Because I don't remember this week enough to tell you all about it, I'm going to tell you all what I'm thankful for. My mom requested a list, so I decided I'd give you an update through that. Here's the list, in not any particular order.
1) The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I never cease to be amazed and humbled by Christ's incredible sacrifice that enables all of us to be forgive of our mistakes. Everyday as I trust in the power of the Atonement, I feel happier and lighter with the knowledge that I don't have to feel guilty about my sins anymore. I've repented, and I've been forgiven. Even though I already had known that, now I'm starting to forgive myself. The Atonement is a constant reminder that Christ always knows what I'm going through, and even when I feel alone, I know that Christ is right there with me.
2) My family. I am so grateful that I have the blessing of an eternal family! It's one of the biggest comforts in my life, and one of my favorite aspects of the gospel. I know that my family will always be there for me, and I firmly believe that my family is where they're supposed to be. It's actually a huge blessing that half of my family is in Japan, and now so close to me when I'll be in the Philippines. It'll help me feel not so far away. My brothers are the funniest people I know (tis only an illusion), and I'm so thankful that I have strong relationships with them. I share so many memories with my sister, so many special private moments of trust that have built up our relationship, and I'm thankful to have had someone to help me make it through my roughest times and inspire me to be the person I want to be. I'm thankful for my brother in law, Justin, who always makes me laugh, even when he's hating on Harry Potter. He takes good care of my sister, and I'm eternally grateful to him for that. I'm thankful for my parents, for the faith they've shown me over the years, for the strength they've always had. They are my best examples and counselors, and they have taught me resilience, humor, and trust in the Lord. My family makes every day a hilarious one. Memories of my brothers screaming themselves hoarse playing video games, us siblings crowding together in the top bunk sharing nightmares or being guinea pigs, my sister and my late night talks, my mom and my alone time before I left, my dad's and my many talks about the future (he's always right), the times I've cried because I'm laughing so hard when my mom makes fun of Eric, Justin's and my jokes about Kelsey, going to the movies with Eric - those all make me happy every day, and especially on the days I miss them the most. God really hooked me up when he gave me them.
3) My friends. I have some incredible ones. Even though I'm borderline insane a lot of the time, my good friends have laughed, cried, danced, and snuggled with me. They make me feel like a million dollars, and I miss them all so much. If I listed every time I treasured a late night McDonald's run, a movie night, a Thai Basil night, a serious conversation about life night, a cracking up on the bathroom floor night, a writing discussion night, a cook food and cackle night, a wrap ourselves up in blankets and watch phantom night, a drive around just for the heck of it night...the list would never end. Doesn't matter if you're highschool or college friends - you've all decorated my life! I love you!
4) Mail. I love me some mail. This week I got mail from my mom, Tiffany, Natalie, Summer, Eric, and Kelsey, and then emails from grandma, Jasmine, and dad. Holy crud, I love mail. It brightens my day when I'm having a bad one, and I love being able to go back and read your letters of encouragement or laugh at your random notices of happenings in the world.
5) My body. Even though my body has a lot of issues, I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful that I can walk, that I can run, that I can breathe. I went to the temple last Saturday (as I do every week) and my back hurt so much. I was almost in tears because sitting in a chair like how I was was so painful. But I just kept reminding myself how lucky I am to have the body I have, to be able to go to the Philippines, how lucky I am to be healthy. This week, I looked at the bottoms of my feet. Bad idea. Without me really feeling it, all of my toes had gotten blisters, and all of them had torn open. My feet look like they got put through a cheese grater. But then I remembered how lucky I am to walk, to spread the gospel on foot. I remembered the early saints who crossed thousands of miles on foot because they knew the church was true and because that's what God had commanded. I'm thankful that I'm strong enough to exercise - five days a week I go to the gym for an hour. If I'm biking, I do 6-8 miles. On the stair stepper, I do three. It has been such a blessing. Even though my body hurts and I'm achy and my back feels like I might be broken in half, I am strong enough to continue.
6) My group. I have made friends with not just my district, but the one that came in on the same day we did. Together, we have formed a close ultimate district of missionaries that love each other like family. And what do families do a lot? Fight. We get in arguments all the time! Having all different backgrounds and all different opinions, it's sometimes hard to get along. The elders will make an offensive joke or something, or the conversation will turn to politics. And you just have to button your lip and deal, and remember that we all have our agency. And we get over our problems quickly, like a family, and most of the time, we get along splendidly. We have a lot of laughs. Last night, Sister McCoard dropped her flashlight and if made a loud crash. Sister Richmond, who wears earplugs to sleep, had forgotten them and started shouting "WHAT WAS THAT?" When we told her about the flashlight and told her to be quiet (it was lights out), Sis Rich just kept screaming, "HUH? WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT WAS THAT NOISE? WHY ARE YOU ALL LAUGHING?" Haha. And Sister Moulten (who I love dearly and is a super nerd like me) and I have deep convos during gym when we're having a tough day. And Sister Stettler, whose door I decorated for her bday, massages my back when it hurts. Sis Rich and I hide diet coke in bushes to get cold!
7) Music. I miss music so much! I get to sing in sacrament on Sunday (sister Stettler accompanying), and practicing made me realize how much music means to me and how much it affects my mood. I miss walking around the neighborhood jamming to my tunes!
Earworms this week were:
-"Kansas City" - Oklahoma
-"I Believe in Santa Claus" - from The Year Without A Santa Claus (ugh)
-"Magic Dance" - David Bowie (but mostly only the first line when David Bowie sings "power" like there's a beautiful jaguar in his throat)
-that one popular song by Maci Gray. I have a really good Maci Gray imitation voice, so I sang like her all day yesterday.
8) The cold. When it's chilly outside (or "arctic" as Sis Rich always says, in true Cali fashion), I always remember how hot I'm going to be for the next 17 months.
9) The Priesthood. The elders in our district gave us four sisters blessings last Sunday after I taught my lesson. It made me feel loads better.
10) The Book of Mormon. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Before my mission, reading my scriptures seemed like a chore. Now, I love personal study time, and I find so much comfort in the Book of Mormon. I cannot tell you how many times we asked Brother Roxas a question and he whips out the perfect answer in the form of a verse from the B.O.M! This book brings me joy and comfort, and Iove it, and I know it's the word of God. I know Joseph Smith translated it through the power of the Lord, because if you read it, you will receive confirmation that no man could have written it on his own. I love this book. If you're looking for something, searching for an answer or for truth, that book is the thing you're looking for.
11) My talents. Let me tell you something - I. MISS. WRITING. I miss it so much. I miss my characters, my stories, heck, I even miss editing my book. I was telling Sister Moulten about all this in a moment of frustration because I felt distracted by the fact that I couldn't write. And bless her heart, she told me exactly what I needed to hear. She told me that because I'm sacrificing a year and a half of my life to the Lord, he will heap blessings onto me. My writing will be better when I come home. I'll work harder. See clearer. Because of my mission, my talents will increase. It was wonderful to hear and to feel that confirmation. Although I miss writing, it'll be there when I get home, and the Lord will bless me for my sacrifice.
12) Flight Plans. WE GOT THEM THIS WEEK. Our flight from Salt Lake to L.A. is at 9:50am on the 18th, then we fly to the Tokyo Narita airport at 12:00, arriving at 4:55pm. Then we fly to Manila, Philippines at 6:30pm, arriving at 10:30pm. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. :) :) :)
13) Sleep. Enough said. This week I woke up and rolled out of bed and started to pray as usual. When I finished, I looked around only to see everyone still sleeping. I checked my watch. It was 1am. The same thing happened at 4am. I had to laugh at my body's whack idea of a schedule.
14) My mission. Even with five weeks, I can already tell how much this decision will bless my life and that of my family's. Smartest decision I ever made. Even when it's tough, even when I don't think I can do it anymore, I still know this is what I was supposed to do, who I'm supposed to be right now. I had a really hard day yesterday. Like, lay on the floor overwhelmed, hard. But I knew that everything was going to be fine. The Lord has not, and will not abandon me. D&C 61: 36-37 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you; And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.
I know this gospel is true. Alam ko po na totoo ang ebanhelyo. Mahal kayo ng Diyos. I know God loves us and I know he watches out for ALL of his children. And this knowledge gives me all the comfort in the world. I am thankful for my Father in Heaven, for his guiding hand in my life, for his foundation that I've based my life on. I am happy to serve him in the Philippines and bring some of children back to Him. This is my joy. This is my strength.
I love all of you so very much.