Intriguing title, no?
July 23, 2010
by Matt Thorup
Carla dropped me off at the airport that morning. She had spilled teriyaki sauce all over my boarding ticket, but I figured it still worked and it was tasty, so I didn’t get a new one. I went to the gate and because I didn’t have an assigned seat yet, I showed my teriyaki-flavored ticket to the attendant and she then assigned me to a seat. I patiently waited an hour for the plane to board.
I was nervous, but rightfully so. For up to this point I was still undecided about going. It sounded awesome but what if I got up there and the program wasn’t legit? Could I really be gone for 6 months? Was I being selfish? 20 minutes at an airport and I already missed my wife and dog… oh brother.
However, I knew the Lord was on our side. We had not taken this decision lightly, and it had been a topic of our prayers, our ponderings, and our temple outings for the past 3 months. And just 3 days ago when we were sitting in the temple together, I had the strongest feeling that although the answer was still unclear, this Friday the answer would be made so clear to me that there would be no mistaking it. I didn’t really know why I felt this way, but I knew the answer would be clear and it would be direct, and we’d have no doubt what decision we should make. And I knew we would find peace with a yes or a no. So here I was, ready to go check out the school in person, armed with my pro/con list and a bunch of questions Carla and I had thought of to ask.
The boarding process began, and I was walking down the isle to my seat when I noticed I’d be sitting next to some old people. Oh great… you never know how a flight will go when you’re next to old people.
Then I got closer and the man looked familiar.
I looked again… It couldn’t be him. Could it…? Another big glance…
It was he, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. And I had the window seat in his row sitting next to his wife. In coach! On a Delta plane! And I’d just been assigned my seat like an hour ago!
So I sat down. Knees shaking. Hands twitching. And the only thought I had was I need to text Carla! “I am sitting next to an Apostle of the Lord!”
After sitting there battling with myself to do something, I finally mustered the courage to introduce myself and said the first thing that came to my mind…”Elder Hales, I’m a little star struck, but I have to introduce myself. I’m Matt Thorup and I am very pleased to meet you.”
After shaking hands with him and his wife, as well as a little bit of chuckling, his wife said, “We’re just glad you’re happy about it!” I composed myself and just smiled. Now I know Apostles are just normal men that walk and eat and apparently fly just like me, but there was an obvious difference. This man has been called by the Lord, and you could feel that just by sitting next to him. He radiates the spirit.
Then it got even better. He pulled out HIS iPhone to check some things, and so our conversation started. One of my first questions was, “So, do all of the Apostles have iPhones, or just the lucky ones?” He chuckled and replied, “Oh we ALL do.”
Another text to Carla… “ALL OF THE APOSTLES HAVE IPHONES!!!! THE CHURCH IS TRUE.”
So over the next two hours we talked for most of the plain ride. I asked questions like what it’s like being an apostle. I found out he had lived in Spain when the church was first opened, and I shared that I had served my mission there, and had just recently returned from taking my beautiful wife to visit.
Then I felt like I needed to ask him about the school. There was a reason I was sitting next to him, and if I was going to get advice from anyone, why not one of God’s chosen servants, right? So I explained a little about the school, and how I would need to move to Seattle for six months. How it would mean leaving my wife, quitting my job, and being released from my current calling in the church. And I explained how today was a big day since I was flying up to Seattle just to see the school in person and make a decision that would ultimately mean making big sacrifices, especially the whole not being in the same state with my wife for 6 months.
And this was the incredible part. He looked at me, thought for a moment, and gave a short, yet perfect answer. He asked if this is the career I wanted to get into. I replied that it was. And he said, “Then this is just a small sacrifice in the large scheme of things. If it’s what you want, and if the school is right for you, and you are both willing to sacrifice for it, then it will all be worth it in the end.”
The best part about that answer is that he didn’t know me, and he didn’t know the school, but he looked at me and I watched him sincerely ponder over my question for a moment so that he could give me the advice that I needed to hear. I felt so strongly of his spirit, and I know that advice came from a loving Heavenly Father. And although I didn’t have my official answer yet, it was a great start to the day ahead.
As our plane landed, I felt honored to have talked to them for nearly 2 hours. My cheeks were seriously sore from smiling because I was so happy and giddy over this experience. I bid Elder and Sister Hales goodbye and wished them a good time on their voyage, and they wished me luck with the school, and we parted ways. But I couldn’t help thinking to myself that the church is true, and God does in fact listen and answer our prayers.
And as I went to check out the school, everything was great. I sat in on a lesson, the teacher was amazing, and the students were astoundingly good. Everything seemed to just fall into place. And now it looks like I’ll be making my way to Seattle at the end of September.
And if anyone wants tickets to the next General Conference, let’s just say I have a hook up… ;)
(we are members of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints, and more info about our faith can be found here, in case anyone is confused by any of the jargon used in this post. and a preface to this story can be found here.)