of towering purple tinged cliffs.  At this elevation the canyon is filled with trees;  pines, oaks, and an aspen or two.  We got out, climbed a short hill up to the landowners cabin and looked around.  “Stunning” is the only word that describes it.

(Now – just a quick question for the atheists among us.  Why is the world filled with so much beauty if there is no designer?!?)

Keeping one eye on the scenery we chose a spot to build our temporary outhouse.  The point of this whole trip is to prepare for a longer stay to rebuild the decaying log cabin.  (“If you need any help when you put on the roof – just give me a call…hint, hint.”) We dug a pit, placed the “throne” over the hole (I built a box with a toilet seat on it at home), and then hung oak branches on a frame as a wall.  The landowner said that on his next visit he was going to bring a magazine rack.  The view from “the throne” is so amazing that it makes one want to just sit awhile…a very long while.

By four o’clock the sun had slipped behind the cliffs and the shadows were turning the canyon into multiple shades of blue and gold and we were a long two hour drive from the start of civilization.

It was a dirty job, But I sure hated to finish it…

Greg Staley