After hours and hours of travel we finally made it. I had never seen so many people. The narrow streets were packed with cars honking at all of the motorcyclists zooming by passing them in a rush to get home. You know when your seated at a table in a loud restaurant and can’t hear the person across from you speaking because you can hear the mumbles of fifty different conversations? Times that by a million and that’s what every street, corner, store, bus and restaurant felt like. I was in a new world where silence no longer existed. At least until we opened the tall temple doors. The Hong Kong LDS Temple sits on a busy street. In fact, in our pursuit of arrival we unknowingly passed it at least two times. We were lucky to meet with the Area President of Asia (a service missionary, who’s responsible for watching over members of the church as well as the communication that takes place with Asian government agencies with other church authorities. He is also in frequent contact with leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints. and whose name I have sadly forgotten) He told the group of us traveling to Guilin, China to “Go in as messengers of Christ without sharing His message.”
I was five months into my Chinese living experience sitting in a overcrowded, hot and super smelly train station when I knew He, whose message we weren’t allowed to share, was real. As we waited to board our 30+ hour train ride, I wrote in my journal about the crowded station, specifically about the man standing so close behind me. I could feel his every breath. After a few detailed sentences, he motioned for my journal. I was instantly embarrassed thinking, this is it! Here I am writing about how different this culture is, especially the lack of personal space part when I was supposed to be being a “Messenger of Christ!” I gave him my journal and he closed it to look at the cover. He gently rubbed his hard working hands over a painting of Christ overlooking Jerusalem and with teary eyes said, “I think I know Him.” I wanted to stand up and tell Him, “ Yes! Yes, you do and He knows you too!” Not being able to tell him who the man He recognized was, because of government restrictions, was a life defining moment. In a country where laws prevent the entirety of His message from being shared, with over crowded restaurants, corners, streets, corners, buses, and train stations where silence seems non existent- He is there, silently manifesting his matchless all powerful love. I knew it. I saw it. I felt it. I instantly knew He cares for, loves and knows every single one of us no matter where or who we are. He, the Savior of the World, Man of Miracles, Prince of Peace is and will always be there. Sometimes, we just have to find Him.
Remember the story of Peter? If you know Peter, you know he was no “cookie cutter” apostle. In fact, I think it’s safe to say he was from from it. However, in a boat of 12 faithful chosen apostles during a scary storm, it was Peter who left the boat to walk towards the man he, like my Chinese friend, recognized as the Savior. Unfortunately, the storm worsened after Peter left the boat causing him to loose focus on why he left the boat in the first place, the Savior. As soon as he lost focus, he started to sink. Do you ever feel like Peter must have felt that night? I know I do (like everyday). I don’t know if it’s because I’m definitely not a “cookie cutter” mormon being single at 29 living in Utah or if it’s easily losing focus on the Savior because of depression, anxiety, or fear from my attempted murder that makes Peter’s story so relatable….both (plus some).
When Peter cried for help the Savior immediately came and literally grabbed his hand to saved him from what was trying to take his life.
All of us will have to endure storms with waves and wind bigger and stronger than we ever imagined. AFTER we recognize the Savior and leave our boats to walk towards Him, even if we change our focus and faith because of fear, he will save us from our storms just like He saved Peter, immediately.
On September 23, 2015 I had just said goodnight to my little sister. I was finishing up some emails on my bed when I heard a male voice say, “Hey.” Surely, it was in my head. There was no way it was coming from outside. My bedroom window was at least six feet off the ground, we had a tall fence all around the backyard and our neighbor was an older lady. We (my little sister, Kayli and I) had only lived there for six days so I figured it was a neighbor from the apartment complex next door whom we hadn’t met. I continued working on my emails and then heard the same voice, but this time it was closer, louder, scarier. I turned my head to the right and saw him, a huge bald shirtless man was coming in my window. As soon as our eyes met he said, “Hey girl. I’m coming in.” Words will never be able to describe exactly how it felt or how my body reacted. The mere thought of what happened is making my hands shake as I type. My heart and stomach feel empty. I can feel the panic, horror and loneliness rush through my body. My mouth is getting dry like it did that awful night.
My first thought was, “He’s going to rape me.” So, I jumped off my bed and thats when the terror of what was happening froze me. Have you ever had a dream where you were try to move, but can’t? That’s exactly what happened to me. From the deepest part of my heart I wanted a miracle. I wanted the monster in my room out of my house before Kayli had to see him and feel the way I was feeling. Nothing, at least what I could see at the time, was happening. I was alone.
Unfortunately, every second that followed brought more fear, violence, and lost focus. Kayli woke up to screams of something “scarier than a mouse or spider.” She instantly knew something upstairs was terribly wrong and came running up the stairs to my rescue.
Our attacker kicked Kayli’s chest so hard her entire body flew down our steep narrow stairs that lead to our dark basement. The only thing stopping her was her head going through a wall- the only wall in our house not made of brick. The angle her head hit should have paralyzed or killed her, but not Kayli. She got up and was running back up the stairs to help me (again) when me and my attacker knocked her back down as we were rolling down the stairs.
Our basement was completely dark. We were in a second location. It was 12:02ish AM. Our attacker was 6’2” + or - 210lbs. We were tired. We were scared. Every odd was against us.
We had our phones and were each able to call 911. There are at least 4 recorded calls of our desperate screams pleading to be saved while repeating our address to make sure someone was quickly dispatched to the right place. Not one call was dispatched.
While my attacker was on top of me I reached for something to defend myself and grabbed the blade of the hunting knife he brought into our house. A hunting knife. Made to hunt animals, not me. Another feeling words will never adequately describe. Kayli was still fighting telling him over and over to, “Get off my sister.” When I calmly told her, “Kayli, he has a knife. We need more help.”
I didn’t think there was a chance she was going to be able to get more help before I was brutally stabbed to death. I didn’t want her to see it happen so I asked her two more times to leave to find more help.
Remembering the sound of her voice as she said, “I’m not leaving you! I’m not leaving you!” watching her realize she needed to and then seeing her legs at the top of the stairs right before she ran outside will forever be the saddest, darkest, loneliest feeling I have ever experienced. The last thing she heard me saying was, “He’s stabbing me. He’s stabbing me.” I can’t image the heartache, fear or anger she must have been feeling.
Although, our 911 calls weren’t dispatched, our calls from the deepest parts of our hearts for heavenly help most definitely were.
He stabbed me several times in the stomach and once in the leg. He stood up, looked over his left shoulder while holding his hunting knife dripping with my blood in his right hand said, “Now I’m going to get your little sister.” Then he laughed. He laughed. Angels, like Jeffery R. Holland testifies, were dispatched to help me. I pulled my attacker back down to the ground to keep him from Kayli.
He pinned me down on the ground by sitting on my hips with his legs/knees holding my arms down and his left hand pressed again my forehead. He lifted his right arm high above his head to bring has hand and knife back down to stab my chest. Every nightmare I have reminds me of the look on his face and sound of his voice during these scary seconds that felt like hours. It wasn’t working. Something/someone was protecting me. I knew it. He knew it. He angrily repeated, “Why isn’t this working? Why the _____ isn’t this working?” five or six times.
Meanwhile, SLC Police Officer Ben Hone was two blocks away when he heard Kayli’s frantic screams for help as she was running up and down our street. He followed her screams as she eventually led him to our dark basement just in time to stop my attacker from slitting my throat.
I was literally wrapped in the arms of evil. A complete stranger’s long heavy legs were crossed over mine keeping my back pressed against his ripped sweaty chest as his arms kept the upper part of my body from moving. I felt his lips against my ear when he whispered, “I’m going to kill you.” I moved my head a little to the right when I felt him flex the arm he was using to slit my throat and thats when I saw my angel, Ben.
After giving my attacker three chances to drop his knife Officer Ben took one shot that instantly took my attacker’s life and saved mine. *an inch away from my face
When I knew Kayli was okay and that I was going to live I thought my fight was over. I thought life was going to get back to “normal” after I got home from the hospital. Debilitating depression, anxiety, and fear taught me otherwise. The physical fight I had with my attacker was solely the beginning of the fight I’ve been fighting for one year six months two weeks and one day.
In the depths of my depression, fear, and learning to deal with so much forced change it’s easy to lose focus on the angels and miracles that saved us. I struggled. I was angry and sad and wanted to know why I wasn’t being saved like Peter. Where was my Savior? Why wasn’t He coming to “immediately save” me?
That’s when I remembered Daniel. Daniel was a faithful prayerful prophet who served those around him so well he was quickly promoted and respected by a king. He was thrown into a den of lions. Real hungry big mean lions who should have (and obviously) could’ve killed him in milliseconds, but they didn’t.
All of us will have to endure our own “lions den(s)” full of big hungry mean lions. Stronger, scarier and closer to us than we ever imagined. AFTER we pray with the faith of Daniel to the God and Savior we know are listening, he will save us in our dens by sending angels to keep us from being eaten alive.
Whether you’re in the mist of waves of infertility, bullying, an eating disorder, an undiagnosed or illness or whether fighting lions like depression, anxiety, an abusive relationship, divorce, rape, addiction, or a 6’2” ex convict violently trying to take your life- keep your focus on finding the Savior. Whether he lifts you out of your deepest waves or sends angels in your den to hold back your lions, He will save you.
I testify with Daniel, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”I know He is real. I know if we follow Him and trust in Him like Daniel, prophets of old as well as today, like the people of Nephi, “[Our] hearts [will] swell with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction.”
Live in a way you’ll recognize him like my Chinese friend, leave your boat like Peter, be patient and prayerful like Daniel and keep fighting like me and Kayli.
Most importantly, keep your faith and focus on Him rather than your fears and He will save you from or in your hardest trials.