This has been the first email where I've actually sat down at the computer and not know exactly what I wanted to write about or say. Its kinda weird actually because normally I am full of hilarious or embarrassing stories but not this week.
To say the least, this week has been the 3rd hardest week of my entire life.
I've thought allot about how I wanted to talk about this experience of mine because its sacred to me, but in the end I've decided to share it because it was truly a miracle in my life and I think we all sometimes need reminders of Gods mercy and miracles in our daily lives.
So to begin. A few weeks ago I tweaked my back and it started hurting like crazy. I was worried it was a problem with one of my back discs but I was comforted when a "lump" appeared in my back because I was convinced it was a knotted muscle which was making my back sore. Well what do you do with a knot? You try to get it out! So I had my comp and the other girls in my district try to massage it out and put essential oils and icy hot on it and all that jazz.
Well.... it never did go away. In fact it was growing larger and harder.
In the back of my mind I knew it probably wasn't a muscle and to be honest I was starting to have these feelings that I needed to go get it checked out by a doctor.
But I was terrified. Especially after going through everything with Bethany and her cancer and her lump in her neck...... I was 100 percent terrified out of my mind. It got to the point where I was having a hard concentrating on anything else but the mystery lump in my back and so on Wednesday I made an appointment with the doctor at the Main MTC.
He looked at my back and after he touched the lump he grew very concerned and got very quiet. He started asking me if I had fevers or bruises anywhere (questions to see if it may be cancerous) but I said I didn't have any of those signs.
He then said he wanted another dr's opinion and so I was sitting in a room with 2 doctors worrying over a lump in my back. Then the one Dr. turned to me and said "we never send missionaries to urgent care for MRI's but we need to get you in tomorrow."
Literally I wanted to throw up.
I asked him if it could be cancerous and he said its not likely but he wanted to be completely sure. Then he said if it wasn't cancerous that would be good but I would still need surgery and would probably have to go home.
So I scheduled my MRI with the front desk and the lovely lady left a message on my moms phone saying "your daughter Laurel is going in for an MRI on a lump in her back tomorrow morning."
I then told that stupid lady to immediately call my mom back and tell her that its probably not cancerous and I SHOULD be ok. Shes already been through one huge medical thing, she doesn't need another!
But that's when it hit me and I started bawling my eyes out. Like the ugly cry kind of bawling. It was awful. It all just hit me then. The fact that it might be cancerous, the fact that I will probably have to get surgery, the fact that I might have to go home, the fact that my mission might be over.
I feel stupid writing about it now, but I cannot even begin to explain how I was feeling on that day. I was so angry with God. I could not believe that he would let something this big and terrible happen to me. Was I not on a mission FOR him?! I couldn't believe that it would be in His will to take my mission away from me. And the biggest thing- I couldn't even begin to believe how utterly and completely alone I felt.
Now I've felt alone before, but I have NEVER felt this alone in my entire life then on that day. never, ever ever.
After that cheery Dr. visit I was NOT okay. But I still had to lessons to teach and that was rough. My comp was awesome and took the lead in every lesson while I just sat there. I couldn't tell an investigator that God was merciful or that he loved them when I didn't believe those things for myself.
Now let me tell you, the MTC is wonderful. My teachers were my biggest supporters and that is what they are there for. Hermana Bair took me on a walk and just let me cry and tell her exactly what I was feeling. And then that night I asked Hermano Dolbin to give me a blessing- and it was a beautiful blessing. It all just made me realize how much the teachers here really do care for each and every one of us. Its amazing.
Well anyways I did not get ANY sleep that night and I could barely pray because I was still so mad and so hurt. The morning of the MRI I was freaking nervous. BUT miracle #1: they let my mom come down to the MRI place! Seriously nothing else could have made me feel better than seeing my mom.
They then asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said no........ but as I was put into the coffin like tube and my heart started racing faster I thought to myself.... hmmmm maybe I am a bit claustrophobic hahaha yeah it was terrible
Now here is where the story changes because honestly something happened to me in that tube. I was in the MRI for about 35 minutes total and I spent the entire time praying. I prayed for everyone I knew and I thanked God for everything I had. And then as I was lying in the tube I realized that this was the moment where I had to decide if I was going to trust God and his will no matter what the results were.
That was a terrifying moment.
But the second I told God that I would trust him and never leave him or give up on this gospel I felt this enormous warmth and peace envelop me and I know for a fact that I was not alone in that room. I don't know who else was there but I distinctly felt spirits watching over me.
And I had total peace. I knew that even if I had to go home or have surgery or something worse, everything would be ok. I knew that no matter what I was going to be blessed. I knew that I was loved and that God was mindful of me and my situation. I knew that I was going to be happy at the end result even if it was not what I wanted. My anger completely washed away and I felt free. I wanted this mission SO badly, but if God had other plans for me, I was going to be ok with them.
Never in my entire life have I ever had an experience such as that one. And the best part....
After waiting for 4 hours I got my results and they were good!
No cancer. No tumor. Not even a lump of tissue! Apparently my back was irritated and inflamed and so fluid from my spinal cord leaked and pocketed itself in the subcutaneous layer of my skin. The Dr was so excited as he was telling me all of this and said that it would eventually go away on its own.
Oh and another miracle? The day after the MRI, the lump was half of its size and I have little to no pain now. Crazy.
Now, as I've been thinking about these past 2 days of hell, I am starting to realize that I needed this to happen. And I am so so grateful it did. After everything in my life and after Bethany getting cancer, my faith in God had plummeted and I felt exempt from his blessings and his love. But, the whole "scary lump" on my back was one of Gods biggest blessings for me. He knew that I needed to change and reevaluate myself. He knew that I needed a chance to rebuild my trust in him. And most importantly, (and what I am most grateful for) He knew that I would not survive a mission if I did not have stronger faith in Him, His blessings, or His mercy.
How grateful I am for a God that tears me down just so that He can build me up stronger.
Ok Wow was that a long enough story for all of you?! But really quickly:
-Totally butchered the "Restoration" lesson to an investigator. After we were done teaching he somehow thought Joseph Smith was still alive today and that if we all pray, we will all see angels. woops.
-I thought an investigator said "turtles" and not "tortillas" and so I sat there staring at him with a confused look until he asked what was wrong and I said "uhhh youre talking about turtles??" then he laughed and laughed and laughed
-Some Elders from South America gave me "mexican candy." Well I ate it and all I have to say is.....I am GOING to get stomach ulcers in Mexico! The candy was made out of chili powder and other spices and I almost threw up it was SO freaking hot. The elder laughed at my white girl status and said, "Hermana, why are your eyes tearing up!?!" ya ya I know my eyes are tearing up. I'm dying here ok?
-Seeing a heavier elder totally leap over a HUGE cement block and clear it. Seriously I was astounded. And watching him jump over that thing was soooooooo hillarious.
Anyways how was conference for all of you? I loved it. The coolest thing about conference as a missionary is that they put all of you together in one big room while you watch it. It is so much fun meeting different missionaries and seeing where they are all going. We met elders going to Russia and Ukraine and they bore their testimonies to us in Russian and Ukrainian. And let me tell you- there was a distinct spirit and power behind their words. Yes they spoke slowly and choppy and yes I didn't understand a word they were saying but I definitely felt something. Missions are amazing. The gospel is amazing and simple doctrine carries such power. Which is good to know because it makes me realize that yes my Spanish is slow and choppy but it also carries a certain spirit behind it. Gahhh I love it here.
I am so so grateful for the chance to be a missionary. I didn't really understand how much I wanted this until it was almost taken away from me. I know for a surety that God is mindful and loves each and everyone of us. I am understanding more and more about how the atonement works. I know that through the atonement we can fully trust Gods will and in doing so, fear with be replaced with faith and peace. I know that God is watching out for me and I can see his hand in my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ heals the broken, gives strength to the weak and faith to the doubtful. While in the MRI, I learned that Christ loves us perfectly because he understands us perfectly. There is no perfect love without perfect understanding. Through him we can have strength to go through the seemingly impossible. The night before my MRI my teacher told me to read Alma 26 and personalize it and these were my favorite verses:
6) Yea (insert your name here) shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day, yea neither shall (name) be harrowed up by the whirl winds, but when the storm cometh (name) shall be gathered together in the place that the storm cannot penetrate you.
7) Behold, (name) in in the hands of the Lord of the harvest and (name) is his and He will raise (name) up at the last day.
12) Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefor I will not boast of myself but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things
22) Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith and bringeth forth good works and prayeth continually without ceasing- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God
27) now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold the Lord comforted us and said bear with patience thine afflictions and I will give you success
37) Now my bretheren, we see that God is mindful of every people and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.
I love these verses and I know they are true. I know that God NEVER EVER abandons us. We all just need more faith.
Line of the Week:
Me and my compy comp, Ramirez, rain into 2 Elders from New Zealand and... they were crazy. Like borderline innapropriate crazy. They asked us to go on a moonlight Temple walk with them that night.
Oh and enjoy the horrid picture of me in my scrubs. When my mom was taking the picture she said, "You guys look like you are going to Jail!"
MRI...Jail.... pretty much the same thing!
we FINALLY got elders added to our zone so now the stake presidency doesn't have to prepare and pass the sacrament!
gotta love laundry day