Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Take my heart and seal it.

I leaned forward, pressing enough weight to zip the remaining inches of my full suitcase. I stepped back, sighing, as I embraced this reality. Two suitcases shut tight, one bulging backpack, and a nervous heart pounding inside. The next 18 months of my life was now packaged up. 

I curled my toes over the tough cold carpet. My feet were numb. My hands clamy. My head spinning. This was it. I sighed again. 

My reflection in the mirror stared back at me. I peered into those eyes, my eyes. I breathed heavily, as I realized, this was the last time I would be called Emily, before I took on my new identity, Hermana Lewis. I blinked furiously to stop the tears from falling. 

I'm awake. I lose sight of my reflection in the fogged window pane as I breathed heavily in the cold air. I reached over to my mom's shoulder and left my hand there. Why did I have to do this? Actually, I didn't, I reminded myself, but rather I choose to, I knew I was to be obedient. I thought this was suppose to be the happiest moment of my life? 

"Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home"

The bustling airport commotion distracted me completely from my worried heart. This was the moment that I had been avoiding, departing from the embrace of that last final hug. I ignored the lingering stares of travelers as my eyes flooded with tears. 

I whispered my love and goodbyes as I found my place in the growing security line. Before I turned the corner to find my gate, I glanced behind me, to see the two most important people in my life, the two figures of love, support and care. The two that have truly cared through attention, hours spent in my behalf, money in my direction, and a lifestyle in the teachings of Jesus Christ. They taught me somewhat in all of their learning, because they love me. My heart was ripping and pounding louder than the thoughts in my head.  Through it all, I felt a healing seal my heart. 
'Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above' 
I was in God's path, so I stepped forward. One foot after the other. 

7 months later. Location: Neuquén, Argentina

The sun sneaked in through the wooden slats covering the window. Eyes open, back flat, sheets tossed to one side. I was becoming conscious enough of the inevitable back pain from the ancient dirty mattresses that we were forced to sleep on. I wondered if the floor was more comfortable.  I waited in peace before the phone alarm ring tone would make its mark and start our day. Yippee, another day in this country I grumbled so unwillingly in my head.

I flopped out of bed. Glancing over my shoulder to see my companion do the same. I knelt down, and prayed. I did not want to be there. But I pretended that I did. I was a robot, passing through the normal morning routine. Prayer. Exercise. Showers and breakfast, and studies. It was normal, every day was new, but the same. As soon as it was 11:00 am, I smiled in my heart, it was time I could be alone again for that last hour before we went and talked with the world.

"Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Jesus sought me when a stranger"

I clenched my Spanish Book of Mormon, walked to my bed, and sat down. I read. And read some more. I had read the Book of Mormon over ten times in English, yet, now I was reading lines and words and characters that I did not understand. I did not love this book. It wasn't my book yet.

I slammed it shut. My heart's frustration began leaking through my eyes. I let my head fall back on my pillow. I looked at my watch. It was 11:23 am. But what I really saw was a time clock telling me 11 more months as a missionary.

My vision blurred and the tears streamed down my face, soaking my pillow. I looked up at the wall. Perfectly hung by scotch tape on all four corners was a painting of Joseph Smith's first vision ripped out of the latest Ensign. Time stop. In this instant I knew everything was true. Yes, even the book that I held in my hands that I didn't understand. God taught me something. Actually, He let me feel His love that morning and a reminder to His daughter in the small town in the middle of Argentina that He was aware of her needs. That was my life changing morning.

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to theeProne to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I loveHere's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above"


  1. Awesome! What a great writer you are. Loved every word.

  2. What a great Personal Essay! I like the way you describe the setting in which you mentioned the country (Argentina) and the historical moment in time (your mission). It helped me to locate and set the mood for the story!