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!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Post!!!!

Hi everybody!!!! Merry Christmas (in like four days)!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh I am so excited!!! I always love Christmas, but this year we don't have family coming and so we are going to go spend it with some of the missionaries converts!! I'm so excited!!! We're going to make tons of cookies and take them to people like old times and skype my brother!!!!! I'm so excited!!!!! I can tell Christmas this year is going to be great, not because of the presents but because of Christ's presence.

I think so many of us so many times forget the real meaning of Christmas. We get so caught up with presents and friends and parties that we just lose sight of what's most important or why we even have Christmas. I am completely guilty of this because most Christmases I've had growing up all I could think about was food and presents even though my parents always taught me otherwise. Now that I'm older... the true meaning of Christmas is more important to me.. I don't think I could say that if I didn't come to Ecuador because I probably still wouldn't believe in God . I want to tell you all why Christmas means so much to me this year.. especially right now.

 I've been going through a really hard time lately.. I've felt pretty lonely.. I've been going through the life evaluating process all over again and I've had some pretty tough decisions to make. Christmas seems particularly special to me this year.. not because I want stuff and because I finally get two weeks off of school (that is VERY nice though), but because I need the true gift of Christmas which is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was God's gift to the world, he was/ is the perfect gift and he is a gift that will never brake, be lost or wear down with time. This gift died for us, he understands us, he loves us back, he knows our thoughts and can help us. Jesus Christ is unlike any gift we will ever receive not only because he loves us, cares for us and understands us but he is exactly everything we need and can make us everything we were meant to be. What toy,, makeup, or electronic device could do that? None of them could.

I can just imagine all of us in Heaven at Jesus's birth, surrounding him, crying and singing and laughing and jumping for joy that he would save us. I can just imagine myself in Heaven, knowing my life and my plan and the things I would go through and being so happy that someone would be able to help me through it all. Being down here on earth now in this life, he has helped me through so much. He has helped us all through so much and we don't even realize it. Jesus Christ understands us, loves us, is always there for us, will never replace us or forget us and he will never leave us alone, even when we try to push him away. He is the perfect friend and brother, the perfect example and the perfect savior. I am so grateful for him. Right when I feel like crying because I feel alone or let down or lost, Christ's image pops into my mind and I know that even though I feel all these horrible things, none of them are true, because he is here. When all else disappointing us and everyone leaves us alone, when things don't work out the way we want them to, he is still there with his arms stretched out to us.

So many people can't grasp a father with perfect love or a son who would die for his siblings. I couldn't believe that. It is hard to understand and we may not ever fully comprehend it in this life. But the truth is, our father does have a perfect love and his son did die for us, to SAVE us because he loves us. Can you imagine Marry, Jesus's mother and that long journey to Bethlehem? She was probably in so much pain! No pain killers and for days on foot or on the back of a donkey! How uncomfortable! I wouldn't last an hour! But, the pain she and Joseph went through was so worth it. I am so grateful to them and to Heavenly father. How hard it would be to travel for days on foot and to give your son to the world to be endure pain of EVERY KIND, and killed? That would be so hard. I can't even imagine. I am so grateful. I am SO grateful.

Looking at it all, Christmas isn't about gifts, it is about a gift. Christmas is about sacrifice and love and hope. When all hope seems lost, if we look to Christ, we can find it again. That is really all I can say about the meaning of Christmas. My heart is so full and I am so grateful for this gift God has given us. If any of you feel alone this Christmas, if any of you feel like life is not worth it, like you can't go any further or feel like "what's the point?", look to Jesus Christ, go to him, and everything will become clearer. With him, everything just makes more sense.

What do you give to someone who has given you their life? You give them your life. I don't mean that you have to die to pay Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ back, no. What I mean is, we use our life to help others, to do the lord's work, we spend our life giving love and sharing the gift we have been given. In my house at Christmas we hang up a white stocking for Jesus. Whenever we do something for others or share our time and help with others we write it on a piece of paper and put it in the stocking. On Christmas day we look in the stocking and read everything we have done for Jesus Christ. We try to continue doing things the rest of the year but around Christmas it is especially symbolic. So, this Christmas I want to challenge everyone to do something for someone else out of pure love and pure gratitude. I promise you, you will feel so good, heavenly father will bless you, and you will start to understand even more the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father love you all so much and they know your heart and what you are going through. They will never leave you  or stop loving you. We mean so much to them and always will. Merry Christmas everyone. Don't forget the gift. He never forgets you.

Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season. Thomas S. Monson

Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus. ~ Neal A. Maxwell

Christmas Decor Wise Men still seek Him Wall Decal vinyl lettering religious decorations. $15,00, via Etsy.

I'm in love with this poem!!!!!! Best Christmas poem ever! Awesome for kids too!!!!!!

Find more Christmas Inspiration at ShabbyMe.com