Friday, November 6, 2015

Why I'm Okay With Not Understanding Everything

Last night I read an article about a policy change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purpose of this blog is not to talk about the specific policy change, but rather the manner that it was brought to the public's attention.

According to the article:

"The update came to what is known as Handbook #1, which is used as a guide for administering in the church, and is only available to LDS bishops and stake presidents."

So a screenshot of the handbook, that is intended only for bishops and stake presidents, was "leaked" to the internet, and in turn to the news media. 

The reason that the handbook is available to only bishops and stake presidents is because they are currently in a calling which makes such information necessary. It is not that this information is "secret" to the rest of the world, but rather that the rest of the world doesn't really need to know it. And if they did know it (as it is now public knowledge because of the screenshot) it would probably be taken out of context, and without any kind of understanding as to why the policy was made in the first place (and so it is.) The Spirit that should accompany this kind of policy was not transmitted through a hastily written news article, and quotes from an excommunicated member.

Reading a news article about a screenshot of a handbook that is meant to be seen by bishops and stake presidents is kind of like watching a YouTube video of a temple endowment session. Only those who have prepared and are worthy are able to obtain a recommend can enter an LDS temple. It is not that the ordinances that are performed inside are secret, but rather they are sacred, and when taken out of context and without the proper Spirit, lose their meaning. I'm sure there are plenty of places on the vast information net that is the World Wide Web that would let you see or read exactly what goes on in the temple. But it would not make much sense to those who were reading it.

God teaches us, and reveals His plan to us, in accordance with our understanding. He wants to teach us things that we can comprehend, line by line and precept by precept.

This is not only the way we learn in the gospel, but in everything in life. Several months ago I started studying Web Design. I have taken five classes now, and I understand a lot more than I did when I began. However, the more I understand, the more I realize that there is so much I don't understand. In fact, it can be completely overwhelming when I think about all of the information in Web Design that I still don't understand.

The fact that I don't know everything helps me be okay with the fact that I don't always understand everything. At least not for now. Just because I don't understand something right now doesn't mean that I won't understand it later. God teaches me as I am willing to be humble and learn. That is how revelation works.

If you don't understand, or agree with this new policy and you are a faithful member of the Church, don't worry. It may take you time to understand it, especially because it was released to the general membership of the Church in a way that was not intended by our leaders. But don't let one thing that you don't understand have you question everything else that you do understand. Faith means believing until you are able to understand. Stay faithful. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Anahi's Birth Story

So, I guess it's about time that I sat down and wrote about Anahi's birth. I've been thinking about doing it a lot over the last three weeks, but every time I go to write it I would get discouraged. I think it has something to do with the fact that I had such a perfect birth, and such a miserable postpartum experience. I guess I've been struggling a lot with postpartum depression and when I am depressed it is really hard to write. But Anahi deserves to have her amazing birth story told, so here it goes.

On Thursday, August 6, I went into labor. Kind of. I had been having consistent contractions all day, but I didn't want to start timing them. That day I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and could officially give birth at Baby + Co., the birth center I had chosen. I thought it was funny that my contractions had started that day and thought that maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Around 2:30pm I finally started timing my contractions. They were about 5-10 minutes apart. They weren't super painful, but my contractions in my first birth never really were either.

Diego got home around 4pm. I'd been having contractions 5-10 minutes apart for an hour and a half and I was now having intense pain on my right side. I got into the tub to try to slow down the contractions, but the pain continued. I called the birth center and they told me to come in because it sounded like I was in active labor.

During the hour drive to the birth center, a million thoughts ran through my head. I was worried that we wouldn't make it in time and the baby would be born on the side of the freeway. The pain on my right side was so intense, but I tried to stay calm and work through it. When we arrived at the birth center the midwife checked my cervix. I was dilated to 4cm. I got in the tub to try to ease the pain.

After about an hour, my contractions had slowed considerably, but the pain in my right side was horrific.

"I don't think this is true labor," one of the midwives told me. My heart sank. If this pain wasn't labor, what was it? I started to get scared that something was seriously wrong with me. This fear only intensified the pain. I got out of the tub and they hooked me up to a machine to monitor my contractions. They were more sporadic now and not painful at all. I stayed at 4cm the entire time.

The midwife had me take an antacid for indigestion and after 4 hours at the birth center, I went home feeling stupid and upset. I tried to wait as long as I could to go in. I didn't want to drag my husband and my two year old daughter all the way to the birth center for a false alarm. But it was a false alarm.

The next day the pain on my right side returned so strong that I was in tears. I finally called the senior missionaries in our ward to give me a ride to the ER. When I got to the ER they took one look at my pregnant belly and told me that I needed to go to Labor & Delivery.

"I'm not in labor, though," I told them firmly as they all gave me incredulous looks. I explained that I wasn't having contractions, just really bad pain on my right side that I was afraid might be something wrong with my gallbladder or appendix. The sent me to Labor & Delivery anyway, and in a wheelchair, even though I insisted that I could walk just fine.

I was in Labor & Delivery for about an hour. They checked my cervix again: still at a 4. They did blood tests to check if anything was wrong with my gallbladder or appendix. The tests all came back fine. The midwife at the hospital told me that it was just round ligament pain and the only way to cure it was to have the baby.

I went home again feeling silly that I had made a big deal out of "nothing." (Even though the excruciating pain on my right side didn't really feel like nothing to me.)

Three weeks passed. Three long, frustrating, emotionally-draining weeks. I continued to have contractions almost every day. The pain on my right side did eventually fade and completely disappear. Some days I would have consistent contractions for two to three hours. I kept thinking, "It's going to be today!" But it wasn't. I didn't want to drive an hour back to the birth center for nothing. I told my husband I wouldn't go back in until my water broke.

At 1am in the morning on August 27, my due date, my water broke. It was like I'd always heard, there was a "pop" and then a gush of water. I jumped out of bed, over Lucia, my two year old, who had decided to join us in bed about 2 hours earlier. I quickly put on a heavy duty pad so that I wouldn't leak all over the place. I woke my husband up and told him that my water had broken and we should start getting our stuff together to leave.

I was having contractions, but because I'd been having them almost every day for three weeks, I hardly even noticed them. But I knew that if my water was broken, and I was dilated to at least a four, the baby was sure to come sometime that day. I was surprisingly calm as I gathered up all of the last minute things on my list and stuffed them into my birth bag. Lucia was awake. I changed her diaper and put shoes on her and told her that her little sister was on her way.

I called the birth center and got their answering service, which is who answers after hours. They put me on hold as they tried to get the midwife on call on the line. They said they couldn't get her but they had left her a message to call me back ASAP. We finished packing up everything in the car and started our hour drive to the birth center.

About 10 minutes into our drive the midwife called. She calmly asked what was up. I explained that my water had broken and we were headed to the birth center.

"Well, hold on," she said, "how are your contractions?" I told her that I'd been having contractions for three weeks and I knew that I was already dilated to at least a 4cm and that we had to drive an hour to get to the birth center. I wasn't sure how fast the baby would come, but I didn't want to take the chance of having her on the side of the road.

"Well, our records show that last time you were only at 2cm," the midwife responded. I don't know what records she was reading, but they certainly weren't mine. She asked me how far apart my contractions were.

"I don't really know, I haven't been timing them," I said. Then I felt one. "Hang on," I said, "I'm having one now." The midwife seemed to think that if I sounded so calm and could talk through a contraction that I must not really be in active labor. I was getting frustrated and tried to explain that I talked all through transition in my first labor.

She told me that there was no one at the birth center, that it wasn't open until 8am.

"Do I have to go to a hospital then?" I asked incredulously. At this point I was on the verge of tears.

She said that we should call when we were about a half hour away and she would head over.

We got to the birth center at 2:45am. When the midwife checked my cervix I was dilated to 6cm. She then believed that I was actually in labor.

It was just me, my husband, Lucia, the midwife, and the nurse at the birth center. I was hoping Lucia would go back to sleep. We put on a movie for her and asked her to lay down, but she didn't fall asleep. She wanted to be with me. I was doing fine, walking around and breathing through contractions which were coming every 3 to 5 minutes. I had messaged a couple of friends that had said they would help with Lucia at the birth center, but I figured they were still asleep.

Around 5am the contractions were getting a little more intense and I decided to get in the tub. Lucia was still awake and quietly playing games on the tablet in the corner of the room. I was worried about her being there when things started getting really intense. In between contractions I was desperately trying to find someone to come and stay with her. I was calling everyone I could think of, but it was still early and most people were still asleep.

I love the tub!!

"I think I'll just stay in here forever."

I listened to a meditation recording that my doula from my first labor had made. It helped me to stay calm and focused through the contractions, which were now coming every 2-3 minutes. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure, but I didn't want to even think about pushing.

I explained to my midwife that pushing was the worst part about my first labor. I pushed for three hours with the nurses and eventually the OB yelling at me to push harder and counting and making me hold my breath. She assured me that this time would be different but I had to get over that mental block that kept me from pushing. We decided that she would check my dilation to see how I was doing around 6:30am.

At 6:30am I was dilated to 8cm. I still hadn't gotten a hold of anyone to take care of Lucia. At this point I figured she could just stay with us, since I was obviously in transition and she was doing just fine.

About an hour later I could feel more pressure with each contraction and I threw up twice. I kept thinking how horrible pushing was and wished I could just stay in the tub and continue having contractions, which I didn't think were so bad. There was another fear, though, besides pushing. It was harder to explain. It was a fear of having another baby. I'd been having a lot of depression in the last 3 weeks and questioning whether or not I was ready to have two children. I wondered if I could love this baby as much as I loved my first. I worried about how this new baby would change our family dynamic. All of these doubts and fears made me want to push even less. I knew that the moment the baby was born, my life would change forever.

Around 8am the first midwife left and two other midwifes came on. These two I had gotten to know a lot better during my prenatal visits and I was so happy to see them. Lucia had finally fallen asleep on the bed in the room.

By this time I knew I was completely dilated and felt like pushing, but I didn't want to. I kept being reassured by the midwifes that I needed to push my baby out, that I didn't need to be afraid. They were right, it was completely different from my first hospital birth. There was no yelling, no telling me to hold my breath and count to 10. But I was still afraid.

Lucia woke up around 9am. I was afraid I would be in labor forever and worried that everyone was getting tired of waiting for this baby to come. The midwifes were patient and kind. They kept reassuring me that I could do this. Around 9:30am, one of the midwifes suggested I try to go to the bathroom to see if that would move the baby's head down further. I finally got out of the tub and hobbled to the bathroom. I thought I would have the baby on the toilet, I kept having an incredible urge to push. While I was on the toilet the midwife checked my dilation one last time. I was at 10cm. I had probably been at 10cm for about an hour.

They suggested I try bearing down on a birthing stool out of the water. I made up my mind that I just needed to get over my fear and push. I squatted on the birth stool and with the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could. It hurt so bad that I started to scream. After 8 hours of laboring in almost complete silence, I was now screaming at the top of my lungs. It was so painful but so exhilarating, like riding a roller coaster. Terrifying, but amazing. Lucia didn't think it was so amazing. My screams scared her and I could hear her on the bed saying, "Mommy?? Mommy?" One of the receptionists from the center came and took her out of the room. I was grateful that she was not alone. My husband was in front of me, coaching me to keep pushing.

On the second push I continued to scream as loud as I could and was able to push my baby out completely. I'd only pushed for about 10 minutes, which was a huge improvement to the 3 hours I'd pushed before. With the help of the midwife I brought my daughter directly up to my chest. I was ecstatic that I had done it, but I noted that the midwifes seemed a bit worried. I noticed there was a lot more blood than normal. In fact, there was blood everywhere.

"Am I hemorrhaging?" I asked, now suddenly concerned. The midwife quickly told me I wasn't, but that I had had a hematoma form while pushing. Apparently, according to my husband, he watched the blood vessel break and fill up with blood to the size of a baseball on the first push. On the second push the blood vessel ruptured and the blood went all over the place (hence all the blood).

They let the blood finish pulsing through the cord while I sat on the birth stool and then Diego was able to cut the cord. They then had me lay on the bed with my baby. She was beautiful, she looked just like Lucia, with a full head of jet black hair. As soon as I was on the bed, Anahi started to breastfeed and I tried to focus on that while the midwife drained the hematoma and stitched me up. I had hardly torn my perineum at all, but the hematoma needed to be stitched.

Because of swelling, more bleeding, and almost passing out twice, I had to be transferred to the hospital, where I stayed for two more days. But that's a postpartum story, not a birth story, and this birth story is long enough.

Besides the hematoma, I had the perfect birth that I wanted. I felt empowered the entire time, especially during pushing, which had been my biggest fear. I was absolutely elated that I had pushed my baby out despite all the pain. I was told later by my midwife that most of that pain I experienced during pushing was probably due to the hematoma forming and rupturing anyway.

So that is my perfect birth story. Just the way I wanted it. At 9:50am, Anahi Micaela Cabrera was born, while I screamed as loud as I could and blood spewed all over the place. It was beautiful and incredible and so real. And I shouldn't have had any fear about my capacity to love her, because I have adored her every second since she came into this world.

With the two loves of my life after being transferred to the hospital.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just a Mom

This is a rant. It's probably not the most eloquent or organized piece I've ever written, but I just needed to vent because I'm going crazy with all this pent up frustration.

Most of my childhood and adolescence, I wanted to have a career. I wasn't exactly sure what career I wanted to have, but I knew I wanted it to involve pantsuits and a briefcase. I knew I wanted to be a professional. I wanted to be important and I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted people to remember me as someone who helped change history in a good way.

A little over five years ago, things started to change. I found myself longing to be a wife and a mother, something I'd never really thought of as a priority before. Sure, I knew that was something I wanted to do, and it was important, but it would always be in addition to something more important. I would never be "just a mom."

When I got married I knew I wanted to have children right away. I didn't want to wait and "live my life" some more. I wanted to be a mom. It was an overwhelming feeling. Carrying my sweet daughter within me for 9 months was an incredible experience. I've been in love with her since I knew she existed.

I went back to work part time when Lucia was just 5 weeks old. I loved my job, but I missed my daughter every minute that I was away from her. Even though we were apart for just 5 hours a day, I always felt like it should be something temporary, until my husband and I got back on our feet.

A little over a year ago, I finally got the opportunity to become "just a mom." And holy cow, is it hard.

I don't want to complain about being a mom. I love it; I wouldn't change my job for anything in the world. What drives me nuts is when I hear people who think that being a stay-at-home mom is "easy" or that it's not real work. Maybe because before I may have been one of those people, and now I'm completely repentant and have gained such a deepened respect for all moms.

First of all, moms don't get time off. Ever. They never get to leave their job. If your baby wakes up at 1 in the morning, you don't get to inform that screaming bundle of joy that you are not "on call." Weekends? Same as any other day of the week. Same with holidays. And you don't get time and a half. Being a mom is a full-time job. Actually, it's more than full-time, because you definitely work more than 40 hours a week.

Being a mom is physically strenuous. Those toddlers sure can run, and it is hard to keep up with them! Sure, I'm not lifting 40 pound crates, but I'm lifting a 25 pound toddler and flying her around pretending she's a super hero. And apparently, they just keep getting bigger.

It's emotionally exhausting. She's crying again, and I have no idea why. I know she is trying to communicate something to me, but my toddler translator has ceased to function after a night of restless sleep from pregnancy and waking up two or three times hearing the little voice in the other room call out, "Mommy!"

It takes careful planning and thought. These little people have a lot of needs, and you have to meet them all. On top of that, you want them to learn, you need to make sure that you are helping their cognitive development, and their language development, and their social development, etc.

There are people that go to school and study this kind of stuff. They become professional care givers, or social workers or school administrators. They have a degree, and a title, and a paycheck. Most women who are "just moms" don't have any of that. But they do and know a lot of the same things.

I'm sick of those women who are "just moms" being so belittled, even in joking. It's hurtful. It's ignorant. I'd love to see any hotshot executive try to do what "just a mom" does, even for a day. Just because it is a different set of skills and knowledge doesn't make it any less valuable.

A great mom can make all the difference in the world. I had an amazing mom, who raised 7 amazing children. Even if a mom does nothing but raise one daughter who becomes just another mom, it makes a huge difference. Each life is precious; each positive, kind, helpful individual becomes a stronger thread in the fabric of society.

So why do they need more? I am not at all against moms getting more education or working from home or outside the home, or doing whatever they want to do to feel fulfilled. But if I already feel fulfilled dedicating all my time, talents, and energy to my offspring, then that should be enough. I shouldn't have to be "just a mom" who lacks something in her life. My life is complete. The time I have been given I chose to use to serve them, those little people who are my world. If I have other accomplishments in my life, they will pale in comparison to those little ones who will grow up and live fulfilled lives. Even if that fulfillment comes from just being a mom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Blog Post Could Do Him Justice

I just wish everyone could have had the privilege of knowing Alberto Cabrera. You seriously would have loved him. Everyone did.

The first time I met my (then) future father-in-law, I had only been home from my mission for two weeks. I went to Peru to "court" my future husband. As soon as I met Alberto, I could feel his amazing warmth and love. I knew I needed to be a part of his family when he sat with me about a week later and told me that he and his wife had been raising his son from very small to be a great husband. He told me he felt like I would be a good wife for that son. 

He taught both of his sons well. He never let a moment go by without teaching them something.

Alberto contracted polio when he was only a year old. He never walked. He spent nearly his entire life in a wheelchair. But he never let that limit him in any way. He wasn't resentful about it. He was one of the most cheerful people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. When Lucia was so close to walking while we were there he would always say, "She's going to beat me at walking!"

He never called me his daughter-in-law. He always called me his daughter. He told me he had always wanted a daughter and now he had one.

I knew I loved this man when he took my side on any argument Diego and I ever had.

At our wedding reception in Peru while Diego danced with his mom, I grabbed Alberto by the hands and we glided across the dance floor.

You could not have seen a happier grandpa when Lucia and I went to Peru in April. He put her on his lap and wheeled his chair up and down the street telling everyone, "This is my granddaughter!" "My granddaughter is here visiting me!" 

He asked me to pick out some movies for Lucia that he could buy. He bought her Frozen. We sat down to watch it, Lucia, Alberto, Sonia, and I. But Sonia and Lucia both fell asleep about half way through the first song and Alberto and I stayed up watching it together.

When Elsa is little and her father is trying to hide her powers, Alberto said, "That is just like people who are really smart! So many times they hide it instead of letting their abilities grow."

He was always analyzing everything and finding deeper meaning. But he had such a light heart and happy spirit. He laughed heartily throughout the movie.

He loved music. He was always singing. Whenever we'd talk to him on Skype he would start a huayno beat to make Lucia laugh. Dung dugga dung dugga dung. I can hear his voice and see Lucia's smile.

One night while I was in Peru the last time I got really depressed. I felt so guilty that Diego's life had changed so dramatically. I felt awful that he was far away from his friends and family and that it was my fault. The next day when I talked to Alberto about it he kindly said, "Diego knew what he was doing when he married you. When he chose to love you, he knew he would be giving up a lot." He knew exactly what to say to sooth my sorrowing heart.

He was friends with everyone he met. He told me that he loved the song "Un Millon de Amigos" (A Million Friends) by Roberto Carlos because that was his goal in life, too. He was a friend to everyone he met, and even those he hadn't met. Every time we spoke on Skype he would ask me how my mom and dad were doing. He always wanted to know what was going on in their lives and how they were.

He will be sorely missed, but the greatest consolation is knowing that he is home with his Father in Heaven. He was one of the most faithful men I have ever met. His testimony of His Savior Jesus Christ was incredible. He served faithfully to the end.

Life will not be the same without him. But he was an amazing comforter. I know if he were here he'd be saying, "Hannah, don't cry. Don't cry hija, everything will be okay." And I know it will be. I know that families can be eternal and that we will be with Alberto again sooner than we know it.

Te amo mi querido suegro. Gracias por tratarme siempre como tu hija. Gracias por enseñarme, por amarme y por siempre aceptarme tal y como soy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Surviving the Distance

This Tuesday, September 16, marks exactly 6 months since Diego and I have been apart. Diego said something the other day about how fast the time has gone.

Well, I'm glad it went by fast for him because it has been the longest six months of my life. 

It's not like Diego and I are strangers to long periods of distance. You could say that that is a big part of our relationship. 

Our first shot at long distance was 8 months. I was still on my mission; Diego was at home. We didn't talk on the phone, we only wrote to each other once a week. We weren't officially in any kind of relationship, just good friends. Still, through our distance, we learned to care for each other. Time flew by then.

After two short weeks in Peru, we were apart again. This time for 9 months. A lot happened in that nine months. We broke up and got back together several times. Our relationship went through a refiner's fire. But in the end, we decided our love could be an eternal one, and got engaged. 9 months after my first trip to Peru, I returned, this time with a ring on my finger. We were together for a well deserved 2 months. It was heavenly. We went on actual dates, we talked late into the night, we were able to hold each other close.

Then separation. Again. This time it was only 3 months. Three stressful months--planning a wedding, trying to graduate from college, starting a new job, and begging immigration services to hurry up our paperwork so I could have a groom on my wedding day. Those months went by pretty fast.

May 25, 2012 finally came around. We were sealed for time and all eternity. Everything was just as it should be. 

Except not. Contrary to popular belief, Diego didn't just "become a citizen" when he married me. He didn't even become a resident for nearly a year after our wedding. Months passed. We were together, that was the good part. The bad part was that Diego wasn't allowed to work. Or go to school. Or to do anything really. 

A year passed. We had a beautiful baby girl. We were together every day. Sometimes I think we forgot about the distance. We started to take for granted the simple blessing of just physically being together.

Months and months passed. Things started to get more difficult. Diego started looking into joining the Army, something I would never have even imagined. I knew it would mean more separation. After counseling and praying together, we decided it was the right decision. I thought the separation wouldn't hurt so bad, since we had done it so many times before.

After 22 months of being together every day, we parted ways again. This time things were very different, though. I wasn't working or going to school. I had Lucia to keep me company, but sometimes that made me even more lonely. I've gained a whole new respect for single moms. Diego has thrived in the Army. He's become a fully qualifies Combat Medic. I am very proud of him.

I have tried to keep myself busy. It's hard being a stay at home mom, because technically you are always busy, but you sometimes feel like you get absolutely nothing done. It has made time seem sluggish. 

Time is a funny thing. Though it feels like an eternity since I've woken up with my husband by my side, it also seems like Lucia is growing up way too fast. She has completely transformed from a 10 month old baby to a bubbly busy toddler.

So 6 months later, and finally, this Thursday, we will all be together again. I don't know for how long this time. It could be a year. It could be more. Or less. Since Diego is active duty, I know we will be apart again.

Sometimes I cry about it. Sometimes I just accept it as part of our life together. I hope the separation will continue to help me appreciate the moments that we are together. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Black with White Stripes or White with Black Stripes?

Blogging about my depression has seemed to help in the past, so I thought I'd give it a go again.

About a week ago my depression started getting pretty bad again. Many things have probably contributed: being sick, being sick again on top of being sick, being stressed about moving, being stressed about everything, and just life's wear and tear in general.

Talking more openly about my specific battle with depression has made me more aware of it. It's almost like an outer body experience. I can hear myself saying negative and almost always irrational things, and at the same time there is a part of me, floating around somewhere going, "That's depression! Just tell it to piss off!" A lot of times that will work, but this week I've just let myself sink deeper and deeper into negativity.

Tonight while I talked to Diego I said something to the effect of, "I guess I've just been kidding myself for the last several months thinking I could be happy. This is who I really am."

Almost immediately I questioned what I had said (or actually, typed, since Diego and I were chatting online). It sounded very definite and final. Am I really just a severely depressed person who is occasionally happy? Or am I a generally happy person who struggles with depression?

I thought of one of my favorite kid movies, Madagascar, and Marty the Zebra's soul searching question, "I'm ten years old. My life is half over and I don't even know if I'm black with white stripes or white with black stripes!"

It's a little paradoxical, because when I am in that mode of depression where no rational person or thought can penetrate my bubble of negativity, I AM a depressed person that can sometimes fight off my depression, and fool everyone into thinking that I am happy. But when I am happy and that fog of depression is not clouding my intellect, I know that I struggle with depression, but it does not define me.

The truth is, depression will probably never completely leave me in this mortal life. I will always grapple with that question, "Am I black with white stripes or white with black stripes?" Maybe there is no answer. Maybe I am both.

Maybe the key is to stop trying to define myself in black and white and see myself rather in the array of colors that I am.

I am a music loving, Spanish speaking, cookie eating girl (woman, I guess I have to be a woman now that I'm technically in my "late" 20s). I am a wife to the most attractive Peruvian man on the planet. I am the mother of the most adorable little girl. I am opinionated and I can be loud. I am a clown--I love to make other people laugh. I'm an aspiring author who has no idea when my first book will be done. I arrange concerts and musical numbers and choreograph my head. Someday they will become a reality. I dream of starting my own school in Peru to teach English while using theater and music. I am a daughter of God, who loves me, and I love Him!

That's me. Those are my colors. Forget black and white.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Belonging to a Ward Family (Para Mi Barrio Latino)

It's late and I really should be sleeping, but like always, I won't be able to sleep until I get this post out of my head and onto my blog.

When Diego and I first got married, we dined at Chinese restaurant owned by a Peruvian family. I purposely took Diego there because I knew the owner was Peruvian and thought it might be nice for Diego to talk to someone from home. The owner of the restaurant was very friendly, and on finding out that we were LDS, he asked us if we went to a Spanish ward. He told us we were in his ward boundaries and that we should go on Sunday and see how we liked it.

The following Sunday, Diego and I went to the Spanish ward. When the ward clerk asked if we were visiting or staying, before Diego could say anything I said, "We're staying." And we've been going ever since.

The ward has become my family. I love each and every one of the members as if they were my crazy aunt or uncle so-and-so.

One family in particular, the Lizjuan family, has been extraordinarily kind to me. Brother Luis Lizjuan sat in my Sunday School classes when I taught the youth. He always had amazing comments about his mission. He always asked how I was doing, and told me what I good teacher I was.

When I was pregnant, the only thing I craved was brownies from Zupas. I posted an off-handed remark about it one day on Facebook and not ten minutes later Sister Esperanza Lizjuan was sending her daughter Deyra DOWNTOWN to the office where I worked with three different brownies from Zupas. Who does that? It made my entire week, nay, my entire pregnancy!

The week after I gave birth, Sister Lizjuan, along with many other wonderful Relief Society sisters were at my house with meals and hugs and "Ooooh que linda! Se parece igualita a su papá!!"

Last week, Brother Lizjuan had an accident at work. A bad accident. He has a collapsed lung and a swollen brain. He's in a induced coma while they monitor the swelling in his brain. They've already removed a piece of his skull to allow relief there.

On Friday, Lucia and I, along with another one of my favorite families, the Warburtons (Jon and Luz) went to visit Sister Lizjuan in the hospital. She hasn't left her husband's side. Jon and Luz watched Lucia in the waiting room so I could go and visit Brother Lizjuan in the intensive care unit.

While Sister Lizjuan, the nurse, and I talked about his condition all of the sudden I started feeling very lightheaded and ended up on the floor after nearly passing out. I went to the doctor that night and they found that I have an infection.

Yesterday, though, I was feeling better again, so I put off picking up the antibiotics the doctor had prescribed. I figured it couldn't hurt to wait until Monday to pick them up.

Today I church I nearly passed out again. And there was my ward, being amazing as usual. I felt embarrassed for calling so much attention to myself; I started to cry. A few of the brothers helped me to another room where they gave me a blessing. Sister Noemi Delgado took care of Lucia while they did and then she drove me home.

Tonight my bishop called just to make sure I was doing okay.

I know this is a long maybe not so connected entry, but I just wanted to say to any of the amazing ward members that read my blog: THANK YOU! I cannot express how painful it will be to leave you all next month. I'm already dreading it. I will miss my sweet Latino family that has accepted this Spanish speaking gringa as one of their own.

I'm grateful that the Church allows us to create these friendships with otherwise complete strangers.

If you haven't said your prayers tonight, and even if you have, please remember Brother Luis Lizjuan. He is an amazing father and husband and friend and neighbor.