Be Ye Therefore Converted

Desolee mes amis! I have every intention of blogging more often and telling you all about my mission, the new Phoenix temple, things I am baking, and many other things. Life just gets away from me. It is also hard being computerless. I have to share my family computer, which has many people that want to use it. The second I get on my nieces and nephews are right there, wanting to play their online learning games. 3 year olds don't really care about my need to apply for jobs.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about all the reasons I went on a mission. So many people ask me, "why did you go? What was it like? How does that work? What is the biggest thing you learned?" So, I want to write this blog post to respond to that.

This last Saturday I was teaching one of my piano students who was frustrated by a new song I had given her. This girl reminds me of me. How I was for most of my life, and how I still am, sort of. She is one of my better students. She works hard and practices. Yet, she is a perfectionist. I have been there. For most of my life I was battling me. I always needed to do everything I did perfectly, or I didn't want to do it at all. I don't like making mistakes. Whenever people ask for a "most embarrassing moment" I never know what to say because the only moments I can think of are, "I got a 96% on my French test," and the like.

I spent so many years being in competition with myself. I had to be first flute, because if I wasn't that meant someone else played better that me, which meant I messed up, which meant I was a horrible person. Waking up each morning I dreaded school. What if I had forgotten to do some homework and didn't realize it until the teacher called me out? What if they taught something that I didn't understand right away? What if I NEVER understood it? What if other students understood it better?

Then of course there was the fear of, I am not smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, fast enough... I am not enough. I felt like I heard that God loved me and I figured He must because each morning I would wake up imperfect and He didn't kill me. He let me go another day trying, although I always failed Him so each night He debated whether He was going to give me another chance. I would beg for it in my prayers. God was more of a frustrated impatient being. He tells me to do stuff and I don't do it, and He is mad at me because He sent His Son to suffer for me, and I sure made Him suffer, a LOT.  God should hate me. I hated me.

I don't know why my brain did things this way. I really don't know where it came from. I didn't grow up in a crappy home life with parents who never said they loved me. My parents always told me they loved me, always said they were proud of me.They taught me that God is loving. I just believed they saw me in the same way He did. I was an annoyance, but since they made me they had to be nice to me.

Sometime in college I realized that I was miserable and making myself crazy. I put myself through years of unnecessary stress and unhappiness. I suffered through an eating disorder and never really talked about it to anyone. I just convinced myself I was being healthy. So I started going to see a counselor. BYU has this great thing were students can see a licensed professional for free. It still took me time to get there because I felt guilty about it. Despite all the pressure I put on myself I had never done drugs, never drank alcohol, never looked at porn, never tried to kill myself. How dare I take time away from someone else with real serious problems just because I am a big cry baby that can't just get her life together?

Finally I went. It helped so much. It helped me change my perspective on many things and I started to see that God's love for me was not contingent on my being the best at everything.

It is something I still battle with. Much of this is what culminated in my deciding to serve a mission. By the time I decided to go things were much much better. However, I still had this idea in my head that I should go to make up for everything I had done to God in the first place. Like somehow He would love me more.

See, I told you I still battle this.

Going on a mission consists of filling out mission papers. You have to talk about your health history (physical and mental) and go see a doctor and a dentist. This is because missions are hard. They are physically and mentally exhausting. If you can't handle being on your feet all day, or talking to complete strangers, and having them be incredibly rude to you just because you believe in Jesus Christ, then they want to know these things.

Once you fill out all the paperwork you have an interview with your bishop. He is the leader of a Mormon congregation, called a ward. He has the stewardship to determine someone's worthiness to go on a mission. You have to be living certain standards. Then you have an interview with your Stake President. A Stake President is a leader of several wards in an area, that come together into what is called a stake. Then they also recommend you for mission service. All of that paperwork and recommendation is then mailed to the church offices.

Then church leaders take all that paperwork and look at it. Then they go into the temple (a very sacred holy building for us that you can read about by clicking on that link) and pray about where the person should be sent. Then God, our Heavenly Father tells them. Then they mail that information to the candidate. You get a big white envelope in the mail and you open it and it tells you where you are serving, what language you will be speaking, and when you report.

I did that, as you know, and was called to the France Lyon mission. I cannot tell you how much I am grateful for the experience of my mission. I loved it so much. I met amazing wonderful people. I taught the gospel, I gained a deeper understanding of basic gospel principles and strengthened my own personal testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I told so many people about a young man named Joseph Smith who had a question, and saw God and Jesus Christ and got his answer. I invited so many of them to read this wonderful book and ask God for themselves if it were true.

I prayed harder than I ever had and had incredible, indescribable spiritual experiences and was filled with so much love for people I hardly knew.

And you know what I realized? I never understood how MUCH my Heavenly Father loves me. He loves me so much. When I was torturing myself over my flaws and imperfections He was crying right there with me. He was encircling me in His arms and trying to tell me not to worry so much about it. He willingly sent His Son Jesus Christ to the earth to be my Savior. It was a choice Christ made and accepted because He loves me. It was in the plan all along for me to be imperfect.

I never understood then as I do now that our Heavenly Father's love is intensely real, and far deeper than we could ever realize. He wants us all to succeed in life, but He knows failure teaches us things. I wasn't letting it teach me in the right way before. His patience and love have lifted me up higher than I ever thought possible. His love is so real and it is always there, whether we accept it or not.

I am His daughter. He loves me. I can't say it enough, because I really did not know or understand it well beforehand. Heavenly Father loves me and wants to just give me things that will make me happy. He is guiding me and protecting me, and I am doing much better than I give myself credit for.

This makes me want to speak kinder, be kinder, and be more patient. I want to find the happiness and goodness, and not let the small things get me down. God LOVES me. I am so awesome.

For anyone who is a member and is debating about serving a mission, please go! Don't let anything hold you back! It will change you.

If you aren't a member and you aren't sure of God's love or His existence, He is REAL and so is His love! Never doubt that. Check this out to find out more.

If you already believe in God and feel pretty confident in His love for you, that is awesome! Please read this and consider it an invitation from me, your loving friend. Your relationship with your Heavenly Father can continue to grow!

My mission was the best. Every missionary says that, because it is true. You learn to rely on your Heavenly Father and strengthen your relationship with Him. There is no going back to who I once was. I am not perfect, and that is okay.


La rentree

C'est carrement difficile pour moi d'exprimer mes sentiments sur les derniers 18 mois. Comment puis-je commencer? Je ne sais pas.

I can't decide how to do this blog post. I have been home for three weeks. Sometimes I look down and go, "holy crap! Where is my plaque!" Then I remember I don't wear one anymore. Sometimes I am in the store with someone and they go down a different aisle while I am looking at something and I stop and follow them since I can't be alone... but I can. Sometimes people call me by my first name and my heart twists a little. You can't call me that! But they can.

Coming home from a mission is just wonderful and terrible all at the same time. You are figuring out your next step, ("where am I going to find a job?") you are trying to speak in English, but you don't want to stop thinking in French because you don't want to lose it. You are happy to be with your family, but you just want to go back to France and teach people the gospel.

So yes, it is an adjustment. Its funny when you are leaving though. You know it isn't the place you belong anymore. I committed to the Lord that I would spend 18 months in France, sharing the gospel with His children there. I did that. I gave it everything I had. Some days were not perfect. I didn't always say the right thing, especially not in French. But I loved every minute of it. Now it is done and it is time for me to go home and do other things. Would you like to see a few pictures of some people I really love? Good, cause here they are.

There is more. There is so so so so so much more. If I could write every single day of my mission on here... well sometimes you'd be bored I'll admit. I think, however, there would never be enough space for me to describe what I learned, and who I hope I became, and what I am still trying to become. So I'll try to share some of that here. Explain why I went. Show some pictures of where I went. Talk about people I met, things I learned, things I taught, and maybe even have it all make sense to you.

I have missed you my blog friends. Renny is back. Let the beautiful thoughts begin! Avec beaucoup plus de français cette fois-ci! Il le faut!


Somewhere Only We Know

This is officially it my dears. The last pre mission post. Yesterday my grandma, two aunts, and an uncle came into town. Today was my last day at work and I was given presents and cake. Tomorrow is the party at my parent's house. Sunday I get set apart as a missionary. Sometime this weekend I have to pack. Monday we leave for Utah. Wednesday at 1:30 PM I enter into the MTC.

You know what is crazy? I am not freaking out about this at all. That is very unlike me. You know how I was the last time I went to France. I sat on the plane thinking, "turn around, turn around. TURN. THE PLANE. AROUND!" This time I'm like, "yeah... I'm going." It is so nice to know that someone else is taking care of the travel details for me. Unless this is an "Other Side of Heaven" situation and I have to sit in a make shift storage prison because nobody is there to get me and the French didn't know I was coming. Oh well, at least I'll have my trumpet to keep me company... oh, wait.

Anyway. Here it is, the address. I know how terrible I was about writing all of my friends whilst they were missioning. Once each I believe. So, if that is all you can muster in the next 18 months I'll understand. I would LOVE to hear from you though. There is nothing better than letters in the mail. I will respond if you write me.

So, while I am in the MTC (about six weeks) my address will be:

Sister Lindsey Marie Reynolds
MTC Mailbox # 228
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Then when I am in France it will be:

Sister Lindsey Marie Reynolds
France Lyon Mission
Lyon Business Centre
59 rue de l'Abondance
69003 Lyon 

my email address is: lindsey.reynolds@myldsmail.net

I don't know what my email rules will be yet, so if you email me leave you address in the email and if I can't respond electronically I'll write you back.

So I leave you with a Chanson de Mission and tell you I love you, and thanks for reading. I'll see you when I get back, because you better believe I'll be mission blogging like there is no tomorrow come August of next year.


The Lamp is Growing Dim

We're in the final countdown here my friends. I spoke in church today, my "farewell" talk if you will. I ended up getting a little teary eyed while speaking, something I don't like to do and usually don't do. Today I was overwhelmed by the people that came to see me, people I hadn't seen in a while, and a few people I really wasn't expecting to see at all. It was so lovely.

The only sad part of the day was that I arrived at the church early to practice the song my sister and sister in law would be singing. I was opening up the piano and the top part snapped down on one of the buttons on my sweater and it broke into a million pieces and shot everywhere. Now my cute turquoise cardigan is missing a button, and I don't know where the spare is. :( I must find a new button before I leave.

This Saturday we are having an open house with lots of delicious french foods (no escargots I promise.) If you're in the Phoenix area I'd love it if you could stop by. Then Monday its the drive up to Utah, Wednesday  the 20th I report to the MTC at 1:30 PM. Then for the next 18th  months I'll be doing nothing but missionary work. I have mixed emotions getting this close, but I suppose that is typical for every time one thing in your life ends and a new thing begins.

As frustrating as my job can be I am sad its ending. I like the teachers and the other aid in the classroom I'm in. Those kids drive me up a wall most of the time, but I still love them. I've seen how hard some of them have it and my heart aches for them, and I wish I could stay with them. Most especially the kid I am a one on one with. It has been a tough road to get him to participate in class and not throw so many tantrums or hold on to things that upset him. Now he feels like he has friends and my favorite part of the day is when he looks at me with his eyes wide open and says, "Miss Reynolds guess what!" Then he proceeds to tell me about some cool, exciting thing he did, or saw, or made, or received as a gift. I don't want him to feel I am abandoning him, but I really have no idea how he will perceive it at all. I love him too and want him to be happy and successful in life. I'll have to check in on him after the mission.

The weird thing about missions is that life keeps moving forward but there are parts you kind of have to miss for awhile. For example, my sister in law is pregnant and having a baby boy in May. Normally, if I were in college and this were to happen I could maybe fly home for a visit, or at the very least call and video chat to see him and talk to family and take part in the celebration. This time I'll be in France, and can maybe get an email with a photo, and that is that. When I think about things like that I become truly grateful that I am part of an eternal family. I may miss the birth, but we have forever to get to know each other, and we can start as soon as I get back!

Well I will hopefully get one more post done before I leave (with my address so you lovely people can write/ email me!) After that it will be bien tôt for this blog of mine until sometime in late 2014. Please write! I'd love to tell you all about my missionary experiences :)


Pretzel Time

I have a confession guys. When I first joined Pinterest I was rarely on the site. I was busy, didn't have time for more social networking, I never thought about it, etc.

Ever since I started my job I've becoming a Pinterest maniac. Our kids have computer lab every day. They have to work on SuccessMaker, a program designed to improve their reading and math scores on the ultimate indicator of whether one will be successful in life: standardized tests.

Because working with kids to make them successful by helping them with concepts they have not yet mastered is taboo, we are not allowed to help them while they work on said program. Therefore, we have a lot of time to sit in the lab, and be on Pinterest. I often start pinning things involving my current food craving.

All of this pinning led to me making pretzels today. They were delicious friends. Also, not hard to make.

I followed the recipe exactly. No substituting ingredients, no experimenting with ratios or trying to make them gluten free, safe for diabetics, or healthier for myself. I just followed a recipe that was developed from someone ELSE'S trial and error and enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

So, feeling the need for some pretzels? Use this recipe, you will not regret it.