Well, I went skiing Friday night with Bishop Hasler, Anna Lisa and Ann. It was a LOT of fun -- the three of us helped to teach Ann the basics (she's never been skiing before). Ann did really well. I know she was frustrated with herself but I keep reassuring her that she was doing just fine. Skiing certainly does look easier than it really is; and she was realizing that. There are muscles you have to use that you simply do not use during your normal day...even during a regular work-out. Yet, despite her frustration, she found an ability to overcome her fears and get down that hill...three times :)
I, however, made the mistake of grabbing on to the rope tow too fast. I was expecting a rope tow like the one at Rib Mountain that I had used when first learning to ski. This one, however, was a cord, not a rope, and it had these little plastic things which I thought were handles (later I learned that they were to fit in the small of your back which made the trip up the hill a LOT easier). I grabbed on to one of those and it practically pulled my arm out of its socket! Each time I went up that hill I couldn't get that plastic thing behind my back (except for once). So all that strain on my arm muscles as I hung on really did a number on my arms. The next day I woke up and I could barely lift them. I felt the same today...even worse, in fact! My arms are so sore and my pinkie finger is sprained...man I tell you, you wouldn't believe you could get injured on a bunny hill but if you don't know how to hang on to that tow rope right...:) So I smell of Ben Gay and everyone is avoiding me because of it. Yet I'm supposed to go skiing again Tuesday night with Laurie, so I really hope my arms heal by then.
As for my legs, well after the first hour of pain, I suddenly got used to the boots. It happened a lot faster than last time! Bishop Hasler taught me some skills and gave me some tips on improving my technique. He praised me though and said I look very "natural and confident" as I swoosh down the hill:)
I was also pleasantly surprised when I put on my ski pants that night. I was dreading it, since a month ago when I went skiing they were quite tight around the waist and I had to use a pin to close them (as I had the year before). That was depressing because of all the work I had done over the year...but this time, when I put them on, they closed and zipped so easily! I must have lost at least 2 inches from around my waist! You can believe how ecstatic I was! I had noticed my clothes fitting a lot more loosely, but sometimes that happens just from normal wear (especially cottons and fabrics with lycra). But I guess it was more than just a few pounds...because of the obvious inches lost. And since the stomach area is the hardest area to lose fat...well I must say I feel more strength, more determination, and a pride in what I have accomplished. Now just imagine what I could do if I get myself to go to the gym more than once a week! I just have to make the time to do it:)
I went to church today and I couldn't help but get up and bear my testimony. I didn't mention too much of what I had learned in this past month, simply because of time constraints, but I couldn't believe the immense pounding in my chest and the utter peace and love I felt as I did so! I have always had a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, but I had no idea that I could strengthen it even more and have an even stronger knowledge of its truth. It's funny how sometimes we are so arrogant to think that in some areas we can not possibly learn more; that we know all there is to know about that particular topic or idea. Yet this is such a falsehood! I am so grateful for the humbling realization of this and the excitement and peace that comes from learning even more. I am so grateful for my testimony and my love for my Father in Heaven and my Brother Jesus Christ grows more and more each day. My desire to obey His commandments and to share the truth has intensified, and I feel this fire pushing me on; reminding me of the beauty of my life, the blessings that are in it, and the joy that comes from choosing the right and ALSO from true repentance for the sins I have committed.
I just can't express how I feel! Like I said today in my testimony, my trials are not over. The biggest trial of my life, the one I have been going through for the past year, is still there. I still sometimes doubt and sometimes I fear. Yet Heavenly Father has answered my prayer...my prayer for strength and perseverence. He has answered my plea to learn more of the "mysteries of Heaven", just as He promised to reveal to anyone who simply asked. I begged for an understanding to why I was so sad and miserable when I had the Truth in my life...and I pleaded for something to happen within me to change that feeling. It's extremely difficult battling depression and sadness when you know you shouldn't be sad or depressed, but you still are! It's an extremely difficult thing, yet I finally realized that the resources came from within me....true happiness doesn't come from the external world or from people. Events, people, and life's ups and downs definitely play a large part in our lives, but ultimately it is up to us whether or not we allow external influences to affect our happiness or not. And I think I finally have realized this. I don't have it down pat, and I still struggle with it, but at least I now know for a surety that I have the resources within to combat those feelings and to realize that if I get upset or hurt by something or someone...it's because I allow it. It's as simple as that. Now to put that into practice!
I realized praying for others to better understand their worth, to recognize the Spirit, and to seek out the truth is very important and very noble, but if I wanted to sincerely see an improvement in my life and in my perspective, the only change that I can directly affect is the one that happens within me. And with that change, I know that I can overcome any bitterness or despair thrown in my direction. What happens in my life will have little consequence on my spiritual nature if I learn that the strength comes from that understanding of God and of Christ's Atonement. But a wonderful, natural consequence of learning this is the ability to see the beauty in the fragile humanity of others! It helps me to be even more empathetic and understanding of the trials that my friends and loved ones go through, and to be patient with those who have hurt me or continue to do so. I am perhaps most grateful for this knowledge and the ability to love people for who they are. I know that sometimes I still come across as judgmental...and I hope someday to find a way to express myself so that I don't ever come across that way again. It is hard, because my words don't reflect what I truly feel inside! Sometimes I myself wish I had an Aaron who could speak for me, as he did for Moses...but I've realized that at least I know that I am sincere, I am passionate, and I know that what I have is the Truth. Despite my lack of eloquence, I know that Heavenly Father is using me as a tool to touch the hearts of many in my class and outside of it. I'm humbly grateful for the opportunity to share and to teach this glorious gospel! It is so utterly amazing, and so precious...and truly the most priceless treasure that ever has and ever will be available to mankind.