Christmas Miracle for Elder Bates
Written by Sister Reynolds
On Tuesday, December 23, 2014, we learned from our Zone Leaders, that one of the Elders in our Zone was not going to be receiving any Christmas presents from his family on Christmas Day because of a little snafu at the Mission Home.
Because Elder Reynolds and I were so upset at the thought of this Elder being so disappointed at such a tender time of the year -- and also in a new Mission area for him -- we had considered driving to Edinburgh early today to pick up Elder Bates' presents and find a way to get them to him by Boxing Day at the very least, since the Zone Leaders thought it might even be the seventh of January before they could get them to him.
However, that hope was dashed when the young family we were going to spend Christmas Eve with tonight called us late last night to tell us that they had to move our Christmas Eve dinner with them up from 7:00 p.m. in the evening to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon because the Bishop of our Ward had asked them to help with a service project for the Ward at 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Once we heard that, we knew that we wouldn't be able to get to Edinburgh and back in time to still make the dinner appointment with this family by 3:00 today.
Even though I knew it was fruitless to even still try to figure out a way to get this Elder his Christmas presents, I still thought about this situation most of the night last night (so I didn't sleep very well)!
When we got up this morning, I finally had another idea -- not an idea of how to get his "real" presents to him (I had finally given up on that) but an idea to just get at least ONE present to him so he'd have something to open on Christmas morning.
With this new thought in mind, I asked Elder Reynolds if he had the phone number for the Bishop in Inverness (which is this Elder's new area). My thought was that we could contact that Bishop and see if he and his Ward could put together something to give this Elder on Christmas morning.
Elder Reynolds said that he didn't have the Bishop's phone number, and so I asked him to call one of our YSA's (Curtis Goldstraw) who was once the Ward Clerk for the Inverness Ward. (Interestingly, had I remembered that I could access that number on the online Church Directory through lds.org, I would have totally short-circuited the eventual miracle that happened regarding the delivery of these presents, as we would never have called Curtis!)
Curtis -- thankfully -- answered his phone! (Most YSA's just send you back a text, instead of actually speaking with you!) Jim explained the problem; and Curtis said that he was in Edinburgh, but would call the Bishop and see what help he could get rolling for Elder Bates. Elder Reynolds said that was great, hung up the phone. To which I said, -- "Did you just say that Curtis is in Edinburgh??? Well, call him back and see if he IS going back to Inverness tonight and if there is a possibility that HE could take Elder Bates' presents to him if the Mission Home can connect with him today."
So, Elder Reynolds got back on the phone and asked him if he would be willing to take the presents back to Inverness with him if he was going back home tonight, and if the Mission Home could get them to him while he was in Edinburgh. Curtis answered, "Yes" to all of those questions, so Elder Reynolds said he would call the Mission Home and see if they could get the presents to Curtis, since Curtis wasn't familiar with Edinburgh and had no idea where the Mission Home was or how to get there.
Elder Reynolds then called the Mission Home and got hold of Sister Ferguson, who is the Mission Home Secretary. She told Elder Reynolds that it had been her fault that the presents got misdirected in the first place (they were sent with the AP's to Belfast last weekend. She said she had been sick about that mistake and had been praying for a solution to the problem ever since she found out that the mix-up had happened. She also said that the presents had just arrived back at the Mission Home from Belfast last night.
Elder Reynolds gave her Curtis' phone number so she could find out exactly where to send the AP's with the presents. Long story short, when he called both parties back a few minutes later, the hand-off had been arranged; and the presents were on their way to Curtis and his Mom.
When I found out that Elder Bates was actually going to receive his presents, I just bawled, because I knew that the Lord was aware of all of us. He was aware of Sister Ferguson, who had made the mistake in the first place, and who had been praying for days to find a way to rectify it -- something that couldn't be done until the presents were actually back to the Mission Home. He was aware of Elder Reynolds and me, as we had also been praying for a solution to the problem for a day and a half. He was aware of the Zone Leaders who also felt bad that Elder Bates wasn't going to get his gifts, but who felt they could do nothing to fix the problem. AND he was aware of Elder Bates, who thought he wasn't going to get any Christmas presents from his family on Christmas because of the snafu, since Sister Ferguson had called him yesterday to give him that news. The other folks the Lord was aware of were Elder Bates' parents and family who would feel really bad to know that their son and brother didn't get the gifts that they had lovingly purchased for him and sent to him for Christmas.
The other unique information that tells me just how much the Lord was into the details of this solution to Elder Bates' "Present Problem" was that when we got to the Shellhouses this afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the Dad got a phone call within just a few minutes of our arrival saying that the service project which had necessitated pushing our get-together earlier in the day had just been called off. Had we not thought we needed to be to the Shellhouse's early, we most certainly would have made a needless trip down to Edinburgh today to pick up the presents the Lord already had a plan in mind to deliver. We would have gone down to get them, and -- because we didn't have time to actually get Elder Bates' presents as far as Inverness tonight (or even tomorrow) Elder Bates still would NOT have had his presents for Christmas.
We had a plan put together by a couple of mortals, BUT -- the Lord had a plan put together by a God, who knew that Curtis and his Mother would be in Edinburgh today; that the presents would be back at the Mission Home today; and that He could plant a thought in my head to try to get Elder Bates "A" present for Christmas, after which I would ask Elder Reynolds to call Curtis!! (Thus, with God, even the impossible -- getting those presents to Elder Bates tonight, so he would have them for Christmas Day -- wasn't impossible.)
So, there you have it -- a genuine, real live, Christmas Miracle!!
Love, Sister and Elder Reynolds
YSA Senior Missionaries