I am so sorry that you have been disappointed every time you've checked Dallin's blog for an update. I have no excuse other than we are still waiting for one. Our emails the past three weeks have all been about his health and what needs to happen. We have had the opportunity to Skype with Dallin a couple of times with his president's permission, and we even spoke with President Beckstrand at 4:00 am one morning to discuss Dallin's situation. This has all been a very interesting and a stressful process. When things in life go awry, it is fascinating to me the things that we learn about each other, and especially ourselves. This situation is new to me and Blaine. We have never had a child of ours 5,190 miles away from us when he has been sick. It is awful. Your mind fills with all sorts of thoughts, questions, and concerns. You go from wondering if it is leading into an emergency situation that could be life threatening, if it is something that will just pass with some extra rest, if all he needs is an antibiotic and a little reassurance, to wondering if sin is the cause of it, or if it is all in his head and he just needs to get back to work. Trust me, we have traveled down everyone of these roads during the past three weeks as we have tried to sort through all of this. At times, I am not going to lie, it has not been pretty. I would surmise that all involved have done one of three things: over-reacted, under-reacted, or not reacted at all. Here-in lies the human conundrum, and nothing really gets accomplished. All the while my son is still sick, continuing to lose weight, and we are no closer to a solution than we were three weeks ago. Throw in the socialized medicine aspect of Sweden and the problem only intensifies.
I will share with you what little I know at this point. First of all, Aldste Milne is still not well. He has lost over 20 pounds which does not look good on his already thin frame. Remember how we all thought he was gaining weight and his brothers even thought he was looking fat! Well, not anymore. He weighs the same as he did when he was a sophomore in high school. He has bloating in his lower abdominal cavity almost always, and he becomes very sick whenever he eats something, if he is able to eat at all. When we last Skyped with him he told us that all he had eaten the day before was a piece of chicken because that was all he could tolerate.
The next thing that I know is that his mission president is finally on board with Dallin's healing. Don't get me wrong, we love President Beckstrand, but he had to call Aldste Milne to repentance for not alerting him sooner of how far this had progressed. Dallin had been trying to deal with it on his own, and back and forth in emails to us. President Beckstrand is diligently contacting everyone he knows in the healthcare system there to speed up the process of having Dallin seen by a GI specialist. This is where it gets tricky... We are currently praying for a break through on that end.
Next, I know that if something doesn't happen soon then Aldste Milne will be given a medical release and he will be returning home as early as next week or sooner so he can receive the proper medical care in a timely matter. Because he is so close to finishing his mission this could likely be what happens.
Lastly, I also know that none of us want to see Aldste Milne's mission cut short, but this is where many differences of opinion lie. Some say he should just have enough faith and stay there even if it means he dies. Others say that the Lord expects us to remain prudent in our decision making and rely on the counsel of those who are with Dallin at this time as they and he are directed by the Lord. Those of you who know our family can probably guess who wants him to gut it out and not come home until the fat lady sings. I understand this person's reasoning.... We don't want our kids to quit anything that they have started - especially something they have looked forward to their entire lives. However, this attitude is not always the most prudent. I do not believe in giving a child an out when the going gets tough, but when that child has exhausted all of his resources and his health still continues to decline, then it is time to call off the dogs and let him come home to get the help that he needs if that is the only remaining solution.
Aldste Milne has served a faithful 22 months of his mission. It is in the Lord's hands how this plays out. I want to apologize to Dallin for the times when I wrongly judged the situation. I jumped to some pretty bold conclusions at times and this was not helpful at all. I have many weaknesses.... the Lord shows them to me everyday. As Dallin's mother I just want what is best for him. I will forever be grateful for the Lord sending him to me to raise despite how broken I am now and how broken I have been in the past. Dallin along with my other two sons have been incredible gifts to me. They have taught me so much and even healed my broken heart. Please continue to be patient with me as your mother Dallin. I have faith that all will be well, and we will all see you when we see you!
Please continue to pray for Aldste Milne and for all those involved with his care at this time. I do not feel that his life is in jeopardy, but I do believe that he needs to receive the medical care that he deserves, so whatever that takes is what I am praying for! I just want my son to be his happy, healthy self again. I don't believe this is asking too much!
I want to share with you an article that some of you may find interesting... It is by a New York Times columnist and author by the name of David Brooks. I will be referencing it in the book that I am co-authoring, which by the way will be finished by the end of September for sure! Anyhow, it talks about suffering and I thought in thinking of Dallin, we all could learn something from this:
What Suffering Does
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in a bunch of conversations in which the unspoken assumption was that the main goal of life is to maximize happiness. That’s normal. When people plan for the future, they often talk about all the good times and good experiences they hope to have. We live in a culture awash in talk about happiness. In one three-month period last year, more than 1,000 books were released on Amazon on that subject.
But notice this phenomenon. When people remember the past, they don’t only talk about happiness. It is often the ordeals that seem most significant. People shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering.
Now, of course, it should be said that there is nothing intrinsically ennobling about suffering. Just as failure is sometimes just failure (and not your path to becoming the next Steve Jobs) suffering is sometimes just destructive, to be exited as quickly as possible.
But some people are clearly ennobled by it. Think of the way Franklin Roosevelt came back deeper and more empathetic after being struck with polio. Often, physical or social suffering can give people an outsider’s perspective, an attuned awareness of what other outsiders are enduring.
But the big thing that suffering does is it takes you outside of precisely that logic that the happiness mentality encourages. Happiness wants you to think about maximizing your benefits. Difficulty and suffering sends you on a different course.
First, suffering drags you deeper into yourself. The theologian Paul Tillich wrote that people who endure suffering are taken beneath the routines of life and find they are not who they believed themselves to be. The agony involved in, say, composing a great piece of music or the grief of having lost a loved one smashes through what they thought was the bottom floor of their personality, revealing an area below, and then it smashes through that floor revealing another area.
Then, suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations, what they can control and cannot control. When people are thrust down into these deeper zones, they are forced to confront the fact they can’t determine what goes on there. Try as they might, they just can’t tell themselves to stop feeling pain, or to stop missing the one who has died or gone. And even when tranquillity begins to come back, or in those moments when grief eases, it is not clear where the relief comes from. The healing process, too, feels as though it’s part of some natural or divine process beyond individual control.
People in this circumstance often have the sense that they are swept up in some larger providence. Abraham Lincoln suffered through the pain of conducting a civil war, and he came out of that with the Second Inaugural. He emerged with this sense that there were deep currents of agony and redemption sweeping not just through him but through the nation as a whole, and that he was just an instrument for transcendent tasks.
It’s at this point that people in the midst of difficulty begin to feel a call. They are not masters of the situation, but neither are they helpless. They can’t determine the course of their pain, but they can participate in responding to it. They often feel an overwhelming moral responsibility to respond well to it. People who seek this proper rejoinder to ordeal sense that they are at a deeper level than the level of happiness and individual utility. They don’t say, “Well, I’m feeling a lot of pain over the loss of my child. I should try to balance my hedonic account by going to a lot of parties and whooping it up.”
The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. I don’t even mean that in a purely religious sense. It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred. Parents who’ve lost a child start foundations. Lincoln sacrificed himself for the Union. Prisoners in the concentration camp with psychologist Viktor Frankl rededicated themselves to living up to the hopes and expectations of their loved ones, even though those loved ones might themselves already be dead.