My brother, Rex, is an LDS (Mormon) Bishop. He has been for about a year and his life has taken on a somberness and challenge that has been not only difficult for him, but hard for those of us who have watched him. He can't tell us much about it because that's the "Bishop's way", but it shows in his face and on his calendar. This is an email I received from him the other day. It's about all the detail from his life we get anymore, but it shows an insight into his struggles.
I wish he were not a bishop most days, selfishly for me and for his family, but I thank God for good men like him who do serve because of the huge need there is for them.
"July 23, 2010
"This morning at 6 AM I had to meet with a therapist at a drug rehab facility in the area. No, not for me but for a couple members of our ward that are going through some treatment. It was quite the experience for me.
"I arrived early and waited in the parking lot for a few minutes waiting until it opened. I sat there in the truck but watched as people began to arrive several minutes before the doors opened. Most were young, teenagers to young adults. Several were driven there and dropped off by adults, parents probably.
"When the doors opened the small crowd quickly entered the building. I left the truck and walked over and entered the building as well. Inside there were two lines that were formed. One was to secure payment or check on payments for the services that this rehab center provides. The teller or employee sat behind a secure wall and Plexiglas window, much like you see at late night convenience stores or toll booths. A small opening in the glass was used to pass money, checks, or credit cards through. It was all business and no one really talked as the room was quiet.
"The other line formed on the other side of the room. This line is where patients go to receive their treatments for their particular drug addiction. These treatments are substitute chemicals that satisfy somewhat the desire for the drug but have no long lasting addictions. Methadone is one particular treatment. One by one the patients would enter a smaller room, receive their treatment and then quickly exit the building and be on their way. Again, it was very serious and almost dead quiet.
"The thing that so greatly affected me was the appearance, physical condition and deportment of the patients. Many had open sores on their faces and arms. Several had thinning hair, horrible teeth, no body tone. All were very thin as if starved for nutrition. One young woman, perhaps late teens, very beautiful at some point in her past, wore a hooded sweatshirt. It became apparent that this sweatshirt was used to cover the many open and oozing sores that covered her face and hands. I could only speculate that these sores covered most of her body. Her hair was thin and unhealthy, her eyes dark and glazed over. Many others were in the same condition.
"Many as well had poor teeth that were missing, brown or black in appearance. A dentist's nightmare.
"The deportment was one of nervous anxiety exhibited by all. Most hugged themselves as if cold. Others would stand in line only an inch from the person in front of them, obviously anxious for their treatment. None really cast their eyes around but would stare at nothing in particular on the floor ahead of them. Again, as quiet as can be imagined.
"When it was my turn at the window I began to explain my purpose, paying for the treatments of a couple ward members. As I began to talk the young man behind the glass looked up, almost surprised. I'm sure that he had expected another patient whose language and deportment was the norm but I took him for a loop. He was most cordial and friendly with me. I made my payment, received the receipt and then as I turned to go several patients that were waiting in the lines thanked me for what I was doing; paying for treatments. It was almost overwhelming.
"I've never been so close or exposed to how this life lives. It gave me great fear and wonder at just how close this lifestyle and addiction is to us. I have since wondered at just how destructive this addiction is to the lives of those that fall. They can't hold jobs, their lives are centered around their next fix or treatment, their health is gone, their appearance horrible, their personalities gone, their spirit unknown. Their family, spouses, children, parents, friends, all suffer in their relationship with these people.
"If you ever want to see just what the impact of drugs is on our society, sit in that room for just a few minutes.
In the meanwhile, let's hold each other close, learn what we can to help, rely upon God and bishops and pray for the day when such hideousness can be subdued, managed, or even conquered.