Stories: Righteous Desires of our Hearts
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|Does our Father in Heaven know the righteous desires of our hearts? Does he hear and answer our prayers? I do sometimes wonder if He is listening to my prayers, or if He knows the righteous desires of my heart. When these types of thoughts enter my mind, I recall an experience I had several years ago which remind me that our Heavenly Father does listen to our prayers and knows what is in our hearts.
In the spring and summer of 1999, I was about to turn 40 years old. One tends to reflect on where they have been with their life at milestones such as a 40th birthday. My thoughts at that time were about my testimony; where I gained my testimony, and how the experiences of my mission, were important to building my testimony. I had been home from the Connecticut Hartford Mission for almost exactly 18 years, and I knew my mission would be holding a 20-year mission reunion later that year.
As a birthday present to myself, I convinced my wife Roxanne, that it would be good to visit my mission on kind of a 20-year reunion tour. This would give me an opportunity to show her around beautiful New England. I also hoped it would give me an opportunity to visit a couple of the people I baptized on my mission. Over the years, I had kept in contact with several converts - Mike and Wendy Darre from Mansfield Center in Connecticut, and Debby Green formerly of Lyme, New Hampshire. These wonderful people were a very large part of what made my mission special. I held a prayer in my heart that someday I would have the opportunity to tell them in person how much they meant to me.
I was going to have two days off for the fourth of July in 1999, so my wife and I decided that would be the perfect time to visit. I tried several times, unsuccessfully, in April and May to make arrangements for that particular weekend to fly into New York City or Providence RI. There were several airlines running specials to these two cities, and in order for us to fly into each of these cities, our stay would have been short, only three days, but that would still have been OK. But it seamed like something was keeping me from being able to make the proper arrangements, for no matter what we tried we could not make the arrangements. I was very disheartened, and felt like this trip was just not going to happen. In June, one of the travel companies in Salt Lake had a special on flights from Salt Lake to Boston for that time period! I called, and in just a few minutes all of the arrangements had been made, and as a bonus we were going to stay a whole week!
With the flights secured, I mapped a route through New England and upstate New York, that would allow us to visit all six areas where I served. I planned each day from early in the morning until late into the evening (I was really excited about this trip). Because we had a whole week to spend, I always knew that our schedule could be somewhat flexible. When the day finally arrived, we flew into Boston on a Wednesday morning. We rented a car and headed north to our first stop - North Conway, New Hampshire. It had been a long time since I had been to the White Mountains, but they were just as beautiful as I had remembered.
On Thursday, I had originally scheduled us to head south to White River Junction Vermont, where I wanted to stop into the home of Debby Green’s parents, the Woodward’s, in Lyme N.H. Debby was one of my first baptisms. She had married some years before and was living in North Carolina, so I knew we would not have the opportunity to see her. I wanted to say Hi to her parent’s anyway, so I planned this stop on our trip. But a funny thing happened. For reasons I did not fully understand at that time, I felt it would be better to head west to Plattsburg New York instead. So instead, we spent Thursday exploring Plattsburg, and then on Friday we explored Albany, New York. On Saturday we headed south and east for Mansfield Center in the eastern part of Connecticut.
I had been in contact with Wendy Darre (Mike, her husband, and Wendy were two of my last baptisms on my mission). We were planning on surprising her husband Mike that evening at home in Connecticut. We arrived back on schedule. I had not seen Mike or Wendy for almost 18 years. And I found myself getting a little anxious as we drove up to their house. Moments later I gave Wendy a hello hug which caused such a rush of emotions to came over me. I felt overwhelming love and appreciation, and such joy. It is hard to describe how happy I was at that moment.
A few minutes later, we attempted to surprise Mike. To my surprise he didn’t even bat an eye. He looked at me and without hesitation said “Hello Elder Weir.” Did he know I was coming? I don’t know. What I do know is that I was not the young somewhat skinny Elder that was on that mission 18 years before. In thinking about our meeting, I really think it was not just with physical eyes that Mike recognized me. After all our spirits are eternal and our spirits are part of us here and now. What was also amazing to me was how right at home I felt with the Darre’s. I had only known them for several months before returning home from my mission, and I had not seen them since. We had sent letters over the years, but being in their home, did not feel like a long distance friendship. Instead it was like being with old friends I could have been with recently.
Roxanne and I spent the rest of a wonderful weekend in Connecticut with the Darre’s. Sunday was ‘Fast Sunday’, so I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting. I don’t do that often enough at home, and for me, my testimony really became my own testimony and not ‘borrowed light’, on my mission. So this testimony meeting was very special to me. The weekend went by way too fast and Monday morning came before I knew it. Saying good-byes to the Darre’s was again such an emotionally hard experience. I kept thinking of the scripture - “If you should labor all your days, and bring save it be, one soul . . . how great will be your joy with them in the kingdom of heaven.” I cannot describe the overwhelming Joy I felt again at this time. I perhaps knew in a small way what true Joy is really about.
From Mansfield Center Connecticut, we headed north to Vermont/New Hampshire. By this time we had completely changed the schedule I had worked up, but I could not miss visiting with the Woodward’s (we had skipped on Thursday). When we knocked on their door that afternoon, I expected to see the face of one of Debby’s parents, but they did not come to the door. Instead it was Debby herself opening the door! What was she doing in New Hampshire? Or, was I just dreaming? In fact, Debby thought I did not recognize her, because I didn’t say anything for so long. I was so surprised that I was speechless. I knew it was Debby, but I couldn’t believe my eyes. What was even more amazing to me was what Debby said at that door. She looked at me, and without hesitation said “Hello Harold.” Now wait a minute! Michael Darre might have figured out I was coming to visit, but there was no way Debby could have known Roxanne and I were coming. She wasn’t supposed to be there and we weren’t supposed to be there. How could she possibly have recognized me so easily? As I look back on that meeting on that old farm house door step, and I am convinced that our spirits were friends in heaven. And, just as with Mike the day before, I truly believe that it was not just with physical eyes that Debby recognized me.
As it turns out, Debby was in New Hampshire for a rather sad occasion. Debby’s father had died that previous week, and on that previous Friday Larry (her husband), and Debby had flown in for the funeral. They were scheduled to fly home on Sunday, but she felt impressed to stay a couple of days longer to help take care of family business. So there she was. If Roxanne and I had visited on Thursday, like I planned, Debby would have not been there yet. Had Debby and her husband flown home on Sunday (like they planned), they would not have been there either. But sometimes the Lord allows us to have experiences such as this, and He grants the righteous desires of our hearts. I really wanted to see Mike and Wendy, and Debby, but I knew before the trip that we wouldn’t be able to visit with Debby. But, here Roxanne and I and Debby and her husband we were sitting in her parent’s kitchen chatting. I cannot tell you how grateful I was at that moment for the Lords blessing. I felt sadness for the loss of Debby’s dad, but I was truly in awe at the foreknowledge our Father in Heaven has, and how he made this possible.
We spent a several more hours with the Green’s. And again as we parted, my heart swelled with emotion as I gave Debby that same hug that Wendy and I shared. My spirit was so filled with Joy. I know that there were things that did not need to be said, because the spirit was so strong at that moment. Debby did share with Roxanne and I, that 19 years earlier she felt the spirit and gained a testimony at our very first discussion. As a missionary I tried to conduct myself as to have the spirit with my companion and me as we taught. And what a wonderful testimony builder that was for me to hear her recount that spiritual experience from that discussion so many years ago.
The rest of our trip on New England was uneventful. And even though we traveled through some of the worst thunderstorms I had ever experienced, it really was not that concerning to me because I knew the Lord was with us. We spent time in Boston on Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning we returned home to Utah, safe and sound. My faith was strengthened so much. Today my testimony is strong. Although, I still need to share it more often with others (perhaps this is what I am doing now). I am so thankful for the Lord giving me a testimony, and allowing me to share it with others. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity 18 and 19 years ago, to meet and baptize three of our Heavenly Fathers choicest children. And, I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for that wonderful testimony-building trip he blessed my wife and I with, back in the summer of 1999.
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