News Story

Tragic Accident Unifies Ontario Family

In October 2013, Elliott Banaag, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Scarborough, Ontario, suffered a tragic accident that has left him needing 24-hour care. His family has selflessly provided that care and, in the process, has grown stronger in their unity and faith.

When Elliott was 18, he was rushed to the hospital due to a seizure resulting from an allergic reaction. By the time he reached the hospital, he had been without oxygen to his brain for 20 minutes. “The doctor said Elliott had a small chance of surviving,” says Elliott’s younger sister, Kate, “but we had faith that my brother would get better.”

The Banaag family’s prayers were answered that first night, when Elliott was able to start breathing on his own. He was cared for at the hospital for a year until his family decided to bring him home.

“We decided to bring him home to give him the best care that we could give — unconditional love. I believe that our family can [help him] together and that we can help him recover fully,” says Elliott’s mother, Nidy.

Mormons believe that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, [and] work” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).

The Banaag family is a living example of this principle. “Before, we were just thinking of ourselves,” says Elliott’s older sister, Eloise. “But when my brother’s accident happened, we became more unified. We are more willing to pray together, and we aren’t focusing on little mistakes. … We are more forgiving, too. We are able to focus outside of ourselves. … We don’t look inward when it comes to serving in our home. It’s hard, but we all … do our best to work together to sustain our family and to sustain Elliott.”

Although the family is required to care for Elliott around the clock, they do not feel it is a hardship because each family member is moving in the same direction now and doing their part to help. Nidy says that even Elliott is doing his part by providing an opportunity for the family to work together.

Elliott’s father, Eliseo, calls their situation a gift from God. “Heavenly Father knew we [could] handle it. We are not sacrificing ourselves. … [Elliott’s health was sacrificed] so that our family could be more unified and loving. I know that we’ve been guided.”

Before the accident, Elliott was a physically strong, extremely intelligent and talented young man. After much prayer, fasting and service, Elliott is slowly making progress. The Banaags feel their miracle is the strength, faith and love that they have been able to develop in caring for Elliott.

Neill F. Marriott, second counsellor in the Young Women general presidency, states, “Sometimes … we can’t see that by the simple, consistent acts — including family prayer … great things are brought to pass. But I testify that these very acts carry eternal significance. … Our small acts of faith and service are how most of us can continue in God and eventually bring eternal light and glory to our family” (“Sharing Your Light,” October 2014 general conference).

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