Thursday, July 2, 2009

Elder Zerin Petersen

We've all heard about the rule of three's, right?

How life gets on a roll; maybe you write up 3 great sales in a row,

find 3 great deals in the grocery store,

or you manage to see 3 friends you haven't seen in a while, all in one week. . .

Then there is the bad stuff . . . the rule of three applies here, too.

In this past month, our ward (the local LDS church congregation) suffered the loss of three of our members. One person was quite elderly, lived a good long life, and was suffering from health issues. Another was a chronically ill man who had suffered quite extensively in his final years. The third was a dear friend to all who knew him, who died suddenly and tragically in a motocycle accident.

What do you do, how can you feel, when the fourth bad thing happens . . . ?

Is it an upset of the normal order of things, or is it the first of a new set of 3's?

I think it is time to pray for miracles . . .

Monday we received word that a good friend of my son, Chad, and one of the missionaries from our ward, Elder Zerin Petersen, had been injured in what anyone would describe as a freak accident. A split second action, without time to think of the consequences, and a young man's path was changed from missionary service, to being the recipient of an outpouring of love and service. This vibrant young man, neck broken, spinal cord injured, is now lying in a hospital bed. Our faith and love and prayers hold the hope that he will recover from this injury.

Our stake, (the regional LDS congregations made up of a groups of wards) and the two stakes that are in the Colorado Springs Mission boundaries, will be fasting in his behalf this Sunday.

There are a few amazing details to this story:

This young man is the son of the Boy Scouts of America executive in our area. As you would expect, he was raised to enjoy the Scouting program and all it has to offer. He is an Eagle Scout, with all of his Palms earned, and has taken many First Aid courses along the way. He was also trained and taught as a Lifeguard at Scout Camp, and taught others to be lifeguards as well.

As soon as he landed on his neck he tried to get up. He immediately collapsed and realized that he had a spinal cord injury. Would he have known that without the training that he had received? Likely he would have not.

He called out to the other missionaries that were present and rushing to his aid and said "I have a spinal injury. Don't touch me!" Clear thinking by this amazing young man likely saved his life and himself from further injury.

My husband, upon receiving a call about the accident, rushed out to the Boy Scout camp where his parents, Chris and Mari-Beth Petersen, and his brother, Javan, work during the summer, to deliver the horrifying news. With a heavy heart he told the shocked parents the information he had been given. Elder Petersen's parents, rushed home, packed, and flew out to Denver early the next morning.

A little information about this young man's parents. Chris Petersen, works as the regional executive of the Boy Scouts of America in our area. There are young men throughout the Northwest and and the state of Alaska that have, with the support of his wife, Mari-Beth, been affected by the work that he does. Chris has touched the lives of literally thousands of young men and helped them grow into knowledgeable, hardworking, and productive young men. He works long hours during nine months of the year, and in the summers he lives, in a small, dusty cabin at Boy Scout camp, and directs the activities that occur there. As his children have grown, they and his wife have joined him to work there during the summers as well. He is also known as "Abe", and if you have ever met him, you would know exactly why.

The members, missionaries, and the mission Presidency of the Colorado Springs mission and the Denver area have pulled together to coordinate housing, transportation, and everything else that the Petersen's might be in need of during their stay. This may seem a miracle in itself, but to members of the Church and the people that care about the Petersen's and the LDS missionaries, this is the way we look after and take care of each other. We are blessed to be a part of a loving ward family, and members of a church that considers one another to be brothers and sisters; literally, a family.

Another amazing detail - the Denver/Colorado Springs area is home of the Swedish Medical Center, a Level One trauma center and ranks among the top Neuroscience programs. It is also designated as a Neuroscience Center of Excellence (COE). Adjacent to the hospital is the Craig Hospital, which is an internationally known leader of spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation. One of the world's best neurosurgeons operated on Elder Petersen. There is no better place for him to be in the country, and quite possibly in the world, for him to be to get the care that he now needs.

His recovery will take some time. At this point he can move very little, and has only some sensation in his hands. There has been trama to his spinal cord, and the swelling to the spinal cord from the injury and the surgery to repair the vertibrae (C4) is the most critical factor right now. Four to five months has been mentioned for his stay in Colorado for physical therapy.

There has been an outpouring of people wanting to help. Their home needs some work that they have not had the time or money to do, and modifications will likely be needed to made their home wheelchair accessible.

I have received permission from his mother to set up a blog to keep everyone updated on his progress. The link to this blog is It will provide information to those who are interested in his progress, and possibilities of service - done confidentially without their knowing anything about it - for this amazing family.

Please keep Elder Zerin Petersen in yours prayers, and if you can, please join us in the fast for his recovery this Sunday, July 5

Thank you

The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints
Lakeland 2nd Ward
Rathdrum, Idaho
and the Colorado Springs, Colorado Mission


Mrs. Organic said...

Oh Loralee, how very sad. Our neighbor across the street suffered a similar injury. He recovered and served a mission, He's now at BYU and doing very well.

Melissa said...

Now crying.... thank you.... and as a missionary mom - EVERY missionary is my son. Elder Zerin is in our fast and prayers. Will be looking forward to the new blog link..... Send my love and support for these brothers and sisters of mine whom I have never met, but instantly love.

Debbie said...

Yes, us LDS do love our missionaries and all members of the church. I will add him to my fast this Sunday and alo look forward to the link. My prayers are with the family.

LyndiLou said...

Wow. I'm sooo sorry you're having to deal with so much all at once. I hope things turn out well for this missionary. It hits a different cord now that I have a brother serving right now. I look forward to the other blog... maybe there's something I can do to help.

Michelle said...

Keep us informed as to how this missionary is doing. It is difficult when you see that happen...esp when you have your own son on a mission it is particularly close also. Every missionary I would see in the store would make me think of my son on his mission and I would instantly burst into tears!

Jake and Kelli Stellmon said...

Hi Loralee,

Peggy Gay let me know about Zerin and our family is also fasting for him. Give them our love. If there is ANYTHING I can do, let me know.
And....I couldn't help but think about how the Lord knows where we are to be when. He was called to that mission because the Lord knew what was coming, and He knew Zerin needed to be at that facility. Amazing how the Lord works.


Nancy Face said...

What a sad and tragic accident. I'm sorry I'd already broken my fast before reading this, but I will pray for him and his family.

Kerri said...

Loralee, thanks for your nice comment. This post breaks my heart. I will keep Elder Petersen in my thoughts, and his family, too. I have always wished that doing good meant we'd be protected from tragedy, but it just doesn't work out that way, does it?