Monday, March 7, 2016

A Kaleidoscope of Miracles -- March 7, 2016

Happy Monday, everyone! Temperatures are hovering in the

mid-90's and I am getting quite the tan. Good thing that by the time that tan is even useful, I'll have gotten back to my pasty white complexion. Such is the life of a missionary who got transferred to the beach capital of the country just ever so too early. But no complaints here!

The other day, Elder Hafer and I were yondering on up to catch a guagua when off to the side, we saw a girl walking. I remember very distinctly thinking to myself, "Huh. I don't think we know her," and then Elder Hafer nudged me and was like, "Bro, look! It's María Teresa." He gave an ear-piercing whistle and shouted, "HEY! MARÍA TERESA!!" The girl turned and looked at us. And. Well. She wasn't María Teresa. Elder Hafer's face turned as red as his nose and he just sort of awkwardly mumbled, "Uh, lo siento," and hurried past. Bahahaha.

Some days, it's a good day to die. Other
days, it's a good day to eat a burger
that's bigger than your face.
My inner uneducated writer says that by all rules of flow, this paragraph needs something before it. But. Well. I myself said I was an uneducated writer, didn't I? So anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to talk about miracles.

The word "miracle" evokes big things. Mountains moving. Sick people healing. The dead rising. Miracles are a happening that is unexplainable by reason or the laws that apparently govern our universe, and they occur typically because of divine intervention. Or something like that. A miracle is supposed to be a pretty huge deal. This is what I thought when I entered the mission field. Heck, this is what I thought when I entered this transfer.

Now, my perspective on miracles is somewhat different. Don't get me wrong, I believe in those large miracles. They're factual truths. But the fact of the matter is that the giant miracles are not nearly as important as the tiny ones that constitute our, you know, lives. An example.

I was chatting with my good friend Elder Walters a couple of
Our yard
months ago and I was ragging (I sometimes rag on things like this all the time) on this thing that God's children sometimes do when they say something like, "If I hadn't decided to pick up Steve's phone when he dropped it, I never would have met his sister who became my wife. It was a miracle." See, the thing is that there are so many tiny things that alter our path like that that it seemed ridiculous to term it a miracle. I said to my good pal Elder Walters, "Elder Walters, you and I are good friends. We're planning on rooming together at college. Both of our lives have had their courses altered to some degree because we're friends. But you know what? If we hadn't happened to go to the same mission at the same time, we would probably not be friends like we are now. 

"But wait! I would never have come out when I did if not for the influence of a girl who I happened to meet at Sonic, so if I had never worked at Sonic, we wouldn't be friends right now.

"But wait! I only came to work at Sonic because my buddy Jake worked at Sonic and their area supervisor (I think his name was Dave. I can't remember. I'm gonna call him Dave) had an incentive where if someone who you referred to work there turned out good, you'd get a ten-buck bonus. Jake referred me in order to get the bonus.  So, if Dave had never put that ten-dollar bonus, we wouldn't be friends right now.

"But wait! Dave got his in to Sonic some time after college because he got caught in the economic recession, was laid off, and in desperation, accepted a position at Sonic. So if the country hadn't gone into an economic recession, we wouldn't be friends right now."

"Think about it. Those are only a few of the general factors from my life, and they don't even include the influences in every else's life who was involved. See? If any one of those is a miracle, then they're all miracles."

This. Is an international airport. Seriously.
Now, my friendship with Elder Walters is just one itty bitty facet of my life, and though it is very important to me, it's not even one of the biggest defining factors of my existence. And you can do this same thing with everything in your life. Everything that happens plays into everything else. Some people (possibly philosophers, I don't actually remember hearing it anywhere except in a particularly funny XKCD comic, but it's certainly a philosophical idea) call this the butterfly effect, and that breezy night in Consuelo, I used it to try to curb stomp all this miracle-calling.

But I was wrong. Partially. See, you CAN find thousands or million or billions of these things everywhere. But the truth is that they ARE miracles. Tiny, sometimes infinitesimal things that we may or may not even notice lead us down the larger roads that shape our lives and even our eternities. And until we begin to notice and appreciate the little happinesses that are even in the simple, mundane things of life, I don't think we can ever begin to experience true joy. And personally, I think that here lies one of the grand miracles of our existence.

In the midst so many interlocking and complicated pieces that have been operating since time immemorial, God takes them and uses them to drive the course of all humanity. Even in our mistakes and pigheaded errors, God finds a way to bring about something good for someone, somewhere. You can call it threads in a tapestry, bricks in the wall, or drops in the ocean. But the little moments are the building blocks of our lives. And when we notice them, life ceases to be a long, empty road or a vast meadow or whatever else that's big and boring and becomes a swirling kaleidescope that we never get tired of watching. And since a life is much more real than a metaphor, we actually get to live it. And it's pretty dang awesome.

Anyway, that's sort of been the definition of my time here in Punta Cana. Beautiful physically. But. More than that. Much more.

Have a great week,
Elder Dallin Johnson

The picture is some folks playing bitilla, which is sort of like baseball played with a broomstick and a bottle cap. Yup.

This. Is an international airport. Seriously.

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