“On February 27th, I woke up to Alan completely out of it. He’d had a stroke. His prognosis was a heavy weight on our family and we didn’t know if he was going to survive. We needed something to lean on, something stronger than us. Without our faith, we wouldn’t have been able to survive this. But the way people have shown Jesus to us by taking time out of their day to do things for us has been amazing. We felt like these acts of generosity really carried us through it.”
Rachel and Alan Sweeney have been married for 16 years. They have two kids, ages 4 and 11. Everyone’s story is important. Here at Hill City we want to celebrate people, where they’ve come from, and what they’ve been through. This is their story.
“I was so angry at first, I could barely sleep or eat. I felt bitterness and sadness wanting to take me over and I feared that it would take over our family. I had so many questions rushing through my head. I kept saying to myself “I am not cut out for this.” I didn’t think I could take on this leadership position from God. I felt totally out of my comfort zone, totally helpless. In the middle of the night, I’d feel so overwhelmed. I would keep repeating ‘Let go and let God’ to myself – this mantra would put me to sleep.
In the beginning, we didn’t know if Alan would make it past March 3rd, but over the last few months he has made incredible progress. He’s not totally back, but he Is talking again and the doctors are super hopeful that he will regain all he has lost.
As time went on, I felt little gifts start coming. I would rest in Proverbs 3 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” It reminded reminded me to trust Him and not try to figure it out.
I had so many questions. We were not “all in” and hadn’t been coming to Hill City long when this happened. We didn’t see the need for faith, we felt like we were doing fine without it. Now we read scripture and think it out together everyday. Throughout this whole ordeal, there was no reason for us to be sane… But this, our faith, got us through it.
I’m not easily convinced, I come from a skeptical background. But this community has fed us and loved our children deeply. Our whole small group came to the hospital to visit Alan. People wrote us letters, cut our grass. Hill City is a safe and powerful place for children. Our kids are the happiest they’ve ever been, which is bizarre because this crazy thing has happened to them… But they’re truly happier now than ever before. Shannon, our 4-year-old, asks us all the time “Is this a church day?”
I’ve felt like there’s been a theme through all of this… That our destiny is predetermined and that God put us here for a reason and trusting in that is part of the plan. We hadn’t felt that purpose in our life before now. We were very focused on the earthly before, but we can’t wait to give our gifts now. We’re excited to start serving, helping and loving people more. We are so thankful for Hill City.
We had our world turned upside down, our ‘normal’ stripped away. What began to rebuild after that has been so much better than what we had before. Now we have hope like we’ve never known. It’s a wild, much stronger hope.”