Tonight I served as a host at the Mesa LDS Easter Pageant. For the past week or so I have been back and forth on the matter, and despite it sounding like it would be a great experience, I really wasn’t planning on doing it.
Side note: For those of you who haven’t been to the Easter Pageant before, GO! It is an absolutely beautiful production, which portrays the story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Bible, and it only takes place for 2 weeks out of the year! Go now! Don’t wait! You absolutely will not regret it!
Now, after much deliberation, I finally decided to be a host tonight to give my dad a night of relief. I arrived 30 minutes early and sat in a chair on the temple’s lawn. I basked in the peace that exists on the temple grounds, smiled and greeted people as they passed, and thought ahead to how I would act and interact with the people who would soon be arriving. As I did, I realized how important this preparation time was for me, and I was grateful to be where I was.
At 5:00, the member of the Easter Pageant Presidency who would be setting me apart arrived, and we set off to find a private room in which to do so. As he blessed me, I listened carefully to the words of the prayer. I was amazed by what I heard, and can distinctly remember 1 impression and 3 specific things I was instructed to do. The instructions were to:
1. Reach out to the elderly and show them kindness and love
2. Kneel down and interact with the little children
3. Look for those who are outcast and place my arm around them and help them to feel loved
As I heard these things, the impression that came was “I am literally the Lord’s hands tonight. I am here to do what He would do if He were here.”
I want to share with you, humbly and gratefully, that I was able to do each one of these things tonight. All through the night I was able to smile and interact with elderly people. I L-O-V-E-D it! Every person I met tonight was so sweet and so genuine and kind. I made SO many new friends, and was able to direct many of them to the temple’s visitors center.
Once, the second instruction came to my mind, and just as I started to think about it, I turned and saw a young boy staring at me. I stared at him and smiled. We remained like that for at least 20 seconds. Finally I knelt down and greeted him, and tried to shake his hand. He was shy and my heart melted. Children are incredible.
Now for the third instruction. After my hosting was done, and I was on Cloud 9 and feeling the missionary Spirit, I tried to decide if I should stay and watch the pageant. I ran into some friends and we sat together on the steps of the Visitor’s Center and watched the beginning. It was great, as usual, and I felt the Spirit, but I really just wasn’t feeling it. So after a few minutes I decided to go. I said goodbye and decided to walk to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard (oh yes.) As I passed some picnic tables on the way, a young man (I later found that he was 26) sitting alone asked “Do you know what’s going on over there where all those people are? Are they doing a skit or something?”
I briefly described the pageant.
In the next few moments, he quickly moved from telling me how he moved here recently to telling me about how he is 26 years old, his brother was just killed, his father has dementia and is in a retirement home, and how he is currently homeless and living on the streets of the cities of the Valley. It wasn’t a cry for help, it wasn’t a request for money or food, it was a desperate plea for company, someone to talk to, someone to listen. As he talked about how his younger brother was stabbed and killed recently, something told me I needed to stop leaning on the table and sit. He put his head down and the tears dripped. I sat by him and put my arm around him.
What followed was one of the greatest experiences I have had. I marveled as I listened to this man in complete loneliness and despair tell me how he needed to turn his life around, how he wanted to gain more spirituality, and how he needed to find more people like me who really cared about people, all as we sat about 100 yards from the visitor’s center of the Mesa temple.
By the end of the night, I could tell that this young man was feeling better, that he had needed to vent, to talk to someone who cared enough to listen, and that he was sincere about wanting and needing to fix his life and pursue a better future.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to him, but I know that I was sent there tonight to be with that young man, and possibly for that reason alone. God loves each of His children.
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
One thing that I almost forgot to mention, is that this morning I woke up to a text from the Elders in my parents’ ward asking me to go with them to a lesson with an investigator. Of course, I agreed. The woman they were teaching is one of the most prepared investigators I have ever seen or heard of. She had a sweet, simple spirit about her, which was plain to see and incredible to feel. Today, of all days, the Elders invited her to be baptized on April 13th, and she accepted.
Today has been a better missionary preparation day that I could have ever planned or imagined for myself. I truly have a testimony that God is a master orchestrator, who molds and shapes our paths for our good, always for our good.
Today was perfect.