Sunday, November 20, 2016

Well Crap. I'm Stuck... Now What? (Disclaimer: This Post is Long.)

Hello!!!! Oh my goodness it has been so very long since I have posted on this blog! But here I am! A year later, finally posting an update! If you're planning on reading this whole post right now, get comfy and maybe get some hot chocolate or herbal tea, you might be here for a while haha. So a little summary of the past year and a half: I came back from Ecuador July of 2015 and lived with family friends in Kaysville, my parents were in an Earthquake in Ecuador in April and they got back this past August (Eventually i'll get to posting experiences, stories and lessons from both these times). Exciting! We are now all three living together for my last year in high school and it has been very nice to be all together. After I graduate I am headed to Romania for five months to work in an orphanage before my mission and I am more excited than I can express.

You may be wondering why I felt inspired to start blogging again, and I guess that's because... even though I am no longer living in Ecuador and no longer having tons of missionary experiences everyday, I am still learning a ton and I'm still being tested. Living with another family for a year taught me a ton, having my parents away from me, starting over again in a new school, then having your parents be in an earthquake etc. all taught me something. So many things have happened over this year and a half and I have to share some of the lessons I have had. Sooo here ya go!

While in Ecuador I had begun to be on this spiritual high, I was so close to Heavenly Father and while not everything was perfect, I felt so happy. My testimony had grown so strong and I read the scriptures every day, I prayed every night and day; things were good, not perfect, but good. Coming back to Utah, I brought that joy with me, making friends came easier to me than it ever had at school, and while living with other people was hard  I learned really important things like: communicate! and talk things out instead of staying silent or nothing will get solved! The silent treatment does NOT work (crazy idea right?). I learned that sometimes, the people you live with will have different ways of doing things than you do, different ideas, different opinions and for heavens sake, they will have different personalities! But that does NOT mean that they are wrong, and it does not mean you are wrong, it just means you're different, plain and simple. AND THAT'S OKAY. I learned that even though you don't want to do somethings sometimes, even though you don't always love someones else's ideas, you've just got to make it work and find middle ground. Always say you're sorry when you're wrong, do what you can to make it right, and then let it go. My friend's mom, also provided me with one of the best examples of what it is like to be selfless. She always did and still does things for other people all the time, she'll drop whatever she's doing to be of service whether it's making food for someone or visiting or talking or helping with someone's kids or laundry. She's there. And she made me want to be a better person, I thought I understood service and giving... and maybe to some extent I did, but after I lived with her for a year, I realized I had only scratched the surface. Living with other people means to learn things you didn't know before, to learn from each other, help each other and grow together. No one is perfect, but together we can improve even more greatly than if we tried to do it alone.

I'm sure that any of you that have read my blog before remember the quote, " There's no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone." Well, for so long I have been living outside of my comfort zone and I've gotten so used to being "uncomfortable" and growing that now that my parents are back and I'm with them, it has been so hard. I would be lying if I said it's been easy for all of us to be back home. Once again, I am here in this comfort zone that is my parents and our old house and this old life we've always lived in this house of ours... and I can't say that I feel the same happiness. After my parents came back and we moved back into our house, I slowly started getting back in to old habits I had before the mission, I started not to say my prayers as much and not to read my scriptures as much and now here I am 3 or 4 months later and hardly doing those important things at all. Life has started to feel grey once again and I've started to hit what the play writer Micheal McClain called a " Faith Crisis". For the past three and a half years, my life has been structure and growth and this spiritual high. I've felt better than I ever have, but now, here I am, once again struggling with myself. And why? I keep asking God why? Why is it so hard for me to keep reading the scriptures and to keep praying and going to the temple - all the things I KNOW from experience will make me happy. WHY? I think that's the word I've said the most this past month is "Why"? Why when I've spent four and a half years of my life getting closer to God is it so hard now? Why am I struggling to find the motivation and drive to do things? Why am I hurting and feeling alone and feeling sad, when I know you're there? WHY? Eventually, because of this spiritual decline, I've started to experience other declines in my life - where I have always been a school nerd and always been punctual about getting places on time and turning assignments in, lately I've been going to classes late and turning in assignments in late or not at all. My motivation to do anything has been spiraling down and it hurts. It hurts to feel like I'm losing the structure and happiness I worked so long to gain. And on top of all this emotional crap I've been feeling my family has been going through some really tough things and I've lost a couple friends who I loved and still love. Why? Why, God, if I've been doing so good and doing everything you asked me to, why is it so hard?

So why am I telling you all of this? Am I trying to be a Debbie Downer? Absolutely not. Am I denouncing my faith in God? No way Joseeee! Have I given up on this gospel? Never. I am telling you this because, Hi! I'm a human! And what a coincidence, so are you! And maybe you're going through the same thing and need someone to lean on, need some spec of hope. Maybe you've been praying for a sign, and I'm here to say, "HERE IS YOUR SIGN!" Because, while yes I have been going through some terrible things and some days don't want to get up out of bed, THERE IS A PURPOSE FOR IT ALL AND GOD IS AWARE OF ME AND YOU. At the beginning of this week (and anyone who goes to school with me will know... because I suck at hiding when I'm sad) I had once again reluctantly woken up and lugged myself out of bed and when I looked in the mirror that dreary Monday morning I asked, no one in particular, "why?" And then I just started to cry... because.. heck, why not? I hadn't really told my mom how I was feeling but as soon as she saw me crying I just spilled it. I can clearly remember her giving me a hug and then calling after me as I scampered out to the car, "We'll figure out a way to work things out." and I just huffed and mumbled "No we wont." and drove to school. The whole day I was silent and cried under the brim of my hat. How were we going to "work things out?" what could possibly make it better? The problem was me. Myself. I felt no motivation and drive and I felt colorless. How were we going to change me? Well... while I was feeling this way I was telling God in my head, "I bet you don't even care. You love so and so more than you love me and you give so and so everything they want. Why can't you just give me a little motivation to even get out of bed in the morning?" My head was just spinning with all these why questions and I was so sick of it.

But over the course of the day and the course of the week, even though I was sad, mad and plain upset, Heavenly Father was giving me all sorts of tender mercies and evidences that he was aware of me. In my seminary class that day, the teacher talked about exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about being spiritually lost and how the savior always wants us to come back and always has mercy on us. He talked about the story of the prodigal son and talked about the savior's mercy. I had all sorts of people showing me love and support and hugging me and texting me when Satan had been telling me that nobody cared. When my mom was in the temple on Wednesday she kept having this one chapter of scripture come to her mind and she didn't know why (hm.. wonder why.) but she told me which one and it talked about exactly what I needed! I mean talk about awesome. I went to Time Out For Women this weekend and the FLIPPING FIRST SPEAKER, Michael McClain, spoke about his "Faith Crisis" and feeling distant from Heavenly Father and how he came back. Um, say what? The very first speaker talked about the exact same problem I was having? Yeah, you bet he did.  One of the stories he told, he said his father before he had died had given an Easter talk and for 12 of the 15 minutes he spoke he talked about God's greatness and how he was the most powerful being in the universe. He said that he was a little embarrassed that he was giving an Easter talk and not mentioning the atonement or the savior but that as his father's talk came to a close his father talked about why when Jesus Christ was on the cross had God withdrawn his spirit from him. And his father said something to the effect of, " Perhaps, because God was all powerful, he withdrew his spirit from his son because he wanted to show the world that he had faith in him. That he the most powerful being in the universe believed in his son and believed his son could fulfill this task." He talked about that it was so fitting because in order for us to be able to trust Jesus Christ's atonement and trust that he knew how we felt and put all our faith in him, wouldn't the most powerful God of all creations need to be able to put all his faith in him too? Michael McClain went on to say that what if it was the same for us? Perhaps when we are going through a hard trial, perhaps when we are finding it difficult to stay true or feel like God is there, maybe it is because he is trying to tell us that he has faith in us and that we can do it, that he trusts us and that we can handle it. How incredible is that? How incredible is it to think that God gives us hard things because HE, the most powerful being in all the universe, believes in US and believes that we are strong enough to handle it and rise above it. Pretty flattering right? I mean talk about THE best compliment you could ever receive.

So the first talk in Time Out For Women was the talk I needed to hear and then on Saturday night, Elder Nelsen of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, gave a fireside to all of the priests and laurels of my school. He had four kids come up and ask questions that they thought, we as a big group would want answers to. The very last question, was the question I had been asking for so long, "Why when I have been doing everything right is it so hard to stay strong? How do I stay firm?" He had given pretty good sized answers to the other three but he gave a significantly long answer to this question and after he was done he said something like, "wow, sorry I wasn't planning on saying that much but it kept coming". EVERY WORD HE SAID SPOKE TO MY QUESTIONS OF "WHY?". COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT! And then tonight I got to go hear Al Carraway speak here in Bountiful and she said exactly what I needed to hear too! I do not think that those things were coincidences in any way. After this weekend I feel this desire to try like I haven't for so long and this desire to work and grow and it's what I needed. Now I'm not saying I'm completely better and like my problems were solved in one week, because they weren't. I'm still stuck in this pickle, but Heavenly Father has shown me that he is aware of me, that he knows what I'm going through, that he loves me and that there is a purpose. Most of all he has shown me that he trusts me, and that most of all is the reason I now want to try again. I have the tools I need to get myself out of this rut I am in, and Heavenly Father has shown me what they are. Maybe it will take time, it definitely wont be easy but Heavenly Father has shown me it is possible. Even Mother Teresa in these letters she wrote, talked about how she felt like God had forsaken her and forgotten her and she felt alone and sad and she talked about how she had started that convent in Calcutta to maybe come back into God's graces. MOTHER TERESA! ONE OF THE MOST SPIRITUAL AND REVERED PEOPLE IN OUR HISTORY WENT THROUGH THE SAME THING.  I only know this because Michael McClain talked about it in his talk, and wouldn't you know - another tender mercy, because he could never have known Mother Teresa is my idol, my greatest role model and I have her quotes all over my wall. Even the people we think are perfect are having trials of their own, they are human too and have struggles just like we do. Heavenly Father trusted Christ, so he let him go through hard things, he trusted Mother Teresa and HE TRUSTS US. If you are going through something hard, you should feel flattered, because Heavenly Father trusted you so much and had so much faith in you, that he believed you could handle this trial at this time. He believes in you even when you don't believe in yourself. But if the God of all creations believes and trusts in you, shouldn't you believe and trust in you too?

I just want to end this post by testifying that I know, I KNOW, that God, our Heavenly Father lives and cares about us and that his son Jesus Christ died for us so that we wouldn't have to be tied down by our mistakes and sins. I KNOW that there is a purpose: a purpose to life, a purpose to God's timing and a purpose to suffering. I know that if we just hang on, there is light and life at the end of the tunnel and we will be stronger when we come to it. Don't give up. It's so easy to give up and not try, but what do we benefit from it? Nothing. We don't come out of giving  up being or feeling any stronger. Only holding on to hope and Faith will bring us through. And always remember, even if you don't believe in God, he believes in you. He believes in you even when you don't believe in you and he will always love you and be there for you, even if you choose not to see it or even if you feel like he's not. I hope you all know, I have gone through some terrible crap in my life, but I have also gotten through it and if you need someone to be there for you, if you need someone to remind you how loved you are and to remind you of God's love and to remind you that you can get through it too, I will. I love you all so much!!!! Stay strong!!!! "Hard times will always be there, but so will Christ, and with him we can conquer and overcome the world." - Al Carraway Go read D&C 121 ;)

motivational and inspirational quotes about life.:

25 Quotes about Faith and Encouragement:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mothers Day!!! - MAJOR update

IS ANYONE STILL THERE???!?!?! HAVE YOU ALL GIVEN UP ON ME??!?!?! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!! I AM SO SORRY FOR NOT HAVE WRITTEN SOONER!!!!! I AM SUCH A SLACKER SOMETIMES I FORGET ALL THE TIME!!!! Anyways.. enough with the caps and apologies I'm sure you all get it.. haha.. whoever "you all" are hahaha (probably my mom... HI MOM!!) So, the first matter at hand is mother's day. OH MY GOSH I LOVE MY MOM I CAN'T EVEN EXPRESS HOW MUCH... I JUST.. I JUST... TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR ETERNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have any of you read the book that goes "I'll love you forever, I'll like you always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be"? or the one with the rabbits that are talking about how much they love eachother? My mom used to read those to me when I was little and I didn't fully understand... I only knew I loved my mom.. I wasn't old enough to be grateful for everything she did for me or to even realize everything she did for me but for some reason I just loved her. Have you ever thought of that? We just have a bond with our mothers from birth into childhood and yeah sometimes it changes when we get older but it's still there.. anyways.. not the point. Now that I've gotten older and have matured a bit more, I have become more aware of everything my mother actually does for me... and let me just say.. the list is not short... AT ALL.. LIKE NOT EVEN A LITTLE. HOW COULD I HAVE NOT NOTICED THOSE THINGS WHEN I WAS LITTLE? IT'S AS IF I BECAME DESENSITIZED TO NOTICING ALL OF THE THINGS SHE DID because she did them EVERYDAY!!! (sorry.. had to go out of caps there for a moment so you could see the emphasis a bit more..) Let me repeat that.. not in caps.. It's as if I became desensitized to noticing all of the things she did because she did them everyday from as early as I can remember. Sad huh? When we have something so much it becomes just so normal and usual and part of our everday life that we cease to notice and even appreciate it sometimes! I know I do! All the time! And it's sad! My mom is so amazing.. and I'm sure all of you out there have equally amazing mothers who have sacrificed their time and used their talents to help and teach you. But really, how incredible are they, right? I can't quite wrap my mind around it. So, this is to say that I love you, mothers single or married, wherever you may be:) You are incredible and make more of a difference than you could ever imagine. I am so thankful that God created the plan of families and that mothers are a central part of it, because honestly, I would be a lot less than I am if it weren't for my mom. I am so grateful for her.. and for all of you... you really are warriors because it is no easy thing to be a mom, all day every day. Happy Mothers Day!!

Segment No. 2 - So, as I said before, I am terribly sorry I have forgot to write these last couple months!! Things have been so crazy! From the beginning of the term till now things have just been super busy and I haven't even had time to read a book for fun (that is what kills me most ;))! So, homework has been plentiful and hours of sleep have been not so plentiful but that's okay! A few weeks ago we had a basketball tournament at our school for five american schools (including ours) in Ecuador! It was super fun!! Our team came out of it in second place and I came out of it without a voice hahaha it was very extreme but really fun! Next, a while ago my parents and I went to Puerto Lopez, a favorite getaway spot of ours on the coast, for a few days. As I was getting ready to go to sleep the first night in the loft area where the second bed was in our hotel room, I saw some strange looking twig things.. very large, mind you.. and 8.. sticking out from one of the boards in the ceiling and when I looked closer and shined some light on it.. it was a ginormous spider! Delightful, right? Yeah.. I thought so.. NOT. So my dad started spraying it with hairspray.. because.. we had nothing else and it moved a bit but not much. Then he got some herbal, homemade spray we had bought at the supermarket and sprayed it and it started running. So, we got off the loft and threw a shoe up at it and it fell and ew it was gross. But then he grabbed my shoe (without asking me of course) and smashed it. It's like 4 or 5 weeks later and my shoe has still not been cleaned off. I refuse to touch it. The next day I was about to take a shower and I see 4 more funny and very large stick like things sticking out of a board by the shower.. and sure enough.. another.. very large spider was there, probably just waiting for me to get close so it could POUNCE. Probably not. Anyways.. long story short, my dad sprayed it, it ran, he got a shoe and it died. Thank-heavens for dad's.. but still not very glad it was MY shoe. Still a little bitter about that.. I'll get over it... someday.. ;) We actually had a really fun time minus the spiders and I had a lot of fun playing with the five big dogs that the owners own that just lounge around the dining area:) I'll put pictures! Next, last week we had a couple sister missionaries staying at our house for about a week because one had been sick for months and had to go home to get checked but she had to be in air conditioning or she felt worse and fainted so that's why they were staying in our house and so we could take care of her but OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE OUR SISTER MISSIONARIES SO MUCH!!! I had so much fun and those sisters and I became best friends really fast. It's amazing how even though I don't have really any close friends here, I have the missionaries and I see them every so often and it's enough to keep me going:) I love it! I'm definitely going to miss them soooo much!! It's been like having a ton of brothers and sisters... I can't even explain it.. I just love being around them they have the spirit and this energy that is just incredible! I love it!

That is the next thing I want to talk about.. I AM GOING TO MISS ECUADOR SOOOOOOOOOO MUUUUUCH I can't even fully express with words how much.. I think I might actually cry when it's time to come home which is actually kind of strange considering how hard it has been at times. But man, let me tell you... I have learned so much... so much from what I have done and what I haven't. For example, I have learned all this time I have been here about trusting in Heavenlt Father, but not until a few months ago have I been able to start getting the hang of it a bit more and start getting better at it. I have seen that growth on a mission or in anything really, is a process and takes time, there are steps and challenges and all of us handle things differently but the important thing is that we come out of it changed and improved. Heavenly Father doesn't care so much how we change or when we improve so long as we do, so long as we chose to learn from our mistakes, keep moving forward and apply what we've learned. I have learned that we can believe a principle of the gospel whole halfheartedly, but unless we live it and experiment with it and apply it in our lives, our testimony of it is only going to be temporary and is going to be weak. I know because for a while I was reading the scriptures and keeping a scripture journal and all that good stuff and I was like, yeah! This is true! This is amazing! But I wasn't applying all the new things I was living in my life so the dedication and motivation I had, to actually keep learning about the principles themselves, started to go down. But now I understand. Now I am understanding that we can't receive something amazing while only paying half price. I was so afraid to be myself all of my time here, I was so afraid people weren't going to like me and I wasn't sure I wanted people to know me and I was just scared. Finally like a month ago I was like, I'm going home.. I should just try to be myself these last few months and see what happens haha and so I have and people really like me! I haven't had any negative responses yet! If I had just trusted heavenly father in the first place and just went out on a limb I may have had an even more amazing experience than I've had! But it's okay, I don't regret it... I don't think I have any regrets.. because any mistake I have made.. I am learning from it and it's going to help me and teach me to be a better person and I am so happy for that.

If there are any mission president's kids out there reading this, I want you to know IT IS OKAY TO TRUST HEAVENLY FATHER, IT IS OKAY TO BE SCARED! THAT IS NORMAL! And what have you got to lose? You're in a new place and the worst that could happen is that people don't like you which really is not that bad! Because regardless of whether people like you or not, regardless of whether you have friends or whether or not you still talk to the friends you have back home, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE AND LEARN THINGS YOU WILL USE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!! Growing up, I always wanted to go on a mission, when I was little I was so excited that one day I was going to be a missionary. When I saw my brother getting ready for his mission, my mom said that I said, "Ooooh missionary! I be missionary too!" So all my life that has just been the plan, even when I was depressed and didn't really have a testimony of the church I still wanted to come. But you know what? If it wasn't for coming here, I don't think I would have been able to handle it, I think I might have come home. I don't know if I would have been strong enough to stay in college, because I hadn't learned how to persevere and endure to the end with my goals. All of my talents were just partly developed because I never wanted to take the time to turn them into something beautiful. But now, I have more motivation and faith and I am closer to heavenly father and I can testify that he will help us with anything we are having trouble with and in good times and in bad. I testify that from hard things come lessons and come growth. You have no idea, how good you have it until you have to leave it all behind, you have no idea how much you can grow until the strength you have is put to the test and you go through adversity you didn't know you could go through. This is the mission, and it has changed my life and it can change yours.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Progress Progress Progress...

Sooo I've finally realized why writing in journals is so important.. haha even though I myself don't write in my journal very often.. I was talking to one of the other mission president's daughters and we were talking about "How do we know we've changed or made progress?" And I was thinking about it for a while and all the obvious things came into my head like, "Well, when things that were once hard for you become easier.." and " We become happier and more comfortable." But then I started thinking about my blog and about my journal.. that I don't usually write in.. haha.. but I remember that when I look back on these things, when I read through my old journal entries and my old blog posts I can see how far I've come, I can see what has changed and how I am different. So I have made a resolve to write in my journal, even though it is so hard for me to concentrate and get the motivation to sit down and write down all the millions of thoughts in my mind, I am going to do it because now I realize how important it can be for me. Please, pray for me hahaha I know it will benefit me a ton when I look back but it is just so hard for me to sit still for that long of a time and muster the energy and motivation to write all the things I have probably been dwelling on the entire day. So, if you are out there wondering if you are progressing in life and wondering if you are changing at all, I invite you to start keeping a journal or start writing in your journal daily.

Just as an example of this, I was looking through all of my papers in my night stands and dresser and organizing things and throwing things away, and I came across my old journal that I brought with me from before coming to Ecuador. This just so happens to be the journal I wrote in when I had really bad depression. I decided to quickly browse through it just to see what was in it and BOY WAS I STARTLED AND SO GRATEFUL. All the things I read were so dark and sad and negative. I was constantly writing all of these horrible things about myself and my life and others, IT WAS TERRIBLE to read. But, at the same time, I felt soooo grateful because comparing my journal now with my journal then, I have grown so much.

In just the past week or so I have been growing so much and learning so many things even though things have been so hard. I think I wrote this in my last post but I have been feeling so alone and I kept asking heavenly father why he was taking all of the people I was closest to away from me. Many of the people I used to talk to and who used to help me and support me have just been fading out of my life. A big group of our sister missionaries left who were like sisters to me who I could always talk to. A lot of people I used to talk to have become so busy and other people who have just seemed to be fading out one by one. I keep feeling like heavenly father just wants me to be alone (even though that's not true) and I started to think all these really negative things again and I started to feel really depressed and angry. I kept asking God what I was doing wrong and why he wanted me to be alone. I had started writing all of this in my journal bit by bit and I have been looking over it and realizing more and more things. Last year I had become really close to heavenly father and relied heavily on him. I was talking to lot's of my friends, I didn't feel alone and in fact every area of my life was doing great. Right now, I have not been so close to him, things have not been as great as I would have wanted them to be (I feel really alone) and I have been having a harder and harder time seeing the bigger picture and seeing the bright side of things. I have been jumping to conclusions in many circumstances and second guessing myself because I have not stuck as firm to my faith as I have before. I guess life is like this but I sure haven't gotten used to it yet. Anyways, I was looking back in my journal reading all the good things and bad things and what I was doing or not doing during both times and I realized: I am not necessarily doing anything wrong, sure I make mistakes and sin everyday because I'm human but I don't think this feeling alone has been a punishment. Next, I think heavenly father is once more trying to get me to rely on him. It has been such a struggle for me not to just rely on everybody else for my happiness and just to wait for friends to talk to me. But I realize now that, In my journal, I am always going to see this pattern unless I change, and maybe if I see it in my journal enough it might scare me enough into trying harder. (See, I always have the desire to try harder it's just when it comes down to it the motivation is sometimes hard to come by..). I guess that's why the prophets emphasize writing in your journal and record keeping so much. I am so grateful that I wrote in my journal at least a few times so that I could see that pattern and see that difference that being close to my heavenly father made. I am going to try to be close to him and rely on him again.

Next, just as a little thought going with the "How can I tell if I'm progressing or growing?" I just wanted to touch on the power of faithful friends, family members and peers. I was talking to my sister the other day and I was upset because I felt so down and I felt like I wasn't progressing. My sister on the other hand is not me (obviously) and so it is easier for her to see me progressing than it is for me to see myself. I had also been worrying about a couple friends, I had felt so frustrated because i was trying so hard to help or to fix things for them. I was trying do hard to DO all I could instead of just trying to BE all I could, namely just a good listener, just be there, just be something that is constant. My sister helped me to realize that people don't always need you to do something, sometimes they just need you to listen and let them talk, sometimes you just need to absorb information instead of putting it out. So I have been working on that lately, I have been working on not being so quick to give advice, not so quick to give my opinion or deal out ways I could help them change things. I have been doing this for several days now in just my everyday life and everything I do and I HAVE NOTICED SUCH A DIFFERENCE! I never would have if I hadn't asked someone else for their point of view, for their advice and experimented on it. I may not have realized just how much I had grown, had I not asked someone else. So there is another resource for telling if you have progressed and a way to learn how to learn more from your daily trials - finding someone you trust and respect and asking them for their advice, opinion and view of your circumstance:)

I hope this helped any of you who might have had the same questions.. I just thought I would write up a quick blog about it because it helped me so much:) Thanks for all your examples and everything you do. Thank-you to all of you who have helped me in this crazy awesome time here and given me your perspectives. Have a fantastic week!!

Don't try to overhaul your life overnight...

One of the most important 'things' in my life - my notebook.  Advice: keep a notebook.  You'll learn a lot about yourself.
^ We need to write things down because we may not always remember what good and what patterns came and went through our lives. I guess that's another reason why the scriptures are so powerful.. actually we are told that.. that with them we can learn and study patterns and see the cause and effect of situations.. and of course for future generations.. it's all quite amazing to think about..

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life in the Fire

Hello everyone!!!! Oh my goodness!! It has been so long since I have written!! Wow I hope you all are doing great and that you had a fantastic New Years!! I hope you all have made some awesome New Years resolutions and that things are going great!!

The past few days have been some of the funnest days of my time here. I had the mission president's daughters from the Quito North and the Quito South mission staying at my house for several days. What fun I had with them!! We went to the Iguana park and held iguanas, climbed the santa ana hill and walked around Las Penas and some days we just stayed in and played games and swam. It was so good to be able to talk and laugh about things, talk and feel understood. It was so amazing to me to see these two girls and see and hear about what their experiences have been as a mission president's child. I came to the obvious conclusion that,"Yep, it's not easy." haha. While talking with these girls, I kept thinking about how we go through so much, and yes it's so different but we feel a lot of the same things. Though all of us are different in our own ways and see things in our own ways, we all experience similar emotions and feelings. We all have our own "fires" to go through, our own wars to fight, yet so many times we go through them alone, thinking there is no one else around us that could possibly help or feel our pain. That's not true. There is always someone around. They may be going through different things yet they may feel the exact same way. We don't have to go through our fire alone.

How often do you feel lonely? What do you feel? Do you get tired of it, scared that it's always going to be this way or even feel like you're doing something wrong? If you do, I understand. You may be 13, 33 or 75 and going through a completely different stage in life but I cant relate to you, even if it's just a little. Lately I've been going through fire, a small hell, if you will. I have been feeling so, completely alone. I don't usually do things with people on the weekends, I'm not in contact with as many people as I used to be, lot's of our wonderful sister missionaries left who I have grown really close to, and sometimes it's hard not to feel forgotten or let down. Lately I've just been kicking myself, remembering back to when I lived in Utah and had so many friends but did not appreciate them or realize that they were there. Heavenly Father has been testing me in so many different ways and it's been extra hard trying not to crumble in the process. I always think to myself about what I may be doing wrong or how I can improve or what I'm not doing... but I never considered what I am doing and what I am doing right.

What if Heavenly Father tightens things when he sees us growing? What if things get harder instead of easier? I've started thinking of life like braces... it's all part of a straightening process... you have to keep going back to the dentist to change the wire and get things tightened and get things checked out to get them straight. It takes time but with time comes progress. Different wires have different results and lift of pull down different teeth or make things a certain shape. Life is quite the same, Heavenly Father gives us different wires or experiences to get a lower left tooth or get results or a change in a certain area of our lives. No, we can't see what he is doing, none of us can see what the dentist sees inside of our mouths, we can't see all the cavities and imperfections because that is not our area of expertise and it's hard to see all over inside your own mouth. Similarly, we can't always see or understand what God is doing in our lives, we cant always see what adjustments need to be made or how one thing will impact another area of our life. But, just like with the dentist, we have to trust God that in the end, there will be a "straight" and beautiful result. With braces, sometimes to make things easier or less painful we take painkillers or sometimes we have to put in wax to keep the braces from cutting our mouths. Well, in live, God gives us painkillers and wax, he gives us blessings, people, the scriptures, the gospel and the atonement. These are the things that help us through our lives or this process. No, we may not have people with us all the time or we may not have all the comforts we wish we had but that doesn't mean there is nothing or that we have to go through the process in pain. We still have the gospel, the atonement, the spirit, scriptures and prophets, these are the things that never go away. Just because we don't have one kind of "wax" doesn't mean we don't have any at all. These few days with these girls for me was a tender mercy and a kind of wax haha. Things are hard and no they aren't always going to be here for me but I think this opportunity and experience was Heavenly Father telling me that I wasn't alone and that he hadn't forgotten me. It was just what I needed to keep going, and yeah it wasn't a very long time but it was sufficient to lift my spirits and encourage me to keep going. Sometimes God doesn't send a huge miracle or change but he will send supports and things for encouragement. He will send just enough.

While Katie and Andrea were here we were playing this game one night called "In a Pickle". In this game you have all these cards and you  have to put down a card of something that can fit inside what the other person put down. So for example, someone puts down pickle and the next person might put down worm or atom or seed and then at the end you look at the whole long story. So as we were playing, an interesting couple came up and that couple was life and fire. Someone had put down the card life and another had put down the card fire. In that very moment I felt a wave of inspiration and it was like I had a little revelation. I had been thinking that whole day about how it was possible that I was still going, how all of us were still going despite the hard things we were being asked to go through. I was thinking of why all that I was going through was significant and why some of it would matter for me in my life. I kept thinking "Is this all that it will ever be? Just experience after experience, hit after hit trying to change me?" But that is not all there is. Life in the Fire. Maybe, this is a test to see if I can find life in the fire, to see how and if I can move on in the midst of all that is happening in my life. While certain experiences change me, all of them put together makes for one big test. Are we going to chose to keep on living even though it may not seem worth living for? Are we going to push forward and find the light even when it seems there is none? Are we going to  keep becoming and evolving even though it seems like nothing more can be done or it feels like there is no point? What it all boils down to is, are we going to trust God? God's plan and work is so much more complex than I understand, when I try to explain it or think about it or think about the whole process and everything I feel like I understand or feel a concept of it but I can never find the words or even begin to describe. All I can say is this: trust God. There is life in the fire. It is the life that you make for yourself, a life that you build upon your foundation of faith. We are never alone, there is always some kind of aid to help us if we just open our eyes reach out our hands and use them (Book of Mormon, Bible, praying, words of the prophets, the spirit, the atonement etc.). And lastly don't stop believing, we will never make it through the fire if we don't believe that we can get through it. That is not building on faith.  We can do it but we can't do it alone.

I love you all. Even though I don't know all of you or know your backgrounds, I know you are children of God, that he loves you and that you are fighting your own spiritual battles everyday. You may think a 16 year old doesn't know anything and can't possibly understand the things of this world or even the things of God. You are right. I don't understand. I don't know much in comparison to all that is out there. But I am am learning and I am trying to figure it out from the truths I receive from the scriptures, from our prophets and from my own life experiences. I know I am less experienced than many of you out there but I still want to help, I know there is something we all can do with the bit we have been given, and I'm not going to let the fact that I am young and still living with my parents, stunt my growth or hold me back from doing what I can do. I respect you all so much and your contribution to this world, I respect all of you who keep moving forward and keep trying even though it's hard and who keep pushing for self improvement and who do hard things, the right things, even when it is unpopular from what a certain group or the rest of the world is doing. I know if we follow Jesus Christ and his example and try the hardest that we can to do our best and be our best, we will be blessed and we will never be alone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas and My Mini Mission

Hello Everyone!!!! Merry late Christmas and Happy New Years (soon)!!!! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas surrounded by loved ones and filled with joy! Wow!! I have a lot of neat experiences to share!!!

So first off, Christmas was GREAT!! I was a little worried about it at first because our family wasn't there and it was just going to be me and my parents but NO! It turned out awesome! Christmas eve we went and bought boxes of food and made baskets of treats to those in need. We got everything together and then went to go meet a bishop of one of the wards here in Guayaquil who was going to take us to meet several of these families in need. What we didn't know was that he had also invited his counselors AND the sister missionaries of that area!!! What an awesome surprise!! So we ended up having a big group of people to go and visit with us! Such an awesome surprise!! The only problem was we didn't have much car space.. so I went into the very back seat (which has like no leg room haha) with all the baskets and boxes and a few of the sister missionaries' bags and in the row in front of me there were six sister missionaries crammed into a three person space hahaha it was so funny!! We would sing christmas carols really loud in funny voices and just spent the time laughing even though we were crammed together! So we set of all of us with the Bishop leading us and we started up these tall hills on these roads with no pavement and it was soooo super bumpy and all of us were hitting our heads on the ceiling and bracing ourselves and haha what an experience! When we got to the houses we would all pile out and go into the homes of these needy members. I FELT THE SPIRIT SOOOOO STRONGLY IT WAS SO COOL!!! We gave them the baskets and boxes of food and wished them Merry Christmas and talked to them for a bit, exchanged hugs and then walked down the hill and did the same with a few other members. We drove further into the hills, stopping and meeting some of the nicest people I have ever met and taking boxes and treats to families who weren't going to have Christmas or barely had anything. It was such a neat experience. These people are so humble and kind and just accept us into their home and give warm hugs. These people don't care where you're from or what you look like they give love to EVERYONE and I just felt that while we were visiting with them. Near the end of our little adventure we went to this really poor neighborhood where we were going to give things to people who weren't going to have food for Christmas. When we got out of the car, kids from all around came around us and were asking "Tienen regalos? Tienen regalos? Tienen dulces para mi?" or in other words "Do you have present? Do you have presents? Do you have candy for me?" It was so humbling. Here we all were with things for this one family and there were so many others who didn't have anything. I mean, so many of us have our huge christmas trees and tons of presents and food every christmas and family all around and so much more. These kids had none of that and they were so excited when they saw us and thought we had brought things for them. My heart was crushed, I cannot tell you how bad I just wanted to hand something out to every child. The sister missionaries had to hold the baskets and boxes on top of their heads because the kids would try to reach in and take things. But ohhhh I wish I could have given them something. That was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. When we finally came home haha we came home to a flooded house which was more humbling.. we cleaned that up and then we ate a dinner of salsa chicken and tortillas, skyped our family and opened our gifts. The next day my parents made menudo (a soup with cow stomach..ew), meat, tortillas, salsa and other things and we had the office elders and nurses over for lunch. It was so much fun to talk and joke with them and we just had a great time! After that we got to skype my brother who is on his mission which was so much fun. This seriously was one of the best christmases ever:)

Next, the Friday after Christmas I went to go stay with the sister missionaries in an area about 45 - 60 minutes away from our house. THAT WAS SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE!!! I got to see mission life up close and live it for several days! The first day I was with them I was amazed. We woke up at 6:15 and did personal study and companion study, each for about 1 hour. I thought this was going to be so long and kind of boring but NOOOO turns out when the time came for each to be done I was really disappointing and wanting more time!!! During my personal study time I would study preach my gospel lessons and write notes in spanish to help me start thinking and speaking better in the language. I read the book of mormon in english and in spanish and I felt the spirit so strongly and got so many neat insights. During companion study we only speak in spanish, and you know what the crazy thing was??!?!? I WAS ABLE TO!!! I ONLY HAD TO ASK HOW TO SAY A WORD A COUPLE TIMES BUT I WAS ABLE TO EXPRESS MYSELF!!!! HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?!? I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT!!! Just in those several days I was already seeing the works of the gift of tongues!! It was amazing! In our lessons with people I would take notes and write down things that I liked that the missionaries did or things they said. I also wrote down questions that were frequently asked by lots of people and that I wanted to learn more about so that I would better be able to answer those questions when I go on my own mission. At first I was really scared to share my testimony or thoughts because of the different language and I thought I would mess up and I was scared but when I did, I spoke with the spirit and the people listened really intently and I was able to say what I was thinking!!! IT WAS SO SO SO SO SO SO COOL!!!! I seriously have a greater testimony now that if you trust in god he will help you! Holy cow! Next thing, when we ate lunch with this very kind member she gave us A TON of food and I was really nervous because usually I don't eat THAT much and there were beans and sometimes I have a hard time eating beans because the skins get stuck in my throat but OH MY GOSH Heavenly father helped me eat it ALL and even the beans!!! Crazy huh?! Usually when I eat that much I feel like I'm gonna throw up but I didn't!! Holy cow! So cool! On sunday I went to church with them and road the bus for the first time and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! It was so lurchy but so cool, to get on you have to like flag the bus down there aren't just bus stops every where and to get off you basically have to swing from live bar to bar because the bus is still moving and then it will stop all at once and almost throw you!! So awesome! In church (and in all the day before and before church) I was able to understand everything and talk to anyone!! It was so cool!! I haven't been going to young womens because I have been really scared, one of the times I went, or the last time, I was trying to speak and the kids started laughing and made fun of me so I had been really afraid to try again. I went to the investigator class but for the third hour the sisters nudged me to go to the young womens class with one of the rescued members who was a teacher.. I was VERY reluctant and came to the point of almost crying three times because I was so nervous  BUUUUT when class started the girls were soooo nice and I WAS ABLE TO TALK TO ALL OF THEM AND SAY MY THOUGHTS AND I EVEN GOT UP AND TALKED IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS (it was a combined all ages class) IT WAS SOOOO FLIPPIN COOL!!! Can you say miracle because HA I CAN!! It was such a neat experience! Monday I ended up getting sick but it was P day and I washed clothes by hand and the sisters and I went to the mall to get food and then I went home because I was feeling so bad (I was originally going to stay to the next morning but I got really bad stomach sickness and had to go). But holy cow!! It was such a neat experience, I had totally taken missionaries and their lives for granted and underestimated them and missionary work! But now I know it is no easy thing! It takes work and courage and a lot of energy! The first day was so hard for me because I wasn't used to working straight up every hour of the day and walking around for hours and taking cold showers and taking taxis and buses everywhere and eating so much haha and trying things I hadn't before or eating things I didn't like but WOW my eyes have been opened.. in the beginning missionary work is so hard to adjust to but once you do it is the neatest thing ever. I cannot wait to serve a mission. I know it's not going to be easy but it's definitely going to be worth it:)

I hope everyone had an awesome week and is having a great day. Heavenly Father will bless you if you just trust him and take a leap of faith. I was studying in my personal study one day about faith and I was thinking... faith is like a trust fall but with heavenly father.. you have to trust him that he is standing behind you and trust that he is going to catch you. No you can't see him, all you can see is what's in front of you.. but that doesn't mean he is not right behind you. He may be further back or right up close but you have to trust that he is there and take the fall, take a fall of faith knowing he is going to catch you, not crying and fearing on the way down. Yes there is a way down to fall.. but if you have faith in Jesus Christ.. you know that you wont hit the ground but that instead you will land in his arms. I challenge everyone to take a fall or leap of faith this week big or small and see what blessings you recieve for it. I'm not saying it's going to be easy or that the result will be right away, but I AM SAYING that it will be worth it, if you take that leap or fall with the spirit and trust him on the way down. He will catch you and he will lead you home. Love you all!! Have a fantastic new years!!