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                                          The Miracle of DeAnne's Story

The following poem is a true story. I am fortunate enough to be able to serve with DeAnne Shelley, a fellow missionary at the Mesa Family History Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mesa, Arizona. One day another missionary told me some things about DeAnne that I found remarkable. I asked her if those things were true. She is very modest and reluctant to talk about her experiences but did admit that what I had heard was true. I asked her if she had written her story down and she said, "No, but a friend recorded it once and then transcribed it and gave me a copy." I asked her periodically if I could have a copy of it and as our friendship grew, in time I received it. It was recorded by Carolyn Spencer in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in December of 1994. Transcribing it was one of the last things she did. Soon after, Carolyn Spencer died of cancer. Though most of us would like to tell of remarkable experiences, no one wants to go through them because they almost always stem from horrific trials. DeAnne is one such person. Like Joshua of old, she found herself faced with near impossible odds. But like Joshua, when empowered by the Lord, actually lived to tell the experience of how the walls came tumbling down. ...A conversion story, this is...

                     DeAnne’s Story...

            (Where possible, the words, phrases and even the sentences
                used are taken directly from her own transcribed words.)

He was an only child who went by his middle name of Fred.
       He was my childhood sweetheart. In August of ‘51, we were wed.
I was Episcopalian. My father was raised to be Catholic.
       Fred was of the Church of Christ and loved their a-cappella music.
On my first pregnancy, a friend pulled a chair out from under me.
       I fell back and hit the ground. The impact caused me to miscarry.
I tried for another five years to get pregnant with another child.
       Being unable to, I adopted a little girl so soft, gentle and mild.
Four months after we adopted her, I finally became pregnant again.
       So now we had two beautiful little girls named Joyce and Jan.
When the girls were three and four, I suddenly came down with polio.
       I had no idea what I was in for or that it would be my Jericho.

First, they placed me on an iron-lung and then it hit my left side.
       I prayed a great deal and tried to take my problems in stride.
I kept getting worse, so they used a Kinney Pack machine on me,
       trying to keep my muscles from drawing up. They’d begun to atrophy.
After a while I improved. I could rollover and push up on my hands.
       They let me go home to start a new life with vague uncertain plans.
Twice during the next two years they said, ‘Back to the hospital you go.’
       The second time, I received a tracheotomy. I couldn’t get air to flow.
They ran more tests and afterwards gave me an added diagnosis
       saying, ‘DeAnne, you now also have advanced multiple sclerosis.’
I couldn’t swallow, talk or sit-up. A writing tablet was my communication.
       To reduce the pain and infection, I was given an assortment of medication.

My doctor and I were both praying but each day I just kept getting worse.
       They moved me into ICU. I heard them say, ‘She’ll leave in a hearse.’
But several months later I was still alive, though barely hanging on.
       I told Fred, ‘I can’t take much more of this. I don’t think I’ve got long.’
Then one morning I went blind in one eye, another added calamity.
       I demanded to see my children. This could be my last opportunity.
Seeing my girls, now five and six, helped my faith and hope renew.
       But by early the next morning, I was now blind in the other eye too.
The following weeks my condition got worse. I began to spasm in bed.
       My doctor gave us a Book of Mormon, so from it my husband read.
Things continued to go downhill, then I slipped into a comatose state.
       The doctor said, ‘She’ll be gone by morning. I’m sorry. I’m leaving. It’s late.’

He went home and fell asleep, but suddenly woke to a spiritual call.
       He asked his stake president to bless a woman who had no chance at all.
The doctor and stake president came to my room, asking to give me a blessing.
       Fred told them, ‘You can try anything you want. Nothing else is working.’
They blessed me that I would recover but they didn’t say how fast.
       At 5:30 that morning I came-to and tore at my oxygen mask.
During some of the time I was in the coma, I remember seeing my father.
       We buried him over ten years ago. I knew nothing of the hereafter.
But I remember a wonderful light and my dad coming to greet me.
       The turmoil was that I couldn’t stay. I felt I was there temporarily.
To me, the most pain I ever suffered was the pain of coming back.
       It was like being hit by a freight train that was speeding down a track.

Being there was wonderful. I had peace and warmth and physical freedom.
       Here, I had pain and agony. I lay blind and lifeless in my world of bedlam.
I was sad and crying when I woke up. This wasn’t where I wanted to be.
       I told the doctor about my father and he just looked and smiled at me.
Slowly I began to recover. Even my eyesight began to resume.
       Though I couldn’t see to read, I could see images around the room.
After a few more months, they said I was strong enough to move
       to another hospital that could help my rehabilitation improve.
I progressed to a wheelchair with a leg, back and neck brace.
       Thrilled to be up and around, I wanted to leave and go someplace.
A thought kept reoccurring, a story the doctor had told me about,
       of some seagulls and locusts and of a people the Lord helped out.

So I asked him to tell me that story again and to please explain anew,
       how God performed this miracle ...for a people who asked Him to.
Curiosity peaked for Fred and me, so our doctor introduced us to the missionaries.
       Two young men who did their best to help and answer our queries.
My eyes getting better each day, I read a ‘Marvelous Work and a Wonder.’
       The things that were said in that book made me stop, think and ponder.
One day we came to the same conclusion. ‘We have to get baptized’, we said.
       They said not until I was released. I had to remain in the hospital instead.
I was temporarily released in May of ‘64. It was sunny, beautiful and cool.
       They carried me from my wheelchair. Fred and I were baptized in our pool.
Afterwards I felt so happy, but I chuckle when I look back and think
       how my IV’s and needle holes opened up and my gown began turning pink.

Fred and I were confirmed in our home. Then back to the hospital I went.
       Back to my hospital bed, where the next two and a half months were spent.
I had to learn to use the braces and how to get hooked up around the waist,
       so my smaller left leg, my crippled back and neck, could all be braced.
One day Bishop Harrison came over, after awhile extending a call to me.
       This crippled lady in a wheelchair and braces was to teach in Relief Society.
The time came when we knew we were ready to get our patriarchal blessing.
       So we met with Patriarch Murdock and he began without any questioning.
In my blessing he said that one day I would put my crutches and braces aside.
       I couldn’t believe what I heard him say. I sat there and silently cried.
Afterwards I called my doctor and told him what the Patriarch had said.
       He said, ‘Don’t get too excited, wait and see how the printed version read.’

He asked if I’d mentioned my polio and MS. I said, ‘No, he didn’t ask me.’
       He said, ‘Some things come true in the next life, so let’s just wait and see.’
He knew the extent of my problems and he understood my advanced MS.
       He wasn’t trying to discourage me, he just didn’t want any added stress.
When the printed copy came. There it was. There had been no disavow.
       But my doctor said, ‘DeAnne, the doctors have said it’s impossible now.’
As we continued to read it together, I asked, ‘What’s this word–Generaloby?’
       He said, ‘My gosh, you have a lot here! It’s the study of ancestry called genealogy.
It says you will bring in thousands of souls through your genealogical effort.’
       He said, ‘When you connect and seal a family, it’s like giving them a passport.’
Fred and I both wanted to go to the temple. I was as excited as a new cadet.
       But they said with my medicine schedule and strength level, I wasn’t ready yet.

Then finally the day arrived and my doctor and some friends came with me.
       Off to the temple our family went to be sealed for time and eternity.
About halfway through the endowment session, I started to get very trembly.
       My friends stopped the session and Dr. Parkinson took me out quickly.
‘I’ve got this vibration in my back and legs’, I explained. ‘Can you feel this?’
       My heart was pounding fiercely. He said, ‘I’m not sure what it is.’
They laid me down on a bench. I said, ‘I feel like I’m getting so light.’
       No one knew how to help me. On their face was concern and fright.
As I lay there I told them, ‘I’m getting so light I think I’m going to faint.’
       My body was changing somehow. I could feel a removal of restraint.
Since my 30th birthday, everything was heavy and I didn’t have any strength.
       But now something was happening and I still can’t explain it at length.

I asked them to sit me up. Then suddenly I lifted my leg on my own.
       Everyone stood and stared, unable to believe what they’d been shown.
They put me in my chair, then into the room. The session starting once more.
       For the prayer, I asked to be helped up and I shuffled across the floor.
I hadn’t walked in four years. Though wobbly, I felt the urge to keep trying.
       Most people realized something had changed as Fred and I were crying.
As we went to the sealing room, the braces were still on, but I continued to move.
       I was walking behind the wheelchair. With every step, my body would improve.
My girls, now seven and eight, came into the sealing room all dressed in white.
       Joyce looked and said, ‘You look like a regular mommy!’ Yes, it was quite a sight!
At the alter I knelt for the first time in four years and our little family was sealed.
       We knelt together holding hands. We’re a living testimony of a miracle revealed.

Afterwards, I was afraid to leave the temple. I feared the paralysis would return.
       President Wright said the Lord had healed me and to remember what I had learned.
That all the collection of wisdom and data that from our scientists have poured,
       does not match the wisdom, knowledge or the will ...of Jesus Christ our Lord!
He said in faith I could leave the temple, that my blessing would come with me.
       That I could return to my home and new life. ‘Now go and be with your family.’
The following day my doctor measured my legs. They were exactly the same size.
       At the discovery, neither of us knew what to say. It had been a total surprise.
After a complete and thorough examination, the leg braces came off first thing.
       Each morning I called the doctor. I told him of the change the night would bring.
He said to call my physical therapist, ‘I want a muscle check arranged.’
       When I did, my therapist said, ‘DeAnne, nothing is going to be changed.’

The day of my appointment, I walked into his office, my neck and back brace off.
       He just stood and stared in amazement. I’m sure he first felt he would scoff.
He was eager to check my muscle status because the change was so monumental.
       He was dumbfounded to see the check showed 90% of my body was normal.
There aren’t words to express my feelings. I wanted to leave and celebrate.
       My therapist and his nurse joined the Church, with a desire to investigate.
But as happy as I was, this was not the end of my major problems, you see.
       Because every fall I would come down with pneumonia and suffer from allergy.
My worse problem was the poison oak on the hillsides. Breathing it was fatal.
       It caused violent reactions, bringing pneumonia which put me in the hospital.
These were usually four or five week stays, because of the cortisone therapy.
       The attacks were overwhelming and usually took everything out of me.

Fred said, ‘You haven’t been healed to be sick like this. This thing we will defeat.’
       My doctor advised us to move to the desert or someplace above 4000 feet.
We sold our beautiful home in San Jose and moved to Gardnerville, Nevada.
       We didn’t know anyone there at all. We might as well have moved to Canada.
We had taken in a young girl named Connie. She was seventeen when she came.
       Later still, we adopted our only boy. Raymond Frederick was his name.
On February, twenty-forth, 1977, when Raymond was only seven years old,
       Fred was flying back from Utah, trying to beat the storm and snowing cold.
Ray was in the hospital with double pneumonia. He wanted a father’s blessing.
       His doctor said, ‘I wish he’d calm down, the loudness of his cry is distressing.’
When Fred was four hours late, I worried but didn’t have the faintest clue,
       my Fred had been killed in a crash. I was devastated and knew not what to do.

I went to Ray’s room, thinking, ‘How am I going to tell him his father is dead?’
       His doctor spoke as I passed him, ‘I’m glad Ray got his blessing,’ he said.
I didn’t understand what he was talking about or what he meant at the time,
       but when I got to the room Ray said, ‘Dad was here. He said I’d be fine.’
For the funeral we took Fred back to our beloved home in San Jose, California.
       At the grave-site I had to stay in the car and by afternoon, I had pneumonia.
After I was released from the hospital, I returned to Nevada and thought,
       ‘What’s all this suffering for? I want my pain and illnesses to stop.’
Bishop Hunter called. ‘President Folger and I are going to Conference,’ he said.
       ‘If I meet you there, will you bless me so I can return to San Jose?’ I plead.
At Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City, they tried to give me that blessing, but couldn’t.
       They said, ‘DeAnne, we feel so bad! We tried but the feeling was we shouldn’t.’

President Folger hugged me as I cried and said, ‘I just don’t know what to do.’
       Later on Bishop Hunter called me and said, ‘My father has asked to see you.’
After conference I met with Apostle Howard W. Hunter for lunch and dessert.
       Afterwards he gave me a blessing saying, ‘I should move to the Arizona desert.’
He said I was needed in their genealogical effort to help make their program strong.
       He said to go to the Mesa Temple and History Center. That was where I belong.
I’d never been to Arizona before, so I rented a car, bought a map and off I went.
       Driving the town and walking the temple grounds was how my time was spent.
I returned to Nevada and put my home up for sale. In two weeks it was sold.
       Everything I’d been through bolstered my faith. I was now very strong and bold.
I settled into my new home and continued doing and teaching genealogy.
       My knowledge exploded and like a sponge I soaked up the latest technology.

I was introduced to a man in the stake presidency, named Melvin Shelley.
       We ended up falling in love. But he lived in Holbrook, I lived in the Valley.
He wanted to remain sealed to Madge and I wanted to remain sealed to Fred.
       So we were married by Bishop Despain, who married us for time instead.
I was teaching genealogy in college and Melvin was a judge in northern Arizona,
       when we got a phone call from Salt Lake, saying we were needed in Guatemala.
We were called to an 18 month mission to improve their family history skill.
       I knew genealogy, Melvin spoke Spanish, but the work sounded hard and uphill.
We stayed for three years, teaching and organizing in every branch and stake.
       Their 24 history centers turned into 54. A great difference we tried to make.
The Guatemala Temple has filled with work since the opening of each new door.
       We imagine Fred and Madge are converting ...those we’re doing temple work for.

My hopes and dreams were similar to yours, when unexpectedly rearranged.
       I lived a fairly typical life until thirty, then everything suddenly changed.
My life has been shaped and molded. It began with the Lord’s intervention.
       It all started in the Highland Hospital with my not-so-simple conversion.
I watched my chance at life, to raise my family or be a wife, slowly slip away.
       I even saw every bit of my health taken, even to breathe, to think or to pray.
At last I saw my pain and illnesses taken, by the power of the Holy Priesthood
       and experienced miracle after miracle that the doctors never understood.
Today, if you looked at me, you’d never know these things were ever the case.
       No, would never know my story is true or that I ever wore a brace.
I am a living testament of God. And for these experiences I’m not angry or sorry.
      I’ve grown in ways you cannot imagine ...and I pray you’ve been helped by my story."

       Officer Samuel Jeppsen #3751 (Ret) R-140, May 2001-b

"I feel truly honored and humbled to be able to express my testimony. Samuel is a friend that I am pleased to work with in our search for knowledge of family history study. The love of our Savior is very evident in his life.

As I reflect upon my life, it has been one of great learning experiences. I have learned the hardships of being handicapped and the effect it has upon all family members. I have learned the fantastic joy of finding the gospel of Jesus Christ and having Him become my true Savior and best friend. Through Jesus Christ, I have experienced miracles and felt His hand in many areas of my life. I have learned of the sorrow and emptiness of losing your eternal spouse and the joy of finding a substitute for this life to continue through life’s struggles. I have learned to act upon the prompting and warnings of the Holy Ghost. I have felt the fulfillment of my heart by doing genealogy work. I know how very close our loved ones are just beyond the veil and how they speak to us in doing this most important redeeming work. I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I know this is the true church.

Besides all the blessings mentioned in the poem, we’ve also had great blessings because of our mission. We can take every child of ours and see a great blessing in their lives. Each of them received a particular blessing. If we were to take just one of those blessings, we could say it was all worth it. I have four great friends who have inspired me for many years and who have added to my knowledge of the Gospel and life. My doctor, John E. Parkinson, Maxine and Andy Anderson who have been an example to me of true friendship and knowledge of the gospel and Norma Thomas who has shown me a house of order, peace and a love for the beautiful things of life. I love my children and grandchildren and it gives me great happiness to watch their progress in life as they grow, serve and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ, our Savior. "

                                                                                     DeAnne White Anderson Shelley

Melvin and DeAnne now live in Mesa. Melvin works in the Temple and DeAnne still works, ...teaching others how to do genealogy. Visit this wonderful lady, even get help with your family history work at:

              When you trust in God, everything will turn out alright in the end.
                           So just remember ...if things aren’t alright ...then it’s not the end.


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