Last night when we were having Family Home Evening, Jim all of a sudden got an excited look on his face. He fished around in his pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled fortune cookie paper. He had Chinese food for lunch. He presented it to me with a smile...
"The love of your life will carry you through any circumstance."
We got the transfers this morning and to our great surprise, I am being transferred and my companion is staying. This will be his fourth transfer in this area...I will be going to Maríllia which is in São Paulo and is one of the biggest zones in the mission...I don´t really have a clear idea yet of what exactly will happen, we were almost certain that I would stay and my companion would be transferred so this threw us for a loop, but I am excited and I am sure that whatever happens it is the Lord’s will. I will leave tomorrow morning and arrive tomorrow night...
I am doing well, I am very happy and I am working hard. I am learning so much, I am very grateful for the time that I have had with my companion, I really learned a lot from him, he is very dedicated and works very hard.
I know that this Church is true, I know that Christ lives and that He loves us. I know that all of the commandments really are for our good and that when we follow them we will be protected and blessed. I know that the opportunity that we have to work in God’s kingdom and help his children is a great privilege and that we can find great happiness in this work.
I want to all to know that I love you very much, I am praying for you all and hope you are well."
Jim had to go to Provo today for meetings so I went with him. I dropped him off at his meetings and I went to visit Sarah and Nathan. Nathan saw me coming and had a look on his face like, "I can't believe how lucky I am-it's Grandma!!" It's great to be loved like that. :) We had a fun time.
Jim and I took the long way home through the Heber Valley. It was a beautiful afternoon. The snow on the mountains was so pretty and the sun was lovely. What a nice day.
I guess there's another story I should write down. I'm not even sure what my kids know about this event.
When Sarah was about four months old and Elisa was 2 1/2, I had an accident where I burned my eyes. It was a freak accident. I had a cup of laundry detergent in my hand ready to put in the washing machine and the laundry basket on top of the washer started to fall over so I reached to grab it and I jerked the hand with the detergent in it and the detergent bounced up out of the cup into my eyes. There was immediate, horrific pain and I experienced a burning sensation in my eyes.
I ran to the sink and started to flood my eyes with water but there wasn't much relief. My husband was at work and I called him and he having had many classes in Chemical Engineering, told me to get in the shower and wash my eyes out and he was on his way home. The nightmare began in earnest from this point on. He came home and found me in considerable pain unable to get more than a few seconds of relief out of the water. We called someone to watch my girls and he drove me to the emergency room. The pain in my eyes was so bad that as he drove, I had a very large bowl of water which I placed my head in, where the water covered my eyes but not my nose or mouth. The only way I could get any relief was to keep my eyes immersed in the water.We walked into the ER with me with my upper head in the bowl of water. Now that was a sight.
The ER staff were immediately attentive and quite aggressive in treating me. They hooked me up to two IV bottles of saline connected to some sort of contact lens apparatus. They had me lay down and ran the water over my eyes slowly for quite a while until the bags were empty. This gave me relief but not complete relief so they repeated the procedure a second time. I was very, very miserable. I remember describing the pain as if it felt like someone was sticking "hot forks" in my eyes.
After a while, the pain subsided enough for them to place some sort of medicine in my eyes and bandage my eyes completely. This rendered me unable to see anything. I was to remain with my eyes bandaged completely for 24 hours and return the next day for evaluation. I remember that I felt a lot of pressure in my eyes and I didn't like feeling the pressure but at least I didn't have to have my head in a bowl of water or have water continuously running in my eyes. My burns were severe alkali burns from the laundry detergent.
We went home and in essence, I was blind. That was a very sad and overwhelming experience for me. Jim had to help me get around and take care of the girls. I couldn't see Sarah to nurse her, Jim only placed her in my arms and instinct took over. That was heartbreaking. I remember going to bed in a state of exhaustion and depression. I felt my way through the house to use the bathroom and depended on Jim for everything.
He had to go to school the next day for the morning. A neighbor came and helped me with the kids while he was gone and brought Sarah to me when it was time to nurse her. That afternoon, we went back to the ER. I was very nervous for them to take the bandages off my eyes. I remember they unwrapped them slowly and had me stand before a big eye chart. The big "E" on the chart was extremely blurry and it was hard to keep my eyes open. They sent me home with one eye bandaged, eye drops, instructions and follow up appointments.
The reality of my loss of vision was heartbreaking and scary. The doctors said I would heal but it would take time. My good husband and another man gave me a Priesthood blessing. I distinctly remember being told in the blessing that my eyes would heal because God had work for me to do and I needed my eyes to do the work. It was a very comforting blessing.
The healing was very slow, about six weeks to two months I think. I remember evaluating my healing by sitting in church and looking at the numbers on the hymn rack where the hymn numbers were displayed. At first I couldn't see them at all but very slowly, week after week, my vision improved until I could see them clearly again.
My eyes finally completely healed and I could see as I had before. The experience was very troubling, painful, and humbling for me. I appreciate my eyesight very much. I believe God spared my vision. I am grateful for that. My heart always goes out to those who have vision problems and for the truly blind. I think of my husband with tenderness when I recall this event because he was so good to me and helped me so much.
I am very careful now when I load a washing machine. I switched to liquid detergent after this incident and have been unable to bring myself to use powder detergent since if I can help it.
When I hear the song "Amazing Grace," I always think of my time(s) being "blind." There is more than one way to be blind but because of God's amazing grace and care of one who had been blind in more than one way, "now I see."
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun."
I went to the genealogy library this morning to do a little research. Last week my Mom found a document that told us that my great great grandfather came from Krakow' Poland. That is quite significant. I have been working on my Golgoski (Golgowski) family line on an off for 16 years. It was only last week however that we were able to narrow down the city he came from. We knew he was Polish but that was as far as we ever got.
I talked with a person from Poland who helps library patrons with their Polish genealogy. She was very, very helpful and pointed me in the right direction. She was born and raised in Poland and came to the U.S. when she was 29. Another woman from my ward went with me and was also extremely helpful. She helped me understand how to look through records on microfilm and helped me find some Polish language helps. It was interesting to look through a roll of Polish microfilm from a Catholic parish from 1810-1813. The documents were lengthy and of course I couldn't read them but I was able to pick out some key things as time went on. I found an index of names and I could gather that I was looking at birth records. The Polish language did not seem to be any deterrent to me. It certainly looks much, much easier than Chinese and I suspect with a little time and a little study, I should be able to pick out enough to make a dent in the records until I find my great, great grandfather's birth or marriage record. Now there's a great goal. :)
This is a picture of my great, great grandfather
taken in 1911 when he was 98 years old.
This is one of his granddaughters, Matilda Leopold age 18.
This is his son, my great grandfather John Golgoski.
So I feel a little bad because somehow or other, no e-mail came through from Ian today. I got a voice recording, but no associated e-mail. I don't know if he ran out of time or what happened but I look forward to those weekly e-mails. He sounded OK in the voice recording although a bit distracted and on auto-pilot so to speak. I'll just chalk it up to his being busy.
I was too busy to blog myself yesterday but it was a good day. I shall try to improve.
As I look out the window I see that we are having a huge snowstorm. The weathermen said we would only get a trace of snow. Hmmmmm. It brought back a memory of the many times I went ice skating as a kid and as a teenager during the cold, snowy upstate New York winters. I remember going to several different ponds in my city with my brother and sister. I don't remember going to formal ice rinks like we have today, there weren't any that I remember. The ice on the ponds was never smooth, there were always bumps and I remember falling a lot. They were pretty though, surrounded by bare trees. We would bundle up, walk all over the place to get to these ponds and skate for hours in the cold. My brother was always so fast. Nothing scared him. Because they were ponds, there was nothing to hold onto to get you out on the ice and nothing to hold on to when you fell. I sure went skating a lot. We also went sledding a lot. I loved sledding. I remember spending entire days on the hill in the park sledding until we were too wet and cold to move anymore. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
I spent the day working on Family History (genealogy). It can be very time consuming once you get going. I found several new family relationships and that is always a sweet, gratifying experience. I heard a song on Sunday that I never heard before. Part of the song just sort of popped in my head earlier. It went something like this, "My precious family is more than an heirloom to me." I like that thought. They were real people, not just names in a record and finding them is a worthwhile pursuit. Happy, busy day.
I just finished reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng. It was a wonderful, albeit sad, book about the Cultural Revolution in China in the late 60's and early 70's. The author was wrongfully imprisoned for 6 1/2 years and she gives an account of China during that time which is very eye-opening.
Currently I am reading Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. I love American history. So far, so good. I think one of my favorite books has been 1776 by David McCullough. I also really liked his John Adams as well.
One more week that absolutely flew by, full of sun, rain, conferences and activities....We had some pretty crazy weather here this week. We had two days that had a constant, light rain but it was great because it cooled down a whole bunch and one of the days was almost cold. We got a little bit wet, but that is nothing of the ordinary....We did an activity called "the night of chocolate" at the house of one of the members...I also gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday about "sacrifice in the service of the Lord."...Love you all!"
There's more of course from this week's e-mail but I think names of people and their private circumstances should be kept off a public blog. I'm trying to be respectful to everyone involved.
I have just one thought though...this "night of chocolate" thing. I definitely think that's something that should be instituted here in America, whatever it is. :) He sounds well and happy and like he's working hard. What more can I ask for?
Our family has a family tradition we do at the baptism of our family members. It started because Jim's sister's family sang the song at their baptisms and it trickled down to our family. I found the following clip of a video I took of Emma and Jim's other sister Holley practicing the song for Wade's baptism. Wade is Emma's husband and he converted to our Church while he and Emma were dating. It's a beautiful song and Emma and Holley's voices are so wonderful. It always makes me cry when I hear it. The text comes from the Book of Mormon where many came to the "Waters of Mormon" to be baptized. See Mosiah 18:8-10
I love the way the song teaches the point that when a person is baptized, he or she lays down their burden and becomes a new person as they choose to follow Christ.
I went to the Temple this morning. I did not feel quite right when I woke up and kept having to postpone the time I wanted to leave as I kept needing to rest a bit more. At any rate I finally made it and I am so happy I had to keep postponing.
As patrons started to file in my session, I noticed a whole bunch of what I thought were probably missionaries. Missionaries don't wear name tags in the Temple and everyone is dressed in white so it's hard to tell. I guessed that there were about 40 elders and maybe 10 or 12 sister missionaries, maybe more. Most of them looked like they were from foreign countries, a lot from South America and quite a number of Asian looking missionaries. That's a lot of missionaries and I was so happy to be there with all of them.
At one point when we were finished I asked one of the young men if he was a missionary. He looked very nervous to have to speak to me and then said "yes, California." I asked another question and he said his English was very poor but I did manage to gather that he was from Spain and figured out that he was going to California. In the dressing room I saw a sister missionary getting ready to leave with her missionary name tag on. Her name was Sister Lin, an obvious Chinese name, so I just went right ahead and spoke to her in Mandarin assuming that her English might be an issue for her also. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even after not speaking any Mandarin in well over 7 months or more that I was able to have a fluent conversation with her in Chinese. That made me very happy. She asked when I was there and I told her 1982-1983 and she told me that was before she was born. How's that for making me feel old!! I asked her where she was going and she said to the Washington D.C Visitor's Center mission. I told her my Mom was in that mission. What a small, small world. A sister Temple worker overheard us and talked to me before I left. She had tears in her eyes and told me she served in Germany 31 years ago. She was touched to hear us speaking. I thought how I couldn't speak Chinese once and how by the gift of God, the miracle of the missionaries teaching people in other tongues continues. This elder from Spain will be fluent in English not long from now as he works hard to learn the language and exercises faith.
I found out that all these missionaries were from the MTC, they came as a bus full. A sister from Australia told me all the international missionaries assigned to the Provo MTC get to come to the Salt Lake Temple once while they are in the MTC. On the way out I spoke to another sister who was from France also headed to the Washington DC Visitor's Center. If there is one thing I love, it's the missionaries. What a great time I had this morning.
I was sitting there before the session began and I recalled a paper I keep nearby where I read my scriptures. It is very old, poorly done and very tattered. It has become quite special to me though. Years ago when my children were very young, we had a Family Home Evening about all of us going to the Temple one day together. I wanted them to get a visual of what that might be like for all of us to be there together hugging each other. I tried to demonstrate what that would be like for us so I cut out a string of people holding hands. Then I taught them a scripture that would help us to achieve that goal of all being in the Temple one day together. It is from the Book of Mormon and in essence it says that as we choose good and keep God's commandments, we will be able to withstand the temptations that Satan puts in our way to keep us from our Temple blessings as a family. As my daughters have gotten married, I have taken the gold Temple sticker which indicates who the mother-of-the-bride is and I have placed it over the heart of each daughter represented in the string of people. There will be silver stickers for my sons for the groom's mother. I intend to get heart stickers and place them over the ones representing Jim and me. Even though this paper is old, worn, and tattered, it has been a wonderful reminder to me of what we are trying to achieve as a family. This morning as I sat in the Temple with all those wonderful missionaries, I was overcome with the thought that this will probably be a reality in a little over a year from now when Seth is preparing to leave for his mission. What a wonderful thought. What a wonderful day.
There are a couple of "near-miss stories" I've been meaning to write but I never get around to it. So here's goes.
When Elisa was three or four and Sarah was one or two, we endured a very scary "near-miss" with their lives. One day when I was putting hair curlers in my hair (of all things), Elisa and Sarah were standing in their bedroom watching men cut down a tree across the alley from them. They were standing the entire time right at the window watching intently . The window faced a small alley by the side of the house. The tree was directly across from their window. The men seemed competent and the girls watched as children would do when something exciting like that was happening. (Exciting to children their age that is).
I distinctly remember saying to myself, "if something goes wrong, that tree could come right through their window." Looking back on that, I don't believe that was my own thought but a prompting by a caring God to help me get them out of the way. Well, I was half way done with the curlers and I did not act fast enough or smart enough and sure enough, I heard an enormous crash. I immediately figured I would hear screaming and someone would have died. I went to see what had happened and miraculously, one of the girls (I think it was Elisa), had just stepped outside the room into the kitchen and Sarah had gone to the far corner of the very small room. The tree crashed through the window and there was glass everywhere and the window frame was also smashed. Neither child was hurt in the least and I have no doubt whatsoever that divine providence intervened to spare the lives of my children. I still remember Sarah just standing there facing the wall furthest away from the window not moving and surrounded by glass. I told her not to move and I went in and got her out.
One of the men working on the tree rang the doorbell and with an ashen look on his face and fearing the worst, asked me who had been hurt. I invited him in to my home and he was just as astonished as I was that the girls were not hurt. He said he saw them watching him the whole time and figured one or both had been seriously hurt. We were amazed, literally amazed, and knew that God had protected them. The man was extremely kind and of course cleaned up all the glass and within a short time arranged to have the repairs done on the window.
I have thought of this story many times over the years. I can still see Elisa and Sarah standing there in front of the window watching the men cut the tree down. I can still remember thinking to myself that that the tree could come through the window but dismissing the idea. I still am grateful in unspeakable ways that God protected and preserved my children, because I know He did.
I'm sitting on my window seat waiting for the sun to set which should be in about ten minutes. It was very cold today but the air was clear so I went for a good walk. I was pretty bundled up and sweating but I always feel better after a good walk.
A woman in my ward who has always wanted to try cross country skiing is going to go with me next Wednesday for our first lesson. We haven't had much snow this year so we are finally getting around to it. I am looking forward to it!
Recently I changed the way I have been eating and I feel much better than I have in a long time. I've started to eat many more vegetables and fruits and whole grains, just like they tell you you should. Well lo and behold, I think the nutritionists are right because I sure feel good these days. In the last two years I have lost 20 pounds just by being careful watching what I eat (sort of). That has helped me feel better too. Maybe another ten pounds would be nice but we'll see what happens.
I guess that's it for my health...some sun...a nice walk...more vegetables, fruits and whole grains...now if they could just do something about my hot flashes!
Well, there goes the sun. Maybe there will be a great sunset. :)
I find it interesting that after my post yesterday about my knowledge of the Lord's hands in miracles, the subject line of Ian's e-mail home this week was "miracles in Apucarana." It was tender for me to read about the blessings they had in missionary work this week and how Ian clearly stated that it was a miracle. Sometimes you just know that God has done something marvelous to bless the lives of several people at once. I can't share much of his e-mail because I want to respect the privacy of those involved in the same way I didn't mention any details about my experience yesterday in my post. The thing that is clear however is that both Ian and I, unaware of each others circumstances this week had similar, humbling experiences and both of us could only claim that they were miracles.
We had a great week this week...we had a had a great activity in our branch on Friday and we witnessed a miracle in our zone... It was one of the first times that I felt that I was really fulfilling my purpose as zone leader in helping the other elders...It really was a miracle...We will go to Londrina this week to for the zone leader council and we should get back Tuesday night. I am excited, it should be good! I know that the Church is true and that we are guided by a Prophet of God. I know the Jesus Christ really is out Savior and redeemer and He loves us.
There are times in our lives when we have to sit back and wonder concerning the miraculous hand of our loving God. I think I am just one of many who can acknowledge that miracles are real and that God seeks to bless us. I have seen His hand recently in several ways. I stand in awe that as I contemplate my narrow view of things, God's view is broad and all-encompassing with the intent of blessing His children. The outcome is always the same, a life or lives blessed by God because of His great love for us, His children.
“But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles,
even the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob;
and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth,
and all things that in them are.
Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought
marvelous in our eyes?
Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?”
I went to Seth's swim meet today. I told him I would be a little late but I got there just about right. I walked in and was way on top of the stands but saw everyone standing and the flag portrayed on the screen so I figured it was time for the national anthem. Well someone started singing and I looked and looked but couldn't see where the singer was. Finally I thought, "That sounds like Seth," so I made my way all the way to the front, hung over the railing, and sure enough Seth was at a microphone in his swimsuit singing the national anthem into a microphone... solo. That was a proud mother moment for sure. He's a bass so his high notes made me cringe a little but other than that....way to go Seth!
This has been the best January I ever remember in Utah...still no snow and wonderful sunshine. Boy am I happy. I'm also a little worried about a drought this summer, everyone is, but I am loving the sunshine!
Jim and I had a great walk this afternoon in the sunshine. We were rounding the last hill by our house which is a killer because it is so steep. Huffing and puffing our way to the top, we heard a loud exclamation, "You people are old!" (Seth was yelling out one of the deck doors.) These are the offspring that eventually leave home that we will claim that we will miss someday. :) But for this week...
Happy New Year! I can’t believe how fast 2011 went by, and just how much happened in one year, and all of the growth and changes that I have undergone in just one year. One year ago I was still in my first area with my second companion. In one year I have had 4 areas and 6 companions. I went from being trained to Zone Leader. I trained, I had companions that were very difficult and companions that were a great blessing. As Mom so kindly reminded me, as of yesterday I am 16 months on my mission, but it doesn’t seem like it. Mom says that the time will go by fast and I know that this will, but I still have a lot of time to grow a lot and do a lot of good. I have 8 months left and when I think of where I was 8 months ago at the same time, that is seems like yesterday, it seems like a long time ago and I know that I still have enough time to do get a lot done. I know that the best part of my mission is still in front of me. I am very grateful for the time God is giving me on my mission and all of the opportunities and experiences to help me grow and help others. I am very excited for 2012!...We had a good week this week, it wasn’t one of out best weeks but it also wasn’t so bad, especially given the circumstances. We unfortunately didn’t have investigators at church yesterday, almost everyone went out of town because of New Years. We found some good families though member references, and a few through our own work and we are excited to work with them in the coming weeks. Our New Years was rather uneventful, I didn’t even wake up with all of the fireworks at midnight, but I think I prefer it that way. It has also been quite a bit cooler this week, which was a nice relief, we had a lot of light rain which, when you are a missionary in Brazil, is perfect. January is a rainy month here but also one of the hottest, so we are expecting interesting weather.
I know with all my heart that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that we can get back to live with our Heavenly Father and find peace and happiness in this life. I know that we have a living Prophet and that this is a great blessing. I know that we can find great happiness in serving other people. I know that God loves us and that He wants us to be happy. I know that Jesus Christ is our great example and our Savior.
Today was a really good church day. I had helpful thoughts running through my mind the entire time I was there about different ways I could set a goal, improve on a goal I set a long time ago, avoid harmful traps, how not to waste my time, how not to take for granted or waste the talents God has given me, and how to change for the better. I left feeling so good.
One man who spoke mentioned at the end of his talk to "turn your face toward the SON." He was referring to Christ and turning towards Him in this new year as a reminder that when setting goals, that would be the most important one.
After last year's dramatically long, snow-filled winter of never ending snow and cold, we experienced the driest ever December in Salt Lake's history. We only had a wisp or two of snow. I thought it was great quite frankly. We did have a nasty, nasty inversion that I truly hate but the last few days we have had beautiful sunshine again. It's just enough to perk me up from my winter doldrums. In December and January I frequently find myself sitting on my window seat in the sun (when we have it) or in the chair in the living room facing the sun. It just makes me feel better. I read a quote the other day I had never heard before about Italian women that alluded to the fact that Italian women are known for needing the sun. Now I know where I get that from.
The man that spoke this morning was referring to the SON of God, Christ our Savior. I love the analogy. Everything is better, happier, more peaceful, and just right as we turn our faces...and lives...towards Him.