Stories in this episode: Laric breezes through sleep deprivation games on the Netflix show "Awake," but the final results leave him wondering if God cares about what matters most to him; A lost set of scriptures devastates Mark, but how they come back to him years later is nothing short of a miracle; David struggles to adjust to his mission in the Philippines until losing a contact lens in the mud helps him gain a new perspective.
This episode is sponsored by Gospel Day by Day
Check out pictures of Laric, Mark, and David at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. you can also see a picture of the heart necklace and KaRyn's bangs!
Welcome to This Is The Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host KaRyn Lay. If you were to ask my husband Justin, what my biggest quirk is, he will easily tell you that it's the fact that I lose everything all the time. Our morning routine inevitably includes him calling my phone three or four times to help me find where I've stashed it in the 30 minutes between waking up and getting dressed. It shouldn't be that hard. Our house is not big by any stretch of the imagination. And still, I lose my phone daily. I find it under a pile of clothing or in the pantry on the shelf next to a jar of pickles. Don't worry, I don't eat pickles for breakfast– usually. Sometimes it's right in the pocket of the pants that I'm literally wearing. Losing things is just part of who I am, in fact, is such a part of me that after two years of living in Korea, I finished out my time in the Seoul military branch by giving a talk in which I cataloged all the things I'd lost while living there. Mostly things I left on buses or in taxis: a computer, an iPod, a hard drive with every poem I'd ever written on it. Books, glasses, a couple of wallets, at least two journals, countless pens, pencils, bobby pins, and papers and most devastatingly my well-worn mission scriptures. Usually, I lose small things, but sometimes every once in a while I lose very big things.
When I was in college, I borrowed a friend's truck so I could haul something around the streets of Philadelphia and I honestly can't remember what, but I planned to return it to him in the morning. So as a poor college student, I opted to park it on the street where it wasn't going to cost me anything. And if you've ever been to Philly, then you know that parking in that city is a hot mess, a nightmare with loads and loads of special zones and one-way streets and half cock signage that doesn't actually tell you where you can and can't park. So I did my best to read the signs and after driving in circles, I finally parallel parked on a side street near the corner that seemed safe-ish, and I called it a night. When I woke up in the morning and headed back to that same spot to take the truck to my friend's apartment, it wasn't where I left it. I mean, it wasn't where I thought I left it. I walked around six city blocks convinced that I just couldn't remember where I'd parked. But after the final go-round, it became absolutely clear that the truck just wasn't there anymore. I had lost a truck. So I girded up my loins, I found a payphone and I called my friend to confess. I mean, it really wasn't outside the scope of reality that I could lose something like this. I lost things all the time. So through tears, I explained that I didn't know where his truck was, at which point to my deep surprise, my friend started to laugh. He then made his own confession. He had hopped on his bike and written through the streets near where he thought I might have parked it, located his truck and used his spare set of keys to take it back to his apartment. I will never forget the panic that I felt of believing that I'd lost something of someone else's. And then the sense of relief and anger that flooded me when I realized that I hadn't actually lost it. The real miracle in that story is that this guy and I remained friends. Now, in the years since that traumatic event, I admit that I've become almost cavalier in my attitude about losing things. I still have that sinking feeling when I realized something I care about is gone. But I am so much quicker to move right into my mantra that things are just things. For better for worse, I have reconciled myself to being, well, a loser of things.
So today, we have three stories about losing stuff, and finding stuff, from three people who lost something they needed, wanted, or hoped for. In some cases, they found the thing again, but in all the cases their experience helps them to see themselves and their connection to God more clearly. Our first story comes from a Laric who had the chance of a lifetime when he found himself competing on a game show just minutes away from winning a million dollars. Here's Laric:
So I have wanted to be on a game show ever since I was a little kid. I grew up loving to watch Temple of Doom and all those Nickelodeon game shows and just was always interested in going on one. It just looked like a lot of fun to me. I don't know. I mean, even watching the little kid shows the prizes were just toys and things like that. But I just, I just wanted to go and compete. It wasn't even necessarily about what you could win. It was just wanting to do those cool tasks and challenges that you couldn't do anywhere else. So this desire to be on a game show kind of stems with my oldest sister. We have both loved the idea of going on game shows.
And so we both started to apply for certain ones, not every one, just ones that we thought we'd be good at. I'd just google every few months new game shows. And if I think it looks interesting or that I'd be good at it, that's when I apply for it. I applied for a show called The Wall, which I was interesting because I applied with my friend. So he made it on but I didn't get to go with him. So after I applied for The Wall and didn't get on that one, my next show was Awake. And this one popped out at me because all it said was it was a sleep deprivation game. And I'm like, Well, I work 48-hour shifts and 72-hour shifts all the time as a firefighter, where I get little to no sleep frequently. So I figured that that would be a great game for me, even though I have no idea what anything else is. Because it's a brand new game show that just says sleep deprivation. I figured I could do that one.
And then they said I was picked to go on the competition. It all happened really fast. It was just a couple, I think it was like two months that it all happened. And they said I'd be filming in Los Angeles within the next month. You know, called me set up my airport that I was supposed to go to and flew me out to Los Angeles. So I knew I wanted to get a good amount of sleep. So I tried to go to bed early because I was going to be up for at least the next 24 hours. But it was a little hard going to sleep though. But once we woke up, I had breakfast and they loaded us up in a couple of vans and drove us to the location where the show would be taped. So all I knew about this show before I went was that it was going to be a sleep deprivation game. I had no idea what the money prize was. I had no idea what we were going to be doing to stay awake for 24 hours or if we were going to be playing games. I just had no idea what was going to happen. It was hard because I usually like to prepare and I had no way to prepare, because I had no idea what was to come.
Finally, it comes time and the director comes in or the producer and says, "Okay, I'm going to hand you this paperwork. It's going to explain the game and how it works and all the rules. Once I hand you the paperwork, you're not allowed to talk to each other. Once we've all finished reading it, and you guys sign this paper that say, you understand we will begin the game." And that's when I learned that we're going to be counting quarters for the next 24 hours. And I just like, gasped out loud, like, That's insane. Counting quarters for 24 hours who, who decided to do that? And then afterward, there was the sleep deprivation challenges that we had to perform. And that's when I learned that you could win a million dollars if you counted so accurately and made it to the end of the game. And I was just like, "Yes! I'm doing it. I'm winning a million dollars. This is happening." I am ecstatic. So I'm kind of freaking out. So after we finished reading the contract and found out the money amount and the rules, they immediately got us up and we walked into the room where the game show would start. And so it was within, like, 10 minutes that we read the contract and began the game. I was, well, at least me, I was in frantic mode. And I wasn't thinking I was just counting. While we were counting, there were no clocks anywhere. There was no way to tell how long we'd been counting. And so your mind starts to wander and you start to get a little tired and delirious and, like, legitimately, we were counting for 24 hours and I never actually stopped and took a break, besides the bathroom break. 30 minutes into the show, I decided there's no way I could go for a million dollars. There's no way I'd be right because to get a million dollars at the end, you have to be within $25 of your count. So what you turn in and what you actually counted has to be within $25 I was like, "Okay, I know that I'm missing some quarters." And I thought, maybe I need to just add a certain amount, like 250 or whatever amount of dollars just to account for what I have probably missed. Last second, I thought, "No, Leric, you should just trust yourself, you probably didn't miss that much. Just write what you actually think you counted instead of adding to it." And so that's what I did. Which would come to be my demise later. So the time ran out, and they take our quarters away in these huge were wheelbarrows, which they've taken away multiple times. So we filled up those wheelbarrows a couple of times. So we gave our number to the directors and then we were moved to a different location of the IKEA, and we started a different portion of the game. And this portion of the game was a competition type of thing where we do tasks that are difficult to do while you are sleep deprived. But first, before we start those tasks we are brought up to the stage and all of the sudden, you know, we moved from this warehouse to this really elaborate well-done stage with audience members that were there. And it was just, it was a lot of fun and a really cool atmosphere. But we all get brought up to this stage, we meet the host. And immediately after we're introduced, two of us get kicked off the show.
The person that counted the least gets kicked off, and the person that counted the most inaccurately gets kicked off. After those two get kicked off, we were explained the first game, and the first game is drinking a huge slushy for, I can't remember the time limit but for a certain amount of time, and whoever drinks the most wins. So we play this game and we all play next to each other but we all have dividers up so we can't see how each other did I was drinking it so fast that I never got a brain freeze because it never you get a brain freeze from it touching the roof of your mouth. Well, I never touch the roof of my mouth and was straight down my throat. So I got a chest freeze, and it like right in my heart. And it was the worst chest pain I've ever felt in my life it was very painful. And there's this lady in the audience screaming to me, she goes, "you're not gonna die, you're not gonna die." And I remember thinking like, "you're right, I'm not gonna die. It's just pain." So I kept going and drank it as fast as I could. So that was a lot of fun. So after that was done, we all get brought up, they announced that I won. So I was moved on to the next portion automatically. So the next challenge is the one that made me the most nervous, and it was a sewing challenge. Obviously, when you're sleep-deprived, that precision is hard and your hands tremble and it's hard to really focus on small objects. I was really nervous about this one, because I'm not good at those precision skills anyways, and I'm sleep deprived. But again, so we start that, that competition, and we can't see each other so no one knows how each other is doing. But anyways, same concept we're all brought up after that game is done. And they announce who won, which duh-du-du-duh it was me again. So then I moved on to the next challenge along with two other competitors. So there's just three of us left, and this one was a money catching challenge. And this one I was the most confident on because, you know, I was a receiver in high school football and I have good hand-eye coordination. So I was really excited about this one. So I went and immediately started and once I popped that first balloon, I knew it was much harder than I thought because it was very difficult catching this money. This is the first time I really felt the effects of being sleep deprived. Because I just could not focus on this money falling, I just couldn't find it in the air and keep track of it and catch it with my hands. I had a really hard time finding it. And then we're brought up on stage again, to announce the winner. And this time, to my surprise, I won again, which was awesome for me. So now I automatically get to go to the final two. But then, sadly, I was up against the one person I didn't want to be up against, which was just very disheartening to me. And the last challenge wasn't necessarily a challenge. It was this is where the counting came into play. So between the two of us, whoever counted the most accurately, it wasn't the most it was whoever kind of most accurately was the one who got to move on. And we were offered a buyout and this one was a $10,000 buyout. And that was a little tempting for me, I wanted that $10,000. I didn't want to up against this guy, because I thought that he had counted better than me. But I was on such a winning streak that I kind of took it as a sign that no you should keep going, you know when the countdown started, we get 10 seconds to take the buyout. Nobody took the buyout and I said, I shook his hand and I said, "Dude, I know you beat me." And sure enough, he beat me and he got to move on to the final rounds where I went home with nothing. In that moment, I was still kind of on a high with the whole show. I felt okay, I wasn't that bummed. You know, I said the typical saying that. People say, "Oh, I came here with nothing. I can go home with nothing." It's no big deal. So it didn't really bother me. 'Til I got back to the hotel, I had about eight hours of sleep. After I woke up, that's when it really hit me of what I had done. Not only did I not win as much as I thought I would, I didn't win anything. I could have taken $10,000. And that's when it really hit me, where I regret started coming in, I started to feel sick to my stomach about what I did. I was confused about why I didn't win, you know because I felt like I could have and should have and all types of things were going through my head. I was really hoping to win a large amount of money because I work 48-hour shifts already as a firefighter. And a lot of times I have to pick up overtime shifts and I work 72-hour shifts so that that's a long time away from home, you know because we sleep at the station and were away from our family the whole time. And so I wanted to win this money to just be able to handle our bills easier and not have to work overtime anymore. Like so that means I could stay at home with my kids a lot more, be around my family a lot more, maybe do some fun side projects, things like that. So I just really wanted to get over the need of doing any overtime. And that was like my main goal. I was following all the steps before the competition. The night before I was praying that I would do well. I even watched General Conference talks just to try to help me out and get me in a spiritual mood where maybe I could be taking cues from the Spirit during the show. And so when I lost and didn't come home with anything, it was really hard for me. I had a really hard time understanding why Heavenly Father didn't want to help me out in this matter when I had asked for help, and where I thought that I deserved it. And I had good reasons for wanting this money, you know because it would allow me to spend more time with my family. The next few months were actually pretty, they were just hard for me I had a lot of sleepless nights. Not only did I wonder why Heavenly Father didn't help me with it. I played the what-if game and What if I had done this, What if I counted differently? And just all these things were going through my head? What's interesting is I was going through the feelings of disappointment and not understanding why my prayers weren't answered. And why wouldn't Heavenly Father want me to be able to spend more time with my family and, and I am active in the church and I fulfill my calling, why wouldn't I get this blessing? At the time I was teaching Sunday school, and we ended up having this lesson about eternal matters. And in that lesson, it talks about how Heavenly Father concerns himself only with eternal matters. That includes our happiness but, but basically the steps that we're taking for salvation and growing closer towards him, and things like that. And it wasn't until then that it kind of finally dawned on me. And I finally let go of all of those bad feelings that I was having because I realized this Show and that money is just an earthly matter. I have everything I need. I even have most of what I want. I work hard for what I get. But at the end of the day, Heavenly Father just doesn't care if I win a game show or not, you know, just like any other thing. He doesn't care who wins the Super Bowl, or who won this championship, or who won that; He's got no skin in that game because it's not an eternal matter. And so I realized that I already have the blessings that I was basically asking for, that he's already given me these blessings. And maybe I just wasn't recognizing them at the time. I wanted to spend more time with my family with that money. But Heavenly Father always helps us find the time that we have and make the time more meaningful. Heavenly Father's going to take care of us. And it doesn't mean He's not going to put us through trials or things that are difficult. But He's going to give us a way to overcome those trials which I look at this as a trial and it was a trial of my faith, but He always gives us a way to overcome those trials and to come out even better than before.
That was Leric. You can watch Leric's episode of the show Awake on Netflix, which is where my family and I first thought, in my line of work, you get pretty good at spotting someone who might be a member of the Church in various settings. And when my family was watching the show, and Leric said, "O m g, oh my goodness." I turned to my husband Justin. I said, "I bet he's a Latter-day Saint." Well, I reached out to Leric through good old Facebook and the rest is history. I am so glad that we were able to have him tell this story. Our next story of Lost and Found comes from Mark who lost something irreplaceable and the came back to him is truly epic. Here's Mark.
I hadn't done a lot of studying before my mission, I kind of went out unprepared. And, you know, I was kind of a scared, timid little boy, with a weak testimony and poor knowledge of the gospel at that point. Still wanting to go out on a mission and do what I was supposed to do, but unfortunately, had not prepared myself at all. And my parents decided to buy me a brand new set of scriptures, it was a leather-bound quad. Because at that point, I'd never really had my own scriptures and they wanted me to have a nice set to take on my mission. And so this set of scriptures they got me became kind of important to me because it was my first set that I was going to be able to go through and read and mark the way that the Spirit directed as I read them. While I was excited when I opened my mission call to Nashville, Tennessee, and when I finally got out there, I realized how hard and trying it was to be on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ. I didn't really realize how hard that would be to make the change from thinking and serving yourself all the time just to serving others full time. Because I went out so unprepared, I found myself in a situation where I would just lock up all the time when teaching discussions. I realized that you can't teach the gospel unless you've prepared yourself in such a way that you know and understand the scriptures and you, more importantly, understand how the Spirit and the Holy Ghost works are able to use that to communicate your testimony to others, I'd been in the mission field for about a year, and I had finally begun to feel comfortable with my teaching skills and my knowledge of the Scriptures. And this level of comfort came in part because of the time and effort I had spent marking my scriptures in such a way that I could find things easily. I grew to love the set of scriptures. There was even a spot at the end of the Book of Mormon where my mom had written in the margins that she loved me and was proud of what I was doing. And you know, this spot the end of the Book of Mormon in Moroni, Chapter 10, verses three through five. This is where she wrote this note to me. Somehow she knew I would be spending a lot of time in those special verses I think.
These scriptures were somewhat of a security blanket to me, especially as I got them marked in the way where I could find things easily and teach out of them. Leaving my apartment one day to go to zone conference, and I set my scriptures on top of the car to unlock the door. And then I jumped in the car and I forgot that the scriptures were on the roof. We headed down the freeway to Dickson, Tennessee. Now as you can guess the scriptures didn't make it to zone conference. Oh, boy. Well, I was devastated. They were the one thing I had that helped me to feel comfortable as a missionary. I wanted to go back and find the scriptures, but we didn't have the miles to go looking for them. And the Spirit had really told me in my heart that they were gone, that I needed to go get a new set and start over. So that's what I did. I think part of the reason that my Heavenly Father wanted me to lose this set of scriptures was because He realized I was probably leaning on them a little too much, rather than teaching by the Spirit. And I think He kind of realized that I may have hit somewhat of a wall. I began to understand that it was more important to listen to the Spirit when teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than constantly turning to the same scripture that I'd used 50 times over. I began to understand how our Feavenly Father works. And more importantly, how much He loves each one of His children and cares for them on an individual basis. And I realized that you can't just go in and teach the same lesson to every single person because our Heavenly Father loves each one of us individually, and knows us individually. And each person is going to need something a little bit different. And so my testimony was strengthened of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.
Fast forward five years, and I'd been home for quite a while now. My brother Seth received and opened his mission call to Nashville, Tennessee mission. I was very excited for my brother to go to the same mission I did and not only that, that's also where my grandparents are from is from Tennessee. They were converted to the gospel there as they were raising tobacco and running moonshine. They were hillbilly rednecks in Tennessee. So I was, I was excited when I went to Tennessee and I was very excited for Seth to go experience some of the same things I was blessed to experience. Seth had been out in the field for about two weeks. And he was going to church for the second time. And he was struggling with homesickness and a few other trials at the time. Sunday morning, he and his companion entered the chapel. One of the members just walked up to him and handed Seth a set of scriptures. Seth took the scriptures with a kind of a confused look on his face, he tells me and he said, "they're not my scriptures," and the brother was sure they belong to him because he had Elder Mays is written on his name tag. And Seth kind of being green in the mission. He didn't even put a whole lot of thought into what was going on. And so he just took the scriptures, and he brought them home with him. And the next morning, he said that he finally opened up the scriptures and he flipped right to the part where our mom had written in the margins. Feeling that the handwriting was familiar. He then looked on the front page and saw my name and address recognizing it was his home address as well. This is when the Spirit fell over him. And he realized what the Lord had done for him at this difficult time at the beginning of his mission, and it brought great peace to him. So, Seth continued to use my scriptures for the remainder of his mission. And he told me that as he would read my notes and look at the things I had marked, it felt as if I was his personal study companion.
Seth wanted to do some investigating on how these scriptures came into his possession. And so he asked the brother they gave him to him in church, where they came from. And basically, the story was that his brother was a highway worker. And he was doing some work on the highway one afternoon and he came across my set of scriptures that was laying there in the bar ditch. Which obviously it must have been fairly quick right after I lost them. Because my quad doesn't show any water damage or even any real damage from staying out in the sun for too long. So he picked him up and he was not a member of the church, but he felt they looked important so he brought them home with him. And he kind of read them looked at them, browsed them once in a while, and he was interested in them because his brother was a member of the Church, had recently been converted. What he finally decided to do was to return these scriptures to his brother, Seth could tell the story better than I could but from what I understand, he kind of had hard feelings with his brother because he had joined the church and he decided that this was a sign from God that he should mend things up with his brother. And so he went to his brother and told him he was sorry for kind of disowning him. And he gave him my scriptures and said, "These belong to someone who thinks they're important. I can tell by the markings. So would you please return them to the correct owner for me?"And then his brother said that he would but he actually just set them on his shelf and his son began using them as his seminary scriptures taken him to the church every week for seminary study. And one week, he forgot them there at seminary, and this was when the brother church picked him up at church, read the name on the front, and then my brother walked in the church. He looked at my brother, read the name on his name tag and matched up the scriptures with the name tag. Walked over and hand in the scriptures to my brother. When I found out that Seth had the scriptures back in his possession, I can't describe the feeling but just a feeling of great joy. Not only that, I got my scriptures back, which, which did make me happy, but just the thought that our Heavenly Father could show up for my brother during that time of difficulty. In such a personal way that I could never have done on my own. And there's even a little bit more to the story that I'd like to share. When Seth and I were reunited at the airport, I remember him walking down the flight of stairs and he looked so different than when he had left, looked full of the Spirit. And I noticed he was holding my set of scriptures in his hand, I recognized them and we embraced each other. And then with a big smile on his face, he handed me my lost set of scriptures. I took them all my nowhere that they would still be miraculous in my life. As time went by, I began to have some doubts and questions about church and church doctrine. I was just kind of in a place where I was trying to make sense of everything and understanding whether or not I was needing to be all into the gospel of Jesus Christ, or if I should take a step back. And I just wasn't feeling very good about the space I was in and I think I'd kind of lost focus in my life. During this time, I had been studying pretty much everything on the church, other than the actual scriptures that I should have been reading every single day. And I believe this is how I lost my focus. As I sat, thinking about this that's when I caught a glimpse of my scriptures up on the shelf. And the Spirit whispered to me in that moment, I just sat there looking at them. And the Spirit whispered to me, "Mark, these are the words of eternal life. Quit putting so much of your time and effort into the opinions of men." And as I thought about that direction from the spirit, I walked over and picked up my scriptures. And, unfortunately, dusted them off. The Spirit just confirmed to me that I needed to read them every single day to get my testimony back and to get back on track. It was such a clear inspiration that I made a promise to Heavenly Father I just said a prayer and made a promise that I would read out of those scriptures every single morning. And as I did that, everything came together for me. My experience with losing and then finding these scriptures has changed my testimony in such a way that, that there's no doubt. I think of the small tender mercies that our Heavenly Father is willing to bless us with, if we continually try to do His work, at the rate that we're ready for. He's so personally aware of where we're at and how we need things to happen in our life in order to truly understand that he's there for us, and to help our faith grow. That He will do things for us like He did for my brother and I with the set of scriptures in such a personal way, that there's no doubt that He is with you, as an individual person, at all times and in all places.
That was Mark. Mark's story resonates with me a lot, remember that lost set of mission scriptures that I mentioned before? But what I love about Mark's perspective is that although he lost something he thought he absolutely couldn't live without, that loss was actually the catalyst for some serious spiritual growth. And isn't it so amazing to think that something we lose could actually become the thing that someone else finds when they most need it like Mark's brother? I often think about my own missionary scriptures, riding all alone around Seoul on a bus seat all by themselves. I love to think that someone who was desperate and excited to learn English, pick them up and maybe took them home so they could read it when they needed something to practice with. Who knows the life these scriptures have had, especially considering the life that those scriptures can bring. Our final story comes from David who discovered that losing your sight has more than one consequence. Here's David.f
I've always wanted to serve a mission since primary. And it was just a natural choice. It wasn't anything that I even thought about. When I received my mission call to the Philippines, the call stated that it was like an English speaking mission. So I was to go through an English district in the MTC, but when I got to the Philippines, I didn't hear a lot of English being spoken. And so that was a big shock. I would go to lessons. And in our apartment, of course, the missionaries were all speaking Cebuano and I didn't understand anything that my companion or the families that we were teaching, I didn't understand anything that was being said. It was very motivating for me to learn the language as fast as I could, but it was hard. I felt very alone and isolated, and like I wasn't doing anything to really help. I had been serving about two months in the Philippines. And on one particular night my companion and I had arranged with a fellowshipper in the ward to accompany us as we went teaching. And we had three appointments scheduled that night, spread out in the evening. It was a rainy night, and as we went to our first appointment, their family wasn't there, or we weren't able to meet with them. And so we tried to be productive and do some other things, just visiting with people nearby. And we started walking to our next appointment. And we would try to meet people along the way and use our time. When we arrived at our second appointment, that one fell through also. And so we decided, well, maybe we'll go to our third appointment a little bit early, and we could either spend more time with them or we could get our fellowshipper home earlier. And along the way, we were trying to meet people, maybe knock on some doors, what we call tracting. And we arrived at our third appointment and that one also fell through. And so as I'm going through culture shock, not understanding the language, introduced to new foods, the schedule of the mission, the rigors of the mission, the heat and the humidity, a new nation, a new culture. I was feeling so isolated and alone and that night, having finished a night that just everything fell through. I didn't feel like there was a lot of joy in my mission. Well, as we were, we decided to return our fellowshipper to her home. And it was we were walking along a dirt path, and it was still raining so the path was wet and muddy with puddles, we walked by a little store that we called a sari-sari store. It was like a little shack made out of wood, it had a window in it, not a glass window, kind of a mesh window. And you could buy items there. And the light was on in the sari-sari store. And as we walked by, I turned my head partway a little bit. And I also moved my eyes towards the store and I blinked my contact lens in my eye and one of my eyes popped out. I wear hard contact lenses. I actually I have pretty bad vision, all the way from elementary school up through my mission. My vision was changing so rapidly, and I actually didn't have a pair of glasses that I could see well enough with. And so I work contacts which gave me my best vision. And when my contact popped out under the ground, I panicked. I was far from home, and I immediately realized, if I didn't find my contact lens, writing home to my parents, that letter would take 10 days to arrive and then they would order the lens and ship it that it would take maybe five or six weeks to get a new lens to me in the Philippines. And during that time the contrast between one lens in my eye and one lens out, I had done that before and it kind of caused headaches, it caused distortions. It was just hard to function and work because of how poor my vision was. I just panic, so I dropped down to the ground and started searching for the contact. My companion went to the store nearby and bought some matches and he would strike a match and use the light from the flame until the match burned out and then you strike another match and we would just go inch by inch over the ground looking for this contact lens. But there were puddles everywhere and the lens looked like a drop of water. I realized that I didn't have a good chance of finding the lens. So I began praying, I needed a miracle. And I prayed so earnestly, so fervently for a miracle that we'd be able to find that lens. Well, some Filipino men gathered around us asking what we are doing, and if they could help. They didn't know what a contact lens was. And so I took the other lens out of my eye to show them what it looked like. And then I put it back in my eye and we kept looking. I was grateful for their help, and I didn't want to push them away. I also recognize that they were probably likely to step on it, push it into the mud, or break it or something. I was afraid that their help would not really be helpful at all. After about 20 minutes, I gave up. I felt bad that our fellowshipper was just sitting there in the rain and realizing that the contact have probably been destroyed or permanently lost and just losing hope and faith that Heavenly Father was not going to answer this prayer. I determined right then to talk to my mission president and asked to be moved to a new mission. I was really, really discouraged and I was angry that my prayer had not been answered.
My miracle that I needed so badly, it didn't come. Well, my companion and I, and our fellowshipper began to walk further towards our home and we walked around a corner in this trail, and we heard some excited voices from behind us, back up the trail. My companion grabbed my arm and he explained to me, the men claimed that they had found my contact lens, and I immediately discounted it. I said, "That's impossible. They don't even know what they're looking for. And it's wet. There's just no way they found it. And we have the matches! Unless they bought new matches to keep looking. There's just no way they could have found it." We went back towards the men and they were walking towards us. And as they approached us, there were about six men, and the one in front, held out his palm, and in his palm was my contact lens. It wasn't broken. It was perfect. And I thought how perfect that Heavenly Father would answer my prayer through a real miracle. I didn't find it myself, a man that had never seen a contact lens had found my contact lens in the rain in the dark. It was a miracle and it hit me so hard, but also a series of scriptures came to my mind and I understood the verses immediately. The verses of scripture are found in Alma chapter 33. And it tells the story of Moses, when the children of Israel were being bitten by poisonous snakes by serpents. It starts out, "Behold, Christ, he who was spoken up by Moses, yea. And behold, a type was raised up in the wilderness that whosoever would look upon it might live, and many did look and live, but few understood the meaning of those things. And this because of the hardness of their hearts, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look because they did not believe that it would heal them, but my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes, that ye might be healed, Would you not behold quickly? Or would you rather harden your hearts in unbelief and be slothful that you would not cast about your eyes that he might perish?" those verses of scripture spoke to me and I was taught by the Spirit that I had been acting in unbelief. I wasn't blind from losing the contact lens, but that I had been blind because of my self-pity, because of my doubt, I hadn't been looking to the Savior. I hadn't been loving him and loving the people in the Philippines. I had not been adequately serving him or the people in the Philippines. But through this miracle, the Savior, the Spirit also taught me how I could look and really see that I needed to exercise faith in Christ and in His Atonement, and then teach that. Teach faith in Christ, teach of His Atonement to the Filipino people and to love them and to serve them and that experience, it changed my mission. It changed me in that I became more patient with myself. I became patient with my circumstances, I exercised more faith and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for where I was and what I was called to do. And I knew that I wasn't alone. It wasn't just me in the Philippines trying to adapt, trying to be a good missionary, trying to learn a language, trying to teach. It wasn't just me, but that He really was there with me. And He was mindful of me and that He would help me in my need. It's been over 30 years since that night of the miracle, since having my contact lens restored to me and being taught by the Spirit. But that experience has not faded at all. And it has helped me weather other challenges and trials. I've been able to maintain and keep faith in Christ, knowing that He'll deliver. He has the power to deliver and He can and will deliver me.
That was David. I remember those gas permeable contact lenses that he's talking about. It was no joke to lose one and I can appreciate the panic that came with the realization that it was lost. I can also appreciate the new perspective that came from finding it. If the lesson from Leric was that God is more concerned with our spiritual gains than our earthly gains, well, then the lesson from David is that God can use the moments when we do gain or regain something in the physical sphere, like a contact lens, to teach us a spiritual principle. If we have eyes to see it. It amazes me always that we will most likely each have a story of losing or finding something in this life. I mean, because after all, we live in a fallen world. And despite the universality of that experience, the lessons that we're going to take away will be completely tailored to our own needs and our own spiritual growth. Take me for example, after all those losses and the rise of my callous attitude, God decided to teach me something precious about hope through losing something. I was at my parents house in South Carolina about a year ago during an impromptu family reunion. I had digitized all of our family VHS tapes for my parents' anniversary seven years ago, and I was planning to surprise them. And then because this is what I do, I promptly lost both the box of VHS tapes and the hard drive that had the newly digitized footage on it. But by some miracle just before this trip, I relocated that hard drive and my mom and I spent quite a bit of time uploading them to one, and then two, and then three different places so that we would have every kind of backup since the VHS tapes were long gone. In the process of all of that uploading, we found ourselves reviewing hours and hours of early 90s camcorder footage. The kind that makes your head spin and its lack of storyline or even clear focus. We watched my baby brothers elementary school Halloween parade for 45 minutes only to see him skip past the camera in 30 seconds near the end. We inexplicably watch 20 minutes of children with mullets, that was us, getting in and out of a swimming pool at dusk. We endured no less than five instances of one of my teenage brothers taping over something semi-important to show himself in his wide-pants-wearing friends skateboarding. And as we were watching what seemed like the third hour of unintelligible Christmas morning footage, I saw my 14-year-old self with a very, very high bangs. Open a jewelry box and held up a golden heart necklace to the camera and say thanks only to forget about it moments later in favor of the box CD set of the International cast of Les Miserables. My mom stopped the computer and said, "Oh my goodness." And then she disappeared without another word. She came back a minute later, dangling a golden heart necklace from her hand. It was the necklace from that Christmas, when I was 14 years old. Fully intact, still shining, still beautiful. I don't even remember losing the necklace. To be honest. I don't remember getting the necklace. I assumed that all my childhood treasures had gone the way of everything else in my life: lost into the ethers. But here was my mom holding that necklace and saying, "I've been wondering where this came from for 20 years. It's been in my jewelry box forever." And then we marveled at how it must have been more than the costume jewelry we both assumed it was back then because it hadn't tarnished or rusted or even become dull. My mom handed it to me and said, "This is yours." Clearly, I undervalued that necklace. From the moment I opened it. That was apparent from the video proof of my half-hearted teenage, "thanks." But now, years later, as I held it again, I felt the weight of that gold heart. I loved it and treasured it immediately when my mom showed it to me in 2019. Partly because it's now tied to her since living in her jewelry box for 20 years, and partly because it's held up, and partly because it represents everything. Everything that we think we've lost through our carelessness, our youthful error, our downright sin. Now, every time I put it on, I'm reminded that someone is holding on to the things that we've discarded, erroneously, or carelessly. Whatever we think we've lost, whether that thing is a contact lens, or a million dollars, or something as complex and painful as our faith in ourselves, or maybe even our faith in God. Whatever we think we've lost is not lost to Him. He is holding on to our hearts keeping them safe and untarnished. And God knows exactly when we'll be ready to recognize their true value so that we can find them again.
That's it for this episode of This Is The Gospel thank you to Leric, Mark, and David for sharing their stories and their faith with us. We'll have links to pictures from this week's stories including the picture of the necklace, and maybe even Bonus a picture of me and my high bangs as a 14-year-old, as well as the transcript of this episode in our show notes. So go to https://www.ldsliving.com/pages/this-is-the-gospel and find Episode 46. Special thanks to my mom for being the keeper of lost things in our family. All of our stories on this podcast are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. If you have a story to share about living the Gospel, please call our pitch line. That's how we found Mark's story and David's story and leave us a pitch. It'd be great if it included a beginning, a middle and an end so that we can see your whole story in a quick moment. We really do love to hear how the gospel has blessed your life. Call 515-519-6179 and pitch your story in three minutes or less. If you've loved having these true stories from real people in your life, please leave us a review on iTunes and be sure to tell all your friends and social networks how This Is The Gospel has helped you. We read every review and really we do truly appreciate your willingness to share the good stuff. This episode was produced by me KaRyn Lay with additional story producing and editing by Katie Lambert, Jasmine Mullen and Ashley Porter. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios, our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and the other LDS Living podcast at https://www.ldsliving.com/pages/podcasts Have a great week.
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