|Hermana Garner's grandma|
and cousins got to attend the concert
|Family friends, Anna and Julien Williams|
spent some time
with Hermana Garner this week
and were attended the concert
|Hermana Garner's grandma|
and cousins got to attend the concert
|Family friends, Anna and Julien Williams|
spent some time
with Hermana Garner this week
and were attended the concert
|We learned how to make pupusas!! |
This is the first one I made, it was good!
I love, love, love pupusas!
|Sisters Cedeño and Weyand came to surprise Gloria|
|with Sister Weyand|
|Lunch with mi mamá de misión!!|
|Hermana Garner with one of her new friends!|
|flat tires from running over goats head thorns|
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."
|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|
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.
I barely remembered anything about it, it had been so long since we lived there. I remembered visiting relatives a few times, and I knew that it was really far away from all my friends in Utah.
And now, my parents were telling us we might move there.
I didn't want to move. I didn't want to leave my school or my ward, or the community theatre I'd gotten involved in. Life was great where we were! Why would we move?
"It's a better job for your dad," was the answer, but it wasn't one I was really satisfied with. I didn't see why he needed to change his job if we were perfectly happy where we were.
Saturday night, Mom and Dad gathered us into the living room. "We're going to fast together tomorrow and ask Heavenly Father if this is what we're supposed to do," they said.
Okay, I thought, If it's what He wants, I'll do it.
But even as I thought those words, I was sure it couldn't possibly be what He wanted.
The next day, we said a prayer as a family to start our fast in the morning. Being ten years old, it was my first time really fasting, but this was a serious matter, so I took it seriously. Even when my younger siblings snacked, I didn't, because I wanted to make sure my parents got the right answer - which, of course, was that we were supposed to stay in Utah.
Finally, the time came to break our fast. We knelt down, and my father offered the prayer. As he said "Amen," I immediately felt my eyes well up with tears.
Heavenly Father wanted us to move.
In that moment, I knew that as surely as I knew my own name.
And I was not happy about it.
But I'd told myself that, if it was what Heavenly Father wanted, I would do it. So I didn't fight it anymore, and instead tried to prepare myself for the change.
15 years later, looking back on that moment, I can see how it changed my life forever. I wouldn't be the person I am today if we'd stayed in Utah, and I don't think my family would be as close as we are. It was hard, but as was said in General Conference, hard is good.
I am grateful that Heavenly Father gave me an answer I didn't want, so that He could give me something better than I had imagined.
I LOVED Activity Days! Aside from being baptized, it was probably the best thing about turning eight. And I LOVED my Activity Days leader (who we'll call Sister Jones). Sister Jones always had the funnest activities planned, and one time we even got to make our own dolls!
Plus, she made really, really good brownies.
Sunday morning, I walked into church just like any other week, immediately making my way to my family's bench (because, yes, we did have our own designated seats, of course). I hugged Sister Jones on the way there and happily sat down next to my mother.
The meeting started - we sang a song I didn't know, someone said a pray I didn't really pay attention to, and then the bishop stood up to give announcements. Suddenly, I heard Sister Jones' name, and looked up to see her standing.
"Sister Jones has been released as Activity Days coordinator."
My jaw fell open. How could they do that?? It was an outrage! I folded my arms across my chest and pouted in a huff.
"I cannot sustain!" I announced to my mom as every raised their hands to the square.
She looked down at me with raised eyebrows, and in a whisper explained that by not raising my hand, I wasn't thanking Sister Jones for everything she'd done. My scowl turned into a frown of regret as I saw that lovely woman sit down, and I looked down at my lap, feeling very sad.
I didn't pay attention to who they called as the new Activity Days Coordinator - I was still incredibly upset. When we got home, I went to sit next to my mother on the couch.
"Mom," I whined, "why would they release Sister Jones? She's awesome!"
"Maybe Sister Johnson will be awesome, too," my mom assured me.
"But why?" I demanded. "It doesn't make any sense! She should keep doing it!"
"Maybe the Lord has something else He needs her to do," my mother explained. "We don't always know why people get called or released, but it's not our decision - it's the Lord's, and we just have to support them as they try to do what He wants."
I was very quiet after that. I hadn't really thought about how callings were decided before, but in that moment it started to sink in that there was more to it than someone being 'awesome' or the bishop deciding something needed to change.
So the next week, I went to Activity Days with a smile.
And yes, Sister Johnson was awesome too. And of course she was - Heavenly Father chose her, after all.
A pile of empty cardboard boxes was slowly forming in the living room as the morning drew on. When I was sure that I had enough for my project, I set off to gather glue, scissors, and markers as well.
Why? Because it was time for General Conference again! And that meant that we didn't have to go to church, so I had plenty of time to make the perfect dollhouse I'd been dreaming of while Mom and Dad listened to all those old guys talk on the TV.
When the music started, I hummed along while I set up my supplies, and was soon hyper-focused on my task. This wasn't going to be just any dollhouse. It was going to have at least 6 rooms, and all of them fully furnished! Soon enough, the bedroom on the top left started to take shape, and I excitedly started moving on to the next one -
"All right, kids, it's time to listen to the prophet," my dad announced.
My tongue sticking out of my mouth in concentration, I ignored him, trying to glue down the bed I'd just made in the perfect spot ...
"Tiff-girl," my father's voice sounded again. "Come sit on the couch, the prophet's talking."
I groaned quietly and pouted, but put down my precious project and went to sit next to my mom. I recognized the old man on the screen as President Hinckley, but it was always so hard to understand him. And yet, for some reason my parents always made us stop playing when he talked at General Conference.
As I leaned into my mother and she ran her fingers through my hair, I found myself starting to pay more attention than I had in the past. Maybe I was finally learning how to understand his voice, I'd heard it so much. But even though I didn't entirely understand everything he was saying, all of the sudden I felt a warm feeling come over me, like I was being covered by a blanket.
"He really is the prophet, huh?" I whispered.
"Mhmm," my mom responded quietly.
I sat up a little straighter, setting aside thoughts of what I would do next on my dollhouse, and for the first time really tried to listen to what the prophet was saying. And when he finished speaking, I didn't move, but stayed next to my mother as the next speaker took the pulpit.
The frantic sound of small, running footsteps down the stairs interrupted the rare quiet of the house. My curls bouncing with every anxious step, I rushed from room to room, my six-year-old face contorted with distress.
"What's wrong?" she said, emerging from the study. Her tone was ever patient, and filled with motherly concern for the woes of her child.
Tears began to stream down my face. "I can't find it!"
"You can't find what, Tiffany?"
"My blue dress Anastasia!"
With those words, she knew this was truly an emergency. I had begged and begged for the blue dress Anastasia Barbie doll for Christmas, but Santa was only able to get me the yellow dress Anastasia. A little after Christmas, though, I got the best surprise of my life when another present showed up from Santa with the Barbie I'd wanted all along.
And now, she was missing.
My dear mother knelt on the ground next to her crying child. "All right, when was the last time you saw her?"
"I don't know!" I wailed, about ready to give up. "I've looked everywhere!"
"Have you said a prayer?"
My crying stopped as I looked at her, her question sinking in a little. "No ..."
"Well, I don't know where she is, but Heavenly Father does," she said, brushing my hair back and giving me and encouraging smile. "Let's say a prayer."
I nodded and knelt down next to my mother, mumbling out a simple prayer asking Heavenly Father to help me find this doll that was so precious to me. When I opened my eyes, I looked over at our blanket basket, and suddenly remembered. Rushing over, I threw all the blankets out, and there between them was my blue dress Anastasia.
Quickly, I snatched her up and held her tightly to my chest, relief filling my small frame. "Thank you, Heavenly Father!" I squealed, then rushed back upstairs, smiling from ear to ear.
|with Ana Maria|
|reunited with Sister Weyand|