I used to always hear people say, "Time flies when you're having fun" and I never truly understood the legitimize of that statement until the passing of this month. April of 2018. The opportunity to travel is one that should always be seized, never be denied especially when the journey entails 6 different countries, 6 different cultures, and being granted the pleasure to maintain the company of some of the most genuine, sincere people this world has to offer. All within the span of a month. I consider myself so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to see, meet, and experience some of the most beautiful things this world has to offer. With so much that has happened during my travels and I don’t have nearly enough time to write about everything, but I do want to share some of the things I learned spending time in some of the most incredible and humbling places in South America.
The first and most important I think is we as people like to believe that we have an infinite amount of time. That there will always be enough time to make and create and do the things we’ve always dreamed of but in actuality time is the only thing that is certain in this life. There will always be an ending to the things we hope could last forever. Don’t fall into a life of waiting for the right moment. It never comes. This moment is as good as any. So take that risk. Dream big. Love your heart out. Become all that you can be and do everything you want to do because if you’re always waiting for the “perfect moment” to arise life is going to pass you by.
Secondly, a meaningful life is not about being rich, being popular, or being perfect. It is about being real, being humble, being strong and being able to share ourselves enough to touch the lives of others. While I was in Peru I had the opportunity to talk with a women who’d lived in Cusco her entire life. I could see she didn’t have much and the way she had lived her life had been very different from how I live mine. Aside from our differences she said something that I will never forget; she told me, para vivir una vida feliz no necesitas mucho dinero. Solo un montón de amor. (to live a happy life you don’t need a lot of money. Just a lot of love.) We cannot buy a meaningful life, only live it.
Lastly, at the end of all this, the most important piece of advice this journey has given me, that I can give to you, is to enjoy life while you’re living it. You can never know which moments will be the ones that you’ll remember and when happiness will hit you. So be open for anything at any time. There’s no reason to stress the past but only to learn from it and make new memories every day. For there is only one life and one chance.
As this chapter of my life is coming to an end I’ve realized that perhaps we only leave so we may once again arrive, to get a bird's eye view of what it means to be alive. For there is beauty in returning. Oh how wonderful and oh how strange it is to see that everything is different but know it's only you who has changed. So at the end of it all, I close my eyes to old ends, and open my heart to new beginnings.
I'm back and for a limited time before I'm gone again! But that's besides the point. The past few weeks have been filled with lots of traveling and adventuring with my aunt who came to visit for 11 days. As much as I'd love to tell you all about the fun things we did, I don't have the time to write about everything in such detail nor do you have the time to read it. Instead I created a list of the 3 major cities we road tripped through and the best things that happened there. (this was also included in my monthly email so if you read that feel free to skip over this.)
Foz do Iguaçu: The first stop on our trip and one of the 7 Wonders of the World if I might add (happy to say I've seen 2 out of 7 and #3 is coming soon). The falls themselves were incredible. It was absolutely breath taking and I would highly recommend to anybody. Besides visiting the falls the city they are located in borders Argentina and is about a 15 minute drive from Paraguay. Lucky for us we got to visit both and snag those stamps in our passports. After visiting Argentina I decided my new favorite thing is DUTY FREE shopping. If you don't know what this is please feel free to email me and we can have a long chat about one of mans greatest creations.
Florianópolis: Speaking of man's greatest creations one of Gods finest has to be the city of Florianópolis. This city has become my favorite place I have ever traveled to and without a doubt I will be returning. Needless to say the beach is my happy place and spending two days at some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen with my own eyes made me a VERY happy girl.
São Paulo: The 3rd largest city in the world with over 20 million people, São Paulo without question is the "New York" of Brasil. Because it is absolutely massive and we only had two days to stay we headed towards the more cultural parts of the city. Most people don't know but São Paulo has the largest number of Japanese outside of Japan itself. They have their own community or "Japan Town" in the city called Liberdade. Lanterns replace street lights and the food is absolutely amazing; Sweet Hearts has the best yakisoba curry I have ever put in my mouth and The Tea Shop wins best Bubble tea and rolled icecream. Since we arrived in São Paulo on the weekend, street markets were happening all over the city. Avenida Paulista is one of the most famous roads in São Paulo and is blocked off all day Sunday to host the cities largest street fair. With stands selling food, drinks, clothes, and so much more we spent the remainder of our time together shopping in what seemed like the real life version of Etsy. I was not disappointed.
Aside from the traveling in preparation for General Conference this weekend I have been studying past talks from previous years. Coming with questions and as prayers are always answered, I received a particular answer I would like to share. The most recent months of my life have been some of the most significant to my growth in all aspects: Physically, emotionally, mentally and most importantly spiritually. Seeing this growth and how essential it is in shaping me into the person I will be, I have become more aware of the future and or a lack of what the future holds. An uncertainty. Uncertainty can be painful. If uncertainty is inevitable, and if it can be so challenging, what do we do about it? As I stumbled upon the talk "Wait Upon the Lord: Thy Will be Done" by Elder Robert D. Hales a specific quote caught my attention,
"As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we "wait upon the Lord."
The "List of Advice" for this month is a little different than most of the previous. I want to share what I've learned about "waiting upon the Lord" in hopes to help those who are struggling through uncertain times.
1. We must actively seek God. As we seek Him, we must trust that we will find Him. Regularly turn to God for answers. We have to actively seek God in order to find Him. Put your hand in His, and take this unknown journey together.
2. You need to know that God has a plan for you. As you seek for Him, He will help you come to know what that plan includes. The plan God has for you may not match the ideals you have envisioned and when life doesn't seem to match these ideals we may begin to worry that we don't measure up and fear that we are disappointing God. It’s tempting to think that God has some master plan that He’s measuring us against it, and if we take one misstep we’ve missed our chance for happiness forever. But you know what? As I’ve examined that mindset, I’ve learned that I needed to have a better understanding of who God is and what the term “His plan for me” means. I've come to learn that God is not a divine dictator who demands perfect obedience to a predetermined plan for our own individual life. Instead, he is a co-creator, who with our help, can plan the kind of life we want to live. Through faith, together you and the Lord can create something truly remarkable.
3. Through the uncertainty of the future, waiting, seeking, and understanding God’s plan for us requires a tremendous amount of faith and hope. Faith and Hope are a choice we make daily; we choose to be either faithful or fearful. When we choose faith, we minimize fear and when we choose fear, hope and faith are impossible. Waiting in uncertainty for the things God has planned for us sometimes can bring disappointment. Seeing friends, family, and others around us have things happen to them that we envision for ourselves can be hard when they aren't happening to us. It takes hope and faith to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of our differences, to give others space to discover their own paths, and to trust that God will help you just like you see Him helping those around you. This may include celebrating a mission call of a friend even though the prospects of a mission aren't on your horizon. It may include being excited for someone who just got into their dream school even though you didn’t. I know what it is like to feel forgotten or insecure when others get the things you hoped for, but if you can learn to celebrate and appreciate differences, I believe your heart will be more open to what God has in store for you.
4. Sometimes in the middle of waiting, and despite our best efforts, we may find ourselves feeling lost and alone. More times than not we believe that during the course of this waiting we need to seek the Lord in order to find Him. Despite the truth behind this, every so often when we are lost, He will also find us. President Uchtdorf taught:
"God is fully aware of those who are lost—and He will find them, He will reach out to them, and He will rescue them . . .Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, . . . knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears. . . .You are His child. And . . . He loves His children."
Despite life’s uncertainties, following these principles has helped me face the unknown. I have searched for God and I have found Him. His plan for me is unfolding as I take His hand and accept the invitation to become a co-creator with Him. I am trying to choose hope and faith daily. And more times than not, when I am lost, He finds me. I strongly believe these principles can help you too.
This next month I will be in several different countries in South America (YOOT) and unable to write. (boo). Until that time comes, Tenha uma bom mês. Diga suas orações. E saiba que Deus te ama. Te amo vocês.
First I'd like to start this off wishing my best friend in the entire world a happy birthday. Madison King you are the best and I love you. Have the best day ever.
But yikes.. I was caught red handed yesterday by one of my "fans", if you can call them that, for not keeping to my weekly report. The days end up mashing together when the week starts on Sunday and before I know it it's Thursday and I haven't done half the things I needed to do. As crazy as my week gets I somehow manage to pull through, not on time or routine, but I finish what I need to and this week has been no exception.
My second full week of school and it doesn't get any more enjoyable, if anything it gets worse; the situation just isn't great but you didn't come here to read my complaints.
February, this year in Brasil, as many of you may or may not have known is Carnival. I don't know the history behind it but the only things you need to know about it are it's colorful, loud, and WILD. Just about every aspect of my city is decorated for the occasion and it seems to be all anybody can talk about. Samba, the type of dance, is also a huge part of Carnival. The Samba School of Dance is the world famous parade that happens in Rio. Fun Fact: The picture at the top of this post is where the parade happens! Obviously, I went there while I was in Rio and it is HUGE. The floats, the costumes, and the actual space where the parade happens are indescribable, they're unlike anything I have ever seen. The huge celebrations don't just happen in Rio. This past weekend I went to a Block Party. I'm not going to go into detail about what these parties entail but it's nothing good. Lots of drinking, lots of dancing, and lots of people. Being that I don't drink there wasn't anything entertaining for me to do. I did realize though how loosely alcohol can be sold legally in Brasil: from the back of trucks, Mcdonald's parking lots, and shopping carts (all the drunk people pushed their drunk friends and their alcohol in coolers around the road. It was quite a sight to see).
Aside from my sodom and gomorrah experience I had the most incredible Sunday. Thanks to my AWESOME family (specially my dad, thanks for the best pep talk) I had the chance to bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting. Wow, if you think it's scary to do it in your regular ward in your first language, try in a different language; this had to be one of the scariest, most nerve racking moment of my life. I ended up getting to church a little early and sat practicing what I would say over and over again in my head because I knew if I didn't I would end up speechless behind a microphone in front of a group of people and how embarrassing would that be. After a couple run through's, Yggor, sat down next to me! If you don't know who Yggor is, he is one of the first investigators I met when I first got here! He is the sweetest kid but he stopped coming to church after the missionaries who taught him were transferred. I messaged him a few weeks earlier asking if he'd some to church again with me and he adamantly agreed, what a blessing it was to see him there and have it be so unexpected. After getting through the opening procedures the bishop opened up the meeting. I told Yggor today was the day. After rehearsing in my head for another good amount of time, he gave me the last push I needed to get up there. This experience has got to be one of the most fulfilling. I have reached a point in the language where I not only feel comfortable talking with others in a conversation, I can stand in front of them and talk to them.
The past few days I have been thinking a lot about the opportunities I've been able to experience and the opportunities that I haven't. The things that have worked out and the things that haven't. The people who've stuck around and the people who have left. After asking myself why did these things need to be taken away and more times than not pleading with God to change the circumstances, I realized something I hadn't before. Sometimes we ask God to change our situation, not knowing he puts us in the situation to change us. I can say I know for certain that God will never take anything away from us without the intention of replacing it with something better. We are so blessed. No matter what we are going through now or what we have already experienced, knowing that God is already causing all things to work together for our benefit is one of the most amazing things I have come to understand in this life. What has been initially intended to bring us down will turn around in our favor and God's glory. Understanding this important truth of life allows us to look back over everything that we've been through and have peace, because not only did God bring us through our hard times, He made us stronger and more resilient that we've ever been. Heavenly Father loved us enough that He was willing to hurt us by having us lose things, so that we can wake up and get on the right path. I hope we can all learn to embrace the hard things and become forever grateful that some things never went the way we had in mind because with God, they have been profoundly better.
I can't thank you all enough for supporting me and letting me involve you in the very personal aspects of my life. This has truly become an online journal. I love you all so much and I am so grateful for each one of you. Have a safe weekend!
And just like that another week has passed and Carnaval has officially ended. Thank goodness for Carnaval honestly, It's been a 5 day weekend and I needed it. I have been so busy going to and from places with old friends and meeting new ones everyday; it's going to be a real bummer when I have to go back to school tomorrow. But on a much happier note.. CARNAVAL! Wow. Definitely one of the most cultural things I have experienced in Brasil. Schools of Samba all over the country prepare for this week by practicing routines and music numbers to walk in a parade in front of thousands. It's like glorified marching band. Followed by these schools of samba are the samba dancers. These dancers use huge "floats" to help portray a story, political/social message, or show their pride for Brasil and they are nothing less than extravagant. The things you see and hear about Carnaval around the world are accurate; Carnaval is amazing and I am so lucky I could be apart of something that makes Brazilians proud of who they are and where they come from.
I'm sure the majority of you know Brasil is still a developing country with several political and social issues. Many people take advantage of the wide broadcasting of Carnaval to evoke these problems and in many instances provide probable solutions to accommodate these issues. Seeing the people of Brasil struggle with things I will never in my life have to experience has been such an eye opener and surprisingly such a blessing. Through the poverty, violence, and struggling government I realized that there's something different with the Brazilian people and the people I've grown up with my entire life: The willingness to change. People complain about stress, but some people would rather complain than change. Change is hard and scary and requires effort. It's easy to be frightened at the thought of jumping off life's high speed but oh so consistent treadmill, especially if you aren't sure what to give up in order to better your life.
Look around you. How many people do you think are settling for the consistent, for the comfortable. Probably the majority. People settle into okay relationships, okay jobs, okay friends, and an okay life. Why? Because okay is comfortable. Okay for most people pays the bills and provides a warm bed at night. Some people are fine with okay, and guess what? That's okay. But okay is not thrilling, it isn't passion, it's not life changing or unforgettable. Okay is not the reason you risk absolutely everything you've got for the smallest chance that something absolutely amazing could happen. Find your passion in life; find the thing that wakes you up in the morning and keeps you going. The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away. Growth and change may be painful sometimes, but nothing in life is as painful in the long run as staying stuck where you don't belong.
And with that I wish you all a wonderful week.
I have decided February shouldn't be a real month; it should be a half month or an extra long week with how short it actually is and especially because of how quickly the month in it's entirety has passed. Aside from how fast the time has gone AMAZING things happened this week. The best things always seem to happen on Sunday. The picture for this week is of me and my friend Yggor. I met Yggor the first week I arrived here. He has 16 years and promised me and the missionaries he would be baptized when he has 18. If you know me you know how stubborn I am and I was not going to take that for an answer. After running into him all over the city for a good month I knew I couldn't let him get away. After lots of prayer, lots of teaching, inviting to church and reaching out weekly, I am so happy to say Yggor was baptized this past weekend. One of the things that brings me the most joy in this life is watching the conversion of others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing more special in this life than bringing others back to Christ.
Besides my awesome experiences at Church this past Sunday I'm sad to say not much else has happened during the week. I have gotten back into a routine and have it planned almost exactly to the hour; I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing especially because it feels like I'm just going through the motions. But with all the free time I've had recently I have been able to do quite a bit of thinking and what this week I have decided to dedicate my "List of Advice" to somebody very special to me. With the events this person has coming up this week I hope I can make some sort of an impact with the things that are next to come...
How to Keep Going:
1. It Will Be Hard:
Being a person in the world isn't easy. You may feel pressure to quit from outside circles and pressure from within them too. But you didn't choose this life because it's easy. You chose it because it's what you want, it's who you are. It will seem like you have gone as far as you can go sometimes. In those instances, Go Further.
2. Stay true to who you are:
While others may have similarities, only you are you. There's no need to soften or placate or compromise. Be personal, raw, and passionate. Be that true self as loud as you can to drown out any voices trying to silence you, including your own.
3. Adapt and Change:
Part of being yourself is knowing that you will grow. Encourage yourself to do so so thoughtfully. Life moves on and you can't succeed if you don't to. Be aware and stay malleable. Part of living this life is knowing when it's time to refocus.
4. Redefine success:
Success is not about winning the hearts of every person. Focus on the people who will understand, benefit from and support you. If you could win just 5% of the world, that's still 370 million people and a tremendous success. Focus on the possible.
5. Raise each other up:
You are on your own journey but you are not alone. And at the end of the day it's not about what you have or even what you've accomplished. It's about who you've lifted up. Who you've made better. It's about what you've given back.
6. Don't ever stop:
Don't stop being yourself. Don't stop speaking out. Don't stop fighting to be heard. Don't stop making work that matters. Don't stop shouting whether that's by literally shouting or simply living your life your way. Never giving up is how you win.
Time keeps going and we're all forced to grow up but there is no need to worry about what is coming next. There is so much more ahead of you than you could possibly see or understand right now. There are so many more rivers to cross and mountains to climb, and all of these things will happen in time and even if you have to tread a little further to get to them, God is still faithful in leading you where you need to be and everything he does is with divine intention. So slow down. There's no need to rush when you know him. The party won't start without you. No one is going to take your seat and you will not be replaced or forgotten. In Him, you no longer have a reason to fear missing out. You only need to keep trusting, keep going, knowing that he will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He will always give you what you need and lead you right where you belong.
This week has been a week; I think I can say without a doubt in my mind it has been the hardest one the whole time I've been in Brasil. Late last Sunday I was admitted into the "instacare" of Brasil because of abdominal pains; I had been out to eat Acai with my friends and thought I had food poisoning. After running tests all night and not being able to discover the source of pain, I was transferred to a hospital. Keep in mind I live in a very small city 45 minutes away from a decent sized hospital and 4 hours away from any major city. This didn't help my overwhelming anxiety to be in a place that would've never been considered a hospital in the United States; it was an experience to say the least and after 2 more days of sitting in a bed with nothing for entertainment except Brazilian TV that I didn't understand, the source of the problem had been discovered: I had a ruptured cyst that left blood in the bottom of my abdomen. Scary right.
Despite everything that happened and as scary as this week has been, it has also been a week of tender mercies, miracles, and blessings. I would like to personally thank whoever reading this prayed and fasted for my health; it has not gone unnoticed. Out of all the things to happen this week the best by far has been watching how I was never left alone both physically and spiritually. Everyday I was in the hospital there was somebody to watch over me and sit by my side. My health and welling being was not left alone in the hands of strangers either; After being released I found out one of my doctors was a member of my church. What a blessing that truly was. After receiving several blessings from my bishop I had peace and comfort to guide me through the rest of this trial if you want to put it.
I love my bishop. He is one of the most honest and kindhearted men I have ever met. After being released from the hospital there was a period of time when I thought I was going to have to come home to have the surgery to clean the blood from the bottom of my abdomen. Before making this decision I asked to recieve another blessing from my bishop. He came to my home and before starting he wanted me to read a scripture; 2 Corinthians 12-
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
After reading these scriptures and receiving a well needed blessing I realized something important I never had before. Christ's atonement is not only for our faults, short comings, and our sins. It's not just for the sole purpose of forgiveness. Christ has felt, endured, and suffered everything we have and everything we ever will feel in this life. The time I felt I was alone, the time I felt scared and afraid, I was never truly alone. Never in this life will I will ever have to be alone; Because of Christ's atonement and in order for it to be infinite and eternal, "He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone." It was required for him to feel these things, it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that Christ, "this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins." Because Jesus walked this long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His journey through mortal life brings great companionship for our little versions of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel.
As difficult and as challenging as the past few days have been I would never ask to change the things I have experienced. To learn to turn from my limitations to a God that has none is the ultimate satisfaction in this life. Jesus suffered because he loves us deeply. Bad days will always come to an end, the faith you have will always triumph, and the promises and blessings of heaven are always kept. And in that, I hope you all have the best week! I love you all so much, thank you all for everything you have given me!
I admit it, I have become the worst at keeping the schedule I set for myself when I started this thing to write on time. It's now Wednesday and we're just now getting around to writing about last week; is it okay to blame it on the fact I started school this week or are we doing the whole "no excuses it's your unfilled obligation to write" sorta deal. Either way I'm here now.
This past week was my last week of freedom due to the fact that I started school on Monday but that's not even the worst part. The week was spent at my host dads parents place because my house was infested with FLEES! If you have never had flees consider yourself blessed. They are the tiniest bugs that leave bites that make mosquitoes seem enjoyable. The bites are painful and demand to be itched, more times than not until they bleed and scar. The source of the flees is still unknown, every house on my street ended up having them and had to spray more than once to get rid of them.. Monday afternoon we were finally allowed to come home!
As part of the new year I decided to create a new focus for my writing. With my passion for lists and my adequate ability to give decent advice; I have combined the two.. A "How to.." guide if you will for different aspects of life in the form of lists. This week the idea of self identity and improvement have overwhelmingly taken over my thoughts and I figured I'd give this "How to" guide a test run.
How to be Yourself.
- Who the heck are you?
Before you can be confident in yourself, you actually have to know who you are. You need to have a sense of where you come from. You can stay busy trying to make yourself into what others want you to be, what the world wants you to be, or you can look inward. Who are you and how does that inform what you do?
- Identifying your Truth.
What makes you who you are? You may have been told that this core truth is something to fear or be ashamed of. That is NOT true. What's true is the experience you bring and the heart of the real, human person that you are.
- Who do you want to be?
We all change, so pretending otherwise is silly. Think about who you hope to grow into. That desire is as important as who you are currently, to set your intention and inform the steps you'll take now to get there.
- Loving EVERY part.
It can be hard to embrace the roots we've buried deep, but take time to inspect them. This is what has led to your outlook on life. Learn to cherish (or at least acknowledge) even your darkest parts. Those parts have made you into the person you are.
- Finding your Voice.
Maybe don't shout your secrets, but do learn to speak from that place of honesty. Try to become somebody from that place of true emotion from your experience, but without making it completely inaccessible to others. This makes you what others describe as relatable. Everybody likes to be around somebody who they can relate to.
-Building your World.
You build yourself through a combination of stories and experiences. Create new goals and points of focus that build on each other reflecting that future self you hope to be. This becomes your body of attention and ultimately apart of who you are.
-Letting others in.
Even when you love and find power in yourself, your own voice, it can be terrifying to share it with those around you. Trust that you are the exact thing that someone needs. It may take time and patience but you will find that you are exactly who you are meant to be.
You can't let people scare you. You can't go your whole life trying to please everyone else. You can't go through life worried about what everyone else is going to think. Whether it's your hair, clothes, what you have to say, how you feel, what you believe and what you do or don't have. You can't let the judgment of others stop you from being you, because if you do, you're no longer you. You're someone everyone else wants you to be.
I've learned through actually applying the listed advice that sometimes you have to lose who you were to find out who you are. No amount of security and confirmation from others is worth the suffering of a mediocre life of conformity chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.
Encontre quem você é. Tenha um bom descanso da semana. Eu te amo!
IM BACK!! And by popular request. ( & by popular I mean my mom and dean, my grandpa ) Anyways! This month I have been traveling across the entire country of Brasil. I got home about a week ago and I have been so out of routine, that's why this post is coming at the middle of the week. I have so much I need to write about I just don't think I can write about it all. 18 days of nothing but going and traveling gets a little overwhelming so instead of writing about every single thing that happened I will just tell you about the important stuff; the places I visited and my favorite thing I did there. Let's start from the beginning.
Lençóis: After arriving in Salvador, we drove to the small city of Chapada Diamantina about 9 hours away. Chapada Diamantina is very small and is hidden away in the mountains of the North East. It was probably the most beautiful city we went to during the whole trip. We spent 2 days here hiking in the mountains and visiting caves, natural made rock slides, and other natural pools.
Maceió: Maceio has to be one of the most beautiful cities in all of Brasil. The beaches were surreal and we spent most of our time there. I had the opportunity to surf one day and the next take a boat to the middle of the ocean to a reef where you could stand. This sounds strange but it was strange, to be in the middle of the ocean and be able to walk around. I defiantly wish I had more time here.
Canindé de São Francisco:Our next city was probably the least important and least exciting. I wouldn't even consider it apart of the North East. The drive there it looked like we were in Saint George: a desert. It was hot and thankfully we only spent one day here. We spent the whole day on a boat on the Sao Francisco river. The river is in a canyon and is filled with piranhas so we only got to swim for about an hour in a blocked off section. After our river adventures we went to our hotel. The hotel at the time was a mess but later ended up being the joke of the trip: The Favela Hotel. It was so old and so run down. There was no wifi, no service, no air-conditioning, and my favorite, frogs. Everywhere. In the toilets, in our rooms, you just couldn't get away from them.
Salvador: Salvador was incredible. This was our first big city which means it was our first "dangerous" city. We couldn't wear jewelry or nice clothes, and we had to wear our backpacks on the front to prevent pick-pocketing. We visited a lot of churches; my favorite had the wall of wishes. There are colorful ribbons you can tie to the wall to make a wish. It is very popular and was so cool to visit a place I had always dreamed of visiting. We also had the opportunity to visit a huge market with over 100 shops and although it was a little overwhelming it was an experience I will never forget.
The rest of our time in Salvador was spent in Historic Salvador. Micheal Jackson filmed "They don't care about us" in the streets and favelas here and it is absolutely incredible. We got to explore the streets and shop but with a minor set back; it started to rain and it didn't stop. It was pouring rain the entire time we were there and at the time it was miserable. I thought it was a smart idea to wear a skirt that day and ended up needing to buy shorts because my clothes were soaking wet 2 hours into the rain. Me and my friends finally found somebody who was selling rain coats ( the plastic ones ) and of course they were at a ridiculous price. We agreed to buy them but some didn't. 2 boys from our group refused to buy the overpriced coats and went shop to shop asking for trash bags. By the end of the night they had found the perfect amount of trash sacks to make their own jackets, the main part of the coat had been sew by a lady at an acai shop so the "coats" would fit the boys and prevent water from entering.
Porto Seguro: Another beach city! This is the probably the nicest city we went to and I'm not saying that because we got to go to the beach again. The hotel we stayed at is located right on the beach and had an amazing view of the entire city.
Rio de Janeiro:And now the city I'm sure you all have been waiting to read about. Rio de Janeiro. I am not going to lie to you I had overwhelming anxiety the entire time I was there because of how dangerous it is and it didn't help our bus broke down for 8 hours on the side of the road just outside the city. After finally getting the bus working again we arrived to Rio at 2 AM and I have never seen so many homeless people in my life, and that did not help my anxiety either. After getting settled in to our apartments we headed out the next morning to go grocery shopping. We had to cook breakfast each morning for ourselves and these were probably the best meals we ate throughout the trip. Our days were long and filled with visiting all the important places located in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, pao de acucar, Maracana Stadium, and Copacabana Beach. It was so amazing to be at places I had only ever seen in pictures and I loved every second of it.
Angra dos Reis:A little city outside of Rio was our last stop for the trip and was probably the best way to end my adventure. It was absolutely breath taking. It is a small coastal city on that was built on the side of the mountain that extends down to the shore of the ocean. The city consists of over 150 islands and I got to island hop and visit over 10 of them.
There are pictures in the Photos page so you can see exactly where I went and I apologize for how brief these descriptions are! I am getting back into the routine of writing and will be back this weekend for my final post of 2017!! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have the best New Year!!
365 of 365. We made it. The end of 2017 and I can't believe it's come to another end, where has the time gone? I think we all forget that at the end of every year we always ask ourselves the same question, where HAS the time gone? I can honestly say I don't have an answer; It feels like this year just started when in reality it's just ending. 2017 has been a year of growth, a year of mistakes, and a year of learning and instead of sharing with you all those things each individually, I've made a list ( if you know me I am a very "list oriented" type of person" ) about the things I will be leaving behind. Through the hard times, the good times, and the somewhere in between I have created a list.
20 Things to Give up if you Want to be Happy
If I have learned anything this year, it is that I won't ever be ready for what life throws at me. I won't have the right words when it counts; I won't know what to choose when life itself is staring me down. But now I know I don't always need to have the right answer.
I've learned I can go on waiting for something, sustained by hope and nothing more- or I can put it aside and shrug my shoulders knowing I'm better off without it and bravely accept the fact that I can't keep my heart safe anymore than I can stop love from taking everything from me.
I have learned to make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation sincerely and without the expecting of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and soon you'll find many others around you. Truly appreciate life and you'll find that you have more of it.
I have learned to stop saying yes when I don't mean it- to live as authentically as I know how. To allow the tips of my fingers to skirt the darkness, as long as I remember to keep my eyes fixed on the light that I choose to follow. And as one door closes, another opens. Wherever happened over this past year, Be thankful for where it brought you. Where you are is where you're meant to be and with that, I can move forward with the knowledge that unlike so many others, I have another year ahead of me- another shot at making it all the way around the sun, and a chance to get it right this time around. What is coming is better than what is gone.
Tomorrow is the first day of a new 365 blank page book. What if you devoted this year to loving yourself more? This is your life. Do what you want and do it often.
If you don't like something, change it.
If you don't like your job, quit.
If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over analyzing and stop over thinking, life is simple.
All emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Life is simple.
Open your heart, mind and arms to new things and people, we are better when we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once, sieze them.
life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short, live your dream and wear your passion.
Heres to 365 new days
Heres to 365 new chances
First off.. I'M A HIGH SCHOOL GRAD YAAHOO!! And I'm sorry about how long it's taken me to get around to writing again. 14 days if were really counting. So here's to the first post for 2018 you avid readers. These past two weeks have been pretty boring; I'm not in school because its technically "summer break" so my days consist of binge watching Netflix, trips to the gym ( my personal favorite part of the day ), playing with my host brother and sister and studying Portuguese, lots of studying but we'll get to that later. As boring as it sitting at home I am dreading going back to school. Being in school isn't "that bad" but it's just boring; why be bored in an uncomfortable desk at school when I can be bored in my bed at home. I know you aren't reading this to hear me complain about school so I'll get to the important stuff that's been happening.
The past few weeks have been filled with so many tender mercies, it has truly been blessings upon blessings. One of the first happened at the gym earlier this past week. For those who don't know I have a "running partner" at the gym. He's an older guy and we've always just ended up running next to each other at the same time everyday; he's tried and talk to me but I'd always just nod my head and agree because,
1.I'm in the middle of working out and..
2. I honestly have no idea what you're saying dude.
But after a few months of this, this week he finally cornered me when I wasn't running and didn't have head phones in. ( Which used to be my worst nightmare. ) We got to talking and I explained I wasn't Brazilian (duh, have you seen me) and that's why I never answered any of his questions. The conversation continued and totally out of context he told me he was LDS! I didn't know what to say, it was so cool to meet somebody so unexpected at a place I was so familiar with that shared my same beliefs. Not only was this man was familiar face to me but now I knew he shared my same values. I never imagined something as small as that meeting would mean so much to me. The next tender mercies have come from within my own home. I switched host families last month and now I am living with 2 little kids. That itself is a blessing to me; I love being in a "family" environment where we go out and do things as a family and spend time with the extended family. It has made these past few weeks feel a little more like home.
I made a goal for myself to focus this year on self improvement, how to be happier in a sense And after thinking about the best possible ways to achieve this self improved happiness I’ve come up with 8 ways to make it happen:
How to embrace yourself: Life is constantly reminding us about what we don’t have, but what about all that we do have? What makes you special? What do you have to offer the world around you? What do you enjoy? Find the things that you do love about yourself. They’re enough.
How to feel content:
Nobody gets everything they want. There will always be something, new problems will always arise. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for contentedness. Find a way to be happy with what you already have and you’ll always have exactly what you need.
How to find fresh inspiration:
“Your thing” can start to feel like the “only thing”, but there’s just so much to experience, learn or invest in. This doesn’t mean a career change, it’s just nice to remember the world has plenty to offer. Travel more, read more, learn new skills and try new things.
How to Acknowledge the Sad:
HIding your darkest feelings from strangers is probably smart but hiding them from yourself is not. Recognize what is hurting you. Take steps to address it. This might mean talking to somebody who understands. This might mean taking real time to process.
Sunshine & Rainbows:
Life’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but a lot of it actually is. Sunshine is literally good for you, so go soak up that vitamin D. The sun is a massive star that will outlive all of us. As for you rainbows, well, you've got to weather the storm first. Hang in there.
How to celebrate everything:
The things you take for granted might be major accomplishments for someone else. Paying rent on time is an accomplishment. Getting errand done is an accomplishment. Even just waking up is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Learn to celebrate the little stuff, it matters.
Forget the destination:
Happiness is not a place it is a journey. You do not “arrive” at joy but you can strive to create it in small and enjoyable ways. Stop searching for the end or it’ll find you before you ever “get there”.
Create & Meet Goals:
Having something positive to look forward to is important. We no longer have the structure of childhood to keep up motivated and subsequently rewarded. So set goals for yourself, big or small then meet them. Then set new ones and keep on going (forever).
With these 8 things I truly believe we can become the best versions of ourselves. In 1 year we can either be in the same place or a better place. Focus everyday on these little things to better your health and happiness. It will take time but you can make it happen, and when it does you’ll thank yourself for it.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got. I miss you all very much and I love you just as much! Talk to you all soon!
Another month down and it has rained everyday since November started. When I say it rains... it pours... for hours on end; not to mention the lightening and thunder that follow the rain are bigger and louder than anything I've ever seen or heard before in my life. Don't get me wrong I love the rain but everything is wet and cold and I want to see the sun. Despite the rain I had a really good week, I didn't have school on Thursday or Friday, Sam Smith's new album was released (it's amazing. give it a listen), and on my days off from school I went to Olimpia and spent the day at a water park.
I have basically driven 4+ hours in every direction: North, South, East, and West to visit a different city in the past 3 weeks. Last Sunday I went to Porto Feliz for a Rotary convention. Although I had absolutely no idea what was going on I got to see some of the other exchange students that are spread out around the district; most of them almost 3 hours away from where I live. It was nice to see them and catch up on how their exchange is going. They're the only people who can relate to exactly how I feel and what I'm going through.
Nothing important happened the rest of the week, I was only focused on making it to Thursday. Thursday was some holiday here (Brasil has so many weird holiday's but they are days I get off school so I'm not complaining). My family packed us up at 5:30 a.m. and drove for 3.5 hours north to Olimpia to a huge water park. It was one of the only day's that it hadn't rained as much as it had which worked out perfect. We spent the whole day there and it was so nice to visit a different place and be outside all day. Agudos doesn't have much so I am limited to what I can do for fun; I was so grateful for the chance to get out and travel.
Being in Brasil for the past few months has taught me a lot about how to love somebody without ever having to say anything; not because I didn't want to say something but because more times than not I just can't say anything important. I've learned in life to ignore most of what people say and watch what they do instead. The people I've felt the most love, all of them have some of the same qualities reflected through their actions. I sat down and made a list of each attribute these people had and came up with:
These are the qualities that define the most loving and honest human beings. These are the qualities that propel people to greatness. The most important of these qualities I believe to be is KINDNESS. J.M. Barrie once said, "Shall we make a new rule of life.. always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?" If every single person reading this and every single person who isn't made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary; The world really would be a better place, And if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize it and they themselves become a little kinder too. Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react in life. React a little kinder. Have a little more courage. Be a friend. And be of good character. The future is what you make for yourself, and anything it possible.
Tenha uma boa semana. Eu amo todos voces. XOXO
(Picture above: My two favorite girls from church. They are the cutest things. & yes my hair is pink)
Nossa (that's wow in Portuguese for your information) .. what a week. I didn't really do anything special but it's still another week that has passed by.. 5 days of school filled with nothing but reading and watching Netflix. (I know that's probably not what you want me to say I do during school but it's exactly what I do.) I love to read and I read A LOT. It's productive and helps the time in class go by faster. After school is lunch; I love this meal and the time I get to spend with my family. I decided while I was here it was important to learn how to build healthy relationships and the time we spend together as a family during lunch is crucial to building those relationships. Lunch is usually followed by homework. Remember when I told you guys I was "done" with my online school for Herriman. HA! Yea right. Jokes on me. I actually have another semester I have to finish before I leave on my month trip in December. Please pray for me and my mental health as I try to manage to finish 3 semester classes in less than 1 month. After I feel like I've done a sufficient amount of homework I go to the gym and run. I thought the day would never come and I really hope my mom doesn't read this but I love to run. Yes, I said it. It's a good release on the days that I struggle. Then the night is up to me.
Despite my daily routine I just laid out for you I manage to somehow have a lot of free time on my hands. I decided to dedicate that empty time to start and finish Personal Progress..again. (because just once isn't enough ya know?) I forgot how much I love Young Women's and the Personal Progress Program. I forgot how much I love the gospel and how important it is in my life. I realized this week a couple things while working on the faith portion.
1. Faith isn't just something you have; it's something you constantly have to work towards. It's a decision you have to make every day, sometimes multiple times a day in each and every situation. And even though sometimes we do not understand all things, all the time, heavenly father does. Trusting God means embracing the unexpected and knowing who is in guiding us. It's knowing that we are giving up something good for something better. God's will is not knowing how things will work out, but just knowing that they will. I would like to take a minute and credit losing everything I had before to gaining everything I have now. Heavenly Father loved me enough that He was willing to hurt me by having me lose things, so that I could wake up and get on the right path; what a blessing it is to see how my life has turned out. He always has our best interest in mind.
2. To be loved and not known is comforting, but superficial. To be known and not loved, is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is well, a lot like being loved by our Heavenly Father. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us, and strengthens us for any difficultly life can throw at us. Compared to God we are nothing and yet to God we are everything. That is amazing to me; Love is the very essence of this gospel.
Anyways, hopefully somewhere in my list of lessons I've been taught this week (I don't think we can ever be taught these lessons enough) there was something you might've needed to hear or some amount of love that needed to be felt. I'm not quite sure. But this is a new week.. it's a good week to have a good week. Let the adventure begin. Sua semana é o que você faz. Torná-lo um bom. Amo todos vocês. Tchau.
Sua semana é o que você faz. Torná-lo um bom. Amo todos vocêsSua semana é o que você faz. Torná-lo um bom. Amo todos vocêsSua semana é o que você faz. Torná-lo um bom. Amo todos vocês
So I'm a little ( a lot ) late this week. oops. anyways. thanks for coming back to check up again on me this week, super appreciate it. Like the past 2 months nothing new or exciting has happened. I'm pretty sure I have been living the same day over and over again. (I think there's a movie about that). And in all honesty if you were to look up the word "day" in the dictionary you'd find my schedule: I wake up, go to school, come home and eat lunch, do more homework, go to the gym, read, and go to bed. It's so typical now I can actually list what I'm doing. I guess I was doing the same things over and over again at home but you get used to a routine you don't notice after a while.
The highlight of this week wasn't an event but a person, my person here Brasil.
If you're just tuning in Anderson is the only other exchange student in my city ( he's from Taiwan ) and that kid has gotten me through it all. His English is.. there, kinda. He tries his best and makes the most out of any situation. I think that's what I like about him so much. He's not afraid of anything. He just gives it his best shot and hopes for the best. Maybe we can all learn and be a little more like Anderson; Giving life our best shot and hopping for the best. Even if you go for something and it doesn't work out, you still win. You still had the guts to head straight into something that frightened you. That type of bravery will take you places.
When I started writing my blog I wasn't sure what I would include and I wouldn't, I wasn't sure what I would write and to what extend I would write it. The good times, the bad times, the easy and the hard; they are real and they happen. I learned that first hand this week. I always liked to believe that hard things would never happen to me, but hard things happen to everyone, including me. especially this past week. One of the people I admire the most in this world once taught me, "So much of life depends on our attitude." We simply cannot control what happens to us but we can have absolute control over how we respond to the changes in our life. It's how we respond to hard situations and make the most out of where we are, with what we have that matters. The maximum happiness, peace, and contentment come when we choose a positive attitude.
When you start to feel like you should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents and those moments weren't in vain. You aren't the same as yesterday, last week, or last year; you have grown and are growing. You are breathing and living and things will get better. It's through the highs and the lows and the moments between. For where you are now and for where you will go. For the "I've always known" and the "I told you so", for "nothing is happening" and "all has gone wrong". It is here in these moments in this journey that you will learn to be strong. There is more to you than yesterday and you will get to where you're going. You will end up where you belong. Even if you don't know where that is yet.
My wish to anyone who is still here, who is still reading, please continue. Continue to be who you are. Continue to have an attitude of optimism. Continue to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to thrive and do so with passion and compassion. This life is yours and I think you should just go for it. Eu amo muito todos vocês. Obrigada por tudo.
Ah here we are again. Another week has come and gone and absolutely nothing exciting happened. Just to clarify just because I live in Brasil doesn't mean my life is filled with day to day life changing events. If someone reading lives that kind of life, PLEASE tell my your secrets. Despite all that I am overfilled with joy to say I will not be going back to school until February. Let me say it again a little louder for the people in the back, I AM NOT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL UNTIL FEBRUARY! BACK TO BACK SUMMER VACATIONS ROCK!!
Anyways, I am so, so, SO excited to say that this week I am leaving on a 3 week trip to places I've been dreaming about since I was a kid. Let me just include a few of those places: Salvador, The Pratinha Cave in Lençóis, The Pajuçara Pools in Maceio, Rio de Janeiro, and so many more I can't even list all of them. You know the saying "Do something that would make you childhood self proud." Well that's what I'm doing. I think 12 year old Lex would be pretty proud of myself right now.
This week was the first of the holiday's to be spent without my family. Thanksgiving was celebrated twice. Two different days with two fully prepared and fully cooked meals. AND I cooked the meals myself. My mom said it was okay to brag about the fact that I cooked two pies: one pumpkin pie ( roasted the pumpkins, and grounded my own ginger) and one apple pie ( which took less effort but still is impressive ). All the food turned out great. The first dinner was at a family from my wards house with the missionaries. They are the cutest family; I posted a picture of me and their little girls a few weeks ago for reference. The second dinner was at my own house with my host family. I am so happy I got to celebrate twice. Just one dinner wasn't enough to celebrate my gratitude for all people and things in my life. Throughout the past few months I've realized that the more thankful I am, the more I have to be thankful for. Be obsessively grateful, you're better off that way.
The past few weeks have been an interesting few weeks. It has been filled with things that I haven't ever experienced before but I guess that's just part of the growing process. Growing up is the weirdest thing let me tell you. And despite the hard times it made me realize most of us in life are just doing the best we can and sometimes were not very good at the things we do but I feel that there is something amazing in that. We fumble through this life in the most ungracious ways and yet every morning we wake up and try it again. We still find ways to love each other in spite of our faults. We still find things to live for in spite of it all. Life is amazing. Then it's awful. Then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. You have to live in the amazing moments and hold tight during the awful. Those ordinary moments, you just have to relax, exhale and be thankful for the life you're living. That's the beauty of this life. It's full of heartbreaking, amazing, healing, awful, and ordinary life moments.
The past few weeks I have been so grateful for the opportunities I've had, the people I've met, and the things I have been able to see. This life is truly what we make it. Time passes away and ultimately we can either spend it creating the life we want or spend it living the life we don't. The opportunity to live to the fullest is there but most people don't have a willingness to grasp it. It's waking up on Monday morning with no complaints. It's knowing you deserve to laugh. It's doing what is right no matter what. It's doing what you what, no matter how stupid you may look sometimes. It's about being yourself because at the end of the day nobody can tell you you're doing it wrong. It's the life you create for yourself and I hope you create something that makes you happy. "Happiness is not a goal, it's a by- product of a life well lived."
Anyways, that's all I've got this week! I won't be updating my blog until the end of December when I come home from my trip!!! I hope you all ( if there's anyone still reading ) have a good month of December and fill it with all of your joyous Christmas activities and traditions. My personal favorite is to participate in the, Light up the World: 25 ways in 25 days. You can learn more in the links below. I love all of you so much and hope you have the best holiday season!! I will talk to you soon. XOXO Tchau.
It's already October! Wow! Where does the time go. I'm a little bummed I'm going to miss Halloween this month because it's defiantly my favorite holiday but it's good. I wouldn't trade being in Brasil for anything. This week has been a week. Conference weekend was the best way to start it off. The Gospel is so DOPE and I was so happy that even 6,000 miles away from Utah I can still listen to the words of our Savior!
After conference, I don't know how it's possible but my week only got better. Monday was probably one of the best days I've had since I've been here. I didn't end up going to school (we woke up too late hehe). This worked out perfectly because my package from PARKER WRIGHT came!!!! I had been waiting patiently for this to arrive and the day had finally come! (It was the cutest present ever. THANK YOU SO MUCH)
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were normal days. I went to school and I've realized as much as I hate going, it's where I learn the most Portuguese. I've been able to understand a lot of whats been going on and that's been really nice. I'm still limited to what I can say but that will only come with time.
On Friday I got to skip school (again) and go to Bauru with my friend Bridgie (she's from Canada). She had to go get her Visa approved by the police and let me tag along. I was so grateful because
1. No school (!!)
2. Someone who speaks ENGLISH! BOO YAH.
I spent the day shopping, eating and most importantly talking in English (Just kidding ha it's just a nice release sometimes). Brasil has some interesting stores and we found the coolest place. The store was actually called Hippie and we don't have anything like it in Utah at least that I know of; all sorts of necklaces, bracelets, and clothes. They also had so many moon things and saying "I was the happiest girl" is an understatement.
After I arrived back at home I made a quick trip to the gym and came back only to get ready to go to Bauru again. My family and I went to see Blade Runner and we watched it in English this time. (Thank Goodness. The city I live in doesn't have much shopping or any movie theaters so to get out we usually go to Bauru.) We purchased our tickets and got some ice cream. McDonald's has stands around the mall that sell just ice cream and let me tell you how delicious it is. As the night ended and we returned home I realized each day in Brasil becomes the new best day and I'm genuinely happy with the way things are.
As time has gone on since I've been here, things have become more normal and Brasil has become my home. I've realized that when the days become the same I forget to recognize the good things that happen everyday. That the sun rises and sets and most importantly I wake up and get to live another day in one of the most beautiful countries in the world; I am truly living the life I've always dreamed.
Traveling has become one of the biggest blessings in my life. I travel because I need to, because distance and difference are the secret to creativity, an open heart, and an open mind. When I go home, home will still be the same, but something in my heart and mind will have changed, and that changes everything. I'm grateful for where I'm at, and excited about where I'm going. Until next Friday. XOXO Tchau.
I say this every week but I don't think I can stress it enough; time flies in Brasil. Tomorrow will be Monday and before I know it, it's Friday again. I have so much I want to do and so little time to actually accomplish it. Before I know it my time in Brasil will be over and it'll be time to go home. I never realized how short and precious time really is. I've always thought I'd have all the time in the world to do anything and everything I wanted.. But I couldn't be farther from the truth. Life is so messy. Being a human is messy. It's not as neat and perfect as we hoped it to be but we can only live in the time that we are given and make the most out of it.
I repeatedly am asked what's it like to live in Brasil: what makes it "so different" compared to living in the United States. I have decided to create a list of "11 things that make Brasil different".
1. There is no pluming/sewage system here.
2. Water is not free. Eating out and drinking water costs money. (It comes in a glass bottle most of the time.)
3. Most cities have beautiful churches with lots of history. The United States doesn't have hardly any history.
4. Public transportation is more readily available. Buses and motorcycle taxis are used the most in Agudos.
5. Sports are not popular. Soccer and handball are the most common with no sports clubs in schools.
6. Many people, usually in the bigger cities, can speak multiple languages. English is taught in school from an early age until graduation.
7. They recycle more. Incentives at supermarkets allow you to bring back glass bottles (usually coke) to purchase another for a cheaper price. Most trash cans in cities are split into 3 sections: paper, plastic, and garbage.
8. Coins actually matter. ($1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05 and $0.01.) Although similar to our currency you could have 5 coins and have up to $5.
9. There are fewer trash cans. In the United States there seems to be one on every corner. Bins to throw away garbage are small and spread out around the city.
10. Street signs are tricky. They are small and can be found on buildings and other walls.
11. Dinner is an all night activity. Going out to eat doesn't usually happen until 9 or 10 o'clock and lasts well into the night.
Although some things are different a lot of things are actually the same. "Normal life" in Brasil is still almost exactly the same as my "Normal life" in the United States. School, the gym, friends, church, and other actives fill my time and I am kept pretty busy. Things get hard and I get lonely but I didn't come hoping to have a vacation with the hard times left out. I came to learn. I came to grow. Some periods of this "growth" are so confusing that most times I don't even realize growth is happening. I'm not going to lie and say I am happy all the time. A lot of the time I actually feel alone, anxious, and abandoned. It never really occurs to me that during the time I am struggling, I am in fact in the process of growth and change; becoming something bigger and better than I was before. Often the feeling of growth isn't enjoyable or pleasant and more times than not what is the most unpleasant is not knowing what's happening. Those long periods when something inside us seems to be waiting, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually becomes the periods we wait for, it is those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life. And in that, the best things are yet to come. Until next Friday. XOXO. Tchau.
This week has been one of the most special and important weeks since I arrived in Brasil. I could only focus on the fact that on Saturday I would wake up at 4:30 a.m, drive 200 miles to finally attend the temple again. I never realized how lucky I am to look out my window and actually see 3 temples let alone drive 200 miles and be able to visit 5 more. What a blessing that is.
After driving 3 hours to get to the temple I waiting another 3 hours to actually go inside. While I waited for the first little bit I took beautiful pictures of the temple. (as seen above & more in the photo album). I returned to the family history center and started to print family names out or at least tried to. I soon remembered I don't speak fluent Portuguese and the entire website wasn't being translated; I was starting to get frustrated. A girl, Rebecca, sat down next to me and we started talking. She was able to help me with the little bit of English she knew and a lot of help from Google Translate. We figured it out and decided to go outside and walk around the temple until our session started. I spent the day talking and getting to know her pretty well. She told me how she took a bus to get here spending the entire day at the temple and took the night to travel back home. Some people have to make HUGE sacrifices to be able to attend the temple once a month, sometimes once a year. I sat and thought about how blessed I was at home to have the luxury of frequent temple visits. Blessings we receive from the temple are so important. Something cannot be a sacrifice if we are getting more than we originally gave up in return.
Before Rebecca had to return back to her bus we were saying our goodbyes and it came up that she lived in Juiz de Fora, the same city my cousin, Bryce, served his mission in. I told her and she asked to see a picture of him only to realize she knew Bryce and was taught at one point by him. "coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God. He does not do things by ‘coincidence’ but … by ‘divine design." What a tender mercy from the Lord to meet some of the same people, same members of the church my cousin had the pleasure of meeting just two years earlier.
I don't have much else to write about. This week has been the same as it always is. Lots of Portuguese, lots of reading, and lots of Acai. I was on Facebook earlier this week and I got a notification of a reminder post from 3 years ago. It was me posting that I made the varsity swim team my freshman year. I laughed a little actually because my life is not what I planned it to be. Not in a million years would I have guessed I would end up here. Honestly if you told me 3 years ago I would have hip surgery, quit swim and water polo and spend my senior year in Brasil, 15 year old Lexie would laugh in your face and probably say, "ya right". But as I've spent more and more time here I've noticed life has never gone the way I had in mind. Not even once. And that has been hard sometimes but I hate to think of my life as any different than what it is right now. Every choice I've made has lead me to where I am and no matter what happens next if I put God first, my trials and losses, my lonely times will be made up to me and that is the same for everyone. And what happens next will be not just okay, but better than what we ever had in mind- better than when the hard times started. My life is not at all what I planned or expected it to be, it is profoundly better. Until next week. XOXO, Tchau.
(if you have any questions about temples or missionaries visit www.lds.org :)
2 MONTHS IN BRASIL WOHOO!!
I would first like to apologize for how inconsistently I have been keeping up with my blog and if you're still here reading I appreciate you immensely. I passed my two month mark this week and like I write every week time is flying by. This week like the past few weeks have been pretty normal. My days are just.. days. I'm pretty sure if you were to look up the word "day" in the dictionary you'd find a description of my typical day as the definition. Don't get me wrong I love my days, weeks, months i've spent here because obviously they are spent in Brasil but I have just gotten into a routine now. As thrilling as living in South America sounds it's normal, at least for me now.
Once a month I face-time home to my family and this weekend was that weekend(!!!!!!). I didn't think it was possible to forget the sound of someones voice but it is very much possible and oh how lovely it is to hear it again. I am a firm believer that everybody has a "home team". The people you call when you get a flat tire or something terrible happens. It's the people near (or far) who know everything there is to know about you and still love you anyways. The people who are happy when you are happy. The people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle of the night, no matter what people. And let me tell you, I LOVE my "home team" people. I am so grateful for you guys, words just can't do it justice.
Besides being sick and laying in bed all day, nothing new has happened. I think the most exciting part of my week was finally finishing all my online classes to graduate from Herriman High School. It's been a long time coming but I am happy to say I have finished high school. (Word of Advice: During my freshman year when the seniors said the next 4 years of high school pass by I didn't believe them. My mistake because I'm graduating and I still like to believe my first day of freshman year was yesterday.) And oh how things have changed. Tomorrow, October 29th, is the 2 year mark of the passing of my friend Cadee Connor. During my sophomore year she was in a car accident and passed away. That afternoon when I heard the news is a day I don't think I will ever be able to forget but I don't think forgetting would be good for anyone. It was an eye opener that our days our never promised. I think if we all had timers that told us when our time on Earth was over we'd live our lives a little more. Maybe we'd stop wasting our lives worrying about things that never happen, or collecting things that we can't take with us. We'd probably treat people better. We certainly wouldn't be yelling at someone who only had a day left. Maybe people would finally stop living like they're immortal. Maybe we would finally learn how to live. We only get to live our life once and when we leave is never up to us. Make your life everything you wanted and hoped it would be. It is never too late to be what you might have been.
Until sometime next week.. XOXO. Tchau.
First week of school... phew. done. I wanna tell you school doesn't suck and it gets better, but those are only lies I tell myself every night knowing I have to wake up in 8 hours for school the next morning. I sit in a classroom full of kids and I am limited to saying, "can I use the bathroom", "I need water", and my name is Lexie." Sure I know more words and phrases but nothing that could start and keep a conversation. The kids in my class are some of the most amazing, welcoming, and generous people I've ever met. Dare I say most of the people in Brazil can be classified as this way. All the wonderful people in my class help me read and write and pronounce everything. I'm a kindergartner in a 12th grade class. (Struggle of the week: the word bread in Portuguese is SO HARD to pronounce. I've been saying it "wrong" apparently and I guess it's a bad word oops) I'm sure I'm the most annoying girl in school.. asking how to spell and say simple words but it's how I'm learning. Did I mention I'm coolest kid in school; It's like I'm a celebrity to these kids they follow me around everywhere. Being a blonde hair, blue eyed American has made me the most popular kid in school and I'm not gonna say I'm too upset about it.
If you don't already know I'm in the city Agudos. It's small and there isn't much here but it's the cutest place I've ever been in my life (and that's not saying much cause I've been to like 4 places ever). It's safe to walk the streets and I walk everywhere. To the gym, the cafes, the acai stores and the limited shops that are here. The acai here oh boy.. It is amazing. On the other hand driving here is nuts. There isn't a set speed limit or lines on the road so everyone just drives. Honking. Oh my. Everyone feels it's necessary to honk all the time and it drives me crazy.
Brazilian eat and eat and eat but that's okay I decided because the food here is AMAZING. Rice and Beans are served with every meal and lunch is when the family gets together to eat, it's really cool actually. Me and my host sister, Bianca (my saving grace. she speaks enough English to help me understand things at home) walk home from school and lunch is already prepared for us, it's my favorite part of the day actually. My host mom cooks every meal everyday. Even breakfast for me even though nobody else eats in the morning. I am so lucky. The family I am with now are the sweetest people. They have a pool that's currently under construction(!!!!!!). In the house it's Bianca is 15 and Gabriel is 19, their sweet puppy and then me. My host mom and dad: Sirlaine and Agnaldo have taken me in and it's felt like home.
Anyways, that's all I've got for this week. Until Friday.. Tchau!
This week was a week for firsts. First time with new foods (pastels are delicious 10/10 would recommend), first time applying for college (?!?!?), and the first time I actually realized I was completely immured in a new culture; Brazilian holidays included but we'll get to that later. This week was also a week of what Brazilian's call "Saudade". It's a word in Portuguese that can't be translated into English but the meaning of it is "The feeling of longing for someone that you love". Almost like homesickness. I wouldn't say I was missing home this week but I was missing times that have already passed and the people that came with it. I sat and yearned for passed times with good friends and family and cultivated moments that I wished to relived but couldn't. I yearned for times of change and realized how quickly time actually passes. Life when I was young seemed to be limitless, that I would live forever with an unlimited supply of sunrises along the horizon and the future was an unbroken road endlessly stretched before me. However more recently I've come to realize that those sunrises are limited and the road is broken with bumps and cracks, often times shorter than what we thought it was. Dare I say the first lesson I've learned in Brazil is instead of looking back at certain times of your life to only feel regret; create a life you are proud of. Live everyday knowing there is something to embrace and cherish. You shouldn't wait until some future point in your life to be happy. Happiness is readily available to anyone who wants it. You just have to be happy.
Now that my life lesson speech is out of the way we can get back to what you really came here to read. My week in Brazil. School wasn't anything special. I'm starting to understand more of what people are saying but I still can't speak anything. The kids in my class gave me a Portuguese Dictionary and I think that was the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me; I probably had the giddiest smile of my face the rest of that day. I was honestly touched.
September 7th was Brazil's Independence Day and the whole day was a party! The parade lasted what seemed forever in the hot weather and lucky enough for me I got to be apart of it. Being apart of Rotary is such a blessing; with the goal to end polio and the hope to eventually bring world peace through building international relationships is something I am so honored and grateful to be apart of. Before I joined I sat and watched each group walk down the street. Seeing such a different culture celebrate their Independence was the coolest thing. I wish I would've taken more pictures to share but I was enjoying what was happening. The pride of the people to live in Brazil is incredible.
After the parade ended we came home for lunch. (Which was delicious as always) and had Brazilian ice cream. Which included your choice of corn, strawberry, coconut, mango, or sweet milk and was eaten like a Popsicle off a stick. Later that night I went to a BBQ at a friends house down the road. I love to meet people and experience new things. The food isn't necessarily different in what is eaten but how it is prepared is very different. I am so grateful for every opportunity I get. The environment of being with friends and family enjoying a meal is something that is appreciated no matter what country you're in and I love that.
Life is starting to become more "normal" around here. Each day here in Brazil I choose to make the most of each day. I don't want to look back someday and wonder if i could've been better, made better choices or used my time more wisely. Times have changed and life keeps going but how blessed am I to be able to create a life of happiness in the most beautiful country in the world. Till next Friday, XOXO Tchau.
And by popular request from Brasil and the United States another week of my life through my blog. Honestly thank you to anyone who reads this I have officially got you to validate me on yet another form of social media. Anyways, this past weekend I took a quick trip to the city of Batatais Brasil with Paulo Arthur and his beautiful family. With a 4 hour drive away from home in Agudos I found myself in the most beautiful city. We spent the weekend at Paulo's parents house (who if i can add made me eat more than I ever have eaten in my entire life but i wasn't complaining because the food was delicious). My nights consisted meeting people at the San Gennaro party in the city center which was held behind the church of the city. Everyone wanted to talk and take pictures with me; being an exchange students from the United States does have it's perks. Towards the end of the party I was called on stage with my friends to introduce ourselves and open champagne bottles; a nightly tradition of the party but was still exciting. Sunday we drove to the country house and I can honestly say I have never been to a place like it before. Outside of wifi and cell phone reach we were hidden away in the country side of Brazil. The day consisted of futbol tournaments, swimming, eating (of course), and naps in hammocks. Taking a break from the busy life I've been living was a blessing and I was slightly disappointing when the night came to an end.
The rest of the week was just like any other ordinary week. School is hard, not because of the work but because listening to Portuguese for 5 continuous hours really hurts my head. I don't understand hardly anything that goes on at school but I put a smile on my face and act like I'm happy to be there and most days I really am happy to be there. It's nice to go out and talk to people. After lunch the rest of the day is up to me. My afternoons usually consist of school work from Herriman (thanks), naps, and the gym. The gym has become my new favorite place and is usually followed by trips to get acai. Nothing extra ordinary happens most days but every day I get to wake up and live a life most people only dream of and if that isn't the coolest thing you've ever heard than you're wrong.
That's all I've got to write about this week, like i said nothing too exciting happened. Quick thanks to everyone who continues to support and encourage me everyday it has helped a bunch and I love hearing from all of you. Until next Friday. XOXO Tchau.
I'M 18 HOLY COW!!!
I made it mom. You have a legal adult now and I'm not sure how either of us feels about that; but I know I'm so stoked I made it to eighteen and the fact that I got to spend it in Brazil is pretty dang cool to. I think in honor of me becoming this golden age I'd share some things I learned.
Eighteen things I learned by eighteen:
1. End every phone call with "I love you"
2. Smile and laugh as much as possible. Both are so good for you.
3. Hanging out with dogs can make your day a million times better. Even if it's just for 5 minutes.
4. You can't control how people treat you but you can control how you treat others.
5. Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows but a good majority of it actually is.
6. Live life simply. Strive to only be better than the person you were yesterday.
7. Nothing good comes from staying in a toxic relationship and;
8. Never allow yourself to be treated less than what you deserve.
9. Be open to change.
10. Travel! As much as possible. The world is beautiful. People are beautiful.
11. Self affirmations: They are so important. Wake up everyday and remind yourself that you are beautiful just the way you are.
12. Get help if you need it. There is nothing notable about suffering alone.
13. It's actually really fun to be friends with your siblings.
14. Be nice to your mom because you were probably meaner than you realize as a teenager.
15. Allow yourself to forgive. Forgive others, and most importantly, forgive yourself.
16. Don't wait for life to happen. Look for opportunities and take them.
17. Give everyday the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.
18. And finally, Don't wait to be happy. Happiness is readily available for anyone who wants it.
My week in Brazil has been nothing spectacular. Getting caught up on school work or studying the beautiful yet oh so difficult language of Portuguese is usually how my days are spent. Nights still consist of trips to the gym followed by Acai. This past weekend I went to the city of Bauru to celebrate my birthday with my partner Anderson, Bianca, and a few of her friends. A 30 minute bus ride took us to the neighboring city and we decided to watch, "IT" which at the time sounded like a good idea until I realized I don't speak Portuguese. From what I understood it was really good but there's still cracks and questions I have. (if anyone reading this can answer my questions it would be greatly appreciated). I spent an arm and a leg shopping after the movie but hey, I deserve it. Besides that nothing too excited happened.
I love being here and wake up everyday more grateful than the last for the opportunity I have to be here. I have been so worried about about being happy that sometimes happiness has been missed altogether. There is no magical moment of bliss that creates the ultimate reality of happiness. It is enjoying whatever little fragments of happiness you can find and making the most out of it. It's the 30 minute walks with Bianca to buy coke at the supermarket. It's the family lunches after school where I've laughed so hard my stomach hurts (usually because I have no idea what's going on but laugh anyways because it's good for me). It's the late night conversations and Netflix watching between me and Bianca and realizing were going to be exhausted for school the next morning. I have come to love the people I have met, and the culture I have learned. Brazil will indefinitely have a place in my heart. Until next Friday. XOXO Tchau.
To start I think it's fair to make the argument that I easily have the greatest host families of all time. They all gathered together and on THURSDAY NIGHT THEY THREW ME A SURPRISE PARTY!!!!! This was so great because,
1. Nobody has ever thrown me a surprise party.
2. It was so unexpected and I was so surprised I was easily the happiest girl in the entire world for a minute.
We had a big BBQ as friends and family and hung out and talked all night. I also got to facetime my family for the first time since I've been in Brazil! Boy do I love those guys.
Friday came and I like to believe there was no better way to spend my actual birthday than with 32 of my newest friends from 14 different countries around the world.
I spent this past weekend with the other exchange students in Brasil in the sweet city of Lençóis Paulista. There were students from all over the world from places like: South Africa, France, Germany, Indonesia, Timor Leste, and Haiti. When we weren't being lectured to, doing service projects, or eating food we spent time getting to know each other. I can now confidently say I have a friend in every continent in the world and that's pretty cool if you ask me. We spent Sunday afternoon in a hidden park in the middle of no where. We drove for 25 minutes through Sugar Cane fields to get to the jungle where the water falls were located. We had a Brazilian BBQ and enjoyed our last day together. As the day came to an end, we headed back home. After arriving and getting settled back in at home I got to face-time my friends as part of my continuous birthday weekend. I can easily say I have the GREATEST friends in the world. I don't know what I'd do without them.
The rest of the week has flown by. The days go by fast and the weeks go even faster. I have already been in Brasil for a month and I can't believe its been that long. The things I've learned, people I've met, and the emotions I've felt are things that I will never forget. The things that are happening now; the choices we make, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, as we grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, and as we break things, we each become the people we are meant to be. Chase your dreams and find your happiness. It's never too late to start your adventure.
Till next week. XOXO. Tchau.
(P.S. I have created the best playlist of all time so if anyone wants it please message me because it's pretty dang good.)
20 hours of traveling,