A Little Perspective

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Life Lessons From Nepal: Hope

I've been meaning to share my experience about this particular topic since the moment I got home. But sometimes it just takes time to digest your own thoughts and feelings. As some of you already know, the organization I volunteered with in Nepal primarily focused on providing support to victims of sexual abuse. The opportunity to meet girls and women who had overcome such difficult experiences was something I knew would put me out of my comfort zone. To me, sexual abuse is one of those things that is everywhere and nowhere, because everyone knows someone affected by it but no one talks about it. That's because it is one of the darkest and most hurtful violations against another human that exist, and we need to do everything in our power to stop it.

One of the best things about my time spent at the Raksha shelter was the opportunity I had to get to know the girls there. I didn't really know some of the harder things of their past until the very end of my time there, for which I was extremely grateful. Instead of knowing the girls as victims, I got to know them as human beings, and they are some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met. These girls are strong, loving, hard-working, determined, talented, kind, responsible, brave, and most of incredible of all, they are full of hope. They want to be doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, and political activists. Each and every one of them has dreams of affecting change for the better in the world they live in, and I believe they will do it. But I want to step back for a moment and tell you what kind of history these amazing girls have come from, because it's the history that makes their present and future so remarkable.


On our last night at the shelter, two of the older girls volunteered to share their stories with us. Without going into too much detail, the first young woman was abused by family members. Later, when she was finally brave enough to talk about it, she endured verbal and emotional abuse from a family who shamed and blamed her for what had happened. No one sought to defend her.

The second young woman was born into an untouchable caste and left to work as something similar to a house slave for many years as a child. One day a man came visited the home and treated her with kindness. He spoke to her as if she were a person instead of a subject beneath him. After he built this bond of trust, he invited her to come work for him where she would receive better pay and treatment. She was still under 14 years old, and accepted his offer. Suddenly she found herself thrown into the world of sex trafficking where she was forced to see as many as 30 men a day. She was trapped and could not foresee a way out of her prison. 

These two stories are not unique, particularly in Nepal. Children are treated as objects to be used and abused all around the world. Despite this, these two stories have happier endings. Both of these young women eventually ended up at Raksha Nepal, a shelter founded by an incredible woman named Menuka Thapa who has made it her mission to fight sexual abuse in her country. These girls found safety and family thanks to Menuka. But there are still more like them, still more children that need help.


In sharing this experience, my hope is to raise awareness and inspire you. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you CAN help fight to end sexual abuse. You can volunteer your time with an organization, you can serve abroad, can donate to a cause, or you can simply share on social media to raise awareness. Whatever it is, however small or big it is, it does make a difference. Going to Nepal and meeting so many young women who are thriving after such horrific experiences gave me hope. If these incredible women can continue to hope, so can you and I.


Hope for a better tomorrow and do everything in your power to make it so.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life Lessons from Nepal: Work Hard

A few days later, we were told that we were going to do a twelve-mile hike to a remote village in the mountains where we would help clear land for farming. Twelve. Miles. One-way. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice hike and communing with nature. But I was not prepared for this. I had no idea when I packed for my trip that I'd be taking a 48-hour trek to a remote mountain village. To make things more interesting, I had contracted some type of cold in my first few days that resulted in a fever and bad cough. My body and brain wanted me to stay in bed, but my wandering heart wanted to adventure with my group of volunteers. Unfortunately for my body, the latter won out and I found myself on the side of a mountain almost ready to pitch myself head first over a cliff. The hike turned out to be one of the most physically difficult and demanding things I have ever done.


In the moment I approached the final ascent, I wanted to be anywhere else but there. My feet were bleeding, my back was aching, my clothes were dripping wet, and my lungs were gasping for air. It was not my proudest moment. I went to bed that night feeling pretty beaten. I had survived the hike, but I hadn't done it with the attitude and ease that I would have liked. I spent the next 24 hours as we worked with the local farmers, forgetting about the miserable hike and admiring the beautiful scenery and hard work of the Nepali people. In our technology-advanced society, we barely leave our climate-controlled buildings long enough to sweat on our walk to the car. These people spend hours, days, and years tilling their land and hauling their water. Some of them never leave the mountain they were born on. And here I am, a spoiled middle-class American who thinks it's too hard to climb the mountain. As an apostle once reminded me, "All true work is sacred...there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven." Sometimes I think our American society (myself included) has forgotten how to truly work. That was another lesson Nepal taught me, to work hard.

Whatever you do, work hard and allow that work to refine you as you contribute to something bigger than just yourself.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Life Lessons from Nepal: Love

Where do you start when you feel so completely and utterly changed by an experience? It's been a month since I returned, and I still feel like I haven't fully processed everything that I saw and experienced in Nepal. I remember this strange feeling come over me as my plane descended into the lush green mountains of Kathmandu.

As clear as day came the thought "This experience is about to change you. Nothing will be the same after this." I knew right then that Nepal would steal a piece of my heart. And yet, after a month, it seems like those few short weeks have already dimmed in my memory and I'm left desperately pouring through pictures and journal entries that make it real again. My hope is that by sharing my thoughts and feelings, it will help imprint them more on my heart so that I never forget what I was taught by such humble and beautiful people.

First, for those who might not know, let me explain a little as to how I ended up in Nepal. Sometime in the spring, I had a very inspired friend tell me about a program in Nepal through HELP International. She and I had talked about doing a humanitarian trip together someday as sort of a pipe-dream, but I don't know if either of us ever really thought it would happen...until it did. And I am so grateful it did! Everything fell into place pretty perfectly after that. There were a few reasons I was drawn to this specific program initially, but in the end, it was where I was supposed to go because Heavenly Father had some important lessons to teach me.

At first glance, Nepal didn't seem all that different from other third world countries I've visited. Dusty roads, simple buildings, crazy traffic, and lots of people. I was excited to explore a culture that was so different from any of the other places I'd been. It provided me with all that and much more.



On our first day, we were thrilled to be welcomed by the girls at Raksha. It was genuinely the most happy and welcome I had ever felt in arriving to a new place. They had a huge banner with all our faces and names on it and beautiful hand-made cards personalized for each of us. The girls danced and sang and showered us with hugs. I felt their love for me the moment I walked in the door, and I was overwhelmed. I'm not a particularly trusting person by nature, and it usually takes me some time before I develop a friendship, especially to the point that I am comfortable expressing love. But my Raksha sisters didn't waste a single minute waiting to see if I was trustworthy or even worth loving, they simply extended their love. That was the first lesson Nepal taught me, to love.

Love without reserve, love without waiting, love without fear, love without expectations. Love just to love and nothing else.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Prodigal Blogger & Words

So...it's been awhile. Like 2+ years awhile. A lot has happened. Yikes. I'm not sure why I stopped, and I'm pretty skeptical about this being anything worth reading as I begin anew. But I can't ignore the little nagging voice in my head that has been driving me crazy for the past month, telling me I need to start bleeding out some thoughts again. So here it goes.

Words. I have been pondering on words today. As I sat down for the past two days and listened to LDS General Conference, I was struck with the power of words. For better or worse, words have power to change perspectives, ideas, circumstances, people, and the world. So many of the messages I heard were both personal and inspiring. Hearing sermons of great depth all the way down to a lesson taught by a little girl named Chloe who didn't want to wear her seat belt, I was uplifted. I felt love. I felt hope. I felt a strong desire to change and be better.

But then you know what happened? General Conference ended. And I was back in the real world, struggling with all the very real temptations and weaknesses in my own life. Just a matter of hours later I was spending some time outside in the beautiful fall weather, and a friend also spoke out to use her words. In an offhand and with very likely harmless intentions, she said something that deeply hurt my feelings. Hours later, it is those words that are now bouncing around my head and haunting my thoughts instead of all those wonderfully hopeful and great words that I have been listening to all weekend. The tendency of human nature to always focus on the worst seems to be a constant battle.

BUT.

I am learning. I am learning that the words I use have that same power. That what I say also matters and has the ability to lift up or tear down. No doubt, I myself have ignorantly used words to cause hurt and pain, leaving someone to question their own self worth and purpose. It is probably one of the greatest ironies of life to realize that the things which bring you the worst pain are also injuries you have inflicted upon others at one time or another. That is exactly the reason why I am so grateful to have a knowledge of Jesus Christ in my life. I am so incredibly thankful for the sacrificing atonement of Christ. To know that not only can He heal my pain and suffering, but especially He can heal those that I have also caused to feel pain.

I am not perfect, and I know it perhaps better than anyone else. I have spent my entire life becoming acquainted with my own weaknesses and mistakes. I use words at their ugliest to dismantle myself so that no one else can do it better than me. 

BUT.

My words aren't the only words that have power. The words of Christ hold an even brighter and more powerful strength than anything else. THAT is why we have scripture. It's why so many generations of men have made such incredible sacrifices to record words. Words ARE power. And as I continue to learn more of Christ's words, I know I can find the power I need to change my own words, my own life, my own history. I can become better and find meaning, purpose, and joy as I follow and emulate the words of my Savior. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that no matter how many times I say the wrong words, He will always be there to help me make it right again as long as I choose to trust in Him.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Timing

I have always been a faithful believer in timing. All of the most important decisions of my life up to this point have taught me that. So of course, naturally, the one time I'm ready for something good to happen and things are looking promising, bad timing slaps me in the face. But you know what? Maybe bad timing is really just paving the way for good timing in something else. Everything happens for a reason, right? Even the crappy things. At least that's what I keep telling myself... How long can a girl delude herself before her brain finally forces itself to grip reality? I guess we'll find out :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I've Got Sunshine

For those days where everything else in your life seems to be going wrong, at least God blesses us with sunshine...

I've found that I am right back exactly where I was two years ago before I suddenly decided to up and go on a mission. It was a wonderfully difficult and rewarding detour to my life, but again I'm facing graduation, change, and the harsh reality of real life as an adult. Two months and the clock is still ticking. Of course I can't pretend I'm going to miss homework, exams, papers, and lectures. But I might miss the learning part...just a little. Part of me REALLY wants to just pack up everything and move far far away. At least for a little while. Fresh start with new roots. But somehow Utah has this little leash on me that I can't ever seem to get away from. So I'll continue to sit here in the sunshine pondering on why I can't figure my life out and hope that with the warm breeze of spring some inspiration or direction will come with it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Time Train

I wish I knew why I was such a sporadic blogger. I feel like I go through these periods of my life where I think "Wow, I really need to blog about that!" all the time...and then I have those other periods of life where I think "Wow, I really have absolutely nothing original to say." But today is not that day. Today, I have something to say. And while it might seem slightly pitiful, I thought it was a subject worthy to blog about.

My little sister has a boyfriend.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, my little sister (by more than half a decade) has managed to do in 6 months, what I have not been able to do in my 7+ years attending higher levels of education. Now I could sit here and mope and pity myself all day long, but that's not really what this is about...okay well maybe just a little. But really, it's about the fact that time is passing, and I'm just not sure I am ready to move on with it. Seven years ago when I left home to go to college, my little sister was still in middle school worrying about whether or not she was old enough to wear lip gloss and if the boy from kindergarten still had a crush on her. Now all of the sudden she is my peer and dating and flirting and looking for a real job and figuring out what she's going to do for the rest of her life. Is it wrong of me to want to pull the breaks on the time train and make it come to a screeching halt?? Yes I am well aware that my maturity and progression has yet to go anywhere with time passing, but what about everyone else?? ESPECIALLY my little sister? I don't know, I just don't know if I'm ready to face this reality yet.