Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Final Post: Lessons We Have Learned From This Experience

McKenzie's roommate Caitlin's wedding reception:)
McKenzie's sister Maddie's graduation
I have known for quite awhile that we needed to do one last post here on the blog. McKenzie and I have been talking about it and we wanted to wrap things up and share some of the lessons we have learned through this process. We hope that this will be helpful for anyone else who may be going through something like this. Before we share the lessons we have learned I will just give a quick update on McKenzie.

She has been doing really well down in Provo. It's not perfect of course and she still has her days when she struggles with her headaches, but on the whole she is so much better. We continue to see the Lord's hand in her life in many different ways. Here are a few things that have happened recently:

1-One of the greatest things that has happened is that she received the calling of "ward mission leader" in her student ward. She was so excited. Her job is to help teach mission prep and also help prepare the sisters in her ward who are getting ready to serve missions. She also gets to help reactivate members. :) Perfect!!!

McKenzie & Sestra Compare in Arizona:)
2-The next amazing miracle that happened was that McKenzie's MTC companion Sestra Compare had to come back to the states for some oral surgery. They decided to fly her to Mesa, AZ, so that Elder Westergard (oral surgeon & senior missionary in the mission) could do the surgery.  Of course McKenzie booked a flight and went to see Sestra Compare. They had a very sweet reunion. It was a total surprise for Sestra Compare!!! Thanks so much to the Westergards who are so amazing and generous. :)

Here are the lessons that we have learned from McKenzie's mission experience so far:

1-You never know what the mission is that the Lord has planned for you. It may not be the one you think it is.
2-"Why" questions are not helpful and don't get answered. Instead ask "What" questions. ex. What  can I learn from this?
3-You have to work through a trial. You can't push it aside and move on, otherwise it will come back to hurt you over and over again.
4-The Lord loves each of us.
5-We see the Lord's hand in people all around us who help us and keep us moving forward.
6-Don't doubt that you have enough faith to be healed, but also remember that you have to have enough faith to not be healed. In other words you need to be able to go on even if you aren't healed and find what the Lord needs you to do.
7-Relying on the enabling power of the atonement can help to make all things turn out right. :)

 Here is a message from McKenzie:
Hello Everyone!!!

I don't think I can even begin to thank all of you. These last few months have been so uncontrollably emotional and I couldn't have made it without the texts, posts, conversations, calls, and emails of support I received.

Let me tell you, none of this was in my 5-year plan, but guess what I realized? The lessons that I've learned through all this have put my life into better perspective than I ever thought was possible.

Was I grateful for this trial when I was in the thick of it? Absolutely not, but I did learn to lean completely on the Atonement to help me through it. I will continue to lean on my Savior "in every thought, doubt[ing] not, fear[ing] not."

Did I pray as much as I told my investigators to on my mission? No. I learned the loneliness that comes with losing the spirit and how prayer really is the key to receiving revelation. I will never forsake that again.

Did I think Heavenly Father forgot about me for a little while? Yes. I learned how to find the hand of God in the details. Even the details of hard things.

I've learned that Heavenly Father loves each of us. I know He has a plan and that He wants nothing more than to help us. I know His son Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement to help us reach our full potential as children of God. I know that we are never too far, too lost, or too hurt to be healed by that everlasting gift.

I hope that my time as a missionary on this blog has helped you feel His love for you. I will never stop sharing that love as long as I live and I hope you won't either. We don't need to be set apart as missionaries to share the joy we have!

"Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations." D&C 115:5

I LOVE YOU ALL. Thank you again.

S Ljbavlju,

Some final words from Mom:
 I just want to thank all of you who have been so kind to McKenzie and our family. We couldn't have gone through this trial without each of you. Your love and support have been unbelievable. We have seen the Lord's hand through each of you.

Thanks again,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Moving Back to Provo and Getting Back to Work:)

Cute sign for McKenzie when she got to work on her first day back at the Monte L. Bean Museum:)  Thanks Patty!!!
Cute Dominguez girls that McKenzie takes care of:) They are actually good therapy for her!!!
Well it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted anything. So here is the update on McKenzie. We appreciate all of you who have been so wonderful to keep McKenzie in your prayers. She has felt your love and support.

About two weeks ago McKenzie moved back to Provo to see how her body would do under more strenuous circumstances. The week before she left she hadn't had any headaches and was feeling like her old self. She started her job at the Monte L. Bean Museum where her bosses welcomed her back and have been so wonderful to her. She is very spoiled to work with such great people:) She will also continue to nanny for a darling family in our ward. She loves the three girls that she takes care of:)

Week one in Provo was good but McKenzie did get headaches several times and was physically exhausted. It will definitely take some time to get used to her new situation. She didn't know any of her new roommates, but thought it would be good to meet some new people:) She has some good friends across the street who are taking good care of her.

This last week she has been trying to get herself on a better schedule. She did have a giant headache on Wednesday but was able to get it under control with her medications. All in all she has been doing pretty well. We are grateful for her progress and hope that she will continue to get better.

McKenzie also got to attend the wedding of her companion Ariana Black. It was so much fun for her:) Sestra Black took such good care of McKenzie when she was so sick. She cooked for her and read to her and was amazing!!! 

Attending Ariana's wedding:)

McKenzie meeting with the Adriatic North missionaries at the TRC at the MTC:) She loves getting to speak Croatian with them.
Of course one of McKenzie's favorite activities is to be able to help out at the TRC at the MTC.  She loves getting to see the missionaries every week:)  We are so grateful to see McKenzie's progress. Again, thanks to all of you for your wonderful support.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Doctors Visit & Some Things to Look Forward Too:)

Missionaries from the Adriatic North Mission at Elder Josh Bell's Homecoming:)
It seems like the weeks pass by so fast:) I feel like I have just written a post and then it is time to do it again. Here is the update on McKenzie:

First of all we went to see the doctor yesterday. We go about every 4 to 6 weeks. She did more testing to see how the treatments we have been using have been working on the parasites.  She found that 90% of the parasites are gone:)Yay!!! That is good news. McKenzie has been having about 4 headaches a week this last little while. That is actually really good. They are smaller headaches and much more manageable. She is just using herbal medications to treat them which is also good:) We are feeling great about her progress physcially. The doctor feels like it will be about 1 more month to get things totally cleared up:)

Emotionally McKenzie also continues to do well:) She was able to go again to the TRC at the MTC this week, which was such a wonderful experience. She was able to see several other missionaries from her mission there as well. She was also able to attend Elder Josh Bell's homecoming. He also served in the Adriatic North Mission. It was wonderful to hear the stories of conversion from the mission. There was also a group of missionaries at his homecoming from the mission, so it was great to visit with all of them as well.

Also many of you know that McKenzie loves to sing. It is one of the things that makes her happy. Last week she found out about a new male/female acappella group that they were having auditions for at BYU. For those that don't know, McKenzie spent two years before her mission in a BYU female acappella group called "Noteworthy". She loved her experience in Noteworthy!!! When this new opportunity came along she was so excited.  She called the directors of the group and told them of her experience and they immediately wanted her to help them with the auditions for this new group and to help direct it.  So she is now part of the newest male/female accapela group at BYU called "Beyond Measure". She is so excited!!! Below are some pictures of the group:)

Being a judge for "Beyond Measure" Auditions

"Beyond Measure" up close:)

"Beyond Measure"

We are so grateful for all those that have been such a great support to McKenzie in this process.She is doing really well. She starts her job at the Monte L. Bean Museum on BYU campus today. Thanks to her wonderful bosses who have taken such good care of her. Next week she will be moving back to Provo. These new opportunities will be good for McKenzie as she continues to recover and move forward. Thanks again for all your love and prayers! We have learned that you never really know what your mission is, but the Lord does:)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Moving Forward & Making Some Decisions

At the MTC Training Resource Center with Sestra Pelton & Sestra Menjevar (both heading to the Adriatic North Mission)
Here's what's up with McKenzie:

The last couple of weeks have been filled with some emotional decisions as well as some sweet blessings.  McKenzie has continued to feel better physically and has been getting some of her energy back. She still had some days with headaches, but overall she has been feeling so much better. Her foot bath last week was black, which meant she was detoxifying her liver. Yay!!! haha.

The last week or so we have been working on the emotional part of all of this for McKenzie. As we have mentioned before, it is hard to have to come home from your mission because your body doesn't cooperate. Your spirit and mind are ready to do whatever the Lord needs you to do, but your body just won't:( McKenzie is a positive person, therefore she doesn't like to think about sad things or things that are hard. This experience has been very sad and hard for her. We have spent a lot of time talking about it and have tried to help her know that it is something she can't just jump over, or pass by. She has to deal with what has happened to be able to move forward.  That is the hard part. We have told her that even when it's hard to talk about or do certain things she still needs to do them to be able to heal from this experience and be able to move forward (I have learned a few things through the years being a psychologist's wife:) haha.

That's what McKenzie has been trying to do the last week or so. There have been some amazing blessings that have come from this. She even called me one night when she was out and said,  "Mom! I can tell that I am getting better!!!" She was so excited and happy. Sometimes all of this has felt so hopeless and frustrating to her. Here are a few things that have happened this week:

1-McKenzie decided to move back to Provo for the spring and summer. She wants to see how her body will do if she is living on her own and with a little more stress. She has her job back at the Monte L. Bean Museum at BYU, so she will working there. She is nervous about moving out, but feels like she needs to see how she does:)

2-She went to the TRC (Training Resource Center) at the MTC to be an investigator for the Croatian speaking missionaries. She has wanted to do that since she got home, but it was a hard emotional thing for her to make herself do, since it reminded her of where she was wanting to be. The blessings poured out on her as she entered the MTC. As she was walking in the door, she came upon  two sweet couples who were in her branch presidency there at the MTC,  the Hendersons and the Briscoes. She was so grateful to see them.  Next she headed to the TRC and met up with one of her MTC teachers, Sister Carter. Another amazing blessing:) Then she was able to be an investigator for two sisters going to her mission that she had been able to talk to before they had left for the MTC. (Sestra Pelton & Sestra Menjavar) It was an amazing experience! Now she wants to go every week:) (It was after visiting the MTC that she called me to say that she knew she was getting better:)
McKenzie with the Hendersons at the MTC.

McKenzie & the Briscoes when she was in the MTC:)
3-Also her mission president's wife (Sister Rowe) and son (Colton) called her the other day. It was so wonderful for her to talk with them. McKenzie loves Colton who is like a little brother to her and Sister Rowe is such a great friend and example to her.  Sister Rowe caught McKenzie up on everything that was going on in the mission and told McKenzie to make sure that she was finding ways to serve, no matter what they were so that she would feel useful. She thought it would be great for McKenzie to move to Provo and be able to serve in her student ward:)

4-On Sunday McKenzie was also finally able to share her mission experiences with our extended family. We had a little FHE and she was able to tell them about her experiences as a missionary.

5-Also Elder Bell came over to visit McKenzie. He just got home from the Adriatic North Mission 6 days ago. It was great for her to visit with him about the mission. He plays the piano beautifully. They were able to do a musical number at the Chirstmas Conference last December. Of course while he was here they had to sit at the piano and play and sing:) It was awesome!!!
Elder Bell and McKenzie

We are so grateful for the progress we are seeing in McKenzie. We are grateful for the ways that the Lord is blessing her and showing her that he knows her and that he loves her.  Thanks again for all your prayers in her behalf:)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Week 11: Sweet Blessings

Siblings at the RSL vs BYU soccer game:)
Here's the update on McKenzie for this week:

McKenzie has continued to feel good this past week. Yay!!!  The headache only appears once in a while which is such a relief. She continues to have more energy and is doing much better. Her foot bath this week turned the water yellow which means she is detoxifying her bladder, gallbladder and her fatty tissues. (she loves that) haha.  It's always so interesting to see what her body needs to detoxify each week:)
All McKenzie's herbal supplements and meds! She feels like a senior citizen:) haha

Here are some of the sweet blessings she received this week:

1. She spoke in church on Easter Sunday. She was able to talk about her mission and about the struggle she had in coming home even though she knew she was sick. She talked about how through the enabling power of the atonement, she has been able to make it through this hard time. She also talked about how hard Satan is working on her to make her feel like she's not good enough, or that she just couldn't do it. Any of you who know McKenzie know that she is not a quitter, but Satan knows just what buttons to push:( She also talked about her testimony of the atonement being strengthened by this experience. It has definitely been hard, but she know's it's all for a purpose. She did a great job and we are proud of her. It was good for her to share her thoughts and testimony about her mission and about this experience.

2. This week she also received word that a sweet sister that she and Sister Rowe (mission president's wife) had taught when she was staying at the mission home was baptized.  McKenzie was so excited. She got to be part of a  baptism:)

3. Also a darling sister in our ward who has three young daughters and is pregnant, called to see if McKenzie might be able to help her out and be her nanny for the next month or so. It is the perfect thing for McKenzie:) It is not full time, just here and there, but provides her with an opportunity to feel useful and earn a little money. McKenzie also loves kids, so she is enjoying playing with the girls. This sister who hired her said, "This is such a blessing for us!" We told her that it is really a blessing for McKenzie. 

4. It was spring break this week, so we were able to take our family to St. George for a few days. It was so great for all of us to be together, minus Jordan (McKenzie's older brother, who is about to graduate from UVU!!!)  We enjoyed playing together in the sun and relaxing!!!
Loving on little brother Noah:)  He love's it!!!

Relaxing by the pool.  Yay for the sun:)
We are all excited for General Conference this weekend. Thanks again for your continued support:) Things seems to be getting better each week!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Week 10: Great Week in California & Good Visit to Doctor

Great day at the Sacramento Temple:)

Katie & McKenzie ready for Savannah's sealing

Here is the update on McKenzie for this week:

She had a wonderful time in California. She loved staying with the Jensen family, who took such good care of her. They made sure she took all her medications and got plenty of rest:) They also made sure she had plenty of fun:) She was able to go to Savannah Argyle's wedding at the Sacramento Temple as well as see some of Old Sacramento and of course they had to do some shopping:) One of the greatest things was getting to see Elder Oaks at Stake Conference on Sunday and being able to shake his hand.  The only sad thing was that the sun did not come out very much:(

We were a little worried about how McKenzie's health would be on the trip, but she did very well. She had three small headaches during the week, which is not bad for where she has been in the past.  Then on Sunday night she got a big headache which then continued on thru Monday. She was pretty worn out by the time she got home from her trip Monday night.

Yesterday we saw the doctor, who did a lot of retesting to see how McKenzie's body is doing. She said that the parasites have been working hard to reproduce and that now they are 65% gone. We were a little discouraged about that, since last time she was tested they were 90% gone. Parasites are pesky and difficult and they like to move around when they are being attacked. The doctor changed up a few things that McKenzie is taking and she will be getting footbaths once a week for the next month. The doctor feels like it will take about two months to get totally rid of the parasites and she feels that McKenzie will be headache free by then:)

Oxidizing Footbath:  Detoxifying her liver:)
The positive part of all of this is that we are starting to see our old McKenzie reappear. Her laughter, sense of humor and her fun personality are coming back. This has definitely been a rough few months. She mentioned that she is starting to feel like herself again. We are so grateful. She continues to work on the emotional/mental part of all of this and is making some good progress!!!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support!!! You keep us all going.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week 9: A Little Recuperation in California

McKenzie & Katie relaxing in California:)
Here's a little update on what is happening with McKenzie this week.  Last week was pretty good. McKenzie feels like she is about 75% herself physically. She seems to be getting a little better every week:) We are so grateful for her progress.

The hardest thing for her right now is dealing with the emotional part of all that has happened. She went from being in full-time service to the Lord in Bosnia and feeling like she was making a difference in people's lives as she was doing the Lord's will, to  having to come home from her mission and be taken care of by others. It is hard for her to feel like she is doing anything that matters right now. We continue to try to fill our days with good things, but it is still hard for her not to know what is next and not to feel good enough to make any decisions yet. She is definitely getting closer and I think once she is feeling 100% she will be able to make the decisions she needs to with the Lord's help. Then she can move forward feeling at peace.

Luckily for McKenzie she has a dad who is a psychologist, so working on helping her emotionally is something he is good at. Each week we (dad, mom and McKenzie) have a little meeting together to discuss what is happening with her physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. As I have said before, we set goals in each of these areas each week so she can see progress. This week her dad asked her to answer three questions in writing each day. This assignment helps her to think through things that are going on with her:)
One nice thing that happened this week is that McKenzie got the chance to go with her friend Katie Jensen Hall to California and stay with her family for a week. We thought a little rest, relaxation and fun in the sun could be helpful to her recovery. Katie and her family have been so good to take care of McKenzie while she has been there. Thanks so much Jensen family!!!

McKenzie and the Jensen family:)
We continue to see the Lord's hand in all our lives. We are grateful for all of you:)