Hey everyone…sadly this week brought my “awesome week every week” streak to an end. On Saturday my dear friend, Hermana Nora, passed away. To remind you all, Nora is the sweet blind lady in a wheelchair to whom I read the scriptures. It’s a really long story and I want to start from the beginning so here goes:
Last Friday Hermana Nora received some news that broke her heart. Literally broke her heart. Due to confidentiality I can’t share what happened…but it just amazes me how much trust people put in us missionaries. All I am is a 19-year-old girl but these people trust me with very personal information…it is humbling. Really makes me grow up and be more mature and responsible. Anyway, she received these news and she later said that when she did she felt her entire left side of her body go numb…a symptom of a heart attack.
On Wednesday Hermana Garcia and I were about to head over to a cita(appointment), but we were a little early and had some extra time so we decided to head over to Hermana Nora’s to read the scriptures with her because it had been a couple days since we last had. So we went over there and read just one chapter, Acts 7. We finished the chapter but for some reason (now obvious what that reason was) we felt like we should stay longer with her that night…so we skipped our cita and stayed with her longer. We sang her some of her favorite hymns, I sang her Be Still My Soul [I have linked David Archuleta singing this beautiful Christian hymn] in English because that’s one we don’t have in Spanish, and we also sang her mine and Hermana Peel’s arrangement to Creo in Cristo(I Believe in Christ) [Listen to it in English sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir] (if you all remember we sang this arrangement at a multizona and also at Lorenita’s baptism). She loves our arrangement to this hymn…we practiced it in her house while we were preparing for our multizona. She loved it so much she recorded us singing it and made it her ringtone. Anyway, we sang that for her and I’m so glad we did. That night as we were leaving she asked us if we would be able to take her to visit one of her menos activo friends the following day, to which we agreed. She said the closing prayer…and like always, her prayer was beautiful. Her prayers are so beautiful. I could listen to her pray all day long. I made it a goal earlier in my mission to ‘learn how to pray like Hermana Nora.’ Well I haven’t quite mastered it yet…anyway so she said the closing prayer and then we sat and talked for a couple more minutes and man I really wanted to ask her to pray one more time…but I remember thinking in my head ‘no that’s weird, we’ve already ended with a prayer. It’d be weird if I asked her to pray again.’ So I didn’t. But now I wish I had. Because that would have been the last time I heard her pray. Why don’t I listen to the promptings of the Spirit? I need to be better.
So on Thursday afternoon we went over to Nora’s to pick her up and take her to her friend’s house. We planned to share a little visiting teaching message with her friend, Margarita. On our way over there I took a selfie of all of us walking to Margarita’s house, picture attached. The last picture taken of Nora.
Friday morning Hermana Nora woke up and told her daughter that she had dreamt about her husband…(Nora’s husband unexpectedly passed away about 30 years ago). Then later that morning she had a heart attack. She told her daughter that she wasn’t well and to go tell her other daughter who lives down the street. And when her two daughters got back she was slumped in her wheelchair unconscious. They rushed her off to a hospital in Chicope, only 10 minutes away from where my trainer, Hermana Peel, now is (she’s in Chiclín). As soon as I found out what happened on Friday morning I called Hermana Peel and Hermana Peel went to the hosptial in Chicope to see Nora…she was only allowed to look through the window, she wasn’t allowed in the room. Nora was unconscious when Hermana Peel got there…we were biting our nails all day Friday waiting to get some news, any news, if she was getting better or worse or anything. We got the call at 2am Saturday morning. She passed away at 1am in the hospital in Trujillo (that afternoon they whisked her down to Trujillo, after Hermana Peel saw her in Chicope). I was sad. I am sad. I am happy that she’s with her husband now and she can finally see and walk again and now she knows what I look like but I’m still sad. She was one of my good friends here, I loved her. She is part of the reason I’ve been sent here to Pacasmayo.
I couldn’t sleep that night after we got the news…Hermana Garcia and I just held each other and cried. I am grateful to have a companion, someone to cry with. We only got about an hour of sleep that night.
Saturday was a hard day. I woke up and I just dreaded the day starting. I’ve never woken up feeling that way before. We studied that morning and then we headed over to Nora’s house…we sat there in her home for about 2 hours. I don’t really know what they do in the states when someone dies but here when someone dies they have kind of an open house, the casket, chairs set around, and friends and family pass by all day. So we did that and we were there for about two hours that morning. Hermana Garcia didn’t really want to proselyte that afternoon but we made ourselves do it…and we ended up having a fine afternoon, so I’m glad we went out but it was hard to get started. That night we had about an extra half hour and we were walking by the road where she lives when we heard people singing hymns. We headed over to Nora’s to find much of the branch there singing. It was sweet. So we stayed…and went inside…and the casket was open. I had never seen a dead body before (I feel so irreverent for calling her that…but what other word is there?)…she was my first. It made me feel sick. When in the hospital they gave her pain medicine, I don’t really know what it was, and it had an affect on her body…she was kind of swollen. It made my heart break. I don’t want to remember her that way. I have grown up so much on the mission…I only have 4 months out but I feel like a completely different person. This week made that obvious. Just this week I’ve grown up a whole lot. I’m not a kid anymore.
Sunday the branch held a devotional for her and her family. They asked me to sing the arrangement of Creo en Cristo that she loves so much…so I did. Carmen, one of my rescues, said the closing prayer, and Liliana, Lorena’s mom, gave one of the talks. It was cool to be sitting in there and see the fruit of my labor here in Pacasmayo…Nora, Liliana, Carmen. I thought it was a sweet way to see all the work that I’ve done here in this little town. Sad but sweet.
And well that’s been my week. Hope you guys all had a better one than I had. I’m doing fine, sad but fine. Love you all…count your blessings and your moments with your loved ones.
Love, Hermana Butikofer