Monday, August 4, 2014

Pebbles in the Night

August 4, 2014

It probably wasn´t the most mature, missionary-like way to destress, but I had promised that I wouldn´t worry,and this was the best thing I could think of to keep me distracted. I don’t  know why someone decided to put a door there, anyway, since it just opens up to a 30 foot drop off.With the door wide open, I sat on the plywood floor of my new Jungle dream house, my feet dangling freely under the stars. With a sling shot in my hands and a pile of pebbles at my side, I watched and listened as I sent each little rock flying through the amazon air. I tried to focus more on my aim and less on everything that had happened, but the words of the blessing that Elder Lancaster had given me just hours before kept coming back to my mind. “I bless you that you will be comforted and able to accept the will of God, whether it be staying here and working, going back to Iquitos, or returning home.” 

As I pondered those words, I lost concentration and shot a pebble straight into my arm. “Ouch!” I whispered. Then, worried that I might have awakened my companion, I stared back into the dark room. She hadn´t moved. She had truly cried herself into a deep sleep. It was Friday night, and we were exhausted from a very, very long week.

It all started out great. On Monday we had the transfer meeting. My companion and I were happy to learn that we were to stay together in our area. On top of that, Elder Muñoz, who was my awesome District Leader for 6 months in Iquitos was coming to Pucallpa as a Zone Leader and my favorite “granddaughter” (I trained her trainer) was coming into my zone. We were also thrilled to find out that our new District Leader would be Elder Lancaster (my first gringo DL! He´s from Idaho), who was our last DLs junior companion and had already been a great help and friend to us.

Tuesday, we moved out of our small, ugly little apartment and moved into my “Jungle Dream Home” that is something of a treehouse.

Wednesday, we did an awesome district service project helping some less actives paint their house, and they gave us some great referrals in return. As the four of us walked back after lunch, my cell phone started to ring. I wasn’t sure who would be calling me, but I picked it up and an Elder randomly introduced himself as the new health secretary and started asking me a bunch of questions about my leg. “Well,”I thought, “Looks like President got my email. There’s no turning back now.”

I wasn’t going to tell a soul, but two weeks after I had noticed the problem in my knee, as I was writing my weekly report to president, I remembered how our loyalty is first to the Lord and then to the Mission President before anyone else, even ourselves. How many times had I taught my companions that there are no secrets in the mission?  Now, it was my turn to be honest. I didn’t give him the details, I just explained that something weird was going on with my leg and that it just wouldn’t heal.

Shortly after the phone call, I found myself once again sitting in the hospital. I showed the doctor what I had observed 1.  My leg was still a little purple even though it had been almost three months since the fall, and 2. My knee was crooked.

“Wanna know a secret?” the Sister Training Leader asked me (it’s always weird when we’re together because I was her Sister Training Leader and now she’s mine, the mission is funny that way :)  “Hermana Gomez is thinking about sending you to Iquitos if you don’t get better.” My heart broke a tiny bit, then even more when the Doctor told me that it was possible that they would need to operate my leg, but that he would send me to the Traumatologist first and gave me and appointment for Friday.

On Thursday mornings, we always get up early to play volleyball as a Zone. I didn’t want anyone else to know what was up, so I played like normal, just avoiding jumping and moving to much. Then, the ball rolled way out of bounds and, before I could get after it, one of my zone leaders said, in English so not everyone would understand, “Can you go get that? Hermana Simonson can’t exactly run…or walk.” Obediently, the brand new Sister, fresh from the Lima MTC, took off for the ball.

“So…” she asked. “What happened to your leg?” I laughed. “Um…I fell in a sewer.” Her jaw dropped. “Really??? That was YOU?? Everyone in the MTC was talking about that!” That’s great. My leg is not just famous in Iquitos and Pucallpa. Nope, turns out that my story has gone Nation-wide, even to the capital.

That morning, I sat down to study, hoping to find comfort.  Blessed art thou; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivest thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.” That was comforting. Then, I read on. “And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach AGAIN unto the people of that city; yea, preach unto them.” I buried my head in my hands and tried not to cry. That was it. We both knew it. I would be headed back to Iquitos.

Friday came and after sitting in the waiting room for three hours, a nurse walked out. “Señorita Seemson, your ultra sound.” Elder Lancaster and I stood up and walked down the hall, it was a long, long walk. The doctor finished the ultra sound and explained to us what he found, then started typing the results to give to the Traumatalogist. “Nice knowing you” I whispered to Elder Lancaster. His voice cracked as he responded “you can’t leave, Sister Simonson.”

We walked back out to where our companions were sitting, and headed back to the Traumotologist’s office. Once more, we sat there waiting for awhile until they finally called for “Señorita Seemson.” “Good luck” my companion whispered and Elder Lancaster and I stood up.

We finished with the doctor and made our way back to our companions. Hermana Vega’s face fell as she looked into my red, swollen eyes. No one said anything. I bought the new pills, and we headed outside. The District Leader was the first to speak. “Hermana, you know I need to call Hermana Gomez, what exactly should I say?” I opened my mouth to respond, but words didn’t come out. Instead, my eyes started watering and I lost all control. “Okay,” he said. “Go back to the house and rest for a minute. I’ll call you at 9 and we will go from there.”

When we got back to the house, we sat down and my companion said. “So..what did the Doctor say?” I did my best to explain everything. My knee had gone crooked because the ligament and tendon were swollen and because I hadn’t rested as much as I should have, they were starting to calcify like that and if I didn’t rest up, it would calcify more and become a lifetime problem. But, it I rested 100 percent for three weeks, it would heal and in a few months I would even be able to run again and life would go on as normal. It wasn’t all that bad. there's no danger. No surgery was necessary. But, I was given three weeks of bed rest, and I only have five weeks left in the mission. I knew what that could mean, and my companion did, too. Maybe I’d be touching American soil sooner than we had thought.

We heard a knock at the door. The Elder had brought us dinner. Before he called Hermana Gomez, I asked my district leader for a blessing of comfort. When he finished, he asked if I would rather call her myself. “I can’t!” I said. “I’m gonna start crying!” “Me too!” he responded. Finally, I convinced him to just do it. I braced myself for anything. “this is it” I thought. I’m about to be told to go home. Maybe Iquitos wouldn’t have been too bad after all. Hermana Gomez said that her and President would talk and pray about it and give us a call. In the mean time, I distracted myself with my slingshot.

It seemed like we waited for an eternity. But, Sunday night, the phone rang—it was President Gomez.
long story short, tomorrow I will board a plane and see what lies in store for me in this last chapter of the (apparently famous) story of Hermana Simonson’s Mission.  I was given the option of being honorably released early, but President told me that he has work that I can do in Iquitos. After all, I still have a long ways to go to be able to write that book!  He said that I could be very useful in training all of the new Sister Leaders and in helping out in the offices.

I’m sad to leave Pucallpa, but I know that I already completed my purpose here. As I practiced the piano before sacrament meeting, two early birds showed up, and they happened to be my latest converts, preparing the Sacrament and wearing little “Future Missionary” badges. Javier blessed the sacrament and Andy passed it and I was lucky enough to be sitting in his route. They both got up and shared their testimonies. A less active family that we had “rescued” also showed up early, and the father blessed the Sacrament with Javier. A still small voice whispered “your work here is already done.” Even though it was hours before President’s call, I knew I was going. I couldn’t help but tear up as I played the closing song “God Be With You til We Meet Again.” I don’t know why Bishop had put it on the program, but it served its purpose.

As I packed up my things this morning, I remembered the words that were said when I was set apart “serve wherever in the world you may find yourself” and I guess that even applies to sitting in a chair day in and day out in Iquitos. God always has a plan and I know that I still have a special work to do in Iquitos. 

Love- Hermana Simonson 

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