I have been in Roseburg since July 30. My initial impression was that it was a small and quiet town; very humble and deeply rooted in their community and each other. It's a town that's rather peculiar, but with an interesting charm and character. Over the past few months, I've come to love these people. I've taught them, learned from them, served them, and gained a great appreciation for them, their spirits and their love for each other. It's because of this that I can't believe what has happened.
Every time a tragedy like this occurs, especially form the direct choices of another, there are thoughts of "How can this happen? Not here! Why here?" This has never been truer than in Roseburg. The Umpqua Community College, with a student body of less than my high school, nestled near middle-of-nowhere Oregon, suffered the loss of 9 innocent lives, with many more injured. No one is unaffected. It's at times like these the age old question surfaces: Why do bad things happen to good people?
1 Nephi 11:17 "And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things"
I'm not here to try and say why tragedies like this happen. I'm not trying to provide a psych evaluation of what drives a person to do something like this. This isn't a conversation of "pro guns" or "anti guns". This is an instance of someone making a choice with consequences, which we are now facing. With that considered, how are we to face them?
To my friends in Roseburg, back home, or anywhere reading this message, I don't know much but I do know two things; God loves all His children, and that Christ knows everything that we are going through. These are two simple truths that are almost taken for granted, but the power and comfort behind them is incredible. From the account of Nephi above, it's ok that we don't understand everything. It's ok to have questions and to struggle and have these pains. Because God loves us, He allowed for the ultimate comfort: the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Alma 7:11-12 "And he shall go forth suffering pains and affliction and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities"
Christ took upon him everything. Every pain, every temptation, every sickness, every trial. Whether it's large or small, He's felt it. He's felt the pain of this community. He's felt and suffered through every loss of innocent life, every tear shed at the realization of a tragedy, and every confused and frustrated thought of "Why me?" "Why Here?" and Why Now?"
And He did all of this so He could know how to help us. He descended to the lowest form of humanity in order to lift us back up and save us from the pains we are burdened with. He knows everything we are going through. Every. Last. Bit.
Roseburg is not alone. Never feel like you are either. Anyone who is in pain, struggling and feeling like there is no one out there who can help; know that I love you, but more importantly our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ love you more than we can understand. And it's through that love that all things are possible.