Friday, April 11, 2008

Guess Who We Ran Into

This post and this one both inspired me to write a list of interesting "coincidences" that have happened to my wife and me since we've married.

The Couple
We had moved to where we live now a few months before, and I was getting reacquainted with life here. One older gentleman had a habit of inviting me to a dinner on Monday night that I no longer attended, and my Dad (who happened to be there) said "Leave him alone, [name deleted], he's a Mormon now."

The man very calmly said, "That's okay [name deleted] here is a Mormon." as he gestured to an older gentleman standing with us. The man affirmed that he was, in fact, a Mormon who no longer attended because of his wife. I had never known anything about his affiliation with the church, but I noticed he shared a last name with one of the men in our branch. I asked the man I knew if they were related, to which he replied, "He's my mother's youngest brother."

I said, "Doesn't that make him your uncle?" thinking it was odd that he didn't just say that. He nodded, but explained that the man had become somewhat estranged from their family because he had left the church. I told him what the man had said about him still thinking of himself as a Mormon.

My friend said, "You should share that story with the couple over there. They're here from Utah to visit him." He pointed at a couple I had noticed and even spoken with. We went over to talk to them, and ended up talking to them for over an hour that afternoon. In the course of the conversation, we discovered that their oldest daughter knew my wife's oldest sister because they had served a mission together in Thailand. The couple had even been to my sister-in-law's house at some point, and their daughter kept contact with her.

This meeting all happened about two days after my wife had been wondering aloud "I just don't think like I fit in here. I don't feel any connection to home."

The Friend
The first person I really got to know in the church after I joined (that I had not known bef0re) was the leader of the men's group in my branch. He and I were similar ages, but he was finishing his undergraduate about the time I was finishing my MBA. He and I had some mutual admiration for each other, and I consider him a friend. The strange thing about him, though, is that I have run into him in four different places without any plan or even knowledge he would be there. The first time I saw him, I had just moved back to where I now live after living out west for nine months. He was sitting in my local church for a broadcast, and he was hanging out with three other men I had met at the same time I met him. I could understand them being there because they were from my town, but his family lived in Athens (where I went to college) after having moved all over the place, and the closest they'd ever lived to here was an hour away. It turned out that he was visiting another friend a town over and happened to come over to see the three guys I mentioned before. The weirdest part of him being where I was: he worked four hours to the south in Tampa.

The second time I saw him, he was at a conference of all our area churches, in the town he'd once lived, but again, he had no reason (I knew of) to be there. As it turned out, he was dating a girl whose grandfather was from the area, and he happened to be down visiting him with her. He'd changed jobs, moving him three hours to the north of where we met this time.

The third time I saw him, I just happened to be in Atlanta visiting friends and decided to make a quick trip over to the Atlanta Temple. I was leaving as he was coming in, but there he was again. This time he was there for the wedding of a relative or friend, so I could at least understand his presence. It's a natural place to run into someone, and he did live in the city.

The fourth time, though, has to be the most interesting and bizarre of them all. Last Thanksgiving, my wife and I were returning from the mountains north of Atlanta and decided we wanted to go to church that day. We had previously thought we had no chance to find a church to attend anywhere in the area and given up, but as we started home I thought "surely some church in Atlanta has a service we could attend." My wife started looking online with my laptop, and we found one right by the temple, which was less than a mile out of route for us. As we came inside a few minutes before the service started, a door opened, and out walked my friend. We caught up again, and I believe he had changed jobs a third time, so he was getting a new apartment. He started to introduce us to his new roommate, but there was actually no need for him to do so, because my wife knew him! The roommate had run cross country with my wife's older sister, but his family moved away to Washington state for his senior year in the hopes of landing him a scholarship in the sport. So here's my friend I randomly meet all over the place, and he's moving in with a guy from my wife's hometown who didn't even have family there anymore. Again, my wife felt a greater connection to being where we are that day, and I felt a greater sense of how small the world is.

There are more to share, but for now I'll conclude. I have found each of these peculiar "coincidences" amazing. I had no reason to expect them, and they seemed to happen at random, but I just know better.


Julie Pippert said...

Those are amazing coincidences! but good ones.

Robert said...

They were a lot of fun for us. Each one puts a smile on my face to recall.