Making the Mistake of Assuming Status Quo
Change…It’s the story of human existence I suppose. When things are going at their absolute finest and life seems perfect, it’s best to expect that something that alters the course lies right around the corner.
Elder Bowman’s Challenge
As many of you know who have followed along with Bridger’s journey as a LDS missionary in Natal, Brazil, he had been thriving. His letters reflected a love for the gospel, his companions and the people of Brazil. He truly felt he’d found his calling. As he went forth out of the MTC, many exciting adventures lay ahead of him in the mission field.
But, as many of you also know, Bridger suffered from severe asthma attacks when he was a young teen. It turns out that in fact, he hasn’t outgrown it as doctors thought and that it was because we live in an environment like Alaska that he hasn’t had an attack in 4 years.
While in the MTC, a respiratory virus worked it’s way around the campus and Bridger caught it. Sau Paulo is quite polluted on top of this and he began to suffer symptoms of an asthma attack. He believed with an anti-biotic, rescue inhalers, and steroids we sent, he could manage it.
When he got to the mission field, his symptoms worsened dramatically. We received a desperate letter from him expressing fear that he was getting worse, the medication wasn’t working, and that doctors down there were mis-diagnosing him and providing improper treatment. We spent a frustrating week trying to get answers knowing that Bridger could easily worsen, and in fact die if this wasn’t taken care of.
So, the decision was made to bring him home for medical treatment.
When Things Change
When he stepped off the plane, he couldn’t finish a sentence without coughing and wheezing. He hadn’t been able to lay down to sleep for two weeks and it was obvious he was exhausted. Not only was he physically worn, but his spirit and emotions were heartbroken. He was devastated.
We started correct medical treatment and fortunately, over the course of a couple of weeks we’ve been able to get his asthma under control. We are still working on an intestinal companion he calls “Elder Wormy”, but hopefully that will work itself out too. (Pun intended).
Healing the spirit? That’s another story. Bridger has expressed to me several times that he left a part of his heart in Brazil and that it was his mission call. I agree. After putting so much energy, expense and effort to get him down there, it’s been tough on all of us. Fortunately, we are surrounded by loving family, friends, leaders and our LDS ward. They have been nothing but compassionate, loving and supportive.
After some back and forth between Salt Lake City and our Stake President, our concerns for how his medical treatment was handled were addressed. And Bridger is re-assigned to return to the mission field in cool, coastal Everett, Washington October 24. He is working on wrapping his mind and heart around this new calling. Not as easy as one would think when you’ve left it all on the table in Brazil.
But whatever comes from all of this, I’m sure he’ll learn the lessons he needs to. Hopefully, I’ll learn mine too. I’m proud of him and will love him no matter what. He is a true missionary, and it’s up to him to figure out what his next mission is.