Women's Conference Talk by Lindi Salmon
"In 1815, the Indonesian island of Sumbawa was lush and green with recent rain. Families were preparing for the dry season ahead, as they had every year for generations, cultivating rice paddies in the shadow of a volcano called Tambora.
"On the evening of April 10, the whole mountain exploded. Three fiery plumes shot skyward, merging into one massive blast.
"The eruption caused temperatures in India to drop, and cholera killed thousands, destroying families. In fertile Chinese valleys, summer snowstorms replaced a normally mild climate and flooding rains destroyed crops. In Europe, food supplies dwindled, leading to starvation and panic.
"The eruption of Tambora affected weather in North America through the following year. Spring gave way to snowfall and killing frosts, and 1816 passed into memory as the year without a summer." (Saints)
Now I want to tell you about my own year without a summer. Nine months ago, almost to the hour, I was lying in an ICU bed. During the previous 24 hours, I had suffered the final stroke that was part of what doctors later called a shower of strokes. I had lost many abilities, including being able to walk, eat, or even really lift my head.
I had been Life Flighted to a different hospital and listened as doctors had explained to my sweet husband that if current treatments did not work, the only option left was brain surgery. This only had two outcomes, further injury or death. As I lay there, I listened to nurses describe my situation. Being a nurse myself, I never thought I would see a patient live through this--let alone live through it myself.
I was at a complete loss. I remember closing my eyes thinking, “What next?” in complete despair.
At that moment a voice came to my head telling me, “You can choose. You can choose to be done with this life, or you can choose to live.” I feel like I almost interrupted (which I am known to do- I’m working on it) with--"Of course I choose to live!"
Next, the voice explained that I could make that choice, but I would need to fight for it. Only I could choose.
I came face to face with the reality of my testimony at that point.
Now let me clarify something here. I have never had a lightning bolt of a moment where I had been wondering on the truth, and then suddenly it became clear. I realized that my testimony had really come line upon line, by reading my scriptures, by praying, by attending church, by keeping the commandments. None of these have been done perfectly, might I add. Like Elder Bednar describes, it was like the rising of the sun, almost undetectable at first, but after building upon itself, it was like the brightness of a noon day.
How thankful I was for that sunshine at that moment. I knew no matter what happened to me, my family was mine forever. Just like the 2018 Mutual theme song states, “When there is no peace on Earth, there is peace in Christ.” I had no peace on Earth, but I did have peace, and it came directly from Christ.
I chose at that moment. I chose to believe in better things to come. I chose to trust in Christ. Because of that choice, the one I have to make over and over again, I can honestly say these last nine months have been some of the very best of my life.
Things did not magically get better at that point. I call it my year without summer because to me it was exactly that. I slowly started to get better. Don’t get me wrong: there have been plenty of tears, plenty of desperate prayers, and many days I have wanted to just pull the covers up and stay in bed. I feel those hard times deeply and I let myself stay there as long as I need, but I try to remember a few things.
The same day that I had been Life Flighted, my uncle, aunt, and cousin had come to see me. I wasn’t much up to visiting, but I do remember him saying, “When something like this happens, try not to ask 'why?' but ask 'what?' Don’t try to figure out ‘why me’ but instead ask what can I learn and become because of this.”
I also remember Jason giving me a priesthood blessing once a few years ago reminding me that the trial at that time was absolutely necessary for my salvation. It was very applicable then, and it has continued to prove true.
Now. As much as I would like to choose my path most of the time, I cannot. BUT I can always choose to believe that something better is coming. I believe that whatever I am dealing with is helping me by drawing me closer to Christ.
When I think of it that way, it helps me see my trials in a different perspective. I feel so thankful that a Heavenly Father would make sure I have the necessary experiences I need to return to Him. I would do anything for that, I will do anything. The hope of Eternal Life with my family by my side brings me courage. I choose to believe in that.
Back to the volcano. I imagine it was terrifying. Not only for those part of the initial destruction, but also for those almost a year later still dealing with the fallout. They had no idea why. I wonder, though, if they would have known what was coming, if they knew that because of this heartache that the Smith family would move to New York, Joseph would ask a simple question, receive a not-so-simple answer, that eventually led to the sealing power returning to this earth.
How would they have felt? How would you have felt? I know though it still would be so hard, harder that I can imagine, I would have endured knowing that this trial would seal me to my family. I would have chosen to have hope in better things to come.
That, sisters, is how I try to live my life.
To steal a line from President Holland:
“Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until Heaven; but for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”
I add my testimony to this and I choose to believe that those good things are coming.