Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What they didn't tell you about being released

After 13 months, my times as Relief Society President came to an end on October 21. Everybody kept telling me how happy I'd be to be released as Relief Society President. I felt that way to. What they failed to mention was how hard being released actually is. It's hard. Like "I may be burned out and I need a good night sleep, but I'm don't want to be released" hard.

As my bishop started getting emotional during PEC over my release, the tears started flowing and I cried my way through three church meetings. Yep, kind of embarrassing. I'm sure everybody was thinking what is wrong with her. Nothing prepared me for the removal of the mantle and how physical of an experience that was. As I felt it leave, my heart was crying out "No. Don't go! How am I supposed to get through everything without this extra strength? I don't know if I can do it alone! I'll sign up for an extra year!"

Now that I've had some time to get used to the idea and to reflect on what I learned, I know I was truly blessed as this calling provided me some much needed strength this past year.

So what did I learn?

  • The power of the mantle of a stewardship is real.
  • If you've got leaders who believe and you and who trust your judgment you can do almost anything.
  • There are times when you just have to walk away because you can only give so much.
  • That you need to be concerned over the quiet ones. Just because they don't express problems, doesn't mean that they aren't there.
  • That very specific thoughts and ideas will come out of no where and those specific thoughts are meant for one of the sister. 
  • That most of us don't see the power and beauty of visiting teaching and so we don't do it.
  • That you truly do lead by example.
  • That your secretary is vital to your sanity.
  • That in a singles ward there's going to be A LOT of change so visiting teaching is NEVER done!
  • That you're not always going to connect with everyone in Relief Society.
  • That you don't have the same concerns and fears at 19 as you do at 30. 
  • That we all need the same reassurance that we are daughters of God who are loved and valued.
  • That until someone is willing to change, there's nothing you can do to make them want to change.
  • That having the gospel embedded in your life really will solve almost all of your problems.
  • That the sisters are so good to listen and respond to the promptings of the spirit.
  • That if you follow the promptings you can have an incredible impact in the life of someone.
  • That you're given really good moments to help you through the not so good moments.
  • That so much of the scriptures applies to whatever calling you've been given.
  • That you really do love the sisters.
  • That being able to pray for sisters by name is a sweet experience.
  • That the "big" callings aren't as glamorous as it seems. It's mostly just a lot of meetings.
  • That you learn more from sisters than you probably taught them.
  • That you are given extra strength to deal with your personal trials.
  • And especially that the single sisters of the church really are amazing! They are beautiful, smart, dedicated, have depth, are truly selfless, and love the Lord. I just want to slap all the boys and be like, what is your problem? Why aren't you asking out/marrying these girls.

I love, love, love my counselors. They were fabulous women who had strengths in areas I was lacking, who always made me laugh, who were wise and kind, who selfless served, but most of all they very devoted to the gospel and inspired me to be better. Since it was a singles ward, change is inevitable and I lost a counselor to marriage, one turned 31 and graduated out, and one to a mission (hence our October release date). Each time I had to say goodbye to a counselor I hated it. But each time I a wonderful girl took their place and I feel so blessed to have served with FIVE amazing women. I've made some wonderful friends and look forward to years and years of friendship.

Us at the end. 
Catherine Curtis--secretary, Ange Murtha--second counselor, Sister Allie Engman--first counselor.

I really am so grateful that I was able to work with and learn from this man, Bishop Kenneth Mays and I'm truly going to miss working so closely with him. Bishop Mays had the ability to make me feel wonderful about everything I did--which was especially helpful on those days when I felt like I was lacking and that there was so much more I should be doing. He was constantly singing my praises. He was grateful for and valued my input. He allowed me to take my wisdom, inspiration, and experiences and to make decisions.  When I presented anything to him he always said "I trust you president." His willingness to cheerfully serve made me want to complain less  and to follow his example. He always had my back and when I had to deal with illness, injury, mental problems, addictions, suicide attempts, etc. he made sure that I received the support I needed to deal with these things.

Monday, October 29, 2012

April 21/22-Tortugero and Goodbye to Costa Rica

Dear Costa Rica, I'm kinds of in love with you. Don't you just want to keep me forever because I wouldn't say no if you asked? Because I kind of HATED leaving you. 

We were told that the best time to see Sea Turtles is after the sun goes down or right before the sun rise. We hadn't had any luck yesterday, so up we got way too early in hopes of catching a glimpse.  We may have struck out in the turtle department, but being the only ones on an incredible beach to watch the sunrise is not a bad consolation prize.

It's amazing how alive the world really is right after sunrise. Our morning ride through the glades brought us the most concentrated sightings of animals, especially birds.

Each boat in our group saw different things, so I was happy that we were see to get a Caimen, a small type of crocodiles found in wetlands in central America.  It's amazing how close we were able to get to it--within just a couple of feet. Unlike other crocodiles, these ones mainly survive on a diet of mollusks and insects.

As we went further into the glads, the views just kept getting better and better.

I've decided that if someone says "I speak good English" they usually don't. So while I'd have loved to learn more about the ecosystems and the culture of Tourtugero, our guides lack of communication wasn't helpful on that score.

Back at the docks after the boat ride
Mawamba lodge was an oasis and with the beautiful sunshine it was just tempting me to stay longer. I could have spent days lying in the sun, walking the beach, and exploring more of the the glades.  Instead, all we had time to do was to eat breakfast before we began the journey back to San Jose.

The pool

The outdoor dinning area
I wish somebody would make this breakfast for me every morning.

Our rooms were perfect with their porches, swings, and cool breeze coming through.

The view from the front door. You can kind of make out the canal  in the distance.

After breakfast we began the long boat and bus ride back to San Jose. :(

At the end of the boat ride back to San Jose.
As we were booking our hotels, we realized that we could stay in a really nice hotel for very little money. We may have been a little out of place in our dirty travel clothes, but that didn't mean we didn't enjoy the plushness.

We had some incredible views of San Jose from our room.

After a rainy swim and a yummy last meal we turned in early as we had to be at the airport at 3 AM. We were told that we needed to be at the airport 3 AM and they weren't lying. It took us almost three hours to go through security (multiple check points) and to get the paper work all filled out.

Saying goodbye to Costa Rica
Waiting on the tarmac

San Jose from the air

Flying over the Eastern side of Costa Rica
Some of us have a knack for looking good after an early morning and long plane ride. I'm not one of them. :)