Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Message to the World

Many years ago, probably around 1998, I was at BYU.  Well, not entirely.  I was living by BYU.  It was the 2nd time I had attempted to finish my degree at the University (I was almost a senior), but due to my strange on and off again health issues, I had to dis-enroll myself AGAIN.  I remember spending several weeks in my room confined to my bed.  It was depressing that I didn't even have strength to hold up a book.  I refused to waste away my life watching TV.  When I had enough strength, I would read.

When it was time to eat, I would crawl, walk slowly, scoot down the stairs on my behind etc. to make it to the kitchen, I would fix something quick to eat and then I'd crawl back up the stairs and then suffer with pain for the next several hours while the food made its way through my intestines.  I had been sick for SO long.  My roommates at the time were absolutely amazing.  Never once did I feel judgment from any of them.  They were always trying to cheer me up through jokes, laughter and sometimes they'd even come to read me stories.  I remember how my one roommate, Audrey, came into my room one day with a pile of children's books.  "What are you doing?" I scolded her.  She replied, "I'm reading YOU some stories."  She put her book pile down on the floor, she sat next to them and she began reading to me as if I was the child and she was the mother.  It was a little silly, but the loving act of charity brought tears to my eyes.  I cried as I listened.  It had been SO VERY long since I'd been well. 

Looking back at that time, as I am trying to recreate it for you it was as if I was living in a dream.  I was there, but I wasn't really there.  I was sick, but I wasn't really experiencing it... I was being led and I was being sustained....it really does feel like a dream, that it didn't really happen.  It seems like such a short time that I experienced the trials, but yet it was several years of health struggles.

During my time, living in the condo, just east of Liberty Square, my friends would occasionally go on group activities.  One activity was especially hard for me.  The group was going hiking/repelling down in Moab several hours away and would be gone a couple days.  I really wanted to go.  My heart ached that I didn't have the strength to walk let alone go hiking with everyone.  Due to his concern for me, my wonderful bishop at the time (I can't recall his name) came over to the apartment to give me a priesthood blessing.  For those of you who are not members of the same church I belong to, I'll explain...

We believe that the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood was restored to the earth and has been passed down from one priesthood holder to the next until received by the current leaders of the church.  The bishop is someone that is called to serve over what we call a "ward" or a "branch" (a branch if it's a smaller group of people).  Due to BYU being a church school, one block with 6 apartment buildings on it (like Liberty Square) has probably 3 different wards.  The bishop's job is to officiate over the members of his ward- to look after them.  He sacrifices a lot of time for his church members and isn't paid for what he does.

So, the bishop came over to give me a blessing.  A blessing is supposed to be given by placing both of the hands on the recipients head and the individual giving the blessing says a prayer and listens for guidance from the Holy Spirit that conveys the message that God (the Father) wants to say to his "child".  I remember being very apathetic at the time.  I wanted to be well, but it had been so long, the prayer that I said in my heart before receiving the blessing was "Please God, help me begin to have the DESIRE to be well"...it had been so, very long since I'd been well.  I closed my eyes and listened as the Bishop of our ward gave one of "his flock", that he was caring for, a blessing.

I don't remember all that the bishop told me, but I do remember two things...

1) He told me to study the Word of Wisdom
2) He told me that the things I learned I would one day "Share my Message to the World".

You'd think that I'd be excited about the blessing right?  Well, wrong.  I was irritated and apathetic.  I reluctantly shook the bishop's hand, hardly able to look him in the eye and I politely thanked him.  My heart was swelling with pain, and my eyes nearly filling with tears as the friends who were in the room left on their trip, the bishop went with them and the door was shut.  My life seemed so worthless and empty.  I slowly crawled back up the stairs...I didn't even want to hear music when back in my room.  I just wanted the stillness.  "Study the Word of Wisdom" I thought..."yeah right!"  I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't drink tea or coffee...what more is there?  (Little did I know then what I know now)

Without movement, without sound, without a lot of light in the room, I was left with the pain.  My intestinal lining was beginning to exit my body.  It looked like long strips of chicken skin.  My Mom had told me about a relative of mine (who I now know has Celiac Disease) had most of her intestines removed.  Was I headed on that same course?  (I hadn't yet gone on a gluten-free diet)

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  I sat in a small room with some Maori women in New Zealand.  I had originally gone to New Zealand with the internet of sharing essential oils with them, but here I was teaching a class about "The Nourishing Traditions of the Maori".  I was incorporating into it "My Story".  

I was introduced to a lady that was attending the class.  Her name was Rosita. It sounds like a Hispanic name, but she was apparently Maori.  Before the class began, Rosita and the woman who invited me to give the class were laughing.  Intuitively I knew it had something to do with me, so because of the good relationship I had with the owner of the establishment, I asked them what they were laughing at.  Rosita, who was still laughing (almost to the point of having tears in her eyes) responded, "We just think that it is absolutely hilarious that a "white girl" is coming to teach "us" the "Maori" about our culture.  They went on to joke back and forth and laugh as I watched in amusement.  It was pretty funny if you think about it and I also know how proud the Maori are of their culture.  My response…  When the women stopped laughing I was able to respond.  I said "think of it as I'm coming to tell you thank you".  What? (That grabbed their attention).  I went on to explain about various health issues I'd been through and about how reading about the Maori culture in the 1900's in particular helped me to reverse the health issues I'd been experiencing.  This was all they needed to hear.  The laughing stopped and the curiosity and learning began.
At the end of my class one of the women said "we need to share your story with everyone".  They said they wish they'd had more time to get more people together.  I smiled inside at this.  The Maori reminded me that 2 months’ notice is not enough time to prepare.  I will need to give everyone 6 -12 month’s prior notice next time :)

When I ended the PowerPoint presentation, the woman who introduced me to everyone gave me a wink, and a slight nod.  I could see the pride in her eyes.  I felt like a child in front of a group of adults giving her first oral report.  I'm such a baby when it comes to being an international speaker. 

I thanked my wonderful little audience and kissed my hand and then gestured it to them.  They nodded back the gesture of appreciation.  The room felt full of light.  It was incredible and hard to describe, but I knew it was the tiny start of something wonderful.

We then had a little bit of a Q&A before leaving.  It felt really good.  I was starting "My Story to the World" in the exact same place that Dr. Weston Price described as "The Healthiest Culture in the World".  The Maori were the most beautiful.  They aren't any more.  But perhaps, just maybe, my story can stop the degeneration and one day, just maybe, the Maori will one day be like they once were - free of any physical deformities, mentally, physically, or emotionally - and I assume spiritually as well.

I pray that one day the chief in New Zealand will call out to "his tribe" and do the same dance that he did anciently.  I pray that one day the members of "his tribe" will follow his movement, follow his dance and song as they begin their day just as they did so very long ago.

I pray that I can start me day the same way as they did.  With health and vitality - and with joy!

With much love,


Steffanie

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