It has been a while since I last wrote. It feels as if what I am about to write never happened. It seems so long ago and so far from anything that would happen to me or has ever happened to me. I guess given the year I have had, it shouldn’t come as to much of a surprise.
Sometime around the beginning of May I began to experience anxiety and even depression like I have never felt before. I would have days of the most debilitating anxiety. To the point I was not functional. I could not sleep, I couldn’t concentrate, I wasn’t able to communicate with Trish. It was as if I was headed down a hole I was not capable of getting myself out of. I knew that what I was experiencing was not normal or at least it was not normal to me. Days turned into weeks and I knew something had to change. I was going to have to get some help or I was going to have to leave this world as there was no way I was able to continue in my current state. I do not write this lightly and I don’t want any way to make anxiety and or depression seem less than what it is and that is horrible, dark, lonely and aching. It is an ache that is so deep and so intense that for me, there didn’t seem to be any cure, or any way out. I prayed, I fasted, I worked in my calling and I tried to keep myself busy at work, I read my scriptures, I attended the Temple weekly, continued to do family history work, tried to serve and appear as there was no problem. The problem? None of it helped, none of it. How was it possible that by doing all of the things that I knew were the right things, things I had taught for years to my family and others to do, would simply not work. How could this be? I knew that it was affecting my job, my marriage, my relationship with my children and it was affecting the way I served in my calling at Church. In a nutshell it affected everything in my life. The whole was so dark that I felt that there was no way out, at least not one that I could affect myself.
Given all of the continuous tender mercies of the Lord since David died, I was at a loss why now, I felt so alone, so totally and utterly lost. I tried to explain it to Trish and she tried so hard to understand and to help. She however, was going through her own grief and I didn’t want to add to hers by dumping all of my issues on her. I was lost and I needed help. After one of my last posts, many commented or called or text me telling me I had what appeared to PTSD. That I was experiencing the effects of David’s death and tragedy along with my experience in Utah and the Man who died and that along with other things was causing me to have this anxiety and depression. When my parents or Trish would mention this to me, I would agree with them and tell them what they wanted me to say, however, I was convinced in my heart that it was not PTSD and that I was simply falling apart and there was nothing anyone could do to help or stop it.
In one of my darkest nights, I remembered that Hayley our youngest daughter had really struggled after David died and we sent her to a counselor. As I lie there, I thought of how Hayley had changed. Now she seemed to have her light back, she was focused, she was happy and she seemed to be in a place where she was functioning and moving on. I felt a glimmer of assurance and thought I would call that Counselor, make an appointment and just go and see what happens.
I made the appointment and headed to her office. As I was driving to her office, I was having the worse anxiety and more than once almost turned myself around and went home. I went into the building and headed up the stairs. I thought I was going to have a heart attack right there. The closer I got to her door, the more I felt literally like I was going to die. My heart beat so hard I could hear it in my ears and nothing else. I have never had anything like that happen to me in my life. She invited me in to her office and we began to talk. I told her everything, I told her story after story and before I knew the hour was up. She said she wanted to see me again, she wanted to read my blog and gain the insight it might add for her. I left feeling better, however, I knew that couldn’t be the end, one talk and the truth is, she didn’t say much. What she did say made since and I believed her. She said that given everything I had experienced that I was suffering from PTSD. I think just knowing that I could put a name on it and that I wasn’t just creating or making this up in my own head, knowing that made it feel better.
We set a date to meet again. It wasn’t right away and I was worried about that, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to handle myself if I had one more episode like in the past. I cannot tell you how many times, I would just sit and ponder and try to make since of what was happening to me. I had been through so much and I was trying so hard and I was trying to live the way I knew I should and do and be all of those things. However, the heavens for whatever reason were closed to me. That of course added to my self-doubt and lack of self confidence. It was a horrible cycle that I simply could not make heads nor tales of.
Then one day as I was driving into the office it happened. I knew that things at work were not perfect, the owner of the company had been more than understanding and had afforded me more leeway than I had a right to ask. I knew that something had to change for it to be a win win for both of us. I was driving into work and the thought came to me that after arriving at the office I needed to go in and sit with the owner and just put everything on the table. Where I was, how I was feeling, what I had been experiencing and let the chips fall where they may. I knew that if I did this, I would walk out of there unemployed one way or another. As I played that scenario out in my mind, I had the most calm and reassuring feeling I had since David died. I felt complete calm and knew that it was right. Then my brain kicked in. As the spirit told me to do this, I fought back with thoughts like, “you do realize that if I do this I will not have a job?” You do realize that this would cause so much commotion in my life. I had planned on being at this job for many many years to come, leaving was never in my plan. The spirit whispered gently to do it. You would think, given my previous experiences following the spirit and what it leads to, I would simply just do it. Unfortunately I must be a really slow learner, because I saw no way how this was going to work out.
I got to the office with my anxiety at a 10 and went in. 20 minutes later I came out with a plan to work through the end of June at which time I would leave the company. It was a good meeting and the owner of the company was more than fair and understanding. She had known something was wrong and knew something was about to change she just didn’t know what. Truth is, I didn’t know until the drive into the office that morning.
I got in my truck and sat there in complete shock. In three weeks I was going to be unemployed and I didn’t have a plan at all. I called Trish and told her, she was understandably shocked but as usual, she was a rock. She told me she loved me and that we could do anything as long as we were together. It was a Friday and I was going to take the rest of the day off. I decided to that I wanted to go to the Temple, so I started to drive that direction. I such a feeling of calm and reassurance that I was doing the right thing and that everything was going to be alright. At times I would chuckle out loud at what had just happened. You have got to be kidding? Had we not been through enough? Was our family our marriage capable of taking one more huge hit like this. David had died just six months prior to this. I have recently learned a saying that I love. “If God can bring you to it, then God can get you through it”, credit to my dear friend Candy Glade.
After a week of transitioning the owner called me into her office and said that I had done a great job transitioning and I didn’t have to work the last two weeks. She handed me a check with the last two weeks and all of my vacation pay. We hugged and cried together and just like that, I was gone. I called Trish and told her. We were grateful to have the extra time to find what my next adventure would be. In fact we decided on Father’s day to go to my Aunt Diana’s home in Beaver Utah for a visit. It was an adorable historic home decorated so cute. It was like having a quant B&B all to ourselves. We drove into the mountains and up to the lakes. We enjoyed the cool and fresh air, we took a day trip to Provo Utah to get a J-Dawg (a famous hot dog stand close to the BYU stadium) and visit the BYU campus and book store. We read books together, we listened to motivational tapes. Trish took notes as we tried to outline our next step. We had a wonderful time, however, we came back with no more of a plan than we had left with. I can tell you that by this point, my depression and anxiety were all but gone. I was sleeping better, my outlook was better and I was happy again. I was however, unemployed. We drove back to Las Vegas having had a great time and having read and listened to some really great books and motivational CD’s. But not one thought or plan for the future. The one thing that we had agreed on is that whatever we did, it was going to be something that would substantially be of service to others. We had learned thru our experience of David’s death that when we die, the mode of heaven is service and that’s what we wanted to do the rest of our lives. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives making more of an impact on those in our lives.
A friend of mine who owned a construction company had called me and told me he might have some work for me and we could work on some projects together. That interested me because he was such a wonderful man and his wife was someone very dear to me. How could life be anything but good working with these two incredible individuals. So, I called and left a message, he called back but I wasn’t able to take the call and he left a message. We played phone tag but never hooked up. I had two other friends who had a business and we met to talk about some opportunities. These two men are unbelievable men, and to work with them would be more than anyone could ask for. At the end of our meeting, we agreed to meet in two weeks when he would be returning from a vacation with his wife.
So, when Trish and I returned from Beaver Utah, it was a Wednesday. I was alone in the house in the late afternoon and had the impression I needed to go into the bedroom and pray. So, I went and knelt next to my bed and I began to pray. I expressed my deep gratitude for all of my blessings, I told the Lord I loved him. With a loud sigh I finally said to the Lord, I was tired of trying to do it my way it just wasn’t working. I told the Lord that I would go anywhere he wanted me to go, that I would be anyone he wanted me to be that I gave in, and I would leave it up to him. I heard an audible sound out loud in my room that sounded like a gear falling into place. It was so loud that I opened my eyes and raised my heard to see what the noise was. I was alone in the home, there was no construction or anything going on, but I had heard the sound of a gear falling into place. In fact I audibly said out loud “That was odd”. I bowed my head and kept praying. I then had the thought, what if that was the Lord telling me, “Ok, it’s about time, let’s get going”. I got nervous and thought holy smokes what I have done. This happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning I was standing in the bedroom doing something on my phone and a contact popped up. It was Alfred Grace the President and CEO of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie Hawaii. I had not thought about Alfred for almost three years. My parents served a mission at the Polynesian Cultural Center and had been introduced to him. I felt impressed I should send him an email and ask him if he had anything for me at the PCC. I literally held the phone up to my mouth and said, “Yes, but it’s in HAWAII”. And gently the feeling was, send him an email and ask. So, standing right there, I sent him an email. 5 min later I got a response. I couldn’t believe it. He said he did have something but wasn’t sure if I would be interested at all in it and then inquired why, would I even be sending him this email. I explained that David had died and on our journey since that time we had received so many Tender Mercies that and knowledge about our lives after we die, that we wanted to do what the Lord would have us do.
We went back and forth with several emails. He said he would circulate my resume to his executive staff. Now as a COO of a large company I had done that before. Received a resume and sent it around knowing it would get a look but probably not be a fit. I wrote it off and forgot all about it. Saturday morning my cell phone rang at exactly 8:15am. It had a Honolulu number. I was shocked. I answered it and it was Eric Workman the Chief Marketing Officer for the PCC. He had gotten my resume from Alfred and was following up. I couldn’t believe someone had called. His first question was if I was applying for a job or wanted to serve as a missionary (like my parents) I thought to myself, is this a trick question? Given everything that had happened it felt like a mission, but I was applying for a job. We talked for about 45 minutes. We discussed an opportunity to GM a restaurant they had at the PCC that was losing money and they needed to right the ship. I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth when I told him I was interested. I had been a COO of a large company and now we were talking about going to Hawaii to run a full service restaurant and some other responsibilities. I kept shaking my head no as the yes’s were coming out of my mouth. At the end of the conversation he asked how soon my wife and I could get to Hawaii to meet the team and them meet us to see if this was going to go anywhere. It was Saturday and so I told him I would talk to Trish and call him back on Monday with some ideas. He agreed and we hung up. I stood there in total disbelief what had just happened. I was tempted to call him back and tell him I had made a horrible mistake and we would not be coming. What happened was just the opposite. The spirit whispered to me, why wait until Monday. Get on the internet and see if there are some tickets available now. I laughed out loud and thought are you crazy? But I did it, I got on line and found two tickets leaving Sunday night at 6:20pm. Found two seats together for a very reasonable price. With a smile on my face I text him and told him that I had found two tickets and could be there Sunday night and we could stay until Wednesday. He text right back and said that would be great and that I should book the tickets. I sat the phone down and booked them. Then I thought I better call Trish as she was at work. All this had happened and she had no idea. I called her and asked her if she had a bathing suit because we were going to Hawaii. She just laughed and we both go really excited.
We didn’t tell anyone why we were going to Hawaii but that we would be gone for a while. I had a speaking Assignment in a Ward in our Stake and when I was done with that we would go straight to the airport. Next thing I knew we were on the plane headed to Honolulu, HI. Who in their right mind would have ever have thought it, certainly not me.
We landed, got our rented car and headed to the other side of the island to Laie. It was night time but it was beautiful. Trish just loved the green and all the beautiful flowers. We arrived at the Marriot Courtyard in Laie and checked in. We had no idea what the next three days would hold for us, however, we were there and we were excited.
We met with Eric the next morning in his office. He outlined the job and responsibilities and gave us the history of the restaurant as well as other parts of the job. We went and walked through the PCC and the Hukilaua Market Place and then had lunch at the restaurant with his wife. It felt good, the feeling of peace seemed to prevail for both of us. That afternoon and evening we drove around Laie and the surrounding towns. We ate at a local hamburger place that my Mom and Dad recommended. The next day my schedule would include meetings with the executive team as well as a tour of the restaurant and F&B area. Eric arranged for us to attend the Lua and then the night show, “Ha the breath of life”. We had a really fun evening. The PCC is like walking through the garden of eaden, it’s just beautiful and is perfectly manicured. We went back to the room just in awe at everything we had seen. The next morning I would meet with Eric and then with President Grace.
The next morning I woke up and I was filled with all the old anxiety and doubt. Trish asked me what was a matter? I was overwhelmed with anxiety and doubt. What were we doing here? I was more than just a General Manager of a full service restaurant. I had had hundreds under my leadership, this was a bad idea. Besides working for the Church there was no way they could pay me enough to make it worth my while. I wanted to cancel the appointments that day and just get out of there. As usual Trish was supportive and told me just to go and talk to them. We were not under any obligation to take the job but to go and finish the meetings. She drove me over to the BYU-Hawaii campus where the PCC offices are. I got out not knowing what was going to happen. In my mind this was not going to work and I would just ride out the next few hours and call it all good.
As fate would have it, Eric was busy and I was going to meet with President Grace first. This would be the first time we would meet in person. All the other times were either on the phone or via email. He was Maory for New Zealand and had of course the coolest accent. When we met I was surprised by his large stature. He was 6’4-5”, tall with broad shoulders. He was in good shape and was a big man. His face lit up with a smile you instantly knew this was a man you were going to love. He invited me into his office and we sat down to chat. He looked at me and said, well Greg what do you think of our little problem. Do you think you can help? I started to say something about my impressions when he raised his hand and stopped me. He said, Greg, I think I need to tell you the history of how we got to where we are today.
He told me about how he got the job as President of the PCC. He told me about how he had a conversation with President Eyring about the PCC. That President Eyring had told him, Alfred, we are not going to micro manage you, but there are some things you need to remember. One, your number one job is to protect the sanctity of the Temple. The other is you need to continue to perpetuate the cultures in the PCC and third we need the kids who come to BYU-H from around the world to get their degree, get experience while there and come back ready to hit the ground running. We don’t have 2-3 years to wait for them to get their feet under them, we need them to be ready day one.
Just as he began to say these things to me, I saw literally a vision right over the Presidents head. I saw myself working with these students, teaching them, mentoring them and becoming someone they can trust. I saw them in the future, some would start businesses and when they had a problem they knew they would have a friend in Brother Maples, they would call me and ask for advice. Brother Maples I am having trouble getting a loan can you help with how to do that. I saw them calling about hiring, training, It was simply a miracle what I was seeing. My entire world changed during this vision of what I saw. I knew I was supposed to be here, I now knew what the Lord had in mind and I was 100% all in.
President finished and asked me, Greg, what do you think? I just looked at him said “I am in”. I called Trish to come and pick me up at the PCC offices. When I got in the car she didn’t know what to expect. She asked how it went. I looked at her smiled and said you’re not going to believe what just happened. I told her the entire story, she felt the spirit tell her it was right and she was all in as well. What a women.