Sunday, August 7, 2016

Aug. 2, 2016- Baby Alice is Home!!!

Elder Birrell and Elder Conde

This was a great week and I'm happy to say I'll be staying here in Galvarino and I'll be joined by a new missionary (from the States). I still don't know him yet but I'll give you all the details next week when I know more. It's funny because for the first two weeks of my mission I just dreamed in Spanish and I dreamed that I was teaching people. It was exhausting because it was as if I never went to sleep haha. I hadn't dreamed like that since then, but on Thursday night I had a dream like that and the next morning the mission President called to tell me about my assignment to be a trainer, funny coincidence. 

So as far as baby Alice goes, she's doing so so well. The doctors gave her 3 hours to live the night before we came to give her a blessing and now she's HOME. I had no idea she was going to be home when we went by last night, but both me and my companion for the day, Elder Harper, could feel like something special was in that room. I almost cried when I saw her I was so happy. It blew my mind how much this experience has brought that family closer to God and closer to each other. I know that God has a special plan of each one of us and that certainly includes baby Alice. As I placed my hands on her head to give her a blessing, I blessed her that she would fulfill her entire purpose here on the earth and I know that Heavenly Father still has so much planned for her. 

I was also thinking about an article in this week's Liahona that Elder Bednar wrote about accepting the will of God. He shares the following story: (focusing on the underlined part)

“Not My Will, but Thine, Be Done” John is a worthy priesthood holder and served faithfully as a full-time missionary. After returning home from his mission, he dated and married a righteous and wonderful young woman, Heather. John was 23 and Heather was 20 on the day they were sealed together for time and for all eternity in the house of the Lord. Approximately three weeks after their temple marriage, John was diagnosed with bone cancer. Because cancer nodules also were discovered in his lungs, the prognosis was not good. John recorded in his journal: “This was the scariest day of my life. Not only because I was told I had cancer, but also because I was newly married and somehow felt that I had failed as a husband. I was the provider and protector of our new family, and now—three weeks into that role—I felt like I had failed.” Heather noted: “This was devastating news, and I remember how greatly it changed our perspectives. I was in a hospital waiting room writing wedding thank-you notes as we anticipated the results of John’s tests. But after learning about John’s cancer, Crock-Pots and cookware did not seem so important anymore. This was the worst day of my life, but I remember going to bed that night with gratitude for our temple sealing. Though the doctors had given John only a 30 percent chance of survival, I knew that if we remained faithful I had a 100 percent chance to be with him forever.” 
Approximately one month later John began chemotherapy. He described his experience: “The treatments caused me to be sicker than I had ever been in my life. I lost my hair, dropped 41 pounds, and my body felt like it was falling apart. The chemotherapy also affected me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Life was a roller coaster during the months of chemo with highs, lows, and everything in between. But through it all, Heather and I maintained the faith that God would heal me. We just knew it.” Heather chronicled her thoughts and feelings: “I could not stand to let John spend the night alone in the hospital, so I would sleep every night on the small couch in his room. We had lots of friends and family visit during the day, but the nights were the hardest. I would stare at the ceiling and wonder what Heavenly Father had planned for us. Sometimes my mind would wander into dark places, and my fear of losing John would almost overtake me. But I knew these thoughts were not from Heavenly Father. My prayers for comfort became more frequent, and the Lord gave me the strength to keep going.” Three months later, John underwent a surgical procedure to remove a large tumor in his leg. Two days following the operation, I visited John and Heather in the hospital. We talked about the first time I met John in the mission field, about their marriage, about the cancer, and about the eternally important lessons we learn through the trials of mortality. As we concluded our time together, John asked if I would give him a priesthood blessing. I responded that I gladly would give such a blessing, but I first needed to ask some questions. I then posed questions I had not planned to ask and had never previously considered: “John, do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed? Frequently in the scriptures, the Savior or His servants exercised the spiritual gift of healing (see 1 Corinthians 12:9; D&C 35:9; 46:20) and perceived that an individual had the faith to be healed (see Acts 14:9; 3 Nephi 17:8; D&C 46:19). But as John and Heather and I counseled together and wrestled with these questions, we increasingly understood that if God’s will were for this good young man to be healed, then that blessing could be received only if this valiant couple first had the faith not to be healed. In other words, John and Heather needed to overcome, through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) tendency in all of us to demand impatiently and insist incessantly on the blessings we want and believe we deserve. We recognized a principle that applies to every devoted disciple: strong faith in the Savior is submissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives—even if the outcome is not what we hoped for or wanted. Certainly, John and Heather would desire, yearn, and plead for healing with all of their might, mind, and strength. But more important, they would be “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [them], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). Indeed, they would be willing to “offer [their] whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26) and humbly pray, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What initially seemed to John, Heather, and me to be perplexing questions became part of a pervasive pattern of gospel paradoxes. Consider the admonition of the Savior: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). He also declared, 
“But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30). And the Lord counseled His latter-day disciples, “By thy word many high ones shall be brought low, and by thy word many low ones shall be exalted” (D&C 112:8). Thus, having the faith not to be healed seemed to fit appropriately into a powerful pattern of penetrating paradoxes that require us to ask, to seek, and to knock that we might receive knowledge and understanding (see 3 Nephi 14:7). After taking the necessary time to ponder my inquiries and to talk with his wife, John said to me: “Elder Bednar, I do not want to die. I do not want to leave Heather. But if the will of the Lord is to transfer me to the spirit world, then I guess I am good with that.” My heart swelled with appreciation and admiration as I witnessed this young couple confront the most demanding of all spiritual struggles—the submissive surrender of their wills to God’s will. My faith was strengthened as I witnessed this couple allowing their strong and understandable desires for healing to be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7). John described his reaction to our conversation and the blessing he received: “Elder Bednar shared with us the thought from Elder Maxwell that it is better to not shrink than to survive. Elder Bednar then asked us, ‘I know you have the faith to be healed, but do you have the faith not to be healed?’ This was a foreign concept to me. Essentially he was asking if I had the faith to accept God’s will if His will were that I not be healed? If the time were approaching for me to enter the spirit world through death, was I prepared to submit and accept?” John continued: “Having the faith not to be healed seemed counterintuitive; but that perspective changed the way my wife and I thought and allowed us to put our trust fully in the Father’s plan for us. We learned we needed to gain the faith that the Lord is in charge whatever the outcome may be, and He will guide us from where we are to where we need to be. As we prayed, our petitions changed from ‘Please make me whole’ to ‘Please give me the faith to accept whatever outcome Thou hast planned for me.’ “I was sure that since Elder Bednar was an Apostle, he would bless the elements of my body to realign, and I would jump out of the bed and start to dance or do something dramatic like that! But as he blessed me that day, I was amazed that the words he spoke were almost identical to those of my father, my father-in-law, and my mission president. I realized that ultimately it does not matter whose hands are on my head. God’s power does not change, and His will is made known to us individually and through His authorized servants.” Heather wrote: “This day was filled with mixed emotions for me. I was convinced that Elder Bednar would place his hands on John’s head and completely heal him of the cancer. I knew that through the power of the priesthood he could be healed, and I wanted so bad for that to happen. After he taught us about the faith to not be healed, I was terrified. Up to that point, I had never had to come to grips with the fact that the Lord’s plan might include losing my new husband. My faith was dependent upon the outcomes I wanted. In a manner of speaking, it was one-dimensional. Though terrifying at first, the thought of having the faith not to be healed ultimately freed me from worry. It allowed me to have complete trust that my Heavenly Father knew me better than I knew myself, and He would do what was best for me and John.” A blessing was given, and weeks, months, and years passed by. John’s cancer miraculously went into remission. He was able to complete his university studies and obtained gainful employment. John and Heather continued to strengthen their relationship and enjoy life together."

The family finally began to accept the will and timing of God in their lives. They had faith not to be healed, and she was healed. It`s not easy to have this level of faith, but every day we should be aiming for that.

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Birrell

Zone leaders from my first sector going home

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