Orin Voorheis lies supine on the carpeted basement floor with his father crossways atop his knees and his mother crouched near his face in what an observer might take for a just-ended game of Twister.
But this is no parlor game. There are no peals of laughter. Only moans of pain.Wayne Voorheis soothingly rubs his 21-year-old son's belly and chest. A volunteer gently massages his calves and feet. Florence Voorheis coos softly into her son's ear.
"That's OK, love. You're doing fine. Hang in there. Hang in there," she says.
Wayne glances at a digital timer set for 10 minutes. Seven minutes to go. The seconds slow to an agonizing crawl. Finally, Wayne begins the countdown at 15, 14, 13 . . . beep-beep-beep.
The daily leg-stretching session ends. Now it's on to the slow-motion log roll, No. 18 on a list of 36 exercises and activities that make up the Voorheises regimented lifestyle.
Orin starts to doze off before the next round, but his mother rouses him. "The day must go forward," she says.
The Voorheis family takes life a day at a time. No one knows what fate or destiny or providence or whatever you want to call it might drop on them tomorrow. Life must go forward.
It was one year ago Thursday that a thug shot Elder Orin A. Voorheis, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the head during a street robbery near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He beat the odds to live, and now his family and a host of new and old friends are striving round the clock to help him overcome a severely debilitating brain injury.
Wayne Voorheis, 56, hasn't forgotten that it was last April 9, the day after his birthday, the family received terrible news about Orin - news that changed their perspective on life but didn't rattle their faith in God.
"We've thought about it. If you thought about it, you'd say, `What life?' But that's not true. He is our life now. It's a privilege," he said gulping, his eyes brimming with tears.
Said Florence, "It's not something we would ask for, but when you are in our circumstance you learn to look for the small joys in life and count your blessings. You see those joys through other people and in the things your son can do."
Orin Voorheis wasn't the only LDS missionary whose life was endangered while proselyting the past year. A hit-and-run driver killed a woman and injured her husband last summer in Armenia. Two missionaries were kidnapped in Russia just last month, slightly beaten and released days later. Also in March, a semi struck and killed a missionary on a bicycle in Florida.
The Voorheis family watched those situations with empathy. "You feel a real need to ask Heavenly Father to bless and sustain those families because you know how much you needed the strength," Florence Voorheis, 52, said.
Instead of being expected home from his two-year mission next month, Orin returned to the Voorheises' modest split-level in Pleasant Grove last New Year's Eve after stays in University Hospital and a Provo care center. The community combined efforts to build a 576-square-foot addition to the back of the house complete with bedroom, bathroom and therapy room. Some of those same people are now remodeling the entire house inside and out.
The Voorheises figure their son is still serving a mission. They haven't officially heard otherwise.
Wayne pulls Orin's worn Book of Mormon from a shelf in the bedroom and turns to a passage in the book of Alma.
"And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lam-anites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."
In the margin Orin wrote, "1996. Written to me from 2086 years ago."
The Voorheises haven't given up hope that their son will some day return to Argentina, to the people Mormons call Lamanites, to finish his mission.
"Do you worry about the sun coming up in the morning?" Wayne asks. "We don't worry about whether or not he's going to get better."
The couple spends none of their precious time feeling sorry for themselves, not that they have a moment to spare anyway, given Orin's rigorous therapy schedule. Florence puts in at least 12 hours a day running her son through a battery of sensory and motor workouts with the aid of volunteers who come and go on the hour. Wayne still works full time at the Brigham Young University telecommunications office. He helps with Orin mornings and evenings and regularly takes time off work.
The parents of nine children, the Voorheises are basically starting over with their seventh child.
Orin is an 180-pound infant. He receives food through a tube to his stomach. They're teaching him to eat, to communicate, to roll over.
Ever considered the mechanics of turning from your back to you stomach or vice versa? Florence Voorheis hadn't until she began working on Orin's atrophied body.
"We lay down and analyzed how you roll over," she said.
Orin seems to have figured it out to some degree, too. After the painful leg stretching, he made it from side to side on this day with a little verbal and physical coaxing from his dad. Wayne and Florence follow up the log roll with some bending of Orin's limbs and digits, which are as stiff as the handle on a seldom-used well pump. An arm wrestle with mom brings the physically demanding exercises to a close.
With sweat streaming down his face, Wayne carries Orin to a massage chair in the sky-lighted therapy room for some mental stimu-lation. Classical music wafts through the room. Viewing cards, Orin spells simple words using sign language. He also makes choices given him with the raise of a pinky or thumb.
On the wall behind the chair is a painting of Orin in missionary attire with his hand on a set of scriptures. Jesus stands over his shoulder. The portrait was a gift from an artist the Voorheises don't know.
On a shelf across the room a framed black and white cartoon Orin sent from Argentina depicts two missionaries about to step into a pit who are surrounded by a host of muscular angels. In the upper lefthand corner he wrote, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm in good hands."
And he is.