Jolene Kanahele of Laie recently wrote a poignant entry on Facebook that reminded me of a somewhat related experience years ago in, of all places, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:
If you’re already signed up on Facebook can follow the link to her story; otherwise I’ll summarize the beginning by saying that one morning at a Salt Lake City bus stop Jolene sat by a homeless man who “hadn’t combed his hair for weeks and he looked like he hadn’t had a bath for quite a while…[and] a few seconds later I could smell a very disgusting odor. It smelled like dog poop.”
Our own dog poop incident took place in the most unlikely of circumstances during the great adventures my wife, Sally, and I had on my East-West Center field trip around the Pacific islands in 1971. In those days The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not organized in New Guinea, and there were very few Mormons there.
After a little checking around Sally and I found out an expatriate Australian couple held a Sunday School meeting in their home on Sundays. We called, and he kindly invited us to come over. If I remember correctly, there were five-or-six of us there, including our host who was confined to a wheelchair. I’ve long ago forgotten his name; but he explained that often he and his wife were the only ones at the meeting, so in honor of the “crowd” a portion of the gathering was dedicated to sharing testimonies of faith.
It soon became apparent we could smell the faint but definite odor of doo-doo. Sally and I would surreptitiously look at each other, wondering where it was coming from, and — please forgive me — we both admitted later we thought perhaps our host had an accident. In a way it was almost comic, because each of us was trying to act like we didn’t smell anything.
In Jolene’s Facebook story she tried moving as far away as possible from the homeless man “to avoid the smell” and “kept staring at him in disgust, and he continued to smile.” Soon enough, however, she discovered she had stepped in dog doo-doo, and was touched by the homeless man’s ready willingness to forgive her hasty conclusion.
In our case, we were in the couple’s living room. I think we all experienced a moment of relief to discover that one of the visitors had unknowingly stepped in doggie-poo while walking across the lawn, and had unwittingly transported the odor into the house. Actually, all but one of us had a little embarrassed laugh about suspecting the others as the source of the smell — after the mess was cleaned up.