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.