A few weeks ago I had one of the major surprise blessings of my life. It was amazing! It was a tender mercy that Elder David A. Bednar has spoken about. It left my heart feeling as light and bouncy as a rubber ball.
So this story goes back to last February. My friend Olivia was helping me mentor a class for young teens called Hero Project. I’ve blogged about that before here. It’s officially about World War 2 but we expanded it to World War 1. We had fun sharing a picture book every week at the start of class relating to the two wars. So one week Olivia read aloud the book below.
In case you can’t read the title in the flowing script, it’s called Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot. It’s the true story of the Candy Bomber, Lt. Gail Halvorsen. His story is summarized below by Tom Brokaw.
Olivia and I started fantasizing about getting the Candy Bomber to come speak to our class of young scholars so they could ask him questions (this was all pre-pandemic). We had heard he lived in southern AZ, which is where I was living at the time. We had so much fun laughing over how we could somehow sleuth out his residence and show up at his church. We imagined ourselves sitting in the back of the church meeting, scoping out the congregation and spotting him. After the meeting, we would casually walk up to him and say, “Oh, excuse us, we’re just visitors…(introducing ourselves) and…might you possibly be The Candy Bomber? You are?! Oh my, we are so pleased to meet you! Fancy meeting you! We had no idea you lived around here! By the way, we teach a class on World War 2 and would be so honored if you could be interviewed by our students.”
You can start watching the Candy Bomber’s story in the above video at the 34 min, 10 second mark.
Well, we talked to a bunch of people we thought might know his whereabouts, but could not find out any contact info. So the fantasy fizzled out. The pandemic hit, so then a lot of things took precedence and I completely forgot about the dream meeting with a hero from The Greatest Generation.
Fast forward to October of this year. I had moved to Utah and was busy unpacking and settling into our new home. Imagine my surprise when I got an email invitation from a friend to the Candy Bomber’s 100th birthday party! Yes, he’s still alive and just turned 100!
To top it off, I found out when I told my parents that I was going to his party, that they knew some people very close to him, his daughter and son-in-law. I discovered that his son-in-law was my dad’s co-worker for 30 plus years.
Lesson learned: I knew someone who knew someone who knew where the Candy Bomber lives the whole time, and I didn’t know, until the day before I met him. It just makes me wonder what else I want to know that is as close to me as reaching out to my family and finding out they know someone who can help me.
Anyway, I went to the party and it was delightful! He’s amazing to be 100 years old and still kicking! I got to visit with his daughter for several minutes and found out that my mom is one of her favorite people. They have attended several social events together and love to sit by each other to gab. I spoke a few words to the Candy Bomber as well. I didn’t want to monopolize his time so courteously ended my conversation and went on my way after wishing him happy birthday. I went away feeling as giddy as if I had just met Julie Andrews.
I felt so humbled and blessed. It’s just a little thing. I didn’t even pray to meet the Candy Bomber, but God heard my conversations with Olivia. He knew that it would delight my heart if I could meet him. As I’ve blogged about before, God truly “delights to own and bless me, when I strive to do what’s right.” Those words are from the hymn, Dearest Children (Hymns, no 96). The words are below:
Dearest children, God is near you,
Watching o’er you day and night,
And delights to own and bless you,
If you strive to do what’s right.
He will bless you, He will bless you,
If you put your trust in him.
Dearest children, holy angels
Watch your actions night and day,
And they keep a faithful record
Of the good and bad you say.
Cherish virtue! Cherish virtue!
God will bless the pure in heart.
Children, God delights to teach you
By his Holy Spirit’s voice.
Quickly heed its holy promptings.
Day by day you’ll then rejoice.
Oh, prove faithful, Oh, prove faithful
To your God and Zion’s cause.
I’m grateful for this experience and look forward to living up to “Zion’s cause” so I can receive more blessings, both prayed for and “unprayed” for.