Stepping into the Darkness

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness, then the light will appear and show you the way before you."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Hindsight is often a curious perspective. As I look back over the past three or four weeks with the available information that I now have, I am struck by the magnitude of the miracle that has taken place. I am reminded of an experience many years ago when they were building a Walmart in Anchorage, Alaska. They had to over excavate the building pad site by 10 to 15 feet due to the nature of the soil. They backfilled with select fill that was composed of rocks and sand. It was compacted and tested and declared to be sound. As the construction proceeded, the footings in one area appeared to be slightly depressed by an inch or so. Not a big deal, they just corrected in the next phase. The next phase noted a small difference in the height again in that area, but again, they just corrected in the next phase. When the precast walls were stood up, the walls in that area were a little lower, so they shimmed to compensate. When the roof was placed, they again noted the problem, but they relocated the attachment points and all was good.

It wasn’t until the finish work inside started and someone added up the corrections made in the area, and were alarmed by the total amount and felt there was a problem. We were called and at great expense conducted an exploration of the soils under those walls. It was discovered that while the excavation stopped at what appeared as the same material as the surrounding, it was in fact very different. Those walls were built over an ancient lake that had been filled in with volcanic ash from a long ago eruption. Over time the ash decomposed into a collapsing silt, and as the building was built, the silt would compress. The greater the load placed on it, the more it collapsed.

Small things individually may not seem like much, but when they are all connected and the total effect measured, it is incredible. This is where I find myself now.

In the end (or at least the end at this time), what seemed like a small “episode” was anything but. At the time, it wasn’t even close to the experience I had with the mild heart attack I experienced in Alaska six years ago. It did seem to be a warning though and one that should be attended to. I was relieved when Laurie called and said we had someone else to drive. Before leaving the office I had a couple of missionaries give me a blessing. The ER staff didn’t seem to be too alarmed by what was going on with me, to the extent they wouldn’t put a name to it. It didn’t rise to the level of a heart attack, and may have been something else.

They suggested I should see my doctor. Meanwhile, President Russell and Laurie were seeing to it that I didn’t overdo it and were constantly asking for updates on how I was feeling. I rested over the weekend and only felt a little discomfort when climbing the two flights of stairs up from the basement we call a mission office. That only showed for a couple of days and by the time we went to the appointment, I hadn’t experienced any more.

The cardiologist listened to my heart and said he normally would do a stress test first, but he wanted to go straight to the angiogram and scheduled one for the next week. On the evening before the angioplasty, I asked President Russell for a blessing and we had a rich experience under his voice. A lot of the things he said one would expect. The procedure would go well, the doctors and surgeons would be guided, and I would fulfill my mission. In practice, when the cardiologist got in and looked at what was there, he went out and talked to Laurie. He told her that there was significant blockage and they had called in the expert surgeon. The surgeon had just finished up with another case, and walked right in from that, just as the cardiologist got back to me. He went in and removed approximately 3 inches of blockage in the Right Coronary Artery that was at 100%. They had to use two of the longest stents to open the artery (a total of 3”). It all went smooth and with no problems. It is note worthy that this surgeon is the only one in the State of Oregon who is authorized to do this particular procedure, and he just happened to be there ready to go when I needed him.

When they reported to Laurie, and the next day to me, they used the exact words President spoke that night before. They also commented on how they didn’t know how I survived the warning, it should have been a widow maker. Because of the high dose of blood thinners, they had to close the hole in the artery in the groin the old fashion way. They put a huge C clamp on the spot, and over the next two hours, the nurse slowly backed off on the pressure. They then required me to lay still on my back as they monitored to spot for the next two hours for any leakage. Finally they allow me to move, and eventually to sit up and then stand up.

As I consider all that happened over the past weeks, I have come to realize the magnitude of the love we receive from our Father in Heaven. The mercy He shows to us and the care we receive from Him. I am grateful for all that had transpired, the priesthood and worthy bearers, and grateful to be able to continue and complete this mission with my sweetheart. There is no doubt there is a loving God and He watches over us.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Answered Prayers

Image result for lds missionaries praying images

"Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands. . . "

We posted earlier in our mission about a conference call and the whole mission praying for one of our missionaries.  It was a powerful, wonderful experience.  This week we experienced that same powerful prayer in our behalf.  It was humbling, comforting and amazing!  Greg had a heart "episode" about 10 days ago in the middle of transfer week.  We were scheduled to drive a van full of trainers and their new companions to their new area - Medford.  I was at the office trying to get some last minute work done before leaving.  Great was at the Church where the new missionaries were getting the last of their training from the Assistants.  Nothing worked for me - my computer mouse died, the computer keep freezing up,my pictures I was trying to download kept disappearing, etc.  I was getting more and more frustrated and even a bit "frantic".  I felt over-whelmed, oppressed even.  I decided that we just couldn't do the run to Medford, I HAD to get the work done.  I asked another couple in the office if they would mind going instead.  They were wonderful and quickly agreed.

Meanwhile at the Church were Greg was sitting in the van while the missionaries loaded their belongings - he was experiencing chest pains and pressure, trouble breathing and all the other typical heart attack symptoms. He began the drive to the office to pick me up. Right after he prayed for the ability and strength to do what was planned, I called him and told him we weren't going after all. Long story short - we were soon in the emergency room of the hospital hooked up to an EKG. President and Sister Russell nearly beat us there!  Them being there so quickly for us (when they have so much to do) - was such a comfort!  All indications were he had a mild heart attack.  We were told he would be there for several more hours while they observed him.

Soon after we were told that there was another conference call out for the mission.  This one was for us.  We both shed many tears as we listened to our wonderful Mission President and his sweet wife pray for us, knowing that nearly 200 missionaries around the state were on their knees adding their faith to that prayer!  The result - the Lord heard our cries and our prayers were answered!  We were released from the hospital soon after.  A follow-up with the cardiologist and he will be receiving an angiogram on Wednesday.  We feel calm  and comfort.  Our mission is not over and so many are praying for us.

The faith of these young missionaries is awe-inspiring.  They sacrifice so much to serve the Lord and they do it with so much joy.  We love them and are continually grateful for their example and enthusiasm and love.