Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Advice EVER: Don't ask why

That's right. I'm starting off by giving you the best advice EVER.

Most people would assume to save the best advice for later. I'm not going to wait. It's too important not to share RIGHT NOW! Also, I felt like this is what I needed to share today.

President and Mission Mom
Before being shipped back to the states, I go to have an interview with my mission president. For some reason I didn't think that was going to happen. Maybe because one the earlier plans (guesses, really) was that I was going to fly home from Beograd/Belgrade. The President was kind of enough to give me some of his precious time and attention my last night in the field.

The most effective and helpful advice I have been given in regards to coming home, and life in general, came from that short meeting.

His advice: Don't ask why.

No matter what happens, don't ask why. I know it's so tempting! We always want to know why. Especially when our lives get turned upside, thrown off track, and drop out of the sky.

Why? Why this? Why me? Why?

Once you start, the 'whys' keep coming and coming. Once you start, you will find it won't stop. So just don't do it. Don't ask 'why'. It will turn into a habit and you will drive yourself mad. You may find out why someday, you might not.

There is one 'why' you are allowed to say. President told me that he has learned to stop asking "Why me" and has replaced it with "Why not me?"

I can still remember him sitting behind his desk. "Why not me? Everyone has different challenges. Trials are a part of life. Why not me? Why not have this challenge or trial?" We have been given revelation through the scriptures and religious leaders that every trail is individually crafted to us. It's like a present! So why not you? It's better than getting a problem made for someone else.

This advice has benefited me the most. I have watched other people become more frustrated over my situation then myself because they ask themselves "why?". I'm not kidding! They become so upset, it's almost comical! I wish ya'll had a mission president like mine.

I have a confession to make. I did ask myself "why" for the first time a few weeks ago. It was terrible. The spirit that came with it was very different. It was hopeless, upset, and just miserable. I will never do that again.

If you need some kind of answer to hold onto or to give you purpose, then pray about it.
Until then, maybe this will help. In the MTC we eat, sleep, breathe, and live the "greatness of the calling." It's the most important thing anyone can do with their lives. If you are called to come back home, then there must be something VERY important in store for you. When there are a million reasons to go on a mission, there must be a million and a half reasons to be called back home.

I came home just in time, meaning the night before, my Grandpa's last temple session as a temple worker. He has been released due to health conditions. This one moment, at the beginning of this adventure home, was enough for me to not dwell on "why" and to "move forward with a perfect brightness of hope."

Pray for acceptance. If you must know the 'why' or be given a reason, you won't find it by dwelling on the past. The answers are all in the future.

I still don't know why I had to come home. I may never find out. But I'm okay with that. "I know in whom I have trusted."

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding."

Don't ask "why". Just say "Why not me."

Thanks President. I owe you one!

With all the love in my heart,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Advice From a Dear Friend

I have debated on whether or not to keep up the emails. My decision has come to this. I'm going to keep up this blog, but I will not be writing the weekly emails until I get back out. It just makes sense to me.
Also, I have found since coming back there are many who have returned early from their mission. And I mean a plethora of multitudes. There seems to be an immediate camaraderie. No further introduction is needed. It doesn't matter where you served or for how long. The struggle is mutual.
I have also found that there is a great need an longing for support. Just as prospective missionaries scour the internet for mission blogs, combing for any tidbits of advice, I want to have this blog to be a source for those who have to deal with coming home early, whatever the reason may be. If we are being completely honest with ourselves, we need all the support we can get.
Nothing can describe it. Just as you can explain to someone what a mission is like who has never had the experience, you can't explain coming home early. The morning processes is much greater. The struggle becomes more a battle which in turn becomes a war.
To be honest with you, it's hard.
It sucks.
It hurts.
It's lonely.
It's disappointing.
It's hard.
Sure life doesn't suck. Life is a God given gift. No matter what happens or what thoughts may enter your head, remember that. God is in charge. He will hold you in his hands like He held Noah's ark. And I bet He smiles at you just as he did with the ark. (Moses... something. Sis H shared it with me in the MTC.)
My first piece of advice is to watch this video. Of missionary friend of mine sent it to me long before going on a mission was even an idea. I owe that friend big time.
Enjoy this video. Watch it over and over again.
Much love!
Aubrey Farnsworth

P.S. Pay it forward.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nov 5 - Week 23

I have been so overcome with gratitude this week! 
I just want to be grateful towards everything! I am perfectly content to sit and wallow in my gratefulness. You may bask in my gratefulness if you like. It is warm and happy, and no matter what happens, it's all good. 
I've failed another breathing test. There's not much difference from the last two. So now it's on to two more doctors. I'm thinking they should hospital passports or something. In the field, we use to compare the stamps we got from crossing borders. Patients can show which doctors they have seen. Just a thought.
In case you haven't heard by now, I have been released. Only momentarily, until we can figure out what's going on. This way, my time here doesn't count against my mission clock. I can also now listen to music and be without a companion. Hugs are also permitted. 
Remember my thought oh so long ago about the loaves and fishes? I have another one for you. This one comes curtesy of Jacob 5. This long chapter is often used to talk about different kinds of people and what lies in store for them in the future (good fruit vs bad fruit). What I like about this chapter is it inspires hope.
"Now Sis Farnsworth", you might be thinking, "If your a bad fruit you get burned. That's not very hopeful." That is right. But as with all parables, there is a representation of the Atonement. This chapter also talks about the soil. The Master of the Vineyard (ili Gospodar Vinograda) plants in the the "poorest spot" (vs 21) and he tends it until it brings forth good fruit. If we allow the power of the Atonement to work in our lives we will thrive.
One more thought. We may feel that whatever duty we are asked to fulfill is beyond our capability. We're not pure enough, smart enough, hard-working enough, nice enough, or any other number of flaws we may possess. We may view ourselves as the "poorest spot". In vs 22, Gospodar Vinograda says to his servant "Counsel me not; I knew it was a poor spot of the ground." He is fully aware of our short comings. He's not the primary teacher who thinks your scribbled crayon art should be in the Met. He knows our weaknesses better than anyone, including ourselves. "I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit." The Lord knows best. Trust in Jesus. He will lead us safely. He invests so much in us. He trusts us, too. 

Good winds and a following sea!

I'm taking the password off of my mission blog. I'll continue to keep everyone updated.
I spent my service time this week with my family at the Nightmare Express in Lindon. I dressed up as an old lady/family historian, Lone Sister (like the Lone Ranger, but a sister... ha... haha... Get it?), and Robin (from Batman). I was still called Sister Robin. Some days I didn't dress up. It was lots of fun! That's what the pictures are from.

"Families can be together AFTER death?"

Sestra-in-Training. Demonstrating the proper way a scarf should be worn.

Oct 28 - Week 22

Instead of giving another oh so exciting update and what is happening (or lack thereof), I just want to share a few thoughts.
I haven't always loved hymns, but they have always been present in my life. I sung them every sunday and often during the week too. The longer I am on this earth, the frequency increases. You would think that the constant singing of the hymns would decrease their influence, but as I have embarked on this mission and have sung hymns at least twice a day, I have found that is not the case.
The more I sing and reflect upon hymns, the more I realize that the writers really know what they were talking about! These are not the cheesy EFY hymns about high school or the one-size-fits-most songs on the radio (apologizes to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry). These songs are as real and as personal as they come. They are creative lyrics with boot stompin' beats. They are SO simple, yet so powerful. 
Have you ever read the verses that are not normally sung? Have you ever read the scriptures attached to the hymn? 
Some of my favorite moments have been while pondering. I'll have some kind of question or piece of knowledge I am exploring and a primary song comes waltzing into my mind. A PRIMARY SONG! When was the last time you pondered the words of Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam
Maybe these people didn't know what they were doing or what they're talking about. But someone else did.

Yesterday I got the opportunity to be present while my oldest nephew was ordained a priest. Joj! This has come at a perfect time. I've been trying to learn more about the priesthood. So far, I feel the greatest importance in being a priesthood holder comes from priesthood service and responsibility. Priesthood power is something a little different, but not separate. Does that make sense? Perhaps a famous quote would apply? "With great power comes great responsibility." I'm very excited to see my nephews all grow up to be worthy priesthood holders. I hope they're all well versed in primary songs. ;) 

In the MTC, Sheri Dew challenged all the sisters to learn about the priesthood. She said it is just as important for us to know about it as it is for men. I'm starting to understand why. I honestly don't know that much. I can tell you it's like glue and how it was restored and why that's important. But, admittedly, I don't know much more than that. So if you are a sister or an elder-in-training (that should cover just about everyone), I am extending a commitment to you to learn all you can about the remarkable power of the priesthood. There's always more to be learned.

Have a safe Halloween!

Sestra Farnsworth

Oct 21 - Week 21

Sorry about that! It's not that you didn't receive and update last week, it's just that I didn't write one. Don't worry, I'm still here. I didn't have very much more to write then that.

You know the adage "No news is good news?" I've been hearing that a lot, especially from nurses. It's a lie. Last week had no news (Thus no email). This past week I got to visit the lung doctor again, even though he didn't want to see me until November. At least this time he told me he's about to give up. Honesty is always good. He had me do another breathe test to see if there has been any improvements. Nada. Nil. Nothing. Nothing has changed since the first one. There appears to be an "obstruction", but all the other tests I have done say otherwise. Pffffft. So here's to another "two more weeks." 

By the way, if I'm here for another one of those "just two more weeks" I'm FedEx-ing myself to the mission home. I'm already making the plans and arrangements, so be prepared President and Mission Mom! You might need to have a stretcher handy...

In the meantime, I am becoming a genealogy organizing guru! All thanks to the G2 (Grandma and Grandma)! So if you are in the area and want to get started or organized with your family history, just pick a day and time. I am almost 100% available. 

While doing my weekly social outing at TRC I ran into a couple unexpected friends! First off, I love the missionaries. I love spending time with them at TRC and seeing how much they have improved, and I'm not talking about the language even thought they have made leaps and bounds in that department. The MTC is magical.

While leaving, we ran into a girl from my Lindon ward! She's going to Bulgaria! It seems that Bulgaria and the Adriatic North missions just love Lindonites! The Elder De St Jeor, Elder Unice, Elder Neilsen, Elder new-person-I-don't-know-and-haven't-met-yet, Sis Frampton, Sis Romriell, and me. And those are just the ones I know of that are currently serving. 

Then there's my cousin. Elder Joshwa. We almost literally ran into him right after saying goodbye to the other sister. This is amazing! I spent 6 weeks in the provo main MTC campus with another cousin and NEVER saw him! I spend 45 minutes at the MTC and bump into this guy. I guess he is pretty hard to miss. 

Thank you for your prayers! I have a very firm testimony in the power of prayer. Go to the temple this week if you haven't been yet! It's a great place. As Elder Utchdorf said, "If you are too busy to go to the temple, you are busier then God intended you to be."

Love you mucho!
Sestra Farnsworth

Not a gyro.

Elder Joshwa Anderson (Brazil)

Sestra Naomi (Bulgaria)

Oct 7 - Week 20

Well Howdy!
No news yet on when I'll be headed back out. Heart monitor didn't turn up with anything significant and the blood tests showed that I don't have pneumonia (which I could have told you, but better to be sure, jel?). This week's test was a CAT scan. We're still waiting on results. Now, more than ever, we are hoping that something will come up. If not, my next appointment with the lung doctor will not be until Nov 1! Sweet mercy! So we're crossing our fingers and saying our prayers.
I love friends! I have amazing friends! Do you? I always feel so wonderful after hearing from one. Maybe that's why I get so excited for TRC! I use to absolutely dread TRC. The missionaries in the MTC right now are fantastic! The teachers are still as amazing as ever! And one of my district buddies was able to go this week. haha I don't know why I didn't like TRC before. I even got to touch a real Milka bar! My mom was this week's companion and I think she enjoyed it. She really enjoyed asking tough questions and talking with young and growing missionaries. I'm so excited for them! They're going to be such amazing missionaries!!! I hope the Adriatic North is prepared to be swept away!
 Earlier last week, i went to the family history center in Orem to work my super duper special project. Not very much has been done for the former Yugoslavia. I'm still trying to figure out where to start! There's so much to be done! But that's not even half of it! The stake president walked in with THREE ARMENIANS. Three Armenians from Moldova who speak Russian. They had just received their temple recommends and wanted to find family names. The night can be summed up to this.
"Do you read the Book of Mormon everyday?"
me: "Yes."
"In Serbian?"
"Do you read it in Russian?"
"Well you should."
They have a son who speaks English but I've still become apart of this wonderful genealogical adventure. The first question I was asked? "Where is your companion?" In Russian of course. I never ever ever imagined this to be a part of my mission. 
I got to accompany my cousin to her mission reunion this weekend. It made me SO homesick for my mission! Thank goodness for General Conference! Volim ga! This session had such a strong spirit with it! I just want to watch it over and over. If you didn't watch it, do so. Now. I don't care if you're mormon or not if you this it's all phooy. Watch it! Sad!

Mir i blagoslovi!
Sestra Farnsworth

I got to go to my first live session at the Manti City, Utah temple on Friday! In case you are wondering, the benches inside are NOT connected to the ground and can easily be knocked over.
Just a heads up for you.

Sept 30 - Week 19

Halloween started off early! I got to spend 48 hours masquerading as a science experiment gone lose from the lab! I had wires poking out of my body and everything! It was perfect. Besides the fact that I couldn't shower and my wires kept getting caught. It was still fun. Especially when the normal average Josephine asked what I was doing home. I simply indicated my big round stickers and copious amount of wires. 

But wait! There's more! Before said heart monitoring, I had a blood test on Thursday. It was THE BEST blood test EVER!!! I have always, without fail, had some kind of horror story to accompany my blood tests. The worse thing that happened was that the nurse was on hold with my doctor's office for at least 12 minutes. I loved this blood test. It was quick and almost painless. This, I KNOW, was a miracle. Not luck. I am convinced that God takes whatever opportunities He can to show He loves us. We just need to recognize it. It's like someone who leaves food on the table. It's there for you. You can mindlessly eat it, or you can savor it. Same action, just a different attitude. 

Last week's test results show that I have a heart. That's good news. The ultrasound showed that my heart looks absolutely spiffy! The EKG had a measurement that was a bit off. I tell you all of this because whoever guesses the correct diagnosis will get a tasty prize. So go to it House fans and hometown Sherlocks. Can you guess it before the doctors do? (WPW syndrome, anyone?)

We leave you now form the crossroads of the west with this short thought. Psalms 23. Have you ever read it? You've probably sung it. I love it! It is so beautiful! It refers to the Lord being the good shepherd in a beautifully poetic way. This weeks thought not only applies to missionary work, but anyone who has made the baptismal covenant to comfort those in need of comfort, and so on and so forth. 
Who better to find the lost sheep than the Shepherd? Who better to lead to green pastures and "make to lie down"? We do not know the needs of those we interact with. Not perfectly, anyways. Those we work with, those we visit or home teach. Those we greet. But the Shepherd does. That is why it is so important to always have His spirit with us. We can be His rod and staff. 
What are the rods and staffs in your life?
Peace and blessings!
Sestra Farnsworth
P.S The picture was taken at the Provo hospital just before getting to holter removed. I was SO ready to get it off!
For your convenience I have included Psalm 23

Psalm 23

King James Version (KJV)
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

There are four additional sticker things making a grand total of seven markers in my torso. Fun fun!

September 23 - Week 18

Previously on the Sestra Saga....
Tests and waiting. Nothing yet.

This Week on the Sestra Saga...
Tests and waiting. Nothing yet.

TRC was great! The MTC feels a lot like home! It was fun to see what are now considered old faces. haha I guess I did a good job because the coordinator signed me up for next week! Don't mind if I do!

This weeks tests were centered on my heart. How many of you can say you have both seen and heard your heart? I can! Next time someone tells me I don't have a soul, at least I can tell them I have a heart! We won't know the results of the tests until Wednesday. Yay! Ovo je zabovan! Good news is, if it's WPW (as some of you might be guessing) it can easily fixed. Did you know that heart problems are actually common among girls in their late teens and early twenties? 

Some of you know that my dad is a high counsel member. My brother who returned from his mission in February is normally his companion speaker, but he called Saturday night to let my dad know he wouldn't be home in  time to speak. So the lots fell on me to fill in. My dad came home Sunday morning and informed me that my talk better be amazing. He had just been assigned to the war we were speaking in. 
I don't know about amazing, but it was definitely miraculous. Those who knew me from before my mission would have thought it to be just another Aubrey talk. No, no papers flew off the podium this time, there were no Avatar or dinosaur references, just an honest to goodness, enthusiastic talk. Those who have seen me since I've returned would have noticed the miracle. 
I get tired and our of breath from using stairs, I often need help to walk, I can't get too excited (it's just not currently physically possible), and I don't like to talk. I was able to STAND and TALK for about 20 whole minutes as if nothing had ever gone wrong. As if I was still my excited little self. I didn't even pay for it afterwards. I know this is a miracle and not just myself getting better because I still became tuckered from dealing cards later that day. 
In the words of the popular hymn: I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.

Stay tuned next week when...
Last time I tell anyone I need something to do. My stake president has given me some VERY exciting projects. 

Enjoy these flashback to the good old days in the MTC! I love my MTC district! Pictures also include my top notch teachers! Good times!

Sept 16 - Week 17

Oh! Hey there!
Good news and bad news. Good news: We finally got test results back from the pulmonology test. Bad news: Something is wrong (we knew that already) Good news: It's NOT emotional. We have finally been able to rule that sucker out. Bad news: We don't know exactly what is wrong. Good news: We've finally started experimenting with different medicines. Bad news: We have to wait to get an appointment with another doctor (pulmonologist) Good news: The doctor from Mission HQ assigned to me called me and let me know not to stress about a deadline. Bad news: I have no idea when I will be returning to the field or when a decision will be made.
In other news! The family (my parents and two of my brothers) were in Wyoming this weekend. Since I am pathetic and weak I stayed behind and got to spend the weekend with one of my brothers, his wife, and their adorable red glava-ed little girl. It was great! I've been on an exchange with them once before and really wanted to spend more time with them while in the states. Then this wonderful opportunity came up! Someone up there loves me. 
I learned how to daily/nightly plan, how to help a toddler drink gatorade out of the big gatorade bottle, how to answer the question "What are you doing here?" and "I didn't we had sisters in the area." My niece taught me how to bust down a move, and I finally tracked down and read The Fourth Missionary. I would definitely suggest this to every missionary. It's may look intimidating because it's a 25 page essay (no exaggeration) but so is a mission. So learn it and love it!
As if my mission wasn't unique enough as it is, I got to do some service at the local theater. If any of you see Shrek:The Musical at the Screa Theater, think of me when you see all the "sturdy brown" set pieces. I painted those myself, with love.
With all the fun and exciting things that happened, I didn't take a single picture! So here is a list based off of "White blonde girl problems" and the such.

Sestra in Utah Valley problems:
Accidentally talking/texting to family in mission language after talking to a friend
"What are you doing here?" and "Are you a REAL sister missionary?"
Do you remember the last time you were babysat? I can. (It was 5 minutes ago.)
"I can't! I'm a missionary!" vs "Well it doesn't EXACTLY say anything against it in the white handbook..."
"Where are you from?" Here. "Oh."
Talking with friends family and strangers turns into "Hey, want to talk about the gospel?" 
Never knowing who and if you're allowed to hug
As Ses Marks would put it "Where are my friends?"
Receiving farewells that are ONLY appropriate in this situations such as "I hope I don't see you again for a long long time."
Seeming like a rather unfit personal by gasping like a fish after coming up a small flight of stairs. Haha 
Discovering unlimited access to General Conference (dating back from the 70's) and Music and the Spoken Word becomes a highlight and tender mercy. Who's up for a M&SW marathon! I'll make ćevapi!

More to come. 
Peace and Blessings!

Ses Farnsworth