SALT LAKE CITY — Now in recovery, for the first time we hear from a Latter-day Saint missionary who was stabbed multiple times in the middle of the night.
Lauren Willardson was sleeping peacefully when the 19 year old said she woke up to a teenager stabbing her.
Willardson said she felt alert and prepared—something that shocked first responders and ultimately saved her life.
The sister missionary was four months into her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Texas Houston Mission.
August 16th will forever be a day Willardson remembers as the day she and her mission companion were attacked.
“We started fighting him, trying to get him to leave,” said Willardson. “We were just struggling for our lives.”
The struggle lasted about 15 minutes.
Willardson and her companion yelled and begged in both Spanish and English for the 17 year old to leave.
“There were points in the fight where I thought I was going to die, very sacred times where I said, am I ready to meet my maker?” said Willardson.
Willardson sustained nine stab wounds in total — three on her leg, one all the way through her calf, through her hand, another on her shoulder and elbow.
The teen tried to stab her head, but Willardson said he never did—something the sister missionary attributes to God protecting her.
The masked teen finally left and Willardson's companion was able to call for help.
Once at the hospital, Willardson was evaluated and told that the knife went in-between a main vein and artery in her arm.
“If it had turned a single degree to the left or the right, one of them would have been completely sliced and I would have bled to death before the ambulance even arrived,” said Willardson.
It was one of the many miracles the sister missionary said happened during such a traumatic event.
As she watched the news coverage from her hospital bed, Willardson said she recognized the teen as her neighbor within the apartment complex.
“We talked with them a couple of times, we’d been very friendly,” said Willardson.
Willardson and her companion said they interacted more with the teen’s family than with him.
The attack is not what Willardson focuses on though, rather the outpouring of love she has received from complete strangers around the world.
“Something that I’ve learned is that for every bad person in the world there are thousands and millions of really good people,” said Willardson.
In her recovery, re-learning to walk, sit up and eat food again, Willardson said her faith has been strengthened.
“My scars, my suffering and the things that I have been through have helped me rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” said Willardson. “I understand what he did for me more than I ever could otherwise.”
Willardson was just cleared by her doctor to re-submit her mission papers—the hope for Willardson is to have a new mission call in the next coming weeks or months.