Almost 3 months ago, Heavenly Father decided to test my courage and strength. He pushed my family and me to limits we never thought we could reach. Our story began on September 30th, 2014. My dad, Jared Royer, was on a scuba diving trip with many of his friends from work. On Tuesday afternoon, my mom got a call from the coast guard. They told my mom that my dad had been lost at sea for more than 15 hours. He had gotten separated from his scuba group late on Monday night. My entire family held onto hope that my dad would survive. We always thought that if anyone could survive something like this, it would be my dad. He was an iron man, a true athlete and hero. The coast guard sent out 60 divers every day to look for him. They also sent out search helicopters and multiple boats looking on land and in the sea for my dad. We held onto hope for more than 3 days, until they called us and told us they found my dad’s body at the bottom of the ocean.
We aren't exactly sure what happened to him. But he did run out of oxygen, so they told us that he most likely drowned.
Our family was crushed. "Why us?" we asked. Our dad left behind 4 children, a 16-year-old boy, a 13 year-old girl (me), a 6 year old girl, and the youngest girl only 3. My dad was just 40 when he left this earth. We cried for days but continued to pray for strength. It took a week or two for my family to start noticing the blessings we were receiving. It was hard for us to find the positive in our situation. But with prayer and scripture study I was able to realize the positive things.
One of the first of our many answered prayers was that the coast guard found my dad’s body. They told us that we are extremely lucky because in most situations like this one, it is very rare that they end up finding the diver at all.
Another way we saw God in this trials was something that happened the morning after my dad had died. My dad’s good friends told us that as they were out on the boat searching for my dad, when out of nowhere about 100-200 dolphins started dancing around the boat. The captain of the boat said that he had never seen anything like this in all the years we has explored the ocean. Knowing that my dad loved dolphins, we believe that my dad sent those dolphins from heaven, to help reassure our family.
One of the most special miracles for us was that as days started to pass, each one of us experienced many different visits from our dad. We could all feel him with us holding our hands and not only that, but he was crying with us wishing he could help us in any way possible. But our family also knows that my dad would not want us to be sad, but to be happy for him. We believe he is in a place that none of us could ever truly imagine.
I not only saw God blessing us then, but also realized that there were signs before my dad left that he would be leaving us soon. In the summer time he told us that when he died he wanted to be buried in a cedar wood casket. And, on his trip up to California, the weekend before he passed away, he told his friends that he had recently switched his life insurance plan. My mom knew nothing of that, and would not have if he did not tell his friends. He also talked about how important it was that we were an eternal family. He was the best father he has ever been his last few months on earth. Of course I did not realize any of those signs until now, and I am so grateful that he did and said those few things.
Another huge blessing came when I was reading my dad’s scriptures, I came across something that he had written:
"If we endured no pain or suffering in this life, then there would be no true happiness or joy. None of us would know what true accomplishment feels like. If we experienced no trial, then there would be no point to this life."
My dad is exactly right. We can't have joy without pain. My dad is continuing to teach me, even when he isn't here. I am so happy that I can have the knowledge of the plan of salvation, that I know I can live with my dad again, and with my family forever.
The last thing I would like to share is from an article I read awhile back, that I believe. The article talked about how Heaven is HERE on earth. Most of us think Heaven is up in the clouds, but it is right here on earth. Heaven surrounds us! It is truly amazing to think about that.
I am so grateful for my faith. Without it, I would not be the person I am today. I have a true testimony that the plan of salvation is real! We will get to see our loved ones again. The veil is truly thin between us and Heaven.
With faith you can find and feel these things.