I believe in coincidence… most of the time…

Most of the time, I believe in coincidence. Things happen. There are results, which drive other things to happen. Sometimes something big happens, sometimes nothing happens. It’s hard to know and it’s hard to read purpose in the seeming randomness of the universe. I emphatically do not believe that everything happens for a reason, and know of no doctrine that supports the concept.

But other times, I feel like things do happen for a reason.

Take the following chain of events:
– Yesterday, my Institute class was cancelled. I was kind of excited, because I had three or four things I needed to get done sooner rather than later, and I was looking at a very busy week.

– When I got home from work, the weather was so nice, I decided to go for a walk and enjoy what may have been one of the last great days of fall. This delayed my “getting things done” but it was a good cause.

– After making several “getting things done” phone calls while I was walking, I decided to walk over to a local church which has a meditation labyrinth. I’d seen a sign for it from the road while running and walking the area, and was intrigued by the concept. I found the labyrinth and walked it, further delaying my “getting things done” time frame. (Really cool experience, by the way. Well worth it, even if I cheated and only walked in and took a shortcut out.) By the time I got home, it was starting to get dark.

– Decided to start the laundry and go shopping, in that order. I didn’t really have a shopping list, but needed to pick up a few basics.

– Headed over to Meijer, and chose a really odd parking spot, further away from the grocery door than I usually park. I had a goal of when I wanted to be back home.

– Picked up the milk and cereal and a few other things, and headed to the deli counter. The line was three deep, but the counter clerk must have been new to the deli. She was Slow. Capital S Slow. It took several minutes for her to find the meat that a person in front of me requested and then five more to get it set on the slicer and sliced. And she was the only one available. I almost left three or four times, but since I’m working on my patience, I just let it go and got what I wanted.

– After getting the bread and hummus I needed, I headed for the checkouts. I had too many items (barely) for the U-Scan, and so I tried to find a checkout with a short line that was close to the door I was parked near.

– As I was loading the belt with my stuff, I noticed the woman in front of me, who I had guessed to be either Hispanic or Asian (don’t hate me, my Hispanic and Asian friends, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, and you see a lot of both in AA). She was using a WIC card and the checker kept taking things off the order that didn’t qualify. She looked baffled. I heard one of her daughters humming to the baby in Spanish.

Here’s that moment that it was all building up to:

– I took a chance and asked the woman in Spanish if she understood what the checker was saying. She responded that she didn’t. In my (clearly) broken Spanish, I tried to interpret. (Man, my interpretation Spanish is rusty!) I was able to explain what was going on and how she could remedy the solution. (It turned out that the juice was too small and the bread was too big.) I also helped her read the remaining benefits on her receipt.

I know I wasn’t the only person in the store who could have helped. But somehow, I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. If any step along my path before that had gone differently, I probably wouldn’t have been right there, right then.

Sure, coincidence happens. I’m chalking this one up in the other column though.

Conference Thoughts

So that was a great general conference, I thought. The lds.org website already has videos up for most of the talks, which is quick turnaround I thought. Here are some of my thoughts about the conference. I was able to hook my laptop up to my big TV and my internet handled the stream pretty well. I really thought that was a huge process improvement.

Thought #1:
The most exciting part for me happened right at the beginning, when President Monson announced the new temples. It actually took me a minute to process, but then I actually fist-pumped the air after I realized that he had announced a new temple in Concepcion Chile.Concepcion is just north of where I served my mission in Chile. The Saints in Osorno, Temuco, Valdivia, and all points south will now have much easier access to the temple. Previously it would take between 12 and 36 hours (from Punta Arenas, at the very south of the country) to get to the temple. Now it will be much much closer.

When I was a young Zone Leader in Valdivia, my companion and I motivated our zone by teaching them that work that we were doing was building a temple in the south of Chile. We made a chart that was shaped like the temple, and gave each companionship bricks to paste to it when they achieved certain goals. The point was that everything we were doing was laying a foundation for the building of the temple. That chart is probably still in a storage closet in a missionary apartment somewhere in Valdivia, but it’s really nice to know that the work we did, actually in fact did lay the groundwork for a temple that would serve the saints in the South of Chile.

Thought #2:
I got incredibly lost on my way to the Priesthood session on Saturday night. It’s not like I don’t know where the church is or anything. While I was driving over, I started worrying at something in my mind, and shifted into autopilot, and ended up driving past the exit I needed, and heading towards work. Not where I wanted to be on a Saturday night. After attempting to correct my error, I made a few more wrong turns, and ended up getting myself completely lost in a part of Ypsilanti that I didn’t really know. Needless to say, I was fairly frazzled when I actually did make it to the chapel, although I only missed the singing at the beginning.

Elder Uchtdorf’s talk really comforted me. He spoke of filling one’s time with work and knowledge and somehow was exactly what I needed to hear. I also took some of the weirdest notes that I’ve ever taken during his talk. I must have been free associating and doodling, and my thoughts just spilled out on to the page. I’m absolutely certain that I was driving the guy next to me crazy, with my pencil in constant motion as I turned my notebook around and around for 20 minutes.

Now imagine 3 pages worth of this.

The talks over at lds.org aren’t embeddable yet. I’m not sure if they will be or not, but you can watch his talk at this address. You have to click “Priesthood” and then scroll over to “President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.” If they make it available to embed, I’ll do that.

Update: Here’s a link to his talk. Here’s the video too:

Thought #3:
I just loved Elder Holland’s talk about the Book of Mormon in the Sunday afternoon session. It felt like everyone that I was watching conference at was at the edges of their seats. I’m really still processing it, so I don’t really know what else to say. He can really turn a phrase though.

If I’m diligent, once the text of his talk goes up on the web, I’ll link to it. For now, you can view it at the same link as above, except click “Sunday PM” and scroll over to “Elder Jeffery R. Holland.”

Update: Here’s a link to the text of his talk. And here’s the video:

Thought #4:
Does General Conference make anyone else super domestic? I was cooking during at least 3 of the sessions. I made banana bread, Amy’s Oatmeal Wheat bread, and some Basil Potatoes. What’s up with that?
So, anyone else have thoughts about General Conference? Which talks were the best for you?