Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! I hope that everyone had a wonderful day and ate lots of good food! I also hope you all took a little time to reflect on the amazing things that you have in your lives... I know I have so many that I many times take so much for granted.. I think thanksgiving is a good little reminder to all of us that we have more than we realize and it kind of gets us to start thinking a bit.
I have so many things I am grateful for.. I can't even name them all. Heavenly Father blesses us all so much.. I just don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start by saying how grateful I am for my family. My family is one of the greatest blessings I have in my life. We are just like a group of friends.. we are always talking and laughing and we can always talk to and get advice from each other and learn with each other.. it's really amazing and such a blessing. I think that so often lots of us take our families for granted.. I know I did.. big time.. I used to be so mean to my family. Part of this was because I was so depressed and didn't like talking but whenever they would come to our house, I would hide in my room or stay silent or get really irritated really quickly. I took them so much for granted.. I always took their love and their help whenever I wanted but I never fully appreciated it or gave it back. Now that I am in Ecuador and have had to live with out them and gotten over my depression... I feel so grateful for them and I love and appreciated them much more than I ever would have if I had stayed at home. They do so much for me all the time and they are always there for me, cheering me on, giving me advice, sending me things, laughing with me and just being a friend or a shoulder to cry on. I love them so much. I am so grateful that heavenly father sent me to my family and that I have a family. There are so many people in the world who don't have families, who don't have that support or that love and don't have that safe environment and I wouldn't understand but I'm sure it's hard and kind of depressing sometimes... some people may not even know what they are missing out on because they have never experienced it. It's really sad. That is why I am so grateful for my family. They are gems.. they are rare and special.. and not to be taken for granted.
Next, I am so grateful for my friends. ALL of my friends, young and old of all different backgrounds. I have learned so much from all kinds of different people that I have come in contact with, each person teaches me some kind of lesson.. whether it's by their example or by their words.. I am so grateful for the wisdom that I can take away from each of them and for the knowledge and experience they share with me. I am so grateful for my friends in Utah who haven't forgotten me and who still talk to me and love me. I cannot tell you how much that means to me.. it's so hard being away from people because sometimes.. you feel like they are going to forget you or they are going to leave you behind.. I guess that's how you tell who is really there for you and who isn't. Distance is a really good tester of friendship and I'm grateful for all of you who have stuck with me and kept me in your thoughts and prayers.. it means the world. I am also so grateful for the friends I have here in Ecuador. So many of them are so different than me but yet they still continue to amaze me with their kindness and their positive outlooks... they are friendly and warm and they teach me so much in ways they may not realize. I am so grateful for all of you. Friends are such an important part of our lives.. they impact what decisions we make, who we become and where we go in life. That is why it is so important to choose good friends and I am so blessed to have good... GREAT friends who are lifting me up and helping me to be my best self. I am so grateful for people who understand me and people who don't because I learn from them both and they both help me to become a better person. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!
I am so grateful to be here in Ecuador. I never would have guessed that I could be this happy. When I was back in Utah before we came, all depressed and sad, I didn't know that I could ever be happy here in Ecuador. I was so worried that I wouldn't have friends, that I would become more depressed, that everybody would forget me and that I was going to get so homesick. It was very hard in the beginning.. SO HARD.. and for a while it did get worse and I felt sadder. I can now testify that it always gets worse before it gets better. Before we came to Ecuador, I wasn't sure I believed in God.. not in the sense that he was there.. I believed the he was there but I didn't believe in him in the way that he loved us all and was there for us and listened and watched out for us.. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.. and it didn't make sense to me because I was so sad. Now, I have gone through really hard things.. living with your parents in a foreign country on an LDS mission is not the easiest thing in the world. It is actually really hard and takes some getting used to. But, the experiences I have had here have shaped me into an amazing person. I have been able to see through experience that heavenly father cares for me and is listening to my prayers. So many times I would cry in the bathroom stalls at school because I was homesick or culture shocked and I was so tired. I finally decided to put down my pride and pray and tell heavenly father how I was feeling and when I did.. it was like a whole knew world. I felt at peace and I felt calm.. not thrilled but getting better. I was strengthened and I began to understand more than I had before. I read the Book of Mormon for the first time all the way through when before I couldn't even get past second Nephi and didn't want to. I began to understand it and receive insights and I could feel the spirit stronger than I ever had before. When I would do my home study seminary and read the scriptures and be asked to think and be asked questions that made me think and got me wondering.. I got deeper into the scriptures and began to build a testimony. By the time I finished the Book of Mormon, my life had turned completely around and I was basically a different person. I have become closer to my parents, to my heavenly father, to my siblings and to others.. I would have never thought getting out of my comfort zone would change me but it did and it made my life 300% better. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I've had to grow here and share my testimony and my joy with people I have come to love. I am so grateful for all the hard things.. they have made me tougher and made me think and made me come alive whereas before I felt dead and useless even though I was very much alive. I am so grateful for coming to Ecuador because it has taught me that you can be alive but that doesn't necessarily mean you are living. You can be growing physically but emotionally and spiritually you could just be shrinking and gasping for air. There is so much more to life than we think.
I am so grateful a home. I am so grateful for clothes and for food and for my five senses and for electricity and for the technology that allows me to keep in touch with people even though they are thousands of miles away. I am thankful for smiles and laughs and for warm hugs and kind words (and mean words.. not in the moment.. but ultimately we can choose to learn from them).I am so grateful for the colors of our world (think of how boring it would be if everything was just in black and white:/).I am so grateful for books and for my talents.. I'm so grateufl for all the hard things I've been through that allow me to help others. I'm so thankful for my values and beliefs that keep me happy and safe. I'm so thankful for everything... well.. not everything.. I cannot say I'm grateful for spiders or ants or foot problems but.. I'm sure they have a purpose.. in one way or another. I'm so grateful for a purpose.. and for the knowledge that everything has a purpose.. everything just makes more sense.. obviously but I just.. it's comforting to know that.. even though something is hard or scary or unusual.. it has a purpose. Some things compel us to change, somethings make us think.. somethings cheer us up and some things guide us or simply entertain and interest us to help us keep going.
I hope you all know how much I love you guys and that your heavenly father is there for you and watching over you.. he is blessing you all the time, even when you don't realize it:) Have a wonderful rest of the day! You are amazing! Don't forget it! And don't forget everything that you are thankful for! Thanksgiving is just a reminder to be thankful.. it shouldn't be the only day we think of our blessings or what we are thankful for:)
Monday, November 24, 2014
You know you're growing spiritually stronger when Satan has been throwing crap at you all week from all different sides and you stay happy. That has been me this week. This week I have gained such a testimony of fasting and of going to the temple. Those two things coupled with prayer are so powerful. I've had a pretty rough couple of weeks.. things have just been going down hill in a lot of ways and at first I was really scared and sad. I was feeling so alone and so tired.. I wasn't feeling much energy and Satan was tempting me with so many different things.. some days I just cried. But it's amazing, the minute I went to the temple and stepped inside those doors every worry and every fear crept out of me and left at the door. As I prayed and read the scriptures in the temple, I was filled with this deep peace and this comforting feeling that eveything was going to be okay.. one way or another things were going to turn out fine even if it wasn't how or when I expected or wanted. And it's strange.. I felt at peace about it. Usually I kind of pout when I feel like heavenly father gives me a "no" or his will is different from mine.. but not this time. I fasted on Saturday and Sunday and this whole week I've felt so calm and happy.. even if physically I am alone or being really tempted or find out something scary (some scary things happened to a few of our missionaries and I thought it was going to haunt me for the rest of the week.. they are just fine now but still it was weird and I thought I would think about it all week but I haven't.. I'm okay and so are they:)).. I have just felt this deep feeling of peace. I have never had such a strong testimony of the temple and of fasting and prayer until now. It's not what I expected and originally not exactly what I've wanted but it's turned out better for me and I can feel my heavenly fathers love and I feel like whatever his plan is, I am going to be okay. I really don't have much more to say than that.. He is guiding me so much and helping me so much.. all the hard stuff is just shaping me.. and I'm so grateful for it now. I hope that I will learn even more before I go home. I want everyone to know, that if you have faith and trust in heavenly father and keep his commandments and do what he says we should.. you will be happier than you ever thought possible.. even if it seems impossible at the time. I love you all and I can honestly say that because you are all children of God going through your own hard trials and living this crazy life. We are not alone. God is with us and we are with eachother. Stay strong my friends. If little, weak, old me can do it, you can do it too:) *Hugs all readers collectively* I just thought I would share that! Don't give up guys!! God doesn't always give us what we want.. but he always gives us what we need:)
I'm sure if we new what his plans were.. if we knew our full potential.. those plans and our potential would be our dreams and our goals..
I'm sure if we new what his plans were.. if we knew our full potential.. those plans and our potential would be our dreams and our goals..
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Hello!! My goodness it has been a really long time since I have written! Gosh a lot has happened. My life has just been going up and down over and over again. So on the good side I had my birthday in October, that was super awesome! What cool people I have in my life! We have two little baby birds that hatched above our door and we have watched them grow (I’ll talk about that later) and heavens my testimony has grown a lot, but not because things have been easy. They definitely have not been. I really wish I could write all of my experiences I’ve had here and I really want to but some of them I can’t, however, I have something in the works that I am going to start working on :) . But since I can’t share all of my experiences online I always share the outcome of them and what I learn.
Sometimes I feel like people think I’m perfect or that I’m always happy or always close to heavenly father and always super spiritual. That’s really not true. By nature I am very spiritual and deep, that’s partly true but not always in the same way. Just like everybody else I have my ups and downs and I get close and also get distanced from heavenly father. When I came back from Utah this summer that is what happened. I started falling for the temptations to not read every day and not pray or just really quickly and sometimes not even kneeling down, I got angry easier because I didn’t have the spirit with me and it was just a mess. At school I felt alone and would get sad easier like in the beginning but not as bad and I just got stressed a lot. Several weeks ago I completely collapsed. I had been having physical and spiritual turmoil. I wasn’t getting even five hours of sleep every night, I was really struggling in math and homework was just piling up like nothing else. I would spend five or six hours a day doing homework, three of such hours doing math because I wouldn’t understand it in class so I had to watch videos and basically learn it by myself. This stressed me out so bad. I have a.d.d which doesn’t help anything and makes my mind wonder EVERYWHERE. So, this one week, on a Monday I completely broke down and for the first time since I came out of my depression I had an anxiety attack. Everything was just to much, I was so unbalanced, my mind was completely fried and I couldn’t think. During my classes that day I couldn’t keep my mind straight and every time I did something wrong I’d be at the brink of tears because I was so mentally and physically tired. In chemistry, I knew the formulas and knew which numbers to put where but even though I knew I put numbers in completely different places because my mind couldn’t stay focused. So each time I’d go up to the teacher to check the problem and got it wrong I got more and more frustrated. After that class ended I went and cried in another teacher’s classroom for all of lunch and felt so depressed. I went to the councilor’s office and then to the nurses office when I started getting a migraine and my mom took me home. That week I went back into almost full throttle depression like I had had before I came to Ecuador. I wasn’t feeling like I wanted to hurt myself like before and I didn’t feel unloved but I just felt so dark and so scared and so tired it was almost debilitating. I kept asking heavenly father, “Why? Why do I have so much crap in my life? Why can’t I just have some time, some energy, some sleep?” I rarely felt the spirit that week. Other things happened that I’m not going to talk about but to sum it up, this week was one of the if not the most horrible week of my time in Ecuador.
A couple amazing things happened though because of this experience.. on the Thursday or Friday of that week, I started to try to come back to heavenly father and to have faith in him again. I didn’t know what else to do. Just like it did before, the moment I read the scriptures and prayed, I came out of being depressed and was able to have faith. Something great happened that I never thought would happen, and it didn’t happen until after I had faith. In the U.S, or at least where I’m from, you only need three math credits, ninth grade, tenth grade and eleventh. So, I was not going to have to take math my senior year. My mom had the idea to take me out of math this year and just have me take it when I got back home. Originally we didn’t know it the school would let me do this, but, thanks to God and the kind staff I was able to be taken out and have not had such an overload since. Even though I still have about two or three hours of homework every day I feel like I can do it and I’ve even had spare time. Because of that horrible experience I’m trying again to come back to heavenly father and stay close to him. I truly have a testimony that if we stay close to him EVERYTHING in our lives will turn out fine.
The next amazing thing that happened because of this experience was that I was reminded of how it feels to be depressed. Now, you may be wondering, “Why would you want to be reminded of that? Isn’t it horrible?” And my answer is yes, yes it is. But, because of this experience, I have a deeper desire once again to stay close to my heavenly father and I have been able to empathize for others, for a couple of my friends who are now going through the same things and feeling the same feelings that I once did. I am able to help them more and understand them more and truly feel a more pure love for them and appreciation for what they’re going through. Tell me I could have done that without that experience. Tell me I could have felt all these things without going through the bad. Tell me that God is not there and that all these bad experiences aren’t working for my good. No, don’t EVER tell me those things, because I will know that they are just not true.
In Utah, before coming to Ecuador, I always wondered why I wasn’t happy even when I tried to live the gospel. I always wondered, “Why is it, that if I’m going to church, I’m thinking about god and I’m reading conference talks that I’m not feeling happy or getting all the blessings?” Now I know. You cannot just live part of the gospel or live it lightly and expect to receive all the blessings that come to those that live all of the commandments. You won’t. If you do not live all of his commandments, of course you’re not going to receive the happiness and testimony of those that live all of them. It doesn’t work like that. You may be blessed and grow some, but in the long run, it is not going to do anything for you if you just obey the commandments selectively. That is why I didn’t believe in the church, that is why I thought it wasn’t true, because I was only living part of it and was upset when I didn’t receive a fullness of happiness or a fullness of blessings. In some ways, when I got back from Utah this summer, that is what I was doing. Only living some of the commandments or only doing them because it was a commandment not because I wanted to or felt the spirit when I did it. Friends! Brothers and sisters! That is not any way to live. If you want to feel the spirit and have a surplus of joy don’t just live part of the gospel, live all of it and do it because you want to not just because you should.
We all have our ups and downs, we have our weaknesses and things we need to work on. A couple of mine are pride and having faith, but I’m getting better and that is what matters.
Another thing I would like to tell you about is the baby birds that have hatched and grown above our door. The mother, had one baby before and so we’ve been able to notice a pattern as we’ve watched them every day. The mother lays her egg and then sits on it for days. She doesn’t leave and so that daddy bird has to bring her food (What patience huh? I would have left my nest after five minutes to go get something to eat haha). She sits all day and when they finally hatch she feeds them and watched them and sits on them. Whenever she would see us watching out the window at her she would watch us until we left as if to say, “Nuhuh you aint having my babies for dinner.. heck you aint even gonna touch them!” haha she is VERY protective. But as we’ve watched, after the babies have grown a bit and get bigger, the mom will push the nest of the ledge and the baby birds will either have to flap their wings to stay up or jump. After that the mom doesn’t stay around the babies as much, she’s gone more often and she doesn’t sit on them. After a time, the babies start to fly, they go out flying with their mom or come back or they don’t come back at all depending on if they’re ready. One of the babies hasn’t left at all yet, he just sits there and I’m kind of nervous for him.
Our lives are very much the same. I have become so grateful for a family. In the beginning Heavenly father keeps us under his wings and we receive food from him in our families. We are protected by them and given a safe place to grow up and to be nourished weather it is our ward family or our real family or both. After a time we have to experience life without them, they are still there coming back to us but we have not quite left the ledge. This is kind of like adolescence and leaving on a mission, not quite gone off on their own just yet but getting ready to. Finally, heavenly father takes off the nest and we must either learn to fly, jump, or fall with the nest. That is a test. With that, some of us learn to fly and are off, out by ourselves providing for ourselves and leaning on our own testimonies and away from the constant protection of our families. Some of us take longer and maybe are afraid, but sooner or later we must fly.
I kind of feel like the moment of the falling of the nest is different for everyone. Sometimes we are still in the home but we begin to take flight already by ourselves and sometimes we wait to take flight until we are compelled to do so. So many symbolic things in nature. :)
Though I am alone a lot of the time now and rarely do things on the weekends, I know that my heavenly father is there and for that reason, I don’t feel alone. Even when I feel scared to stand up for something, share my testimony or go out of my comfort zone, the spirit gives me the little push and strength I need to learn to fly. I hope everyone knows how much God loves you and how much he really is looking out for you. If you don’t harden your hearts, if you open your minds and have the desire, God can show and teach you great things and he can enlighten you and grow your understanding. Trust in him and keep trying. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. :)