I feel like I need to share this experience on Hank's blog. I've shared it with my family, and with several friends...so my kids have heard the story quite a bit in the past month. But I need to document it, journal it, whatever you call it.
Almost exactly a month ago we went to Pomeroy's (a local store here that specializes in missionary clothing/supplies). We'd gone there a few weeks prior to get Hank measured and fitted for his suits and shirts he'll need on his mission. Pomeroy's called us about 4 weeks ago and told us the suits were ready and to come pick them up. It was a few days before school started, and I was running errands that morning, school shopping, etc, and I'd asked Hank if he could run over there sometime that day and pick up his suits. When I got home that afternoon, Hank hadn't gone yet, and so we decided to go together to pick them up.
We ran a couple of other errands on the way, and got to Pomeroy's about 3:00 in the afternoon. We walked in and there was one other family there, clearly getting their own son fitted for his suits, etc. They were all there together, with the mom and dad, their missionary son, and what looked like a couple of other older sons, one who had his wife and small children with him. It was a family event, and as their missionary son came out modeling a suit, they all gave their thoughts and opinions on how it looked, etc. It was fun to watch them, as Hank went in to try on his suit to for the final fitting. As I walked around the store, browsing, waiting for Hank, the father came over to me, and asked where my son was going on his mission. Hank came out right at that moment, and I turned to Hank, and said "Hank, why don't you tell him where you're going?" Hank smiled at the man and said "Jackson Mississippi". The energy in the room immediately changed as this man's face lit up in surprise, and the others in the sitting area to my left turned towards us as they heard this and started saying things like "No way! What? Are you kidding? etc, etc" This man then pointed to his t-shirt, which I hadn't noticed before and it said in huge letters down the side of his shirt "MISSISSIPPI". He said "Mississippi??? I'm FROM there!" Hank and I both just laughed, and I said "Hank, you need to talk to this man and find out what it's like there!" But as the conversation continued, I realized very quickly, that this family still lived in Mississippi! When it hit me, I asked him: "you mean, you STILL live there... NOW?" He said yes, and that he currently serves as the Branch President of the Jackson Mississippi Branch! I couldn't believe my ears! He asked Hank his name, and Hank told him. The family went nuts when they realized "Elder Jackson was going to Jackson". This man then said "I can hardly wait to to go home and tell President Tucker (Hanks mission president) that I just met one of his elders, Elder Jackson". President Tucker is in his branch! By this time, the man's wife (I WISH I could remember his name now...I want to say Pres. Edwards, but I can't remember now. It all happened so fast), anyhow, his wife came over and told Hank how they were going to feed him so well, and "fluff" him up. (Hank is very thin). We all just laughed, and were in disbelief that we were all in this store, Pomeroy's at this specific moment. It was amazing. Then I asked them what in the world they were doing here in Mesa! He explained that his son was going on a mission to Georgia the next week, and his older son and his wife and family live here in Mesa, and so they decided to come to Mesa to visit them, get his suits and supplies while here, and were leaving the following week to drop their son off in the MTC. I told his wife how happy I was to meet them, and that I wanted to cry, I was so happy to meet someone from his mission area. Hank was beaming, in his quiet and shy way. I think he was just amazed at the coincidence. It was such a good moment.
As Hank and I got in the car, I said to him "Hank, you realized, that was no coincidence?" Hank knew it wasn't. It was truly, a tender mercy on so many levels. For me, for Hank, for this family.
A few weeks later I went back to get the rest of his shirts, which they had to order. As I walked in, no one was in the store this time. The young man who works there said "Can I help you?" I said I was picking up my son, Jefferson Jackson's shirts. This young man said "Oh, you're the one who had the amazing experience a few weeks ago, meeting someone from your sons' mission! That was amazing!" I think back to that day, and realize that was a great experience for even the people working there, to see the Lord's hand work right there in their little store.