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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Open Your Eyes: A Tongan Miracle in a Peruvian Airport

When I drove my son down to the Chicago Temple recently, he read to me a chapter, "Open Your Eyes!", from John Groberg's book, Anytime, Anywhere (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 2006). It conveys a story that I'd like to share.

Elder Groberg was on assignment to hold two stake conferences in Lima, Peru, and was accompanied by his wife. They faced some unusual delays after they landed at the Lima airport. It took quite a while for the crew to complete paperwork before they could even open the doors of the plane. Then they faced very long lines getting through Immigration. Then they had to wait abnormally long to get their bags, which were the last ones off the conveyor belt. Eventually they got through Immigration and into the waiting area of the airport around midnight, where hundreds of people were milling around, including numerous vendors and cab drivers. As they were leaving with a member of the Area Presidency that had been waiting for them, he heard a woman call out his Tongan name from his days as a missionary in Tonga. "Kolipoki! Kolipoki" a woman called. It was a frantic woman rushing toward him, a member of the Church from Tonga.

He calmed her down as he spoke back to her in Tongan and learned her story. The woman's daughter had been serving a mission in Peru, and the mother had come to meet her daughter of the conclusion of the mission. The daughter had made arrangements to fly from her area in Cuzco to Lima so that the missionary's plane and the mother's plane would arrive at about the same time. But something had gone wrong, and the woman had been unable to find her daughter in the crowds, and could not get anybody to help her. She spoke no Spanish and almost no English. She was distraught, but sought the Lord's help. She found a little corner wherer she could sit and pray, and turned her heart to the Lord for help. During her prayer, she felt a strong impression like a voice saying "Open your eyes now!" She did so, and that's when she saw Kolipoki, a trusted Tongan speaker who could help her. Elder Groberg was able to call the mission president and see that mother and daughter were safely reunited and sent on their way together to a missionary apartment.

Elder Groberg realized that his many delays allowed him to be in the right place at the right time to help a troubled but faithful Tongan woman find her daughter. Someone suggested to him that instead of coming to Peru to hold stake conferences, the real reason he had been sent was to answer the prayer of faithful Tongan woman.

I know of many such stories, and have experienced quite a few myself, in which the hand of the Lord can be seen in unusual and sometimes painful events that work together in miraculous ways to bless a life. Prayer, coupled with listening and heeding the promptings of the Spirit, can work wonders. At the same time, I also have personally experienced events much like this one with the exception of not opening my eyes when I should have - allowing much needed help to slip away from me. It's especially painful to recognize later that the Lord had provided a solution and brought many things together, and that the only problem was me being too slow, too dense, too selfish, too reluctant, or too lazy, so that I never saw the Kolipoki that had been sent my way.

Have faith, turn to the Lord in prayer, and when He says "Open your eyes!", do not hesitate, but open them and run toward the solution He has sent.

5 comments:

Connor said...

Excellent story. Thanks for sharing it.

Pops said...

I'm fascinated that God is not constrained by time in the same way that we are -- the events delaying Elder Groberg were in anticipation of the crisis and the prayer, as well as the trip itself to Lima.

I too have experienced a miracle in my life where the events that set it up occurred long before I made the decision that led to the unveiling of the miracle.

The lesson I think is this: don't be shy about asking for a blessing just because there does not appear to be sufficient time for God to do the thing that is desired. He always has time.

Anonymous said...

Gracies...Malo, for this uplifting experience and testimony.

Blessed

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a matter of timing that happened recently to a missionary I know of. He learned French at the MTC to prepare for his mission in France, but his papers were delayed, so he was sent for a few weeks to the U.S. South to await his visa.

At the beginning of his mission, he and his companion were tracting, and they arrived at the home of an African refugee family -- they spoke French, but not yet English. They were excited to meet someone who spoke French and welcomed the missionaries in. Who would have thought this young missionary would be teaching lessons in French in the U.S.? But he was at the right place at the right time.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing coincidence that Elder Groberg has turned into a miracle.
I think a more amazing story would be to have all those starving mothers in Africa open their eyes during their prayers and find food enough to feed their malnutrioned children. Guess God cares more about A Tongan on vacation in Peru though. Sigh...