Sunday, December 10, 2017
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Next, we went to the Hoffman's. It was just us, the elders, Brother and Sister Hoffman and their son. It was a tender, intimate dinner where we were able to really talk about the purpose of the season as we sat there. They're from Venezuela, and they made a traditional dish that they make for Christmas there called pan de jamon. It was AMAZING - as soon as I ate it I was in love. They gave me four pieces to take home, and I enjoyed it even more for breakfast the next day when I wasn't so stuffed haha.
Those three were pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinners, but then we went to the Lopez's house for our last one and I got to see how hispanics celebrate Thanksgiving! It was so much fun, there was music and dancing and a really, really good cocoa. Everyone was just hanging around and enjoying each others' company, it was the Lopez's whole family and then a bunch of their friends from the ward. They're such a great family,
|Sisters Cedeño and Weyand came to surprise Gloria|
|with Sister Weyand|
Saturday we got a surprise call from some of the sisters in our zone asking me to accompany one of them for a musical number for a baptism. She already had a song picked out, and it was one I'd never played, so I was really nervous I wouldn't be able to do it. It was definitely rough ... but in general, I can see how my sight-reading has improved a lot with being on the mission and being asked to play all the time. Still, I wished it was better. But the spirit was there! It was a sweet old man getting baptized, he just started coming to church on his own and the first conversation he had with the missionaries started with, "I like this church, how do I join?" Why can't that happen all the time??? lol
|Lunch with mi mamá de misión!!|
Monday, November 20, 2017
|Hermana Garner with one of her new friends!|
Monday, November 13, 2017
|flat tires from running over goats head thorns|
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
First day of 6th grade. New state, new school - new life.
It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous.
But I went in with high hopes. When I saw Rachel in the hall - the one person I new in my grade, since she was a member of my ward - I smiled and waved, but unfortunately she wasn't in my class.
That's okay, I thought. I'll just make new friends.
Sitting down, the shocking realization that everyone around me was speaking another language momentarily put me into a catatonic state. I knew we lived close to Mexico, but I hadn't really thought about how close and that I would suddenly be a minority in my community.
It was overwhelming.
But again, how exciting, to be able to have this new experience and learn about a culture that was different than what I'd always grown up with!
The day went by quickly, and before I knew it I was in line waiting for the bus. Two girls sat in front of me, chatting away in Spanish. One of them turned to face me, and I felt my heart jump a little with the anxiety any new kid feels.
"Do you speak Spanish?" she asked brightly.
"No," I said with a bit of a sheepish laugh. "I just moved -"
"Oh, good!" she said, sounding relieved, then turned and continued to animatedly talk to her friend.
A few months passed, and I felt like I'd begun to find my place in this new world. I was learning a few Spanish words, but still couldn't join in many of the conversations my peers were having. But that was all right, they all spoke English too!
I'd joined a few school clubs - band, music appreciation, theatre - and was enjoying developing my talents. I'd also made an amazing friend - we'll call her Sandra - and spent most nights at her house playing with her dad's old typewriter and recording equipment.
She was in my classes, and we were almost inseparable. Every activity we did, we did it together. She even came to some church parties with me and enjoyed them!
Things were much better than they had been at the beginning of the year, and I was starting to feel like I fit in.
I don't remember when it was - sometime about halfway through the school year - but I arrived at school, and no one would talk to me. Not even Sandra. I told myself I was imagining things, but when we went outside to recess, and I went to the usual spot to hang out with my friends - no one joined me. In fact, they moved to the opposite end of the field, and kept moving further away from me when I tried to join them.
What is going on?
I ended up giving up on trying to join them, and went to sit on one of the swings. The playground almost immediately emptied of all the students in my grade. I watched them scatter from my presence like wild animals that sense danger.
Finally, after about 10 minutes, Victoria started heading towards me. She seemed somewhat hesitant as she sat on the swing next to mine, but managed a smile.
"How are you?" she asked.
"Confused," I said, frowning as Sandra and I made eye contact for just a moment before she immediately turned away. "Why is everyone avoiding me?"
Victoria hesitated, but then sighed. "Because of what Sandra said."
My eyebrows shot up in shock. "What - What did she say?"
The rest of recess, Victoria told me how Sandra had spread all my secrets throughout the school (as horrible as a 6th graders secrets can be) and dozens of lies as well, saying I said things I never did, that I stole from her, that I was a liar - and many more horrible things I never thought people actually said about each other.
That night, I went home and cried for hours. I cried every night for at least a month.
Victoria was practically the only person who talked to me at school. I was grateful for her friendship, but that didn't make everything else that much easier. Still, she was someone to lean on.
But I was not happy. I wanted to go back to Utah desperately, where I knew I had friends and I wasn't ostracized by my class. Or at least, I wanted the school year to end so I could move on to middle school and hopefully make friends with people who didn't think I was a thief and a liar.
It was in the middle of all of this that I turned 12 and joined Young Womens. I was immediately introduced to the Personal Progress Program.
Well, I had no friends to really spend time with, so what else was I going to do with my time?
I jumped head first into completing my projects to get my medallion. And suddenly, I found that I was happy again. People still didn't really talk to me, and they still made fun of me, but as I developed my faith, divine nature, individual worth, and other values, I didn't feel alone. I started to recognize who I was, that I was a daughter of God, that my family was still there for me, and that they always would be.
And that, above all, Heavenly Father had a plan for me, and that plan included being happy.
The next year was full of rich, rewarding experiences that brought me closer to my Father in Heaven and healed broken bonds with my friends and acquaintances at school. I did move on to middle school, and I met some amazing people. And before I turned 13, I'd earned my Personal Progress medallion.
As 7th grade ended, so did my time in South Texas. The last day of classes, I boarded a plane with my family to our next stop on our journey - New Jersey. I didn't know what to expect, but I was looking forward to a fresh start - and I knew that, no matter what happened, Heavenly Father would make it all work out, because that's what He did for me in Texas.
But as we got settled in our new house, there was a weight on my shoulders dragging me down - the bitterness I felt towards Sandra for what she'd done. There were so many things that would have been different if it hadn't been for her! I wouldn't have struggled so much, I would have had more friends, gone to more activities ...
One day, as I was again reflecting on this, a scripture came to my mind: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:10)
Letting out a deep breath, I asked for strength from the Lord to forgive Sandra, a girl who I at one point had called my best friend. And when I'd worked up enough courage, I picked up the phone and dialed her number.
"Hi ... is Sandra there?"
"Yes she is, just a minute ..."
I let out another breath until I heard her voice on the other line.
"Hey, Sandra," I said softly. "It's Tiffany."
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. "Hi ..."
"So, I - I just wanted to call to say sorry," I muttered out.
There were plenty of things I'd said over my time in Texas in my anger that I shouldn't have, and the spirit was helping me recognize that and feel sorrow for not being more Christlike, whatever another person's actions had been.
"Yeah, for being rude to you," I said. "And ... I wanted to let you know that I forgive you, too, and I really, really hope you have a good school year."
Another awkward silence followed. "... Okay."
After a few more awkward exchanges, we both hung up. And the burden I'd felt on my shoulders was gone.
I couldn't stop smiling, feeling so much gratitude to my Father in Heaven, and truly wishing the best for Sandra.
A little bit later, I called Victoria, my one really close friend from Texas. A couple minutes into the conversation, she said, "I thought you would miss me more, but you sound so happy!"
I just laughed, smiling widely. "I do miss you, but ... I am happy. Really happy."
Monday, November 6, 2017
|We got to go with Gloria to the temple to do baptism for the dead|
|I saw one of my STLs from the MTC at the temple|
Sunday, November 5, 2017
I had planned on focusing on past experiences and writing them in story form so it was a bit more engaging, but today is different. Because today, I have a concussion - MINOR concussion, mind you, but it still hurts. It's been hard to focus and my head has been pounding all day.
This morning, after a meeting we had with the bishop, I asked the elders to give me a blessing. In that blessing I was promised strength to be able to overcome what I was facing as I put forth my best effort.
So after dinner, when I felt like I was going to throw up what I'd just eaten and couldn't even imagine trying to teach the gospel, let alone in Spanish, I resisted the urge to tell my companion I needed to go lay down. I thought to myself, "You can do it, at least for a little while."
After each person we visited, I found myself tempted yet again to say, "Sister Fuimaono, my head is killing me." And she, being the observant person that she is, wasn't ignorant of how I was feeling (and on another note, didn't feel great herself today). She kept asking me if I was sure I was okay, and I thought back on the blessing and said yes.
I can knock one more door.
Almost 3 hours later, we headed home to do our studies. And after that last door - spending all the time we could proselyting - my headache subsided considerably. Yes, it still hurts, but much less than before.
I know that's a direct blessing from the diligence I showed today to the Lord. I wish I could say that every day I'm that diligent - the sad truth is, I'm not. But we don't ever have to wonder if our effort is worth it, no matter how painful the process - there's always something better waiting for us on the other end of the trial.