Here at Constitution Me we are strong proponents of religious freedom. We believe that everyone is entitled not only the right to maintain certain religious beliefs but also to act upon them. All individuals have been endowed by their creator with these rights, and they are not to be infringed upon as long as such practices do not harm or infringe upon the rights of others.
“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee…” (Psalms 50:15). This seems to be a common theme throughout scripture, the servants of the Lord call upon Him during their times of trial and He delivers them. I can remember reading about this topic in my personal studies, but I never imagined that God would one day deliver me. But I want to bear my witness that miracles are still performed today, and that God uses ordinary people to bring about His great work.
This Is My Story:
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, within my church it is traditional that young men at the age of 18 leave their homes for two years and dedicate all 730 days too building up and edifying the kingdom of God. We call this a mission. I understand mission trips are a common thing in other Christian faiths but this type of mission trip is different. In the LDS faith a mission is very similar to the ministry of the apostle Paul. We are expected to dedicate every waking hour to Jesus Christ; the majority of my time was spent reading about the gospel, preaching the gospel, or proselytizing. I didn’t watch tv, I only read scripture or books about the gospel, the only communication I had with my family was emailing once a week. I was allowed to Skype my family twice a year, once on Christmas and once on Mother’s day. I didn’t have social media, a cell phone, and I was expected to put my pursuit for a college education aside until completing my mission. The real leisure time I had was once a week for a few hours to wash my clothing, email my family, buy food, clean my “apartment,” or play soccer.
Each missionary can be assigned to a different mission throughout the world, I was assigned to labor in the Peru Iquitos Mission. This mission is located in the Amazon Jungle… And it was awesome! I have some really great memories from my mission and I conquered some of my greatest struggles in that jungle. I learned a lot of life lessons while on my mission, I grew spiritually, and I matured a lot. I tried new “foods” like monkey, piranha, and alligator; and I developed a hatred for rice. Yes monkey is considered food in other cultures.
One of those obstacles was to learn a new language because I was expected to teach the gospel in Spanish. I spent 6 weeks in Lima, Peru in a missionary training center to learn the basics of Spanish. Truthfully, I only learned how to say some basic words and how to pray in Spanish and even praying wasn’t easy. Each missionary is assigned a companion that they will teach with for a few weeks to a few months, you are roommates, and hopefully friends. If not it can be rough. Literally the only times I was allowed away from my companions were to go to the bathroom or shower. Outside of this I was always with somebody.
In the beginning of my mission, I had a hard time adjusting to mission life it was strange being with someone every waking minute of my day and I didn’t get along with that person. I had moments of feeling alone because of the language barrier (my companion only spoke Spanish), and there were somethings that had happened that weren’t ok. I would like to point out that towards the end of my mission I had the opportunity to speak with that individual, and we are now great friends and frequently write each other on Facebook. But at the time it was difficult. In those moments I felt that I was not progressing in my language study, and that I was alone.
Skip Forward 9 Months
I was eventually transferred to a different area within my mission and had a few different companions. Around this time I began training a new missionary who was from Lima, and I noticed a dramatic increase in my ability to speak Spanish. I attribute this to the gift of tongues.
The first week of my trainee’s training went well, we began teaching new people and we were even able to baptize someone that I was teaching with my previous companion. But towards the end of this first week I became really tired, I could feel a slight pain throughout my body, and developed a headache. As the days came and past, I could feel the pain progressively getting worse. But I didn’t say anything, I just kept pushing forward trying to fight past the pain. It didn’t help that most of my day consisted of walking outside in the heat. Earlier in my mission I had dengue fever, once in my first area and then again about six months into my mission. Because I had dengue before I thought my symptoms were just dengue, and that I just needed to drink a lot of water and focus more in the Lord’s work.
I did this for two weeks, I ignored the pain and just worked because more than anything I wanted to be a great example for my trainee. He could see I was in pain but whenever he would ask about it, I would just tell him that I was fine and that we needed to find more people to teach. This carried on for a total of three weeks before I told someone. I was taken to a doctor and he told me it was dengue, and he ran some tests that all came out negative for dengue. I spent the next week going to different doctors being tested and hearing their speculations but the truth was they didn’t know what I was suffering from. My mission notified me that I was to stop proselytizing and remain in my apartment until I had recovered. I spent most of my days sleeping, studying the scriptures, or praying for a miracle. After a week or two of being home bound I knew my health wasn’t improving and my pain was getting worse.
One night I was left in the apartment with one of the members of the local congregation, so that I could sleep and my companion could teach. After sleeping for a few hours I woke up because of the pain. My muscles, bones, joints, head it all hurt; everything hurt. I can remember sweat just running down my face and feeling extremely warm. Tears began to run down my face as I just laid there in my bed. I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I just wanted the pain to go away.
I just laid in my bed for what seemed like an eternity, saying a silent prayer in my head. I pleaded with my Father in Heaven to take the pain away or to help me become stronger so that I could finish my missionary service. My greatest fear at this point was being sent home early as a result of my health. I didn’t feel that I was ready to go home, I had so much more work to do.
Eventually the member came in to check up on me and saw the tears and the expression on my face. He knew something was wrong, he called my companion and told him I needed to go to the hospital. I wanted to cry out, saying “No! I am ok. I don’t need a doctor.” But I couldn’t get myself to open my mouth. I was hurting too bad.
I don’t really remember what happened after that, I just remember the pain in my head increasing. My companion came into the apartment and he and another member of the church picked me up to take me to the doctor. They supported me as we walked from the third floor of our complex to the street, my legs gave out and I was left completely dependent upon them.
Once we arrived at the hospital I was admitted to a room, and laid on a stretcher with dead bugs, and yellow and red stains all over it. I didn’t want to imagine what these stains were, I couldn’t because I could feel the pain slowly taking over. The doctors kept asking me what was wrong, what had happened? I don’t think I even responded to them in a complete sentence, I just threw out a bunch of random words. I heard the other missionary that I was with explain my situation.
At this point I felt like the lights in the room were burning my eyes, so I closed them. I lost feeling in my legs, fingers and hands; numbness had taken over. I remember just moving my legs and fingers trying to regain some sort of feeling, but it was all in vain. Eventually the numbing feeling would spread to parts of my face. I could hear people in the room talking but couldn’t make out what they were saying. The pain in my head was so great that I couldn’t concentrate, I felt like I was lost in my own little world. I just felt pain and had a rush of jumbled thoughts go through my mind. Then breathing became difficult.
I could feel tension and pressure build up inside of me. Although I couldn’t make out what the doctors and nurses were saying, I was able to sense the worry and urgency in their voices. I questioned if they actually knew how to help me. The pain was just building up, especially in my head and my chest. Then something happened, I tried to inhale and nothing came in. I tried again and again but nothing. At that point my mind was racing! I thought my head was going to explode from the immense amounts of thoughts, and pain; I had come to the realization that I had lost the ability to breathe.
My mind generated hundreds of thoughts like how long before I black out? Do the doctors even know that I can’t get oxygen? Is this God’s will for me? Am I going to die? I developed thoughts of my family, my missionary service. Had I served my God to the best of my ability? Did my mother know that I love her? I had forgotten to tell her before logging off my email the previous week.
I wanted to scream but again nothing came out. I started another silent prayer saying “Father if this be thy will then so be it, but please just let my mother know of my love for her. Please…” But I never finished the prayer, because I felt two hands be placed upon my head. I heard a voice but still couldn’t make out the words. Then the hands were removed, and I felt a peace rush through my body. I took what felt like the greatest breathe of my life, I don’t have words to describe that feeling. It just felt great.
I slowly regained feeling throughout my body; the pain still remained but at a bearable state, it was very minor in comparison to what I had experienced earlier. I can remember opening my eyes and looking around the room, the light maintained a slight sting. I could see the face of a concerned missionary, Elder Eagar. I thanked him for giving me a blessing, then watched the doctors for a few minutes until I fell asleep. At least I think I fell asleep. I don’t know exactly what happened, I just remember waking up the next morning around 3 am still in the hospital.
Shortly after this I was given an emergency transfer to an area closer to the mission offices. I met with my mission president and was held in a clinic for 3 days to run tests and to allow the doctors to monitor my symptoms. Still nothing. The tests all came out negative for any major virus or disease but I still felt some pain. I continued for another few weeks in the mission field until being interviewed by my mission president, and some regional leaders within the church and was honorably released of my missionary service.
I am so grateful for the tender mercies of my Father in Heaven, who blessed me with more time on this Earth. I am grateful for my friend Jackson Eagar, for living his life in accordance to the gospel. For having been worthy to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit, prompting him to perform that miracle in the name of Christ. Most importantly I am grateful for having been a witness that miracles do happen, that man can receive direct revelation from God and perform His work on the Earth.