Smiles despite My Trials

When I was 17, I left my home in Guadalajara to study at Benemérito de las Américas, a Church institution for young people in Mexico. I was very happy there, even though I wasn’t in the best of health. I always had people who were willing to help and encourage me, but my illness kept getting more and more serious, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Finally, I was given a week off school to go back to Guadalajara for some tests.

When I got home, I suffered total facial paralysis. I was hospitalized in very serious condition with kidney failure. I don’t remember what happened for the next two weeks. My mother told me I couldn’t see or hear or eat anything. The doctors had no hope for me because my vital levels indicated I couldn’t survive.

My mother called the bishop, who came and gave me a blessing. I could feel the power of the priesthood, and I started to recover. I was in a wheelchair for a while, but I wasn’t able to hold my head up, and I couldn’t see or hear. With the help of my ward members and their fasting and prayers, I continued to recover. I was put on dialysis. My mother donated a kidney, and the doctors performed a transplant. However, five months later my body rejected the kidney, and I am now on dialysis again. I am on the waiting list for another kidney transplant.

Despite these trials, Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to graduate from seminary and to complete my Personal Progress, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I know I still have a long way to go before I’m healthy again, but I’m grateful to the Lord for this experience because I’ve gained a stronger testimony and it continues to grow every day. I think we all have different trials to overcome before we can obtain our eternal reward. “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; … then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

What I want more than anything else is to be able to return to the presence of my Heavenly Father. I know I can achieve this if I’m faithful and obedient. Sometimes it’s not very easy to accept the will of the Lord, but I try to face my trials with a smile and remember that we’re not here on earth very long when compared to eternity.

When I get discouraged I remember the hymn “Count Your Blessings” (Hymns, no. 241), and then I feel happy again. That hymn gives me peace and a feeling of gratitude. I remember the people who love me, including a loving Heavenly Father who has blessed me with strength.

[illustration] Illustrated by Keith Larson

Being the New Guy

When my ward was split, I went from being in a ward where all my best friends were with me to a ward where the other young men seemed completely different from me. I didn’t get along with them very well, but I didn’t want this to change the way I viewed the Church or to affect my Mutual attendance. So I stuck it out and tried to talk with the new guys. We didn’t agree on much, but we did find common ground—camping. I used this one common interest in our conversations and gradually improved our relationships by building on our similarities.

Sometimes we base our desire to go to Mutual or Sunday meetings on who else is going and whether we like them. But I learned that if you open up and try to make friends with others, you can make it fun, no matter who you’re with. It’s all about your attitude.

Everyone but Sarah

I moved to a small town at the beginning of the school year. I was at lunch with a group of kids when they started talking about an inappropriate word. They were saying that if a teacher heard them say it, they would get in trouble.

Then one of them said, “Everyone says it … everyone but Sarah.” I looked up in surprise. I was glad they recognized that I do not say that type of word. And they respect that I am different.

This happened before those people really knew my standards or which church I belonged to. I know I have to watch what I say because others are listening to me, and I want to be a good example.

Come, Come, Ye Saints

I never truly appreciated the hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” (Hymns, no. 30) until I was on tour with an institute choir in Wyoming and Montana. One of our last stops was at Martin’s Cove. We spent time looking around the visitors’ center and then went on a handcart pull. When we reached the top of the cove, we gathered and sang a beautiful arrangement of this sacred hymn. As I contemplated the sacrifices made for us by our forebears, I could not hold back the tears. This hymn taught me that each of us has the same responsibility to move forward with faith, trusting in the Lord. If we do this, we too will be able to proclaim, “All is well!”

[photo] Photograph by Welden C. Andersen