This past week we had a near tragedy in our mission. We have certainly seen the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father in sparing the lives of two of our missionaries.
Last Thursday morning, November 11, two of our Elders were sent to the emergency room by ambulance with carbon monoxide poisoning. They spent that day in and out of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and were released late that night to go home. One Elder is doing fine but the other has been in and out of the hospital for more hyperbaric chamber treatments due to dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and elevated carboxyhemoglobin levels. It may take months before he could possibly be feeling better and also to know if there will be other symptoms as a result of the poisoning.
The Elders are living in the basement of a member's home where a water boiler is located. The exhaust pipe broke loose and was leaking carbon monoxide. Wednesday afternoon, while the missionaries were gone, the carbon monoxide alarm went off. The batteries were removed and replaced. The monitor began to beep again. The person living in the home took it outside where it stopped. Upon coming back in the house it continued to beep. She determined that it must be faulty and put it on the counter with intentions to replace it.
Wednesday night the Elders were in bed by 10:00 p.m. One of the Elders got up to use the bathroom at about 4:00 a.m. He was extremely dizzy and while trying to go back to bed ran into a wall and collapsed. The sound awakened his companion who got up to help but started vomiting and also collapsed on the bathroom floor. Both Elders managed to get back to bed thinking that they had the flu.
About 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning the owner of the house went to the basement to exercise. After about 10 minutes on the elliptical he went up stairs and told his wife that he must be getting sick because he had no energy and was feeling weak. His wife asked him if he heard the missionaries up while he was downstairs. Ordinarily they could hear the shower going and on this morning they heard nothing. He went down to check on them. They were still in bed. He had a hard time arousing them. They realized at that time that something was wrong. They managed to get the missionaries up the stairs, where they collapsed again. They immediately called the paramedics and the Elders were taken to the hospital.
One Elder had a carboxyhemaglobin level of 11.8% in his bloodstream (normal is 0-4% depending on air quality). The other had 26% level of carboxyhemoglobin. The fire department began to measure the carbon monoxide in the house and because of the level of the measurement, determined they needed to "suit up" before they could even be in the house. The upstairs measured 100 ppm and the basement could not even be measured because it was higher than 1000 ppm. Ordinarily any level between 150-400 can be fatal. The doctors have told us that if either one of the Elders had been in the room for another 4 or 5 minutes they would not have been alive. The fact that they are alive today is an absolute miracle.
As we look back over the events that have taken place the past week we know these two Elders have been blessed and their lives have been spared by our Heavenly Father. One Elder is still struggling with symptoms but is able to move around and to communicate. We are so thankful for tender mercies.
Where did the past six weeks go? It is transfer time again. Transfers are always exciting. There are some missionaries that go south from the north, some that go north from the south, some that stay where they were and some that move across town. It is a time to see old friends, meet new companions, learn about new areas, work with new members, find new investigators and set new goals.
We are always happy to welcome new missionaries to the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission. We love greeting them at the airport. They are so excited, have so many questions, are nervous, tired, hungry, and are ready to hit the ground running! After a full day of orientation, they spend the evening with a companionship of Elders, go to dinner at a member's home and have the opportunity to teach investigators. The next morning they meet their new companions, find out where they will be serving and are off, ready to go to work!
Elder Cooper is the only missionary being released this transfer. We wish him the best as he returns home and starts on a new adventure! Elder Tullis has been serving in the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission for seven months as a visa waiter. He was in the process of being reassigned to this mission when we received a call that his visa had come through. We wish him well as he begins his service in the West Indies.
Not too long ago Elder Childs was asked to present a fireside in the stake where he was serving. The fireside was wonderful. He told his conversion story through music and talking. In the following paragraph he shares, in a tiny nutshell, his introduction to the church.
"I moved to Indiana at age 11; that is where I was introduced to the church through the scouting program. I grew close to the young men and as time went by I was encouraged to meet with the missionaries. After about a year or so I was was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. I owe a lot to the friends that never pushed the gospel, but they lived it where great examples to me. Now I am serving the Lord as a mission to bring the same joy and happiness, that I received when I joined the church, to others."
We have just started our second round of leadership training. The training comes from "Fundamentals From Preach My Gospel; Teaching More Effectively." The purpose is to teach the missionaries to become better teachers. It is the foundation for what they must come to know, feel, and do to teach the gospel effectively. The lessons are powerful and very effective.
Our last go-round was for the Zone and District Leaders. This time we have invited all missionaries to participate. The training includes instructing and a lot of role playing. This is where one companionship plays the role of the investigators and the other companionship teaches the lesson. They then evaluate how they did and practice again. This is a great way to learn and to gain confidence.
Already we have heard from some of the missionaries that by applying the principles that they are learning they are having great success and experiencing miracles.