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. :)