Thursday, September 6, 2012

{with patience & faith}

My dad is in the hospital, in Australia. It is times like these that I am reminded of how far away my family is, and I feel helpless. I just want to be there, to sit in his room with him, to help lift some of the burden my mom is carrying. Ask the questions of the doctors and nurses who are caring for him so that we can find out what the heck is going on. Despite running a battery of tests, they know little more than he has a staff infection - they don't know why he's so sick, or why he's in excruciating pain.

Sunday we fasted for my dad and for his doctors. It was testimony Sunday which means that we don't have regular speakers but anyone in the congregation who wants to share can speak. It is a time for people to bear testimony of those things they know to be true. I wanted to talk about what my family is going through, and how badly we want to be able to do something, anything to help, to change the outcome, to improve the odds. But the reality is we can't do anything. We are almost ten thousand miles away. It takes at least a day and a half and a lot of money to get there. It is completely out of my hands, and it would be even if I were there.

Directly, there is nothing I can do right now. But I can fast, and I can pray, and that brings some measure of comfort when everything seems helpless. It gives me something concrete to do, and I know that it works.

That's what I wanted to say when I bore my testimony. But as I stood at the microphone, I could not speak. I started to cry. I knew if I opened my mouth to say anything, I was going to wail and lose it completely. An uncomfortable minute went past as I tried to compose myself, but it didn't get any better. It got worse. I turned around and looked at Quinn, who was sitting behind me (he's in the Bishopric so that's where he sits during Sacrament Meeting), and he stood to put his arm around me. I whispered to him that I had to leave. And then I walked out the side door and out into the parking lot, where I did completely lose it.

For the most part, I don't like to be vulnerable. I feel shame when I show what I perceive to be weakness in front of other people. I like to think of myself as being articulate and well spoken and while I don't mind expressing emotion, I like to be restrained in the way that I do it. I was none of those things on Sunday. I was a mess and two hundred people witnessed it.

The upshot of the whole deal was that I was reminded of the amazing, kind, loving friends that I have in my church family. I've gotten some very sweet phone calls and emails expressing concern. People who don't even know my dad are praying for him and his doctors. Sunday night one of my absolute favourite people showed up on my doorstep with the most delicious plum torte and a big hug. People have offered to care for my children if I end up going to Australia. This is the gospel in action. I am so grateful to be in a church surrounded by awesome people who practice and live their faith and who can authentically show love, concern and care for others. My heart is full.

We went through a similar scare with my mom about seven years ago. She had a brain aneurysm and miraculously survived the surgery to repair the site, but suffered setbacks after the surgery with language and speech loss. I arrived the day after she got out of hospital. My parents aren't LDS, but they are so respectful of my beliefs and honour the place the Gospel has in my life. With my parents consent, I arranged for two young LDS missionaries to come to their home to give my mom a Priesthood blessing. Her recovery was nothing short of miraculous and my parents credit the blessing and all the prayers said on her behalf.

My dad asked me today if I could arrange for him to receive a blessing. I phoned the LDS Mission Office in Perth to explain the situation and make the request. By the time I had phoned my dad back less than half an hour later, the missionaries had already been in contact with him to arrange a time to visit him in hospital to give him a blessing. This is the gospel in action. Half way around the world, strangers have stepped up to offer service gratefully. I am overwhelmed and am so thankful, knowing that everything that can be done, is being done.

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