(As told by Elder Bybee’s Mom, Sister Valerie Bybee)
May I retell a story that I have shared with a few people? You may have heard parts of the story but the following is the full story. It is worth sharing this BEAUTIFUL Christmas day...
Elder Bybee specifically asked us not to send him gifts as he wanted to save the money for college next year. We respected that, all though I did send him a few things in a stocking that he had already received a week prior, so I wasn't too worried. I kept feeling, a couple of weeks later, that I needed to send him one small gift to open on Christmas but every time I went to try and think of something, my mind was instantly blank and I could not think of one thing to send him. I did have a package of his favorite chips sitting, waiting for me to send with his package, but they sat on my counter for a week and a half while I tried my best to come up with a gift idea. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t think of one thing to send my son….
Sunday, December 18th 2016, came as usual. We all attended church and came home afterwards and went about our Sabbath day. At 7:00 that evening, I suddenly got a message alert that I had a filtered message on my Facebook Messenger. Anybody who understands messenger knows that it is unheard of to get notifications of filtered messages. I went and looked and noticed the following message in my filtered folder.
From: Angie Takahashi
“Are you Sister Bybee? Related to Elder Bybee in Kingston, ON?
I found him on Facebook and noticed your watermark on one of his photos.... sorry if that is a little creepy, but hopefully you are who I think you are! 😉
If so, we have had the pleasure of having Elder Bybee and Beddes in our home last week and they brought a great spirit with them! Elder Bybee is a great missionary! You must be so proud of him!
Today as the missionaries were passing sacrament in our branch, I kept thinking that I should find their moms and see if there is anything I can do to reach out and make Christmas more meaningful to them. With Christmas happening next week is there anything I can do or get or deliver favorite treats? Traditions? Anything that would help him to feel close to home and family this holiday season?
Please let me know! And don't hesitate if you think of anything at all! Our family really wants to reach out to our fantastic missionaries!
I also attend branch counsel with him each week and he really is such a great worker and is so devoted to the gospel! Please let me know if you think of anything!”
Sister Takahashi was a stranger to me but I instantly was so happy that she was following the prompting she had received and had contacted me the same day. Below is my response to her. I feel that the original words will tell the story in the best way possible.
“I AM Sister Bybee!!!!!!! Oh this is so wonderful! I love it when members reach out to me where my boy is serving at. Elder Bybee is such a wonderful person. I am so happy for him because he is so happy serving and working with and for the two people he loves most of all. God and Christ. Thank you for having him in your home last week.
I LOVE that he still gets the opportunity to pass the sacrament. Elder Beddes and Elder Bybee are awesome companions who work well with each other and help one another to serve with the best of hearts.
I have been wondering about Christmas myself. He asked that we don't give him any gifts this year, but to save the money for him when he comes home and we can put it towards his college at that point. All this time I have wondered and wondered what small thing I could get him so that he would have one gift to open on Christmas. My mind has been blank this whole time except for NOW!!! I don't think I can get a package to him soon enough so maybe you were meant to message me to help me out.
One of our traditions is that we open a gift on Christmas Eve and it is always Christmas pajamas pants. Do you think you could find some for him and wrap them up for me and deliver it to him somehow Christmas Eve, with a note that says from your family at home? Just the regular cheap flannel kind. Nothing fancy. The note could say the following:
"As you open this tonight, remember we are doing the same. We love you and long for the day when you will be with us again for our Christmas Eve tradition! Love, Mom, Dad, and your bros."
His favorite treats are as follows and he would love any of them!
Sweet Spicy Chili Doritos (purple bag) Mike n Ike's Tropical Typhoon Hi Chews Twizzlers pull n'Peel Fruit Snacks Gushers (A different type of fruit snack)
OH!!!!! I just remembered another tradition our family does that I know Elder Bybee would adore. Our family always gets Chinese food on Christmas Eve. Don't know why we started that but we did. And Elder Bybee LOVES Chinese food. Like Orange chicken and such. I am pretty sure that Elder Beddes does too.
Please don't do all of these. Just let me know which you are doing and if needed, I can send a package out to him tomorrow with PJ's in it and he can just get it after Christmas time. BUT, I would be happy to cover any costs incurred for the PJ's because it would include a note from us. So PLEASE send me your mailing address and I can include some money for your family.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! I honestly had tried to think for 2 weeks what I can send him and this is it. Christmas PJ's. Seems so simple but it would be so neat for him to get it.”
After thinking for a moment I realized that I had to change one of the wishes I sent. “Scratch the message from us. Just have it be from your family. That's how it's supposed to be.”
As soon as I sent that, I knew it felt right. We continued to talk about Elder Bybee and I will include some of our conversation below:
“Thank you for telling me about branch counsel too. He has such a gift of loving the people he teaches and is a steward over. Such Christ like love comes from him and he genuinely cares about each person as an individual son or daughter of God.”
From Sister Takahashi:
“Oh this is all perfect! Thank you for getting back to me! ❤ I felt a little silly when I thought ‘find their moms and ask’ but I'm so glad that I did!
We are definitely going to do pj pants for him and get some treats together for him too. We'll do our best to make your boy feel loved this Christmas! And I've got my mama eyes on him for you! He really is such a great man, and old soul I can tell he's got a lot of you in him! Goodness and kindness and genuine love.
Don't worry about a thing!”
Did you catch that phrase at the end? Because Chase and I absolutely heard it deep in our hearts. She commented she feels he is an old soul. That is a phrase that has been told to us over and over by various people in our lives. I knew that God was sending a direct message to Chase and I that He was taking care of our boy and that no matter what happened, God was going to make sure that he was loved, cared for, and watched over. What a gift of peace that burned straight to my mother’s heart. I had no idea just what that would mean in the coming days ahead.
Our conversation continued as follows:
“Oh yeah!!!!!!!! 👏👏👏👏 For reals I have tears in my eyeballs. I've just felt so helpless this whole week and just wanted this Christmas to mean a little bit more to him and you were just the family to do that. What a kind sweet Father from above to help me feel peace through the service of a family far away and yet so close to my son. And how wonderful of you to follow the prompting you had to find us. What a blessing.
It's funny that you say an old soul!!!!! He's been told that by his Bishop here at home and I've always thought that same thing myself. I feel that he is older than me oft times. May I share a very thought provoking email he sent home two weeks ago? There are many times where I feel I am hearing a very old soul speak truth but his last email struck me more than any others he has ever written.”
Fast forward to Monday, December 19th, 2016. Elder Bybee wrote to us and it seemed a little off to me. Then Chase forwarded me an email that Cale had wrote to him specifically. I cannot share what was written but I immediately felt concerend. Chase then texted me and said he felt like we needed to all go shopping for Cale and in a short time span we would each choose a small gift we could all send to Cale to unwrap on Christmas morning. “Okay! Let’s do it!” I said. I had no idea the logistics of everything but that didn’t matter at the moment. After agreeing, I had a sudden thought that I needed to reach out to Sister Takahashi one more time:
After talking with Elder Bybee today, I feel very prompted to ask a large favor of you. I feel like you are the person to do this as the spirit spoke to you about Elder Bybee and Elder Beddes. Would your family be willing to invite the Elders over to your home on Christmas Eve to participate in your family Christmas Eve celebration? Would your family be willing to take in 2 boys who miss home and their family so very much right now, and be willing to share your children with them to play with and celebrate the evening with? Elder Bybee adores children and misses his 4 younger brothers so very much. May he play with your children this Christmas Eve? May he share the joy of your family with you and your husband? May he have a home to be in filled with love and kindness and a deep love for the Savior? This would be the greatest gift he could receive this Christmas season, far above and beyond any earthly gifts. But the gift of a family who might be willing to adopt two lonely boys for a simple night would be a priceless gift indeed. This would be a gift that I could never repay but I know the Lord can and will bless your lives and your children's lives. Thank you for your sweet spirit and your sweet heart of giving this Christmas season.”
She said, “YES!” and instantly contacted Elder Bybee and Elder Beddes to invite them over for Christmas Eve. They said, “YES!” I thought this would be the end of our Christmas miracle but little did I know that God had something better in mind.
It took us 30 minutes to successfully shop for Cale. Then we wrapped each present when we got home and each wrote him a handwritten letter to send off with the package.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 came bright and early. I packed his present and wondered again how I was going to get it there on time. Sending a package to Canada usually took a good 5 days via UPS and that included going through customs. Rushing it would cost a lot but I was willing to pay it. I knew if I did my part that God would make sure it got there. We were working solely on promptings and following them the best we knew how. After I packaged everything I had another prompting to contact Sister Jenny Harvey. She had let me send some other packages directly to her as she sees the Elders every Monday and had contacted me earlier in his transfer letting me know various things and complimenting Elder Bybee in his service he was doing. She was also sending back Cale’s guitar as new rules indicated that he could not have it anymore on his mission and he desired to be strictly obedient to the rules. She would be sending it through New York, as she happens to have a PO BOX there to ship her own missionaries’ packages from, as her son is currently serving in California.
The following is my text conversation with Sister Harvey:
The following is my text conversation with Sister Harvey:
Me: “Did you go to New York yet? I have a package I need to send to Elder Bybee today and if you haven’t made it there yet, I would prefer to rush ship it to NY rather than Canada and have to go through the whole customs forms again.”
Sister Harvey: “We will be going down on Saturday morning to get some last minute shipments We’d be happy to collect one for him!”
Me: “Oh yeah!!!!!!!!!! Another answer to our prayers!!! You’re so awesome!!! I am partying right now!”
Sister Harvey: “Lol…so glad I could last minute shop and need to go down on Saturday!!”
Me: “We felt prompted yesterday to do a last minute quick shopping for him with his brothers and us, getting him a small gift each. It was not planned at all so I knew that God would provide a way for us to get it to him on time. We just had to have faith and do our part and He would do the rest. Thank you for being the instrument from Heaven to fulfill that prompting we had.”
So I went to Harmon’s to mail Cale’s package. Before leaving I called Cindy Anderson because I felt prompted to do so. I remembered she wanted to include a small gift to Cale and knew that my package would be the best way to get it to him. She said she hadn’t gotten it yet but would run over to Station Park right away and get it for him. When I got there I was able to put everything in a long box that would only cost us a flat rate of $18.75 and it would get there on Christmas Eve. While I was waiting for Cindy to come I joked with her that the mail person had come to pick up the packages and was thinking it would have been nice to send it right then. God had other plans because He had a grand design that I did not see or know about. Cindy came right after the postman left, but he assured me he would be back two more times that day to get packages being mailed. I sealed the box and left it at Harmons. 30 minutes later I realized I had forgotten to put a new camera cord in there that Cale had requested as he had lost his other one. I went to two separate stores looking for one and couldn’t find it. I then had a prompting to go back home and look for one in my cords at home. Knowing things had gone well by following promptings, I proceeded back home and sure enough found an old cord of mine that I could send to Cale.
My thought then was, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I got to Harmon’s and the package was still there and they would let me slip this inside of it?” I am sure you can guess by now what happened.
YES!! Another tender mercy from heaven. I KNEW that this many happenings came directly from Heaven and KNEW the package would get to Cale. God had His hand in this whole design and I just had to follow the feelings and promptings He was giving me. I also KNEW that this was going to be unlike any Christmas he had experienced previously because he would KNOW, without a doubt that God was sending love directly to him through so many people. And that once Cale knew the whole story, he would have an even firmer testimony of God’s love for the one. (I plan on emailing him this after I finish typing it up.)
Sister Harvey texted me on Saturday and said two simple words:
“Ahhhhhhhh oh my word!!! Best news ever!!!!!! I am so excited for him this Christmas. God has been watching out for him and he will know it for sure. Thank you thank you thank you!!!”
Sister Harvey: “Also, I think it was a blessing to have his parcel with us… I forgot to ask you what was in the parcel you sent because I’d have to claim that amount… Blessings came…questions weren’t asked and the border guard wished me a merry Christmas!”
I told her I was putting that in Cale’s story as I knew I had to write it and share it. God still performs miracles. He is real and he loves every individual on this Earth!
Saturday night, Christmas Eve, at exactly 7:44 pm Sister Takahashi sent me the following photos. If you haven’t used tissues to dry your eyes, you may want to grab some before you continue…fair warning…
(New Christmas PJ's and a scarf from the Takahashi family!!! Look at their sweet children. I bet Elder Bybee had a blast.)
“Merry Christmas From Kingston!”
Me: “Oh my word!!! I am seriously crying. Look at his smile!!!!! Thank you thank you. Words can NEVER express what a tender mercy this is to our family!!!!”
Sister Takahashi: “We had a great night and we're so happy to have your son celebrate with us! When they left he said he feels like a million bucks!”
Me: “Oh man now more tears!!!! You're sweet family has gifted him something we could not. You and God worked together to let him feel a little more at home this Christmas season.”
Sister Takahashi: “It was our pleasure!! It has been miracle after miracle and I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us and loves us so much! I felt lead and guided and inspired and felt like this was exactly how Christmas was supposed to be! He said that there were a couple moments where it felt like he was home”
Me: “My husband and I can never express just how much that last sentence meant to us. Your family is so wonderful to invite two homeless men in to celebrate Christmas Eve with your family. Thank you for making room in your Inn and for letting them have a taste of home. If you could see my face right you would know just how much I am crying and how much my heart is so full of joy and happiness. I absolutely do not need gifts this Christmas season when I am surrounded by this joyful news!!”
Sister Takahashi: “Oh, this makes my mama heart happy! I don't need gifts either! My cup runneth over! I feel so much love for you and your family, and I've never even met you! ❤ You should know that you are doing a great job! And your son(s) is (are) a testament to that! Merry Merry Christmas, sister!”
Me: “Merry Merry Christmas to you and your family sister!!!!!!!”
I testify to each one of you reading this story that God DOES love you. God DOES know your name. He hears your individual prayers. He plans for and understands your futures, on a daily basis. He cares for and loves you and shows that often through Heavenly angles and Earthly angles. He sent His son Christ to go after and find the one, the lost sheep of the fold, the wayward child, the lonely man, woman, daughter, and son. Christ will always be out searching, bringing you home to God, who enfolds you in His arms and holds you as often and as long as you allow Him too.
Often, I call him Papa, because ultimately I am sometimes still that little girl who just needs my Heavenly Father to hold me, cradle me, and love me no matter the circumstance. One day when I see my Father again, I will run into His arms and whisper in His ear, “I’m home…..”
May you each take the time to ponder today your own relationship with your Father above, and if it’s been awhile, cry out to Him and He will envelope you in His arms of mercy and love. Of this I testify, with my whole heart, mind and spirit. It is true. God loves you! He will call you by your name. His arm is stretched out still….
Sister Valerie Bybee