UA-114812973-16 Well Rounded: May 2014

Whatever You Are.....

I'm going to write a little bit about Sydney tonight. I promise I won't gush too much. But he has taught me an amazing lesson over the past three and a half months, actually he has taught me this lesson since I met him but tonight we are sticking to his time on a mission.

Sydney is serving in the Mexico City East Mission and is currently in an area that is very poor and not very clean. Well his second week in Mexico he came down with appendicitis and had to have his appendix removed. Then about two weeks later he got a stomach infection and then about three weeks later he got an intestine infection. Visiting the hospital three times during all of this. And on top of all of these health problems he is in a brand new country, he is learning a new language and missing home. I know I'm not the most descriptive writer but I hope I've painted a good picture of what he was going through. I think through out all of this he complained to me twice, maybe.

After the appendix surgery.

Now what does "whatever you are, be a good one"have to do with not complaining? Sydney has this philosophy if he is going to do something, he is going to do it! I remember on my mission when the pain was really bad I'd talk about maybe going home in moments of weakness. But all Sydney has ever said in the two times he has complained was that it was hard, but that he was doing his best to get better. He could have easily asked to come home to get better, or complained to me, his girlfriend who would understand being a sick missionary. But now he just talked about wanting to get better so he can be the best missionary he can be. Each week as he writes me I feel how happy he is through his words despite the struggles that he is having. He knows during this time his calling is to be a missionary and so he figures even though he keeps getting sick and could make all the excuses in the world to not work hard, he is going to keep going. He is going to be a good missionary.

Soccer with the other Elders. Look how happy he is!

Not only am I in love with this amazing man but I am learning new things from him all the time. He is living Abraham Lincoln's wise words. So as I realized what example he was setting for me I decided it was time for me to bloom where I was planted and be the best I can be. Even though sometimes I may not be happy with where I am or what I'm doing it is important to be present and do the best I can. I've been practicing this just the past few days and man I've seen such a difference. Yes I'm exhausted and sometimes I don't get everything done I need to, but I feel fulfilled. It is a good exhaustion. I know that I'm living in the present and I feel at peace. So guys "whatever you are, be a good one".

I'm going to succeed gloriously....

So last night I had dream after dream after dream of different things in my life completely failing. And when I say failing I mean crash and burn. Can you tell I'm under a little bit of stress right now? Work is really crazy. We're getting ready for two big events and guess what I'm the Event Coordinator so that means double time for me. And then on top of it my pre-planned relaxing trip to Portland for a long Memorial Day weekend had to be rescheduled. So it is safe to say my weekend started off pretty rough. On Friday I was hit with this overwhelming desire to follow my dreams but with no idea on how to make any of them happen. The desire to travel the world, to have my own family, to work with youth and make my mark in this world. So between that and the stress from work I was feeling pretty down, like I was going to fail at everything and I felt stuck. The feeling continued through till Sunday.

I went to church like always still not knowing what to do. As I was sitting with some of the other young women leaders one of them mentioned what our class was going to be on, personal revelation, and suggested that maybe the reason I needed to stay home from Portland was for the lesson. I laughed and said maybe. Then as I was sitting in the class with the other young women we were talking about receiving personal revelation for ourselves as well as making decisions. A quote came to my mind that I thought would be good for the girls to hear.

Today I was emailing back and forth with Sydney (Monday's are their email days) and he was giving me a fantastic pep talk. Telling me how much he believed in me, that I could do anything I put my mind to and all that good cheesy stuff that I love hearing from him. But as we were emailing I remembered that quote from yesterday. I realized I needed to remember that in my life and not just expect my young women to remember it. Sydney believes in me, my family believes in me, my Heavenly Father believes in me but sometimes I don't believe in myself. 

Yes I may not know right now how in the world I'm going to live my dreams, do all that I want to do and become unstuck but I do know that eventually I will. As I keep pushing forward and remember that I was put on earth to "succeed gloriously" I will be able to conquer all. Sydney reminded me that it is all about baby steps, and boy is he right. I think each of us, well at least I know I do, try to take these giant steps because I want results right away and if I can't get them I feel like a failure. But as I learn each time I do this I am more likely to succeed and grow when I take baby steps towards my dreams. It might take longer but I learn a whole lot more. A friend reminded me last week that our Heavenly Father can't steer a parked car. So it is time I get up and move, even if I'm just barely inching along. Because I am going to succeed gloriously! (And so are you)

What Matters Most

A friend got me thinking recently about what matters most to me. When he asked me I thought it was a simple answer: My religion, my family and Sydney. Probably cliche answers, but I'm okay with it. Then he asked why. That question gets me every time. With Sydney being gone for two years and not having to worry about dating it has really forced me to focus on myself. I can honestly say in the three months that he has been gone those three things have risen up even higher in importance. But why?

Why is my religion so important to me? I like to think the answer is simple: It gives me joy. Not just happiness, but pure joy. It gives me purpose.  And it fills me with peace. I'm one of those people who if I don't know why I'm doing something it is really hard to motivate me. But, most importantly, I know that it is true. As anyone who has ever heard me really talk about my faith they have heard me say that it is the one thing that is always constant in my life. It is the one thing that will never change. The only thing about it that will change is that my love for it will grow more and more. My religion is why I am the way I am. It is the reason I know who I am, it is the reason I don't have to wander through life without any direction or hope. It is everything to me. 

My family. I have been blessed with an amazing, big family. I'm the youngest of six kids, who all have been married and each have at least one child. Then there are my parents. I could do a whole blog post on how great they are. They have taken care of me even when they didn't have to, loved me when I didn't deserve it and raised me with me confidence, a good moral compass and love. They taught me to ask questions, find answers for myself. They taught me to love everyone, even if they don't love you back. They taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they taught me to love it. And they taught me to love life, to laugh and be happy. And most importantly my family matters so much to me because I know I will be with them forever and for that I am so grateful. 
Two grandkids not yet born and one in-law missing. April 2013

I hate being that girl who writes sappy things about her boyfriend but I find it important to talk about how Sydney can matter even more to me, even though we are 2,868 miles apart and only communicating by email and letters. Most people say long distance is too hard. And I agree with those people. But this long distance is different. We are growing closer because we are united in our cause and purpose. I, 110%, support Sydney in his decision to go on a mission. Yes it is so hard being apart from each other but the growth he is experiencing makes me love him more. And as I read about his experiences and what he is learning it makes me want to grow also. I think an important trait of a good relationship is that your significant other makes you want to be your best self. And most importantly knowing that he is out sharing the one thing that I love most in my life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowing he is giving other people the chance to feel the same peace, joy and purpose that I have makes me love him more. But why? Because for the first time in my life he is the one who gives me the desire to be my best self, who has broken down my wall of independence, who has cared for me in a way I didn't know someone could, who has shared my dreams and desires and supports every last one of them, makes me laugh, and loves me for exactly who I am.
Like I said...for exactly who I am. December 2013

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing the things that matter most to me all tie together. I wouldn't have as strong of a relationship with my family if it wasn't for my faith, and I wouldn't have my faith if it wasn't for my parents and finally I wouldn't know Sydney or have the strong relationship I have with him. I'm grateful that my friend got me thinking about this because it has helped me evaluate what matters to me and how I need to be doing more to treasure and care for these things. What matters the most to you? But most importantly why does it matter so much? I challenge you to figure that out. Knowing the "why" can make all the difference. 

The Long Yet Very Short Road Home

I know this blog was meant to be a record of my current adventures and experiences but many of you requested a more detailed version of my coming home from my mission and how I dealt with it. Excuse the length, a lot happened over a short time. Where do I begin....

So like I said previously, I was told I was going home and I just started crying. I was given 24-hour notice. Not a lot of time to adjust or prepare to go home. My companion, Sister Clegg, and I did our best to still work hard that day and get me all packed up. When Sister Clegg and I said our final goodbyes we cried on each others shoulders, and she told me to get back better and back to her as soon as I could. Now if you aren't familiar with how a mormon mission works missionaries are always in twos. And you and your companion are always together. Because of this you really grow close. And not only do you grow close as friends but you grow close on a deeper level because you are serving and going through trials together. Sister Clegg and I had become best friends.

Okay back to the story... I flew home and as I was walking through security I saw my parents and I started crying. I think it may be the only time in my life I've cried tears of sadness when I saw my parents. Not because I didn't love them but because I wanted to be back on my mission. Coming home wasn't as hard as I thought it would be but that isn't because I wasn't in a hard situation, it was because the Lord still had a work for me to do. I still had a purpose outside of the many many doctor appointments. As I mentioned in the previous post I was called to teach a class for all those preparing to serve a mission as well as work with the young woman in our church. I poured everything I had into those callings but still lived day to day as if I could return at anytime.

My first group of mission prep students.

Now if you are a member of the LDS faith or not something to be known is that it isn't easy for a missionary to come home before his or her previously set return date. Look at it this way. As missionaries we prepare ourselves in every way possible. Physically, mentally and spiritually to go and serve for 18 months or two years. We quit our jobs, put school on hold, tell our loved ones goodbye, all so we can go out and share something that we love so much with others, and then you're told you won't be finishing it. Now it isn't like they were sending me home for bad behavior but I still had moments where I felt rejected and unwanted. But that was not the case at all. Looking back now I know the Lord had a new plan for me. I know he meant for me to come home and have the experiences I had here.

So I was home and for four months I lived in limbo. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Outside of my classes that I taught I had no real purpose. I couldn't get a job due to the severity of my headaches, all of my friends were back in Utah (where I was living previous to my mission), and on top of that there weren't many people in my area my age that I knew. I've had many people ask how did you come out of this situation on top and so positive. First let me tell you I wasn't always positive. I definitely had my low moments, or as my mom calls them, fetal position moments, where I didn't get why I was going through this and let me tell you I wasn't proud of those moments. I had moments where I felt like a complete and total failure. I couldn't even finish 18 months, how was I supposed to ever do anything else hard in my life! But I'll get to the did I come out on top.

I came out on top because on my mission I gained a deep love for my Savior and the Atonement, and learned that He has a plan for me, and that His plan was always better then mine. As I remembered that or was reminded of that during the low moments I was able to rise back up and push forward. I worked hard to remember that so I would have less low moments. I knew how I reacted to coming home from my mission was going to define the rest of my life and I wasn't about to let it ruin it. I promised myself that I wouldn't go back to who I was before my mission, that I wouldn't forget about all I learned in those few short months, and that I'd always remember Christ. I made sure I did the important things daily. I read my Book of Mormon every single day. When feelings of anger or thoughts of self-loathing came into my mind I reminded myself of what opportunities I was having because I was home that I never would have had elsewhere. Now I didn't do all of this alone. I had/have a great support team. I have a fantastic family that was very supportive and most importantly I had a mother who stood by me every step of the way. Who helped me through the low moments and was happy with me during the high moments. She never gave up on me. And then I had Jesus Christ. I felt His love on a daily basis. I felt it through my students, through my family and through the many blessings He brought into my life over the past sixteen months that I have been home. And many have also asked me about my headaches. No they are not gone. I always have a headache and have migraines on a regular basis. But you know the Lord has given me some serious strength so I can get on with my life until we find a solution to them.

So that is me, that is my story. If you are a missionary who came home early or anyone who overcame the odds during something really hard I'd love to hear your experience. If you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear from you. I feel so blessed and honored by the response I received from my first post. Thank you for joining with me on this journey.

Sister Clegg and I at the Columbia River Temple

Welcome to my Journey.

My name is Sierra and I'm living a life I never could have imagined, and for that I am grateful. I've always been a planner when it came to my life but all that changed May 2012. I had just graduated from BYU-Idaho and was living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I loved my life. I had great roommates, great friends and life was an adventure. But then I got an answer that it was time for me to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It wasn't part of my plan and after two months of struggling with this choice I decided it was time and submitted my papers.

 I was called on July 25, 2012 to serve in the Washington Kennewick Mission. Now this came as a bit of a shock to me because I was from Olympia Washington, but nonetheless I was excited. I was excited to serve the Lord and become one of His missionaries. I entered the MTC on October 10, 2012. About a month into my mission I started having daily migraines that made life as a missionary really difficult. After a month of doctor appointments, phone calls home, meetings with my mission president I decided I was done. Not done with my mission but done with letting my headaches be a hindrance in my life. I told my mission president I had accepted that I may have daily migraines for the rest of my life and that he wouldn't hear from me about them again. Three days later he called to tell me that they had decided to send me home for medical treatment and as soon as it was figured out I could come home. I was devastated. Once again there went my plans. I went home on January 19, 2013 with no idea what the future held for me but something inside of me knew everything would be okay.

Fast forward five months and we still hadn't found out the cause of my headaches. But the five months hadn't been wasted. I had been called as the Stake Mission Prep teacher, which helps prepare anyone in our area prepare to serve a mission. As well as a Beehive Adviser in the Young Woman program that our church has. Both callings were very humbling and I learned so much. I found I was still serving a mission. In the end of May my leaders and I decided it was time to move on and be officially released from my mission. It was bittersweet. I was excited to move on with my life and see what the future held next but I was scared because I had been holding on to my mission for so long. But the next week everything changed......

I met Sydney Easter. To avoid telling you the long detailed story I'll sum it up the best I can. Sydney and I were from the same ward. He moved in when he was 10 and I was 14. Yes you read that right, I'm older then him. Because I was older then him we never interacted let alone spoke two words to each other. The weekend I met him he was home from Boston for his brothers high school graduation and his dad convinced him to text me, much to my surprise. In fact when I got the text from him I had no idea who "Sydney" was. Finally I figured it out and agreed to doing something with him. I wanted it to be a short lunch or movie to avoid too much awkwardness. Well the lunch turned into a whole weekend of fun together and then he headed back to Boston. I figured we'd stay in touch and become good friends. Before I knew it we were talking every single day and he had planned another trip home six weeks later. The week before his visit home he surprised me with the news that he was moving home. He said it was time. Long story short we started officially dating in August 2013 and were inseparable, something I have never been in a relationship. He received his mission call a month later to the Mexico City East Mission leaving February 5, 2014. A long wait but it was the exact amount of time we needed. I grew to love him in a way I had only heard stories about and seen in movies. Waiting for a missionary was always a crazy idea to me and something I never planned on doing. Once again my planning was out the window. But I don't think of it as waiting. I think of it as living, growing, serving, loving, crying, laughing and preparing for our future. He has been gone for a little over three months and it has been an amazing journey so far. While he is serving the Lord in Mexico City, I am working as an Event Coordinator in Lacey Washington looking for my own personal adventures and opportunities for growth. I don't know if anyone will ever read this blog but I'm starting it with the sole purpose of recording our experiences and growth so that Sydney can read it when he comes home. But if I do have readers welcome to our two year journey of joy and struggles!

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