07 March 2012

A visual indication

I spent 72 hours in Utah. 
I had a two fold mission there. 
One, to shoot some engagement photos for some clients 

and secondly, attend my niece’s blessing. 

(Okay, three fold, I got my hair done as well.)

On the way to Salt Lake City, 
I tried to share the gospel. 
That story is found

I had such a good experience, I wanted to attempt to create another opportunity.
As I entered the terminal where my flight would depart to New York City, I saw a man.
He was handsome, he was holding his iPhone with part of his elbow. He didn’t have a
fore arm or right hand, 
but he seemed to be doing great without it.

I smiled. I am left handed too.
 He was red and flush around his face. He was sitting with some other men. 

The sunburn was a visual indication
that he had spent some time in Utah snow skiing.
 I immediately thought about Phantom pains, I wondered if he had suffered them. I wanted to ask him, but I wanted to remain appropriate as well. It was a visible dis advantage that he had, or was it?
I recently had some thoughts about Phantom pains,
those can be read 

Essentially, Phantom pains are sensations described as perceptions that an individual
 experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically there anymore.
To me, Phantom pains are our spirits way 
of telling our body, we are a soul.

The doctrine of the resurrection and 
what it means to us in this life is profound.

I wanted to share this with him.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to talk to him, 
as he was on his phone and obviously engaged by his friends 
whom he was traveling with. 
I moved seats and I sat behind him and read.
 I wondered about him.

 I didn’t really feel like
 I asked the Lord for help in that moment.
I ponder ideas a lot in my mind, but often times
they don’t make audible presence in my prayers
to the Lord, not as much as they should.
I know He knows my heart
But that should be no excuse.
 I was in an airport. 
So I was somewhat faithless
as I let my doubts and the environment I was in,
over ride my ability to give heed
 to the possibility of a gospel sharing moment, or so I thought.
I say this because I just sat there and read.

I did not go over to him and bear any type of witness.
I thought about my last experience, 
at the beginning of this 72 hour trip, 
where I sat on the floor in the terminal, 
charging my laptop,
and a gentlemen sat next to me.
I considered that a tender mercy from the Lord.
Because it happened without me actually asking for it.
I always tell people to try to think about changing 
the phrases of our prayers;
instead of praying for missionary opportunities, 
to pray for the strength and courage to create 
the opportunity.
 I learned this early and it changed 
my ability in my self and helped me exercise
agency, not knowing before hand the outcome.
But in this moment, I did not take any of my own advice,
that once before, I had so easily dished out to others.
As the flight was announced I was able to board
earlier than most passengers.
I settled in and opened my book of Mormon
as I occasionally glanced up to see the 
plane fill with luggage and passengers
preparing for this red eye journey.
The three gentlemen with sun burnt faces made their way,
toward the back of the plane, where I was.
They loaded their luggage in the overhead
And then a miracle happened.
The gentlemen without a right arm
sat down right next to me.
Before I continue, you must understand the background
of why this was such a grand miracle to me.
As many of you know, I was given a challenge by
my Stake President in mid October, to read the Book of
Mormon by June and to take it with me when ever I could, however it was possible.
 The challenge was two fold. 
One, read it.
Two, carry a beautiful blue copy with me,
making it visible, making myself a witness,
even if I never said a word, 
I would be a visual indication.
The promised blessings of this challenge 
were not any type of “cause and event effect” result,
but a simple exhortation to come unto Christ.
But as I sat here, next to the gentlemen, not by choice,
but by desire, 
a subtle ushering of love
 came into my mind and flowed to my heart. 
He was assigned to sit next to me.
In that moment, in that very seat, 22f, I knew once again, that God is real and He knows me in detail.
He knows when I’m too weak to ask for help.
He knows when I am willing to be an instrument,
and He knows I know that I can’t do this work
alone, and why would I? How could I?
He was teaching me patience in that terminal,
but in the moment I knew not why.

I turned to him and smiled:
"Sun burnt! how was the snow?"
As I sat by Joe, he told me a little about his trip to Rochester, NY,
his home town. I told him a little bit about the church,
that it was something I try to study daily.
And although he isn’t really religious, 
I knew Heavenly Father knows him too.
And although, it is quite possible,
I might have been blinded a little bit
by his handsomeness, and the
connection that we had, having both played
college soccer and loved it,
I knew that the world that Heavenly
Father wants us to participate in,
is a connective one.
We need to do our part to make those connections.
And even though the desired results
or blessings, I had imagined would come
from keeping this type of commitment or 
challenge, have not been what I expected....
There have been unique tailored blessings
granted unto me according to my needs,
and it’s ironic and profound that, what we need
is received when we work to look outside ourselves.
And maybe that is when the challenge become
three fold.
Joe was born without an arm, so he never suffered phantom pains and when I explained it to him more.
 I was completely happy inside to know that the message I thought was best for him
 (based on his appearance) may not have been
the one that the Lord wanted him to know.
I looked at him, without his arm and immediately decided
the doctrine of the resurrection was what he needed to hear, but as the flight proceeded 
with little to no turbulence,
I knew the message was really for me.