Monday, April 29, 2013

10 Things I've Learned Working in a Preschool

I've had the wonderful opportunity to work at one of the preschools on campus this year. I loved it and even though I was the teacher, I learned a whole lot from my two and three year olds. This was my last week at the preschool so in honor of that, I thought I'd share with you a few of the things I learned during my time there.

1. You can buy kids at the store. 
    - One little boy drew me a picture and told me to give it to my kids. I replied I didn't have any kids. He thought for a minute and then said "Well... you can get some at the movies. Or you could get some at the store." So keep that in mind.
2. Don't cry over spilled milk.
    - Literally. You'd be crying all through lunch every single day. I can't even tell you how many pints of spilled milk I've cleaned up.
3. Differences don't matter.
    - I had kids in my class from China, the Middle East, India, Russia, and the states. They all spoke               different languages but that didn't matter to them. They still talked to each other and acted just like the best of friends. We got a couple of new students, twins straight from China, and the other kids hardly even noticed. They grabbed the girls' hands and brought them over to play with them. Kids are awesome.
4. Forgive quickly
    - It's amazing how easily and how quickly a child forgives and forgets. It really made me realize how much time I personally have wasted holding grudges and waiting for people to do the right thing before I was willing to forgive them when I could have just been enjoying life.
5. Kids give the most sincere compliments.
    - Working with kids is a major boost to your self-confidence. A day never passed without a compliment from one of the kids and you knew they really meant it because kids are honest. They just say what they think and most of the time, that's a good thing.
6. You can choose to cry or choose to laugh.
    - You know when a little kid falls down and there's that moment of deliberation and you can see it in their eyes that they're deciding if they should cry or laugh it off? I realized we all have that choice in any situation. We can cry or we can laugh and sometimes it's okay to cry. Sometimes that's the right choice. But sometimes we just have to smile and laugh it off because we're stronger than that.
7. Nap time is a war zone.
    - It's a war to get twelve 2 year olds to sit down. And hold still. And be quiet. And maybe fall asleep. It's a war for the teachers not to fall asleep. I mean, do we really have to turn the lights out and play relaxing music?
8. It's impossible to get mad at an adorable smile.
    -But really, when they make some sassy little comment and then look up at you with their adorable little smiles, what are you supposed to do? Oh you committed murder? (smiles an adorable smile) Okay just promise me you won't do it again. Heaven help me if my kids have adorable smiles!
9. Be kind.
   - When a child was sad the kids wouldn't hesitate to give hugs and words of comfort to the one in need. There was one little girl who would cry and cry all day long and the kids would put their hands on her arm and say "It's okay, mama will be back." Remember that most of these kids didn't even speak the same language. Seeing my 2 and 3 year olds do this made me want to strive to be kinder and to not hesitate when I saw someone in need of kind words.
10. Celebrate EVERYTHING!
    - We're going outside. (Jumping up and down screaming yay, yay, yay, yay!) Time to go inside. (Jumping and screaming ensue) Turn off the lights. (Jumping and screaming again) Turn on the lights. (Same thing) Lunch time! (You can probably guess what happened) It didn't matter what we were doing, (as long as it wasn't nap time), the kids got so excited! Even over the most trivial things. There is so much in life to celebrate, so celebrate!

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work at ECEC and I'm definitely gonna miss those cute kids!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Called to Serve

Dear Sister Brown,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Philippines San Pablo Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Tagalog language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president.

Let me tell you how it happened. I put the letter behind the rest of the papers so I couldn't see where I was going to go. But then the paper on top was an application for a U.S. passport. What? I was sure I was going stateside! Then I started reading. After the first line I pulled it up just a little too far and saw San Pablo. It must be Spanish-speaking. Then I saw July 3rd. I changed my availability date from August 1st to July 1st because everyone was getting calls that were a month or 2 after their availability dates. I didn't actually think I'd leave that soon! Then my eyes, which clearly weren't reading this thing in order, went back to the Philippines. Whoa, really? The Philippines? Then I saw tagalog. Um, what? That's definitely not Spanish. This was all happening in a matter of seconds and somehow I managed to actually read it out loud and in order while my eyes and my mind were darting all over the page. There were audible manifestations of surprise and of course, cheers. But then there was this moment where I just stood there. Did that really just happen? Is this real life? The Philippines? Tagalog? And everyone else just sat there too. They were probably thinking the same thing. Finally my mom came and gave me a hug and life continued. We had brownies and ice cream and everyone started googling San Pablo.

Here are the first things I was told prior to opening my call:
"You're going to have to eat a balut (boiled fertilized duck embryo)."
"Mr. Dick went there. He got shot."
"You're probably going to get a parasite."
"The flight there is terrible!"

Comforting, right? And then there were the thoughts that went through my mind throughout the night:

"I don't even know where the Philippines are."
"How do you even say Tagalog?" 
"I've never even been on an airplane! I can't fly half way around the world!"
"Heavenly Father, are you sure you didn't mean to send me somewhere in the states?"
"I'm a little terrified."
"July 3rd is in 2 months. 2 MONTHS!! How am I possibly going to get everything done?"
"I hope there are monkeys there."
"What was I thinking?"
"Do I really have to eat a baby duck?"
"It's going to be alright."

These thoughts continued for a couple of days but always I was comforted by the more important thoughts that were always there: "Heavenly Father called you to the Philippines for a reason. He needs you there and He is going to help you. This is right." I am so excited for the adventure that awaits me! I might be a little nervous, I may never have flown on an airplane, and I may know nothing about Tagalog, but I find comfort in the fact that this is a part of a plan that is much bigger than me and in the fact that my Savior is going to be by my side every step of the way. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to serve our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't wait to get out there and serve the Lord and the wonderful people of the Philippines!

Mahal Kita <3



Brownies and Ice Cream :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Even Pocatello, Idaho

My mission call has been assigned. There is an actual place that I will be going for the next 18 months. This is real life. I am so excited and nervous to see where the Lord would have me serve! I've never been out of the country, so a foreign mission would be way cool! I'm not sure of the church's protocol concerning amputees so it's possible that I will be called to serve in the states for medical reasons, but I've never been to a state that wasn't bordering Utah, so that would probably feel foreign to me too. Everyone always jokes about getting called to Pocatello, Idaho. What if I get called there? That would be sad. I would love to learn Spanish. I've always wanted to go to Italy. One of the new missions would be cool. There are just so many possibilities! These are the thoughts that are going through my mind right now.

But I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and I've come to a conclusion: It doesn't matter. I am not serving a mission for me. I am serving a mission because I want to serve my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am serving a mission because I have been blessed with something that makes me so extremely happy and I want everyone else to know what I know so they can be happy too. I am serving a mission because the Lord wants me to. I am serving a mission because God loves each of His children and He wants them to know that. He wants ALL of them to return to Him. All of them. It has been stated that "This gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." (D&C 133:36) We are all included in that, every single one of us. I'm from Utah, Mormon central, and how many people do I know that have yet to hear this glorious gospel? The answer is a lot, including members of my family and some of my closest friends. 

So you see, it doesn't matter. No matter where I go, there will be people that our Heavenly Father loves more than you or I can even imagine. Even in Pocatello, Idaho. No matter where I go, there will be people who need the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if it's Pocatello, Idaho. No matter where I go there will be people who are searching and "are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (D&C 123:12) The Lord has a work for me to do. It may be in Spain, or Italy, or Australia, or it may be in California or Wisconsin but no matter where I am called, I will be happy. Even if it's Pocatello, Idaho :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Coincidence? I think not.

Meet Avery and Amanda, two of my roommates. They're also my best friends. I went to Family Home Evening once. (I'd like to say that I do that regularly, but unfortunately that just isn't the case). It was the 2nd week of college and I volunteered to drive a few people to the park. Two girls got into my car and I didn't think much of it. We talked a little bit but to be honest, I'm not sure I even remembered their names when the night was through. But fate would have it that Amanda and I would both be on Freshman Council. Fate would also have it that they were going to have an empty room in their suite 2nd semester. Of course I jumped at the chance and now I get to see their lovely faces every single day!

Avery is our small town girl. She just has such a fun personality! Plus she loves country music, which is a hard quality to find these days. There is seriously never a dull moment with this girl. Especially if she stays up past 10pm. That's when it gets really funny :) She is one of the most caring people I know. She is always worrying about a friend, taking someone to dinner, sending a package to a missionary, or doing some random act of kindness. Many a time I've come home to a cute little note or a treat on my desk. Once she even brought me and Amanda a treat and said it was for St. Patrick's Day. Who gives St. Patrick's Day gifts? Leprechauns and Avery, the most thoughtful person on the planet, that's who. She gives the best hugs. If you ever want to have a really good talk, talk to Avery. She's a great listener and a deep thinker. She's strong too. She's had trials in her life that I can't imagine but she always manages to be happy and positive. She is always sharing her light with others and looking for opportunities to share the gospel. She's just plain amazing!

Amanda is from Provo but no worries, she's a true Utes fan. Me and her have a pretty strict pact where we wear sweats all the time and and use Pitch Perfect references to get out of going to the gym when Avery invites us. I'm not implying that we're lazy, we just don't like vertical running ;) She is, in fact, a very hard worker. She works, volunteers, is involved on campus, and gets awesome grades. She is going to make one amazing PA someday! She is kind and is always seeking to do what is right. She is a great example to me and everyone around her. She is always there to give great advice and to unknowingly strengthen my faith when I need it. Her testimony is a shining example of the fabulous young woman she is. She just got her mission call just a couple of weeks ago to the El Salvador Santa Ana/Belize mission. I am so excited for her! She is going to be such an amazing missionary!
Enjoying the view after Priesthood Session ;)
Runnin' Utes Basketball Game
Our "Babe" tattoos at Rock the U
Basically I don't know what I would do without these two. I can tell you that my first year of college definitely wouldn't have been the same. I'm a better me because I met them. Do you think it was a coincidence that the 3 of us showed up at Family Home Evening (once...) and these two got in my car? I don't think so. I had begged Heavenly Father that shy little me would be able to make some new friends and that I wouldn't end up going through Freshman year alone. They were literally an answer to my prayers. I will be forever grateful that of all the people on this great big campus, my Heavenly Father sent me these two. I can't even begin to express to you how grateful I am for them or how much I've grown to love these two girls over the past 9 months. So coincidence? I think not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Thoughts on General Conference

I love General Conference! What a wonderful thing to be inspired and uplifted all while wearing my pajamas! Really though, conference just keeps getting better and better. I've had an ever present smile on my face since the first session began!

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Sunday morning session of conference with my best friends and it was amazing! I can't even properly convey to you the things that I felt. Watching thousands of people fill the conference center filled me with joy and wonder. They knew what I knew. They had the truth of the gospel. There was a visible light and an air of happiness all around downtown and you just couldn't help but feel the happiness that comes only from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every word that was spoken in this glorious conference was inspired and was no doubt the answer to a heartfelt prayer. Many of the words spoken were answers to my own prayers. There were so many great talks that I couldn't possibly pick one. So here are a few of my favorite quotes from all of the talks.

"The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf 
"In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited." - Jeffrey R. Holland 
"Stay on the Lord's side and you will win EVERY TIME." - Richard G. Scott
"Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to him but he deals with it. So should we." - Jeffrey R. Holland
"Recognize the good in others and not their stains." - Richard G. Scott
"She understood who she was, and whose she was." - Elaine S. Dalton 
"We need to bear in mind that people can change... We must learn to see them as the Lord sees them." - Richard G. Scott
"The Lord wants to forgive." - Craig A. Cardon 
"Friendship is like the asphalt of life. It fills the potholes and makes the journey smoother." - Richard G. Scott  
"You can depend on the Lord to draw closer to them as you serve Him in faith." - Henry B. Eyring 
"Trust in the Lord and His timing." - Richard G. Scott 
"Heavenly Father has shown us not just a way, but the way." - Stanley G. Ellis 
"Catch the wave of missionary work." - Russell M. Nelson
"Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other." - Rosemary M. Wixom
"With Christ, darkness cannot succeed." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf  
If you didn't get the chance to watch all 4 sessions of conference I encourage you to watch it! Chances are you will find the answers to your own questions in the words that are spoken, the hymns that are sung, or simply in the whisperings of the spirit. You can watch or listen to the full conference here.

I know that my Redeemer lives and that He loves me. I know that President Monson truly is a prophet of God. I know with all of my heart that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me more than I could ever comprehend. I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to hear the words of the prophet every 6 months and I'll be counting down the days until I get to hear them again!

Friday, April 5, 2013

6 Tips For Listening to General Conference

The 183rd Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is this weekend and I am so excited! Six months is too long! I can honestly say I've been looking forward to it for the entire six months. That hasn't always been the case though. Sitting down and dedicating 8 hours, 10 if you're a guy, of your weekend to listening to some elderly gentleman speak, no matter how wonderful they may be, isn't a very exciting prospect for a lot of people. Since I know it can be kind of difficult to want to sit down and listen to conference I thought I'd share a few things that you can do to make it a little more meaningful.

1) Be well rested.
     - When you're tired it's a lot harder to pay attention and you are less receptive to the whisperings of the spirit.

2) Take notes.
     - Taking notes forces you to really listen to the speakers and it also gives you something to go back and look at when you need a little uplifting.

3) Fight the temptation to lay down. Watch conference sitting up.
     - We all know the voices of those wonderful men are like lullabies and if you close your eyes you'll be a goner!

4) Write down any questions you have or things that you've been struggling with beforehand
     - This is probably my favorite thing to do because I know it works. One by one you will hear the answers to your questions, either through the words that are being spoken, the whisperings of the spirit, or through the thoughts that come to your mind.

5) Make it a game.
     - Look to see what color of tie the speakers are wearing. Every time the speaker says a certain word, everyone gets a piece of candy. Play Conference Bingo.You can find any number of games and activities on Google or Pinterest that make watching conference fun!

6) Remember who is speaking
    - If you were told God himself would be one of the speakers, you would definitely make time to listen, really listen to what He had to say. God is speaking through these men and women. You don't want to miss what He has to say!

I know weekends are busy and you might miss a session. Don't worry! You can watch the whole thing on I love General Conference and I can't wait to watch it tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life

October 6, 2012. The day that changed my life and the lives of so many others.

That beautiful Saturday morning I sat down to watch the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had written down a few questions hoping to hear an answer in one of the sessions. Among these questions was should I serve a mission? It was written as an after thought. I mean, I couldn't even go until I was 21 and that was 3 years away! Then this happened.

I was so excited that I was laughing and crying at the same time and my roommates surely thought I had lost it. For some, this announcement alone was their answer. I'm a little more stubborn. I knew that I wanted to go, but I needed to know that I was supposed to.

And so it began. I fasted and prayed, I studied the scriptures, I started going to the temple more often. I read every talk about missionary work known to man, and watched every mission-related video on the internet (this is where the addiction to mission call videos started). I even signed up for mission prep! But no matter how hard I tried, I just didn't feel like I was getting an answer.

After 3 months I decided to talk to my bishop. He gave me a copy of Preach My Gospel and a Missionary Handbook and advised me to continue doing all of the things I was already doing. He told me that I was choosing between 2 good things: education and a mission. Heavenly Father wasn't going to tell me what to do. I had to make a decision and ask Him if it was right. Maybe both of them were right and it was going to be up to me. I can't say I loved that idea at the time. I was also given a priesthood blessing in which I was promised that if I studied it out and made a decision and then fasted about it, I would receive a sure answer, and here's the life-changing advice, I was told that once I had made the decision and received an answer, I should stick to it and not look back, just keep going.

I left that meeting confident that I would receive my answer and that it would be something that I could not deny. I think I was expecting something like a vision or a pillar of fire or maybe a nice email from God himself telling me whether I should or should not serve a mission. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Rather the answer came piece by piece, through some advice from a friend, inspired words in sacrament meeting, a perfect scripture every now and then, the death of a loved one who never had the gospel, and feeling the love of God in any number of instances in my life.

I still wasn't completely sure it was right when I finally started my papers almost 2 months after talking to my bishop, but as I've been preparing to serve I have truly come to know that this is what I am supposed to do. I don't think that Heavenly Father would have minded if I stayed at the University, but He definitely doesn't mind if I go out and teach the gospel to some of his children either. I want everyone to feel the joy and the peace that I feel. I want them to know that they have a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior who atoned for their sins and who knows exactly what they're going through. I want them to know what I know. I have had my doubts, believe me. But every time I think that I might be going down the wrong path I hear the words of my bishop, "Stick to it and don't look back. Just keep going." And so I do.

P.S. My papers will hopefully go in this Sunday! YAY!!!