Monday, February 17, 2014

someone's watching over me

Well, the last 24 hours have been different scary.

This is an email I sent to my best friends today.

"Ready for some crazy scary stories? 

I know, odd way to start out an email. A, baby and I have had two near death (maybe not necessarily death, but scary nonetheless) experiences within the past 24 hours. 

Yesterday while we were driving to Nashville, we almost got taken out by a van with a trailer on the back. There was a police coming up from behind us (we didn't see or hear him yet), and this van in the next lane over started to switch lanes. He didn't really look (I think we were in his blind spot) and began switching lanes nearly hitting us. A somehow slammed on the brakes as we watched this van and then trailer (not just one of the little ones, but a decent sized trailer) almost hit us. It was probably about an inch from our car, if that. We would have been hit on the drivers side, which had both A and baby. The way, and the place that we would have been hit would have sent us spinning into the cars flying past us in the other lanes. It could have been SOOO bad. But it wasn't. We were being watched over. A didn't even think about slamming on her brakes. Neither of us saw the van until it was too late, yet we were safe. 

Then, this morning at about 4, I woke up to the sound of the smoke detector. I remember thinking that it was nothing. A must have just burned something, and that it was fine. No big deal. The next thing I knew was A was screaming my name, and there was smoke everywhere. The second I opened my door I couldn't see anything. I have never seen so much smoke in my life. A had fallen asleep while she was warming up a bottle to feed baby. It had been warming for an hour and a half before we noticed all of the smoke. An hour and a half before the smoke detector went off. A grabbed the pan and ran it outside, while I opened up the doors and windows. A grabbed baby, and the keys and we went and sat in the car, so grateful that nothing nearby had caught fire. We waited and waited for the smoke to clear. After almost an hour we called the fire department. They came to make sure it was safe to go back inside (since both plastic and rubber are toxic when burned). Once again we were watched over. Had something caught on fire, there would have been no way for us to get out, except the window. My window is on the second story of our apartment. A's however, is on the third floor, and jumping out of the window (with a baby) would have been near impossible. Our apartment is connected to at least a dozen other apartments. Can you imagine what would have happen if our one apartment had caught fire? It would have burned like a wild fire. 

A and I have been talking about the church a lot lately. As we were driving yesterday, we talked about how there is a God, and how loving he is. She talked about how she wants to get to know him better. We talked about the importance of reading our scriptures and saying our prayers, and even committed to helping each other be better . . ."

During all of the craziness, I never once felt panicky. I never felt like we were going to die. It was like an out of body experience. I just knew what to do and I did it. A said she felt the same way. We didn't have to think about how to handle a fire, or a smoke filled apartment, we just did it. Neither one of us panicked. We just did what we needed to and got out of there. Almost being hit by a car was scary, but not near as scary as waking up to smoke everywhere. But no matter how scary it was, I felt so calm and at peace.

One of my best friends wrote me back with the most perfect response.

". . . okay. so. WHAT. THAT IS SO CRAZY. Amanda, the Lord is watching you. I pray for you every night. I'm so glad you're okay. i seriously had such bad anxiety reading that. I am so happy you're okay. I love you to pieces. You're so good for recognizing the Lord's hand in everything. You are already a phenomenal missionary. Manda. I can't wait for you to write to me about all you do in the mission. You are going to change the world for so many. I get to talk to a lot of japense people here and I always think of you and ask questions for you. you're going to love it, baby. I'm so proud of you. I'm crying right now.... lol. I miss you and love you to bits. Thank you for being the best best friend ever. There is no one better than you. We will ALWAYS be besties. I just know it. I'm sorry I can't write to you more. When you're out, you'll understand, but manda just know I seriously think of you every day and love you to no end. :) Tell your family hi. Go to the temple and keep writing me! I know that's selfish since I can't really ever write back everything I want to but I miss you so much and hearing from you is the best part of the week. I am so STINKING PROUD OF YOU! You are amazing. amazing amazing amazing. . . . ."

 I know that Heavenly Father is watching over us. As another best friend said, 

". . . It's really neat to think about just how aware God is, and just so into all the tiny details of our lives he is. I have defiently been saved from multiple driving accidents just on my mission alone! . . ."

He is so aware of each and every one of us. He never leaves any of us alone. "Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." (Lilo and Stitch) I am so grateful for my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for his love, and for his protection. I have never been so grateful for his hand in my life, especially in the tiny details that you sometimes might feel are over looked. But he is there. He is always there, and I know it.

And just because I know you want to see a picture of the evidence, here it is.
This is after I doused it with water (once it was outside) to stop all of the smoke.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Mission Call is here!

I have so much to write about. Sometimes I get in the swing of things, and make less and less time to journal, and document all the great things that are happening in my life.

A couple of months ago, I started to write a post about how much love Heavenly Father has for each of his children. Though I never had the chance to finish that post, I thought it deserved to be heard. So here it is, in all its unfinished glory.

These last three months I have spent in Ukraine, and let me tell you, it is the greatest place. I would love to serve a mission here. All of the people are so sweet, and thoughtful and willing to help. I love it. My heart is filled with so much joy and love for Ukraine. Who knew that in just three short months I could come to love a place, and the people here so much. I can only imagine how much I am going to love where I serve, and everyone that I meet there. I am so excited. :) It really is such a great feeling, to be filled with so much love. Although I did not come to Ukraine to spread the gospel, I think I have experienced a little tiny glimpse of our Heavenly Father's love for his children. 

I cannot wait for the opportunity I have to go to Japan, and share the gospel with everyone I meet. I hold a special place in my heart for Japan. You see, when I was little my family was stationed in Japan. We lived in Sagamihara, a military base about an hour South of Tokyo. The four years that I spent in Japan, were some of the best years of my life. Living in Japan sparked my love of travel, and gave me the desire to see the world. Since living in Japan I have seen Hawaii, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. I have met so many wonderful people, and learned so much about myself, as well as those around me. I have been able to recognize just how blessed I am, and how fortunate I am to live in the United States, with all of the many Freedoms we have. 

Going back to Japan is going to be one of the coolest things! I honestly can't wait! When I think about it, I just get so happy. Heavenly Father really knows what he is doing. I know he has a plan for me, and it is honestly the best plan. :) I couldn't think of anything better. 


This is the story of the day I received my mission call, and all the important things leading up to it. :)

January 14, 2014

Oh my goodness! What a crazy couple of weeks. Well, ready for a life update? I put my papers in on December 20. The next week was Christmas, so nothing happened. Christmas however was PERFECT! It could not have gone any better. The next week I hung out with my family and tried to keep myself busy. On Friday, President D texted my dad and told him my call had been assigned. :) I was SO excited! But at the same time it just didn't feel real. It was hard for me to really accept that my call had been assigned and I was really going to be a missionary. I again made myself busy. I cooked. I cleaned. I had Temple Prep lessons. I did everything I could to be patient and keep calm. By the time Friday came, I was bouncing off the walls! I was so excited, and so bored (I couldn't find enough things to keep me busy), and so nervous I couldn't even handle myself. 

When the mail finally came, I sat in my spot (in a chair by the window) and watched for that white envelope. The second I saw it, I was running out the door. Mom didn't even get the chance to take a picture of me waiting. Well I ran outside, and had to wait for the obligatory mailbox pictures, and then I opened it (the mailbox), and there it was! My mission call! Not anyone else's! Just mine! It still felt so unreal. In my hands I held my mission call. I was going to serve a mission, and I still had no idea when or where. 

I waited for L to get home, and stood out on the front porch with my mission call. L saw the envelope and thought it was for him. As soon as he realized what it was though, he started crying. I felt so bad! He was so upset and didn't want me to leave! It was so sweet! Once S and H got home, I told them, and although there was a slight problem, everything worked out.

Before everyone had gotten home from school, I called and texted everyone who I wanted to come over/ skype. After figuring out everyone's schedules, we decided that 7:00PM was the perfect time to open my call. So, then I waited for four more hours. And let me tell you, by the time 7:00 came around, I felt sick. I was so excited and nervous, and SO anxious to find out where I was called.

We had the missionaries, Elder S and Elder H, over. We also had H and C, and Brother K over. We called Grandma and Grandpa, and skyped with K, and K. Grandparents in Virginia, K in Hawaii, and K in Canada. We also facetimed M and B in Utah, and R in Tennessee. It was so cool being surrounded by my friends and family. And then, it was time. Time to open my call.

I stood in the front where everyone could see, and started to open the envelope. It was really hard to open, and so I had to rip it open. Then I pulled it out, and flipped over my call (making sure the booklet covered everything). Then I started reading. I made sure not to let my eyes jump ahead. Once I got to Japan Kobe Mission, I was SO surprised and SO happy! I knew that it was perfect for me, and right where I was needed the most. :) I was so excited I forgot to keep reading. Someone had to ask me when I was leaving, what language I was speaking, and which MTC I was reporting to.

I report to the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center) on May 28 (once again, perfect), and I am going to be speaking Japanese. It was so surreal opening that call, and I could not be happier to serve. 

Heavenly Father knows me so well, and is so aware of my needs. I am so excited to devote 18 months to serving him.

Did I mention how excited I am???

One of the things that I remember being asked is did you ever think you might go to Japan? And honestly? Japan was a thought for maybe a split second. My thoughts were more on Europe, maybe because I had just gotten home from Ukraine. After I got my call though, I started to think about the last few weeks leading up to that point, and I kept thinking of little things and moments where you would think Japan would have been on my radar, but it wasn't. :) And that is what makes it even more perfect. Perfect. Just perfect. 

As the past month has flown by, I have had many opportunities to think about Japan, and my call to serve. I think the one thing I am most concerned about, is learning the language. Lucky for me though, my Heavenly Father is looking out for me, and has placed so many people in my life that have given me reassurance, dictionaries, taught me a few words, offered to help me, and really helped me to know that through Christ I can do it. :) I mean really, if learning Japanese is my biggest concern? my mission is going to be a walk in the park. Just kidding. It is going to be TOUGH! But SO worth it! 

So. With all that said, let's talk about Japan!

I am excited for:
  • Cherry Blossoms
  • Squatty Potties (I know... call me weird)
  • Chopsticks
  • Gyoza
  • Sushi
  • Asian Cuisine
  • Asians!
  • Asian babies!
  • Peace signs in EVERY picture!
  • Funny Engrish signs
  • 100 Yen stores
  • Sitting on the floor to eat
  • Japanese
  • Teaching the Gospel
  • Big cities
  • Little farming and fishing land
  • Festivals
  • Kimonos
  • Socks and Sandals
  • Biking everywhere
  • JAPAN!!!
  • JAPAN!!!
  • JAPAN!!!
  • Cherry Blossoms!
  • JAPAN! :)
The list could go on and on forever. :) Haha. 

Basically, the moral of the story is that I can't wait to serve in the Japan Kobe Misison. :)