Hello everyone, how have y'all been? Is it starting to feel like winter back home yet? We've been consistently hovering around single digits and teens here with snow here and there for the past month. I'm already freezing and we've still got another 60 degrees or so to go before we hit the coldest it'll get here. It's going to be a long winter.
I'm still in the countryside in Dzüünkharra for the time being and will most likely spend around 6 months total out here. My last Mongolian comp left and I got another Mongolian comp. We've spent almost 2 months together so far and are about to spend another 2 or so together before one of us will most likely leave.
This has without a doubt been a wild, wild experience so far. I've definitely seen some crazy things here that I never thought I'd ever see. I've also hit the lowest, loneliest points in my life believe it or not. Before this experience, I couldn't even fathom the level of isolation and loneliness that I've felt. Not going to sugarcoat anything, it's been really really hard. There's not a day that goes by where I don't struggle. All in all though, I don't think I'd trade it for anything. It's begun to show me just how much I can take and how far I can be pushed. If anything, I'm truly learning to be tenacious in every sense of the word.
I'm not going to lie and say that this has been the best or happiest times of my life because that's just simply not true. The best and happiest times of my life will come once I've learned to live life according to the things these trials have taught me. When life catches you by surprise, sweeps you to the ground, and kicks you while you're down, things really seem to suck, don't they? But we've always heard, and if we look back at our lives we'll see, that you always come out of your trials a different person. Whether it's different in a good or a bad way is up to the way you handle the situation. It's going to change you, that's just the way it works, so why not take ownership of the way you come out of it? It's pretty easy to become bitter, cold, and pessimistic, that's the tendency of the nature of mankind. But, what good does complaining about a situation you can't change do for you?
Whatever has happened has happened, you can't do anything about that. The only variable in that equation is you. What you decide to plug into this equation is going to drastically change the result you'll get. I'm not telling you to become ignorantly happy in the midst of the hardest times, although if you can, more power to you. However, I don't seem to have the capacity to do that and I'm sure most of you would tend to agree with that.
First, think about what you're learning from it. Chances are, if it's hard, you're going to learn something. Try to figure out what that is. Next, recognize that this hard time is going to give you a reference for just how sweet life can get. You don't realize how delicious and sweet blueberries are until you pop that one really sour one into your mouth. Just think how much better those sweet blueberries taste and how grateful you are for getting a sweet blueberry instead of a sour one after you've tasted how bitter and unpleasant those sour blueberries are. Finally, do as much as you can in your situation to make yourself as happy as you possibly can. Like I mentioned before, we often can't change the circumstances around us but we can change ourselves in those circumstances.
At the current time, things may seem hopeless and you may feel worthless or powerless to change anything. Just look for 1 thing in your day that brings a smile to your face, no matter how small it is. I find that a true happiness can really only be derived from a gratitude of the things and opportunities you have been blessed with. I thank God every night for blessing me to be born in America and to be able to speak English. We really have no idea how much of a leg up on the rest of the world those 2 simple, oft overlooked things give us. Now looking beyond those 2 simple things just look how much more we've all been blessed with. When you really start thinking about it, the list is endless. We can eat clean food that doesn't make us really sick. We have access to running, clean drinking water that doesn't give us dysentery and kill our little brothers and sisters. How many times have you thought about that when filling your glass up under the faucet? If your grandparents have a heart attack or stroke you have access to emergency medical services which can give them a second chance at life. These people just bury them. There's no chance at all. What about stressing over being able to afford a coat for you kids before the winter that'll surely kill your unprotected kids comes? But wait, now that you miraculously managed to work enough to finally buy their coat how are you going to afford food from the limited selection you have? I guess it's organs and fat again. Or what about finding fuel for your stove to keep your tent warm in -60 degree weather? It's not like there's a forest to go chop wood down in, you live in a desert. I guess you're going to have to burn tires again. Now your infant child is dead because their developing immune system couldn't handle the toxic fumes the tires released, but if you didn't burn those tires the rest of your family would've frozen to death. I guarantee none of us have ever had to worry about these problems before. Now with a little perspective, begin thinking of the abundance of blessings God has seemingly endlessly poured down on us. It's incredible.
Now coming full circle and revisiting what I said before, our trials will never be the best times of our lives, no matter how much we learn from them. The real treasures of the trial and the value of the lessons we learn from it come after the fact. The whole purpose of suffering is to teach us and to humble us. It gives us perspective, and if we can learn to handle it the right way, it'll teach us in ways that we couldn't learn any other way. The things we learn in our trials will serve us greatly in the life we decide to live after they have passed.
Something I often think about is why would God make us suffer so much if it wasn't neccessary?
Is it because He isn't all-powerful? Is it because He isn't all-loving? Or is it because He's more infinitely wise than we can comprehend and He has something He wants to teach us. He has something He wants us to appreciate more. He knows who we need to become and He knows how to get us there. If we have the mentality that we're just suffering to suffer then the perspective from the middle of a difficult trial becomes quite bleak. I know. Until recently, I have had that perspective. How lucky are we though? The Gospel and knowledge of God's loving plan for us gives us a window to look out of from the confining, claustrophobic, pitch black box of suffering and tribulation. Without that window, you're enveloped in pitch darkness, confusion, and hopelessness. I have spent much time in that imprisonment. Without the window that the Gospel has given me amidst this trial, I'd still be in darkness. However, once you look through that window you find a peace that will always be there for you as long as you embrace it, and a knowledge that the window will eventually become a door that will release you from the confinement of suffering in that trial.
If you spend your life searching for happiness you'll never find it. You have to create your own happiness. Life will never be perfect and it will always seem that your situation isn't ideal, that there's a better life for you just around the corner. Don't get so caught up in what you want and what could've been that you don't see the beautiful things in the here and now. Just start to love the life you're living now and that happiness you've always searched for will have a funny way of finding you instead. Don't wait for happiness.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.