I shouldn't be here.
There is no reason I should be here.
I should still be in chemotherapy.
At least, that's what the doctor told me a year ago yesterday.
But the Lord wanted me to be here. And I wanted me to be here.
So here I am. Still in Ashburn, healthy as a horse, and training.
It was a year ago today when I started filling out my medical work for my mission papers. Everything was going really well. I passed the physical, the TB test and the urine test all with flying colors. I was just waiting for my blood test to come back. It finally came back, indicating that I was very mildly anemic, but that it was nothing serious. My papers were signed, I was sent to another blood test, and I went home.
The next day, I received a phone call summoning me back to the doctor's office. I was instructed to bring my papers. It sounded urgent. I arrived just as my test results were being pulled up on the display. This test was much more specific, and the results were much worse. After a third blood test, I was back in the same place, papers folded and hidden in my back pocket, my heart pounding ferociously as my doctor explained the situation. I was severely and unexplainably anemic. My iron was completely depleted and my ferretin was at 1/15 what it was supposed to be. And we had no explanation why. I was told that I should have spent a month bedridden already. I shouldn't even have been standing.
The timing was particularly bad, because I was leaving in four days for my freshman year of college. I didn't have time to go through some huge medical investigation. So, we made time. I suppose it could be a blessing in disguise. I got to spend lots of time in waiting rooms with my mom... haha.
Finally, I was called in for another checkup. Upon close examination, a large, chain of swollen lymph nodes was discovered lining the inside of my right thigh. The doctor instructed me to follow his hand down my thigh as he examined it, and it felt like a small toy train set had been surgically implanted in my leg. The color drained from the doctors face and he told me that for that many lymphs to be that swollen, we probably weren't talking good news.
Thus, I was sent to six more blood tests as my mom called my dad to let him know what was happening. I sat waiting for my name to be called with the suggested diagnosis prancing around my mind: Stage 4 Leukemia. The doctor said he couldn't think of anything else it could be. That meant no school and no mission. At least not for two or three years until I was in remission.
After getting my blood drawn I went outside to meet up with my mom, praying for courage to help her stay strong. As I walked there, the word "leukemia" was completely flushed from my mind. Instead, it was filled with other words; words from my patriarchal blessing. Words that spoke of my mission, my future wife, family, even some details of my future life in general. Then came words that were not from my blessing. They came as distinctively as they could without being audible: "Matthew. I hear you. I am aware of you, and I will fulfill my promises to you. You have much more to do in this life."
That afternoon, my parents and I were found at the Hilton home receiving a blessing. As my father prepared to seal the anointing, he prepared in his mind things he thought he felt the spirit whispering to him: blessings of competent doctors, and quick cures to this serious illness I had. Instead, the moment he laid his hands on my head, he said other words. These words I recognized, for they were the same words I had heard that afternoon. Almost word for word, my earthly father relayed the same message from my heavenly father: that He was aware of me, that He would fulfil His promises to me, and that I had more to do here on earth.
I went home and continued packing my room.
Monday I was scheduled for a biopsy, to go in and have part of a lymph removed for closer examination.
Sunday, we sang "Where Can I Turn For Peace" in church. The Hodgson family must have been a sorry sight...
As I went in for the biopsy, the surgeon examined the lymphs to become more familiar with the situation prior. Their size had gone down significantly, and he told me to go home and not worry because it was likely something else. Later that afternoon, it was identified as a parasite, and three months later when I was home for Christmas break, I had more blood tests done, all indicating perfect levels of iron.
What happened? I don't know exactly, but I testify that the Priesthood and the Hand of God both preserved me so I could be here. Now, a year later, I'm here, three and a half months into a mission where I love the people and they show the respect to help with the work here.
Last Thursday was transfers, and Tuesday night, a few of us were gathered together after prossing as we eagerly awaited the transfer calls. Suddenly the phone rang, and Elder R grabbed it, expecting the Zone Leaders. It was President Riggs. It took us a moment to realize that he wasn't the one who gave transfer calls. After Elder R answered it, Pres asked to speak with me. "Oh, crap." I thought. "Who died?"
He asked me to grab my scriptures, which made me worry more (and wonder which verses of consolation he would select). Then I turned to alma 37:14&47. I read as Alma entrusted his son Helaman with the plates, which he referred to as "sacred things," with a charge to keep them sacred. He then asked me if I would train an incoming missionary.
So, here I am, just finished training and now turning around to train again. It's very humbling, but Elder C is great, and he learns fast, then turns around and teaches me a lot in exchange!
President Riggs also implemented a new finding plan. We went to our bishops last week and asked them to prayerfully select 10 families for us to visit on a weekly basis. We visit them for about 15 minutes, and ask them if they have received any revelation regarding missionary work. We don't ask for referrals, we don't stay long, we just ask for revelation. President Riggs promised blessings for faithfulness, but said they likely wouldn't come for the first 3 weeks or so. But we're already seeing them.
The work is great. No unhallowed hand can stop it, and I doubt any hallowed hands will want to.
I love it out here and hope you all are well.