Saturday, November 23, 2013

103 Things I'm Grateful For

It's 10:30 p.m. It's my goal to go to bed at this time. But I don't feel like it. And I don't have to, because I'm not a missionary anymore. So, I figured I'd ramble on my blog and put my feelings out there for all the world and my future posterity.

Tomorrow I'm speaking on gratitude in two different congregations, in two different languages (in the young single adult branch and the Spanish branch). I've been working on my talk during every spare moment of the day.

MAN. I am so grateful. If I had to sum up my feelings about life right now it would be, "Wow. I have so much to be grateful for. I'm confused about life and what I should do and what's going to happen in my future, but I'm so grateful for how life's going anyway."

A year ago, I was in Piribebuy, Paraguay. I was training a brand new sister missionary from Peru. She, nor any of Paraguay, knew what Thanksgiving is. I had to recognize it and celebrate it on my own. It was a scorching hot time of year. But at least I managed to make mashed potatoes that day. I also remember working on a project during all my spare time (hahaha! There IS no spare time on your mission), it was called la Lista de Bendiciones.
This is a picture of the original list that I still have. 103 things that I was grateful for last year. I would have written more if I had found more time. 

Here are a few of the things I wrote: 
  • I'm a missionary!
  • I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ!
  • I was baptized when I was 8 by my dad!
  • I understand the purpose of life.
  • I wasn't born during the apostasy. 
  • I am female.
  • I was homeschooled.
  • I wasn't raised watching TV.
  • My mom taught me to cook, sew, save money, work hard.
  • My grandparents, parents, and brother served missions.
  • Hope is going on a mission!
  • Carrie (my sister) got married in the temple.
  • I have great friends who write me letters.
  • I have great zone leaders.
  • I went to JERUSALEM!
  • I got admitted to BYU!
  • I have had great bishops.
  • I have always been able to run.
  • I dated wonderful, inspiring boys.
  • I didn't get kidnapped, robbed, or killed in Africa.
  • Dad built me a milk parlor.
  • I had the cutest goats.
  • I can read.
  • I know English.
  • I haven't missed an hour of missionary work due to sickness.
  • I have contacts. Changed the world.
  • My whole family is supportive of me serving a mission.
  • My family doesn't eat junk food.
  • I have been protected from many a near-death experience.
  • I have great memories of dad with ice cream.
  • Mom did cool science experiments with us. 
  • I have not gotten dengue despite hundreds of mosquito bites. 
  • Churches in the U.S. have air conditioning. 
  • I have never had to bear seeing my dad or brothers drunk.
  • I have never worried my parents would divorce.
  • I have never been addicted to anything harmful.
  • I got to be companions with Hermana Greer twice.
  • I grew up in an ambitious society. 
And the list goes on. But really, tonight as I stay up "late" there are plenty of things I could complain about. But there are about 45 times as many things that I can be grateful for. And the thing I'm grateful for most of all....
the thing that tops the many good experiences and comforts and tender mercies and close calls...

the blessing I want to thank God for more than anything tonight....
is my knowledge of the restored gospel. I wish I could be more funny or witty or entertaining or new.....but it's the truth. Tonight I'm overwhelmed with gratitude that I understand life, that I know how to find peace, that I can be hopeful about the future no matter what..... thanks to the sweet knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel that has been restored to it's fullness. Oh I know it's true. It's the reason why I am still grateful for the way life is, as uncertain as the future may be. It's the mother of so many of the other blessings I wrote down last year, and to so many of the blessings I will be adding to that very un-uncomplete list of 103 things. 
Mi mas profunda gratitud es hacia mi Salvador.

P.S. Apparently I was feeling very similar exactly two years ago this very same day. Click here for a Thanksgiving video and blog post. And here to see how my gratitude list sure changed from the one I made during my mission. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mis Padres

In this month of an extra-grateful heart, one of the blessings that is mother to many other blessings on my Gratitude List is my parents. I know I always talk about my parents on this blog, but I can't help but do it again. Perhaps it's because I think more now about being a parent than I ever have before, perhaps it's because I'm a nanny right now and I have internalized the magnitude of what it takes to be a mom and maintain a house, perhaps it's because I just missed them so much.....but whatever it is, my parents seem better than ever before. 
This past weekend my dad and I went to Mesa, just the two of us. My dad wears a couple very heavy hats. He's not only the bishop of our ward and constantly helping solve problems and serve and help members of the church and non-members alike, but he's the city attorney and solves and helps even more in that regard. But he took time and patiently went shopping with me. He got nothing and did nothing for himself the entire trip. It was all for me and my family. We got to go to the temple together. I'm so thankful to have a dad I can go to the temple with. 
As I said, I'm a nanny for two kids, and I've first-hand seen how much work goes into maintaining a home. It's not like I didn't do chores before, but now I just see how many chores it takes, and I realize how much my mom has done. So many loads of laundry and loads of dishes. So much picking up. So much soothing of kids' heartaches. And yet, as I go about it, I feel the grand importance of it. Perhaps the world will never feel the influence of that extra loading and un-loading of the dishwasher, but for some reason I just feel like it is one of the most important things a person can do: maintain a home and devote their time to the raising and teaching of children. For me, what my parents have done and do means the world. 
I think, "What if I had parents who didn't understand the importance of what they do?" Thankfully, my mom and dad have their priorities more straight than anyone I know. 

 Seeing them again, along with the rest of my family, was really the only perk of finishing my mission. 
 They took me on a wonderful church history trip the week after I came home. This is us between the Sacred Grove and the Palmyra temple. 
In the beautiful fall foliage outside the Johnson Farmhouse.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 
― Marcel Proust

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