Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013 - Sobreviviendo el Tempestad

Sobreviviendo el Tempestad - Surviving the Storm)
It's hard to find words to describe my feelings about this past week. 
I know that I've said before that I've had "learning experience" weeks, but this one definitely takes the cake. 
Thinking about all that happened since this time last week is incredible. I learned so much, and while there were a lot of miserable moments, I wouldn't take it back for anything. As I sit here trying to find words to describe my emotions, I can't even find where to begin. The feelings I've had this past week can hardly be described over email, but I'll try.
The week last week started out with a question, a search for a purpose/the lesson to be learned/ the reason behind all that's happened. Hermana Cooley and I prayed a lot to "Know what our purpose is here, and what we are supposed to be learning." Be careful what you pray for.
This week I learned so much about the Lord's plan, HIS will, and the reality of how perfectly he's got everything figured out. More so than ever before in my life, I was reminded time and time again: "This isn't about you." "You're not in charge." You're going to be fine." "you're stronger than you think." ".... but you're only strong in ME." 
Before my mission I often used the word "fiercely independent" to describe myself. It sounded better than "stubborn to a fault". But out here I've learned that "successful missionary" and "fiercely independent" just cannot co-exist.
I was reminded very UNgently of that this past week. 
Here's a little backtrack story for you:
 (I just realized this might be a little much for some blog readers, but you can make that judgement call)
The week had been one of our best. We were finding tons of new people to teach, we were on-the-go constantly, it was a week without tracting, and we were feeling GREAT!
Mid-way through the week I started to get sick. But I wasn't about ready to "slow down". Push through and it will fix itself, right?
So we kept on pushing. A couple days went by, and Hermana Cooley and the Smarts kept telling me "You're working too hard. It's okay to take a break. If you run yourself into the ground, you won't be helping anyone." In the back of my mind, I knew there was some truth in that. But I had told myself before my mission that unless I was on my death bed, I wasn't taking a sick day. 
The week went on, and while lessons were going great, I knew that something was wrong, and that I was going to have to face the facts and seek help. But I didn't. 
When I walked into the kitchen Friday morning, Sister Smart looked up, and said "If you don't call the mission president and go to the hospital, I WILL call your mother." Did I really look that bad? One glance in the mirror quickly answered my question. But again, my stubbornness got the best of me. "I'll be fine. And if I'm dead by Monday, then you can call President Choi." Neither of them really satisfied with that answer, I told them that I wanted to try and stick it out until Monday, and promised that if I wasn't better I would call President Choi. 
Well, we pounded the pavement Friday, and by dinner I was shaking and fevered. So we came home for dinner and I asked Brother Smart for a blessing. In it he told me that it was good to work hard, but that I needed to understand when it was time to seek help, and allow myself to rest. Hmm. Well, after the blessing, I felt a little better, and again, we went out to work.
Saturday was worse. I couldn't sleep, sit, stand, eat, or move. Every position was painful. But for some reason, I still just couldn't get over my pride. So I pretended to be better.
Sunday we had church, I "endured" through the meetings, and then we had an awesome lesson with Carlos! The guy we found on the 4th of July. I wasn't missing that! So we took a member to the lesson, and it was AWESOME! I literally forgot how terrible I was feeling for that hour.
Then, before the night was over, I wanted to go check on Guillermo. We had a quick chat with him, but as we were standing there, it hit me again, and a voice in my head said "Okay, time to go." We said a prayer, said goodbye, and by the time we got to the car, I was burning with fever, and my voice was completely gone.
We drove home, and I finally had to face it. We called President Choi and since it was Sunday, he admitted me to the hospital first thing in the morning. 
Hermana Cooley can attest, Sunday night was the longest night of our lives. Neither of us got more than an hour of restless sleep. My throat was too constricted to breathe, and I couldn't swallow, I was scared to sleep, and I honestly don't remember feeling completely "with it" for any part of the night. All I remember is praying. Praying a lot that this wouldn't be something serious. 
....Okay, so to make a long story, less long....
We spent Monday morning at the hospital, running tests, and trying our best to explain (without my voice) my symptoms and what had happened. With an unofficial diagnosis of systemic strep (that i had let become very out of hand as it had spread to my kidneys), the less-than-helpful doctor sent me home with a prescription order, and a demand to sleep, drink (if possible), and wait for the test results. 
Leaving I wasn't sure how to feel. I slumped into the car seat, feeling very defeated and broken. 1. I was upset that we couldn't go out and work. 2. I was exhausted, and too delirious to really think what I wanted. 3. I was upset that I'd let it get this bad. 4. overall I just felt like me being sick was going to hinder our "finding our purpose".
But as we drove home, our district leader texted something that made me pause and re-evaluate my attitude: "Hermana Cox, how blessed you are that you are counted worthy to stand with those who struggle and suffer for Christ! You are and always will be in the hands of God, and let not your sorrows weigh thee down to death. He will not leave you comfortless."
I immediately felt this sense of relief and guilt all at one. I was relieved by the sense of love, and understanding, but at the same time I felt a little guilty that I'd murmured. 
In that moment I made up my mind to try and understand what it meant to "struggle and suffer for Christ". 
The first scripture I opened to was 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."
I love the scriptures! I love this idea of "taking pleasure" in the opportunity that infirmities and trials allow us to, on a very small scale, feel what Christ felt. To be able to literally stand side-by-side with him. 
Then I was led to Deuteronomy 8:2: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee in the humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart..." There is a wise process, sometimes we have to be compelled to be humble.
D&C 136:31: "My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."
His glory is SO much greater than anything we ever could imagine. We're never going to get to where he wants us and say "eh, actually, I think my plan was better." no. So we need to trust in him, follow him, completely submit to him, even when we can't see the way.
The Lord never allows us to suffer without a reason. There is always a lesson to be learned, changes to be made, blessings to be had. No worthwhile change is ever comfortable, growth is never convenient. But he is the master planner, and sees us as the beings we are capable of becoming. 
I know more than ever that it is ONLY through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can receive the mercy and grace we need to withstand the refiners fire and shake off the chains that hold us. I have been so humbled and brought to a new level of gratitude this week for the sacrifices of my Savior and older brother. His grace is sufficient when there is nothing else. I know that He lives, and that He has the power to transform us. To "change our very natures". It is only when we truly choose to "Come and see" for ourselves, and allow his power to work in our lives, that we can truly be buoyed up by the enabling power of the Atonement and feel the saving effects of his love.
I love you all so much! I hope you're having a good week, and staying cool in the crazy summer heat. 
until next week. 
Les Quiero!
xoxox Your Hermana Cox

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