So, I'm used to dealing with words that aren't really words. It's common for me to say things like "execute a query" or "dump the cache". This is why my wife stopped asking me what I did today at work. It sounds like I'm describing a botched bank robbery. It's also why I can appreciate it when my daughter made up the word "beautifulest".
Programming languages exist so that a human can tell a computer what to do. Computers don't naturally speak the same language as humans, so we had to invent some kind of common ground. When programmers find that the language they are using doesn't allow them to give the right instructions to the computer, they either find a language that does, or invent a new one. In the same way, my daughter needed a better way to express how she felt about the day, but the language she was using (mostly English with some custom syntax and verb-tenses) didn't have the right word, so she invented a new one. To her, beautiful just didn't cut it. It needed to be the most beautifulest day.
Prayer can be an interesting thing. As I've written before it gets very easy to fall into ruts and get comfortable with a certain set of phrases. I try to avoid saying the same things over and over again, but one thing I've always repeated is "Thank you for this beautiful day". I use that every time, not because I'm comfortable with it, but because I really mean it. I am grateful for each day, and each day is beautiful, simply because it exists. To help you understand my perspective I share some numbers with you from my service as a missionary.
I served in the Mexico Monterrey South mission for 25 months, from February 2000 to March 2002. I flew home 3 days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics During my mission I served in 8 different Areas and had 17 different companions. I called home 8 times during my mission. For those of you keeping track, most of those numbers seem a little high, especially the phone calls. I should point out that all of them were authorized by the Mission President, and I would have been just fine only making the standard 4 calls, so let me share with you the nature of the other 4.
The first one happened after I had been out for 6 months. I received instructions from the Zone Leaders to call home and upon doing so I learned that the mother of the girl I had been dating had passed away from cancer. The second call came just before Mother's day near the one year mark. Again the instructions came from the Zone Leaders to call home. I assumed that my family had to reschedule the Mother's day phone call for some reason, but that was not the case. I called them only to learn that my Grandma Coleman had passed away. I remember thinking that this was 2-too-many phone calls for a missionary to receive, so you can imagine my disappointment 6 months later when I received the 3rd phone call. This time the Mission President, who happened to be our city for a Zone Conference, pulled me aside and asked that I call home immediately. It was then I received the new that my Dad had been put in the hospital and diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Guillan-Barre syndrome. I was sure this had to be the last time I had to call home off-schedule, especially since the next couple of letters home reported improvement and his eventual release from the hospital.
I will never forget the 4th phone call. I was serving as an Assistant to the President and we were in the Mission Office when the call came from the Mission President that I need to once again call home. It was with a heavy heart that I received the news from my Mom that Dad was back in the hospital on life-support and the decision had been made to pull the plug. I was shocked and devastated. I thought that the Lord was supposed to protect his missionaries and their families. How could this have happened?
With the love of my family, the support of an amazing Mission President, and my own testimony of the Gospel I decided to finish the last 4 months of my mission. I would say it was a hard choice, but that's not the truth. I talked to my Mom about it and there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to serve the Lord. I knew my family would be well taken care of and that I needed to finish what I had started. In the coming months, I found out why.
I had the opportunity to travel throughout the mission, working with the Zone Leaders to help train their missionaries. On one such occasion I accompanied the Zone Leader and his companion to visit a family that was nearing their baptismal date. The mother and children were ready and willing, but the father was holding back, saying that he just wasn't ready. The Zone Leader had done all he could help him, but they weren't getting through. So I asked if I could talk to him. I sat down with this man in his home and asked him why he felt like he wasn't ready. He gave me all the standard excuses and I listened. When he finished I looked at him and said that the time was now to make the choice. I told him that you never know how much time you have left to spend with your family and you can't wait to do what you know is right. The Spirit was very strong as I shared my recent struggles with him and he made the decision to be baptized with his family.
There wasn't another missionary in the entire mission who could have borne that testimony to him in the way that I did. I knew at that moment why I been prompted to finish my mission, so that I could help this man and his family start down the path to receiving the blessings of the Gospel and eternal life with our families. I was able to help them in a way nobody else could.
The Lord works through us and each new day we are given on this earth is one more day to bless the lives of those around us. It's one more day to spend with our families, one more day to improve and grow, one more day to prepare ourselves for eternal life.
I hope that we can all be thankful for each new day and try to make it the most beautifulest possible.