A few weeks ago, a friend at work told me about a festival in downtown Tempe, AZ that I had visited before with my family. It was a very memorable experience then and I wanted to go again so my husband and I prepared ourselves to go for the whole day. We paid for parking and started off to the front gate. When we got there, we found out it was the wrong festival. I was off by a week and we paid for parking. We didn’t want to go back.
My husband came up with the idea of visiting the library on a nearby university campus (ASU) so off we went to find it. Long story short, we made our way to the history section of the library and I was dumbfounded by how many books there were on the Holocaust, World War II, and Eastern European Jews, where both sets of my grandparents came from in the early 1900s.
We stayed and read for over two and a half hours and I found the historical backgrounds for two different small towns that I had known of where my grandparents lived. It was incredible. When I first found out that we mistakenly drove to the festival on the wrong weekend, I was mad at myself for not checking the dates better, but after our time in the library, I realized that the Lord had led us there.
We would have never thought to go to that library to find family history information, but because we had paid for all-day parking and wanted to stay, we were led to the library and found a goldmine of information about where my family lived in Europe. Researching my family line has always been very difficult since I’m a second generation American of Jewish descent and most records are in a different language, if there are any at all. From what I am told, many records of the Jews were destroyed, which leaves me hanging.
I had been praying for the last few months to find more of my family records and this was a great start. Blessings come to us at the most unexpected times.
Think of all those times when you thought you messed up and it turned out to be a blessing, or a time when you went the wrong way but ended up somewhere unexpected where you were better off. Maybe this was being held up by traffic or stopping to help a friend. There are unexpected blessings that come at the most random times.
How have we seen Heavenly Father’s blessings come in unexpected ways? We see blessings not only for ourselves but for others.
President Thomas S. Monson spoke of this in the October 2012 General Conference when he said, “The opportunity to be a blessing in the life of another often comes unexpectedly.” Here is his story, which is such a great example of unexpected blessings:
“On one extremely cold Saturday night during the winter of 1983–84, Sister Monson and I drove several miles to the mountain valley of Midway, Utah, where we have a home. The temperature that night was minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit (–31°C), and we wanted to make certain all was well at our home there. We checked and found that it was fine, so we left to return to Salt Lake City. We barely made it the few miles to the highway before our car stopped working. We were completely stranded. I have seldom, if ever, been as cold as we were that night.
Reluctantly we began walking toward the nearest town, the cars whizzing past us. Finally, one car stopped, and a young man offered to help. We eventually found that the diesel fuel in our gas tank had thickened because of the cold, making it impossible for us to drive the car. This kind young man drove us back to our Midway home. I attempted to reimburse him for his services, but he graciously declined. He indicated that he was a Boy Scout and wanted to do a good turn. I identified myself to him, and he expressed his appreciation for the privilege to be of help. Assuming that he was about missionary age, I asked him if he had plans to serve a mission. He indicated he was not certain just what he wanted to do.
On the following Monday morning, I wrote a letter to this young man and thanked him for his kindness. In the letter I encouraged him to serve a full-time mission. I enclosed a copy of one of my books and underscored the chapters on missionary service.
About a week later the young man’s mother telephoned and advised that her son was an outstanding young man but that because of certain influences in his life, his long-held desire to serve a mission had diminished. She indicated she and his father had fasted and prayed that his heart would be changed. They had placed his name on the prayer roll of the Provo Utah Temple. They hoped that somehow, in some way, his heart would be touched for good and he would return to his desire to fill a mission and to serve the Lord faithfully. The mother wanted me to know that she looked upon the events of that cold evening as an answer to their prayers in his behalf. I said, “I agree with you.”
After several months and more communication with this young man, Sister Monson and I were overjoyed to attend his missionary farewell prior to his departure for the Canada Vancouver Mission” (Thomas S. Monson, “Consider the Blessings,” October 2012).
What great blessings await us unexpectedly when we live covenant lives which bless us as well as others. Heavenly Father loves us. He wants us to be happy. Why wouldn’t He bless us for trying to live a good life and help others? These blessings are gifts that often come at the most unexpected times.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.