Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DC Week 46!

DC Week 46!  December 23, 2014

Wow, this year flew by, didn't it? Sure did for me...

I can remember so many slow days at the Visitor Center, (in the beginning of my mission) just sitting by myself on the red velvet benches, staring out the big south window at the temple...As I look back I can almost see a time lapse of me sitting there, watching the sun rise and set, rise and set...the light casting shadows on the floor around me. Watching those bear trees and that empty parking lot...almost being able to see the cold. I was so brand new then. Still am, really. Only difference is that then, I still had 18 months ahead of me to look forward to...the sky was the limit. I had not yet made memories. I had not yet made that place home. Home to me, then, was still Temecula, California. Or maybe Rexburg, Idaho. But certainly not the busy metropolis of Washington D.C. I remember sitting there in those days, wondering if I could ever love such a place as much. As the seasons came and went, I watched as those trees began to bud. And then coat the scrawny, messy, branches with thick layers of green, hiding the 495 highway below, and almost seeming to drown out the sound as well. Springtime was an exciting chapter for me. Everything was so fresh, and beautiful. From the cherry blossoms to my growing perspective on the mission, I felt a rebirth all around me. I felt a fire ignite. That fire grew. And as the rainy days began to come, all they seemed to do was nourish that perspective even more, until a more full understanding of my purpose dawned on me during the summer months. The loud buzzing of cicadas and that of busy travelers filled the air, making it an exciting time of discovery, and filtering. Filtering out the elect, and focusing on the significant. Watering down the white noise around me, and really trying to "Be Still." Then as I sat by that majestic statue of Christ, I watched those trees who had finally reached the downward slope of their lifespan, begin to change color. It really was such a beautiful process. As those bright vivid reds, and oranges and purples began to bleed onto every leaf, it was almost as if they were giving one last performance before their time was up. It was so pleasing to my eye. Everywhere I went, all I could think about was where I had come from...did I really do my best? Had I really given my all? It was definitely a time of reflection and dreaming for me. At the first snowfall, I hit a very crucial checkpoint in my mission. I had come to the realization that I had let probing thoughts of inadequacy and doubt creep into my mind, my heart, and my work... For months I had allowed myself to keep going in vain; I was in my mind all the time, fighting my personal battles amongst attempting to carry the additional burdens of those around me. I was fighting, yes. But unnecessarily. To no end. Struggling to endure these personalized trials on my own. I had temporarily forgotten the luxury of the Atonement, the patient nudges of the Spirit, and extended arms of my Savior. I sat there staring out that big window again, lost in thought, (autopilot kicking in), almost not noticing the leaves falling, and those bear branches peaking out again. The world around me was beginning to look a lot like it did when I began this journey here. And I stopped. And I prayed. I prayed hard. I cried hard. I purged myself of everything that had built up for who knows how long. I finally had closure with my Heavenly Father again. And then....a new light began to uncloud my vision. A new hope. Stands of color began to decorate the temple grounds in preparation for that time of year which is celebrated around the world. That time of year to remember Him who is in fact, the Light of the World. Those bear trees were no longer bear, but they were dressed. Dressed in their very best to honor Him. And that temple. Oh, that beautiful edifice. Simply glowing in the night against the black sky. A beacon, really, to all who see it. A landmark in the night, drawing still, thousands to a knowledge of the truth, and of their Savior, Jesus Christ. As we are now immersed in Festival of Lights, with the hustle and the bustle of the season, I am grateful for the perspective I have. For the knowledge I have. And nothing is now holding me back from sharing it with the world.       

Now I have experiences to look back on. Now I have memories of this place. Now I have trials I have learned from, (and am still learning from). Now I have lasting relationships with my fellow brothers and sisters. Now I have a deeper testimony than I did before. Now...I have found another home. 
Live in every moment, and then you will have the luxury of looking back in years to come with sweet nostalgia, instead of regret. As President Monson once quoted Professor Harold Hill: "If you pile up enough tomorrows, you will only end up with a bunch of empty yesterdays." 
I love you family! It has been such a full and fast year! I hope you can each move forward from this point with new found hope and resolution to be a better version of yourself this next year. I'll gladly jump on that bandwagon with you :)
Sister Graff

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