Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eternal Perspective

I remember thinking in the first weeks of being in Jerusalem how perfect this place is. I told myself nothing could go wrong here and every day would be pure bliss. I absolutely love it here. I love everything about the rush that comes from wandering through the Old City. I love greeting locals as they come to the Jerusalem Center for concerts. I love living, studying, eating, and sleeping with people who have become some of my closest friends. I love learning about the people here. I love studying the life of the Savior in the places He walked and taught. I love playing with children as they run through the streets. I love being in primary and learning from the children there. I love learning about the history of the Holy Land. I love going on field trips and experiencing life in a new and exciting way. I love my life.
Naturally there are those days that just seem a little off. I have grown to love those quiet moments by myself when I can sit and ponder about the love my Father in Heaven and Savior have for me. I know that they love me. I know that they understand the thoughts and intentions of my heart better than anyone else. I know that they are waiting to guide me through this earthly existence so I can return to live with them.
Tonight was one of those nights when everything seemed a little bit off. I stood in a crowded room surrounded by people that I love and felt somewhat out of place at that moment. I was reminded of the experience I had at the Sand Dunes when I realized the importance of taking time to myself to talk with my Heavenly Father. I thought about the inspiration I felt there- just as Heavenly Father led Lehi and his family through the wilderness and guided them to the promised land- He will lead me through the confusions and trials in my life. I realized once again how important it is that I take time to myself in order to be reminded and comforted.
The little things in life don't matter. The only thing that matters is the gospel; and even more than that the relationship I have with my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. If I put them first in my life everything else falls into place. I know that I am a happier person when I strive to be more Christlike.
I love the experience I am having in Jerusalem because it is teaching me how to be a happier person. I am learning what happiness comes from. I am learning how vital the gospel is in my life. I am learning how important my family is to me. I am learning that I need to live my life in a way that sets an example for others. I am so far from perfect- but the amazing message of this gospel teaches me that is okay. The power of the Atonement can heal me and shape me into the person my Heavenly Father knows I can be. I know that He sees divine potential in all of His children. I know He loves each person with an infinite amount of love.

Sometimes I just need to be reminded to have an eternal perspective.

*I have grown to love reading conference talks and a few days ago I downloaded one to read later. Right after finishing this blog post I pulled it up to read the talk and was touched at how much President Uchtodrf's message applied to the way I am feeling right now. I had no idea why I pulled this talk up a few days ago- but the message is perfect and poignant for me right now. Just another testimony to me that my Heavenly Father loves me and is watching out for me, even when I don't realize it.

Click here for the talk.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Proud Big Sister

Do you remember the tedious process of college applications? Slaving over the essays- editing and reediting countless times. Finally turning it in and having to wait for months to find out. Checking the email or the mail every day wondering if today is the day. Finally getting the email after so much anticipation. I thought I was anxious when I was waiting to find out about my acceptance to BYU 2 years ago. But waiting to hear about Taylor was even worse. Every day in between breakfast and Old Testament I would run to check my email to see if he had found out. I wondered every morning if today would be the day.
Yesterday I woke up and told Kaitlin that I thought today was the day- but I went to check my email and didn't find anything. I was starting to get annoyed with BYU for making me...I mean Taylor... wait for so long to find out. Then this morning (which is yesterday night for my family) I got the email from Taylor. My little brother was accepted to BYU! I feel like such a proud big sister. Taylor came to Utah to visit me for a weekend in my freshman year and we had so much fun. He was thoroughly convinced that BYU is the school for him when he saw the endless amounts of food at the Cannon Center.

I am so excited to have Taylor at BYU with me next year. He knows how to push my buttons better than anyone else. We argue like any brother and sister would. But he is also one of my closest friends. I feel so lucky to have a brother like Taylor. I remember getting so frustrated when he would take the math class I had struggled with two years earlier and say it was "too easy". He excels in school with ease. He is so dedicated to being healthy and staying in shape. He has such a great sense of humor. He loves the gospel and has been an example to me countless times. He'll stay up late talking to me when I come home from school. He lets me drive his truck every once in a while. He goes with me to the grocery store so I don't have to go alone. He notices when I try to take the change out of his truck. He tells me what kind of guy to date. He constantly asks why I'm not married yet so I can have kids before he leaves on his mission (not going to happen). He wants me to get to know his friends and hang out with them when they come over.
One of my fondest memories of Taylor is after I had just gone through a difficult break up. He just sat with me in my room while I cried. I was up for a lot of the night and he didn't leave until I was almost asleep. He just sat there and tried to cheer me up, tried to find something to say. That experience showed me that my little brother loves me and cares about me and what a compassionate person he is. I could see that he hated seeing me upset and wanted to help me feel better. I love my not so little brother.
Congratulations Taylor! I'm proud of you and so excited to have you with me at school next year before your mission- but mostly I'm just excited for free meals at the Cannon Center...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A lot of the reason I love it here....

My mom is always asking about my friends here because I talk about how much I love everyone here so much- so this is for you mom! Every once in a while I'll introduce you to some of my friends at the Jerusalem Center.

Sitting across from me is Danielle Whitehead- she goes to BYU-I. She is a beautiful girl and always pleasantly surprises us. We became close with her when she was Rachel's roommate in Egypt. She is lots of fun and always makes us laugh.
Sitting next to Danielle is Chelsea Jackson. I adore Chelsea- she lives right next door to us so we get to have her over a lot. She always looks for the best in people and loves to make people happy. She is one of the happiest people I have ever met. I try to surround myself with people that make me want to be a better person and Chelsea definitely fits that role. Meet Joshua Benson Steele from Preston, Idaho. Although we met briefly in the airport we didn't really become friends until a few weeks ago. He always has a video camera in his hand- so I'll have him to thank for documenting life in Jerusalem. He has a very sarcastic personality which fits well with me- we tend to argue back and forth but its all out of love.
A.J. from Orem, Utah is one of those people that you just want to hang out with all the time. He has the best facial expressions and is always smiling. I love that I can joke around with him and he'll joke back with me. Very fun person to be with and just an all around good guy.
Donovan has a very playful personality but also knows when its time to work and be serious. He's one of those guys that can do everything- and is currently teaching me how to play the guitar. I'll be pro by the time I get home. (side note-these crepes were one of the best desserts I've ever had)
This is my big brother, Brock, from Bountiful,Utah. He teases me like I'm his sister and always says things to embarrass me- although he says he's just trying to see how I react to uncomfortable situations. I like to give him a hard time and he takes it pretty well- most of the time. He always has words of wisdom to give and is always ready to learn.
I realize most of these people are boys- but I promise I have girl friends too, I just need to get more pictures with them. And you should already know all about my roommates who I talk about all the time.

And a shout out to my family in Disneyland- dad has been emailing me pictures keeping me updated on all the adventures. I'm a little sad I'm missing out on the big family vacation but it looks like everyone is having a great time! I love you guys!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentines day in Jerusalem was amazing. We started the day off with a great field trip. We had the chance to herd some sheep and talked about the significance of ensuring that we had all the sheep with us, just as Jesus Christ will never leave one of his sheep behind.

Then we went to a cistern and talked about all the scenes in the Bible that took place at a well. We talked about the living water that Christ offers to us and how we can partake of it.

Next we headed over to grind up some hyssop! This delicious plant can be used for medicinal purposes but we ground it up to use as a spice- on your eggs, pita, veggies-whatever you want! I hope I can find it in the United States because it is sooo good.

After we finished grinding our hyssop we went to build fires and make pitas. Pita tastes even better when its cooked over the fire.

Jared found this awesome chameleon-the pictures don't even do it justice. It was a lot lighter color when he first caught it.

Our last stop was at a water wheel- a model of where people worked all day to get their water. We each had the chance to run on the water wheel- Kaitlin, Rachel, and I struggled a little but it was a lot of fun. We took it nice and slow after seeing all the other people before us get their foot caught and fall down.

The night ended with an awesome Valentines Day dance in the gym and making Valentines for each other. I got some of the sweetest/funniest Valentines ever. We had a wonderful Valentines day! I also got a letter in the mail from my best friend, Tyson and a wedding announcement from one of my closest friends, Shelby! I'm so excited for her to get married in just a few days now. Congratulations Shelby and Jake! I wish I could be there but I'm excited to see you guys in just a few months. Love you Shelb!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Day!