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:)