Friday, September 21, 2012

Have You Been Born Again?

Today while at the Mayo Clinic, a man asked me "have you been born again?" It took me by surprise, since I was not even remotely having any type of conversation with him to begin with, however, I answered "why yes, yes I have and thank you for asking"

During the day I have thought about that question and wondered HAVE I BEEN BORN AGAIN?  Not being able to get my mind off of it, I decided that man asked me this question for a reason, not sure what HIS reasoning was but it sure has made me think.

I know in some religious beliefs, people are known to use the term "born again" as meaning they have given their life and self to the Lord.  If that being my belief then I would say "yes I have been born again"

For me, being "born again" means each and every time we are faced with a challenge, (and by a "challenge"  I mean a life altering challenge like being sexually abused or life threatening, divorce, death of a spouse anything that causes your life to change) instead of turning it into a negative force that destroys everything in its path with anger, including your soul, your able to step away, give it time and ask the question "what can I learn from this?" with that being said I think I have been born again several times in my life.

I have been angry, very angry with the man who abused me and the mom who walked away from me.   I have felt the fear of rage take over my whole being to the point of wanting to take my own life. I know what it feels like to have no control over what is happening to my body and to be enraged almost to the point of hatred. I have mourned the death of my brother and blamed myself for the "what ifs"

Every single time I experienced these emotions, they dug deeper and deeper into developing a person who was negative, angry and depressed, taking it all out on others including my own family. The 1st turning point for me was when I faced my fear (my dad) and confronted the abuse--this was my first "born again" moment, it was at that time I realized I cannot control anyone else, how they act, how they respond or even how they lie.  It was at that moment a light bulb went off in my head--"I am in control now, I control how I will respond, how I will learn and how I will teach my children to forgive"  The 2nd "born again" moment was when I had truly forgiven him, when the calm after the storm came, and I knew he could no longer effect me or my children, I wrote an email to him after 16 years of no contact and told him I had forgiven him and that I hoped he was living a happy life--6 months later he died, and I was at his bedside.

I was "born again" when I finally forgave myself for so many things I had done to offend others, after reaching out to them and apologizing truly letting go of my actions and words that had hurt others, I gave it to the Lord and hoped those people would forgive me too.  This included forgiving myself for the death of my brother--

When I was diagnosed with cancer--I was not quite ready to accept this new life I was going to take on, but I was "born again" when I faced it, prayed and pleaded with the Lord to forgive me and help me to be a better person, I KNOW HE DID.

Most recently I was "born again" when I went to the Dominican Republic and lived the life of my missionary son for a couple weeks--He will never know what that meant to me, and how proud I am of the work he accomplished while he was there--what a great experience I can check that one off of my bucket list, but I will never ever forget it--Oh, I love Weeyum, and now appreciate even more the son who came home a man.

All of us, have challenges in our life, and if you say you don't well get ready to have it scheduled on the calendar because the Lord will not put us here on earth without challenging us and testing us, it's just that some people have different challenges than others.

 Recently a dear friend of mine who I greatly admire and love wrote me a loving email, this is  a portion of what it said "I want you to know, Monya, that if I could take 
this on for you and bear
 it instead of you having to bear it,
 I would do it in a minute" and my response to him was "of course you would, because that's the kind of man you are, and one of the reasons I love you and your family so much " but I also said this to him "how can I complain when I'm the one who agreed to live this life?"  We all agreed to live our life, so live it, love it and learn from it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moving Forward

Surgery was successful, all I remember is going to sleep in the OR on Wednesday and waking up on Monday ha ha.  My days are all off, I  drove all the way to Scottsdale for a doctors appointment I don't have until tomorrow.  I have to admit I loved getting out of my bed and seeing some sunlight.

Today I saw  the Dr. he took out the sutures and the nose brace, but unfortunately for me the stints have to remain up my nostrils for a couple more weeks to give the bones time to heal correctly. I have black and blue around my eyes and cheeks, I've had to control the pain with drugs but am quickly getting off of those. Now I'm dealing with keeping food down, even a few bites of anything. Kayla has been bringing me peanut butter banana smoothies, it may take all day to drink but it tastes good and stays down, so I know I'm getting some protein.

Now isn't that beautiful?
If I'm  completely honest at this very moment I'm feeling a little defeated knowing we have some  serrious decisions to make. Recently I was boo hooing and  venting to a friend, and doing a pretty good job at it too, then she reminded me  about something  my oncologist told me from the beginning.... he said he will not tell me I'm cancer free, but he will be with me until the end! My 1st thought was "until the end.? What the heck does that mean? "then she continued saying "did you ever stop to think that you are NOT here for what YOU still need to learn, but for what people can learn from you?"  I've never thought about this journey of life being for anyone but myself, what am I supposed to be learning has always been my question to myself and in my pleading prayers to the Lord.

I'm not someone with a whole lot of confidence in myself or my abilities to uplift and help others. I know some incredibly talented people, they have worked hard to become musicians, singers, athletes,   cooks,  authors, scrap bookers,  doctors, attorneys. PA's, radiation therapist (I love them)  I could go on and on, the point I'm trying to make is when she said those words to me two things went through my mind 
#1. What a bunch of crap  I have nothing to teach anyone, and if for some reason she's right, I don't want to do it anymore, find someone else to learn from. and then came # 2. Change your prayers. To my dear sweet friend thank you for giving me something new to worry about... Ha ha I love You.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weeyum at the Beach and Waterfalls

view of the beach love the white sand

Chloe covering Blake in sand

So Fun

He loved it

the best part 

watching Weeyum finally get to play in the D.R. water

he had to take off his trunks to clean off all the sand

this was a great finish to our day on the beach

Eric and I in the Caves of the waterfalls

Eric asked Weeyum if there was anything he did not get to see or do while he was serving, and then told him we are going to do it.  We spent the day at the village in Puerto Plata and beaches, then went to the 27 waterfalls.  Eric and Blake hiked up to do 12 of them, Chloe and I stayed back and only did 7.  It was beautiful, the boys said "next time we are going to do the all 27"  Chloe and I are good with 7.
The School 
Theses guys could not wait for me to take their picture

he asked me "facebuke, right?"  (translation Facebook)

I loved these cute school kids

they were shy at first but then didn't want me to stop


biggest and most delicious avocados EVER

not sure, don't care

Chloe and I enjoying our coconut milk on the
way to the beach

Eric and Chloe

they cut open the coconut with a machete then give
it back to you to eat

drying out the very raw meat--YUK
To sum things up with our trip to the D. R. it was the most amazing trip I have ever had.  I cannot describe the overwhelming feeling I received of our Savior's Love for ALL of his children.  This time in the D. R. reminds me how much we are all here on earth to be there for each other, no matter what the circumstances.  It was an unbelievable comfort hearing these sisters had been a mom to my son while I could not be there for him,  to be the hands of the Lord in leading him to the spirit and helping him to not only become the man he is now, but to also teach him FAITH and HOPE in a better world.  My heart was beating and my eyes overflowing with tears when I heard the stories of service and unconditional love Elder Weeyums learned while serving in the D. R.  I am convinced now more than ever before, missionaries, if obedient, are completely blessed and watched over by our Heavenly Father while they serve.

 When I saw the circumstances in which Elder Weeyums lived it made my heart hurt for him, I could not believe the sacrifice he made, leaving a safe environment of a home with running water and air conditioning, modern conveniences that most of us take for granted, he learned to appreciate.  He left the comfort of home knowing his mother was  going to be in a battle for her life,  I'm not quite sure how he did that. If I had seen the circumstances he was going to be living in I would of never let him go, however, I know there is a time and season to all things and I was prepared my entire life to have FAITH, when he left I had complete FAITH he would return to us a better man.  If you were to ask most return missionaries if they would do it again, I think if they are honest most would say it was the greatest 2 years of their life, but would not want to go through it again. 

 President Greer gave Blake a blessing before he left for his mission, and in that blessing he told him if he was obedient his mother would be here when he got home, those words helped him get through the rough days and the people in the D. R. taught him more than anything I could of ever taught him if he had stayed home.    So many nights when he was out serving I would go into his room and kneel to pray, now after visiting the D. R. I wonder if those nights were the times he was burdened with more than he thought he could handle, if those were the times he sought comfort from the women who listened to his fears, and wiped away his tears.  I will forever be grateful to those families who led him and guided him and helped him return to us safely.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Puerto Plata

Leaving La Vega was difficult, I kinda thought Puerto Plata would be a little less dangerous--NOT. There were times we were smooshed into vans like sardines--in a 12 passenger van we had 26 people at one time.  The sliding door remained open for fast and easy access on and off, and also for the fact that there was no a/c.   There were people sitting on other people's laps, people they didn't even know--for 50 Dominican Pesos (approx $1.25) to travel  20-25 miles, with stinky sweaty people, this is their life, while I found it amusing and interesting they all loaded and unloaded each time starting conversations with the people they sat next to.  I love that !!  American's could use some training in that area--how many times have you gotten on an elevator and no one talks to each-other?  Try it next time, you may be missing out on opportunities to help someone in need, or at least cheer someone up including yourself.

On this particular bus the driver was quite professional and efficient at his job, a woman got on with her grocery bag (very small grocery bag) he took it from her threw it in his small trunk and off we went.  When she arrived at her destination, he jumped out grabbed her groceries and left them lying there on the ground before she could even get out of the van. The passengers also know exactly what to do GET OUT OF HIS WAY ASAP.  Blake said "mom imagine doing these rides for 3 or 5 hours with no a/c and in a white shirt and tie, transfers were just like that"  Right before Blake got home I sent him a new white shirt and was surprised when he wore his dirty, perspired shirt home--the neck was filthy--now I know why--he wore it home because he is a Dominican now, and he did not want others to think he thought he was better than them.  I hope he kept that shirt, it means more to me now.
The Bus To Haiti

Beautiful View in Puerto Plata

Missionaries are not allowed to swim

I carved WEEYUM in the rock--he left his mark in the D. R.

Dominican Republic Flag

The Villages and places he served were worse than I ever imagined them to be, he never told us in emails, all we ever heard from him was that he was doing great and working hard.  None of the homes have air conditioning, something we in Arizona would not live without.  Their homes were the size of my bedroom, the floors were dirt, no yards, the homes are built on top of each other with very small walk ways between homes.  There is no  privacy.
Rice Truck

Local Views

Local View

One night Eric, Blake and Chloe went to visit a family Blake knew who had invited us over for rice pudding.  I was not feeling well and decided to stay at the hotel.  Chloe and Blake got on a motorcycle, and Eric on another.  Blake and Chloe were ahead of Eric.  Eric, is a funny man, he wants to know spanish so badly and he does his best to communicate, but dang it he really does not know what he is saying ( I call his language FrenchSpanlish) the driver of Blake and Chloe's motorcycle took off, far ahead of Eric.  The motorcycle driver for Eric said he needed gas as he turned down a very dark road, Eric jumped off and started running down the street towards where he thought Blake and Chloe would be--he said it was really dark and he ran for 10-15 minutes.  Probably a good thing I was not there, I would of freaked out and had an anxiety attack for sure.  Blake and Chloe were in the middle of the road waiting for him.  Chloe told me later that she and Blake were really afraid for Eric.  Luckily the Lord was watching over Eric and all was well as they arrived at the members home.

Homemade Rice Pudding

Blake & Chloe with one of his favorite members

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Pure Love of Christ Shines Through Weeyum

chicken foot

Blake loves to eat the whole thing

yes, it is disgusting

I cleaned my plate--
I love the Diaz Family above us are pictures of Blake
on their walls.
A smile is Universal, it can brighten a day no matter what nationality you are.  Waiting at the bus stop I smiled at a Haitian woman, she made eye contact with me smiled back as if she knew who I was, then she was off on her way.  I've noticed so many people here have lost so much, some of them carry everything they own (which is not much)  with them.
Santo Domingo Temple
As much as my heart aches for the circumstances in which my son physically lived in for 2 years, my heart also leaps for joy knowing the unconditional love he was blessed with while serving here.  Knowing who he was before his mission, the demons he had to struggle with confirms my testimony of HOPE & FAITH in the Lord, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, I've seen it work in my own life as well as people I respect and love dearly. The Lord truly blessed Blake with a unwavering  testimony of the gospel, and HE blessed our family with strength while Blake served.
Hermano Diaz and his children--so cute

When we arrived at Hermana and President Diaz's home they had pictures of Blake on their walls, oh they were over joyed to see him. "Weeyum, Weeyum" with tears in their eyes.  These humble, sweet people live in La Vega, this is a part of the DR that is very scary  not a place to be after dark, I have traveled many countries but never felt fear like I did in La Vega after dark.  This is very interesting to me because this area was Elder Weeyum favorite place to serve, he would email me and say the more poor the area the more humble the people.  On Monday night we had dinner with the Nunez family, then finished the night learning how to make Weeyum favorite smoothies at the Diaz's home.  President Diaz is a very animated man when he speaks, so Weeyum translated--they speak so fast, at one point Weeyum had to ask us to slow down.  We were asking questions, and Pres Diaz was answering and asking questions--it was really funny to watch, but I just wanted to know everything I could about the mission, the people, and their family.  I have never in my life laughed as hard as I did with Pres Diaz, he, knowing it would be dangerous to walk from the Nunez home to his home (which is only a couple streets over) came to pick us up on his motorcycle, Chloe and I got on with him and he laughed the entire way, then we started laughing, he has a contagious laugh we still are not sure what we were laughing about, but it was sure fun, my cheeks hurt. While he went back to get Eric and Blake Hermana Diaz shared some stories with me of Weeyum while he served.

Sister Diaz told me story after story of Elder Weeyum love for the people, she said she saw him many, many times give his plate of food to someone else, so they would not go hungry.  When she asked him once why he did that, because she knew he was mucho hungry he told her "they need it more than I do, and the Lord will bless me with strength to find food tomorrow"  Without hesitation he opened doors for everyone,  he never judged anyone, even those who killed people for a living, he taught them about the love of Christ, he had a couple really lazy companions and she said he worked through it,  she told me he gave his whole heart and soul to the mission.  I was so overwhelmed I cried and explained how happy it made me to hear these things from her, because we have tried to ask Blake about these types of experiences and he will never talk about it, she said "because he is a humble servant of the Lord"  oh dear, that made me cry even more.  The Diaz family will continue to be in my prayers for life.  When we left I gave them hugs and they said in their broken English "Monya, mama I love You"  I bore testimony to them of my love of the savior  and thanked them for taking good care of my son, and sharing their love with him.  I now understand why some missionaries go through a mourning  when they are released or transferred to another area.  When Weeyum came home, I noticed he was a little depressed and sad when I asked him why he said "I miss the people in the DR, mom they are family to me"  Now I understand why, the pure Love of Christ has no boundaries.  We knelt and had family prayer with them, President Diaz asked Eric to offer the prayer in English.
Weeyum talking with the Nunez family

Chloe's  ready for dinner

As we traveled from one mission area to the next we made sure our mode of transportation was as if we were missionaries.  Weeyum knows this country inside and out, every little street, where to go and not go.  Eric was trying a couple of times to spend a little more money and take taxis or buses that were less crowded or air conditioned, but we are so glad we did it Weeyum way, I was able to experience it and see it through Weeyum eyes.  Every Dominican or Haitian we met who knew Weeyum in the field would say "Oh Weeyum, we love you" when I asked how his spanish was everyone of them said "perfecto" Of course Weeyum being the humble sweet man that he is would give all the credit to the Lord and the people for helping him.

Leaving La Vega was really sad for me, I could see the hurt in Blake's heart too.  Good thing we have Face Book to keep in touch, and I fly with USAirways--hopefully Presudebt Diaz will be able to visit us in November.  ♥♥♥ this man