Thursday, December 25, 2014

the Aftermath.

where has your backpack been?
(obviously) Everyone keeps asking me, "How was London?!" and I keep on saying "good!" or "great!" or "amazing", etc etc, you get the picture. But one word could never convey everything I saw and experienced in my four months there or the ways I grew and changed as a person. In fact, I am not certain any amount of words could accomplish that. I have managed to put my finger on a few small lessons London taught me that will stick for the rest of my life, and that is what I would like to share.

Most importantly, I learned that it is people who make things meaningful and important. 
I saw a lot of incredible places, that cannot be ignored nor should it be, but they would not have meant half as much if I had not been with amazing people. Just like Centerville would not be home without the people who live in it. Elder Bednar said, "The most important things in life almost always involve the people around you" and I am not sure if truer words have ever been spoken. 

That being said, I also learned a lot about service
I lived in very close proximity with 45 people. My room alone had 15 girls in it. FIFTEEN GIRlS ranging from 19 to 21 in age. That is triple the amount in my entire apartment last year.  It would have been really easy to become annoyed at any number of them or have silly problems, etc. It was almost expected. But we didn't have any. Honestly, next to no drama. Why? Because we all just acted selflessly to the other girls around us. We all were so willing to give anything to help each other out or listen to each other. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement to lift and love those around you that was so special to me. One of my favorite sayings is to "Never suppress a generous thought". I think London was the first place I consistently lived that way and I absolutely loved it. We know that every good thing comes from God; therefore I believe any generous (good) thought we have is a prompting from the Spirit (from God). So not only did I learn about service, but I learned to listen more to the Spirit and recognize it, which I am so grateful for. I hope it is a habit I can take with me for the rest of my life.

no one has ever become poor by giving; and because I have been given much I too must give.
And I would give anything to these girls.
I learned about how the Church works outside of Utah/the US. 
The members in my ward were so pure in heart, accepting, loving, and so wonderful. Not that members aren't wonderful in Utah -- the Church is the same no matter where you go -- but there was definitely something different. I was the racial minority; everyone else was from Jamaica or Ghana or Portugal or Spain or Brazil or Wales or who knows where else around the world. Many were converts or were inactive for parts of their life and they knew how important it was for every member to feel welcome and loved. They knew that everyone had a history and fell short of the glory of God and they didn't care. They loved you anyways. Tattoos? Great. Drinking problem? We'll help you. Divorced and have children? What can we do for you? Need a lift to the activity this week? Want to go to the temple this weekend? Really. They have nothing to give but they will give you anything. 

home is where the heart is and England has mine completely.
I learned more about who I am and who I want to be as a person. I learned how to be happy in any situation and love any place. I learned to see the world as new and beautiful and to appreciate all that was in front of me. I realize I am in love with London and just completely enchanted by every aspect of it. But to be honest, a good part of that stemmed from me expecting to be. I looked for the beauty and found perfection through the imperfection and 'ordinary' parts of it. I am trying to take that home with me as well so I can see everywhere I am as beautiful and exciting. Because it all is. This life is just one big beautiful adventure and I am so blessed to live it.

I was incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to study abroad in London. As cliche as it sounds, it truly changed me and my life for the better in ways I will never be able to explain or describe further than this. Although it feels like a feeble attempt, I still had to try. I owe that much to my dear city of London and the impact it had on me. 
London, thank you from the bottom of my heart; I will love you forever & always
when you hear Big Ben again, that's when you'll know (you're home).

Love Always, Aimee