It's true, this weekend I was blessed to attend
After missing the Friday night portion due to this excruciating low back pain I've been having I admit I was feeling less than motivated to go Saturday. But I knew I'd be spending the day with my awesome friends and being the social bee I am didn't want to miss out on that. We arrived a few minutes late (probably because of the length of time it too me to actually get into my friends car with said back issues). Anyway we arrived a few minutes late and I felt like I was walking into a book fair. Seriously? My "less than motivated" attitude turned to slight disgust. Ok so the reason I am here is to listen to all these women push the sale of their books which apparently I can purchase right here right now today! Annoying. To make matters worse because we were a few minutes late our group of 6 was split up to fill the few open seats that remained and I thought, "Well so much for hanging out with my friends today - stupid back pain" I was however lucky enough to sit with another whole row of wonderful ladies from my ward who had an extra seat three rows from the back of the room. I realized just how grateful I was for that when only a few minutes in my back was telling me there was no way in the world I was going to be able to sit though this thing all day and I had to get up and stand against the back wall in an attempt to alleviate as much pain as possible. By the first 20 minute break I was texting the hubs that he would most likely have to come pick me up but that since I didn't even get to sit with the girls I came with I wanted to at least make it through the lunch break as we all had plans to eat at a fun new restaurant.
Then things started to change. During the 20 minute break my large crowd claustrophobia began to set in and I had to walk a little faster than I had been while babying this sore back and it seemed to stretch it out a bit in a good way. When I sat back down in my seat I was able to cross my legs and contort my upper body just right so that the pain wasn't impossible and I was actually able to listen and *hear* Brad Wilcox's talk. I didn't realize until he was done that I had sat through the whole thing. And then Mariama Kallon came on stage. I had read her bio in the program and knew for me this would be the highlight of the day. (and therefore I could leave after lunch with my friends and cry to my husband about my sore back for the rest of the day.)
But like I said, with Brad Wilcox's talk things began to change, once Mariama started to talk things took a full 180! Her incredible story pulled me in so deep you could have been breaking my back bone by bone and I don't think I would have noticed. The 35 minutes flew by in a blur of tears, laughter and admiration for this incredible daughter of God. I was one of the first to stand in offering a standing ovation and it wasn't until I was on my feet that I thought, "How did I get standing so fast, doesn't my back hurt?" It didn't matter. I quickly rushed to the little book fair area I had so begrudgingly passed by earlier and bought her DVD.
The lunch break followed Mariama's talk and I enjoyed a nice lunch with my friends. But unlike my desire to leave that morning I was itching to get back to that conference room, sit in that uncomfortable chair and continue to inspired and uplifted. I wish I could say my back had been magically healed but that wasn't the case. It just didn't matter anymore. The rest of the afternoon was wonderful and it truly ended too quickly. Once I did arrive home I was eager to watch Mariama's DVD but thankfully had scheduled a therapy session for my back, because once away from the intensity of the spirit...it mattered again...a lot!
Sunday morning while the hubs slept in and Asher played and watched Yo Gabba Gabba (yes he is still obessed but that's a whole other post!) I put Mariama's DVD into my laptop curled up on the couch and began to watch her story again. For those wondering the documentary portion of the DVD is very similar to her TOFW talk with additional interviews and pictures. One of those pictures was of her and my ex-boyfriend's sister as missionaries at Temple Square. I couldn't believe it and quickly sent off an email to Caraleen.
-When I started dating my ex, Mike, Caraleen was on her mission and it was now Christmas time. She found out on her phone call home that her little brother was dating a non member and actually receive permission from her president to call me and talk to me about the church. I had a lot of Mormon friends but everyone kinda kept it to themselves, even Mike. I had been invited to dances etc and I think even been to church before because of a Saturday sleepover, but Caraleen was inspired and called me that day. She bore her testimony, asked me some questions and invited me to receive a Book of Mormon and learn from the Missionaries. I accepted and started reading the Book of Mormon online minutes after the phone call.-
In my email to Caraleen today I mentioned I saw the picture of her and Mariama on the DVD and thanked her for calling me that day. She wrote me a very nice reply and included some fun info from her time as Mariama's companion. Here is an exert from the email about Mariama:
"I am so glad you were able to see Mariama at time out for women. She is amazing!! The last month of my mission she came to temple square and I had the privilege of being her companion/trainer. She taught me so much. Every day she would wake up before me and iron my clothes or shine my shoes or try and do some sort of service for me. I told her she didn't have to do that and she would just smile and say it was her way of saying thank you to me for teaching her how to be a missionary. She was always so positive and grateful for everything. When she found out she was coming to temple square she crossed stitched a fan for Sister Hinckley and a handkerchief for Pres.Hinckley so that she would have a gift for them. She didn't have a real needle so she used a small stick to do it. It was amazing. Her first day on Temple Square we were walking home to our apartment so she could unpack and my pager went off. It was my mission president asking us to turn around and come back to temple square because the ambassador of Ghana was there and he wanted Mariama to take him on a tour. The church had been trying to get a temple built there but were having some opposition. After Mariama gave the ambassador a tour he was so touched by her testimony and he said he would do everything in his power to help get the temple built in Ghana. A year later the ground breaking began for the temple there. I could go on and on about Mariama. She is truly amazing."
After receiving Carleen's email and doing some quick math and thinking about dates and I am pretty sure Mariama was Caraleen's companion during the time she was inspired to call me. I know this experience was meant for me and I am so grateful for the opportunity I received to hear Mariama speak and the chain reaction that followed. I am truly blessed. If you have had the pleasure to hear Mariama speak, buy her DVD and listen again. If you haven't heard her, find out where she is speaking and try to go and if that's not possible buy her DVD. Her complete TOFW talk is on the DVD as well as her Documentary. Her story will change your life.