On our last day in America we said our final goodbyes and then headed off to the airport in plenty of time. We were ever so grateful to our friends, Robert and Merrylyn Chandler, for hosting us at their home in Salt Lake City during the second part of our training. Being able to stay right downtown during that week afforded us the opportunity to fully focus on all we were learning and experiencing rather than spending hours on trains shuttling back and forth from the MTC.
We left the USA on 15 December, although we didn't arrive in Auckland until the morning of the 17th (a combination of both a 13 hr flight and crossing the international date line).The day we left, we arrived at the airport quite early to be sure we got through security and made it to our gate well ahead of boarding. We needn't have rushed. Our flight was delayed two and a half hours. By the time we touched down at Los Angeles, we were already perilously close to the time our flight for Auckland was scheduled to take off.
We rushed and scrambled through the airport to find where we needed to be. We got utterly lost. LAX is a huge international airport with multiple terminals quite far apart.We needed to take a bus, but did not know where to go to meet that bus and were given conflicting information by different people about where we should get off. It was so confusing! We were tired and disoriented. We were nervous about missing our plane. For a few minutes we got quite flummoxed, feeling like country bumpkins in this big, strange place, not knowing what to do next.
So we prayed. HARD.
Finally we did find the right terminal, and then the real rush began. We had a LONG way to go, then needed to go through security screening again. People were lined up in a que that wound round and round. At first we thought we were supposed to be in that line, but later realized that was for people waiting to get boarding passes. We already had boarding passes. So we found someone else to ask directions. We were told the plane was preparing to leave and we would have to RUN.
So we ran. Man, did we run. On our previous plane I had taken off my shoes and put on light slippers to be more comfortable in flight. I had not had time to switch back to my shoes, so I was trying to run in these silly slippers that kept sliding off. Finally I just took off the slippers and ran in bare feet which was fine until I tried speeding things up by going on the moving walkway. That path was not meant for bare feet - like stepping on a bed of nails! But once I was on it there was no way to get off until I got to the end so I just ran anyway.
We scrambled, we rushed, we prayed that we would make that plane. Over and over I kept saying "If Heavenly Father can part the red sea He can get two bewildered missionaries where they need to be."
Signs were predominately is other languages. There were few Caucasian faces. Although still technically on American soil, we already felt as if we were in a strange country. We took wrong turns a couple of times. But finally we went pounding up to our exit gate just as they were were preparing to close the door. WAIT! We cried, we're here! We are HERE!
With calm, gracious patience the attendants smiled at us and directed us to our seats. We made it. We actually made it. For some unexplained reason that plane had been held far past when it was supposed to take off. There were no technical problems. There was no bad weather. It wasn't an issue of other planes ahead of us. They just somehow took a little longer than usual with each step of their check in and moseyed their way through signing off on paperwork. Somehow, someway, they just didn't feel ready to leave yet. Until we arrived. Then they took off almost immediately.
That was no coincidence. That was not happenstance. That was a miracle, as far as I am concerned. One of many.
I won't go into detail here about others -
The Miracle of the phone
The Miracle of the Christmas Tree
The Miracle of Song
Suffice it to say that over and over we have seen things happen that there is absolutely no rational explanation for. In each case, we see our needs being met, our steps being guided, our hearts being comforted, our certainty of this mission being confirmed as being exactly where we need to be no matter what sacrifices we have to make.
I am of two minds about these sort of miracles. To some extent, I believe we are being truly blessed because off our willingness to serve. I think there may be some very special protections that come to missionaries as a result of all the many prayers said in our behalf. At the same time, I also believe that miracles surround all of us each and every day. Most people, however, are so caught up in their own concerns that they simply do not recognize them.
I think one of the things that leads to us seeing so many powerful experiences like this right now is simply that we are making a very deliberate effort to be in tune with spiritual things, and that is allowing us to see things in a different light.
For me, that is a very powerful thing.