Monday, March 7, 2016

Back home (and without the missionary accent)


How's it going? Well, this is old news by now but I am home again. Early. Because almost nothing in life goes as planned. :)

I got a hernia in December. From the stomach flu. Either my stomach muscles are incredibly strong or my lower abdominal muscles are incredibly weak. Or maybe both.

Anyway, the area medical man for my mission told me that I would have to get surgery and I would have to go home to get the surgery. I was, obviously, very sad about that. However, my mission president and his wife and the mission nurse and I all decided that I was going to wait it out. Because hernias are not life-threatening unless they become strangulated and infected (which mine wasn't), we were able to make that call.

I didn't want to go home but I also didn't feel completely at ease with my intestines sometimes poking through my abdominal wall (imagine that). With all of the walking and hugging and activity of being a missionary, the hernia would present itself every 2 or 3 days and it hurt. I was keeping in communication with President Hobbs and his wife about it and trusting in God.

The option presented itself that I could get the surgery done in California. I opted for that, but it ended up not working out. (We couldn't get permission because recovery time is so individual they didn't want to risk me being in the field but not able to work for more than a week.)

I was hesitant about going home because I was having a hard time loving a lot of my mission. I loved meeting people, I loved talking to people, I loved church, I loved teaching, I loved contacting, I loved studying, I loved working. I did not love being surrounded by 18-20 year old Mormons who were just starting to figure out which end was up. That was really socially challenging for me.

I was praying and fasting that whatever needed to happen would just happen and that President Hobbs would know what I needed to do. I was uncomfortable having a hernia, but I was unhappy with the thought of going home early and having to come back out.

On a Thursday in January President Hobbs called me and said "Sister Crossman, we think you need to go home." I had fasted the Sunday before that he would make a decision and that it would be the right one, so I was ready to accept it. We had 4 weeks before the next "transfers" (every 6 weeks missionaries get moved around, they switch companions and areas so it would have been a good time for me to go home and have someone else moved into my place without disrupting other companionships -- an "ET" - emergency transfer.) and I assumed I would just be moved out then. "We think you should go home on Monday."

I was a hot mess. I didn't want to go home, I didn't want to come back out, I didn't want to say goodbye, I wasn't even going home to a ward where I knew people.

Despite all of my feelings, the next Monday I was on a plane going to Mesa. The original plan was that I would get home, get surgery the next week, and then be back in my mission in time for the transfers coming up.

I was met at the airport by my mom, Darla, Jessica, Dayna, and Tianna. We went out to Mi Amigo's with Myrna and I ate a green corn tamale (my true love) and I held a baby (shhh). I was released by the stake president.

The next day I had an appointment with the surgeon. And, despite best efforts, my hernia would not present itself. Based on my description the surgeon confirmed that it definitely is a hernia but that without seeing it he is hesitant to schedule a surgery. It could be one of two types and the surgery has minor changes depending on the type/location. The surgeon said that I am "too muscley" (the first and only time I have been, or will be, called that) and he instructed me to go home and call him the next time it presented itself. He would meet me somewhere to look at it so we could proceed.

I tried, friends. I really tried. All I managed to do was make the entire area swell up (which, I learned from the nurse, is a very bad thing). I got a blessing from my dad and in it was said "Things will take longer than originally anticipated." (obviously).

Also in the blessing I was told that if I go back on my mission or not, God is happy with what I have done, He has a plan in place for either choice, and that no blessing will be withheld on condition of this choice.

I went back and forth for the next 5 weeks. Trying to get a job and then deciding that I couldn't  because I have to have surgery and then I might go back on my mission. I interviewed and accepted jobs only to call the people and tell them never mind the next day. I couldn't decide which job I would even want to get. I wanted to be a nanny but realized that nannying experience wouldn't help me get a grown-up job when I got home. On top of that, I had/have no car and no money to buy a car. I don't know many people in Mesa and really I just wanted to move to Tucson. But I didn't have a job or a car and I still needed surgery and I still haven't decided whether I am going back on my mission or not.

That was pretty much the past 5 weeks in a nutshell, ha ha. My hernia has only presented itself once since that initial surgeon's appointment and it was at 11:30 PM on a Friday, not exactly an ideal time to show the doctor.

My mom and I were in a car accident thing (this lady hit our car on purpose because she felt we were driving too slowly) and it shook me up a lot. My uncle gave me a blessing and in the blessing I was instructed to "Get to work."

I accepted two jobs. One is with children who have autism. I (will) help them work on their goals and provide help to their families. I'm excited about this job because I get to work with children and help families. It also presents an opportunity to further my experience in Psychology and one of the supervisors referred me to an awesome Masters program that I am looking into. The other is at a home for unaccompanied minors who are in the States from other countries. I'll be a mentor/babysitter for them. That interview was in Spanish and I passed, which was scary and exciting. I like this job because I will be helping the community and improving my Spanish. Also, they have centers in Tucson where I might be able to transfer.

I have finished almost all of the trainings for these jobs and should be starting in the next couple of weeks.

I have no idea what the next few months of my life is going to look like. But I know that God is leading it, so I'll just follow along as best I can.


Saturday, March 21, 2015


A little update on the fun things I've been doing recently..

I went to AZ for a month! I am so glad I went. As soon as the doctor cleared me for travel (which, really, he just said I could walk on my previously-broken foot) I called my dad and we made flight arrangements. "GET ME OUT OF HERE!"- me, ready to leave Minnesota

I stayed in Show Low for about a week with my dad and... LUNA!!! It was lovely. Show Low was much warmer than Minnesota (imagine that) so I was able to walk LunaBug and spend time in the sun. It was still, you know, Show Low, so there wasn't a lot to be done but it was relaxing.

This was actually taken when I left, look at her sad sad eyes. :(
"You're breaking my heart!"

I went to Tucson! Oh my goodness, it was awesome. I ate poutine (in Tucson. Not in the state where I have lived for 7 months bordering Canada. Life is strange.), tacos, enchiladas, green corn tamales, pizza, In N Out, Eegees, and donuts. The foods I had truly missed while I was away.

I was able to catch up with a bunch of my friends and they were so so kind in letting me stay with them and driving me around and keeping me entertained. I'm so thankful for that opportunity. I have world class friends. I also got to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins who live there! It was AWESOME getting to see my cousins and how grown up they are getting. Their house truly feels like home and I am so grateful I was able to experience that again.

After my lovely time in Tucson I went back to Show Low for a while. I was able to go to lunch with my Grandma and Grandpa Stewart! We went to Darbi's, a Lakeside tradition. I'm so blessed to have them in my life, especially since they were kind enough to drive all the way from Snowflake to see me.

They're so lovely <3

I was also able to see Wyndie, Eugene, and Monte (aunt, uncle, cousin). They took me to dinner and it was really tasty and super fun to catch up. I consider myself lucky to count them as family.

My dad and I drove up to Northern California to see my grandfather and (many, but not all of) my aunts and uncles. We drove through my mission! It was deserty and quite ugly and I am just so excited to serve there!
My Pa and Jeanne's property, on the other hand, is gorgeous and had perfect weather. I was the only grandchild there which is a rare occasion, so I really got to enjoy time getting to know my family a little bit better.

Me and Pa. He was sneaking a kiss on my cheek while I was distracted.

On the way back from California my dad and I went to Vegas. I had never been there (to my recollection, anyway. I guess when I was little I went?). We walked about 6 miles on the Strip. We saw one hooker. And we were requested to attend 2 (or 3) strip clubs. It was great! I was so impressed with the architecture of the Strip AND I didn't even get sore from walking.

My dad and I at the Trevi fountain. He gave me a quarter to throw in (it is supposed to bring you good luck in your love life, or so we were told-- he must really like Erik). 

I flew back to Minnesota from Vegas. I had 5 letters from Erik waiting for me, so it was okay. My heart will always be in the southwest.

My MTC was changed to Provo (instead of Mexico). This was to put me closer to help in case something goes screwy with my back. Also, because I was leaving so quickly they didn't have to worry about figuring out my visa information. BECAUSE I AM LEAVING AT THE END OF MARCH! YEAH!

I've done my final shopping. I've started packing my things. My mom and I have been able to spend a lot of time together. I'M READY!!!

Celebrating at Cheesecake Factory

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how clear my skin looks in this photo? Is puberty finally over?

The week I came back to Minnesota, Erik sent me a package from Chile. The last package he sent took something like 7 weeks to get here so I did not anticipate getting it before I left. MIRACLES HAPPEN! I got the package yesterday. He is so so so wonderful. He included the booklet that the Church published "My Family" (it is a fill-in-the-blank book about your ancestors and you). He started mine for me by filling out the page "about me." He also sent his favorite chocolates from Chile and some socks that match ones he has. Ah, I just am so so thankful for the joy in my life thanks to him. He is a wonderful support and always manages to motivate and uplift me.

I could probably go off on that tangent for years (in fact, I plan to-- ha ha). The point is, I am so blessed.

I am thankful to know that God has a plan for me and that the goal of that plan is for me to be happy and the best that I can be. I know that, given enough time, I will be able to see God's hand in my life in every situation and trial. I know that He put people in my life to help me become better and to get me through the difficult times I have faced. I know that He wants the best for me and that He knows what, exactly, the best is. This knowledge and testimony bring me so much peace and happiness. I am anxiously looking forward to being able to share my testimony of that with the people in southern California.

I can hardly believe that 3 months ago (yesterday) I fell off a ladder and broke my back and foot. I'm now able to work out every morning (able, but not really "willing"), drive, bathe myself, do my own laundry, lift children, and walk without assistance. God has blessed me. I have truly been healed through Him.

Thanks for reading. Keep on keepin' on.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gravity is real, and other things I learned from my fall.

On September 12, 2014 I opened up my mission call. I had been wanting to serve a mission for 2 years, and finally the timing was right in my life and in God's plan.

I was called to serve in the California Rancho Cucamonga mission, speaking Spanish, and I was to report to the Mexico City MTC on December 31st. My only disappointment in that call was that I had to wait three and a half months to report. I was ready (at least mentally) to leave the next week.

I buckled down and made the most of my time to wait. I went shopping, I packed and repacked, I followed the weather in California, I worked as a nanny to pay off my student loans, I spent every Thursday driving an hour to the St. Paul Temple to work there, I continued studying Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon.

I was asked to give my farewell talk on December 14th. My dad flew to Minnesota from Arizona, my brother and his wife flew in from New York, and Erik's family flew in from Tucson. The night before my farewell talk we all ate out. When I got home I started feeling sick and spent the rest of the night with a fever, throwing up.

The next morning I debated whether or not I could make it to church. I had uncharacteristically written out my talk and thought about asking my mom to give it for me. But, a girl only gets one farewell talk and I decided to tough it out. My dad came over early to give me a blessing and I sallied forth and spoke in church.

While I was comfortable with the content of my talk, I was pretty disappointed in my presentation of it. Holding on to the pulpit and trying to concentrate on relaxing my stomach muscles didn't lend well to eloquent oration. I got through it, and received some very kind compliments about it. I went home straight after church, disappointed in my experience but accepting that it was what it was and I couldn't change it.

On December 20th I offered to help my mom decorate for the mid-single adults' New Year's dance. As part of the decorations, we were trying to hoist a homemade chandelier up in the middle of the gym. We had set up a pulley system, with 4 ropes, each going through the chandelier and then out to one of the four walls of the cultural hall. On each wall there was an eye-hook that the ropes went through and were pulled from the bottom.

One of the ropes got stuck on the eye-hook, so I climbed up the ladder to guide it through. I was on a 20 foot, A-frame ladder and my feet were about 17 feet up it. Everyone pulled on their respective ropes and I noticed that the eye-hook I was watching was coming undone. As I started to ask everyone to stop pulling, not just the eye-hook, but the entire piece of moulding that the eye-hook was attached to was torn out of the wall. Because it was attached to the other ropes, it had a lot of force coming off the wall and it knocked the (very heavy) ladder over, onto its side.

I knew that I didn't want the ladder or the moulding to land on top of me, so I did the logical thing and bailed off. I accomplished my two main objectives and landed safely away from the ladder and wall. Darla said that I looked very graceful as I landed on my feet and then crumpled.

The landing knocked the air out of me and the two elders who were helping with set up ran over and gave me a blessing of healing. After some deliberation, an ambulance was called and I was taken to St. Francis hospital.

I cracked my calcaneus (the heel bone) of my right foot and got a compression fracture on my T12 vertebra eleven days before I was supposed to leave for my mission. I spent 2 days in the hospital, unable to roll over or sit up without assistance. Over the next few weeks I had to let go of any sense of control or pride I once had as family members cooked for me, showered me, and helped me get dressed.

The day I was supposed to leave for my mission I spent crying, watching the clock and knowing exactly when the plane I wanted to be on took off, headed toward what I had been working for for two and a half years.

I still don't understand exactly why this happened. I have learned a lot, but I like to think that I probably could have gained this knowledge in an easier, less painful way. However, I have complete faith that God is in control and He knew what was happening and He let it happen. I do not doubt that if I was supposed to leave for my mission on December 31st, God could have prevented the accident. That He let it happen is a testament to me that it contained important lessons for me.

One of the more obvious things I gained from this experience is the knowledge of the irrefutable truth of the power and existence of higher laws. 17 feet up is 17 feet down and it doesn't take very long to fall.

William R. Bradford, in a 1977 session of General Conference, said "The law of gravity has its limits and conditions. All of the inventions and movements of man take into account these conditions. If a man falls from a high place, he must descend; it matters not his motives. He may have jumped or it might have been an accident; it matters not. For the law of gravity cannot be frustrated, and so he must fall and suffer the destructive consequences."

More recently in October of 2014, D. Todd Christofferson said "Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it."

After my fall I really couldn't do much. I was dependent on others for anything that required movement or location. I had to accept that. I couldn't pretend that I wasn't hurt, I couldn't tough it out and go about my daily activities. Similarly, we have to accept that there are consequences to our every actions that we can't always ignore. God has given us wonderful tips on how to stay on the positive side of those consequences through His commandments. God knows us and how we tick, He wants us to be happy and has provided the way for that to happen. As I relied on God and His timing, my burdens were lifted. There were times when I felt sad and disappointed and definitely confused, but I learned that the power of faith is the power to let it go.

One of my favorite hymns, The Lord is My Light, came to mean so much more to me after my accident. The first line "The Lord is my light, then why should I fear?" reminds me of another favorite hymn which says "I believe in Christ, so come what may." These two lines became my motto. He is in control. Every petty challenge, or every seemingly insurmountable trial, already has a solution to it. I needed to learn to let Him take the wheel.

As I was lying in bed considering the many ways my fall was messing up all of my future, God already recognized that this would be more help than hindrance in the long run. Every time I have worried about losing a job, paying for an unexpected expense, or finding reasonable housing, God has known that my finances would work out. Nothing I did or could do would change the outcome that God had in mind for me. All I could do was to trust in Him and do my best. The only course of action available to me was to wait it out and have faith that the Lord knew what He was doing.

I tend to be very active and involved. I enjoy being busy and having my time filled up with meaningful work and activities. You can imagine, then, how difficult it was for me to suddenly have nothing but free time and the inability to move out of my bed. I felt like a waste of space. I wasn't progressing toward any goal. I wasn't contributing to any cause. I wanted to be serving a mission, and instead I was in pain and in bed. "And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard 'Ye shall obtain.' " While I felt that all I was doing was killing time and being a burden to those around me, I found comfort in hearing that I would get what I wanted. My goals were not being taken from me permanently. 

I didn't feel like I could do anything to improve or move forward in my goals but I found more comfort in another hymn, "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee. E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me." Even though I felt useless, I had to learn to accept that this was a teaching method. I needed to learn that even at my best, with me doing everything I can, I still need Christ to "reach my reaching" and help me improve. Needing help in this life helps us to learn how we must rely on God to save us. The various things we go through may seem to be weird methods of instruction, but when God is in charge, we can have faith that they are exactly what we need. Our eternal goal is to become closer to God, for that to happen we have to accept His lessons, whether they come as blessings or trials.

A thought that frequently occurred to me was that God knew exactly what I was going through. Christ personally felt my pain and sadness and worry surrounding this incident, yet God determined that even with how much it would hurt (physically and otherwise) I would benefit more for having gone through it. How great must the lessons and reasons be to justify to my loving Father in Heaven putting me through this accident?

I had to practice my patience. President Uchtdorf said "Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something & doing all that we can- working, hoping, & exercising faith, bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring, it is enduring well." Further, in Jesus the Christ, it says " is as necessary at times to wait as at others to work." I was able to practice leaning on God's timing as I waited out my recovery. I tried to remain patient and do what I could. I needed to be put in a position of helplessness so I could better learn to rely on others to help me.

I had many people who reached out to me in so many kind ways. I am incredibly grateful to those who went out of their way to express their love and well wishes to me.

One of my friends, Zac, sent me an email shortly after my accident. In it he quoted Doctrine and Covenants 64: 33-34 which says "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." He related to me that this scripture helped him throughout his mission. We can take hope knowing that what God requires of us is the heart and a willing mind. He doesn't require constant work and activity. God only expects what we can give, He will make up the rest. That was of particular comfort to me since what I could give was so very little.

Erik, who is serving his mission in Chile, was disheartened to hear about my fall. The week following, one of the elders he lived with shared with him a scripture that he then sent to me. Doctrine and Covenants 6: 33-34, 36 "Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." It was amazing to me to see God answering my prayers for comfort through a missionary in Chile who doesn't even know me. I knew that I was doing good, that I was doing what I could and trying to follow God. As this scripture states, all that I could do further was to stop doubting and not fear.

I set myself a goal to attend church by January 11th. I was able to go to that Sacrament meeting and in the meeting someone shared Doctrine and Covenants 58: 2-3 "For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation." I have never felt like I wanted much glory but this scripture touched me in its reference to much tribulation. I know that the reasons I went through everything are worth what happened.

I received many Priesthood blessings and I could feel the power of others prayers for me in action. I have absolute faith that God hears our prayers and answers them. I know that He uses others as His mouthpiece on earth and I am grateful to be surrounded by selfless, righteous people.

I feel petty for whining about my accident when I see so many others around me who have gone through, or are currently going through, so much worse. I am thankful that I have been able to heal so quickly and wholly. In the long run, this accident was not a big deal. The lessons I have learned, though, will impact me eternally and I am very grateful for that.

Friday, December 26, 2014

My feelings (not so eloquently put into words)

We're on day 6 since the accident with the ladder. I've had a lot of feelings, some medication induced and others natural. ;)

Overall, I know that I am blessed. I easily could have been hurt far worse by the fall. God was watching out for me, I recognize that. I am also blessed to have such a supportive family near me. They have not left my side (which is not as appreciated as much as it should be). They've catered to my every desire and not complained once. They've sacrificed sleep and comfort and traditions for me. They are so generous and sweet and thoughtful and Christ-like.

I also have felt a little goofy sometimes. I think that maybe that is a combination of the oxycodone (I'm a real lightweight) and the feeling of listlessness I have. So much energy, so little strength. My energy just comes out in bursts of odd behavior (see: the video my mom posted of me on her Facebook).

Also, though, I am incredibly sad. Practically since I moved to Minnesota I have been trying to leave. I was disappointed that my mission call was so far away when I opened it. I was thisclose to leaving. 11 days! 11 days away! I had been tracking the weather. I'd already packed and repacked my luggage. I had my itinerary printed out. I was counting down. Every letter I wrote to Erik started with the number of days left until I got to go serve the Lord in a warm place. To have this happen and have it delay my mission really really sucks.

When I fell, I jokingly told my mom that we would be laughing about the accident when I walked out of the hospital an hour later so I could leave on Dec 31. Before I fell I was up on the ladder with my aunt Darla and jokingly said that God had to protect me because I was due to serve Him in 11 days. (Please note: I was being very careful. My fall would not have happened had the wall not broken off and knocked the ladder over.) In the ER the doctor told me that I was 6-8 weeks out and I lost it.

6-8 more weeks in the cold. And these weeks are shaping up to be kind of terrible.

I love being productive. I am of the mindset that we are only given a certain amount of time on the earth and we ought to make the best of it. But now I am flat on my back for the next 4 weeks. I guess this is a slice of humble pie? I really can't do anything. I really can't go back to work as a nanny. My current concentration doesn't lend well to being able to enjoy a book. I feel completely useless, and I do not like that at all.

The worry has also crossed my mind that my back isn't going to get all the way better and that it will impact my ability to serve when I do go on my mission. I want to serve with all of my strength, and if I have to worry about a sore back/heel then I won't be able to give it my all. I want to serve for 18 months. I'm really scared I won't be able to.

And, lastly, I am frustrated that my future timing has been messed up. I was going to get back a month or so before Erik. I wanted to have a job and be situated by the time he came home so I could help him get back into school and everything he has to do. Now it looks like he will beat me home. That's not a big deal, and it really makes no difference in the long run, but I'm still annoyed about it.

I have reached out to a couple of people asking for online work to keep me busy. I've started reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish again. I've done several crosswords. I'm trying to keep myself up, but it is hard when I am forced to lie down.

My friend Alec texted me and said that God knows how eager I am to serve and He knew the only way to stall me was to throw me off a ladder. I can only hope that is the reason this is happening.

I am eager to serve. And eager to work and learn and get this itchy cast off my leg and be able to stand up again. But I guess I needed to learn patience? And I guess I didn't learn it well enough while I've been working since August. I hope that someday I will know the real reason why this happened and why it happened now. In the meantime, I hope that I will have less days like yesterday where I felt completely depressed and worthless and downtrodden and more days where I can feel useful and positive.

Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for reaching out. I'm blessed, and I definitely know that.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Fue un accidente

I fell! I was helping set up for a dance. I was on an A-frame ladder, guiding a rope through an eye-screw. The moulding that the screw was in came off the wall and knocked the ladder over (with me, 17 or 18 feet up on it).

When I fell I knew I wanted to get away from the part of the wall that had knocked the ladder over (because it had nails in it) so I tried to propel myself away from it and I also didn't want to have the ladder land on me.. and neither of those things happened, so I consider it a successful fall. Haha. My aunt measured today, my feet were at least 17 feet in the air. I'm so lucky that I am not hurt worse. I tried to roll when I hit the ground but I didn't have enough control so I just crumpled instead. But my mom ran over and held me and then the missionaries ran over and gave me a blessing right away. They were shaking and super scared, poor Elders.

Then my aunt and mom debated whether to call 911. I said no because I was just thinking about how pricey the ambulance is but I couldn't sit up and was having a hard time controlling my breathing. So then they called. The paramedics were nice and one of the policemen that showed up was a member, I think. He said "The Lord has a plan, don't stress out." and said that the church has insurance for accidents like this. Then my mom and aunt called my dad and Joe and my bishop.

I went to the hospital in the ambulance which was not very comfy. The guy gave me some pain medication which was nice. Then at the hospital I was rushed in and it was called a trauma code (trauma fall= any fall over two times the height of whoever fell). So they got me in to get X-rays and they asked me lots of questions. The X-rays hurt a lot because I had to bend and roll over and stuff. Then they gave me more pain medication. Dayna and Darla brought me dinner in the ER (Boston Market, mm). Bishop Hardy came and told me not to stress out or worry about anything. The doctor came in and said I would need to stay overnight for pain management and that I had two breaks (my spine and my foot) and that it would be 6-8 weeks for treatment and I started crying really hard. I had held it together until then, but I was just so excited to get out of MN. You know? Anyway, he was confused about why I was so sad about it, but my mom explained it to him.

Then they brought me to the special care unit and I spent the night hooked up to lots of machines and getting lots of pain medication in my IV. The heart rate monitor kept beeping because I have an irregular heartbeat, so that was really annoying. Taryn came after work and brought me my Erik-pillow and toothbrush and deodorant. Darla and Dayna brought me underwear and a bra. The nurse said she wanted to get the Spanish speaking nurse to come teach me Spanish so I wouldn't have to be sad about not leaving on my mission yet. Everyone was so nice. I got my foot nice and wrapped up in a splint.

The next morning I got more X-rays and then they moved me to a general care room. A spine doctor came to talk to me and an orthopedic surgeon. I got a back brace (the guy had to make it smaller like five times before it finally fit me, ha ha). My family and the nurses had to help me pee-- goodbye dignity. I couldn't stand up or roll over on my own at all. The narcotics they were giving me made me really dizzy and nauseous. They started giving me my medication orally to see if I could handle it.

I was fine except any sort of overexertion (meaning, staying sitting up for more than a minute without help) made me really weak, shaky, and light headed. I enjoyed having a hospital bed that I could sit up with. My aunt and cousins brought me clothes and another toothbrush, plus hairbrush and headbands. My mom and sister went to Target and picked up my favorite snacks so I always had something to eat when I took my medicine. Dayna and Tianna spent the whole day with me. President Kerr and his wife came to see me that night, it was nice to chat with them. He gave me a blessing. I appreciated his support and encouragement.

I spent that night in the hospital, too. That night my foot started hurting a lot. It woke me up every 4 hours or so, burning. It was awful but I am guessing that means it is healing? My mom helped me shower that morning. I am really regressing, needing help using the restroom and then having my mom see me totally naked. :/ No dignity. It was great to wash my hair and face, though. Melanie braided my hair so it was off my face and I spent all morning sleeping and taking medicine and talking to various doctors and nurses.

I was finally released and given a leg scooter. The nurse wheeled me out to meet my mom at the car and I threw up three times, which is really painful with a hurt back. The nurse gave me vomit bags, which look like giant condoms, so that is fun. When I got home I tried to stop taking the narcotic pain medicine, but the ibuprofen and tylenol were not cutting it. So I will deal with nausea for a little while longer and try in a few days to give up the narcs again. 

So last night my foot was hurting really badly. Madam Pomfrey wasn't kidding when she gave Harry Skelegro and told him that growing bones is painful business. OUCH.. It feels like there are two fires in my heel and sometimes they touch and then shoot up my leg. Yeck. Don't jump off any ladders, okay team? My back is mostly just really sore like muscle sore. You know when you shiver a lot and then your back hurts from it? It feels like that constantly, like my muscles are just tensing all the time. It feels better if I lay flat for a long time. After naps I feel fine in my back, but when I have to get up or sit up or move it starts hurting and takes a long time to stop spasming.

Dayna had moved my bed to the main floor, so I'm in the living room now. I feel totally helpless. I tried to brush my teeth and ended up just crying because it hurt too bad to stay upright for that long. My siblings, mom, cousins, and aunt and uncle have been so wonderful to me. They are incredibly selfless. They're all willing to stay up with me to keep me on a medicine schedule, they've all offered to get me food and drinks and to help me stand and put on my brace and scoot around. I am so thankful. My dad offered to bring me to AZ so Luna could heal me with her dog powers (I declined, mostly because I doubt I would be able to sit up in a plane for longer than five minutes without passing out).

We also got ding-dong-ditched with a plate of delicious cookies and a get well card from someone mysterious. I've had so many friends reach out to me on Facebook, email, and texting. I'm really really blessed.

Bishop Hardy and President Kerr have been in contact with the mission people. My call still stands, I'll just be reissued a report date once we know when I will be physically able to go. Hopefully that will be February (my own timeline, not anyone else's, haha).

I don't know why this happened now. I don't know if I will ever know why (but I hope I do someday). I'm thankful for the support and service I've been given.  I'm so thankful for my family. I'm thankful for insurance. I'm thankful for prayers.

I know that God already has this all figured out. I just have to keep doing my best and trust in His timing. In the meantime, any suggestions on books to read? :)


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My farewell talk

Forgive the lack of citations and the inclusion of awkward jokes. I typed this out so I could send it to Erik. It has been requested by a few, so here it is! xoxo

Good morning! I am happy to be here, I suppose I should take this time to introduce myself. My name is Chanda Crossman, I am Charla's oldest daughter (not Darla's youngest, Tianna, who I am often mistaken for). I moved here in the beginning of August from Florida where I was working as an intern at Disney World. Prior to that I had lived in Tucson, Arizona where I graduated in May from the University of Arizona with a bachelors degree in Psychology. I will be leaving here to serve a Spanish speaking mission in Rancho Cucamonga, California at the end of the month. Within a year I will have lived in the most Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western edges of the US.

I've been grateful for my time here as it has provided me many opportunities that I didn't realize I wanted. I've been thankful for the time I have had to get to know my siblings as adults, since when I moved away to college they were still children to me. I've loved getting to know new people especially the families who I have worked for, and all of the nursery kids in this ward will forever hold a place in my heart. I have been fortunate enough to live in a home where I could grow spiritually and feel support through all of the transitions and preparations of going on a mission. I've been afforded the opportunity to work in the St. Paul temple weekly for the past few months and have appreciated the strength that comes from feeling God's peace.

As I look at these blessings in my life, I am overcome with gratitude for the service that has been given to me. It is clear to me, as a recipient of Christlike service, why it is such a fundamental principle of the Gospel of Christ. I hope to relay these same feelings of the overwhelming joy of service to you today.

Why is service so essential to the Gospel? On a structural level, it is how the Church operates. Countless hours are voluntarily spent by members of our church to keep it running. But this principle runs deeper than that. Why do we care so much about serving others?

In large part, our testimony of our Heavenly Father compels us to action. The knowledge that He gave us all that we have; physical bodies, the earth to live on, finances, even every minute of our days drives us to serve others. Because everything we have comes from God, we should be willing to share it all. 

Time and time again, especially recently, I have been reminded that God's systems and views are not ours. I recently had a mechanical issue with my car. As I was murmuring a little about how this would affect my funds for my mission and my ability to pay off my student loans, my aunt gently reminded me that there was a bigger picture. She suggested that perhaps the mechanic needed a little extra cash for Thanksgiving and God knew I could spare it. While this was not necessarily service, it still speaks as a reminder to recognize God's will and trust in His processes and promptings.

President Kimball said, and President Monson recently quoted: "We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve." The people in our lives are there for a greater purpose than we can know, we are just given the responsibility to serve them without needing to know why.

The service we give comes in many forms, in fact, I daresay much of the good we do we don't even recognize as service because it comes so naturally to us. Sharing God's light, through deliberate deeds of kindness, through sacrifices of time or resources, or through any other action we take because of our love and compassion is an act of service. Any time we put someone else before ourselves, we are in their service. And, as we know, when we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of our God. Service is not only about fulfilling a need, it is about showing love to our brothers and sisters.

Because I moved here so recently, when I went through the Temple and received my endowments I flew to Arizona to be with family. I had been feeling pretty lonely and friendless in Minnesota and was looking forward to being around people who wanted to be around me. That weekend, a member of our ward here sent me a text saying she was thinking of me. For her, it probably was not a big deal or sacrifice, but it meant the world to me. It made it much easier to fly back here after my weekend around the people who I am close with.

We can choose, right now, to serve God through serving His people. As we give service, and sacrifice our time, putting others before ourselves, we will grow closer to Him and to our neighbors. We can choose to do what is right, rather than what is easy. Many of us can recount experiences in which we lost ourselves in the service of others and found those moments to be among the most rewarding of life despite what that service may have interrupted in our own lives.

A favorite character of mine, from my favorite book series, was a wonderful example of voluntary service. Dobby, a house elf, regularly put aside his own tasks and responsibilities to help everyone he could. On one occasion, he even gave up sleep to help Harry. In the end, Dobby sacrificed himself for the cause of good and helped save not only those who he was friends with, but strangers who were also in danger.

Service is entirely unselfish. Through service we gain testimony and develop charity in ourselves. It is no wonder that we are promised that whosoever will lose his life for Christ's sake, shall find it. As we transcend our tendency to think only of ourselves, we learn to see with a bigger view our purpose on this earth. Serving like Jesus Christ has a cleansing effect on us. It helps us understand the idea that our time, talents, and possessions are not just our own.

President Hinckley said, "What a therapeutic and wonderful thing it is for a man or woman to set aside all consideration of personal gain and reach out with strength and energy and purpose to help the unfortunate, to improve and beautify the community, to clean up the environment. Tremendous happiness and peace of mind are the results of loving service to others."

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). This doesn't mean we have to die to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else's needs before our own. Each moment we pause to hold the door open, to write an encouraging note, or to fill out a check to fast offering we are laying down our lives for those around us and emulating our Savior.

The example that was laid for us by Jesus Christ drives us to serve. He commanded us to love one another AS HE LOVED US. How did He show His love to us, his fellowmen? He went about doing good and implored us to follow His example. He fed the hungry, He healed the sick, He blessed those in need, He was about His Father's business and through it all He asked for us to follow Him. Every minute of His life, which He ultimately sacrificed in the paramount example of service for us, was spent in the service of His fellow human beings.

He asked us to always abound in good works. He instructed us to do good to those who hate us. To love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, and to pray for them who despitefully use and persecute us. He told us that we could follow Him and be known as his disciples if we have and show love to one another. He asked us to let our lights shine, that others would see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. He asked us to be steadfast and immovable and always abound in good works. Again, the importance of service was underlined in the inclusion of it in our baptismal covenants. We agree to bear one another's burdens, to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who need it.

Because we are able to look to Christ as the ultimate example of service, we are duty-bound to help those around us. The importance of giving service to our souls is underlined and emphasized again and again in the scriptures and in modern day revelation.

President Monson, a man who exemplifies the Savior's love and pattern of service so well, said: "Perhaps when we [face] our Maker, we will not be asked, ‘How many positions did you hold?’ but rather, ‘How many people did you help?' You can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.”

The beauty of following Christ's example is that we don't need to evaluate who, when or how we serve, we just act. We ought to recognize that "slightest actions often meet the sorest needs." We trust that God will empower us to help the people who He put into our lives and, often, in our direct paths. President Kimball noted "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."

A couple of years ago I ended a relationship that had meant a lot to me. It was a difficult thing to do and I really struggled with it. I needed a Priesthood blessing, but felt it was an awkward thing to ask for help with a breakup in a singles ward (you never know who your next boyfriend will be). I prayed about what I was feeling and went about my business. The same day I got a text from one of my friends in my ward that said “Hey Chanda, I just thought I should let you know if you ever need a blessing I’m here for you.” Now, I have no doubt that God could easily have sent down an angel to comfort and strengthen me, however, instead, He sent my friend Christian.

In Florida, my living situation was kind of awful. I didn’t feel any support or companionship with my roommates and I felt like a faceless number in my ward. I made friends with a guy at work named Rob. Rob is not a member of the church, but I was able to talk to him about a lot of things and he was supportive of my choice to go on a mission. He started coming to church with me every week, preventing me from having to sit alone. When I moved he gave me a goodbye card with his email address so we can keep in contact when I am on my mission and, knowing my concern about the cost of a mission, included some cash in it. He worked with me at Disney World, I know what he made and I know he sacrificed a lot to show me his support.

Not only do we, as disciples of Christ and grateful children of our Heavenly Father, have the desire to serve because of our testimonies, we have been commanded to serve others. As mentioned earlier, part of our baptismal covenant is to bear one another's burdens, to mourn with those that mourn, and to comfort those that need it. As we serve unselfishly, we are obeying God's commandments to us and are entitled to blessings from Him. He will guide us. He will lift OUR burdens. And our "soul[s] will glow with love from that perfect Light above."

Since I majored in Psychology in school, I turned to studies about the benefits of service. I love to look at modern science and watch as it catches up with the Gospel's truths. A few recent studies have found that being stingy is correlated with higher levels of stress; that being altruistic at work increases your happiness and job performance and satisfaction; that unselfish people have a lower risk of dying early; and that volunteering improves general well-being, marriages, life satisfaction, and it decreases depression.

Is it any wonder, that He who created us and knows our bodies perfectly, commanded us to do something that makes us happier and healthier? Scientifically speaking, giving service is good for us. And that is not surprising when we know the ultimate Scientist designed our systems and gave us commandments to follow that would allow these systems to operate and bring us joy. This awareness brings into new perspective the lines from a favorite hymn "Love's labor has merit alone" and "Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure." Truly, living this Gospel is the way to happiness.

How do we serve? I have always enjoyed giving service and when I was trying to decide what to get my degree in I remarked that I wanted to help people, but that I doubted I would ever be financially well enough to give them money, so I had to do it another way. Luckily for me, there are a plethora of opportunities all around.

Within the church, our commitment to service is broad. As discussed briefly, our Church runs on volunteer work. Missionaries volunteer their time and temporarily lay down their educations, career goals, social lives, and the opportunity to see the new Star Wars and Superman movies in theaters to serve the Lord and their fellowmen. Our leaders and clergy members don't receive compensation for their time and service given. And on top of all of that, we yet still donate money to causes like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and disaster relief. And many members give their time, talents, and funds to causes outside the church.

President Monson, said of service and showing love: "All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond. I have always cherished the sentiment expressed in the short poem:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind"

Anything good or kind is of God. We won't regret showing kindness or giving service. If you feel enlightened at any time about a need someone has or a way you can serve, act on it! We are God's hands, He will give us promptings--which we should respond to promptly! If you ever feel the desire to serve but don't have a specific recipient or project in mind, pray about it and see where it leads you. However, if you don't get an answer, serve anyone, do anything. Bring cookies to a neighbor, send a text to an old friend, go for a walk and pick up trash on your way (or do the winter equivalent and shovel a sidewalk or something.. whatever you do in Minnesota in the wintertime). We all can use an increase of love in our lives.

As I have been preparing to go on a mission I’ve been astounded at the ways people have been willing to serve me. Bishop Beck, in Florida, said without hesitation that his ward would take me in if I were to leave from there. My family members have volunteered to help support me while I am gone. My aunt and uncle have let me live with them since August, which I’m sure has not always been a walk in the park. I’ve been sent encouraging emails and texts and notes from friends. The people who I work for let me become a part of their families when they hired me, even knowing it was a short term arrangement and they would need to find someone else sooner rather than later (and searching for nannies is not a fun process). Family gathered in Mesa from all around Arizona and even some from Minnesota to support me when I went to the Temple for the first time. Now, I have family and friends who have come to Minnesota to hear me speak in church (hope it is worth it).

I am grateful for the service that has been shown to me. It is incredible, and I know that anything I do will be completely underwhelming when compared to the sacrifices and gifts of time that have been done for me.

We are instructed in Isaiah to "Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

One of the best ways to give service, and I should probably be given my badge right now for saying this, is to share the Gospel with others. Even with everything we can do physically for someone, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only cure for so many of life's ills that we should and do want to share the good news of eternal life with urgency. We have felt the peace that comes after a prayer is answered. We have felt the joy that follows sincere repentance. We weekly have left meetings feeling rejuvenated and re-inspired to improve and not give up. We've witnessed miracles that have come through fasting and priesthood blessings. We know that we have a purpose on this earth, and we know what that purpose is. We have so many answers to so many of life's deepest questions. It is our privilege to share that with others.

One of the easiest way to share our beliefs is to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that ask[s us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]." I have no revolutionary ideas for you to do this, but to remember the joy that your testimony of God and Jesus Christ bring you and let that inspire your actions and words. I had a coworker once who, when he found out that I am a member of the church, said it was no wonder that I was always so nice and friendly. Now, I don’t think I am really THAT nice and friendly, but I was happy to hear that he could associate me as a disciple of Christ because of the way I acted.

I have a wonderful friend who I used to live with. She is not a member of our church, despite almost every single member of our ward referring her to the missionaries at some point or another. When I asked her if she ever felt uncomfortable when they came around she said that at first she did, but then she realized that they were like dogs trying to lick her. They were just happy and trying to show her love, they didn't realize how uncomfortable they were making her. Opportunities to share God's Light don't have to be awkward.

My best friend is serving a mission in Santiago. He recently wrote to me about someone who he is teaching. She is struggling to quit smoking and he felt impressed to extend an invitation to her to be baptized so she would have a specific goal to work towards. In his words, “She said no, but that’s okay!”

What I think we need to remember is that we want everyone to have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, but we aren't trying to coerce or trick people into getting baptized. We are looking for people who want answers. Many people have questions and concerns that the Gospel can answer. That same friend also recently pointed out that you can find the word conversion in the word conversation. It is by talking to people and listening to their responses that we can discern how we can help them, whether that be doing something physical or simply sharing our testimonies of a Gospel truth that can bring them comfort.

Because we have been blessed by the Love of our God, we want to share His love. We can always look to the example of our Savior who went about doing good and declaring the Gospel among all people. He lifted people up. He showed them that He cared for them. He listened and healed and taught correct principles when things were misunderstood. We should strive to live as He lived. Loving those around us and letting our lights shine to illuminate their lives.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fare Thee Well

This past weekend was my farewell talk, and it was quite a doozy.

My dad flew in late Thursday night, but we didn't see him until Friday morning. When he came in the morning he surprised us by bringing Wade and Rachael with him! We hadn't all been together since Wade and Rachael's wedding in August of 2013.

Most of that day we all spent together. We went out to eat at Tommy's Malt Shop, then we returned home and caught up/wrestled/etc. That night some of the kids and Dad went swimming and then we went and ate a a BBQ place for our "Christmas Dinner" with our dad.

The next day we went to Mall of America. We wandered around and then met up around lunchtime with Mom, Darla, Joe, Jessica, and Bryson. Mom stayed with us and we did the ropes course and zipline (I enjoyed the zipline, but did not like the ropes course-- everyone else seemed to, though). Then we rode on two roller coasters and ate early dinner/late second lunch. I loved getting to spend time with my family. It is crazy to think about how old we are all getting and how different we all are. I love them with all of my heart.

The kids and Dad went back to the hotel room to kill some time. Melanie did my hair and Wade, Rachael, and Aaron played a card game.

After that we went to dinner with the Petersens!! They flew all the way from AZ to come to my farewell! Dinner went well, but I don't know if I will ever eat Pizza Hut again (foreshadowing).

I said goodbye to Wade and Rachael. They're so wonderful, I'm glad I got to see them again before I leave. They gave me a lovely journal that I am excited to fill up with stories about annoying companions and rejection and, like, the miracles of missionary work or whatever. ;)

After dinner, My mom and I went back to the house with the Petersens. My siblings went to the hotel with my dad. I chatted with Emma and Phillip a little bit and then, as I was getting ready for bed, I started feeling super sick.

The rest of the night I spent "reverse fasting" (as Wade eloquently worded it). I didn't sleep very much (if at all) and I felt terrible. I debated if I was going to still try to go to church. I knew I couldn't vomit any more because I was totally on empty, but I still felt like I was going to and I was feeling very achy and weak. I called my dad and asked him to give me a blessing. He came over early and said, in the blessing, that I wouldn't throw up and that I would feel better quickly. I was hoping "quickly" meant 5 minutes, but it turned out to mean like 15 hours. Still faster than a lot of people do.

I manned up and went to church. Taryn, Mel, and I practiced our song (Because I Have Been Given Much) with Melissa and then church started. Melanie got her Personal Progress medallion! When I took the Sacrament bread I looked at Darla and crossed my fingers for luck. Food! Woo! The girl who spoke before me, Alyssa, did a great job. I was quite impressed with her and how well put together she is.

I gave my talk and it went okay. I felt sick and so I rushed through it and didn't do as well as I know I could have, had I felt better. But several people told me that they really enjoyed it, so I guess I didn't suck.

Then Taryn, Melanie, and I sang. It went well, I guess?

After Sacrament meeting I went home and tried to sleep. I felt so sick. And I felt bad that my dad and the Petersens came all the way from AZ to see what turned out (in my eyes) to be a sub-standard talk and then have me hide in my room dying all day.

They had lunch (my favorite... it is a cruel world, folks). I came down toward the end of lunch and ate a chip and a cube of cantaloupe.

My dad left. It was hard to say goodbye, crazy to think I won't see him for 18 months. I appreciate everything he did/does for me. He has sacrificed a lot to show me that he cares about me.

I napped some more and then went downstairs and "helped" (watched other people) get ready for the open house. Quite a few people showed up and they were all so kind. I didn't get to know many people in the ward so I was surprised at how many went out of their way to wish me luck.

I received a lot of really positive feedback on my talk, which made me happy. I am truly blessed.

Then I went to sleep and woke up this morning feeling cured. IT IS A MIRACLE!

Overall, this weekend was awesome. It was unfortunate that it was so overshadowed with illness, but I am incredibly grateful for the support and love I felt. I'm glad I was able to spend time with my family (all of them!) and for the sacrifices they made for me. I'm thankful for the Dobbins and their sacrifices for me and my guests. They hosted the open house and the lunch yesterday. I'm so happy and grateful that the Petersens came and I was able to see them another time. Minnesota in December isn't a dream vacation (although, the weather really REALLY warmed up).

I'm incredibly blessed. I'm incredibly thankful. <3 I want to eat ALL THE THINGS.