Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Every Minion a Missionary.

I've been so darn blessed to have been given the opportunity to get to know and work with so many awesome missionaries since I've been home. I've gone out with the Hermanas from the Rupert branch here locally and then I also go with the Elders from Paul 1st ward each week on Thursday to a part-member family's house who are progressing towards baptism! I've become such good friends with them and love seeing them come to church. I also met up with these two sweet sisters in Idaho Falls when I was up a few weeks ago. Have I ever told you that I LOVE the Lord's servants?! They are such hard workers and ever dedicated to our Father's great purpose. I try and go out with them whenever my body will let me. It is the BEST feeling to be able to share my testimony in the setting of someone's living room again and again. You don't realize how much you miss it until you don't do it as often as you used to...as in every. single. day. Missionary work is something that anyone can do! We all have a part in this marvelous work and wonder. All we need is...a testimony and love in our hearts.

 "Regardless of our age, experience or station in life, we are all missionaries." -Elder David A. Bednar 

I earnestly, earnestly pray that we will be ready and willing in heart, might, mind and strength as members of the true Church of Jesus Christ in these Latter Days to lend a helping hand in this work as we fulfill our baptismal covenant and work along side, shoulder to shoulder, smile to smile with His full-time servants in His vineyard for the last time. Don't Miss Out! 


And can I just please take this opportunity to include yet another sidenote about how much I dearly love and miss my sweet companion?????? She is a fantastic missionary. One of the most obedient missionaries I ever knew. And just look what she sent me this week?!! Just what I needed. 
Where she found this I have NO idea.

Re-living good "mish" memories through videos this week...

One of my favorites: Sister Adams "trying" to do a heel click Sister Missionary style. Someday she's gonna kill me for posting this. :) 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

If Life We're Easy It Wouldn't Be Hard.

So I've made a decision to continue blogging my recovery process. I feel that this entire experience/challenge is a part of God's mission He has given to me. And I don't want to miss a thing, so that later I can look back and be grateful for these times past and for what I have learned. 

Although, working towards a full-recovery is not exactly eassssssyyyyy. 

May I just point out all of those dreaded little red tags on pretty much every medication of mine that reads, "May cause dizziness and/or drowsiness"NOT fun. I feel like I just sleep allllllllllllllllll of the time. Sleep, get up and try to eat something, sleep, eat and then sleep again. Although sometimes, if I'm lucky, I make it out to Walmart! ;)
I feel as weak as a newborn.

Just call me- "Pill-popper" :P
I hate being dependent on medication...but I guess I'm grateful for them too.
I'm also grateful for brilliant physical therapists, doctors and healing angels.

So, Diagnosis: Ummm...right. Where to begin? All I know is I've worked with like 6 specialists now (some in NM and now here) and they've all had different theories and opinions. What we've been able to basically figure out is that my L5 vertebrae is bulged (some kind of disc disease) that's also slipped in the lumbar region of my spine and that I have SI joint problems going on as well in my pelvis. My ligaments are inflamed like crazy from sitting down so much in the field on a malformed SI structure. And so we are now working on re adjusting my body back to it's normal and original "sphere". However, we have also discovered during this whole process that because it went on for so long, it has thrown my entire body structure off, meaning my ribs are at a 54/32 and so I'm getting less oxygen to one side of my body.
Back problems cause all kinds of problems.
The doctor calls me, "twisted" haha. And he's right.

I had my first round of injections last week...talk. about. sore. I tried not to be a baby but I'm pretty sure I made the arthritis in my momma's sweet hand worse. It was a series of 5 different shots in my spine and I feel like it made a difference but not enough. I still can't sit down for more than 5-10 minutes without pain. It looks like we'll be back for round 2 in the near future.

As for right now we are in the middle of some intense physical therapy.
Mom came with me today to see what they've been "doing" to me the last several therapy appointments...
She discovered it's not always pain-free...(haha it looks like I'm laughing...yeah, I'm not)
But I have an awesome team of therapists who the moment I walked in their center asked me, 
"Ok, so what's the goal?" 
"To get back out."
..."Ok, let's do it!" 

They are my angels.
Learning how to re-sit all over again. 
I can't tell you how complicated the human body is, ugh! 
You have to sit juuuust exactly right or everything gets out of place.

If life we're easy, it just wouldn't be hard, now would it? 
(by the way, very much enjoying Sheri Dew's advice on this subject right now...great book.)

I wanted to share with you my first day in the field story to illustrate this very point. I never really talked about it too much before this but it was, for me quite honestly...one of the hardest days I have ever had to endure (in comparison with the day I came home). Which was weird because I had never, ever imagined myself being anything but happy, happy, happy my first day arriving to my mission. But it was anything but. However I learned from that day, the privilege of wading through the trial and paying the price to become better acquainted with God.

This is the beginning of my journal entry on that loverly first day..

"Ok. sluuuurrrred day. First day went something like this: Got back to dorm room late, coughed ALL night, got 30 minutes of sleep, coughed some more, got up at 4:30 am to make it to the bus on time, dragged my heavy heavy bags all by myself all the way to the bus, no breakfast, hugged my MTC roomies goodbye one last time, boarded bus, quietly cried on bus in the dark, arrived to SLC airport, security check, desperate plea to my Father in Heaven to help me last the day, called home from airport, sobbed the moment I heard my momma's voice, cried with her for a wonderful 20 minutes, forced to hang up, boarded rickety flight, arrived feeling more than disoriented, tried to smile and pretend I was ok, tears threatening to burst, first glimpse of President and Sister Miller, too many missionaries everywhere, picture outside temple, rushed to the church, lunch, first tracting experience, training all day long, I can't remember any of what they just told me, personal interview, testimony meeting with lots of people I don't know, dinner, REALLY going to burst out sobbing by this point, taken to random stranger's house, given bed and pillow...don't remember anything after that." 

The doctors in the MTC told me after doing X-rays of my lungs that I had a bad case of bronchitis, threatening to turn into pneumonia. They got me on antibiotics but only a few short days before I was scheduled to leave. It was only because of my pleadings that they let me leave. I had been confined to my dorm room for a week it seemed and I just didn't want to have to stay longer than needed there. Plus all of my dear missionary friends were leaving. A new group was coming in. I just wanted to get to my mission. Except I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was breathing out of a straw. The doctors hesitantly signed my release form and I was on a plane the next day. However, what I was not expecting was to get the call that Grandpa had bone cancer and only had a few short weeks to live. He passed away just a few days before I flew out. The day I left to the mission field was the day of his viewing. I was grieving...by myself. I was devastated. There was hope in the Atonement yes. I had an unfailing testimony of the great Plan of Salvation. But I was numb. I was hurting. My sweet Grandpa had just  stood in the circle to set me apart only weeks before! He was always so physically fit. The last of my grandparents I ever expected to go first. I felt a little shell-shocked and yet here I was throwing myself into a new culture, new way of living, new language, new everything. It was almost too much. (Actually at times it was...but I had help now that I look back). But I stretched. God stretched me. My empathy for others grew. Things are supposed to be hard! Because we grow tremendously! The Lord sent His angels to minister unto me during those first few weeks. I was surprisingly able to remain cheerful through it all. I had spiritual experience after spiritual experience it seemed. Strength came out of nowhere. I wish I could have seen "the behind the scenes" to it all. I know Grandpa checked in on me often. I was able to lose my sorrow as I concentrated on the work and truly forget about me. That's why I have grown to adore service. It forces you to think about everyone but you. I like taking a break from myself now and again, ya know?

That first day was a kicker...but I wouldn't change a thing about it.

A few weeks later, Sister Miller called me into President's office and told me that a new sister who had just arrived had just found out her grandmother had passed away that very day. I was able to go in with her and talk with her and just cry with her. It's amazing how God teaches you hard things so that you can in turn be there to listen to someone else and to actually  have the capacity to understand.
God puts you where He wants you.

I'm learning to...Be Firm in the Fire.

                                                       My heart still wants to smurf :) 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Comin' Home..

This is taking every ounce of my courage to post this for some reason. This isn't easy for me. 
But...I feel strongly that this can help someone else. I didn't realize the percentage statistics of missionaries who come home early until today. This post is for them. %%%

-So I got up that morning, (without much sleep in my system, I mean, how can you sleep when all this is happening??) we picked up the Panorama Heights Sisters and drove, faster than I would have liked to the mission home...well, but then again I had a plane to catch. President was waiting. I snapped one last picture of the Sandias and kept the tears back as best as I could. Which was, not. "This. Isn't. Happening. At least.. Not. To. Me. This happens to other missionaries, but not to me."  Reality hit me hard, as real as the pain I'd been feeling for months now. I was actually getting on a plane. A plane to Idaho. Suddenly I hated Idaho. It was the most ironic thought that's probably ever entered my mind. That I could actually hate Idaho...Home. My home. Let it be known to all now...I'm proud of Idaho. I am a country girl and ask any one of my companions and they'll tell you how much I love being from that potato growing, hard working, humble community of a place. But all of a sudden I disliked every bit of that place. I wasn't ready. One question that we often plague ourselves with as imperfect human beings, kept running through my mind that morning. The classic "Why me?" "...What have I done to deserve this? I have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me? If I had done something different? If I had been more righteous maybe? Does the promise of Ephraim not apply to me anymore?
You see, I thought I had tried. Tried real hard. But it hadn't been enough.

The thoughts start hitting you then at rapid speed. Almost more than you can handle at first. Your minds on fire. You start thinking things like, "What will my family think? What will my friends think? What will my stake president and my bishop think about all of this? I just can't show my face on Sunday to the ward. Will anybody understand? This is going to ruin my whole dream of a nice homecoming. (I guarantee at some point, every missionary has thought about that day getting on the plane and rushing into their family's arms). But it's not supposed to happen yet. Not like this. This feels all wrong now. I might have to have surgery...I hate surgery. Will I get to come back? How can I just leave my companion...we've been struggling in this area as it is. Not exactly the best send off. This just had to happen RIGHT NOW?! Seriously Father...GREAT timing. What about all these sweet sisters? I'm supposed to be taking care of them. And why on earth will they not let me extend? They used to do that all the time! I feel like I've been sick my entire mission. Why is God letting this happen? This. Is. NOT. Fair.

Then again, when is life E.V.E.R. fair?

You feel sad and then angry. And then sad again...and then angry...again and again. It's one big cycle.
And then you just feel guilty. Guilt. Guilt becomes the new out-breaking epidemic to your life. And would you like to know who's behind it all? You guessed it. Satan. He hates missionaries. If you've ever served a full-time mission you know this. He comes at you with every day, every success, every baptism. He hates you and he hates those wonderful people you teach. But with the shield of faith you can win. You're endowed with power and you're set apart from the world to teach. God never leaves you alone in this work. The Savior works hand in hand with His missionaries. He loves you so much. He will always pull through for you. It's His vineyard and you work for Him.
But all of a sudden the tag is coming off. I'm not officially working for Him anymore. "No. No. No. I'm NOT this strong. I absolutely love my mission. I have wanted to serve for soooo long now. It's never even crossed my mind that this situation could be a possibility. I have been serving in the best mission in the world (every missionary should say this)!! I love getting up every morning and putting this tag over my heart. I love all of these missionaries here. I love being a missionary. Being His servant. Am I now failing Him?"

"Pain and illness, can test the best of us."

If I have learned anything from this experience it is definitely empathy. Empathy for every missionary who has had to come home, whether it is because of rule infractions, health issues or emotional struggles. I feel for them more deeply then I ever would have before. In fact, I hate to admit this but I have always judged missionaries who come home early or those who don't even decide to go in the first place. Missions are hard. But in my mind it didn't matter how hard it gets out there, you just stick it out. But after having served for over 10 months my perspective has shifted just a tad bit. Having a healthy mentality is crucial if you are to serve a mission.

This article from Deseret News may help you to understand better.
Missionaries Struggling to Manage Stress
"Let's say you are someone who can handle a stress level of seven, and you live your life at a stress level of six by going to your room and listening to your iPod or going to the gym or playing Xbox or whatever you do to handle stress." "Then you add a new stress or rigor to your life. How many kids have worked a 13-hour day? They get above a level seven, and they don't know how to get back to a six."

I'll be the first to say that some days are just plain hard. It gets pretty stressful. And everyone is different and we all handle stress so differently. As a Sister Training Leader I saw sisters go home for a multitude of reasons. It was always so heartbreaking for me to see. However I also saw Elders and Sisters who stayed and worked hard despite their personal challenges.
These missionaries are my heroes.
I love them for having the strength and stamina to trust in the Lord and continue in His service. And even with sometimes having to deal with severe tragedy like a death in the family. It is no easy task. I lost my own sweet grandfather after only being out for 3 weeks, still in the MTC. I can specifically remember one particular Elder who's mother passed away right before his mission. He was one of the happiest and hardest working missionaries I knew out there. Some people can handle things well. Others, not so much. Tragedy. It's a shock to the system as it is, but out in the field, well...it stinks. It can take quite a toll on a full-time missionary who is subject to severe and constant change and is having to deal with everything all new and at fast speed. A mission will stretch you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, with everything else in between. The big 4 necessary keys to surviving. That's why being positive and cheerful is a must. If not, then you will endure your mission rather than enjoy it. Not every missionary who comes home, comes home for the right reasons. However, my empathy has deepened for them of what they go through.

Ok. Off the soap box.

There IS a happy

 to this story.

All those above questions...answered. Well, most of them.

-We got to the mission office and the outpouring of love began. From both God's earthly angels and His angels unseen. My sweet Mission President and his dear wife who had become parent-like figures to me those last several hard-working months couldn't have been kinder. The members I had been living with were incredible as well. Sister Laws took my face in her hands and said, "You, Sister Silva, are braver than you think." My eyes rarely were empty of tears the rest of that day. I made my farewells to those who I had grown to love so much. Including my companion.
Drove to the airport. Checked in luggage. Printed boarding pass. Told President I absolutely hated this. He told me to instead, positively envision him picking me up in a few short months. Walked down the terminal, waving my last goodbyes and boarded one of the worst flights of my life (no matter how smooth and lacking in turbulence it was). I wasn't going to be wearing the tag for much longer. Didn't feel much like eating anything so instead of stopping for lunch in between flights I decided to give out all my pass-along cards. The well-developed inner missionary in me talked to everyone I could in the airport and on board the next two flights. God gave me that day, more spiritual experiences then I could have ever asked for on a usual given day. One particular stewardess I met sat in the back with me and she and I became good friends as we talked about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There was only a few weeks until Christmas (talk about bittersweet) and so as I turned to leave I stopped the stewardess and said, "This is the best gift that I can give you for Christmas." I explained the card and the website and told her there was a number on back to call if she had any questions. I will never forget the look in her eyes as I exited that plane. She had felt something. Something familiar. I love that look. I wanted to cry from joy and cry from anguish all at the same time as I would not be doing this on a regular basis anymore.
Flying into Twin Falls through heavy snow was terrible. One lady was so happy for me as we landed saying, "Oh look! We have a missionary on board who's coming home. How fun. I can't wait to see you reunite with your family!" I think I would have probably corrected her if it hadn't been for the cry threatening to burst from my tangled-up throat. But this is where I really started to feel God's love for me. The confirmation that I was to come home at this time in my life from perhaps the best decision I had ever made came a full 100% before I even walked down the plane's stairs. I can honestly say a FULL 100%. Not that I had all the answers in front of me or anything. No angel had appeared and explained the reason for all this. I just knew that this was part of His specific plan for me. I don't think I could have handled coming home without that blessed confirmation delivered to me by the Spirit. I had pondered my scriptures and various general conference addresses all day long and had decided to read my Patriarchal Blessing right before we had landed. The revelation that came from what I read didn't stop every pain and every fear I was feeling but the comfort most certainly came. God's hand was not stayed. He had been with me all day. Angels surrounded me. I felt it. This was only a small moment in time. I was to triumph over all foes. "To be victorious." I was a daughter of God. My name wasn't and isn't Job. I realized then that the Savior is the ultimate healer. A healer of all things. And I qualified for His help. The Atonement was never so real to me then in that moment. All was well in Zion. My heart had been prepared for this I suddenly discovered. God had strengthened me and would continue to do so.

 "The Lord always suits the relief to the person in need to best strengthen and purify them." -President Henry B. Eyring

And He had done just that. I got off that plane with renewed hope as I realized that great blessings come from great adversity...despite the cost. I saw my mom's red hair through the window then and without too much detail, we had a tearful reunion of very mixed feelings but the love was so evidently felt in that small airport. I have not felt judged one whit this entire time as I have been home recovering (except by myself).
I ache for missionaries who do feel judged by others, for I have never been so grateful to have such loving parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, my precious ward family, fellow missionaries and dearest of friends. They have called and sent flowers. They have held my hands in theirs and have looked into my eyes and have said, "Don't you let Satan in. Don't you let his lies get inside your head. You are so loved. You've done nothing wrong." Agh! These people are so wonderful here. I feel loved. I don't hate Idaho anymore. Perhaps I never did. This I do know though...
New Mexico still has my heart. 
It is my greatest desire to return to the work I so dearly love but it's (literally) one step and one day at a time. It really is, all in the Lord's timing. I'm learning to pass every test. I'm learning to keep the faith. I'm learning to rise through every trial.

Just because I'm home does NOT mean I've lost my testimony. In fact, it's been doubly strengthened.
I now am trying to practice what I have been preaching from the pulpit.
I'm now a member missionary! I do what my body will allow me to do of course but I can't tell you what a joy it is to accompany the Hermanas from the Spanish branch here (who I love oh so much) and the Elders occasionally to visit part-member families. I've also had the opportunity to speak at a baptism and to share my testimony with many. I still force my dad to turn the car around so I can give pass-along cards to people on the street. And I find time every morning to do my studies. I feast on the scriptures as often as I can. This is how I acquire my much needed spiritual therapy.
As for the physical therapy...My next appointment is on Friday :)
My body is taking it's sweet time to heal and I have some bad and some good days. I still feel at the depths of despair occasionally but every time I go down, I'm lifted up with a tender mercy to withstand the storm. Whether it's the Hermanas calling to check up on me, a cupcake from my best friend, an old Elder from my mission stopping by to visit, a visit to the temple, a perfect letter, message or thoughtful package sent from a close-friend missionary from my mission, a phone call from President, a proud look shot my way by dad or just a big hug from my mom. God is mindful of His precious children. You are cherished. You are prayed for. How indebted I am to Him! How I cannot wait to return full-time to His service (even if that means serving with my husband someday). And to return to His ever-waiting arms again.

Been home for a month now.
And how grateful I am for Mosiah 15:17. (Thanks Lincoln Baliff for that one)

printable lds general conference quotes - april 2013 | icreate...with love