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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friends in Old Familiar Places

I had a series of unique experiences today, and I just had to blog about them. I had a physical therapy appointment at 2:30 in Alpine, and I went expecting to have a great opportunity to get a workout. But the Lord had more in mind for me today than that. As I was nearing the end of my workout, one of the newer Physical Therapy aides looked at my chart, then looked at me. He had an excited expression on his face.

"Are you James Stokes?"

"Yes, I am."

"Did you live in Payson about 20 years ago and go to Barnett Elementary School?"

"Yes, I did."

He then told me his name. It was a name I instantly recognized from class pictures at Barnett Elementary School. As we compared who we had for 1st-3rd grades, we realized we never had classes together, but he still remembered interacting with me. He asked me if I remembered a certain classmate, and I responded I did. He said he was still good friends with that classmate and would tell him I said hello the next time he saw him. And while once the excitement of the moment wore off I forgot the name of that classmate, I will never forget how great it felt running into someone who remembered me from way back then. He said he hardly recognized me. I don't blame him. I've changed a lot since then.

After Physical Therapy, I headed to Wal-Mart with Amy to do some shopping. Since she wasn't feeling well, she stayed in the car and sent me on alone to get the groceries. In the process of doing so, I saw a man who looked familiar to me, but I couldn't place him. He nodded and waved to me as he passed. I continued shopping. A few minutes later, I encountered him again. He said, "Hello, James. Do you remember me?"

I admitted that I did not. He identified himself as Allan Leatham. My brain went back in time and connected the name to one of the men I had worked with in the temple on the Friday 3rd shift. He told me he was retired now and volunteering as an assistant manager over certain areas of that Wal-Mart. He said he and his wife were still serving at the temple and were planning on serving a mission soon, locally, which would allow them to retain their temple service. I was overjoyed to see him and told him to please say hello to all the Friday 3rd shift brethren for me. He promised that he would do so.

Directly after that, we went to Good Earth so I could pick up some more Granola Bars. I had selected the ones I needed and was just checking out when something told me to turn around and look behind me. There standing behind me was another dear friend, a surrogate grandfather who is as dear to me as my own natural grandfathers, George Sturt. I wasted no time in greeting Uncle George and in asking after his welfare. I was pleased to see that he was doing well. Since Aunt Louise passed away in 2012, I've worried about him, but he's done fantastic. He asked how I was doing, and I told him. He asked how Amy was, and I explained that she was not feeling well and was waiting for me in the car. I told Uncle George we'd wait for him to come out so he could say hello to her as well. He was happy about that. I exited Good Earth and told Amy about this third encounter. We waited, and soon enough, he came out. He asked Amy how she was doing, and they talked a bit about her family history. After a couple of minutes, he left.

It is sobering to think that if I had been in those places just a few minutes earlier or later, I would have missed each of these encounters. I believe these were encounters the Lord wanted me to have today. It was fun to see these friends in old familiar places. I know that the Lord is keenly aware of us, and because of this, He often sends tender mercies such as chance encounters that couldn't have happened by accident.

In other news, I got another call this morning from a representative from Jive!, another company I had applied with. She said that they were looking to fill one position very soon and that based on my resume, I was a very strong candidate. Unfortunately, I had to get all this by voice mail. When the phone rang this morning, I was tired from a bad night and kind of cranky and not wanting to talk to anyone. Once I knew what the message was about, I attempted to return the call and wound up having to leave a message on her voice mail. I hope she will call again. This time, I will be ready for her.

Still haven't heard back from BidSync, but I hope to within the next couple of days. Don't know what to hope for or expect, so I am merely praying that the Lord's will might be done. I have recently become aware of a feeling of cowardice on my part when it comes to the idea of entering the work force. I find the prospect of starting any new phase of life scary. I have always been anxious about starting at a new school. I was very nervous about getting married. While I long to be a father, I'm scared to think about beginning the new experience of parenthood. Since I've never had a regular job before, I'm a bit of a nervous wreck when I contemplate entering the work force. But I have never let fear keep me from doing the right thing. And I have always been better off for doing the right thing. As James Neil Hollingworth, pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon, put it, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." So I feel confident that when it comes down to it, I will be just fine.

That's the latest on us. More to come in a few days when I find out the result of the interview!