We cruised down I-15 toward the MTC. We planned to get lunch along the way and had scheduled enough time to stop for photos and last minute good-byes. It was sunny and relatively warm for November.
Through the rear view mirror I examined my son in the back seat of the car, looking for signs of anxiety. Decades earlier when I had made the same trip with my parents my father told me to lighten up because I was acting like a soldier right before going into combat for the first time. After all, many thousands had survived the MTC just fine. My son seemed to be in a state of heightened awareness, but didn't seem overly anxious.
My wife suddenly realized that she had failed to get postage stamps and stationary for our son. Seeing as she wanted him to write home—you know how moms are—we had to make a stop. I noticed an office supply store that was easily accessible from the adjacent freeway exit. I took the exit and drove to the store. It didn't take long to secure the needed supplies.
We then figured that it would work best if we ate lunch in that vicinity rather than making a second stop. We asked our son to pick from the multiple nearby dining establishments. He saw a Five Guys Burgers and Fries across the parking lot and he suddenly had a hankering for a gourmet burger.
Upon entering the burger place I saw a fellow that I recognized sitting down to lunch. But I couldn't quite place him. His face lit up as he asked, "Are you ... ?" We began an enjoyable chat. In the meantime we got our order and sat down to dine.
As we ate, our friend turned to my son and said, "I need to tell you a story about your grandfather." He explained that he suddenly felt that it was important for my son to hear this message. Years earlier as a teenager this man had visited my father to receive a patriarchal blessing.
At that time the young man was had been steadily dating a girl for quite awhile. Everyone in both of their families assumed that the two of them would someday wed. Indeed, during the blessing my father voiced some things about this man's future wife that seemed to apply to the young man's girlfriend. Among these comments was that the man's future wife was being raised in an "inactive" family. Indeed, his girlfriend was the only active church member among her immediate family members.
The following day the young man left on a long planned trip to Europe with an educational group. During the trip he became good friends with a young lady he had never previously met. His new friendship caused him to question facets of his relationship with his girlfriend.
During the young man's absence, my father delivered a printed copy of the patriarchal blessing to the young man's home. Soon after the young man returned home, he read this copy and was surprised to see that some of the wording regarding his future spouse had changed. Among other things, it said that she was being raised in a "loving" family rather than an inactive family. Other subtle changes made for a picture that didn't seem to match his girlfriend as much.
The changes bothered the young man so much that he visited my father and asked about it. Dad explained that English was not his native tongue, so that the words he said while speaking the blessing were not always the best fit for what the Spirit had spoken to his heart. He also said that a patriarch is allowed to receive revelation while preparing the printed copy of the blessing. Dad said that by the time he delivered the final copy, he was certain that the words were a close match for what the Spirit had told him.
Before long, this young man left to serve as a missionary for the church. The relationship with his girlfriend ended up not working out (as is often the case for missionaries that leave a girlfriend behind). About a year after returning from his mission, he ran into the girl he had met on his trip to Europe. They began dating and eventually married. He said that her family members were among the most loving people he had ever met.
As the story and our lunch wrapped up, the man told my son that he had no idea why he felt so strongly that my son needed to hear that story; only that it was important. As we climbed into the car, I wondered about the 'coincidence' of ending up in the same restaurant as this man so far from our homes. My son saw it as a tender mercy from the Lord.