Decision Making, LDS Mission, Personal Revelation, Spiritual

Special Changes

On Tuesday we had our weekly district meeting. It was AMAZING! The district leaders did SUCH a good job, I was so proud of them. I walked out of that reunion totally edified and motivated and with plenty of FUEGO EN LOS HUESOS!Mexico City East Mission inside joke. Google translate it if you like :)

The downside of that meeting? I was informed that I had to report to the Mexico City Visitor Center on Thursday at noon. At first I really thought the district leader was pulling my leg (he’s quite the prankster)… but it was no joke. He was totally serious. I was like WHAT? My first thought was, Oh my goodness, is my visa FINALLY here? But, after calling the president we found out it wasn’t that. A sister missionary had to go home due to health problems and special changes were taking place.

My second thought was, But why me!? I just got here!

I had only been in the field for two weeks! I was just getting the hang of it! Were they really gonna take me away form my “mom” after TWO measly weeks!?! But the biggest bummer of them all was; three of our investigators were getting baptized that very weekend! My very first baptisms, and I was gonna miss them? No way!

Let me tell you, there were cloudy skies in me that day.

But then I read a very special scripture that reminded me that God works and speaks through his prophets. And just like my calling to serve as a missionary came from the prophet, so did my mission president’s calling come from him as well. Which meant he was called by God to preside over this mission and to direct the missionary work in this area. And if he felt I had to leave beautiful Tecamac and go serve in the Mexico City temple Visitor center… then that was an inspired decision.

It still wasn’t easy. But I was determined to have a cheerful heart.

I came to the VisitorCenterand it was SO different from being out on the Field. I couldn’t really find where I fit in with all the other sisters and I could feel my moral slowly decreasing. But on Saturday things started to turn around. And on Sunday things really shifted for me and I know it was thanks to my Heavenly Father. 

Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.
I had a wonderful personal study Sunday morning. I prayed to know what to study and I was truly guided by the spirit. I felt I should read in Nephi, and I opened up to chapter 16 where it tells the story about when Nephi’s bow breaks and how his whole family begins to murmur and complain and ask WHY were they being put under such circumstances. And it hit me that instead of being like Nephi, and having faith in the Lord and his ways, I was being like Nephi’s family… complaining and murmuring and asking WHY this and Why that. 
All I could think was… how dumb of his family. How could they only focus on the “bad” and not see that they were so blessed by the Lord! They were on this marvelous ADVENTURE! It was an adventure like no other, filled with miracles and blessings… they saw angels, heard the Lord’s voice… they even had a magic compass! And I realized that I am on a marvelous adventure as well. And my adventure is also taking me into uncharted territory, places I never thought I would go! And it’s also filled with miracles and blessings… and I too have a magic compass! The Book of Mormon! :)
I know that the Lord allowed Nephi’s Bow to break because he had something to teach him and his family. And in that same way, I know I am here for that same reason… because I have something to learn. And on Saturday, as we welcomed over 600 people to the Visitor center, and gave more tours than I can recall… as I had the opportunity to work alongside the other sisters, I realized that I have so much to learn from them. And I’m very VERY happy to be here!

Did I mention I live right next to the temple now?

How awesome is that?

Decision Making, Emotions, Fasting, Liquid Fasting

Retractions and other things

Today is day 5 and I am still to experience “Euphoria” as a result of fasting. I’m starting to think whoever said that quote was stretching it a bit too far. But, I definitely don’t feel like crap, so that is a plus!

Last night I spoke on the phone with my dad after he finally caught up on reading my blog and he gave me some bad news. Apparently, when he fasted, he never included animal broths, just vegetable ones. He explained why he thinks vegetable based broths are the better option and though I am not about to repeat his extensive list of reasons (something about vegetable fat and animal fat differing in the sense that the latter sticks and clings to the inner walls of your intestines), I’ll just say it was enough to convince me to plead my allegiance to veggie broths only! Too bad this call took place literally 5 minutes after I had finished making a liter of chicken bone broth. Great!

On the bright side, he gave me lots of good ideas for tasty broths. Example number one; bean broth (no idea if that’s even what you call it). In Mexican cuisine this is a staple, it’s called Frijoles a la hoja. You take 2 liters of water, 2 cups of black beans, 2 big onions, some garlic, as much cilantro as you want, and a tbs. of olive oil (my grandma says it helps so that the beans don’t make you gassy!). You stick it all in a pot and few hours later you have something extremely delicious! Of course, I’ll only be taking the liquid and discarding the actual beans. But let me tell you. Its great for adding a little variety during a liquid fast!

So, with my first week soon coming to an end, I’ve begun looking to the future and toward the other things I want to accomplish with my fast.

Before beginning this fast, while I was still in the planning phase, I did some reading on the mental and spiritual aspect of a fast. And how a detoxification is not limited to the physical aspect, but can be applied mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is something that really interested and appealed to me.

Some books talked about retreating into nature during your fast. They encouraged getting away from modern worldly distraction such as television, e-mail, Facebook, cellphones, etc. Great emphasis was placed on evaluating the influences in your life and determining whether they be positive or negative influences. Then of course, eliminating any negative influences around you.

Mentioned was also how beneficial emotional purging could be and how it would be a good idea to use this time to try and work through any unresolved issues you may have. Mediation was a big part of this. So was journal writing. Of course, all of this being used as a means to an end. The end in this case being the efficient use of this time to clear out the junk inside of you–the mental and emotional junk we’ve allowed to accumulate inside us.

I really wanted to dedicate some time to this, but I wanted to be careful to not bite off more than I could chew right of the bat. This was my first long term fast and I had no idea how I would hold up. My first priority was to get through it! And if, along the way, I felt strong enough to incorporate some other goals, then great! But I wanted to be careful. I didn’t want to get fast-happy by letting go of too many things at once because it might turn out to be a little too much, a little too soon for me.

I’m a firm believer in baby steps. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

I managed to make it through the pre-fast phase where I successfully let go of my “normal” day-to-day diet. Awesome! I’m about to make it through the second week, where I successfully gave up all solid food. Yay! And my spirits are still high. What does that mean? It means I’m feeling ready to turn things up a notch :)

So this is what I am thinking for next week.

Number 1. Goodbye Facebook! That’s for sure. It’s great for staying in touch with friends and family, especially for a little world traveler like me who has loved ones in every time zone. BUT, after careful consideration, I’ve come to this conclusion; in a few weeks (hopefully) I will finally be leaving on my mission. And once that happens, there will be no “me” in my vocabulary. The next 18 months will not be about me, they will be about the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything I do will be on the Lord’s time, not mine. Nevertheless, the time I have right now, is for me. And I need to make the best of it by using it for me and for my benefit and betterment. Who knows if I’ll ever be in this situation again. So I gotta do it right while I can.

So as selfish and weird as this may sound, I’m taking my time back, and at least for now, I’m not spending it on others, I’m spending it on me. If anyone really needs me, they can always pick up the phone :)

Number 2. Television. ugh. Some of the stuff I watch is definite JUNK. I know that. And that’s what I want to eliminate. I really want to put into practice the 13th article of faith; We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

That’s what I want to achieve. Anything that comes in through my ears or my eyes, I want it to fall under those guidelines and right now, I know that a lot of the things I spend my time watching and listening to, do not.

As far as unresolved issues go… well, I got on that wagon as soon as I left Sweden. I won’t go into any details here, but let me just say this; I’ve been working on resolving and simplifying all of my relationships. Getting rid of loose ends and unfinished chapters in my life is a big part of this. Clousure is a good thing. And I think I’m finally getting some when it comes to lots of things. I know… I’m talking cryptically. Sorry. That’s all I’m willing to say on the subject. At least for now.

So… there you have it folks, those are the goals for next week. Let’s hope I don’t crack under the pressure :)

Decision Making, Mormon, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Spiritual

There is always a reason.

The peace that comes from the Spirit is often more
recognizable when it comes in juxtaposition to a
period of struggle and uncertainty. Perhaps the
work and struggle on our part to study and ponder
before receiving an answer is necessary because it
makes the difference between our feelings of
uncertainty and the feelings of peace offered by the
Spirit distinct enough to be recognizable.

Receiving and Recognizing the Holy Ghost
James P. Porter
22 March 2011

As I have mentioned before, I’ve recently found myself with quite a bit of time on my hands. In an effort to ensure I don’t allow these days to drift by in an aimless manner, I decided to jot down a list of activities I want to engage in on a daily basis. You know… to make sure I don’t wake up one day and realize the only thing I’ve done for the past week is watch episodes of House :P

One of the activities on my To-do list is aimed at keeping up my spirituality by listening to a General Conference talk, CES fireside or BYU devotional on a daily basis.

I especially enjoy listening to the “New BYU talks” podcast on iTunes, not only because they’re each only about 30 minutes long, but because they offer an extremely wide range of topics to choose from and are always aimed at YSAs (Young Single Adults).

The amazing quote mentioned above was taken from a BYU devotional I downloaded from this podcast. I seriously recommend it to anyone and everyone, regardless of age and life situation. If you don’t want to Podcast it, you can also download the PDF file here.

Do it! It’s awesome :)

This talk is honestly one of the greatest ones I’ve ever heard on this topic. Which in my opinion, is a topic we could always use a little more edification on. The whole talk was incredible, but I especially liked the aforementioned quote because it really hit home.

As soon as I heard him say those words, I though, I know exactly what he’s referring to. It was one of those “been there, done that” moments. The only difference was that I had never thought of it in the same context as he was presenting it.

I remember how hard my Senior year of college had been. It had definitely been a period of struggle and uncertainty, to say the least. And it didn’t make it any easier that no matter how much I prayed, pondered and studied the problem out in my head… I simply did not receive the answer I was so desperately looking for. Actually… I didn’t receive an answer period! Not even the slightest hint of one.

All I could do was tell myself to hold on, have faith, and trust that if the answers weren’t coming, it was because I wasn’t ready. Or because I was meant to figure this one out on my own.

But Elder Porter, with these couple of sentences, shone a different light on that period of time. I never once considered the possibility that this time of “radio silence” was necessary for me to be able to fully hear the quiet prompting of the spirit when they finally did come.

And now, it makes total sense. Our Heavenly Father is eternally wise. I can see why he chose to play things out the way he did. I look back and can accept that, had I received the prompting to serve a mission when I first began inquiring of the Lord what to do with my life, I wouldn’t have listened. I would have rationalized what I was feeling and would have definitely brushed it off as anything other than what it actually would have been: my answer.

Once again, there is no doubt in my mind that he always knows what he is doing <3 And thank goodness for that, because I definitely cannot say the same about me.

Decision Making, LDS Mission, Mormon, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Spiritual

The Call

There are things about our childhood that we never forget, even if we try. For me, the thing I remember most is the way my father would call for me. When I was very little I realized that, while other parents would call out their child’s name to get their attention, my father would instead whistle a unique melody. (I’m a terrible whistler, but it went something like this….)

As a little girl this was quite embarrassing. When it was time to come home after an afternoon of playing outside, my dad would stick his head out the kitchen window and whistle, very loudly, to let me know it was time to come home. I would run indoors and angrily ask,

Why don’t you call for me like a normal parent? Don’t you know people only whistle to cats and dogs? I’m not a pet. I’m your daughter.

He would then look at me and say,

Kitzia, my call is unique. When you hear it, you know you are to stop whatever you are doing, leave whoever you are with, and answer my call. You may think my whistle is silly, but because of it’s uniqueness, You will never confuse my call for another’s and you will never question your duty to answer.

Over the next few years, my father literally hardwired this into me.

The last summer I spent in California before moving abroad, dad and I were invited to a friend’s beach party. That night, while the adults sat around the fire talking, the youth decided to play a game of American football. After a few minutes of throwing around the ball they decided it would be more fun to “go for a walk” which was code for, go where there was no adult supervision. As the crowd began moving away I hesitated, not sure of what was the right thing to do… this wasn’t exactly what you would call a group of righteous teenagers… but I was young, and they were older and cooler, and as I turned my back to follow the crowd… I heard it. Crystal clear. The whistle.

I stood there for a few seconds unsure of what to do. I couldn’t see my father from where I was standing. I could only make out dark shadows against the flames of the fire, yet I had the distinct feeling that, though I could not see him, he could definitely see me. A few thoughts crossed my mind. Maybe I could pretend I hadn’t hear anything. Nevertheless, before I had too much time to think, I did what I had been hardwired to do. I stopped what I was doing. I left who I was with, and I answered the call.

That night, as we drove home, my dad turned to me and asked,

Do you know how wild horses are trained?

I had no clue.

They must first be broken. Not in spirit, but in will. The horse’s will needs to be made subject to the master’s will. To test whether the horse will follow its master or not, it is put under a most arduous test.

He is taken outside and tied to a post or a tree and he is made to thirst and hunger for a period of time. Then he is set loose. Food is placed on one side of him, and on the opposite side, his master will stand. As the horse begins making his way towards the object of his desire, the food and the drink, his master will call, and the horse must choose between the two.

Tonight you were set loose and like the horse you found yourself in the middle. The choice wasn’t between food and your master, it was a little more meaningful than that. On one side stood something that appealed to you, but which you knew, deep down inside, was not for you. And on the other side stood the safety of listening to your father’s counsel, and to the still small voice which said, “do not follow”

I’ll never forget the look in his eyes that night. It was the look of a proud father.

I left home a few weeks after that and it wasn’t until years later that I began to fully comprehend the magnitude and depth of the lesson my father had tried to teach me that night. I understand it now… and that lesson is what I would like to share with you today. It also happens to be the answer to how I decided to serve a full-time mission.

It’s quite simple, actually. As far back as I can remember, my father worked very hard to give me a very special gift. This gift was of having trained ears. Ears that would know how to listen and recognize the master’s call. Mathew chapter 11 verse 15 says,

He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

I thought long and hard on how to describe what it was like for me… deciding to put my life aside for 18 months and become a full-time missionary. You see, I was never one of those people who’s always known, “I’m going to serve a mission one day!”. In fact… 6 months ago, had you told me I would now be preparing to serve a mission, I probably would have laughed at you. Yet here I am.

As I thought about this, the lyrics to one of my favorite songs come to my mind. I’d like to share it with you because I feel it describes the last 6 months of my life very accurately. Ironically, the song is titled “the Call” by Regina Spektor and it goes a little like this:

It started out as a feeling,
Which then turned into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought,
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
Until it was a battle cry.

Deciding to go on a mission was not an easy thing for me. I had an especially hard time accepting His timing. I did not understand why he was asking this of me now, especially when I had just taken the decision to finally return home to be with my family for a time.

I had a job lined up. A really good job. I was planning on applying for a graduate program at BYU. I had plans. I had things I wanted to do…and a mission wasn’t part of those plans. And of course, I also had fears. Lots of them. But it seemed like the harder I tried to push the mission thoughts out of my mind, the louder and louder those thoughts became. I had no other choice than to ask, with a sincere heart, if a mission was what the lord wanted for me.

And He answered. Of course.

And I knew what I felt was from God. And I knew that he knew that I knew. There was no going back at this point. I knew it was true for it burned within my heart… and then the fear left. Two things then came into my mind. First, one of my favorite scriptures, which over the years has turned into my life motto. It can be found in Proverbs chapter 3, verse 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The second was a quote I’d once heard at a fireside. A ship is safe in Harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. I thought about all the people in the scriptures who had to leave the security and comfort of their safe harbors, put aside their own personal desires and plans in order to accept a unique call handed to them by the Lord.

I realized then and there that, however nice it would be to go ahead with the plans that I had made for myself, it was not the right thing to do. Had I done that, I would have not only put aside my father’s teachings, both earthly and Heavenly, but I would have only be leaning unto my own understanding.

I believe with all my heart that my Father in heaven has something else planned for me. Apparently, he has other oceans he wants me to navigate. And I’m more than okay with that because in the end, things tend to go much better when I let him direct my paths. And if that path leads to the England, London South Mission, then so be it! I’ll gladly follow.

And with all that said, I’d like to leave you with one final thought; the lyrics of the first verse of one of my very favorite hymns,

It may not be on the mountain’s height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice
He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

Au Pair, Decision Making, Prayer

Au Pair

I know most people have their act together by the time they graduate college. Or at least know how they want the next 5 years of their life to pan out, but not me. I had a rough sketch at best. And even though several ideas were tumbling around in my head, none of them seemed to stick.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no slacker. Nor have I ever been. And I’m definitely not one of those people who coasted through college. I worked hard and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was proud of the work I had performed and of the education I had received, both in the classroom and outside of it.

But whatever the circumstances were, the facts were this-I was in a predicament. Quite a nasty one. I simply did not know what road to take and I wasn’t about to just pick one for the sake of staying in motion.

At this point I had three things perfectly clear;

1. I was ready to leave Jönköping. So ready. This I was completely sure of.

2. I needed to have the time and freedom to figure things out.

3. I wanted to stay in Europe for at least the next 5 months (mainly for the purpose of being able to attend my Graduation ceremony which wouldn’t happen until November).

This is about the time a wonderful term entered my vocabulary; gap year. I’d heard it mentioned once or twice but I’d never given it much though until now. What exactly was a gap year, and was it feasible for me to have one?

So, I did what any other well educated college student from my generation would do, I googled it :) And lo and behold, Wikipedia gave me all the information I was searching for-

Taking a gap year (also known as year abroad, year out, year off, deferred year, bridging year, time off and time out) refers to taking a year out of studying to do something else. Many people take a gap year before starting college or university, but it can be taken at any time.

A year off. I liked the sound of that. Over the next couple of weeks I kept toying with the idea, and I began to realize a few things, starting with this shocking revelation; I was burnt out.

I took a look back and couldn’t remember a time I had been without a set course. Or a time I hadn’t been preparing or planning for whatever was coming up next. I may have run away from the good ol’ U.S. of A, but the mentality I’d picked up while living there was still very much embedded within me. I suddenly realized that I’d been going forward at full speed, with no pit stops for as far as I could remember.

And perhaps it was time to finally… just be for a time. Stop moving and give myself some time. Regroup. I’d spent so much time being on a schedule that maybe it was time for a break.

I struggled with this, especially as I saw friends and classmates interviewing for jobs, applying for master programs, and planning how they were going to break into the corporate world. Everyone was moving forward. It seemed so exciting. Glamorous even. And for a short while I think I may have heard myself say, I want that.

But I didn’t. I knew that. I’d always know that. I hated the corporate world. I’d know that a long time ago. I know that might sound funny coming from a business major, but a fancy job with a high salary and a corporate account was not the reason I went to school.

And I repeated this to myself; everyone has their own course, Kitzia. It’s not a race. And that means that if you take some time off right now, you’re not gonna fall behind. If you want a break, if you need a break, there is no shame in that. Take the darn break. You can afford it :)

I realized that what really appealed to me was the sense of direction they all seemed to have. Not the desk job they were all pinning for.

I also knew the sense of direction would come. In due time. Knowing what step to take was something I had been praying to know for months. I’d been having so many one sided conversation with my heavenly father on this subject, it was getting ridiculous. But I also knew that my prayers were not falling on deaf ears. I knew he was there, and if he was not giving any answers… then it was probably because I was not ready to hear it.

So what did I do? I signed up and built a profile on an Au Pair site :)

Question: What Is An Au Pair?

Answer: The word “au pair” is a French term, which means “on par” or “equal to,” denoting living on an equal basis in a reciprocal, caring relationship between the host family and the children. An au pair will typically be a young woman and sometimes a young man from a foreign country who chooses to help look after the children of a host family and provide light housekeeping. The au pair is given room and board and is typically paid a weekly “pocket-money” salary. Au pairs generally stay with their host family for one year.

I figured as long as I stayed in Europe I would be but a short (cheap) flight away from Sweden. And an au pair job seemd to be just right for what I wanted to do. I would be free of the hassle and grind of “real life”, giving me the time and space to do what I wanted to do; figure some stuff out. But I also wouldn’t just be sitting around watching TV. I’d be reaping up some new experiences… I’d be adding to my life experience resume.

I liked the sound of that.

So all in all, I just needed to find an Au pair gig that would require my services for at least 5 months. I figured it would be a great opportunity to experience a different European country for a few months. I was particularly fond of Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, even France.

And I got lucky. A few weeks after posting my profile I began talking to a family in Switzerland that was interested in having me come over. Great! I thought. And then a got a call from a family in Sweden. Skåne to be exact. All I knew about Skåne was that the people there spoke funny and that the rest of Sweden seemed to always be busting jokes about them.

Hmmmm… interesting, I thought. I’d never even considered staying in Sweden. But I agreed to set up a phone interview anyway. Why the heck not?

It’s funny how things fall into place sometimes.

All it took was one phone conversation to know this was the gig for me. And what a coincidence… the mom was a California native (like me!), they had another au pair that was from Boston (awesome!) and they were only looking for someone until the end of November :)

It wasn’t long after that phone conversation that I was packing up my stuff and hopping on a train heading to the next 5 months of my life.