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.