Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Looking Back

I stumbled upon my mission blog yesterday. Actually, I have been stumbling upon a lot of mission things lately. The last time I posted on this blog I had one week to go until I arrived in England. To be honest, I can't even remember what I felt like a week before I left! But I can remember perfectly the day I got on that plane and said goodbye to my family for 18 months. I can remember perfectly how I felt for the first month of the mission. I can remember perfectly what I thought when I ate my first English food and what went through my mind when people spoke "English" to me. I can remember perfectly my first Zone Conference and my last. I can remember it all. But sometimes I don't let myself remember. Because sometimes thinking back to the mission is hard.
I have been home 8 months. 8 months of working and going to school and homework and dating. 8 months of trying to figure out my life and what God needs me to do. It has been a roller coaster! I transferred schools, changed my major, got a job, started working at the temple, and took it day by day. In the midst of all of that, I forgot the mission. I forgot that I spent a part of my life in a foreign country. I forgot that I had loads of friends 'just across the pond'. I forgot that I spoke a different language for a third of the mission; one that I didn't learn in the MTC. But the most important thing that I forgot was how to stay close to the Lord. I became the typical 'me' again. I fell right back into the routine. I became focused on me, myself, and I instead of everyone else. I cared more about getting physically fit than staying spiritually fit. The scriptures were put on the shelf and they stayed there for quite a while. Preach My Gospel became the cool new place for all the dust to collect, and I'm pretty sure my journal disappeared completely. Sometimes I came home so late and was so tired that I forgot to even pray before bed. On the mission we taught that doing the small and simple things brought happiness. It's truth! Truth I obviously forgot....and to tell you some more truth, I wasn't happy. Every time I thought about the mission I would start to feel guilty. I began to forget all the great things that happened in England and could suddenly only remember the things I hadn't done right-the things I regretted. I asked to go out with the sister missionaries all the time and never got a call. I applied for a Mission Ready camp and again never got a call. I thought they must have also known the truth about me. These thoughts slowly became a weight that I held on my shoulders. Now and again I would see people I served around or with and it made me hate myself even more. Satan is good at what he does. He uses our weaknesses to destroy us. He twists things and wants us to believe we aren't good enough. But if we put our faith in the Lord, Satan can have no power over us. 
I'm not sure what changed to get me back to where I am now. A lot of things have happened in the last little while that have been really good. My friend Alice Maynard who served in my hometown went back to England because her mission was over. She talked about how she wished she could stay in Arizona and how much she would miss it. Then my little brother got home from his mission. I woke up to him reading his scriptures and studying the Ensign. I found my mission journal again, and I read the entire thing. And last night I met a girl who served in the Czech Republic and she shared her story of when their mission received the first ever Slovakian Book of Mormons. It reminded me of when we got our first Slovakian Book of Mormons in England and how amazing that day was. After that I just started remembering everything else from the mission...everything good from the mission. There will probably always be a few things I regret, or things I wish I would've done better...but missionaries aren't perfect. And I didn't do my best every single day, but when do we ever do our best every single day? It's important to remember to keep moving forward. To keep your faith strong and trust in the Lord. He has a plan for each of us, and He will help us every step of the way as long as we allow Him to. 
Looking back, England was a great part of my life. It has forever changed who I am as a person and will always be my second home. My family is there, the people I love are there, and I miss it everyday. Before I left on my mission I had a countdown until I left for England. I think I felt more nervous each time that thing had one less day on it! But now I am going restart that countdown and instead of being nervous I am going to be excited every time it goes down another day. 304 days until I return to England!! I.cannot.wait. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One Week

(I wrote this 5 days ago and just got to posting it)
Where in the world of beautiful men did time go?! I leave in one week. One week! Seven days! 168 hours! No I don't know the minutes or seconds, please don't ask me. Am I nervous? Excited? Freaking out? .....YesnoIDKmybffJill?
That would be my answer to all of those questions. My room is boxed away, my stuff has yet to be packed (we're working on it), and I THINK (think being the key word) I have everything I need. Honestly, my mind has been lost for a month now. About a month ago I came down with a head cold and it has slowly become worse. It went from my nose, to my head, to my ears, to my throat, and now it resides in my lungs. I have been to the doctors more times than one, and I can't even begin to describe the amount of pills I've taken (all prescribed by a reliable doctor of course). And not to mention today I was told I needed surgery on my toe, but it has to wait 18 months because I don't have 4-6 weeks of recovery time. Clearly I must be a little stressed out because I now wake up with a clenched jaw and the continuing thought of, "Hey...Alisha, did you sleep last night?" Let's not forget that I speak this coming Sunday and sometime soon I need to write my talk. And as I write this post I keep looking over at my new mission bag in its beautiful blue and brown colors wondering if it is indeed a 'conservative' colored bag. Guess it's too late to buy a new one anyway.
Granted this past month hasn't been ALL terrible. I was able to take professional pictures with my four best childhood friends before we all go our separate ways: one is married, one is leaving to Spain for her mission, one is headed to college to be a bomb vet, and the other is waiting to marry her beloved missionary (he is serving in the Tampa, Florida mission...his name is Elder TJ Peters. If you know him tell him Ayrica misses him dearly). I was also able to go to the lake during my time of illness and spend many fun nights with friends and family.
However, last weekend had to be the best. For last weekend, we had General Conference. I can't believe how many missionaries are out and are soon to be out. The Lord's work truly is progressing, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I have heard some say that they are surprised I am going on a mission. I have never been the rebel child, but I've also never been gung-ho about sharing the gospel before. I'm not a very affectionate person and struggle with sharing my feelings. How will I be able to share my feelings about the gospel? I've thought a lot about this when I first received my call. The conclusion that I came to was: it will all work out. The Lord will never set you up to fail.
When I prayed about a mission it felt right. I could not deny that the Lord needed me to go. I think I started filling out my papers not knowing if I really wanted to go or not, but I knew the LORD wanted me to. That is when I began to learn about my will and His will. There are people in England that need me, that are waiting for me. I know even if I am terrible at sharing my feelings, or am not too gung-ho about sharing the gospel at first, it will all work out. And as these few months have gone by leading up to my mission I have become more accepting of the plan my Heavenly Father has for me. I want to serve a mission...and I am going to serve a mission. I leave in 7 days and could not be more excited. The excitement is buried deep down in the dark abyss of sickness, but it is there!
So if there are some of you that feel like you won't be a good missionary, or that you are serving because you know you need to but don't necessarily want to...I've been there. Just remember the Lord will not set you up to fail, and as you come to accept what the Lord has in store for you then you will be blessed. Soon what you want and what He wants will become the same thing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

23 Days

I can't wait. There have been days when I have almost lost my mind because I just want to be there already. I want to immerse myself in all of England. I want my mission to consume me. I want worry about nothing except bringing souls to Christ. Twenty-three days. I started with 3 1/2 months and now I have less than 1. Twenty-three days to prepare; to read my Book of Mormon; to talk to strangers at Walmart; to go out with the missionaries and teach before I put on that name tag and become a missionary myself. Twenty-three days left in Arizona with my family and friends until I am in England with only my companion and the Lord by my side. When I think of those twenty three days and how long I have been waiting and what I am about to embark on, only three words come to my mind: I can't wait. 
People have been asking if I am nervous. Sure, I guess I am...I don't really think about it to be honest. All I can think about is stepping off that plane in England with that name tag on my shirt. Maybe I'll be nervous then. I know the Lord will not fail me, I know I have people supporting me back home, and I know someone that I trust dearly will be stepping off that plane with me. What more do I need?

General Conference is coming up; Easter is coming up. Take this next couple of weeks to think of the Savior, and what He did for you. Take this time to prepare for General Conference. Fast, attend the temple, pray, and read your scriptures. The answers you seek will be given to you according to your faith. Do not forget that patience is also required. The Lord will answer you in His time, not your's. I am so excited for General Conference. Whether there in Utah or at home, I always feel the Spirit. Those men and woman are truly called of God. I challenge each of you to watch all 4 sessions (including Priesthood and Relief Society). If your Saturdays are too busy, change your plans! You know when Conference is, plan around it. It will bless your life and bring the Spirit into your home. My favorite part of Conference is just turning the TV on on Saturday morning. The sun is shining between the leaves of my orange trees, and that light then shines through my living room windows warming everything it touches. Combine that with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing and it's the perfect morning. Nothing beats it...except maybe being in the Conference Center. You can disagree, but you won't win. :) 
I can't believe the last General Conference was 6 months ago. Crazy how fast time flies by huh? Six months ago my life was changed. I was told I could serve a mission now. I wasn't 19 at the time, but I was nowhere near being 21 either. Now I have my call and am leaving in 23 days. Take the time to listen to Conference, who knows...it might just change your life. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Matt and Sarah-March 8th, 2013

On Friday my brother married Sarah, the love of his life. I am so incredibly happy for the both of them and couldn't ask for a better older sister. Right now they are on their way to California for their Mexico cruise while my family eats the rest of the left over sweet pork we had at the reception. Lets just say we made a little bit too much: 20-30 lbs. too much. By the way...anyone want some? 
I was so lucky to have the opportunity to be in the temple when Matt and Sarah were sealed. Spencer and I were both there and the ceremony was amazing. As my dad would say "all the women were crying". If I let myself, I would've cried; but if I had started crying it would have ended up in me bawling my eyes out. That would be just a tad bit embarrassing! My older brother and I have never had the best relationship, but lately it has been really good. Usually you think that when siblings get married you may grow farther apart, but Sarah has brought us closer together. She has already made him such a better man and I know he is going to be a great husband. The reception was supposed to be outside, but due to a rainstorm no one thought was really going to happen, we moved the reception into the stake center. It was still beautiful though! Sarah's mom is extremely talented in wedding stuff and what not, so we made it workout. I think my favorite part of the reception was when a group of boys told the DJ to play the Harlem Shake and then danced their butts off right in front of everyone. Or maybe it was when the bride and groom had the 'money dance' (if you want to dance with either the bride or groom you pay them a dollar) and I didn't have any money, but my brother let me dance with him anyway. But it could have also been when Matt and Sarah had their first dance and Sarah laid her head on Matt's chest knowing she will be with the one she loves for eternity. There's just something about weddings........and pictures. Here are most of the pictures I took that day!
P.S. I caught the bouquet. Maybe I'll find an English boy?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I love To See The Temple, I Went There Yesterday...

It's true, I went through the temple yesterday for the first time. My first word of advice is to go with an open mind and be ready to feel the Spirit; because you will feel it like you have never felt it before. My second word of advice is to not let anyone tell you that you may not like it or might not want to go back! 
If you go with the mindset that you might not like it, then you will most likely end up believing that you, in fact, don't like it. I was told that I might not like it, but that I needed to have an open mind so I would want to return. The day I went through I fasted and prayed that I would have an open mind AND that I would like receiving my endowment. The Lord hears and answers your prayers. I ended up loving everything that I did/learned, and it's true...there is no possible way to understand most of what is going on, so that is why you need to go back! I can't wait to go back and be inside those walls again. I love the Spirit I feel, the people who are around me, and I love being worthy enough to enter. I have a deeper appreciation for my family and for this gospel. One of my favorite things about going through for the first time was having everyone I love be there with me. I remember walking through the temple up to where the session was held and seeing my family along the way. Since I was receiving my own endowment I was allowed into the room first. While I was walking I saw my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my two best friends, and my brother. They were just standing there, letting me walk past...but they had this smile, I remember them all having the same smile. It was just a smile of understanding; that they knew something I didn't, but we're so excited for me to gain that knowledge. It's hard to explain, but I will never forget how that moment made me feel. The temple truly is the House of the Lord. 

"Attend the temple. You will be blessed for so doing. Every man or woman who goes 
into the house of the Lord leaves there a better man or woman than he or she was 
when he or she entered the house of the Lord. The house of the Lord will have a 
refining effect upon you. It will cultivate unselfishness within your lives. It will build 
righteousness. It will impress upon you the importance of doing what you ought to do. 
Go to the house of the Lord"
-Gordon B. Hinckley