Today was a little bit like that. I'm not sure how this experience will weave itself into the grand scheme of my future life, but it certainly fits into the wildly out of character category. And as we were all getting dressed for church this morning and contemplating how we came to this place, I wondered what in the heck possessed me to send that text last week and do this crazy thing.
This trip to Arizona is different than last spring break and I knew that going in. Craig has put some significant (and justifiable) pressure on me this year to make an effort to build/repair a few necessary bridges with family members (more on that in a couple of days...) So while I was making appointments at the Mesa Temple and calling Great Aunts and other people I haven't spoken to in a really long time, the tiniest inspiration came to me to contact an IG friend I've had for a couple of years who lives in Benson, AZ.
The details are a blur. Craig was out of town last Wednesday when I did this and I was sitting in a hair salon. But after a few texts back and forth, my family and I had plans to meet Alliene Miller and her family at their ward in Benson, AZ at 1:00pm on Sunday (today) attend all three church meetings with them, and then go back to their house for dinner. Until this afternoon I had never met Alliene before. I had never heard her voice or seen her home. The only things I knew about her and her family were the things I had seen on her IG. I didn't even know how to pronounce her name until this afternoon. Crazy, huh? Yep. And equally crazy for her. What the heck were we thinking!??
It was weird at first walking into a totally unfamiliar building with unfamiliar faces, and even after we found the Miller's and talked to them (and confirmed that they were completely normal and not serial killers) and the meeting started, it took awhile for me to not feel sad that we weren't at home in our own ward. And then I looked around that chapel and I thought, "You know what, Haunani, in a minute you're gonna be sitting in a brand new ward somewhere in Birmingham and you're gonna feel exactly like this. And it's possible the people are going to look just like this. And you better decide now to figure out how to love them even if they look different than you and come from different backgrounds and have noisy children and don't come up and introduce themselves to new people. And you better figure out how to feel the Spirit wherever you end up, otherwise it's gonna be a long, dreary, sad transition to this new place." While the sacrament was being passed, I said a prayer that I would stop missing the things and people I knew, and just listen for what these people were saying and what the Spirit wanted me to hear. And it was still a little hard to hear it at first, even after the prayer. There was a really distracting family a few rows in front of us. There were super loud kids all over the whole ward. The chapel was this really unsettling shade of pink. And it wasn't until the very last woman stood up and bore her testimony that I actually felt the Spirit physically flood me with a whole crapton of love.
We stayed for the rest of the meetings and I loved Gospel Doctrine and I talked to the teacher afterward and told her that. I loved RS even more and I heard things in both lessons that I don't think I would have heard without that hearty prayer in sacrament meeting.
After all the meetings were over, I kept hearing that story in my head where someone asked President Kimball what he did during the really boring sacrament meetings and he said, "You know, I can't recall ever being in a boring sacrament meeting."
After church, we went to the Miller's house and had a delicious and HUGE breakfast for dinner and talked to them for hours, and then the kids played all their instruments together, and it was so effortless and comfortable and fun.
And you know what! For the first time ever in my whole life, I forgot about myself. I didn't care all day long about how many questions people did or did not ask me. I didn't care about what my hair looked like or how much more or less anyone else weighed than I did. I didn't care about what I had to contribute to the lessons or where I had been in my life or what I had seen or done or read or memorized. All I cared about was learning about these wonderful people in Benson, AZ. It was the weirdest and greatest thing I've ever experienced in my whole life. ❤️