"Serendipity" - to find by chance something of value. Here are a couple of those moments:
The first is an old sailor I sat down by at last week's 'Chinese Activity' (I know, he's not all that Chinese...I think he was Shakespeare re-encarnated!). He asked me to send him this picture ( sadly, it's out of focus!) and in return he sent me his testimony. The missionaries found him about three years ago! I know the text is a little lengthy, but it's fascinatingly articulate from someone that I could have entirely overlooked as just 'an old man quietly eating at a table in the corner'.
"Sis. Meese, Thanks a bunch for foto. Thort you might like to read testimony I hope to read at Sacrament meeting tomorrow. Love Edward
Good morning brethren, I am very happy to have this opportunity to underline my testimony today for I believe we all should voice the thoughts in our hearts from time to time acknowledging the wonderful gifts bestowed by or Heavenly Father; we ought to nail our flag to the mast---in other words, make known where we stand in our faith. The hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ is the flag we stand behind.
My reasons for getting up here are twofold. First you will recall Liverpool celebrated last Sunday the 70th. Anniversary of the Battle of The Atlantic and it was 70 years ago that I first sailed up the Mersey and by the grace of God moored and rested in Albert Dock subsequently to meet my Irene, the love of my life that endures to these present times. Never a day passes without my thanking God for her life and the privilege He afforded me to share it with her. The second reason is prompted by emotions felt three weeks ago –emotions lingering still—when I attended a Naval Reunion in Leamington Spa where we placed a wreath and a posy of bluebells at the foot of the War Memorial to remember and pray for the chaps who went down to Davy Jones on the 17th.February 1945. Only twelve of the crew were rescued....those who were top-side when the torpedo hit the onboard depth charges. HMS Corvette ‘Bluebell sank...in 30 seconds!
After the ceremony the padre conducted a short service during which I was caused to reflect and ponder on the very many blessings our Heavenly Father has conferred on me throughout my life on this beautiful planet of ours and it is of His evident love for me and I for Him that I need to testify today. Above all else since finishing my autobiography which proves the point, I have found the Church of Jesus Christ of The Latter Day Saints confirms all hitherto formed beliefs. Bear with me a few minutes more while I quote the final paragraph of this major literary masterpiece.
Passing eight- eight and looking forward to the arrival of a congratulatory message from the Queen or her successor for my hundredth birthday, I thank God for a life I have mostly shared with my wife Irene; for I have investigated the far places of this earth, discovered the genius of Mozart, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, weathered a curse from a citizen or two rejoiced from one gracious remark from my Queen—Queen Elizabeth11.
Having no great office to relinquish, no broad acres to bestow or pecuniary advantage to a clutch of relatives my journey has been fruitful because I’ve observed one or two faces smile at me along the way and have known a heart to bubble with joy at some words of mine. Yes, flak has been thrown at me on occasion and various minefields trod with caution. Those pin-pricks, the whips and scorns Hamlet knew so well sometimes penetrated my armour at the unexpected moment and sorrow came round sly corners to surprise with its intensity. Yet overall the race has been a good one and though I am somewhat short-winded and sit instead with the critics, I count it a further blessing from the bountiful mercy of our Heavenly Father that has led me into such warmth and kindness met amongst you my dear brothers and sisters You each support my faith convincing me that our church is indeed the true church. That Joseph Smith was guided and instructed toward this end. This I affirm in the Holy Name of my Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."
Here's a second wonderful 'find'. Before the Chinese activity in Liverpool, Elder Meese and I stopped by the 'Iron Man Beach' to see these riveting sculptures. The artist sculpted about 200 of these, all fashioned from his own profile. They are anchored to the beach around 200 to 400 yds apart, some barely touched by high tide, others neck-high, others that disappear. It's a continually changing, almost macabre sight with these silent figures looking out to sea. Mesmerizing.....
Elder Meese will tell you about the third serendipitous encounter:
After having finished eating my meal and going out to the car to return something, I looked over at a large coach that had been hired to bring some of the participants from Manchester. It looked like the driver was just sitting there and I thought to go offer to bring him some dinner. Upon my knocking on the coach door, he woke up and let me in. I apologized for waking him and offered to bring him some food. He declined and asked what we were doing inside. I told him about the activity we were holding for some new members of our Church and asked if he knew anything about the Mormons.
He indicated that his Mom had been a Mormon, but he grew up with his Dad and didn't know about them. Are we Catholic or some Protestant group? A short explanation about the Restoration told him we weren't either. As he swept the bus, I gave him a fuller description of the Restoration, Joseph Smith and the Church's marvelous acceptance in the early days by the English people, during which he would stop sweeping up and ask questions.
A Book of Mormon was offered. After I summarized its story, he said he was off on a ship in a few days and needed something good to read. Upon retrieving a copy from our car, and capturing this beautiful young boy before he could head off to the supermarket to fill his trolly -
I presented the book to the driver and testified that it is the Word of God. He said he would read it and give me a call when he returned in maybe three months or whenever it happened. He also took a Mormon.org card because he would have internet access on the ship.
Sometimes you can feel if a person will really read; it felt that way to me. We also talked about how it would make his Mother happy and help him to realize that he will see her again someday. I am looking forward to a blessed day when he returns and a phone call will change his life and make my day.
Serendipity or coincidence? The Lord knows, and we believe there are no such things are coincidences.
Thank you, Elder Meese. Lengthy post this time, but I have to leave you with one last 'miracle' from Thursday night. My first 'choir class' was less than spectacular, with about fifteen total young adults showing up to this summer session most of them going in Bro. Brophy's class (amazing teacher!).
But after our small and sincere gathering, the girl pictured below came up to timidly ask a great favor. She said while listening to me play, she suddenly thought of her patriarchal blessing that she should learn about music. She tried piano in high school but had a harsh teacher that also got many basics wrong. She had dropped it until now, and just felt impressed that she should ask me if we could meet weekly for a while and teach her the basics in notation, theory, hymn playing. Hmmmm, let's see.....I could not say 'yes' fast enough to this sweet young 25 year old. We'll begin this Sunday, half an hour before church! That's what we're here for!!