Thursday, April 30, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 26:27-28

Today's favorite verse: Acts 26:27-28
"King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

In this chapter Paul bears a third witness of his conversion, this time to King Agrippa. He knows King Agrippa is an expert in the ways of the Jews. He knows Agrippa believes his testimony of Jesus Christ. Then those heart breaking words "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

I pondered over why people can know the truth yet not embrace it. Are we afraid of what men will say, afraid to give up our secret sins? Is the road we would be required to walk just to hard? How many times have I come so close to believing something but held back on my commitment? You can believe in Christ yet not be a true Christian. I pondered over what being Christian means to me. May I truly wear that name. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 25:11

Today's favorite verse: Acts 25:11
"For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die; but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar."

This chapter teaches me somewhat on the Roman legal system. I pondered over what a protection it was to Paul. He knew his rights and was able to appeal to higher authorities. He knew he had done no wrong. The Jews to this point had no proof of his wrong doing, only claims. It made me sit and think about the laws of our land and the cases it is facing. It seems like the Christians of today are being pressed upon like the Christians of old. I'm thinking that even if the legal system is corrupted, and cases are not won, at least the telling of the story has value in that. How many people had to hear Paul's testimony of Christ while he was pulled through this process.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 24:16

Today's favorite verse: Acts 24:16
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."

I have been pondering not only the scriptures but the current events happening to our beautiful nation. If only men could act is such a manner to not give offense to God or their fellow man it would be a much better place.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 23:11

Today's favorite verse: Acts 23:11
"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."

Paul was brought before the chief priest Ananias to be questioned. The Sadducees and Pharisees begin to quarrel so much that the chief captain has soldiers take him back to the castle for his protection. It is that evening the Lord appears to Paul. 

Forty Jews banded together to form an oath and conspiracy, on how they were going to kill Paul. Paul's sister's son happens to over hear this and goes to tell Paul. Which in turn is told to the chief captain who arranges to take Paul to Rome. The chief captain writes a letter to the governor explaining what has happened and how he finds no fault in this Roman citizen.

All this made me ponder over how the Lord works. He puts the right men in the right place, at the right time so his work will move forward. How is it that Paul's sister's son happens to hear this conspiracy? There are no accidents. The Lord will make sure his work is not frustrated. He was sending Paul to Rome to preach his gospel and that is what will happen. Knowing the Lord will work things for our experience and good brings a lot of comfort to my life. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 22:14-15

Today's favorite verse: Acts 22:14-15
"And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard."

Paul was being taken by the soldiers but requested to speak to the people first. He then speaks to them in Hebrew and tells them he is a Jew. He tells how he believed as they did to persecute unto death those that believed in Christ. His part in the Stephen's martyr. Then on his journey to Damascus a great light appears around him and he hears the voice of Jesus Christ speaking to him. Afterward he cannot see for the glory of the light. Ananias, a devout Christian comes and restores his sight, and the verses above are what he spoke to Paul.

As this chapter continues you see the Jews upset with Paul and call for his death. He is ready to be scourged but he asks the centurion if its lawful to scourge a man that is Roman and uncondemned? With this revelation, that Paul is a free born Roman, he is released.

As I ponder on this chapter I am struck on how Paul's birth and history is just the perfect combination for him to fulfill the role he needed to play in life. The combination of his life experiences made him a perfect witness. His life is even preserved longer because of it. This makes me think of my life experiences and how they all came together to play different roles in my life. There are no accidents there is a divine plan for each of us. I am so grateful for my patriarchal blessing and how at the age of 15 the patriarch was inspired to tell me the things I needed to know for my life journey. I spent time reading over my patriarchal blessing again. I am always struck on how familiar words take on new meaning when I read it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 21:13-14

Today's favorite verse: Acts 21:13-14
"Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done."

In this chapter Paul is told many times by others what is to await him if he goes to Jerusalem, his death. They warn him not to go, but yet Paul insists he must go. I wondered why he felt to ignore those warnings. Why did he not stay where it was safe. Then I realized that those warnings are given by prophesy and by the Holy Ghost. it wasn't so much a warning for him to flee but to be prepared for what was to come. It also served to prepare the saints.

The key here was Paul was at peace with what he must do. He wasn't depressed and suicidal. He knew the Lord's will and would do it whatever the cost. I thought about hard things I have had to do and go through in life. I realize the ability to do hard things come with the peace the spirit gives as you must do them. I did sit and think about Joseph Smith as he went to his martyrdom saying, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of an offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life, I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me, "He was murdered in cold blood."

Paul previously said he was pure of the blood of men, he had joy, he had finished his work. What more could a person hope to say when their mortal life is ending. Yet I still cry for Paul and for Joseph.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 20:24, 26

Today's favorite verse: Acts 20:24, 26
"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Where I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men."

The chapter begins with a record of the various places Paul goes to preach the gospel. It must have been exhausting work. One of the reasons I love the story of Paul so much is because he had sins that were scarlet and how he became white as snow. He found true joy in serving the Lord. He labored so hard, yet he knew that wolves would come in among the members and draw them away. He saw the coming fall of the church. 

It reminds me of a discussion I had with my family during scripture reading. How important it is to do what is right. It's better to be on the side that is right and appears to be losing then the side that is popular and wrong. In this life we may not appear by society standards to be on the right side, but in the end it will be worth it. The peace that comes by doing what is right is better than the praise and acceptance of man. Being accepted of the Lord is the ultimate victory.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 19:15

Today's favorite verse: Acts 19:15
"And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?"

This verse comes from the story of vagabond Jews, that did not believe in Christ but attempted to use His name to case out evil spirits. The evil spirit responds that they didn't know who the unbeliever speaking in Christ name is. Then the man with the evil spirit leaped upon the man and overcomes him.

What a frightening scene. But, it made me think back to my near-death experience (NDE). Of a very frightening man that knew me and I didn't want him to know me. Later it was revealed that it was Satan. The remembrance of this experience motivated me today to put on my other blog "Renee's Christian Life" my near-death experience, as recorded by Arvin Gibson in his book "Echoes from Eternity". 

I don't retell my whole near-death experience to others. I simply don't want to. I'm nothing special because of my NDE, its my NDE that is special to me. Over the years I have come to know what things mean and that interruption is mine. But, I have told people that want to know, to read the book. I used to have a transcript on my Geo-Cities website which no longer exists. Now I have it back online so you don't have to buy the book to read the part with my experience.

But, there is another reason why I picked this verse as today's favorite. That is because I want to address the danger of taking the Lord's name in vain. I feel you can call on the Lord for his help and protection. But, when you take it in vain you open yourself up to damnation. You are opening a conduit to very dark forces to enter your life. There are some things you don't mock, experiment with, or treat lightly. We see in society today the very casual usage  of swearing and taking the Lord's name in vain. This behavior saddens me, people just don't realize what they are doing to themselves. There is a very powerful reason why it's one of our ten commandments.

My Family Picnic - Renee's Near Death Experience

My Near Death Experience - Renee Zamora

My Family Picnic

Often in life we have memories that haunt us or comfort us, causing us to ponder who we are or why we are here on this earth.  I have had many such experiences, one of my first memories is when I was about six or seven years old.  I used to beg my mother to make little books for me.  She would fold a sheet of paper into fours and staple them together so I could "write my book".  Sometimes, she tired of me so I took the book-making upon myself, leaving me with staples in my fingers.  On one such occasion I had made my own book, it didn't look as good as Mom's but to me it was wonderful.  I couldn't write on paper all that my heart wanted to reveal, so I drew pictures and then read the stories over in my mind, causing me great comfort and joy.

On this morning, I sat on the swing Dad had just tied to the old lightening struck bee tree, overlooking the garden.  I slowly rocked in the swing, creating my story in my mind.  Dreaming someday I would make a real book with words in it so others could read it.  Quietly a girl came near me, her name was Stormy Thew.  Stormy never came to our house I don't really know why she was there that day.  She sat on the grass next to me and said:  "I hear you someday want to write a book."  I was shocked; I'd never told anyone this before.  Of course, now I suspect, my Mother must of guessed this.  Stormy told me she enjoyed writing and would like to write a book too.  I know Stormy could have written a book, she had a hard life, writing must of been a source of comfort for her.   Then all so quietly she left.  But as she had left I did not yet feel alone.  Someone was near me overlooking the garden.  I never experienced that feeling before in my life, I felt strange.  I left my peaceful swing and quickly fled into the house to be surrounded by my family.

Time has marched quickly on.  I married and moved to Massachusetts.  Soon two children, a boy, Philip and a girl, Marie, graced our home.  Hard times came financially for our family, so we decided to move.  My brother Randy lived in Provo, Utah. It seemed as good a place as any, so we decided to move there.

As we traveled to our new home we stopped first to see my parents in New York.  I had hoped to visit my brothers and sister there too.  I went to visit my Grandmother before I left.  I had my camera and asked her permission to take her picture with my children.  She was always too embarrassed of her crippled hands to let me do it before.  This time she agreed to the pictures.  I thanked her, and told her I would probably never see her again.  I couldn't see how I'd ever afford to come out to visit her again.  Inside my heart I knew she would die before I ever had that chance.  I kissed her cheek and told her I loved her and left.

I arrived in Utah in September of 1989.  I was expecting my third child.  On October 27th being sick with toxemia, I was induced, Garrett arrived three weeks early.  He was a beautiful healthy baby.  In December my parents called to say Grandma had passed away.  Even though I had expected it, I mourned.

Around 2 o'clock that next morning I went into the children's room to feed Garrett.  Philip and Marie were quietly sleeping nearby in their bunk beds.  As I rocked my baby, I felt Grandma come into the room.  I did not see her, yet I knew exactly were she stood.  My mind knew she was allowed to visit her posterity before her spirit left this earth.  She saw my sleeping children, and I showed her the baby she had never seen until this point.  Then I bore her my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I told her to listen when others came to tell her more.  I believe she felt pleased and satisfied. Then her spirit was gone.

The hard financial struggles were not to be over for my family.  As I saw the last of my savings depleted and my husband still unable to find any kind of employment, my soul seemed to bare no more.  Others told us we were lazy and counseled us to take any kind of job.  At the same time they wounded us with those words, because as of yet, no type of job was being offered.  I saw my husband, Bill, thrown rejections for even the least of jobs everyday.

The cruelest blow came when a man, we had trusted, lied to us and kept the security deposit money he had promised, and we desperately needed.  As I called my brother and told of my heartache all he said was "Well Renee, let me ask you?  What is Bill doing about a job?"  I felt so hurt and in my misery I sought to end my life.  I could not go on; life had no purpose, I felt only despair.

I lay on my bed in the deepest sorrow, surrounded by darkness and despair.  Suddenly I felt Grandma come to me.  I could feel of her love and concern for me.   Her love enveloped me and lifted my torn heart.  I felt her say:  "It's only money...It's only money....It's only money"  I knew she was right.  It was not yet my time to die, and not in that manner.  I felt my burden lightened and paused to lay all my trouble upon the Lord and right myself before God.

I pressed forward in my life.  I sought to do so many things.  I took joy in being busy.  I homeschooled my children, served as the district leader for homeschoolers.  I had a daycare in my home, sewed my clothes and sought a clean home like my sister-in-law Tami.  I was deeply involved in doing my genealogy.  I served two callings in the church.  Studied herbs and other various subjects, to gather a food supply, grow a garden, and learn to cook out of it and use it.  I do believe I attempted to do a bit of everything well.  I started to have one cold after another.  I felt it weak to rest, so I just stubbornly pressed on.

In early July of 1991, I came down with the flu, but this time I had a terrible headache with it.  I began to wake at night with night sweats, so bad I needed to change my clothes.  My headache was there for over a week.  Then I had a low grade fever.  We didn't yet have medical insurance, since the job my husband had didn't quite keep our heads above water, I just hoped my flu would go away.

By mid July, I wasn't any better.  I had had many blessings but as of yet none seemed to help.  On a Sunday morning my family went to church as I lay in bed to rest.  As I went to get out of bed, to get a book, I felt my life's energy go from me.  I was so weak that when my husband came home I needed his help to walk and my speech became slow and slurred.

I went to the doctor.  Because I didn't have insurance, and the doctor didn't know what was wrong with me, I was given an antibiotic and told to come back in a few days if it didn't seem to work.  I grew sicker, my body was covered in a rash and my fever went up.  Soon I was back to the doctor again.  They started to do blood work on me.  I tried as well as I could to tend my children as my husband went to work each day.

One morning I went to feed my children breakfast.  I decided to cook some eggs.  In the process of doing so I felt strange darkness start to close in on me, I was going to faint.  I felt my left side go numb and my right arm also.  I sent my children to get help from our neighbor; I feared I was having a stroke.  Soon they came back upset, not sure what to do.  They were too terrified to follow my directions.  I made it to the couch and had them bring me the phone.  I called a friend in my ward and asked her to send someone to help me.  Then I collapsed on the couch, the numbness left, but I was so very weak.

A lady from my church came to help and stayed until she had Garrett down for his nap.  Bill arrived and arranged to take me to the doctor.  My sister-in-law Tami watched my children for me.  The doctor looked at me, unable to hold my head up without great pain.  I held a cool cloth to my head, light hurt my eyes.  My fever was rising.  We had to make the decision fast.  I went into the hospital that day, July 31st.

At the hospital I felt weaker and weaker.  I just wanted to sleep and have my headache go away.  I was sent down to the labs for test.  For a very long time I lay in a tunnel like tube, for a CAT scan of my brain.  The doctors thought I had viral encephalitis.  The little noise from the machine ripped at my head.  Then I was taken out to be given an I.V.  The technician was unable to find my vein for the IV.  A second tech tried to put in the I.V.  Then they called their supervisor to put the I.V. into my arm.  I felt so sick yet they tried over and over again to find my vein, put in the needle, and not have the vein collapse.  After a very long time of trying the supervisor said:  "If I can't get it in this last time, I'll have a doctor put something in."  The last time took.  Then I was returned to the "tunnel" for more tests.

Finally I was taken to my room.  I hoped I could be allowed to rest.  No sooner was I laying in bed, with the cool cloth pressed to my fevered brow, than my doctor walked in.  He had another doctor with him, a specialist, to look at me.  I had to answer question after question for them.  A nurse was at my side taking my blood pressure.  Another nurse was nearby fixing my I.V.  The new doctor started to lecture me because I had no insurance.  Inside I wanted to just be left alone.  The specialist said he was going to do a spinal tap.  I pleaded with them to not do this until my headache went away.  The nurse at my side took my temperature.  I felt her kind of startle when she read it.  I asked her what my temperature was?  She said very high.  I asked how high, she just repeated herself.  I asked her again and I thought I heard her say 104.6, then everyone in the room just left.

In a few minutes, the now gowned and masked doctors with at least five to six nurses re-entered my room.  As others came into my room they were told to wear masks also.  I could tell things were not going very well, to say the least.  Quickly the nurses worked, and the doctors talked rapidly.  I seemed to lose sense of it all.  I was put on a water mattress and packed in ice.

The specialist bent over me and said, "I have to have you turn over so I can do the spinal tap."  I cried, "No, not till my headache leaves me."  They gave me a shot of something for the pain and for a brief period of time, my headache seemed to be lifted.  The doctor tried to do the spinal.  After a few attempts it was decided to move me elsewhere to do it.  This was done and with much discomfort my spinal was completed.  I was told to rest, which I greatly desired to do.

My nurse came in often to check on me.  She told me to tell her when I needed to go to the bathroom, she would help me up.  It was about an hour after my spinal that I told her I needed to go to the bathroom.  She came to my side and helped me up.  Once I sat up and was about to get off the bed I felt like the force of an axe cracked my skull and ripped open my brain, my knees buckled.  My nurse called for help and I felt like I was passing out.  The nurses left and then returned and told me I couldn't leave the bed.

The pain was so great, my already aching head felt so full of fire.  My numbness seemed to cover my whole body, even my teeth would go numb.  I was given pain killers which, each time they were administered, made my heart feel like it would stop beating.  As the pain killers wore off I felt great terror, as if waking from a bad dream.  This terrible hospital routine was continued every 15 minutes. The nurse came in and held a light to each eye and asked me questions like, "What is your name?"  "Do you know where you are?"  "What day is it?"  Oh, how I just wanted to sleep.  Around midnight my nurse said, "I'm going on my break now.  I'll see you in a half an hour."  She never returned.  The head nurse stayed by my bedside that night.

Morning came.  How I hated the sunlight coming through the cracks in the window and door.  I held the cool cloth to my eyes, an ice pack surrounded my head and body.  My temperature was still very high.  I asked my doctor if they could give me another type of medicine for the pain.  I said I was afraid my heart would stop when it entered my body.  I was placed on morphine.  I didn't feel that it did much for my pain, but I realized it was helping when the drug began to wear off.  I was so very sick now I started to vomit and have diarrhea.  I knew my liver was inflamed, I was told I had blood and puss in my stools.  My husband was told that morning my temperature went to 106; something I didn't learn until much later.  I was so weak; I wanted no visitors or phone calls.  I was too tired to even speak, and at times I felt like I would forget how to breathe.

All I desired was to sleep, but I was too tired to sleep.  Whenever I would try to sleep, after the nurse would leave the room, I would be awakened by people coming into my room.  Groups of families would come in, I could tell they were talking to each other but no one was speaking out loud.  Of course, the whole time I saw these people I had a cold wash cloth covering my shut eyes.  I was greatly disturbed by these people.  I almost wished to tell the nurse to get them out of here.  But, I knew she would think me crazy because no one was there.  Surely she would have seen them by now.

For almost a week I laid in the hospital.  Suffering one test after another.  On the sixth day, after finding out, finally, what my problem was, I was sent home to slowly recover.  But up until that time I truly had not known if I would live or die.  I knew I was really bad off.  I could see it in people's eyes as they visited me; a look of shocked horror at my wasted condition.  I was asked about a living will and my feelings on death.  I could hear it in my parents' concerned voices as they spoke to me every day on the phone.  I saw it in my husband's very tired red eyes.  And knew it in my children's fear to come next to my bedside.

But, what I wish to describe to you is the other people who visited me in the hospital.  For eight months after my illness I wondered if I had just hallucinated this - after all I was on morphine at the time.  I would walk around the house and continually say to myself:  "I almost died, I almost died."  In writing a letter to my brother Jim one day, I knew for once, what I had experienced was real.  Probably more real than most of us realize.

As I mentioned before, when the nurses would leave the room a group of people would come into the room.  They would walk through the door, their feet didn't quite touch the floor.  They never really looked at me but yet they knew that I was there.  They didn't speak to me, yet I knew exactly their relationship to each other.  They were in family units.  The youngest were in their teen's or early twenties, parents were in their late twenties or thirties, a grandmother would look only a few years older than her daughter and so on.  I could understand why Adam was called the Ancient of Days.  Sometimes, I did see those that looked as old as their forties.  There was a soft quiet peace about them.  I never could stop spanning their faces to see if my grandmother was among them.  I felt if I saw Grandma then it was my time to die.  She was never there.

The worse I became the more of them, it seemed, came into my hospital room.  Sometimes so many would fill the room that I would see the hospital room walls fade away.  But, I could always see the faint outline of its walls.  They were transparent.  It makes me think of how people say the veil is thin between this life and the next.

When enough people entered and it started to overflow the room.  The walls faded away.  I would feel myself float up. I would remain in a reclining position while everyone else was standing upright.  As I said before, their feet didn't seem to quite touch the floor.  They never spoke to me or even looked at me, but I would follow them.  At this point it seemed the only relief I ever had from my headache.  It was there but close to a memory.  I floated along and came to where they stood talking with each other.

Sometimes I would see them playing checkers.  No one was moving their lips but yet they were engaged in the most lively conversations.  Still others where playing croquet together.  (Their playing croquet always seemed to trouble me, in fact, for the longest time, when I related this fact to others I always felt quite strange in saying that they did this.)  As I followed or moved amongst them others would join the group.  Having discovered my grandmother was not among them, I would then set about watching them, and soon, I would know exactly how each of them were related to each other.  But, no sooner would I leave their sides than that understanding would leave me.  At the time, I did not understand the need to even remember this knowledge.  I often remember asking myself if this was a dream.  Sometimes after saying this, I would discover myself alone in my hospital bed.  Since this scene was repeated over and over again to me, at least twenty times I made it beyond the hospital walls, I soon grew to just be curious and follow these people and watch what was happening.

After people were playing croquet I would move on to a bunch of people, there was a great number of them at this point.  Some would be standing or sitting under a tree, eating picnic lunches.  Always talking in lively conversation to each other, without moving their lips.  As I listened to them or watched them I always felt something was missing, that they had no value to what they were doing.  There was no growth or learning going on.  The only thing of any importance was the relationship they had to each other.  Even this in itself was very faint, and in time it could be lost and forgotten.

As I began to gain in strength and was sent home from the hospital these people never came to visit me again.  But the memory of this has haunted me.  The people I saw were dressed in period clothing of the late 1800's early 1900's - the Victorian Era.  It really bothered me that I did not see people dressed in white, and my grandmother was not amongst them.

Now it has been revealed to me who they are.  They are my ancestors.  I know it was not my time to join them.  My patriarchal blessing says that my days will be extended until I am satisfied with life.  I believe I am now living in my extension.  I was most definitely near death when I was in the hospital.  I crossed over the veil many times, but was never meant to stay.  I believe my grandmother will come to me when it is time to go there.  She was somewhere else learning the gospel of Jesus Christ and growing in knowledge.  The people I saw could be her family, most definitely they were mine.

I realize now some of them are of English descent, because of the symbolism of them playing croquet.  This book (website) that I now write is in remembrance of them.  Those that I do not know their names.  If I could I would invite them to my family picnic, along with all who's name lie within this book (website).  For as I saw them come together not all directly related to anyone person, sometimes, in-laws, cousins' wives, etc.  So they would somehow be woven into my great family picnic.  My genealogy is in quest of those I saw, but cannot remember their names.  I know if we are faithful we will be linked to each other, together, creating one big family picnic.

You can read my complete Near Death Experience as recorded in Arvin Gibson's book "Echoes from Eternity" here:

Echoes from Eternity - Renee's Near Death Experience

"Echoes from Eternity" by Arvin Gibson

To Renee -

A great lady who understands the nature of eternal family ties.  Thank you for sharing your inspirational experience.  It will help many.

Arvin Gibson

Why is Renee's story in the book?

When I came out of the hospital I had a lot of questions regarding what had happened to me.  My life had been changed forever.  It took several months after my experience to even tell others what had happened.  I walked around the house and kept saying over and over to myself:  "I almost died, I almost died."  I was trying to make sense of what I had been through.

When I finally came to terms with the fact I almost died, and yes I did have a near-death experience, I had to seek other experiencers for help. It was so hard living in this world and knowing, with no doubt, that there was a life after this.  I felt an overwhelming desire to record my story.  My own attempts where unable to reach the depth I desired.

I went to the book stores to find books on near death experiences.  I had a very hard time reading anything.  I did notice one book that told the stories the right way, it was "Glimpses of Eternity" by Arvin S. Gibson.  I thought someday I'll contact him.

I had a free trial subscription to a Salt Lake paper, it was a small paper, I don't recall it's name.  When the subscription was finally up I then decided I better look at the paper.  There in the classified's I found someone looking to interview people that had had a near-death experience.  I had my sister-in-law Tami call for me and then give my number to the person if they seemed interested.

Soon I was speaking with Arvin Gibson on the phone.  We arranged a time for me to come to his home and be interviewed by his wife Carol and himself.  It was an experience I was so grateful for.  It had been an answer to my prayers.  Mr. Gibson tape  recorded my story and asked me questions to help pull out all my memories.  Before he published the book I was able to review the story for accuracy.  There was only one correction that I can recall.

The biggest thing that Arvin Gibson and his wife Carol did for me was help me deal with what I went through.  They informed me about IANDS - International Association of Near Death Studies.  I was able to meet with other people that shared a near death experience.  Through my fellow experiencers I was able to understand that there is a process people go through that have experienced near death.  I found out I was ok.

Since the story came out I have no desire to tell others my experience.  In fact, it is a very painful thing to relive.  If people want the whole story they need to read the book.  When I was going through my genealogy to make this website I found my attempt of writing my experience - it's under the section "My Family Picnic".  I added it to this website because it tells part of the story that Arvin Gibson didn't include in the book.

I am recording my story used in Arvin Gibson book on this website.  I did gain his permission to record it here.  The only thing I am not including here is Mr. Gibson's interpretation of my near-death experience.  I feel that is his material.  I agree with everything he had interpreted from my experience.  I would encourage you to read his book "Echoes from Eternity".

My testimony: I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and he is indeed the son of our Heavenly Father.  I believe I lived in Heaven before I came to earth to obtain a physical body.  Through gaining my physical body I would be tested and tried in life.  It is my Heavenly Father's desire for me to return to him, some day, in his own time.  I know that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God in these the Latter-Days.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  My near death experience followed the 138 Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.  A book of revelations of the prophet Joseph Smith and prophets that followed after his death.  I understand that there are many degrees of Heaven and every religion has a place where we fit.  You do not have to be a member of my church to go to Heaven.  We just might not be in the same one - but we can visit!  We will be where we are happy, or else we are not in Heaven.  People in Heaven still learn and grow according to their faith.  There are people that share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others in Heaven - you can change your faith.  When you go there you will be visited by them - make sure you listen!

Renee Zamora

"Echoes from Eternity" by Arvin Gibson

Chapter 17 - A Genealogy Experience (page 207-209)

She visited our home in the spring of 1993.  Renee seemed especially anxious to talk to us about her experience; she appeared to have a number of questions concerning what had happened to her.  Carol and I promised to answer questions, to the best of our ability, after we completed the interview.
     Her birthplace was Glens Falls, New York, in 1961, and she had three brothers and one sister.  When Renee was four years old, her parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; later her father served as Branch President, then Bishop, of the local church unit.
     Being raised in New York, Renee attended schools in that state, and she met her husband in a young-adult camp-out for members of her church.  They were married in the Washington, D.C. Temple in 1982, and at the time of our interview they had two boys and a girl.  Living in Massachusetts, where his work was, they had problems during the recession, so they moved to Utah in 1989,

A Precursor Experience

     Renee started to tell her story:  "When we moved to Utah, my husband was having trouble finding work, and he was depressed.  The landlord, where we were living, kept some money from us that he was supposed to return, but didn't. The combination of no work and no money was more than I could handle.
     "Lying on my bed one afternoon, crying, I remember thinking:  Life is too difficult - I can't handle it anymore.  How could I kill myself without causing pain to others or without hurting myself? Obviously, it was impossible to do what I asked myself, but the point is that I was seriously thinking of suicide.
     "My grandmother, who had died some months earlier, suddenly was present in my room; I could feel her.  She spoke to me, saying" It's only money!"  As soon as I heard those words, I thought:  Of course.  It's not worth it. After that my suicidal feelings left me"

An Improperly Diagnosed Illness

     "In 1991, here in Utah, my husband was working two jobs trying to make ends meet, and I was home with the children.  Because of our lack of resources we did not have medical insurance.
     "For some reason I got a really bad headache that wouldn't go away.  Thinking it was just the onset of the flu, I had people give me blessings, and I tried to cope with how badly I felt.  Finally, when I didn't get better, I went to see the doctor; the practitioner nurse who was there told me they would have to do tests.
     "Without medical insurance we couldn't afford the tests, so the nurse gave me some antibiotics to take in the event it was some type of bacterial infection.  The antibiotics seemed to affect me adversely, with an extensive rash, and I got worse.
     "My illness progressively got worse, with high fevers, rashes, headaches, and exhaustion, so the doctor began to perform tests.  After about two weeks they put me in the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.  A specialist was called in, and his initial diagnosis was viral-encephalitis.
     "Things didn't get any better, and when my temperature rose to 106 degrees they packed me in ice.  Due to the headache I had, and the way light hurt my eyes, they kept a cold, damp cloth over my eyes.
     "Testing of my various functions continued; they performed an MRI, a CAT scan, a spinal, and many other tests.  My headache continued to get worse, and I felt a growing numbness throughout my body.  It seemed an effort just to remember to breathe.
     "After two days of this in the hospital, they hooked a strong antibiotic to my I.V. apparatus; it caused another reaction in my body.  My illness got worse, with vomiting and diarrhea.  They kept me on the antibiotic treatment for three more days, until I got so bad that they stopped using it.  During this period I had my experience."

Strange Visitors

     "While I was feeling so bad, the nurses had to keep taking blood samples.  It disturbed me, and I didn't like it, but I kept the cloth over my eyes because of how the light hurt them.  Strangely, after a time, I was able to see the nurses coming and going, even though the cloth was still over my eyes.  Wondering about it, I decided it must be the illness that was affecting me.
     "Feeling so bad, I asked that no visitors be allowed - I just wanted to be left alone. My mind pondered the thought:  Am I so sick that I am going to die?  What about my children? I decided that if I were going to die my grandmother would come for me.
     "While struggling to survive, and pondering these questions, something really peculiar happened.  Passing through the door, and into my room, was a family.  Their clothing was in the style of the late 1800s or early 1900s (I later looked it up).  Walking past the foot of my bed, they stopped near my side.  For some reason I understood the relationship that each person had to the other.

"As I watched, amazed, the father and one of his sons began playing checkers.  The whole scene irritated me terribly.  My thoughts were:  Here I am, so sick that I've asked for no visitors, and these rude people come into my room and play checkers. What made matters worse was that they were talking to each other and ignoring me.
     "Because I was so disturbed by the people, I decided that I would pay no attention to them.  They must be figments of my imagination.  I thought.  Despite my trying to ignore them, they continued to stay in the room and annoy me - until the nurse came in. Whenever the nurse would enter, they would disappear.
     "Unfortunately, when the nurse would depart, they would reappear.  Another strange phenomenon occurred.  I became aware that I knew the names of all of the individuals that were there, and I understood their specific relationships to each other. They seemed completely oblivious to my presence, continuing with their family small talk, and continuing to ignore me.  It was interesting that they chattered away happily, but they did not move their mouths when they talked.  Their laughs and their smiles - the expressions on their faces - denoted their states of mind, as well as their conversations.
     "About the second or third time I saw them, other family members joined them.  Again, I understood the relationships, and this time it was the father's father, his spouse, and other relatives.  The age appearances of the family members were as if they were all in their early 20s.  The father might be a few years older than a child, and his father might appear a few years older than him, but they all looked to be young adults.  Yet I knew instantly who was related to whom.  Other knowledge about them came to me.  One person, for example, had died as a child, and I knew it.
     "This knowledge came to me despite my annoyance with the whole scene.  My head continued to hurt desperately throughout the experience, and I wanted the people to leave.  They were not dressed in white, and this bothered me.  I was not interested in learning more about them.
     "This process repeated itself for perhaps twenty times over the next two or three days.  Gradually, the original family was joined by so many people, always their relatives through birth or marriage, that no more people could fit in the room.  When this occurred, I watched, astonished, as the wall to the room vanished - except for the main beams in the walls."

Trip to an Unusual Place

     "As the wall disappeared the people in the room walked through it.  They didn't even see the wall; they just walked off in the distance.  I didn't want to go with them, but I had no choice.  It seemed that I just floated off my bed, still in the horizontal position, and traveled with the people.
     "Floating through the wall, I entered another of the hospital rooms.  Looking down into this room as I floated through, I saw a frail old man in his bed.  There was an oxygen tube in his nose, and his eyes were alternately open and closed.
     "The people continued their journey through the hospital walls with me alongside them.  When we reached the boundary of the hospital we sailed through, and suddenly it was as though we had gone to a park.  I remember wondering:  What happened to the city of Provo? As the thought entered my mind, I seemed to understand that the park was somehow overlaid upon the city, but slightly above it.
     "It was a pretty park, with green grassy areas, and trees.  My head kept aching, though, and I continued to resent having to go with the people.  None of them recognized that I even existed - not that I wanted to be recognized by them.  If I had been recognized, my fear was that I would have had to admit that I was dead.  Moreover, I still had not seen my grandmother, the only one I would have been glad to see.
     "When we traveled into the park area, I noticed people in the distance playing croquet.  My thought was:  Why are people playing croquet? It didn't make sense.  None of it met my expectations of what I thought might happen on the other side.  People were dressed in period clothes, not in white, and my grandmother was not among them.  Even more peculiarly, they were engaged in activities, checkers and croquet, which to me seemed to be trivial.
     "New groupings of people came to my attention; I instantly knew their relationships to the others.  Looking at one young woman, I understood that she was the sister-in-law's child from another group.  And I knew their names.  The people I identified often had an obscure and remote relationship to someone else - not a direct relationship.
     "Beyond the area where the people were playing croquet was a sloping hill and a large tree.  Several people were gathered near the tree, and they were having a picnic.  A strange thing happened as I got near the people having the picnic; my headache left me.  Again, I understood everyone's relationship, except one man who stood directly under the tree.  For some reason I was not given his relationship.
     "The headache pain had been so terrible that when it stopped I became very conscious of its departure.  The moment that my consciousness acknowledged the departure of my headache, I was instantly back into the hospital with a splitting headache.
     "This particular experience was repeated about three times before it dawned on me that if I wanted relief from my headache, I would have to stop thinking about it.  I didn't particularly want to repeat the voyage to the park area, but since it was the only relief I got from my headache, I figured, okay, that's where I'll go.  It also became clear that, whether I wanted to or not, I would have to focus on the relationships of the people in the park - otherwise I would bounce back into the hospital and my head would ache again.  In effect, the headache was forcing me to make trips to the park and to concentrate on the different relationships."

A Frightening Man

     "During each of these trips to the park and to the picnic area near the tree, I was still exasperated by the fact that no one could see me.  Finally, on one trip to that area, I looked at the man whose relationship I didn't know.  He looked back at me - he could see me - and I felt an impact in my heart that was indescribable.  It was as if some physical object violently hit me.
     "Instantly, upon receiving this jolt, I wanted to remove myself from the proximity of the man who could see me.  I wondered who he was, but I knew that I wanted to be as far away from him as possible.  The thought came into my mind:  He knows me. And I didn't want him to know me.
     "Repelled by the man who knew me, I looked at the people around him.  They seemed to be oblivious to what was going on.  The unpleasant man was able to see me, and my side of existence, but the others could not.  They could only see themselves and the park area.
     "Leaving the picnic area to distance myself from the man who knew me, I went down a hill and saw a wooded area in the distance.  People wandered from the wooded area in groups, enjoying each other, and I immediately knew their relationships and their names.  Despite knowing all the relationships they had to each other, I never was told whether or not they were related to me.
     "Below me, in a distant part of the field, there was a depressed area with a stream of running water.  The sound from the water reached me, and it was magnificent.  The noise from the water soothed and helped me.  In a way I wanted to proceed further, toward the water, yet I hadn't seen my grandmother, so I wouldn't go beyond where I was.
     "There were many trips that I made between my hospital room and the park area.  Whenever a nurse came into my room, I came back.  It occurred over a period of three days, yet a puzzling aspect of the experience was the fact that time didn't seem to pass as fast for the people in the park area as it did for me.  My three days were like five minutes to them, and I wondered how that could be."

The End of Renee's Experience

     "All of the men in my ward bishopric were aware that I wanted the group of them to come and give me a blessing.  On one Sunday afternoon they came, and after their blessing, I never saw the people again.
     "The day after the bishopric gave me a blessing, the doctors told me that I had Epstein-Barr virus, and I could go home.  After my release, it took me more than a month before my strength began to come back.  According to some information I received, later, antibiotics should not be taken with Epstein-Barr virus, and this may have explained my serious illness.
     "While I was in the hospital, and for some time afterward, I never told anyone about my experience.  I was afraid they would think I was crazy.  There was another problem - it was the fact that I didn't see my grandmother, and none of the people I saw were dressed in white.  There was no way I wanted to be with them, and I didn't want to talk about it."

Thoughts on the Experience by Renee

     "For a long time I wondered about this experience, and why it happened to me.  It seemed real, yet I couldn't explain it.  During my release from the hospital, though, something happened to convince me that it was real.
     "They put me in a wheelchair to take me to the hospital entrance.  At one point, while they went to get something, they parked me in the wheelchair at the doorway next to my room.  Knowing I was just outside the room where I saw the frail old man in bed with the oxygen tube in his nose, I leaned around the corner and looked in.  It was the same man - I saw and recognized him.  From where I was lying in my room it would have been impossible for me to have seen him.
     "The man who I had seen under the tree, and who knew me, bothered me immensely.  His image stayed with me, and I disliked the thought of it.  For months afterwards, I wondered who he was and why I wanted to run away from him.  Yet I was fascinated by the thought of him.  He was a good-looking man.

"One of friends, Tami, was an artist, and I once explained my experience to her.  We discussed the man who knew me, and I tried to describe him in sufficient detail that she could paint a picture of him.  As our conversation evolved, she finally said:  'Renee, you don't want a picture of him.  You know who he was, don't you?'  At that moment, I did, and I said:  'Yes, It was Satan.'
     "Not only did I know who the man was, but I understood that I should read the 138th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants in order to understand my experience.  Also, I knew that I would find further answers by attending the temple.
     "Many of the answers came in the temple, and some of them are too sacred to discuss here.  It became clear to me, though, that the people I had seen were those who had passed on, but were confined to this earth, and who needed further work done for them in order to progress beyond where they were.  I also understand why Satan was there, why he knew me, and how privileged I was to see what I did.  Much of what I saw had symbolic meaning beyond the outward appearances of the events themselves.
     "Since that experience, I have become a fanatic concerning genealogy and temple work.  The patience of my husband is sometimes tried as I work on genealogy.
     As a final thought, Renee said:  "The genealogical and temple work that we do is enormously important.  We should work diligently to find those people who are not necessarily on our direct genealogical line [cousins], and we should perform the work so that their temple ordinances can be done.  Since my experience I have been driven to locate all the people I saw that needed their temple work done.  Each person is important in the sight of the Lord."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 18:26

Today's favorite verse: Acts 18:26
"And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."

This verse is speaking of a Jew named Apollos that was "mighty in the scriptures". He was was teaching diligently the things of the Lord, only knowing the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla hear him and teach him of Christ. This he accepts and goes on to teach others.

This verse reminds me that if we are true and faithful to the light and knowledge we know of the gospel, further light and knowledge will be added to it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today's Favorite Verse - Acts 17:16, 29

Today's favorite verse: Acts 17:16, 29
"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."

Scripture reading today brought a smile on my face. I read verse 16 and when it spoke of Paul seeing the whole city given to idolatry a picture of New York City came into my mind. How would Paul describe seeing throngs of people carrying cell phones in their hands? Appearing to bow down and worship their God. I thought on other things society worships today.

Then I read verse 29 and it sealed that impression. The bright lights, the stone buildings, Wall Street trading gold and silver. AND the cell phone again as man's device. What an interesting way for that to be put, using the word device.

So I pondered over how these elements mentioned can be all used for good or evil means. I see beautiful temples built out of stones. There are moving pieces of artwork that bring me closer to Christ. Man's device the cell phone can be used to record our family history, communicate with loved ones, and read our scriptures. They help in furthering the Lord's work. So it's not the things themselves that are bad, its what we are doing with them. It's where are hearts are placed in using them. The key is when you are using something is it bringing us to Christ or away from him.