Sunday, September 13, 2015

Opposition In All Things

So, as I mentioned in the last blog post, we had a really good lesson in District Meeting about how we receive promptings from the Holy Ghost, but then fear sometimes creeps in and we have to push through the fear to keep doing what the Lord wants us to do.  Little did we realize that we would have the opportunity to put this lesson into practice so soon after our meeting!

We drove away from the meeting with the plan to stop and visit
with an investigator named Annie. Annie is a great lady who is the Sunday School superintendant of her Baptist church that was started years ago by her now deceased husband.  She has taken lessons from various sets of missionaries in the past.  She knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that President Monson is a prophet, but it has been understandablly very hard for her to progress towards actually being baptized in our church.  On our way to her home, Jim mentioned to me that he had been having vision problems and seeing black spots in his right eye since the day before. The symptoms that he described sent up a red flag right away in my mind.  I started making phone calls to determine the best ER to go to in the city.   We went ahead to deliver a special edition of the Ensign about temples to Annie as I was calling doctors and hospitals.

Right after we left Annie's home we went to the UPMC emergency room which is the one in the First Ward where we go to see members of the church who need visits and blessings.  All of a sudden we were there for ourselves instead of to visit someone else and it was a weird feeling.  So many blessings then started to unfold.  We were there in the hospital on a Thursday afternoon right before a holiday weekend.  There is a major eye institute right next to the hospital.  The eye clinic personnel were starting to leave, but we were seen really quickly by a resident, attending ophthalmologist, and finally a retinal specialist.  UPMC is a teaching hospital and many people looked in Jim's eye within a very short time.  It was determined that he had some tears in his retina and it was beginning to detach.  We were told over and over that it was good that we had come to the hospital right away or blindness could have been the result.  They tried to use a laser on the tears, but that didn't work.  When we asked what caused the retinal problems we were told something we are hearing all too often....."old age"!!!  He was put on the surgery schedule for later in the afternoon the next day.

The problem with the surgery time was that we had been working for weeks and weeks to help get Sister Page ready for going to the Columbus temple to have some sealings done for her to her deceased family.  Her living family are not members of the church, but have become more supportive of her desires to attend the temple at least once in her later years.  One extended family member drove her quite some distance to talk to a stake presidency member and then she was willing to make the 6 hour round trip to Columbus since they were worried about her oxygen and wheelchair needs.

When we realized what a conflict this was, Jim said he felt a strong impression that I should go ahead and go to the temple as planned. He said that he felt everything would work out.  I definitely didn't feel quite so peaceful about being almost 200 miles away while he was waiting to be called into surgery at any time.  He kept reassuring me that he was absolutely sure everything would be just fine.  I ended up riding to the temple in a van with the First Ward bishop, Elder Gille, Elder Simmons, LaShaun, and Vikkiy. We had a wonderful experience in the temple and the workers there were so patient and kind to help Sister Page with her special needs.  As we started home I got a text from Jim saying that he had been taken to the hospital early by the elders.  The hospital was able to fit him in for surgery and he expected to go in around 4 PM. I knew it was good to get the surgery done as soon as possible, but my heart sank because I knew we could not make it back in time.  An hour or so later I got another text that said there was a surgery that was more of an emergency put ahead of him.  They didn't expect that he would go into surgery until 6 pm or so.  We got back to Pittsburgh at 6 pm and I had the bishop drop me off at the hospital.  The surgery ahead of Jim went slower than expected so he didn't actually go into surgery until 8:20 pm.  I had time to visit with him, talk with the doctors and the anesthesiologist.  We felt relatively peaceful about everything and I was so relieved to be there with him.

My peaceful feeling started to give way about 3 hours

later when I hadn't heard anything from the operating room.
 They told us earlier that the surgery would only last about 2 hours.  I was nervously waiting by myself in a lonely surgery waiting room when all of a sudden Elders Ord and Wadsworth showed up.  They waited with me for another few hours as the doctor came to reassure me that everything went well and Jim spent time in the recovery room.  We didn't leave the hospital until 2 AM.  The elders drove us to where our car was parked at the church and then helped us into our apartment.  They live in the same apartment building that we do.  What a blessing it was for us to have the elders close by to help us through this ordeal.  Getting to know such great young men has been such a bonus of our mission.

The next day we called Sister Page to see how she was feeling after such a big day.  We all missed having Jim there with us, but it made us both so happy to hear the pure joy in her voice.  She told us that it will be a day she will never forget.  She said it was so healing for her to be sealed to her husband who died over 50 years ago, her parents, and her two babies who died in infancy.  One of the babies was her only girl and I was able to stand in as proxy for her daughter.  She said she will always feel close to me because of that.  Somehow we feel that the Lord wanted those ordinances done in the temple that day.  The experience in the temple was worth any fear or uneasiness that we felt.  What a mission payday!

It has been a week since Jim's surgery.  We have managed to get along with him sleeping in a recliner (not fun and not much sleep), eyedrops four times a day, and our biggest challenge of having me be the designated driver in Pittsburgh traffic. The doctor says Jim needs to take it easy for another week or so and then can probably start driving again.   All in all, we are surviving and are so grateful for our blessings.  Our hearts go out to others with challenges in life, but our testimony is stronger than ever that the Lord is right beside us through our pain and sufferings.  We are anxious to get back to work with full steam.

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