Hello everybody!! Happy October!!! Guess what!??! Today is my 16th birthday!!! It has been the best birthday ever!!! Yesterday I had a party with my friends and that was way fun and today conference was amazing, the best gift I could have gotten, the office elders came over for cake and ice cream and my sweet brother josh who is on his mission texted a kind lady in his zone to call and sing me happy birthday. What a great surprise that was! I never EVER thought I would say this but I love Ecuador, I can't imagine anywhere else I would rather be and I can't imagine leaving. I love the people here, I love the language I love school even though sometimes it is tough I love it here and I have grown so much. I could have never known in the beginning that this was how it was going to be, that I would come to call this place my home and learn to love it so much. Especially in the beginning when things were so hard and all I could think about was going home, after going to Utah and missing here I realized I now prefer to be in Ecuador!! How is it going to be when I HAVE to go back to Utah? Oh gosh.
All of you mission president's kids, all of you children of God who are going through any hard times, or having to leave your homes and families and friends behind, God knows what he is doing, he has your best interest in mind. You need to trust God. I could have spared myself so many sleepless and tearful nights if I had only trusted him to begin with. I have met to many amazing people and have had so many amazing experiences I can't even count them! I am so blessed. We are all so blessed. Satan doesn't want you to see that, he wants you to focus on the bad and he wants you to worry and be anxious. DONT GIVE HIM WHAT HE WANTS!
I know times can be hard, I know at times we think, "How can I go on? What is the point in this?" But, there is always a reason for everything we go through and there is always a way to get through it."And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." Heavenly father has provided a way for you, he knows the way which you should walk, he knows the road blocks and the rapids you will encounter but he also knows of the flowers and the beautiful skies that will come. He knows of the rainbows that will come after the rain and he knows of the growth that will come from the downpour. We must trust him. While there is a lot of hardship to come and while hard things have happened there is a lot of beauty to come as well as a lot of beauty that has been. He knows our hearts, our desires, our worries, our hopes and our dreams and he is ready to help you, vanquish your doubts and secure your hopes but you must first take his hand in faith. I wish I had learned this earlier on, I wish I had trusted heavenly father before and when I first got to Ecuador, most of my time was wasted thinking about going home. When I finally went home for the summer I wanted to go back to Ecuador. I promise you that if you go with heavenly father and you try your hardest to follow him, take on his example and have faith, you will not be dissapointed and you will feel his love prominently in your life. He loves you.
A while ago my school had a week of "outdoor school" it's a week that we spend outside of the school doing community service in different parts of Guayaquil. One of the days, our class stayed in the nature reserve where we were volunteering and camped out. In the morning of the next day we woke up to go on a four hour hike mostly up hill. We were all tired within minutes and had to take breaks every five minutes because of the intensity and some people didn't want to be there or even wanted to turn around and go back, but what we saw and experienced was so worth it (in my opinion haha). Getting to the top of the mountain you could see the whole valley, rivers, lakes, trees and the sky line, howler monkeys and their babies were in the Ceibus trees above and birds flew and squawked everywhere. It was gorgeous. When we finally finished our going up we obviously went back down the mountain, but the breeze and the ease felt so good. What would have happened if we hadn't gone up the mountain? Some might say, "You wouldn't be so tired or sweating or dying of exhaustion!" Others might say "You wouldn't have been bitten by so many mosquitoes even though you sprayed!"(I really was) but what I say is, I wouldn't have seen that gorgeous view, I wouldn't have gotten to see the cute howler monkeys and their babies and seen how they live. I wouldn't have seen the gorgeous birds, I wouldn't have felt so peaceful and I wouldn't have had such a great workout! While some of this may not seem that great, in person and in reality it is extraordinary if you think about it. I wouldn't have been able to see the beauty this mountain had to offer if I hadn't first climbed it. Similarly, we wont receive the blessings that we receive from fighting the war, we wont receive the blessings we receive from conquering our fears or our weaknesses, we will not gain strength that we did not first have to suffer for. All hard things have something beautiful attached weather it be an experience, a memory, a lesson or a spiritual or temporal blessing.
I heard this talk once from this lady that said that she liked to live with her hands open and palms up. She said though life rains hard things on us it also rains beautiful and great things. If we close our hands because of the hard things we will not catch the great things either. How true! If we close ourselves up because of the hard things and don't trust God, we wont receive or see the beautiful things even if they do come because we are scared. We can't be scared, I'm not a perfect person and I know often times I am scared too but we need to work together on this! It is important! We cannot be scared to take risks in life, to go forward and move on, give second chances and forgive, fail but try again. We cannot hide in a cave! We cannot close our hands to life. We need to open them, catching the hard and the beautiful, because we know that both have the potential to make us happy if we view them correctly. I can't remember where I heard this, but somewhere not too long ago I heard someone say "whenever I see a penny on the ground I look at it and it is a reminder to me to trust God." How cool is that? So this is my challenge to you, for the next two weeks (or longer if you decide or want) Whenever you see a penny, pick it up and look at the words "In God we Trust". In that moment, remember where your trust belongs and where it needs to stay, remind yourself not to worry and that everything will be okay. You've got this! And heavenly father has got you:) I love you all. Have a wonderful week and live with arms and hands wide open!