My hearts a little heavy now, and my prayers are with my family. Its a heavy burden to bear and hurts me to be so far away, that I can't help you carry it. The only gift I have to give is evidence of God's love in my life and the lives of those around me here in Boston, so here goes.
Dad spent years putting together a book of family history stories from the McCormick line. When I became an assistant and started working in the office, I learned that the office couple, the Denneys, are actually Dad's cousins and have many of the same ancestors. So I gave them the copy of the stories Dad gave to me for them to study and enjoy. This past week they took that spiral bound book to the copy store to try and make copies of the common ancestors' stories for their own records. One of the managers at the store who was helping in the copy center noticed what they were doing and asked what the book was. They explained that it was the history of their ancestors. She responded that she herself was interested, and wanted so badly to discover more of her roots. They began to talk and she ended up taking their card with links to the church's family history resources to begin her own research. Full circle!
Elder Perkes and I were finishing up a day at the office, and were tired of typing reports, so we decided to log into the digital mission and do some work. One of his contacts in Brazil started messaging him, since he hadn't been on in a while, so we struck up a conversation. He spoke about 2% english so E. Perkes threw me on to go for it in Portuguese, and it was awesome. He agreed to video chat with us, but his camera and mic didn't work (but he could see and hear us) so I spoke to him through the webcam, and he responded with comments on the side. Turns out he grew up in Bahia, the missionaries used to come over all the time when he was little, and he had left his Livro de Mormon back home when he moved to Sorocaba. So we offered to get him another copy, to which he agreed, and then sent us his address and phone number. Next step is always to call the local missionaries, so we grabbed the number of the missionaries assigned to his local chapel, and called. An american elder answered, I gave him the referral, then he asked where I was from. "Virginia." "Really? Where in Virginia?" "Ashburn." "....seriously" "...yeah?" Phone got passed to companion. "Where are you from?" "..Ashburn?" "...ME TOO!"
Turns out of all the companionships, in all the wards, in all the stakes in all 34 missions in Brazil, I had called Elder Andrew Allen from Leesburg! I grew up around him, we went to youth conferences together and studied music at BYU together. We talked, caught up real quick, confirmed the referral, and were both REALLY surprised... I promised to follow up about our Brazilian friend... Coincidence? I'll let you decide.
Finally, I was reading a copy of the father's blessing dad gave me the day before I left for the MTC. I used to read it in Brockton, when I was sick, and be so frustrated that none of the promised blessings had happened. So I put it away, and didn't read it again until this past month. What I discovered was that every single blessing had come to pass. I learned the language fluently enough to speak all my thoughts and teach. I developed a deep love for the people. I was able to find joy in the small moments and daily, tender mercies. And my body was finally, finally brought back to normal, with the help of miracles and modern medicine. Everything promised was fulfilled.
The Lord knows us just as much in our darkest hour as in our brightest day, and if we have covenanted to choose and follow him, he has covenanted to never leave us alone. The sunlight does not cease to exist when we pass into the dark valley; it isn't visible; and we want to curse the valley, and curse the sun with it for not being there. I have done that. But I found that the Lord was turning the whole world beneath my feet to bring me back to that light, and make me so much stronger through faith-filled footsteps on the way.
p.s. the Millers (new president) are incredible, dedicated, and so new. I haven't really slept this past week but I don't really mind. We toured the mission so they could meet all the new missionaries, and I learned that change is a celestial principle.