I only have a few minutes but felt prompted to share a few feelings on the blog. Facebook is a quick and easy way to post instant thoughts and feelings, but this would be an epilogue if I were to make a facebook post of this magnitude. I also run the risk of not having it in the future, so a blog post it is.
I have been pondering “trials” over the last 5 or 6 months. They have become some what of a norm in our family. To quote a portion of an email I received from Paul this week (I have permission to share this and I am so grateful I do, because it is beautifully accurate):
Monday, April 13, 2015
“We both seem to be tired and grumpy all the time. . . and I don’t know what to do to change it. I know we are seeking some sort of normalcy, but I think the last few months have taught us that we are in the midst of constant change. It reminds me of what I used to tell you with DMI [The name of the company Paul works for], “It is just one more project, when this one is done things will settle down.” The truth of the matter is things are not settling down and keep changing. First the move, then the shipment, then the church callings, then the car, then the floor explosion, then the floor fixing, and the kids school and seminary, and, and, and. I feel like we need to figure out how to handle the constant change and flux of life here. In an effort to try and help us focus, here are the areas I see we need to analyze in no particular order:
* Sleep – ours and the kids
* Kids chores
* Time for US together and individually
* Make scripture time meaningful somehow [we are reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish and most night’s it is grueling and exposes our weaknesses but it is something that CAN bless us if we can continue with a POSITIVE attitude, more ours than the kids]
* Couple scripture study
* Better planned FHE [they haven’t been much fun, according to one of our children]
* Fun time – weekend and daily
* Temple attendance
“Moving here has ripped [us] away from material security and left [us] exposed which has made me appreciate you and the children more. I want us to be happy and be sure that we take advantage of the great opportunity Heavenly Father has given us to live and serve here.” end quote.
Isn’t it funny how THE BASICS are what lay a foundation for us, so that when the winds and storms that WILL BESEECHED us come, we have the strength to stand. By the way, we are doing ALL of these things. Paul’s letter really helped me RECOGNIZE that we are and because we are, we are allowing ourselves the opportunity to receive Divine Assistance during ALL of life’s struggles. Including our newest struggle . . .
We have had yet another trial rear its head, like a teenager with a constant case of acne break-outs. We just got our floor put together and furniture moved in, as “extra classes” starting piling up at home. “Extra Classes” are assignments that are sent home, via email, and are mostly given in Spanish. The children are to use their books and answer the questions given and then present the information in a clean, orderly, well written manner and delivered in a folder. In reality, it is HOMEWORK, but to receive ALL the children’s homework in the matter of 2 days and have them ALL have varying due dates and expectations was a bit overwhelming but still it felt do-able.
Until . . . one of our children admitted that they had received their “extra classes” weeks ago (some before Semana Santa) and ALL were due either the next day or even the day before (they receive a 0% if not turned in on time). Our hearts sunk. We were desperately trying to stay afloat, when this wave of shock hit us. What were we to do to help this child? This child made a decision that has great consequences and now it was too late to help them deliver any work on time. The one problem with “extra classes” is that the work can NOT be accepted late. 0% will always be given!
The other problem we have is that Costa Rica WILL hold a child back a grade and does it ALL THE TIME. A child MUST receive a 70% to pass their grade. We are blessed that the English classes are a bit behind our Utah classes, so the work hasn’t been a burden, but the classes taught in Spanish are starting to catch up with what the kids learned in Utah. This is a HUGE PROBLEM because our children are struggling to “want” to learn Spanish right now and the more they fight it, the more they are losing the ground they have with the scales tipped in their favor. It is only a matter of time Costa Rica will catch up with what they learned in Utah and then they will REALLY be behind and start to get poor grades. Which leads them to the consequence of possibly being held back a grade. It is all very stressful and can cause so much heartache if we worry about it too much.
But let’s be honest. Learning a new language is tough. It takes humility, courage, ignorance of “shame & not fitting in”, patience, and a HUGE dose of FAITH. And add that to day in and day out practicing of this tough trial, we are one mentally and sometimes spiritually exhausted family, and homework only makes the trial of learning a language MORE challenging!
The stress in our home is so thick you could cut it with a saw. It flows over the tops of us, around us, under us, toppling us over and causing us to bump into each other, which upsets everyone. It is like a giant snake trying to weave its way through our home, not caring what damage it leaves in its wake.
As the mother, I am keenly aware of this nasty, unwelcome snake in our home. But regardless of how much I pray it to leave, or try to lure it out of our home by being kind and loving to all I see, the stress stays. I am left feeling helpless and even sometimes, I might admit, set up for failure, for I know not what to do. The only hope I have is to TRUST in my Father in Heaven and KNOW that HE KNOWS how much I can handle, HE KNOWS how much I can give, HE KNOWS when He should get involved, HE is in charge, and ALL THINGS (even the “Serpent of Stress” in our home) can be for OUR GOOD!
As I was taking the children to school this morning, the anxiety and panic was tangible in the car, you could feel it grow like a balloon filled with baking soda and vinegar. One child was upset become of their fear to speak with the teachers about missing assignments and their lack of understanding. Another child was upset about “fitting in” because they were not dressed in the Costa Rican Indian attire for “Indian Day.” Another child had to do homework for an “extra classe” all morning and was distracted and off center as they were heading off for school. And the last child was a bit intolerant of all the situations around them and had an attitude of “what’s everyone’s problem?” (even though they had started off the “Serpent of Stress!” earlier this week.)
It was all too much. I had to escort the “non-dressed Indian” to their teacher and explain to the teacher why the child was so upset, to which the teacher replied, “Didn’t you understand the message? Why did you not dress them as an Indian?” I wanted to pull that person into a personal movie room and show them video of my week and then have them ask me those questions again. But then I realized they would probably not see why it was so hard to do this “simple” task. Getting dressed like a Costa Rican Indian is as normal as a child getting dressed in red, white and blue or any other holiday in the US. So they honestly don’t understand what I am going through, just as I wouldn’t understand why it would be so hard to dress up and “fit in” in the US (even though I never really did dress my kiddos up in the US either, not my cup of tea . . right Mom!) It takes effort to care and I was the one lacking the effort (regardless that I worked on another project for said child the day before for 3 hours, but that is neither here nor there, the child was not dressed for the holiday. PERIOD!)
So, I held back the tears and simply said, “We have had a bad week. I’m sorry. Next year.” And I smiled at her, touched her arm so she could feel I was not upset with “her” but that I was TRYING to “fit in” and wished her a good day (also warning her that said child was very upset). And I left. I did huff to the car, feeling alone and not understood by those watching me. I even thought for a moment, “What do they think about us? Do they think this is SO EASY and we are just lazy? I wish things COULD be easier. I wish I could make this be normal for us too.” But I know that “Utah normal” is gone and learning to live for today is our new normal.
I honestly just wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. What good would crying do. It doesn’t change the situation and the kind of crying I was seeking was a good pity cry. Those types of tears only pull me down and lead me to feel sorry for myself. So, I ignored the temptation and went about doing what I always do on my drive home from dropping the kids off to school, I listened to a General Conference talk. Ironically, the conference talk that came up next was one I REALLY NEEDED to hear! It was from the Saturday morning session of conference, “Choose to Believe” by Elder L. Whitney Clayton. I had missed this talk because I had been sick that Saturday morning and was instead at the Clinic being treated for a UTI. So this was the first time I had heard this talk.
The opening story was tragic but one I could actually relate to. The feeling of shock and awe that the 7 year old child experienced was almost overwhelming. But the spirit of survival and her search for peace and comfort was inspiring. I loved how the talk went on to explain that even though she had seen a light in the far distant, while standing on a hill, she still had to walk towards it, which only led to her to not being able to see the light consistently. She would have to rely on her “memory of the light” and the hope that the light brought her and that IF she were to reach it, she might receive rescue and peace.
I felt a strong sense of fight and resilience come over me. I knew that I too was on a journey to that same light. I too was traversing through territory unknown and had received wounds from the crash landing we received coming to Costa Rica (and life in general). I knew that I was given this challenge because I had survived the crash landing which some, I have come to find out, don’t survive. And because I survived, I was able to “save myself” if I chose, and walk toward the light. I do have several passengers with me but at this point in time, this reference only includes me. For if any of my children, or even my spouse, choose to quit and give up, that is their choice and one I can not make for them. That is the painful truth. So how do I support my fellow passengers while I am struggling to get to the light myself?
That is when I came upon a little video on Facebook this morning that answers my question perfectly!!
It is a Mormon Channel video and so fun to watch. It is only a few minutes long but so power packed. In it I heard the VERY WORDS I needed to hear:
“Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?” ~ Elder Bednar
I need not choose doubt into order to face my fears. I MUST choose faith and TRUST that ALL THINGS are for our/my good! ALL THINGS, especially the burdens I see placed upon my children. Yes, I “wish” that things were “easier” here but they actually were not easy in Utah. Paul counseled me that the SAME problems we had in Utah would be waiting for us in Costa Rica, they would only look different. I had no idea what truth that statement would be. But . . . if it is true, than that means WE CAN DO THIS!
I pray that by being honest about our journey through life and taking the time to write the burdens of our hearts down (as the Nephites wrote of their burdens with the Lamanites and their battles) that when we are victorious, we can testify that we did succeed and did so because of our FAITH IN CHRIST. For without this faith, I would have given up long ago!
If this heavy burden is just what each of our family members need, or even only one of us need, to return to the presence of our Father and be victorious, than of course it is all worth it. Be believing, even if it is the size of a grain of mustard seed, be hopeful and TRUST IN GOD! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.