Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brave and Beautiful

This blog is written by me-the mom- today.

My heart is full today as I write this. So many emotions. I'm not going to write about the accident. I'm going to start with some miracles and some day we might get to the accident.

Raquel, her companion, Curt and I have been staying at my cousin's home just outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The day of the accident my cousin saw a clear picture of how she could help our family and what her family could do. So while I was throwing clothes into a suitcase she was planning. I'm not sure what I thought would happen once I got to Pennsylvania we just knew we needed to be by our daughter's side and by the side of Raquel's companion dear Sister Faamaile. Sister Faamaile's family is in Samoa and jumping on a plane is not an option. (I loved this girl before we left and love her even more now--another daughter.I pray every day that she can feel safe and completely loved in our care.) By the time we got to my cousin's house every needful thing was thought of. Everything. That clear picture of what these sisters would need was given to her--not to the overwhelmed mom and dad. Miracle number one: the location and inspiration of a dear sweet cousin.

By the time we landed in Pennsylvania my cousin had been at Raquel's bedside and already spoken with Raquel's mission president. Her offer was an answer to prayer to him as well. As you can imagine there was so much to be handled and people to love and care for because of this tragedy. We got off the plane at 11:30 pm PA time and my sweet cousin offered to take us straight to the hospital. Raquel hasn't remembered a lot but she told us later that she had stayed awake waiting for us. She remembered we were coming. I walked around the curtain and she was right there alert and anxiously waiting. Oh, what a reunion. I gave her the most tender hug a mom could give not wanting to hurt her. Plus I hadn't held her close for 7 months. In those quiet midnight hours we laughed and cried but the most precious moment came when her father was able to place his hands on his daughter's head and give her a father's priesthood blessing of comfort and healing. Miracle number two: the power of the priesthood in our lives. We found out later that many hands had been placed on her head in the hours that she was admitted into the hospital. I was told of an ER doctor that is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints called upon another member and immediately gave her a blessing as the ambulance arrived. The members in PA love their missionaries.

Which brings me to miracle number three: It's more of a multitudes of blessings that consist of one major blessing. The missionaries were transported to a hospital that wasn't in the area where they were teaching. But when the members in that area heard what had happened they were so devastated they came in great numbers to comfort these sweet missionaries. I don't know her name, but I was told that one woman sat and held our daughter's hand for hours into that first night. This sweet woman must know of a mother's love. Raquel doesn't remember at all but I will forever be grateful to her. We promise to "mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" and I've seen the absolute drive in people here and at home to fulfill that promise. My family is even being watched over at home while I'm away. Amazing! I've been told that the members in the area were with the sister missionaries round the clock. So many came that they had to ask them to stop because it was too much for the sisters with their injuries.

These two sisters just want to get back to their mission. They sit and plan and talk about all they need and want to be doing. When they pray they ask that they can heal quickly so that they can get back serving. It's a miracle that they can go through all they've gone through and still want to get back to it! Last night Raquel called the Elders serving in her area to make sure they weren't "messing everything up" Haha! I heard her say she's calling again tonight. You can take the missionary out of the field temporarily but you can't take the missionary out of the missionary. Miracles happen when we do the right thing for the right reasons. We don't know how this story will end yet but I've been truly strengthened by the testimony and courage of these sisters. They are brave and beautiful daughters of God.

I don't have time to write of all that has happened and all of the tender mercies and love we have felt. In fact it has taken me 2 days to get this written and posted. So for now I'm going to end with the words of a song that came to my mind one night as I slipped into bed before the next alarm would go off letting me know it was time for one of the sisters' medicine. It's the same song I turned on to comfort Raquel one night when the pain was so bad and we were waiting for her medicine to kick in:

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will Still Give Thee Aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.
Upheld by my righteous Omnipotent hand.

Love to you all for your concern and prayers and love.
Raquel says I'm the senior companion right now in this trio. Haha! All she wants to do is get back to the work. 

Moments after this pic was taken the sisters were back in bed for the night. It was a rare but exciting night to have them both well enough to get out of bed and eat at the table. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Temple-The Highlight Of My Week

The temple was most definitely the highlight of my week! 
The relief society president, Sister Moore, took us to the temple on
Saturday. I felt bad because she had all these things she needed to
do but she sacrificed doing them to bring us to the temple. I'm always
blown away by the incredible kindness of the members.

When we got there and walked in the doors I just felt immediate peace.
It's truly incredible how much power the temple has. I often think
about how my life would be without the gospel and the temple and I
honestly can't imagine a life without it. I've seen and heard so much
heartache on my mission and it's really opened my eyes to understand
the great blessing it is to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.

Because we went on our stake's temple day, we were able to go through
the temple with a lot of the missionaries from our zone and it was so
much fun! Sometimes I forget what a privilege it is to be serving with
these missionaries. I know they are called representatives of Christ
and it's a honor to serve with them!
We were able to hear from the Temple President in the little chapel
meeting we had before going to do a session and he was so amazing! He
was talking about how we are entitled to the highest degrees of the
priesthood and what a blessing that is. I know that wouldn't have been
possible without Joseph Smith and his wiliness to go through so much
to bring the fullness of the gospel back to earth.

This week we had a really good lesson on the restoration with our investigator
Crystal! She's shown real interest and is so humble and wants to learn
about Christ and how to follow Him! We're planning on seeing her this
Wednesday! At the university this week a girl actually came over to
our booth (that never happens on their own!!) she's
super sweet and hopefully we'll be teaching her and another student, Blake, soon! 
They both said they would come to FHE tonight!!!!! (Pray that they will)

Sister Raquel Jessie Douglas ;)

**Mom's note: This week I asked Sister Douglas to answer the following questions. Her answers were awesome and I thought helpful for those wanting to serve a mission so I included them on her blog.

First, What is the single most important thing you did before your mission that has helped you along the mission path?

Second, what do you wish you would have done to help you prepare for the mission experience? 

1. I'm glad I gained my OWN solid testimony of the Church, Jesus
Christ, Joseph Smith, the Prophet Thomas S Monson, And THE BOOK OF
MORMON!!! In times of doubt my testimony was the only thread of hope
that kept me going. When I didn't know what to say, at least I was
able to testify. You can't go on a mission and say, "I know my mom
knows this church is true" You have to know it for yourself. I may not
have understood everything, or even why I knew those things were true,
but with time I've been able to solidify my testimony of those things
as I've been able to testify daily:)
AND going to the temple!!!!!!! I think as it got closer to me leaving I was going at
least once a week maybe two! That was my safe haven:)

2. Everyone says this, but STUDY PREACH MY GOSPEL!!!! I wish I would
have understood what an amazing tool that is! We don't go on a mission
to be taught but to teach and in doing so we are taught... if that
makes sense! Everyday I  study the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes, then
I study Preach My Gospel for 20 minutes, and 10 minutes of conference talks or the Ensign. In
the world wide missionary broadcast two weeks ago they basically only
talked about PMG and how important it is. I too know it is revelation
from God to help us help others come unto Christ!

AND learn to talk to people. Learn how to start a conversation from nothing!

Our Savior Jesus Christ
In the visitor's center near the Washington DC temple.

The model of the inside of the temple at the visitors center. There
are 7 floors!!!