Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mothers Day!!! - MAJOR update

IS ANYONE STILL THERE???!?!?! HAVE YOU ALL GIVEN UP ON ME??!?!?! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!! I AM SO SORRY FOR NOT HAVE WRITTEN SOONER!!!!! I AM SUCH A SLACKER SOMETIMES I FORGET ALL THE TIME!!!! Anyways.. enough with the caps and apologies I'm sure you all get it.. haha.. whoever "you all" are hahaha (probably my mom... HI MOM!!) So, the first matter at hand is mother's day. OH MY GOSH I LOVE MY MOM I CAN'T EVEN EXPRESS HOW MUCH... I JUST.. I JUST... TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR ETERNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have any of you read the book that goes "I'll love you forever, I'll like you always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be"? or the one with the rabbits that are talking about how much they love eachother? My mom used to read those to me when I was little and I didn't fully understand... I only knew I loved my mom.. I wasn't old enough to be grateful for everything she did for me or to even realize everything she did for me but for some reason I just loved her. Have you ever thought of that? We just have a bond with our mothers from birth into childhood and yeah sometimes it changes when we get older but it's still there.. anyways.. not the point. Now that I've gotten older and have matured a bit more, I have become more aware of everything my mother actually does for me... and let me just say.. the list is not short... AT ALL.. LIKE NOT EVEN A LITTLE. HOW COULD I HAVE NOT NOTICED THOSE THINGS WHEN I WAS LITTLE? IT'S AS IF I BECAME DESENSITIZED TO NOTICING ALL OF THE THINGS SHE DID because she did them EVERYDAY!!! (sorry.. had to go out of caps there for a moment so you could see the emphasis a bit more..) Let me repeat that.. not in caps.. It's as if I became desensitized to noticing all of the things she did because she did them everyday from as early as I can remember. Sad huh? When we have something so much it becomes just so normal and usual and part of our everday life that we cease to notice and even appreciate it sometimes! I know I do! All the time! And it's sad! My mom is so amazing.. and I'm sure all of you out there have equally amazing mothers who have sacrificed their time and used their talents to help and teach you. But really, how incredible are they, right? I can't quite wrap my mind around it. So, this is to say that I love you, mothers single or married, wherever you may be:) You are incredible and make more of a difference than you could ever imagine. I am so thankful that God created the plan of families and that mothers are a central part of it, because honestly, I would be a lot less than I am if it weren't for my mom. I am so grateful for her.. and for all of you... you really are warriors because it is no easy thing to be a mom, all day every day. Happy Mothers Day!!

Segment No. 2 - So, as I said before, I am terribly sorry I have forgot to write these last couple months!! Things have been so crazy! From the beginning of the term till now things have just been super busy and I haven't even had time to read a book for fun (that is what kills me most ;))! So, homework has been plentiful and hours of sleep have been not so plentiful but that's okay! A few weeks ago we had a basketball tournament at our school for five american schools (including ours) in Ecuador! It was super fun!! Our team came out of it in second place and I came out of it without a voice hahaha it was very extreme but really fun! Next, a while ago my parents and I went to Puerto Lopez, a favorite getaway spot of ours on the coast, for a few days. As I was getting ready to go to sleep the first night in the loft area where the second bed was in our hotel room, I saw some strange looking twig things.. very large, mind you.. and 8.. sticking out from one of the boards in the ceiling and when I looked closer and shined some light on it.. it was a ginormous spider! Delightful, right? Yeah.. I thought so.. NOT. So my dad started spraying it with hairspray.. because.. we had nothing else and it moved a bit but not much. Then he got some herbal, homemade spray we had bought at the supermarket and sprayed it and it started running. So, we got off the loft and threw a shoe up at it and it fell and ew it was gross. But then he grabbed my shoe (without asking me of course) and smashed it. It's like 4 or 5 weeks later and my shoe has still not been cleaned off. I refuse to touch it. The next day I was about to take a shower and I see 4 more funny and very large stick like things sticking out of a board by the shower.. and sure enough.. another.. very large spider was there, probably just waiting for me to get close so it could POUNCE. Probably not. Anyways.. long story short, my dad sprayed it, it ran, he got a shoe and it died. Thank-heavens for dad's.. but still not very glad it was MY shoe. Still a little bitter about that.. I'll get over it... someday.. ;) We actually had a really fun time minus the spiders and I had a lot of fun playing with the five big dogs that the owners own that just lounge around the dining area:) I'll put pictures! Next, last week we had a couple sister missionaries staying at our house for about a week because one had been sick for months and had to go home to get checked but she had to be in air conditioning or she felt worse and fainted so that's why they were staying in our house and so we could take care of her but OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE OUR SISTER MISSIONARIES SO MUCH!!! I had so much fun and those sisters and I became best friends really fast. It's amazing how even though I don't have really any close friends here, I have the missionaries and I see them every so often and it's enough to keep me going:) I love it! I'm definitely going to miss them soooo much!! It's been like having a ton of brothers and sisters... I can't even explain it.. I just love being around them they have the spirit and this energy that is just incredible! I love it!

That is the next thing I want to talk about.. I AM GOING TO MISS ECUADOR SOOOOOOOOOO MUUUUUCH I can't even fully express with words how much.. I think I might actually cry when it's time to come home which is actually kind of strange considering how hard it has been at times. But man, let me tell you... I have learned so much... so much from what I have done and what I haven't. For example, I have learned all this time I have been here about trusting in Heavenlt Father, but not until a few months ago have I been able to start getting the hang of it a bit more and start getting better at it. I have seen that growth on a mission or in anything really, is a process and takes time, there are steps and challenges and all of us handle things differently but the important thing is that we come out of it changed and improved. Heavenly Father doesn't care so much how we change or when we improve so long as we do, so long as we chose to learn from our mistakes, keep moving forward and apply what we've learned. I have learned that we can believe a principle of the gospel whole halfheartedly, but unless we live it and experiment with it and apply it in our lives, our testimony of it is only going to be temporary and is going to be weak. I know because for a while I was reading the scriptures and keeping a scripture journal and all that good stuff and I was like, yeah! This is true! This is amazing! But I wasn't applying all the new things I was living in my life so the dedication and motivation I had, to actually keep learning about the principles themselves, started to go down. But now I understand. Now I am understanding that we can't receive something amazing while only paying half price. I was so afraid to be myself all of my time here, I was so afraid people weren't going to like me and I wasn't sure I wanted people to know me and I was just scared. Finally like a month ago I was like, I'm going home.. I should just try to be myself these last few months and see what happens haha and so I have and people really like me! I haven't had any negative responses yet! If I had just trusted heavenly father in the first place and just went out on a limb I may have had an even more amazing experience than I've had! But it's okay, I don't regret it... I don't think I have any regrets.. because any mistake I have made.. I am learning from it and it's going to help me and teach me to be a better person and I am so happy for that.

If there are any mission president's kids out there reading this, I want you to know IT IS OKAY TO TRUST HEAVENLY FATHER, IT IS OKAY TO BE SCARED! THAT IS NORMAL! And what have you got to lose? You're in a new place and the worst that could happen is that people don't like you which really is not that bad! Because regardless of whether people like you or not, regardless of whether you have friends or whether or not you still talk to the friends you have back home, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE AND LEARN THINGS YOU WILL USE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!! Growing up, I always wanted to go on a mission, when I was little I was so excited that one day I was going to be a missionary. When I saw my brother getting ready for his mission, my mom said that I said, "Ooooh missionary! I be missionary too!" So all my life that has just been the plan, even when I was depressed and didn't really have a testimony of the church I still wanted to come. But you know what? If it wasn't for coming here, I don't think I would have been able to handle it, I think I might have come home. I don't know if I would have been strong enough to stay in college, because I hadn't learned how to persevere and endure to the end with my goals. All of my talents were just partly developed because I never wanted to take the time to turn them into something beautiful. But now, I have more motivation and faith and I am closer to heavenly father and I can testify that he will help us with anything we are having trouble with and in good times and in bad. I testify that from hard things come lessons and come growth. You have no idea, how good you have it until you have to leave it all behind, you have no idea how much you can grow until the strength you have is put to the test and you go through adversity you didn't know you could go through. This is the mission, and it has changed my life and it can change yours.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Progress Progress Progress...

Sooo I've finally realized why writing in journals is so important.. haha even though I myself don't write in my journal very often.. I was talking to one of the other mission president's daughters and we were talking about "How do we know we've changed or made progress?" And I was thinking about it for a while and all the obvious things came into my head like, "Well, when things that were once hard for you become easier.." and " We become happier and more comfortable." But then I started thinking about my blog and about my journal.. that I don't usually write in.. haha.. but I remember that when I look back on these things, when I read through my old journal entries and my old blog posts I can see how far I've come, I can see what has changed and how I am different. So I have made a resolve to write in my journal, even though it is so hard for me to concentrate and get the motivation to sit down and write down all the millions of thoughts in my mind, I am going to do it because now I realize how important it can be for me. Please, pray for me hahaha I know it will benefit me a ton when I look back but it is just so hard for me to sit still for that long of a time and muster the energy and motivation to write all the things I have probably been dwelling on the entire day. So, if you are out there wondering if you are progressing in life and wondering if you are changing at all, I invite you to start keeping a journal or start writing in your journal daily.

Just as an example of this, I was looking through all of my papers in my night stands and dresser and organizing things and throwing things away, and I came across my old journal that I brought with me from before coming to Ecuador. This just so happens to be the journal I wrote in when I had really bad depression. I decided to quickly browse through it just to see what was in it and BOY WAS I STARTLED AND SO GRATEFUL. All the things I read were so dark and sad and negative. I was constantly writing all of these horrible things about myself and my life and others, IT WAS TERRIBLE to read. But, at the same time, I felt soooo grateful because comparing my journal now with my journal then, I have grown so much.

In just the past week or so I have been growing so much and learning so many things even though things have been so hard. I think I wrote this in my last post but I have been feeling so alone and I kept asking heavenly father why he was taking all of the people I was closest to away from me. Many of the people I used to talk to and who used to help me and support me have just been fading out of my life. A big group of our sister missionaries left who were like sisters to me who I could always talk to. A lot of people I used to talk to have become so busy and other people who have just seemed to be fading out one by one. I keep feeling like heavenly father just wants me to be alone (even though that's not true) and I started to think all these really negative things again and I started to feel really depressed and angry. I kept asking God what I was doing wrong and why he wanted me to be alone. I had started writing all of this in my journal bit by bit and I have been looking over it and realizing more and more things. Last year I had become really close to heavenly father and relied heavily on him. I was talking to lot's of my friends, I didn't feel alone and in fact every area of my life was doing great. Right now, I have not been so close to him, things have not been as great as I would have wanted them to be (I feel really alone) and I have been having a harder and harder time seeing the bigger picture and seeing the bright side of things. I have been jumping to conclusions in many circumstances and second guessing myself because I have not stuck as firm to my faith as I have before. I guess life is like this but I sure haven't gotten used to it yet. Anyways, I was looking back in my journal reading all the good things and bad things and what I was doing or not doing during both times and I realized: I am not necessarily doing anything wrong, sure I make mistakes and sin everyday because I'm human but I don't think this feeling alone has been a punishment. Next, I think heavenly father is once more trying to get me to rely on him. It has been such a struggle for me not to just rely on everybody else for my happiness and just to wait for friends to talk to me. But I realize now that, In my journal, I am always going to see this pattern unless I change, and maybe if I see it in my journal enough it might scare me enough into trying harder. (See, I always have the desire to try harder it's just when it comes down to it the motivation is sometimes hard to come by..). I guess that's why the prophets emphasize writing in your journal and record keeping so much. I am so grateful that I wrote in my journal at least a few times so that I could see that pattern and see that difference that being close to my heavenly father made. I am going to try to be close to him and rely on him again.

Next, just as a little thought going with the "How can I tell if I'm progressing or growing?" I just wanted to touch on the power of faithful friends, family members and peers. I was talking to my sister the other day and I was upset because I felt so down and I felt like I wasn't progressing. My sister on the other hand is not me (obviously) and so it is easier for her to see me progressing than it is for me to see myself. I had also been worrying about a couple friends, I had felt so frustrated because i was trying so hard to help or to fix things for them. I was trying do hard to DO all I could instead of just trying to BE all I could, namely just a good listener, just be there, just be something that is constant. My sister helped me to realize that people don't always need you to do something, sometimes they just need you to listen and let them talk, sometimes you just need to absorb information instead of putting it out. So I have been working on that lately, I have been working on not being so quick to give advice, not so quick to give my opinion or deal out ways I could help them change things. I have been doing this for several days now in just my everyday life and everything I do and I HAVE NOTICED SUCH A DIFFERENCE! I never would have if I hadn't asked someone else for their point of view, for their advice and experimented on it. I may not have realized just how much I had grown, had I not asked someone else. So there is another resource for telling if you have progressed and a way to learn how to learn more from your daily trials - finding someone you trust and respect and asking them for their advice, opinion and view of your circumstance:)

I hope this helped any of you who might have had the same questions.. I just thought I would write up a quick blog about it because it helped me so much:) Thanks for all your examples and everything you do. Thank-you to all of you who have helped me in this crazy awesome time here and given me your perspectives. Have a fantastic week!!

Don't try to overhaul your life overnight...

One of the most important 'things' in my life - my notebook.  Advice: keep a notebook.  You'll learn a lot about yourself.
^ We need to write things down because we may not always remember what good and what patterns came and went through our lives. I guess that's another reason why the scriptures are so powerful.. actually we are told that.. that with them we can learn and study patterns and see the cause and effect of situations.. and of course for future generations.. it's all quite amazing to think about..

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life in the Fire

Hello everyone!!!! Oh my goodness!! It has been so long since I have written!! Wow I hope you all are doing great and that you had a fantastic New Years!! I hope you all have made some awesome New Years resolutions and that things are going great!!

The past few days have been some of the funnest days of my time here. I had the mission president's daughters from the Quito North and the Quito South mission staying at my house for several days. What fun I had with them!! We went to the Iguana park and held iguanas, climbed the santa ana hill and walked around Las Penas and some days we just stayed in and played games and swam. It was so good to be able to talk and laugh about things, talk and feel understood. It was so amazing to me to see these two girls and see and hear about what their experiences have been as a mission president's child. I came to the obvious conclusion that,"Yep, it's not easy." haha. While talking with these girls, I kept thinking about how we go through so much, and yes it's so different but we feel a lot of the same things. Though all of us are different in our own ways and see things in our own ways, we all experience similar emotions and feelings. We all have our own "fires" to go through, our own wars to fight, yet so many times we go through them alone, thinking there is no one else around us that could possibly help or feel our pain. That's not true. There is always someone around. They may be going through different things yet they may feel the exact same way. We don't have to go through our fire alone.

How often do you feel lonely? What do you feel? Do you get tired of it, scared that it's always going to be this way or even feel like you're doing something wrong? If you do, I understand. You may be 13, 33 or 75 and going through a completely different stage in life but I cant relate to you, even if it's just a little. Lately I've been going through fire, a small hell, if you will. I have been feeling so, completely alone. I don't usually do things with people on the weekends, I'm not in contact with as many people as I used to be, lot's of our wonderful sister missionaries left who I have grown really close to, and sometimes it's hard not to feel forgotten or let down. Lately I've just been kicking myself, remembering back to when I lived in Utah and had so many friends but did not appreciate them or realize that they were there. Heavenly Father has been testing me in so many different ways and it's been extra hard trying not to crumble in the process. I always think to myself about what I may be doing wrong or how I can improve or what I'm not doing... but I never considered what I am doing and what I am doing right.

What if Heavenly Father tightens things when he sees us growing? What if things get harder instead of easier? I've started thinking of life like braces... it's all part of a straightening process... you have to keep going back to the dentist to change the wire and get things tightened and get things checked out to get them straight. It takes time but with time comes progress. Different wires have different results and lift of pull down different teeth or make things a certain shape. Life is quite the same, Heavenly Father gives us different wires or experiences to get a lower left tooth or get results or a change in a certain area of our lives. No, we can't see what he is doing, none of us can see what the dentist sees inside of our mouths, we can't see all the cavities and imperfections because that is not our area of expertise and it's hard to see all over inside your own mouth. Similarly, we can't always see or understand what God is doing in our lives, we cant always see what adjustments need to be made or how one thing will impact another area of our life. But, just like with the dentist, we have to trust God that in the end, there will be a "straight" and beautiful result. With braces, sometimes to make things easier or less painful we take painkillers or sometimes we have to put in wax to keep the braces from cutting our mouths. Well, in live, God gives us painkillers and wax, he gives us blessings, people, the scriptures, the gospel and the atonement. These are the things that help us through our lives or this process. No, we may not have people with us all the time or we may not have all the comforts we wish we had but that doesn't mean there is nothing or that we have to go through the process in pain. We still have the gospel, the atonement, the spirit, scriptures and prophets, these are the things that never go away. Just because we don't have one kind of "wax" doesn't mean we don't have any at all. These few days with these girls for me was a tender mercy and a kind of wax haha. Things are hard and no they aren't always going to be here for me but I think this opportunity and experience was Heavenly Father telling me that I wasn't alone and that he hadn't forgotten me. It was just what I needed to keep going, and yeah it wasn't a very long time but it was sufficient to lift my spirits and encourage me to keep going. Sometimes God doesn't send a huge miracle or change but he will send supports and things for encouragement. He will send just enough.

While Katie and Andrea were here we were playing this game one night called "In a Pickle". In this game you have all these cards and you  have to put down a card of something that can fit inside what the other person put down. So for example, someone puts down pickle and the next person might put down worm or atom or seed and then at the end you look at the whole long story. So as we were playing, an interesting couple came up and that couple was life and fire. Someone had put down the card life and another had put down the card fire. In that very moment I felt a wave of inspiration and it was like I had a little revelation. I had been thinking that whole day about how it was possible that I was still going, how all of us were still going despite the hard things we were being asked to go through. I was thinking of why all that I was going through was significant and why some of it would matter for me in my life. I kept thinking "Is this all that it will ever be? Just experience after experience, hit after hit trying to change me?" But that is not all there is. Life in the Fire. Maybe, this is a test to see if I can find life in the fire, to see how and if I can move on in the midst of all that is happening in my life. While certain experiences change me, all of them put together makes for one big test. Are we going to chose to keep on living even though it may not seem worth living for? Are we going to push forward and find the light even when it seems there is none? Are we going to  keep becoming and evolving even though it seems like nothing more can be done or it feels like there is no point? What it all boils down to is, are we going to trust God? God's plan and work is so much more complex than I understand, when I try to explain it or think about it or think about the whole process and everything I feel like I understand or feel a concept of it but I can never find the words or even begin to describe. All I can say is this: trust God. There is life in the fire. It is the life that you make for yourself, a life that you build upon your foundation of faith. We are never alone, there is always some kind of aid to help us if we just open our eyes reach out our hands and use them (Book of Mormon, Bible, praying, words of the prophets, the spirit, the atonement etc.). And lastly don't stop believing, we will never make it through the fire if we don't believe that we can get through it. That is not building on faith.  We can do it but we can't do it alone.

I love you all. Even though I don't know all of you or know your backgrounds, I know you are children of God, that he loves you and that you are fighting your own spiritual battles everyday. You may think a 16 year old doesn't know anything and can't possibly understand the things of this world or even the things of God. You are right. I don't understand. I don't know much in comparison to all that is out there. But I am am learning and I am trying to figure it out from the truths I receive from the scriptures, from our prophets and from my own life experiences. I know I am less experienced than many of you out there but I still want to help, I know there is something we all can do with the bit we have been given, and I'm not going to let the fact that I am young and still living with my parents, stunt my growth or hold me back from doing what I can do. I respect you all so much and your contribution to this world, I respect all of you who keep moving forward and keep trying even though it's hard and who keep pushing for self improvement and who do hard things, the right things, even when it is unpopular from what a certain group or the rest of the world is doing. I know if we follow Jesus Christ and his example and try the hardest that we can to do our best and be our best, we will be blessed and we will never be alone.