Editor's Note: I am honored to have permission to post this beautifully written story by Darcy Downing. Darcy and her husband Sean are the parents of three beautiful daughters. One of those daughters, Sierra, is the little girl who contracted the bubonic plague in Pagosa Springs last summer. If you missed that story, you had to have been sleeping for months and never read a shred of news or turned on a television. This story garnered national attention. Like many of you, I heard from friends in other states far away with calls of "Someone in Pagosa Springs got bubonic plague? Wow, I saw it on.... ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN... Dr. Oz".
Before I get carried away, this is the Downings story to tell; one that Darcy does with grace and boldness, unafraid to show the raw heartache that life throws your way even when it feels like you’ve given your very best. When I first read this story, I was at work. It felt like every distraction, every undone item on my desk, every “to-do” vanished for a period of time. Darcy wrote in a way that spoke to a place deep inside. I hope it does the same for you. Thank you Darcy for sharing your journey in such an honest way… and thank you for the privilege of allowing me to share the message through the Pagosa Daily Post. You and your family are a blessing to our community!
Yes, I am the mother of the little girl, Sierra Jane, who had the plague in 2012. Sean laughingly calls me “the plague mom.” Please DON”T call me that though! We were on T.V. and the Dr. Oz Show (click on the link to see the actual show) and she received world coverage.
On the set with Dr. Oz after recording the show.
We talked about everything from my two older daughters’ 911 call to the pink sweatshirt fallen on the ground that became the carriage for the little creatures who carried the deadly disease, the bubonic plague.
What you never heard; however, were the millions of miracles God orchestrated for our benefit… and yours! I just want you to know how much He loves you.
He wants you to know that He has not forgotten you. He has heard every prayer. Every one. Even the little ones that seem like a simple little thought. Even the ones you haven’t uttered because you think you don’t deserve it or it won’t happen. He has Hope for you right here, right now. And since we survived the plague I feel that I am qualified to tell you why and how I know that!
There is much to tell and this story doesn’t begin with the plague; that’s where it ends. Allow me to take you back to the summer of 2000…
In the spring of 2012, the Holy Spirit had me return to an old abandoned township called Pagosa Junction. The land is on the tip of the Ute reservation and as I understand it, there has been some fighting over the territory between the Utes and the town of Pagosa Springs. The first time I ever went out there, however, was 12 years earlier in the summer of 2000.
The Catholic church over looking Pagosa Junction
The Catholic church overlooking Pagosa Junction
Back then, my husband and I had time to explore new territories. We drove back into the wilderness and discovered an old train station, tracks, and old homes. On that first trip I remember thinking that it looked like everyone had just up and left! We found old clothing, jars, antique furniture and so many cool things. Since we love collecting pictures of old doors, I started taking pictures of the doors. One I will never forget was of a lone “locked” door standing like a rebel surrounded by its fallen house. I can’t help but think of this scripture when I remember that door.
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Rev 3:7-9
The more we explored, though, the more uneasy we became. We felt an unspoken warning to touch nothing! I could hear what sounded like voices on the breeze threatening and screaming at us to leave. Sensing the evil presence, we decided to leave. A few weeks later when I got the pictures back, I was so uncomfortable that I had to throw every single one away.
If you need more evidence that that place was cursed, a friend of mine went out there five years later and brought back an old mason jar for a souvenir. A few weeks later she and her kids started having terrible nightmares and even seeing manifestations of spirits in their home. We prayed. She repented, threw away the jar and as soon as the jar was in the trash the nightmares stopped.
So, when God asked me to return there in the spring of 2012, I was a little leery… and excited. Along the way I discovered a little happy flock of sheep. One of them came over to the fence and actually looked like he wanted to encourage me.
When I got to Pagosa Junction this time, I didn’t sense anything like before. In fact, I wandered around the old church on the hill and hiked around the valley near the train tracks and experienced peace. Then I began to pray.
Have you ever noticed that when it’s God praying through you it’s difficult to remember what you prayed? All I know is, as I prayed, a theme of God returning the land prevailed. I recall saying out loud, “Be returned to the land.” There was a sense of restoring as I prayed and prophesied to the land.
Early spring at Pagosa Junction 2012
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord. The Prophet Jeremiah 33:11
You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. Psalm 85:1
I returned home feeling peaceful and with much anticipation.
Then we lost our house.
I know! It wasn’t the miracle I had been hoping for either! I fought so hard to keep that little home of ours. Like a lot of Americans, we bought our home at the peak of the market and shouldn’t have. We ended up receiving a Deed in Leu which morphed into a Deed in Lease. That means we were renting the house we once owned. We were slipping farther and farther into debt, depression and discouragement.
As summer approached I continued to pray. We looked at rentals and even considered moving out-of-town and closer to a city. Then one day our friend, Steve, suggested we take a look at his old property. The property was on the other side of town on 1.5 acres. For the last three years it had been used as a homeless shelter. Since there was only one man left of the group (he moved into a single cabin), Steve thought a family might be able to restore the house.
No one knew the years I had wept, or the days I had fasted and prayed for God to answer us. No one knew how creative I really was with so little; how I understood the woman with her jar of oil and bit of flour, how I longed for something new for my daughters and joy for my husband. God knew…
“In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ The Prophet Isaiah 49:8-9
We inherited Steve’s house and began our summer with renovations. Little did we know that we were about to embark on an adventure together that we would never forget....
To be Continued....