Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Surgery in Utah . . .

As most of you know by now, I have experienced great pain in my left arm and neck for the past two months. As these MRI images show, I had a herniated disc in my neck that was pinching the nerves for my left arm.

The herniated disc is between the 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae and surgery was required in order to repair this. On July 16th we left Chile to return to the United States for the surgery. Dr. Yonemura at the University of Utah Medical Center was my surgeon and the procedure, known as a Posterior Lamino Foraminotomy was performed yesterday morning. In this surgery entry was made from the back left side of my neck. Some bone is removed to make a larger space for the nerve and then the ruptured portion of the disc is shaved away. As a bonus, he removed several bone spurs that formed due to my arthritis.

The surgery took approximately 3.5 hours and went well. I am now recovering at home. The doctor estimates 2-4 weeks for recovery. Interestingly, the most painful part of the procedure was a large second degree burn to my right arm that occurred during surgery from the carterization tool. As I woke from the anesthesia I wondered why my right arm was so painful and that is when they discovered the burn.
It is certainly nice to be home for a few weeks and to see many family and friends, especially our granddaughters, but we miss the mission and our missionaries very much. We are hopeful that the recovery will go quickly so we can get back to the greatest mission in the world: Chile Osorno!

In our absence, Elder Stephen Boyden and his wife are watching over the mission. Elder Boyden is the Executive Secretary for the Chile Area and previously served as a mission president in Mexico and president of the MTC in Spain. It is wonderful to know that they are available to help through this process. They will be a great blessing for our mission.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July Cambios . . .

This was an interesting month for cambios. During the month of July, including this weeks cambios, we lost 15 missionaries. Only two missionaries took their place, so we had to close 7 sectors: Niebla, Futrono, one in Panguipulli, one in Rio Bueno, one in Alerce, Puerto Cisnes and Porvenir. Fortunately, the two missionaries that arrived this week are great young men. We are excited to get to know them better and witness their progress and service.
Pictured above are our two new missionaries. Pictured l-r Elders Shallenberger and Matorell, our two assistants, Elder Gonzalez from Uruguay and Elder Aros from Santiago, Chile.
As I´ve said many times, watching these missionaries leave is very painful. In this group we lose one assistant, 5 zone leaders, two district leaders and a great sister missionary. Seated l-r are: Elder Carreño-Chile and Hna Butler-Utah. Standing: Elder Matorell-one of our AP´s, Elder Hernandez-Chile, Elder Martinez-Bolivia, Elder Lucas-Paraguay, Elder Alvarado-Columbia, Elder Morales-Chile, Elder Cubillos-Columbia, Elder Didier-Chile, Elder Diaz-Chile, Elder Shallenberger-Utah, Elder Benitez-Paraguay, Elder Miner-our new AP and Elder Perez-Argentina.
Seeing their faces and knowing their names does nothing to convey the wonderful service and great influence of these exceptional missionaries. They have forever marked our lives and forever blessed this mission. We will miss them very, very much.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Zone Leader´s Council . . .

The current zone leaders: Seated with Susie and I are Elder Shallenberger and Elder Matorell, the current assistants. Standing l-r are Elder Pedraza (Columbia), Elder Cubillos (Columbia), Elder Strawn (California), Elder Millan (Argentina), Elder Cuadra (Chile), Elder Benitez (Paraguay), Elder Viti (Argentina), Elder Wallace (Utah), Elder Gobetti (Argentina), Elder Lucas (Paraguay), Elder Callaú (Bolivia), Elder Aravena (Chile), Elder Palmer (Washington), Elder Rodriguez (Panama), Elder Ortiz (Chile), Elder Cudahy (Washington), Elder Diaz (Chile), Elder Spitzer (Texas), Elder Alvarado (Columbia) and Elder Bigelow (Arizona). Not pictured are Elder Miner (Utah) and Elder Wohlfart (Germany) in Coyhaique, and Elder Merrill (California) and Elder Hernandez (Chile) in Punta Arenas.
We can´t have a meeting with the missionaries without having food. You would be amazed how much food 22 young men can put down. These missionaries can eat a lot and they love it.
In this picture, 5 tribes of Israel are represented: Elder Shallenberger (Ephraim), Elder Cuadra (Benjamin), Elder Matorell (Judah), Elder Rodriguez (Levi) and Elder Benitez (Manasseh). Not pictured is a sixth tribe represented in our mission by Elder Chavez (Asher).

This past week we had the zone leaders in the Mission Home for a training council. This happens about every other cambio and will generally include all the zone leaders except the ones from Coyhaique and Punta Arenas. Because of travel costs, they attend about twice a year.

It is wonderful having these great young missionaries in the mission home. This council we focused on clarifying the vision of our leadership and working hard to ensure that every missionary understands what is expected and becomes a willing and active participant in this great work. Our goal is to improve our planning and increase our faith and diligent. Then we will strive to be more constant in applying these principles.