A Story From the Mission: Hermana Bell

So this is an email that I sent home when I was going through a life changing experience on my mission. I had a companion go home sick after just two weeks of being companions. I just wanted to share. Enjoy!

So I am in Pando with my former Companion Hermana Racchumi. We have passed through one of the roughest weeks and I have a lot to explain. I just hope that this doesn´t sound like an obituary.

My Companion Hermana Bell was shipped home this week.

Hermana Bell and I at a Family Home Evening activity

We passed together what probably was the best and hardest two weeks of my mission. Full of miracles and opposition. This didn´t start just 2 weeks ago. She has suffered her whole mission in the service of the Lord, but I am going to start with the 24th of July.

Thursday
On the 24th of July her test results came in. She had previously had an [endoscopy] and stomach biopsy done and the results were ready on Thursday. That day she started off ok, but after lunch took a turn for the worst.
We set up a doctor´s appointment for Monday to figure out what was wrong, but she had already taken a turn for the worst. On Thursday she started [vomitting] everything that entered her stomach and more. At some points it was just bile, but she kept working. We worked for the whole weekend. I couldn´t stop her. Late at night, after vomiting everything she was freezing, barely walking, and exhausted, but wouldn´t ask to go home.  I called it quits sometimes.
To tell you the truth I was worried for her life. She couldn´t even keep water down. I had never in my life prayed so hard to guidance to save a life, but the honest truth is that we work everyday by the spirit. All of the energy, comfort and guidance we received from him.
Sunday
Sunday was a rough day. She was exhausted after the sacrament meeting, but it wasn´t until we were alone that I could tell. She had a way of just putting on a smile and making everyone think that it was ok. The other sisters that lived with us didn´t even have a clue.
Monday
Monday-one week ago-we went to the Doctor. It was a horrible experience. We received all of test results and the Doctor  said that she didn´t show the signs of any kind of disease, but she weighed her and examined her, when we shared share her vomiting routine the doctor got worried. She re-exmined her, said that she felt her organs to tough her stomach, recommended 4 o 5 tests and said that my companion was dying…. We called [the mission] President. He came to pick us up and told us that he felt it was best to send her home to get help.
That was the only thing that my companion didn´t want to here. She took it well (with president) and he told us to start [her] on a liquid diet. So we did, but we could only work for about an hour that day. She didn´t have anymore energy.
Tuesday
Tuesday we went to district meeting, we started strong. President called us during district meeting and [that] Dr. Smith (the mission doctor) prescribed a “a baby food” diet. So we tried with that. She still couldn´t keep anything down. We didn´t go to work that day.
Wednesday
Wednesday. The last hoorah. She woke up strong. We had a good [morning] study and went out to work, but after an hour and a half she was out of breath. We went home and waited out the night. President called us again she had to get an IV.
Thursday
Thursday morning he took us to the hospital, so she could get an IV. He told us that she would leave that night. We passed our last 4 hours in the hospital together, went home and she packed. She left, and I stayed in Progreso for 3 days. I arrived in Pando yesterday evening.
The truth is that I have never been closer to or more affected by any companion. She was such an amazing person and It was hard to seed her go. Her example of endurance and Love of God really moved me. I could not be more grateful to have been blessed to get to know her. I hope I never loose her as a friend, and I want you to know that I only cried twice.
Edited for clarity

A Prayer

So let’s go back to an early June morning in 2006. Maybe not too early. It was actually around 11am. I had just gotten out of the shower. My dad was at work, my younger sister was at a friend’s house and my Mother was at a management training in Colorado with one of my older sisters. You see, my parents had decided to try to make a retirement out of Papa Murphy’s franchises and in order to do that they had to be trained in all that was “Papa Murphy’s Pizza”.

So I was home alone on what was supposed to be a very big day for me. Being 12 I had decided it was time for me to grow out of my childish ways and glasses, and the day before my Dad had helped me pick up my very first pair of contact lenses. I had some trouble putting those contacts in the doctor’s office, but I figured it would be easier the next day.

So the time had come. The moment of truth, really. The moment when I needed to put in those new contact lenses. So I grabbed the one for my right eye and went in… it didn’t stick. I tried again… no luck… so, I went in again. This went on for a good while; so, discouraged, I decided to try the other eye. Still no luck. After an hour of trying I had still not come any closer to getting those stupid contacts in my eye. I couldn’t ask my dad for help. He had never worn glasses in his life. The only person who coul
d help me  was my mother, but she was 700 miles away in Denver and was going to be gone for several more week. She had been away for 4weeks now. I had never been away from my mother for longer than 3 days before that point.

In my 12-year-old eyes, I saw this situation as hopeless. I couldn’t do something as stupidly easy as put in my contact. I started (rapidly I may add) to have one of my all to common panic attacks. I could only think of my failures. On my inability to put my contacts in, or do anything in fact. I couldn’t make friends, I couldn’t be happy, I couldn’t help my self. I just sat there on my bathroom floor unable to catch my breath, sobbing. I had no idea what else to do with my worthless self.

Just then I had an idea. I could pray. I mean I had been raised praying. My parents had taught me to pray before bed, at meals, at church but never before in my life had I said a real prayer, for a real thing. I mean a prayer that I honestly felt. So right there, on the bathroom floor I knelt, and I offered up my soul to God. My prayer, through my tears, offered out loud (almost screaming at times) was as sincere as it could be.  I asked for help to put those stupid contacts in my eyes, expressed my fear, my inability, and most importantly how much I missed my amazing life-saver of a mother.

A Mother's Love
My first hug with my mom after I came home from my mission to Uruguay

As I finished I was able to calm down. To stop crying and relax. I got up put my contacts in and went about my day a little bit happier. The best part of this whole thing was that the next morning I got up and  saw suitcases in the hall.  I walked a little further and saw my sister asleep on the couch. This sister was supposed to be with my mom. At that moment My head turned toward my parent’s bedroom.  I walked down the hall and
opened the door to find my mother asleep in her bed. My mother had COME HOME.

I found out later (and I am not completely sure on this timeline), but, shortly after I had offered that heartfelt prayer, my sister, who was shredding cheese as part of here pizza preparation training, and had gotten the tips of here fingers caught in the industrial cheese shredder. After emergency medical attention, her and my mother were sent home. They drove through the night to be home as soon as possible.

I know that this wasn’t a coincidence. It was definitely an answer to that prayer. God sent my mother home to a child that needed her. God loved me so much that he gave me the only person on earth who could comfort me at that time in my life. That is how I know God exists and that he loves me. This experience forms the unshakable foundation for my testimony that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I have a Heavenly Father who hears and answers my prayers. I have a Heavenly Father who gave me an amazing family and the opportunity to life with them forever. I have a Heavenly Father who sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to this earth so that by his sacrifice I can repent, change, and be better. I have a loving Heavenly Father, I can never doubt.

The Best 18 Months

I have been saying for a while now that I measure how old I am not by my actual age, but rather by how long I have been home from my mission. Age on a mission is always measured by how long you have been out. A mission is different than normal life, and the way that age is meaIMG_4731sured is by the experience you have gained “in the field” so those who have been out one year are “older and wiser” than those who have only
been out a month. I have been trying to apply this philosophy to my “normal life” outside the mission, and it went well for the first, I don’t know, six or nine months. Today I have been home for 18 months. I think I am going back to using my age…

I have been reflecting back. On the meaning of my life (thank goodness that I have only lived 22 years or else that would have taken such a long time) and well I am now starting to understand one thiIMG_4766ng. There is a lot I want to do with my life. I have millions of goals and aspirations, and the only one stopping me from achieving them is me.

Of my many goals in this life my  and most important goal has always been and will always be to serve my Heavenly Father. My only desire in this life is to give everything to him. I know that I fail, and that I have failed hime some many times. Heck sometimes when I look back all I can see is my failures. Why didn’t I share the gospel more when I lived in Oklahoma? Why did I never invite my friends to meet with theIMG_0010 missionaries? Why did I not try harder on my mission? Did I really affect anyones life? Was I really a dedicated servant? Did I him with all my heart? Am I still doing that?

The truth is, that it doesn’t matter what I have done. The only thing that matters is what I am doing now. Have I grown? Am I sharing the gospel now? Am I doing my visiting teaching now? Am I being Chirst-like now?  I won’t see the results. The results aren’t mine, the only thing that in is my heart. I give that to God. All of it. I will try to do my best. I will try to be an example. I will try to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. It is all I have to give him who gave me everything, so that is what I will do.

Dios Proveerá

Just a little backstory:

So about 3 years ago I had the opportunity to take a brake from the pressures of “normal life” and serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For us Mormons this is kinda of a big deal. After an application process, doctors visits,  several interviews, a series of vaccinations, a mandatory drug test, a polygraph test, a conditioning camp… oh I think I got carried away. Basically after what seems like a ridiculously long wait an envelope arrives in the mail that could literally send you anywhere in the world. You need to understand that although I said I had “no preference”, I really did. I wanted to go anywhere that didn’t speak Spanish.

About 15 months ago I returned home from the beautiful and pretty much unknown country of Uruguay. SAM_0431That’s right, South America. Basically the only place I didn’t want to go. Pues me arrepentí. I lived 18 months of basically exclusively speaking in Spanish. This was not by necessity either. I chose to speak Spanish 100% of the time. That is what we call a change.

I can honestly say that coming back to the States and being with my English speaking family, though wonderful, me costaba. I didn’t forget English nor have a weird accent, I just really missed speaking in Spanish. I couldn’t quit Spanish cold turkey like that! It was not healthy. I felt like I was a different person when I spoke Spanish. I didn’t like my English person. All I know is that I wasn’t not happy with out it.

Lucky for me God quickly started giving me opportunities to speak Spanish. I found a Sunday school class in Spanish, and I started dating Spanish speakers. (Native Spanish speakers mind you, no hablo español con los gringo porque me incomoda). As I rediscovered my Spanish speaking life it came to the point that through study and prayer I decided pursue a second major in Spanish Studies. As the year progressed all of my other fuentes de Español disapeared and it seemed like Spanish classes were all I had left. They were literally my life blood.

Then came the new and like a good person I set a resolution that basically made it impossible for to continue studying Spanish. I had prayed and fasted, and I knew that my goals we inspired. Freak, God had instructed me previously to study Spanish and now he was saying something completely different. I decided that the change was  the right thing, but dropping that Spanish what like, don’t know… a knife through the heart! It’s just a class right? No! Is was the freakin oxygen keeping me ALIVE!!!. I need SPANISH GOSH DANGIT!!!

So I was in the temple. Basically begging God to give me the something to replace those three hours a week I would have spent speaking Spanish. He did even more than I was expecting. In just three week I have more opportunities to speak Spanish than I have had in 15 months. Real opportunities. I am not in a class full of Gringos speaking some kind of broken who knows what. I am spending hours daily placticando.  I kid you not. There was no wait. That very next day after I was in the temple rogando  I was speaking Spanish. I do it daily. It is lovely. More than lovely. I can not even put into words how big this is. I love it. I am so grateful!!