“New Dreams for Old,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 65–66
After finishing my studies in technical administration, I worked with a young executive who later became my husband. What a marvelous time of my life it was! But it was not to last. One month after our wedding, my husband and I were traveling from Bogotá, Colombia, where we lived, to Duitama, where my parents lived, when we were involved in a serious automobile accident. The accident took my husband’s life and left me with amnesia. I couldn’t remember anything of the past six years, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t move my left arm.
After months of physical therapy, I was finally able to walk again and move my arm somewhat. Gradually, my memory returned to the point that six years after the accident I could recall the events of my life except for two years: the one preceding the accident and the one following it. Still, my previous capabilities were much diminished. I had trouble converting my thoughts into words, and I found it difficult to repeat something after hearing it. Because I easily forgot details, some people took advantage of my lapses.
Eventually, the doctors felt they had done all they could. I tried to appear happy and enthusiastic, but I often felt frustrated and angry. What was I to do with my life?
When I was at my lowest point, I read in the scriptures where the Lord promises that we will not be tried above that which we are able to bear (see 1 Cor. 10:13; D&C 64:20). I prayed that this promise would be true for me too.
I finally returned to the company where I had worked before the accident. Since I was incapable of handling my old job, I worked at filing and similar jobs, but even these tasks proved difficult. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up. I fought to complete my six-month contract. As I did, a marvelous feeling of hope illuminated my spirit, inspiring me to keep trying to improve my capabilities.
By staying close to the Lord, I reestablished confidence in myself and could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. This influence soon led me to consider serving a mission. I know some people thought my desire foolish, but when I spoke with the branch president, he gave me the courage I needed to continue. To prepare myself, I decided I needed to read the Book of Mormon in its entirety—something I had not yet accomplished in my 12 years as a member.
However, my poor memory posed a real challenge. After starting 1 Nephi at least 10 times and not being able to remember a thing I had read, I knew I needed a different approach. I prayed to find a solution, and soon a method entered my mind: I would write a synopsis of each chapter as I read it.
I bought a notebook and read the first chapter of 1 Nephi. Since I had only a vague idea of what I had just read, I had to read the chapter again. Only then was I able to summarize in my notebook the main ideas in that chapter.
Prayerfully, I moved on. After completing 1 Nephi, I found I no longer had to read each chapter twice; once was enough to write a good synopsis. I read the entire Book of Mormon this way. When I finished, I was left with a strong spiritual witness that the book is true, and I could also testify that the Lord strengthens us if we turn to Him.
I next completed the missionary health form, answering each question honestly, even though the answers could frustrate my desire to be a missionary. How great was my joy when I received a call to serve in the Colombia Cali Mission! There I discovered the truth of another of the Lord’s promises, found in 1 Nephi 3:7: “The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
After I returned from my mission, I came to live with my parents on a farm where we grow products to sell. I have also developed a talent for knitting, which allows me to earn money and leaves me time for spiritual growth. I live a happy and productive life.
I would have preferred not to have had the accident, but I recognize the tremendous growth I’ve experienced because of it. I’ve learned that we may lose our dreams and hopes, even our loved ones, and our talents, riches, and strength might disappear, but the Lord will always support us. He gives us new dreams to replace those we have lost. In spite of all the difficulties we encounter, the Lord can help us move forward. He compensates—and He always keeps His promises.