Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Family,

This week has been one of the most utterly frustrating and faith promoting week of my life. I have had a few tests done and unfortunately they haven't been able to find anything wrong. The medical system here is not as advanced as it is in the US and so there are some challenges. I am pretty sure I know what's wrong and everyone that I talk to and describe my symptoms to says the same thing and that is that the problem is my gall bladder. The problem with this though that here in New Zealand the only way that they can diagnose gall bladder problems is if they find gallstones through an ultrasound. I had an ultrasound last Thursday and they didn't find any gall stones so according to the doctors here there isn't anything wrong with my gall bladder. President and Sister Rudd have been trying to set up a hydascan for me because that is what they use in the states to diagnose gall bladder problems. Well come to find out that test isn't available here. Talk about frustrating! 
  Last Tuesday we left the mission boundaries to go to a gerontologist in Auckland. I felt so rebellious because I never imagine I would leave the boundaries of the mission. The doctor I saw was really nice and after doing a brief evaluation he set me up to have some tests done. He ordered an ultrasound and an endoscopy. I had the ultrasounds done on Thursday morning in Hamilton and then the endoscopy done Friday morning in Auckland. Sister Vasi and I have done so much driving around this country that it's not even funny. 

   They didn't find anything in my ultrasound so they went ahead and did a endoscopy and that is where the put me under and then stuck a camera down my throat to look at my insides. It was so weird because the doctor put an IV in my arm and then he said that he was inserting the medicine and that it would make me sleepy and out of it. He said "You may not go all the way to sleep but this will help you not feel anything from the procedure." Immediately after he finished talking I felt like I was in a cloud. It was that awful feeling that I hated so much after my knee surgery. It was awful. To make it worse I did wake up a few times throughout the procedure and although it didn't hurt it was really uncomfortable because I could feel this thing being shoved in my throat and I could feel something moving in the pit of my stomach. After the procedure they took me into another room to sleep off the rest of the medication. While I was still recovering the doctor came in and talked to me but I was still so out of it that I hardly remember what he said. I do remember him saying that he didn't find anything so he said that my "stomach was just spasming and that there wasn't anything wrong with me." I asked him if he checked my gall bladder and he said "No because nothing came up on the ultrasound so I didn't need to check it." He talked to Sister Vasi who was waiting in another room and he told her pretty much the same thing. As a last effort to figure out what's wrong with me, he ordered some kind of special lower abdomen MRI but the earliest I can have it done is the 13th of June. So pretty much I was just told that nothing is wrong with me and that there isn't anything they can do to help me. I left Auckland feeling so defeated and devastated. I thought this meant that I would have to come home because I knew that I couldn't go on living the way I was for another six months. I then talked to Sister Rudd who was just as upset as I was and she said that Mom had suggested I get a blessing from President Rudd so we drove to the mission office and I asked him for a blessing. 
   President Rudd is so amazing and I am so grateful that he is my mission president. I know that he was meant to be my mission President because he reminds me so much of Dad. They have a very similar way of thinking, their sense of humor is pretty similar and they also have some of the same mannerisms so I feel very comfortable talking to him because it reminds me so much of talking with Dad. I really love him. Anyway he was very gracious and he gave me a really special blessing. One line from the blessing said "I wish to heal you at this time through the power of the priesthood, but that is not the will of your Father in Heaven at this time. But He wants you to be aware that He knows what you are going through and He loves you." President said a lot of other really great things and I was filled with such comfort. After the blessing he turned to me and said "I know we're not out of the woods with this. I know you are still going to have a lot of problems but I don't feel like this is life threatening. You'll be fine for now. We'll move forward with more tests but I don't think you need to be worried." After the blessing all of the feelings of despair that I was feeling were gone and I was no longer worried about the future. The spirit filled me with such peace and comfort. I cannot even explain the feelings that I had. I just knew for the first time in a while that things were going to be okay. And so far they have been. I am still sick but I have been blessed to have the strength I need to do the work. I am no longer exhausted all the time! It is a miracle because we can work almost like normal. President told me to make sure that I rest and take care of myself and so I am but I haven't even had to rest that much. I just know that I could do this for another six months. This whole situation reminds me of the story in Mosiah 24 of Alma and his people when they were being persecuted. 

"9 For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and... he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.

 10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.

 11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.

 12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as
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witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, 
the Lord did
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strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

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I really love this story because Heavenly Father didn't take away their afflictions, He just gave them the strength endure. I know that that is what He is doing with me. He isn't going to remove this from me, but He is blessing me with the strength I need to get through it and still be a successful missionary. 
 ​I am so grateful to me a missionary at this time and I am grateful for all of the prayers on my behalf. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing me because of it. I love and miss all of you! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins​

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