Sunday, July 12, 2020

It's just a mask..... Right?..... Not for me.

We resumed Sunday worship with much anticipation and an approved plan on July 5, 2020.
Masks were optional.  Few people wore masks. (9 out of over 60)

I received an email from my bishop on Wednesday.
                The Stake President "has requested that all members please wear masks to 
                Sunday meetings."

Up until now, I have been largely unaffected by covid-19 and all the regulations imposed by state and local governments and freedoms stripped from us.  We live in a rural area that has 11 people per square mile.  We are geographically distanced already.  I choose to avoid establishments that require masks as much as possible.  I am not sick, nor am I exhibiting "symptoms."

My first reaction was panic!
I was shocked that we would be subjected to the practice of mandatory mask wearing.  I was confronted with the fact that we are becoming subjects of tyranny.  This is all too real for me, not because of the mask request, but because of what the first step of a very slippery slope implies.  I am heartbroken that our country is no longer free.  I am heartbroken at the realization that the persecution has truly begun. 

During the last couple of weeks, I have had discussions with Eric and the onions about where to draw the line in preparation for when we are confronted with making tough decisions that seem to be coming.

I decided that I would draw the line at the ability to obey the commandments and keep my covenants.  

However, when the first sign of infringement on my individual rights was issued, I was overcome by the implications.  
Mentally I knew I had already decided that I would comply, but emotionally and spiritually I know what is happening is wrong and that it will only get worse.  I could understand, accept, and even expected a government issue.  
I had a plan: I would write letters to my elected leaders, mayor, state legislature, governor, and federal representative and senators.  (I did call the mayor, but he was not available).  I will write to my leaders, to let them know how I feel and where I stand on the issue of masks and diminished freedoms proactively rather than reactively.

I think my bigger issue was that the restriction of freedom came from the church!  I didn't expect it at all.  I thought we would comply as a church, not encourage or be proactive in the narrative. 

Tears, anxiety, overwhelm. 
It seems silly that I would react this way.  It it so much bigger than "just a mask."
This is a new experience.  I have always been in agreement with church policy.  I personally oppose wearing a mask.
 I wore a "face covering" to take Naomi to a doctor's appointment.  I felt stifled, hot, and uncomfortable wearing a mask, and my glasses kept fogging up.  I soon become a little light headed.  
Also, I am hard of hearing.  I was deaf as a child and learned to read lips.  I rely on reading lips in everyday conversation.   Masks muffle speech, making it almost impossible to understand anyone wearing a mask.

I thought I would write a letter to my bishop and stake president "letting them know my concerns."  I spent hours on this letter, and nothing seemed to convey well.  Eric suggested that he send an email.  RELIEF!  

BUT.... What am I missing?  What do I need to learn?

As part of my scripture study time, I was rereading a BYU speech: "In Him All Things Hold Together”  NEAL A. MAXWELL of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles  March 31, 1991

Elder Maxwell begins with:

                I wish to talk about your unfinished journey. It is the journey of journeys... 
                It is an arduous journey. The trek awaits—whether one is rich or poor, 
                short or tall, thin or fat, black or white or brown, old or young, shy or bold, 
                married or single, a prodigal or an ever faithful. Compared to this journey, 
                all other treks are but a brief walk in a mortal park or are merely time on a 
                telestial treadmill.
                                                Becoming Men and Women of Christ

His words inspired much introspection.  He talked about the attributes of Christ, what they are and what they are not.

He quotes this scripture:
Mosiah 3:19 
                And becometh a saint . . . submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, 
                willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.

I also watched a July 5 2020 video of Rev. Danny Jones making all kinds of connections that I needed to apply to my life.
There are many parallels between Jeremiah's day and ours.  
Paul suffered much persecution, counseled several groups of people in his day and saw our day.  Romans 12 is particularly helpful.  Paul provides guidance for how to act and be. 
Daniel is a great example of one who knows when to draw the line.  He was subjected to many injustices and only drew the line when it came to worshiping his God.

As I read in the Book of Mormon daily, it is ever evident that there are parallels from their day to ours in almost every chapter.

Elder Holland's talk from April 2013 "Lord, I Believe" was exactly what I needed to be reminded of.
Elder Uchdorf's talk from October 2017 "Three Sisters"  was so very insightful and helpful.

Eric Informed our bishop that I was extremely anxious about the request to wear masks.  He asked if speakers would be wearing masks and if we had to wear a mask while seated 6 feet apart.  Answer:  The speakers will not being wearing masks at the pulpit, and I could remove my mask while seated.  
Deep Breath.  My concerns were no longer concerns.  

But the principle of wearing masks still lingered.

The words:
"Brace yourself, brace yourself."  from the preacher Dana Cornerstone come to mind.  

While some of our church leaders have said that we will overcome covid, my question is: "at what cost?" 

I am saddened that people are dying from covid.  I am saddened that people die of cancer and heart disease and accidents.
I am concerned about our freedoms, about the freedoms we have lost and are losing.  That we, as a society seem to distrust our neighbors, but choose to trust corrupt bureaucracy and experts to tell us what is best.  Millions have given their lives for the ideals and freedoms that our constitution provides.

If we do "go back to normal" I will be pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful.  Yet, my feeling is that our society will likely never be "the same."  Kind of like TSA after 9/11.  It is still around as a false sense of security at the price of our bodily privacy, and a REAL ID is required if you want to travel by plane.

Whatever the reason, we have been asked by church leaders that we wear masks.  I don't want to be a "sheeple."  I refuse to follow blindly, and I know my perspective is small.  I trust that they have a bigger picture, inspiration and stewardship.  I do not think they take these requests lightly.  I sustain them, and, I will be obedient, even if my personal beliefs and scientific knowledge are in disagreement.

I have accepted that being awake and aware does not have to mean resistance.  So many disciples and Christ Himself were persecuted.  
It can mean acceptance.  It can mean bearing injustice meekly.  
And it's okay to mourn the loss of freedom.  It's okay to be angry.  It's okay to allow myself to be overwhelmed at the implications of oppression. 

When it comes down to it, I would rather be righteous than right.

A beautiful friend worded it this way:
                I have strived to make my trials come from living but hopefully not from sin.  
                I want to repent quickly that my hard things in life are just the casualties of 
                mortal life in hope to purposefully avoid them from coming from the 
                consequences of willful wrong doings.  I know I'm not perfect but I hope with 
                this as a focus that I will do less and less to offend God.
                I want Him to accept me, and lead me and guide me.  I don't want to wander 
                where He cannot find me.  I want to listen to my Master's call!  I love Him.  
                I want to worthily be His!

So I Some positives have emerged:

I went from focusing my energy on overwhelm and anxiety, to focusing on preparing and doing what I can to provide for my family and set a better example for them.  I am not happy about what is going on.  I am concerned.  But I can do my part and strive to be faithful and be counted in the "remnant" of the righteous disciples of God.  

I hope to be like the people of Alma, always having a prayer in my heart and being blessed with the strength to bear my burdens.

At least this is how I feel now, anyway.

***************Information on masks. Please skip to the bottom if you don't care.

 I grew up in a family owned manufacturing company. Different masks for different purposes.  I currently wear a respirator when working with cleaning agents or construction materials because I am extremely sensitive to the chemicals in those products.  The following is not written by me, but I agree.  You can do a little research to disprove, verify, or strive to discern the truth.  I am sure several points of view are out there.

So Masks?
I am OSHA 10&30 certified. I know some of you are too. I don’t really know WHY OSHA hasn’t come forward and stopped the nonsense BUT I want to cover 3 things
• N95 masks and masks with exhale ports
• surgical masks
• filter or cloth masks

Okay, so upon further inspection, OSHA says some masks are okay and not okay in certain situations.
If you’re working with fumes and aerosol chemicals and you give your employees the wrong masks and they get sick, you can be sued.

• N95 masks: are designed for CONTAMINATED environments. That means when you exhale through N95 the design is that you are exhaling into contamination. The exhale from N95 masks are vented to breath straight out without filtration. They don’t filter the air on the way out. They don’t need to.
Conclusion: if you’re in Target and the guy with Covid has a N95 mask, his covid breath is unfiltered being exhaled into Target (because it was designed for already contaminated environments, it’s not filtering your air on the way out).

• Surgical Mask: these masks were designed and approved for STERILE environments. The amount of particles and contaminants in the outside and indoor environments where people are CLOGGING these masks very, VERY quickly. The moisture from your breath combined with the clogged mask will render it “useless” IF you come in contact with Covid and your mask traps it, YOU become a walking virus dispenser. Everytime you put your mask on you are breathing the germs from EVERYWHERE you went. They should be changed or thrown out every “20-30 minutes in a non sterile environment.”

• Cloth masks: I can’t even believe I’m having to explain this, but here it goes. Today, three people pointed to their masks as they walked by me entering Lowe’s. They said “ya gotta wear your mask BRO” I said very clearly “those masks don’t work bro, in fact they MAKE you sicker” they “pshh’d” me. By now hopefully you all know CLOTH masks do not filter anything. You mean the American flag one my aunt made? Yes. The one with sunflowers that looks so cute? Yes. The bandanna, the cut up t-shirt, the scarf ALL of them offer NO FILTERING whatsoever. As you exhale, you are ridding your lungs of contaminants and carbon dioxide. Cloth masks trap this carbon dioxide the best. It actually risks your health, rather than protect it. The moisture caught in these masks can become mildew ridden over night. Dry coughing, enhanced allergies, sore throat are all symptoms of a micro-mold in your mask.

-Ultimate Answer: 

*N95 blows the virus into the air from a contaminated person.

*The surgical mask is not designed for the outside world and will not filter the virus upon inhaling through it. It’s filtration works on the exhale, (Like a vacuum bag, it only works one way) but likely stops after 20 minutes, rendering it useless outside of a STERILE ENVIRONMENT (correct Becky, they don’t work in a bar, not even a little bit).

*Cloth masks are WORSE than none. It’s equivalent to using a chain link fence to stop mosquitoes.

The CDC wants us to keep wearing masks. The masks don’t work. They’re being used to provide false comfort and push forward a specific agenda. For the love of God, research each mask’s designed use and purpose, I bet you will find NONE are used in the way of “viral defense.”

Just like EVERY Flu season kids, wash your hands. Sanitize your hands. Don’t touch stuff. Sanitize your phone. Don’t touch people. And keep your distance. Why? Because your breath stinks, your deodorant is failing, your shoes are old and stink, that shirts not clean, & I like my space. Trust me I can hear you from here. Lots of reasons to keep your distance and work on body hygiene. But trust me, the masks do not work.

*Occupational Safety & Hazard Association sited.
The top American organization for safety.
They regulate and educate asbestos workers, surgical rooms, you name it.

I know, facts suck. They throw a wrench into the perfectly (seeming) packaged pill you are willingly swallowing. Facts make you have to form your OWN OPINION, instead of regurgitating someone else’s, and I know how uncomfortable that makes a lot of you. If your mask gives you security, by all means wear it. Just know it is a false sense of security and you shouldn’t shame anyone into partaking in such “conspiracies.”

If select politicians stopped enforcing it, no one would continue this nonsense.

I resolved that I would wear a "mask" to church today.  Everywhere I have ever gone that required masks, accepted "face coverings."  AKA my bandanna.  I jokingly threatened to wear my respirator to church.  But this morning, on my way out, I felt impressed to take the respirator.

There are SO many varying degrees of obedience and personal opinions on the efficacy of wearing a mask.  I walked into the church building wearing my respirator.  One person was caught by surprise and gasped while laughing at me.  I was not required to wear my mask in ward council this morning. But I dutifully put it back on the exit the room to walk to the assigned room where I was to sit for Sacrament meeting.

My family had arrived.  My husband had a bandanna around his face.  He was told that it was not good enough and he switched to a synthetic mask.  Had I not been wearing my respirator, I would have left because I was not going to wear anything else.
I observed people wearing N95 type masks - knowing that their breath is spewing out, unfiltered, all over the place.  I saw cloth masks of all kinds.  I'm not sure I saw any surgical masks.
And then there was me.  Many gave me curious looks, but none questioned my mask.  I sat down and in a middle row.  I didn't want to be shunned if I removed my mask.  I use it when I need to and I am comfortable wearing it, so I kept it on. 

My mask is a P100, particulate filter (99.97% efficiency level).  Effective against all particulate aerosols. For chlorine, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, organic vapors.  This mask makes life bearable for me.  Just this week Eric was using a chemical reaction of 2 liquids to join pvc pipes.  I walked into the house and felt like I hit a brick wall.  I immediately put on my mask and was able to breathe without being overcome by chemicals.  Yay!  It really does work for what it is designed to do.  My mask is old, and while it works, I looked into replacing it.  They are scarce!  But I haven't seen anyone wear anything similar to it in public.

I was apprehensive about church.  I sincerely wanted to be uplifted and spiritually fed.  I did not want to sit, festering and focused on my resentment of "being obedient" when I disagree with wearing masks.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was ok and readily attentive.  But I heard SO many remarks implying that the whole mask thing is ridiculous.  I probably inadvertently said a few things I would regret as well.   (I don't remember).  

I got to thinking... do those types of comments sustain our leaders?  I will be better about that next week.

This week has been one of the most confusing, crushing, and conflicting weeks of my life.  To be in opposition with my church and it's policy is something I have never experienced before.  I am not a sheeple!  I will not blindly follow, I never have.  I strive for personal revelation and confirmation for myself.

I have created a measuring stick using Daniel as my example.  He drew the line when what he was told conflicted with keeping the commandments.  
Do I disagree with wearing a mask?  YES!  
Does wearing a mask (whatever the reason) prevent me from worshiping my God?  NO!.
So I choose to bear my burdens humbly.  I look forward to the lesson I will realize and the perspective I will gain as a result of my choice to continue to sustain my church leaders and wear a mask to church on Sunday as long as they ask me to do so.

If you are in conflict over this issue, I hope something I have written helps in some small way.  
I implore you to turn toward to Lord and not away from Him.