Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dear Family!

   I am finding it particularly hard to write this letter because at this time I am so overcome with many different emotions that I don't know where to begin. I guess when I started my mission a year ago I imagined that by this time I would be at the top of my game. I thought that I would be having success and teaching the way I want to teach and really loving every minute of it. But sad to say this was one of the hardest weeks on record. I had to face it this week that I am really really sick and that there isn't anything I can do about it.

  I have finally found something about New Zealand that I hate. I thought I loved everything about this beautiful country but I found something that I hate and that is the health care system here. It is such a disaster and I am so frustrated with it. Last Monday I went to the doctors again to follow-up on all the tests that they did last week and the doctor informed me that nothing came up on the blood work therefore nothing was wrong with me. She said that there wasn't anything else that they could do for me so they were going to refer me to a gastroenterologist for further follow-up. I was pretty sad that we hadn't resolved anything and that they determined that nothing was wrong with me jiust because nothing came up in my blood work. She also refused to do an ultrasound to try and figure things out because she said "That is the gastroenterologist's job" I left the appointment feeling so defeated because I was still so sick and in so much pain and at the end she just told me to keep taking the medicine and wait to hear from the gastroenterologist. I was so sick through that by the time we got out of the doctors appointment that the thought of driving the hour and a half home made me want to cry so we decided to just stay a night at the Te Puki sisters' flat. Tuesday morning I woke up with the most horrible pain I have ever experienced in my abdomen and my back and so I called Sister Rudd and she told me to just go to the ER. It's a good thing we stayed the night where we did because the hospital in Tauranga is really good whereas I wouldn't step foot in the Whakatane one if I was dying because it is so creepy and gross. Anyway I went to the ER and this turned out to be the most frustrating thing of all because they didn't do anything to try and figure out what was wrong with me. Here I was in so much pain that I couldn't see straight and they said "Well nothing is coming up on your blood work and chest x-ray so we're just going to send you home." They didn't even try and figure out what was causing my pain. At one point after I told them that I have lost over ten pounds in two weeks because I can't keep food down, one of the nurses said that they needed to get some nutrition into me and so she came and put an IV in my arm and went to get the drip. Then the doctor came in and said they were discharging me and so the nurse just pulled out the IV and I had to leave. I called Sister Rudd as I walked out of the hospital and I was on the verge of tears. I just couldn't believe that I could be in so much pain and the hospital would just send me away like that. After this I still hadn't heard from the gastroenterologist so Sister Rudd called them and she was told that I wouldn't be able to get in to see anyone until August. There was no way that I could wait that long so she called the area doctor and he found a gastroenterologist that can see me tomorrow the only problem is that he is in Auckland. I basically have to leave my I mission boundaries to get the help I need. I am just praying however that this doctor can figure out what is wrong with me because this is my last chance really. Basically if they can't figure out what's wrong tomorrow then I have to come home to see better doctors. New Zealand is behind in the medical field and there is still so much that they don't know and don't do. I guess in my head the normal thing to do when someone comes in with intense abdominal pain is to do an ultrasound to see what's going on inside but getting the doctors to do an ultrasound here is impossible. I just am hoping and praying that they can figure it all out tomorrow because I the thought of coming home because of a medical thing seems almost unbearable. I honestly don't think I would be able to do it.

   As far as the rest of the week not much happened because I am so sick and I can't really work. We stayed in the flat most of the time with week except when we went to Rotorua for exchanges. That was really fun because I was with Sister Swindler on our year mark and I thought that was poetic. I just have been so weak that I can't even enjoy things properly and it is so sad. I wanted to celebrate and have a good time on the fifteenth but with my sickness and some of the problems in Rotorua I just didn't even have it in me to celebrate my year mark and that makes me so sad.

  Funny story from the week: So yesterday we had stake conference and it was a broadcast from Salt Lake with the prophet and other general authorities so that was really neat but anyway after conference we went to eat at our Bishops house because he doesn't live in Whakatane (weird I know but that's what happens down here) so we had a nice lunch and then we were driving to Te Puki about 20 minutes out to get our stuff and head home and I got really sick and barely made it into the sisters flat before I threw up my lunch. After that I was really tired and couldn't drive so I laid down for a nap and while I was sleeping Sister Vasi went out to work with Sister Tepa and then Sister Fitz stayed behind with me. I was fast asleep when all the sudden I hear -"YOU BROKE THE SABBATH?!" -"OH MY GOSH I FORGOT IT WAS SUNDAY!" -"I have to wake up Sister Simkins she is going to die when she hears this story." Then the sisters came in the room and told me the story. Sister Vasi and Sister Tepa were on their way home from tracting when Sister Tepa suggested they buy some subway cookies and bring them back for us. Sister Vasi thought that was a great idea and neither one of them remembered that it was the Sabbath so they bought the cookies and brought them home. It wasn't until they showed Sister Fitz that she reminded them that it was Sunday and they both felt SO bad. We ate the cookies anyway and we are still laughing about the whole thing. Just imagine two sister missionaries walking into Subway on a Sunday and buying cookies. It's still funny.

  I have lived my life looking forward to my mission and now I am here and it has been a dream. I absolutely love it out here and so now the fact that that may all be in jeopardy is heart breaking. I just want to be able to finish my mission honorably and serve the full 18 months. I don't want to come home and I don't want this to end. I love it so much. I love being a missionary and watching the light come into people's lives when they start living the gospel. I want to continue building the kingdom of God and building myself along the way. This is a huge test of my faith. I needed some comfort this morning and so I read Ether 12 which is one of my favorite chapters. I felt peace as I read those sweet words saying that miracles never occur until after a trial of faith. At this point I am asking for a miracle and so I suppose it's in line with the order of Heaven that my faith is being put to the test. "Faith in God includes faith in His timing." I was told that my mission would test my faith in ways I never thought possible but I never imagined that the biggest test of faith on my mission is the possibility of it ending early. I thank all of you for your prayers and fasting. I can't tell you how much that means to me. I love and miss you all. Thank you for the support. I love you!

Sister Simkins

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