Look Around

I'm definitely continually humbled by the circumstances of my mission.

You wouldn't think it. 
I've lived in some of the richest counties in America. I didn't get sent to some third world country suffering from plagues and starvation and malnutrition. Without technology and fancy gadgets and things like some missionaries. 
Yet I'm still humbled.

I sat in the back row of the church pews and looked over the people I've met and the stories I've heard them tell. Their hurts, trials, pains, sorrows and griefs. I looked around me and saw red cheeks, shadowed eyes. Jeans and baseball tee shirts. Different ethnicity's, races, backgrounds. Split families, no families, part families, full families. Some were there alone, some were there with groups. Some had been coming for years, some for the first time. Some people covered up there heartache, some made it very apparent.

Everyone facing their own challenges. Everyone fighting their own, personal battles. 

I looked around at so many humbled people. Worn out, broken spirited. Sitting in the pews. Many of them looked like they barely made it here at all. And I wondered what brought them here? 

I remembered back going to church at home. I like many others would wake up early and take my sweet time in a nice hot bathtub, curling my hair, plastering makeup on my face, sorting through hundreds of dollars of clothing and pretty dresses. I would find the biggest heels I could manage and walk into the church ready for a fashion show. As I looked around I would check out everyone's latest styles. Many people did the same thing... came to Sunday services for a social event.  Not prepared in the least for a spiritual uplift or renewal. I remember looking around at church and wondering what brought them here? What brought me here?

As I made the two comparisons this week I was completely humbled. For nineteen years I've got up in the morning annoyed and inconvenienced at the thought of church. Now I look around and just watch people in awe. I know so many of them and how they got here and why they are choosing to spend their time here. They come ready, prepared to find something more. To feel at peace. To reconcile themselves with God. To mend their broken spirits. To take something away to get them through the rest of the week. 
What on earth was I doing at church for nineteen years?

Don't take your church experience for granted.  
Make it what it's supposed to be.

Something we have been challenging people to do lately is to take an index card. And write down three prompts. 

One... What did you do good this week. 
Think back on your week and find something you did good, and keep doing it! Just one thing. 

Two.... What do you need to improve this week? 
Think about one thing you... yourself feel you need improvement on.  Whether it's a Christlike attribute like being patient, virtuous, charitable or something like reading scriptures, saying prayers etc. Just one thing though. 

And three... Write down something you want to learn from church that week. And seek your own personal revelation and inspiration. It's helped me immensely to get more out of church. 

Ft. Belvoir is interesting. 
I've enjoyed it. We are teaching this family on base and I was talking about how my brothers got guns for Christmas and he got all excited and wanted to show me his arsenal and told me to send them a picture of it. So Here YA go. If there is ever an apocalypse I've made some great friends with great toys I'm going to move in with. Props for Ft. Belvoir! #america

We were asked to present at a Zone Conference at the beginning of the week and it went pretty good. I was nervous because who wants to practice teach in front of President and thirty other missionaries? But it happened and I'm still alive so that's great news. 

Today we are going to explore the City and check out some sights in Alexandria, Arlington and Mt. Vernon areas. So hopefully I'll have more pictures next week. The church buildings here are really cool. In that picture in front of the church in the red cardigan? I totally got that cardigan at Target for $1.96.  What a steal right? I was pretty excited. I found some pretty cute stuff last week.

My companion is awesome.  She cracks me up. She goes home in April. I'm hoping we will stay here for two transfers and then I'll send her home. But then I'm kind of nervous because I'll have two whole transfers after that and idk who my companion will be or where I'll be. I imagine I'll finish out here in Belvoir.  Which would be nice. I can't believe I only have three transfers left. My companion has a boyfriend too so we talk about marriage and post mission life. I'm so excited. And nervous. I'm totally freaked out to see people again. 
I feel so far off in my own world.

We are on this huge health kick. We talked to this vegan lady for hours and got a bunch of tips. I'm not a huge meat Fan but I'll eat it if it's served to me at members home. I'm trying to cut back on dairy too. I hardly eat any dairy except cheese on sandwiches really. Our fridge is full of fruits and vegetables. And we workout every morning. So if you want to send food stuff send like dried fruit or nuts or trail mix or granola bars or something. 

I would love to hear from Dylan and Ethan! It's been a while. Also is Dads post up yet? 

Tell Grandma T. thanks for the Ross gift card. It was handy :)

When we come back to visit Virginia one day... I want to spend a Sunday in this area because you guys have to see this church building and come to church here. It's awesome. I think it would be fun to come back the week of the Fourth of July. I have a list of places we need to go see and what not. I also want to hit up New York. 

Anyhow how are things back at home?
Keep looking for good buys on cars and good jobs for me.
I'm going to need it soon!

I've been thinking about a lot of heavy stuff lately! 

I was thinking back on the lives of all these different people in my life and the paths that some are headed down. Some have Great plans ahead of them, some do not. Some seem to be living the high life, some do not. Some are super happy with where they are right now in life, some are not.

And I thought about what it would be like to be some of these people. Like have you ever taken a second out of your life and put yourself in another individuals shoes? It's interesting. Thinking about the fact that we only get one life... and everyone's is different. And some of us make the best of it all... and some do not.

But why not?

I think maybe... a lot of times it could be fear, or pride, or regret or guilt that holds us back. Mistakes we have made. Our past. Our labels. How others view us. What we think our own potential is. But who are we really?

I got this Christian rock CD from Spencer that people listen to on missions. It's pretty good, totally christian rock. As I was listening to it I thought one particular song was interesting. It had this line of lyrics that said:

"you are not your mistakes. You have been remade."

Every day we wake up is a new chance to start over 
and be who we want to be. 
Our mistakes, 
our limitations, 
our weaknesses do not define us. 

Through the grace of Jesus Christ we have been remade. Not once or twice but over and over again. Every time we fall short we can be put back on our feet.

I really love missions because literally nobody knows you... so you can be whoever you want to be. You can start over every transfer and not let your past define you. But then again, life should be the same way. Who cares what man thinks. If you want to change, 
Don't let pride, stubbornness, past failures 
and especially other people stand in your way of becoming.

If you want to be creative, be creative!
If you want to be pretty, be pretty!
If you want to be happy, be happy!
If you want to be awesome, be awesome!

"We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? Your playing small does not serve 
the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It's not just within some of us, it's in everyone." 
Marianne Williamson

You mean something.
Don't let your past define you.


Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, 
that all men might repent and come unto him."
D&C 18:10-11

You're not your mistakes, 
or your weaknesses 
or your short comings 
or your limitations 
or your past

you've been remade
embrace it

Sister Madison Paige Stucki
Sent from my iPad

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