I thank you Mom and Dad for the trust that you and President Stock have in me for my first decision, I hope you can trust me in all my decisions.
To start, about two months ago I found out that I have a sickness known as Colitis. It is not a rare condition, but you do need to take care of it. Well, that turned out to be just the problem, I didn't know how to. So, well, I tried my best. If something made me sick, I tried not to eat it again. I started sipping on water any time I had any pain (that surprising helps a lot). And so there we went, Elder Pack and I in the work of the Lord. But, one day I woke up--Sunday, January 6th, 2013-- and I could not support any weight on my foot. In fact, I feel back onto my bed. And there I stayed for the next month. I worked as valiantly as I could. I even went out to work a little with my makeshift boot that you recall. But, later received instructions that I was not to leave my bed. At all. And if I was not obedient I would have to get sent home. So, being scared to death, I stayed there.
But, the apostle was coming, remember? Could I go see him? (He is a doctor--feet can't be that different from a heart). So as the time got closer and closer, I well, sat and sat. We got a call the night before he would be coming telling me to take all of my stuff with me to Villahermosa the next day, for I would not be returning to Carmen. At that point, well, I didn't know what to think. We left less than 8 hours later and I did not get to show how grateful I was to the people that took such great care of me there. I hope I showed it enough at the time.
So, from there I had a nice trip to Villa. And we're skipping a lot of nonesense detail cause it really doesn't mean anything to you and we're skipping to where the story gets good. Just know, I had a hard time.
So, for two weeks I was bed ridden in Villahermosa. I did the best I could even though it wasn't that much. I had, at this point gone to 5 different doctors various times and they all realized something was very wrong with my foot and told me how stupid the last doctor was for suggesting whatever they had thought it was. Then, after I did whatever that doctor had said, well, that wasn't it either. So they all concluded that nothing was wrong with me and told me to rest just a little longer.
By this time I had rested for a whole month. 31 days in a bed. And I was not going to have any more of it. The doctors here clearly did not have any idea what was going on with my foot. It looked fairly normal, their ideas had failed, so I must just be making all this up. At this point, its better for me to just go home. I was losing my once in a lifetime chance at a mission by simply being in the mission. So what was the point. In fact, at this point I had already been told I was going home on two different occasions and had all my things ready. I agreed to all the rest (in my bed) so that I would have enough strength to get through the airport home. After talking to my parents and my Stake President, we all decided that it was for the best for me to go home. And that is where we left it.
So, one day, I was called to go to the offices--about two blocks away, but quite the feat for someone who was resting his foot to make it through the airport. But there we went. There I was waiting the whole morning thinking maybe this was the day I got to go home. But, it was not. 11 AM came and I was still waiting. In walked a man. I greeted him, since I had nothing else to do. After a while of talking he said he was there to see Elder Andrews. He quickly realized that this person was me. He said he didn't know why he was there though. Well, obviously I thought it was for my foot, so we sat down and had a look at it. He apparently was there for my other complications--we won't go into detail there though. You'd thank me. But, just from my foot he could tell what was wrong.
With my Colitis, I have higher levels of toxins running through my body. These toxins caused a seemingly rare type of arthritis named "gota" (I think) that had spread from my foot to my knee to my back to my other foot. Fun stuff, eh? So, he gave me a bunch of pain killers and told me to walk. I had to walk to get it better. Every step felt like walking on a kitchen knife. But, on we went. President took me aside and said that everything for my flight plans had already been worked out and that we were just waiting for approval from the Mission Department in Salt Lake. He said, given the situation, they were guaranteed to say yes, I would/should go home on a medical release. But, he also said that if I wanted--key here, if I wanted--that they would always give me another chance in the mission. I was determined not to stay in the bed. It is death. So I told President that if I stayed in the mission I needed to work that very day. That I wanted my own area. That I was not going back to my death bed.
But, he wouldn't accept my answer. He said, "Elder. Tonight, you are going to the temple. There, you will get your answer. I want you to call me after you get out and tell me what I need to do." From that moment, I gained a lot of respect for President Castañeda.
Little did I know that he would be at the temple. That he would be sitting beside me the whole time. That he would be helping me. But the thing is, in the exact moment that you would think he would talk to me and give me a great speech and tell me what I should do, you know what he did? He walked right out the door. So there I stayed, in the temple (practically alone since I obviously had a companion). In this moment I learned more than I ever could say. I am convinced that I will never be able to explain what I learned to the degree that it would have the impact on you that it did on me.
Just the night before I was wondering about what I needed to do when I went back home. I could not stand nor kneel, so I found myself praying while sitting on my bed--seemingly just talking to the wall. I asked if I needed to make some special pact to coem back to the mission because I had already accepted defeat. But it was not until the next day that I got my answer in the temple.
Covenants. Covenants are our pacts with God. Our promise if you will. Covenants, if looked for in the Topical Guide (in Spanish) is an oath between you and the Lord where the Lord sets the terms. Upon reading that I realized how mistaken I was. It wouldn't matter what pact I had "made" with the Lord because it would have been on MY terms. Simply what he was asking of me was to honor the covenants I had made with him already.
And so, that is what I am doing. I am now serving as a missionary in Barrio Mercedes in Las Mercedes--a city outlying from Villahermosa. I am serving under the direction of a great Bishop. His name is Bishop Chablé. Others might know him as Doctor Chablé--the doctor from the offices the day before I should have been sent home. He told President that if I chose to stay, he wanted me in HIS ward. Mother, know that I am in good hands and that we are working hard. I am not better. I can walk. And that is enough.
I love you all,
Elder Caleb O. Andrews
Missionary Work and the Atonement: