Recall one of our first posts that displayed the above pair of new shoes I purchased at a Church-owned Deseret Industries store (Salvation Army type store)...new in the box for $6.00? I'm sure there were many who thought those cheap shoes would simply wear my feet out. I was afraid they would make my feet sore and cause blisters myself.
Well, here they are 17 months later after being worn an average of 6 days a week, looking as good as new and feeling as comfortable as any pair of shoes I ever bought. In the dry season it was nothing but windy and dusty in Gulu. In the rainy season, nothing but mud. I'm not exaggerating, I polished this pair of shoes more times in the last 17 months than I have polished all the shoes I have ever owned combined....and that would include 2 years of ROTC in college.
-------------------------------------------------We made it to Salt Lake on 3 Aug as planned and on Monday began looking for a neurosurgeon. After making 3 phone calls the first appointment we could get was 4-6 weeks out...a long time to wait thinking most of that time would be spent in pain, sometimes immobilizing. One doctor took my Uganda x-ray films, read it in a couple of days, and set me up for an appt 4 weeks out.
I found some help at another surgeon's office who had the same 6 week waiting period but who referred me to an orthopedic spine surgeon. I called them...same story but he had a PA who could see me our first week in SLC. We jumped on that and found him to be one of the most delightful professionals we had ever met. He spent 90 minutes with us asking questions, performing some strength tests, reading the Kampala MRI and CT film to us. (Interestingly enough, when he asked me to describe what I had been through, how I had felt, I could not speak but became very emotional. I asked Pam to tell him for me. It was a day or so later that I realized I had probably experienced what is called post-traumatic stress syndrome...the memory of what I had been through was simply too painful to even talk about.)
At this point, less than a week after being nearly totally incapacitated, I was feeling no pain whatsoever. He showed us the point in my neck that was causing the problem , a nearly complete collapse of the spinal column at C7 aggravated by intense inflammation and acknowledged he had no medical explanation as to why I was no longer suffering. He thought the only real answer must have been something spiritual...an answer to a blessing I received in Kampala and the prayers of friends and loved ones across the globe.
He had the same problem 6 years ago and underwent surgery. He did say my inflammation and pain could recur in 4 weeks, 4 months, 4 years or never but told me to stay as far away from a hospital as possible, that this surgery is for those who need it immediately and right now I do not need it.
Pam and I bear witness that God knows us by name, knows our trials and is nearby when we need him most. We are so grateful for Elder and Sis Squire in Kampala who housed me in their apartment for a week or so, drove me to one imaging lab after another, to a local clinic, to the hospital for an overnight stay. Sister Florence Nightingale would be a more appropriate title for Sister Squire. Elder and Sis Squire were by my side 24/7 for over a week. We are grateful for Elder Barton, our Southeast Africa Area physician in Johannesburg who flew 4 hours to Kampala just to stabilize me, then turn right around and fly me back to Johannesburg and then put me on a plane to the states the next day, 2 Aug, after deciding I could make it without surgery in So Africa. We are very grateful for our mission president, President Robert Chatfield, who had to make the hard decision to send me home...one that was very painful for him and one he knew Pam and I would not want to hear. There is no question now he was inspired by our Heavenly Father to get me home. Traveling the roads in Uganda, as rough as they are, no doubt would have further aggravated my neck and made a later trip back to Kampala and the states all the more difficult.
It truly was a series of miracles over the course of the closure of our mission. While we were so disappointed to leave early and miss so much our African loved ones, we know we will see them again some day and until that day, they will remain a deep part of our heart and soul. We have been pleased to hear from so many of them.
We continue to see the Lord's hand in all things. Shortly after our departure missionaries from Liberia and Sierre Leone were sent to Uganda. Some of those were placed in Gulu, so one week later our home was again occupied by (junior) missionaries! I have been able to begin much needed physical therapy treatment for a minor hip injury sustained from a P-day trail fall months earlier. We are temporarily staying with our daughter Ceci and her family in Utah. She feels we were sent home early to bless her with sanity as she struggles to balance all her current activities. We can now attend a family wedding this month in Georgia and share some family history activities with our eldest son's family. That also means we will see them before our planned visit to Florida in November!
When any of Heavenly Father's children look at life's experiences through a spiritual lens, they come to recognize the majesty of all His workings and His great love for all them. It is up to us to choose how we accept His will and His timing. As for me and Brooks, we will continue to serve the Lord wherever we are and in whatsoever capacity we can.
Thank you again for your support and encouragement while we served our wonderful Uganda Kampala mission.
_______________________________________________Doctrine and Covenants 59:And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things...
(Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, Jackson County, Missouri, August 7, 1831.)