On our way to Lauren and Scott's wedding, we stopped over in Vegas. Here's just a little taste of our evening there:
I stepped out of the Bellagio lobby. The sun had set but the air was still warm, and I felt alive in a way that can only be achieved through youth and summer time.
"Something is going to happen tonight," I turned back and said to my fellow travelers.
They made jokes about what sort of trouble we could get ourselves into in Vegas. But still I knew. Something really good was going to happen.
Our guide, and Las Vegas native, Nancy led us around to the far side of the fountains so we could get the best view. Every where lights flashed, catching our eyes with neon colors. It was impossible to look one place before you got distracted by the next. Music blared from the speakers, and we sang along as we walked.
We stopped at the far side of the fountains debating where we should stand to watch the show.
And that's when they approached us. Very large, African-American men called out to us and began trying to sell us their rap CD. Growing up in slightly lower-income neighborhood had taught me just lower my head, ignore their calls and move on.
But Nancy stepped up and started talking to them. She started asking them questions about where they were from.
"Chicago," they said.
Enthusiastically she responded with, "I was a missionary in Chicago." When they asked what kind, and she explained about the nickname Mormon.
"Oh so you all have one husband?" they both asked.
We answered with an emphatic and resounding no.
But then they asked us how we felt about Jesus and God. Without skipping a beat, Nancy explained that we believe God is our loving Heavenly Father, and because He loves us, He gave us the great gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. And she went on a little bit more.
I stood to the side, away, a little bit in awe at the whole exchange. She was giving a street lesson. In English! It was perfectly natural and flowed so well. I lamented the fact that I had left my mormon.org cards in my backpack and neglected to transfer them to my purse before we left Nancy's house. But it didn't matter. This was the magic I had felt was going to happen.
Sometimes, as members of the church, we put ourselves on guard; ready at the defensive for a moment of false accusation about our beliefs. But that defensive attitude closes so many doors. Those men seemed scary. But in speaking with them, we found out they had a pretty high opinion of those "brave mother-(insert expletive here)" Mormon missionaries they had seen in Chicago. And maybe we got to change their minds a little bit about what Mormons believed.
I don't know what sort of "magic" I was expecting to happen on the strip. What I saw from Nancy wasn't exactly magic. I'd like to call it more of a missionary miracle.
But meeting people, sharing what we believe, learning to love our neighbors; that's all a part of the magic of life. I can't imagine spending my night in Vegas any other way.