Posted by: monsonmadness | July 9, 2011


Random thoughts on perspective.

Sometimes things need a special perspective, for example, it was our anniversary yesterday. We have been married for 11 years. Who would have thought that we would be spending our 11th anniversary in American Samoa? Michael and I would have loved to come away to a tropical island for an anniversary some time, and now here we are! We got a babysitter and went out to Tradewinds, the nice hotel on the island, for a steak dinner. We had a great time. When we came home, all the kids were asleep and everything was great. We were so happy with our babysitter and told her we would call her again soon. She told us that she is in the process of applying for a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For a split second, I thought, oh no, now we have to start from scratch finding a new babysitter, and then I got things in proper perspective, even more so as I talked to her on the drive home. Here was an intelligent, charismatic and beautiful 21 year old girl who is voluntarily choosing to serve an 18 month mission at her own expense. She could be sent anywhere in the world, and she will go willingly and testify to strangers about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. She has her priorities right and her life in perspective. I admire her a lot.

So as we were going to bed last night at around 9.30pm, Michael said, “don’t you think it’s funny that we and your sister are both celebrating our anniversaries at the same time? That was a weird thought. It was late at night on the 7th for us, and 9.30am in the morning of the 8th for my sister. Trying keeping all of that in perspective, it blows my mind, in real time we were both celebrating at the exact same time, but we were on different days. Weird.

Benjamin went outside to play yesterday afternoon. He had only been outside for about 2 minutes when he screamed a blood curdling scream which just kept going. I ran to the door and then heard the barking of the dog that was chasing him down. Benjamin was running as hard as he could for the safety of the house, and the wild dog was on his heels. Fortunately the dog just wanted Benjamin out of his territory and stopped chasing right outside the house, but Benjamin was petrified and very shaken. We have been told that the number one thing that people go to LBJ hospital for here is dog bites. Trying to put this experience into perspective, it made me realise that at least we have a free security system, and even though we are in a “dodgy” village with overturned cars on the side of the roads, barefooted children wandering around in dirty clothes,  and garbage everywhere, we can at least feel safe that no-one will come to our home or try to break in thanks to our “guard dogs”.

Yesterday I was driving around the island. The speed limit in our village is 15 mph. Do you know how hard it is to drive at that speed? What’s great is that once we get to the main road, we get to drive 25 mph. It really feels like you’re speeding! Keeping things in perspective, I’m quite grateful for this low speed limit because we don’t have car seats yet. Our mini van still hasn’t arrived. We borrowed a mini van from some friends, but no car seats or boosters for the kids yet. So glad that we can feel safe as we’re driving around.

I worked really hard to keep things in perspective today. I woke up and immediately felt something was wrong. I had food poisoning. I started throwing up and having diarrhea, and so I turned the tv on for the kids and tried to rest in bed. Within an hour, there was nothing left in me, I was losing all of my fluids very quickly and was dehydrated. I starting feeling weak and dizzy, hyperventilating and losing feeling in my hands and arms. Our home phone still has not been set up, and I was concerned about what the children would do if I passed out or something. I managed to get up and turn on the laptop, send Michael an quick email telling him to come home now, and then I collapsed on the floor. I didn’t pass out though, and the older kids were able to help me get back to bed, and then take care of the little ones while we waited for Michael.

Michael gave me a priesthood blessing when he arrived, but I desperately needed fluids. I wasn’t able to keep water down yet. We called my friend Ali and she had some tricks and drove right over. The hospital has such a bad rap that we were advised to avoid that since we may just be waiting in the waiting room there for 4 or 5 hours anyway. I kept losing fluid for another couple of hours, and then things started to calm down. It was a rough day. Ali took a couple of the kids home with her which turned out to be great because Mary locked herself in her bedroom and it took Michael two hours to get her out. I was still so light headed and woozy that I couldn’t stand up so Michael was alone dealing with that chaos while I just kept running to the bathroom. Ali bought me some powerade and I was finally able to keep it down. So trying to keep things in perspective today, I felt so grateful that we didn’t need to go to the hospital, that it was me that got food poisoning and not one of the kids, and that we didn’t have to break Mary’s door down to get her out.

Keeping things in perspective is going to be the thing that saves us down here. That and remembering our blessings. Every night before we have our family prayer, we go around the circle, and ask each person in the family what they are grateful for. Each person gets to share something from that day that they are grateful for. Sometimes the kids say things like “I’m grateful that we had ice cream today” or “I’m grateful that Dad played with me”, or “I’m grateful that Mom took us to the beach today”. Mary’s lately has been “I’m grateful for Grandma Shumway”. We cover a wide range of topics, but we believe that it is important to take the time each day to reflect on the ways that we have been blessed. Occasionally, one of the kids won’t be in a sharing mood and will say, “Nothing”, or “I’m not grateful for anything”, to which the rest of the family replies in unison our family theme: “There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for”. Our family has grown closer together as we have shared our appreciation with each other. I hope that you can each find the things in your life that you are grateful for, the blessings that you receive from God and those around you, and that you make the effort to express that gratitude to them.


  1. You are so positive, Helen. I love it. Food poisoning sounds terrible.

  2. I’m sending a hug for you and each one of those darling kids!

  3. Happy late anniversary! Glad you got to go out. Sorry you were so sick- that sounded horrible. It is amazing how our perspective can make things worse or better. Thanks for sharing your positive thoughts!

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