I have never had such an emotionally challenging, tough, frustrating but completely reward job in my life and I can't imagine what it will be like when I'm actually a mother. When I came to Arizona, Wesley could hardly speak. If you ask him about his trip to the zoo the days after he went around Halloween he would start telling you: I picked up a duck from the bucket (a rubber duck) and it had a number on it and then the man asked me "What sound does a sheep make?" and I said "baaa" then I chose stickers. He has learned so much and grown so much and looking over the past year I am almost brought to tears at how much he has learned from me. But, more than that--how much I have learned and how much I have grown. It has been a challenging situation and job but I know that it has helped me prepare for the future.
I don't know if any of this even makes sense, but I just can't help but reflect on how much my move to Arizona has affected me. Not only has Wesley had a huge effect on my life, but my branch presidency, my stake president, the members of my branch, and let's not forget Jesse and his family. My branch president has become like a father to me--him and his 1st counselor. I can't even express my love and gratitude for them. Jesse's family has been SO good. They have let me come into their home and spend family nights, or nights that I needed out of the house or just a place to feel comfortable. They have felt like a family away from my family. They were kind enough to include me in their Thanksgiving dinner and it was SO nice to be included and feel like a part of a family for Thanksgiving. :) Even if they don't know it, they have given me strength to make it through this year.
Of course, last is Jesse. If it hadn't been for Jesse this year would have been SO different. Let me tell you about the first night Jesse and I met:
I was at institute and hurting and alone because Curtis had just broken up with me. I felt so out of place and no one seemed to want to talk to me. I texted Pama and said "I think I'm gonna go home. I feel out of place and no one is talking to me." She responded and told me to talk to someone but I was being shy. Just moments before I was about to walk out the door Jesse came up to me and introduced himself. We began talking and hit it off really well. A few months after we met I mentioned how I almost left and he told me that he had received a strong feeling that he needed to come talk to me, and that he'd been scared to talk to me. We are both grateful that he followed that prompting.
If that had not happened I'm not sure I would have gone back to institute and who knows what would have happened if I wouldn't kept going to institute and gotten to know my institute teacher, Sister Dick and the other students. I'm not even sure I'd still be going on a mission if Jesse hadn't come along and strengthened me throughout this year. He was always there when I needed a boost of strength and optimism. Without him, this year would have been a lot different and I'm grateful that the Lord brought him into my life, regardless of what happens after our missions. I've learned so much with him and we have had the most amazing and priceless friendship.
I can't accurately express my feelings about these people who have been in my life but my emotions are strong and Arizona has been my first REAL home since I left Auburn, Nebraska. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to come down here and meet new people and have new and strengthening experiences. :)
(If you made it to the end, I'm extremely impressed! Sometimes I just need to put my thoughts and feelings into words, even if no one reads them.)