Dear Brother Albright,
I am a Sister Missionary serving in Bermuda. The End-to-End Race is Bermuda’s largest community fundraising event where thousands walk, ride, swim and paddle the length of Bermuda (24.1 miles) to raise money for local charities. My companion and I started our day at 5 a.m. in order to arrive at the starting point on time. By 7 a.m. we were on our way pushing and pulling our investigator Rechai in his wheelchair, trying to keep pace with the rest of the participants. Along the way, nice specators often clapped for us.
Many in the large crowds lining the streets couldn’t believe we were pushing a wheelchair the entire 24 miles, (mind you the ONLY wheelchair particpating in the walk that day across Bermuda). We overheard one spectator say, “Those are the Latter-Day Saints; they’re good people.” Along the race we made sure that Rechai had plenty of water, that he took his meds and overall that he had a good time. This young man had a smile on his face the entire morning and afternoon, cracking jokes and encouraging us to keep going even when we were exhausted.
The first 14 miles were not too difficult for us, but after that point our pace slowed down considerably. It was getting harder for us to push the wheelchair, which seemed to grow heavier with each passing mile. I could feel my body giving up on me; I could feel the cramps in my thighs. I started to hurt everywhere. I began to think negative thoughts and that slowed my pace. I slowed down, took a few deep breaths and kept on going!
The various segments of the course changed from asphalt to pure rocks and then to soft sand. I wanted to give up and quit. Along the way we kept praying for the strength to make it to the end and get a medal. Some of the trails included many stairs. All 4 of us missionaries would grab a corner and lift up the chair and carry Rechai from the top of the stairs to the bottom and then back up another flight. It was definitely a struggle and unbelievable to those who were watching.
The last 4 miles were the longest miles of my life. My heart gave up, my mind gave up, my body gave up! I thought, oh no I’m going to let the team down, I’m going to let Rechai down.
At mile 21, I prayed repeatedly for the stamina to keep on moving. I needed the Lord to help push me. I needed His help if I was going to make it to the end of the island. After I said “amen” for the last time, I noticed that the streets were filled with people shouting, “Keep going! You’re almost to the end!” People driving by in their cars shouted out the window, “GREAT JOB! KEEP ON GOING! YOU CAN DO IT!”
With just 300 feet to go, I could see the finish line, and I started crying. I was in so much pain from head to toe that I didn’t think I could finish. I also began to cry for joy because we had accomplished our goal. A senior missionary couple at the end of the race presented us with our medals! They gave us a big hug and said: “YOU DID IT, WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU!” I can’t tell you how much that meant to us.
I can imagine Heaven being the same way, with the Lord pushing us on and sometimes carrying us through the trials of life and then greeting us at the finish line with a big hug saying “YOU DID IT! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!”
The next day was Sunday, and I woke up and my hands were sore and bruised from pushing the wheelchair. As I partook of the sacrament, I thought of our Savior’s hands and His sacrifice. I know He will push us through everything that we must pass through in this life. He’ll keep pushing us and encouraging us until we reach the finish line of our lives.
I will never forget this experience, I’ll never forget how much the Lord pushed me this weekend. We were Rechai’s hands and legs this weekend. I’d do it all over again if I had to.
I love this work. I love the Lord. When everything else fails in life, the Lord never does. He comforts us, guides us and hugs us when we need it the most. He often sends others to help and encourage us!
Sister Liumei Pulotu