‘It all started about five years ago. One day, my father brought us together as a family. He told us that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He said that it was caught early enough and that it would be easy to treat. He went through chemotherapy and radiation for about a year and ended up beating the cancer which was awesome. He also got a stem cell transplant about a year later after some scans showed that the cancer was coming back. That was hard on him because the treatments were killing every cell in his body and he was very sick. He ended up taking the bull by the horns and he beat the cancer again. He never complained a single time.
We come from a very devout family and we’re members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We were raised to understand that God has a plan for us. My dad would always say, whenever something bad happened, ‘in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are no tragedies.’ We kept the faith as a family that he would get well even though it was hard to have to sometimes ask, ‘why is this happening and what did we do wrong as a family to deserve this?’ When he recovered, it was amazing and it was a proof to me that things would be OK.
I got called to the Alabama Birmingham Mission shortly after I finished high school. I knew that if I went and worked hard, my family would be blessed. My dad’s health would be taken care of…that’s what I knew and believed. I read a talk by President Eyring called ‘Mountains to Climb,’ in which President Spencer W. Kimball asked God to give him mountains to climb so he could be humbled and strengthened. So, as a new missionary, I asked God to give me a mountain. Two weeks later, I got sick with ulcerative colitis and I thought, as long as I worked hard, God would take care of my illness.
Eventually, I got sent home early to get well. I found out that God answers my prayers. He definitely gave me a mountain. I didn’t want to come home but, while I was home for those three months, I got to help my dad and to be with him during his treatments. It was my opportunity to take care of my dad. Eventually, I got better and regained my strength and returned back to Alabama. I would get a little sick now and then but it was nothing serious. I worked hard and saw great success. I worried about things at home but I made sure to work hard so that God would bless my family.
Four or five months later, I got a text from my mom saying that my dad was completely cancer-free and I knew that we were being blessed because I came back to the mission field and I thanked God on my knees for that. Then, suddenly, on a Sunday morning in October, I got a phone call from my mission president. He said, ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you this but, last night, your father passed away.’ I honestly didn’t know what to think. I called my mom and it turned out that he just went to sleep. There was no pain and that brought a lot of peace to my heart. Eventually, I came to conclude that my father is finally happy and out of pain. He’s free from his burdens and he’s OK.
I went home for the funeral. It was very difficult but I’m glad I had the missionary mindset and I know I will see my father again. I don’t like that I can’t ask him my questions and hear his answers, but I will see him again. I was home for three days and then I went back to Alabama. Unfortunately, my health began to decline again and, after another month, I was told that my service in Alabama was over and that I had to go home to get well. My time in Alabama was not a waste. I remember, more now than ever what my dad always said, ‘In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are no tragedies.’ So, something clicked and I realized that God knows what’s happening in our lives. Life is wonderful and we are so blessed. There is so much to be grateful for and to hope for. I still feel like I’m climbing the mountain God gave me and when I reach the peak, there’s another one to climb and that’s OK. I’ll keep climbing until I reach my father who is in heaven, watching over me.’