Thursday, June 27, 2013

I hope they call me on a mission--again

By Greg:


Today is a very important day for me.  This afternoon I will undergo the surgery that I have been preparing for since we returned home.  The doctors have found stones in my bladder as well as an acute enlarged prostrate.  They are confident that this surgery will help me heal and return me to full health.


So we are declaring that today ends our first mission (even though we were officially released on June 16th) and begins the preparation for our second one.  We really hope they will call us, again.


One year ago today we were in full gear preparing to go to Africa.  We received our call on April 17, 2012.  We had a long list of things to accomplish, but we took a week and had a wonderful family reunion in Park City with our entire family.  It was one of the most glorious weeks of our lives!


Below the surface, however, there were five major issues that were still unresolved.  While these all related to our businesses, they were nonetheless major obstacles that needed to be removed before we could go to Africa and “put our hand to the plow” and not look back. 


As I have been reviewing my journal, I am reminded that the Lord is mindful of us, and that His hand is active in all things.  I am amazed that we found a solution to all of those items during the month of July, 2012 (even though it took several months into our mission to complete all the necessary transactions to eliminate these burdens).


So here I stand, again, at the beginning of July. One year later. Right now I really have only one obstacle to overcome.  It has seemed like it was as big a burden to carry as all of the others combined. This past month has been so long and hard, and at times I have wondered if I could endure it any longer, but I have felt so much support and love.  So many people have prayed for me (and continue even today—thank you) and my name has been placed in so many temples that we have lost count, and I am trying to focus on only one thing—that is, if God could solve those temporal problems that were deterring us from serving him full time; with all our hearts, MINDS, might and strength; then He can solve this physical problem and I will be able to return to his service.


Being a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been the greatest honor of my life.  I love sharing the Gospel.  Technically, I have had two missions (if you don’t count the Stake Mission when I was a Stake Seventy) and Debi has been with me on both.  Of course she had to stay at home while I was in Alabama-Florida, but she was with me nonetheless.  We were together in Africa, and we will be together wherever they determine to send us now.  She is the greatest companion and has been my primary caregiver and nurse.


I have full confidence that today will turn out positive and so officially I declare that today begins our preparation time for our next mission.  Our list is not as long as it was a year ago.  We have all the stuff, much of which is still sitting in our suitcases.  But there will be a few things to do but most important will be returning to health, gaining strength and maintaining the Spirit, so that wherever we serve we can do God’s will.


We miss our friends and fellow missionaries in Africa.  We talk about the people we met constantly, and we pray that the work of the Lord will continue to roll forth in that choice part of the Lord’s vineyard.


Again, thanks for your love, support and prayers!


By Debi:


Today is the first day of the rest of our lives!  We have been limping along waiting for the healing process to begin and I have full faith that today Greg will start that long but hopeful journey.


We have always heard the saying “without your health you have nothing”.  I have never totally been a believer of that saying but I have to say that without your health the quality of life and the ability to enjoy the world around you becomes very difficult.


Greg has been a real trooper.  He is so brave each day and tries so hard to be a good patient.  He has even done some family history projects and just yesterday we drove to Salt Lake and presented his father’s journals and pictures to the Church’s history department.  This was a great moment for Greg.  He worked so hard to put all of the material together and put his father’s letters into a book before we left on our mission. I am so thankful that he felt good enough to finish this great effort.


Even though Greg hasn’t felt well we have enjoyed being in our home and seeing our family and friends.  We have reported to the High Council and several of the wards in our stake have asked us to speak in their Sacrament Meeting after Greg is feeling better.


We have thought much about why we had this happen at this time.  We really loved the work in Africa and we were willing to give it our all for the next 14 months.  But, we are willing to do whatever we are called to do to build the kingdom of God here on earth and fulfill our mission where ever the Lord directs.


So once again, we both hope they call us on a mission.  We are ready for the next adventure.


Our testimonies are strong, our faith is strong, and our hope is strong.  Hurrah for Israel!


Love, Debi

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Home in Hooper

By Greg:

The brethren determined that I needed to go home, and once the wheels were in motion we were on our way the next day.  What a whirlwind that was.  Even though I was really sick, we had to transition all our activities, clean out our office and apartment, pack and then the hard part, say good-bye.

It was so hard to say good-bye to all our friends.  Many of the Africans were sobbing.  "Oh mommy, or daddy, how can we live without you!" It was unexpected and we were totally unprepared for this.  Oh how we love these people.  We will miss the other missionary couples, but we will probably never see the Africans again in this life!

We had a "tender mercy" of the Lord.  I am so sick, and I was dreading the long plane ride.  As we purchased our ticket (actually the Church purchased it) we were lucky to even get a seat.  We have made this trip across the ocean three times before and were in good health and it was hard.  Well, the Lord loves us.  We received an up-grade to first-class/business-class.  The seats actually became beds.  I was able to sleep.  I wore a catheter and bag, and took medicines, but we made it.

We have met with the doctor and after he got over his "profession shock" at my condition, went forward on his treatment plan.  This included putting in a "real" catheter and replacing all the medications with American Meds.  He has scheduled me for surgery in two weeks.  He needs to be certain that the infection is in check first.

So, at this point, I am on the "injured reserve" roster and will be so for the next 8-10 weeks.  We do not know what will happen then, but surely there as place in this world (and specifically in the US) where we can labor and complete our mission.

The Area Medical Advisor, Elder Elmer, shared with Sister Haws this scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, but it can apply to us, at least he applied it, and I would like to share it:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hand of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.  Doctrine and Covenants 124:49.

Well, my enemies are not Missouri mobs, but a sickness, that for me has proved as dangerous to my health, safety and security as a mob. 

We have faith in the Lord.  We trust him. 

We appreciate all of the love and support we have felt, especially all of the prayers.  We are convinced that this problem could not be resolved in Africa, but we are confident that it will be resolved here at home.

Love to all--Elder Greg W. Haws

PS  We hope to continue this blog--perhaps in another time and place--we will notify all of our progress.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

With heavy hearts

By Greg:

It is with heavy hearts that we say good-bye to Africa.  We are leaving tonight at 10:10 pm to return to the US for medical treatment.

Sunday I had a reversal as the catheter also became blocked.  I was back in the same situation that I was originally.  Very painful and unable to "vacate" my bladder.

We went to the clinic on Monday, but the Professor said he only likes to remove catheters first thing in the morning.  So we had to return first thing Tuesday.  I had been able to have some relief by attaching a bag and sitting and slowly it drained.

On Tuesday, they removed my catheter and I was able to urinate on my on, barely.  They sent me home and told me to come back if there was a problem.  In two hours there was a problem.  I complete shut down again.

They inserted a new catheter and told me to come back in a week and see the Professor.

We met with the Area President, Elder Dickson, and he so kindly, but firmly, counseled us to return to the US and get on top of this before it becomes worse.

So the wheels of the Church can really turn quickly when the health and safety of a missionary is concerned.  They even offered to have the Area Medical Advisor accompany me.  That is not necessary.

We will be home Friday morning, and hopefully we can get into see Doctors right away.  It will be a long flight, and I am not looking forward to it, but we will do what we can.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What a difference a week can make!

By Greg:

I realize that I was pretty graphic last week as I described my illness.  Well, it is Saturday morning and I have had three or four good nights and I have been able to go back to work, at least part of the day.

We have a big training meeting with all of the Assistant Area Auditors from across the Area this coming week, so we have had to get ready for this. Debi had done most of the leg work, but there were things that I had to do.

Debi looks so radiant in her new dresses


Before I got sick, Debi had two new dresses made.  I should have posted her pictures last week to balance out the "sickness" message.  Anyway, here they are.  The African styles are so lovely, and the patterns so colorful, and Debi reports the dresses are very comfortable.


Debi bought the cloth, then had Fastima make the dress
We have been without air-conditioning again these last couple of days.  Some engineers from Salt Lake are here to "solve" the problem.  We thought when they installed the new A/C system that the problem was solved, but apparently not.
Well, because we have been pretty home bound, we do not have many pictures this week.  We will try to do better in the future. 
By Debi:
We have had a couple of rough weeks.  I have let Greg do the writing because I really didn't want to tell his own story.
Of course, I have been very concerned about Greg and his condition.  I have put all of my mothering and nursing skills in high gear and tried to follow all of the Doctor's orders to the "T".  I am pleased to say that Greg is getting stronger each day. 
I have gotten a better appreciation for young Elders who get sick on their missions.  Even though I am here with Greg and taking care of everything it is still hard not to feel homesick and wanting to be in familiar surroundings while Greg has been sick.


I am so thankful for everyone's faith and prayers in Greg's behalf.   
This week will bring some new news I am sure.  We have our semi-annual training for our Assistant Area Auditors. They will fly in from 6 other countries and speak several languages. We are prepared for a wonderful conference.  We are so excited to see these wonderful brethren in the gospel that we have grown to love and have great respect.
We still need your support and prayers. 
Thank you with our deepest gratitude.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Darkenss and despair

Today is Monday, June 3, 2013 (our 9 month anniversary as missionaries)


I realize that there are many of my family (actually all of my family) and friends that have been on their knees pleading to the Lord for me.  This is a most humbling prospect.  Most are wondering, or will wake up later and wonder, “How is Greg doing?”


It is just after 5:00 am here after another long night.  I do not know why the nights are so hard, but it seems with so many challenges in life, the night is associated.


I am thinking of that long night that our Savior was tortured and suffered in the hands of cruel oppressors.  Then there followed the three nights of darkness and despair, after his death.


But then comes the morning.  As the first rays of light break forth, there seems to be more than just a sunrise, it brings hope and renewed courage.  Oh the joy, when in the morning, Mary and the others were able to declare, “He is risen!”


A favorite poem of mine, by William Ernest Henley, was used recently in the movie that was given the same name: Invictus.


Out of the night that covers me,

  Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever Gods may be

  For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

  I have not winced nor cried aloud,

Under the bludgeonings of chance

  My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears,

  Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

  Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

  How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

  I am the captain of my soul.


For a disciple of Christ, as I am seeking to be, this poem has conflict.  It is the age-old struggle between Pride and Steadfast Endurance.  I know that I should be able to withstand the tribulations of this life with an unbowed head that may be bloodied without giving into the oppressor’s purposes, which is to cause me to become discouraged, and to give in and give up.


On the other hand, am I really the Captain of my Soul?  If, as John Val john sang, “I gave my soul to God long ago” then I must learn to rely on Him and His will, and set aside my own personal desires and comforts. I must rely on him, not myself and my personal abilities to withstand “the heat of the day” because, alone, we will all fail, eventually.


Every mother that has sat with a sick child through the night knows the joy of the morning’s first light.  Francis Scott Key was inspired by that same idea as he eyed the Stars Spangled Banner at Fort Henry, after a long night of battle.  I am feeling that right now.


So, Greg, how are you today?  This will be the question that I will be asked, or it will be asked through Debi.  My answer is, “Greg is fine, but his body is still sick, but it is morning, and with the new day comes new hope.” I could give more clinical descriptions, but that is not necessary.


Thank you for your love and concern.  I am sorry if I am digging deep into my soul and posting my feelings, but along with the one, I must share the other. Sometimes I just cannot be funny.


I want to truly give myself (and my soul and body) to God.  I have dedicated it full time to his service, and I have gained some insight into what he wants me to do, so for that, this sickness is a blessing.  I have also had an experience that few Senior Missionaries get to have, and, after all, one of the purposes of this life is to gain experience.


I will get better.  The medications are taking their effect.  The doctors are competent and concerned and Debi is ever faithful.


I hope to go back to work slowly this week.  We have a lot to do, but I will take it easy.  One of the great infrastructure needs of West Africa is an effective waste disposal system.  Right now, I share that need with “Mother Africa!”


Thank you all, again, for your faith and prayers.


Love, Elder Greg Haws