We have been contemplating over the last few days, wondering how we even attempt to do our feelings justice. How do we ever thank our amazing friends and family for all that you have done for us? Saturday was a ray of sunshine in the midst of a blizzard – and for those of you who were able to make it up to the Ham Shoot know that I mean a literal blizzard!
When we found out that snowstorm was headed our way, everyone got a little worried. During the last two months, our close friends and family members have spent hours upon hours putting some serious sweat equity into this event for my sweet husband. Everyone gave all they had to give.
After the accident, I think everyone felt helpless – desperate to do ANYTHING to help. I even wanted to give more, do more than I was physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually able to give. I knew I was doing all that I could possibly do, and yet I wished with my whole heart that I could somehow do more. So, I can only imagine how everyone else felt.
But instead of just feeling helpless, I saw people go into action.
Years ago, I sat in a General Relief Society meeting where President Uchtdorf said something that struck my heart:
“The number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us; and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”
I can’t even count the number of instruments the Lord has had in his hands and used directly for us! Our hearts have been touched and our spirits have been lifted by so many willing to just do whatever they could think of to do that might help. Let me tell you, everything – big or small – has helped more than anyone will ever know. Every thought, every act of kindness, every gift – be it an actual gift or a gift of the heart – has helped us put one foot in front of the other and continue on this hard road we are on.
It was a little over two months ago when three different groups decided separately that they wanted to do a Ham Shoot for Dust. They found out about each other, joined forces and holy moly!!! They created an ARMY (also known as “The Committee”)! They had dream to not only help us with the mounting medical bills, but to help my amazing husband truly know how much he is loved.
“The Committee” worked tirelessly and as they worked, we were able to stand back and watch our entire community rally to support us in this incredibly difficult time of our lives.
Almost daily, we were completely amazed by the incredibly generous donations that came rolling in. Dust and I would laugh in disbelief, as our phones would vibrate simultaneously with another group text, to inform us of the next grand donation. The excitement for the coming event was building and building with each new day. We could just hear it in the voices of “The Committee” members every time we talked to them.
So, when the weatherman came on the news to tell us that the biggest snowstorm of the year was brewing, anxiety set in.
On Friday night, Dust and I watched (and tried to help) “The Committee” work for hours, setting up the tent and the clubhouse. The massive tent was bursting with one-dollar and five-dollar raffle prizes and silent auction items, ready for the next morning. My heart was just sick, thinking that a terrible whiteout would most certainly discourage people from coming. And just as much as I wanted everyone who contributed to feel satisfied in the success of the day, I so wanted Dust to feel how very much he is loved by so many people.
I got on my knees and prayed, as I know many people did, that the storm would split and leave us with a gloriously beautiful day. My sweet friend told me the answer she got to that exact prayer was, “No. That is not how I’m going to show my love this time.”
When it became evident that the storm was fixed on heading our way, we prayed that our Heavenly Father would clear the way for people to make it to the range safely. The huge hill you drive up to get to the gun range is notorious for terrible pile-ups on snow slicked roads. Dustin’s mom won’t even attempt driving up or down it when the weather is bad. My prayers were focused on the hopes that there would at least be a good amount of people there when Dust and I arrived. I just couldn’t stand the thought of Dust feeling bad about a poor turnout. I was so worried about having to rationalize and try to convince him that the only reason people hadn’t come because of the weather.
In fact, Dust’s cousin Jon had nightmares all night that cars were sliding off the road and crashing all over 4th North (that treacherous hill) and nobody could make it up to the gun range!
The Ham Shoot started at 8:30 am. Dust and I planned to get up there by 11, but in our usual fashion we were a tiny bit late. We tried! We really, really tried! But we ended up getting there about quarter to 12.
With my cute mom driving and our sweet kids in tow, we headed south on the icy roads and I took a deep breath. “Oh please, oh please let there be people up there for Dust!” With four-wheel drive necessary, we turned up 4th North and looked up toward the gun range. There was snow all over the road, but I didn’t see any pile-ups anywhere.
All the way at the top, clear up by the big Bountiful “B” on the mountain, we turned onto the dirt road that leads to the gun range. I held my breath as we crept along the snow packed dirt road. As we got closer, I could see that both the upper and lower parking lots were packed. Overflow cars lined the road we were driving along.
Dustin’s dad was standing in a spot close to the prize tent, waiting for us to arrive. My dad came to the car and my parents took off with Cole and Haley. Dust and I got out of the car and looked at each other. Here we go!
Hand in hand, we walked around the tent to see the place was PACKED with people! We quickly got separated. I started heading up the hill to try to help find a quiet place for Haley to nap. I looked back to see my sweet husband with his shoulders back, head up, a smile on his face and his wonderful dad at his side. They had already been surrounded by a crowd of family and friends, who just couldn’t wait to show Dustin their love and support.
I quickly ran into Dust’s sister Stacie. I started to cry as she wrapped her arms around me. I mean, I am not surprised that so many people love Dustin. I know how incredible he is. He is so easy to love. But it takes incredible effort to get to something like this and support people when the sun is shining and everything is perfect! So to see the gun range covered with people during a crazy winter storm was literally astounding to me. And it wasn’t just men that were there! There were tons of kids running around and women without their husbands. And my brother-in-law Tyler told me the place had been crawling since before they opened. It had been like that all day. Each person who felt compelled to come helped to provide the next miracle in our series of miracles.
The rest of the day was filled with warm embraces and loving encouragement. I would occasionally catch a glimpse of Dust in various spots encircled by friends, with several others waiting around the fringe of the crowd to get their turn to wrap their arms around Dust. It was just so amazing to see Dust carry himself like he used to! He looked so good, so happy and that made me feel so good!
We had such a blast with everyone! And the food, OH THE FOOD! My mouth is watering just thinking about those amazing pork sandwiches – Dust was even able to eat some!
At the end of the day, Dust was able to draw out the names for the mountain of raffle prizes. It was fun to see his excitement with each name called. I just can’t even describe how it felt to watch him in action.
What an amazing day! A bitterly cold storm warmed by the spirit of charity and love. I don’t know that we could ever adequately thank each of you for being there for us. Thank you for hearing our silent prayers, for being instruments in The Lord’s hands to lift and strengthen us. We just hope you know that we love you and we are so very grateful, from the very bottom of our hearts.
(My computer is being funky, so I will post Ham Shoot pics tomorrow)