At age 22 while living in Mongolia I developed a severe chronic pain condition that effects every aspect of my life. Continuing this blog reminds me that life's challenges are stepping stones meant to lift us, not roadblocks meant to defeat us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

my first area. I love this country :)


My good friend told me about a reality TV show called "Mystery diagnosis" and suggested I go on it, haha ;) But it is really kind of a mystery right now and the doctors are trying to be detectives ;) If they find any clues I will write them here if you want health updates. (I am so grateful for all of your incredible support and concern! :) Love you all!

I am meeting with a great doctor who is a member of our stake presidency and he is trying to get things done really fast to try and help me get back :) Chest x-rays, abdominal ultrasounds, and most blood work has come out normal, the only thing we have found so far is that the rheumatoid factor in my blood is elevated. That could mean many different things, but we are thinking that I probably have some type of autoimmune disease. I am going to meet with a rheumatologist and a neurologist, and have a CT scan done of just my right kidney as soon as they can get me in. I'll let you know when we find anything else.

p.s. - it is still very cold in Mongolia, but my mission president said the work prospers in the cold, so things are going very well there :) And when I was in Hong Kong I met members of the Asia area presidency, and they said that Mongolia was one of the fastest countries ever to get a stake after being opened for missionary work. Mongolia truly is a beacon to the nations!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Half Time

Hello Family! (actually I can tell you all in person now ;) I am home. I am on medical release, and I actually left most of my things in Mongolia and the plan is to try and get back there as soon as we figure things out. It is like half time! Not many people get a mission half-time, i hit the exact half way point this week, and am going to try and finish those nine months a little later ;) I am liking the song "count your many blessings" a lot, it is so true and really helps! I still believe I am the most blessed person in the world, so life is good :) I am home and released at least for now, but like all members, always a missionary ;) Ashley

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010

Hello :)
Wonderful news!! The Grandma and Grandpa I have been teaching were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Friday January 8th, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. :) I was not able to attend, but my mission president and his wife were :) they said it was a wonderful baptism and that their testimony was beautiful :)
I am writing from Hong Kong, with an incredible homesickness for -40 degrees temperature, icy and dark streets, and the smoky gers of Mongolia. I had no idea I could love a place or a people this much. Good and bad news. The good news, everything on all the tests so far has come out normal. The bad news, I still hurt a lot and the pain is getting worse. So that combination of good and bad news is leading me down a path that I have been trying incredibly hard to avoid. I have taken every single detour I can find and have searched for any other available route, including going back and just toughing it out as many days as possible, but I am realizing that that isn't fair to the mission or my poor future companion, and that I’m really not as strong as I’d like to be ;)
So my wonderful family, unless the Lord changes his mind and lets a miracle happen in the next 24 hours, I will be seeing you all soon. (I’m sorry but it breaks my heart to tell you that) The Lord is a powerful teacher, ;) and I do believe that the most effective teaching method is experience) I think I have just been enrolled in the hardest class I have ever taken. Missionary work, learning the language, dealing with the climate was very easy compared to this. I'm sorry, I really am not complaining and I will be okay, I am just feeling the heartache now and the reality of it all is still slowly sinking in. But there are wonderful people all over this world that need to hear this message, my family I will be making good friends with our new neighbors upon my arrival ;) and any doctors we may meet along the way ;) my ambitions to master the Mongolian language and missionary lessons during my stay here have slightly failed because of my inability to focus, or face the fact that I might not be able to use the newly learned material as soon as I would like, and so I have instead spent a lot of my time plunking though a pocket size children's song book I found at the house where I am staying on their piano. There are wonderfully inspired songs in that book!! and the simplicity of the eternal truths that are taught... amazing! You could teach every one of the missionary lessons by reading from some of those songs. i'll have to translate some ;) if any of you are bored, flip through the primary children's song book. One song that I know well hit me again, you all probably know it too:
I feel my Savior's love. In all the world around me. His spirit warms my soul through everything I see. He knows I will follow him, give all my life to him. I feel my Savior's love, the Love he freely gives me. I feel my Savior's love, its gentleness enfolds me, and when I kneel to pray, my heart is filled with peace. I feel my Savior's love and know that he will bless me. I offer him my heart, my shepherd he will be. He knows I will follow him, give all my life to him. I feel my Savior's love, the love he freely gives me.

I think the Lord knows that I will follow him, and give all my life to him. Sometimes it is really hard to follow, and the road is reallllllly rough (to us, but in reality is nothing compared to the Lord's path or what many other people have to face) and we don't understand, but if we offer our heart his gentleness will enfold us. And family, I have never been so grateful for all of you! President Hinckley wrote about the things missionaries bring home from missions, and one of them was an increased love for parents. I know that is true. My father was able to come to Hong Kong and help me through most of this, dad I can never thank you enough. Mom, thanks for letting him come ;) Well, I don't know what is going to happen. (and I don't really want to think too far ahead, it hurts a bit. I’ll just hum some more of those primary songs and not think ;) so that is all for now. I will keep you posted on final arrangements, but unless that miracle happens things are pointing me home. Love you all!! sister mansfield