Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The "Cheater" in the Wheelchair

Today, I sped in my wheelchair across campus to get to work right after class.  On my way, I passed a tall slender guy who was on his way somewhere with his friends, taking a few steps at a time with the help of crutches.  As I passed him he yelled, "Cheater."  I'm sure it was only a joke, but I almost revolted by saying what came to my mind initially, "I would trade using crutches knowing that I'll get better in time, over permanence in a wheelchair, anytime. At least you get to go upstairs slowly and reach things in high places if you really wanted to. I don't think having to get used to getting around in a wheelchair for the rest of my life is really considered cheating."  Of course, I didn't because it wasn't really a big deal.  There's no sense in making someone feel bad for a joke where no ill will was intended.

But I am curious what people must think of me, someone young and healthy looking, getting out of a car that is parked in disabled parking. I often feel eyes gazing intently on me as I'm going around, wondering how I could look the way I do and need a wheelchair. I wonder if they just think I'm lazy and pretending like I need a wheelchair. I do love the ease of finding a parking spot (for the most part, unless we're at a big event). But the reality is, I really do need these parking spots, otherwise, I can't get out of my car because they isn't enough space between cars parked side by side for me to get out into my wheelchair. This is one of the greatest blessings for someone like me who is in a wheelchair. It also is a safety net for me so that when I go to and from a store in inclement weather, I run less risk of getting hurt because of the shorter distance in between. It's pure logical and I hope most people understand that.

It's taken some time to get used to and there are some rough points, but I'm so very thankful for my wheelchair and I'm thankful for those little things that make my life in a wheelchair just a little bit easier (like parking lots).  For those with crutches out there, I would love to be in your position, so be thankful. However, wheelchairs definitely beat crutches! :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just keep serving

Recently, BYU's newspaper, The Daily Universe, did an interview with AJ and me about our service on campus after the accident.  Here is the link. I thought it was a very well-written article, and I really appreciate the kind words.  However, I just want to note this wasn't all me or AJ alone;  it was with God's help that we got through the most difficult time in our lives yet - my accident.

The accident has taught us so much about how we all depend on each other and service is the way to help each other get through this life. We learned how much we need to rely on the Lord as well for all the power that he possesses and the abundance he is willing to impart. We love Him more than ever because of it.  We decided to repay him and all those around us by always making time to serve others.  I feel like no matter what I do, I can never truly repay Him because He has provided me with so much--life, learning, family, friends--everything that I need to become a better person especially because of this accident.  I'm so thankful for all of this.  But I will still try to be the best I can and do whatever is needed of me.

I also learned that I became less worried and sad about myself when I was able to look for others to serve. Great things come when we are able to look beyond ourselves. Life isn't all about us. We are not the center of the universe. Others make up part of this infinite world as well. I find I am happiest when I serve. So if there is one advice I can give to those who are suffering in one way or another, it is to just keep serving.  In doing so, you'll find great peace and happiness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Nina!!

Today is Nina's 23rd birthday.  Let me introduce you to Nina.  Nina is my bestest friend ever from Brasil (She still lives there).  We met about six years ago when I did my foreign exchange in her hometown, Dracena.  She was the sweetest girl ever.  She was my hostsister, Thaís' best friend (who was in Denmark on her exchange), and in time, she became my best friend as well.  You will never meet someone as kind, loving, cheerful, fun, and wise (for a 23 year old) as she is.  I learned so much from her and came to love Brazilians even more because she showed me such great love.  She demonstrated true friendship by taking the risk and the time to get to know me.  We spent hours and hours just talking about everything during our slumber parties... We hung out all the time at school and parties.  We made lots of brigadeiro and ate lots of pasteis e pão de queixos...  She was one of the last people I saw when I left Brasil.  I remember that day so vividly.  It made me so sad to leave my best friend.  But I knew we would see each other again because distance could not break the bond between us.  Years later, I went over to Florida to surprise her as she was vacationing in Orlando, as a college graduation gift.  That was one of the bestest weeks ever since leaving I left Brasil.  Anyways, I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday" to one of the sweetest girls I know...Nina, te amo amiga.  Parabéns!!!

Tradução em Português:
"Hoje a Nina faz 23 anos! Deixa eu apresentar ela pra vcs. A Nina é a minha melhor amiga do Brasil (ela ainda mora lá). A gente se conheceu há seis anos quando eu fiz meu intercâmbio na cidade dela, Dracena. Ela é a menina mais fofa do mundo. Era a melhor amiga da minha irmã, Thaís (que estava na Dinamarca fazendo intercâmbio também), e com o tempo, ela se tornou a minha melhor amiga também. Acho que nunca irei encontrar alguém tão meiga, amável, animada, divertida e sábia (mesmo tendo só 23 anos) quanto ela. Eu aprendi muito com ela e comecei a amar ainda mais os brasileiros, em grande parte pelo amor que ela dedicou a mim. Ela demonstrou uma amizade tão verdadeira, gastando todo o tempo que tinha para me conhecer melhor. Passamos horas e mais horas conversando sobre tudo, nas nossas festas do pijama... Ficávamos juntas o tempo todo na escola e nas festas. Fizemos muito brigadeiro e comemos muito pastel e pão de queijo. Ela foi uma das últimas pessoas que eu vi no Brasil. Lembro desse dia como se fosse ontem. Foi tão triste deixar a minha melhor amiga. Mas eu sabia que nós ainda iríamos nos reencontrar porque a distância jamais quebraria a ligação que criamos. Alguns anos depois, viajei para a Flórida para fazer uma surpresa pra ela na sua viagem de formatura. Foi uma das melhores semanas da minha vida desde que eu deixei o Brasil. Para finalizar, só queria dizer "Feliz Aniversário" para uma das pessoas mais especiais que eu conheço. Nina, te amo, amiga. Parabéns!!" 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who Am I? What Defines Me?

Recently, I watched a Mormon messages video about Nie Nie, a burn victim who shares her message of the gospel with everyone. I related so much with the things that she felt in terms of becoming a different person because of the accident, and trying to figure out what my purpose is. As of right now, I am struggling because I don't know where I fit in this whole picture. I don't know what I should be doing.

I'm almost graduating from college, and I still don't have a plan for what to do next.  Sometimes, in moments of impulse, I just want to pick up and move to Japan to teach English for a year.  But of course, I need to think it through with my husband and look at options.  In the meantime, I will continue to do my best in school, stay involved, get good grades, and maybe it will lead to graduate school...Consulting with my Heavenly Father will help me figure out how to go about doing this.  Whatever it is, I want to keep my family close and involved.  I want to make a difference in this world with the knowledge I have worked so hard to acquire.  There's so much going on in the world: famine, war, infectious diseases...We need to do something!

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with the new me.  I am overwhelmed with cannot's.  I cannot reach that, I cannot do this, I cannot go there... Physical limitations get pretty annoying and stressful.  I had one of those bouts of cannot's today, and I just really missed the old me--be able to get around with facility, go places by myself (long flights), cook and clean easily, exercise -- everything with ease. It gets pretty easy to feel sorry for myself, but there is still so much I can do.  I need to remember this because moping around and complaining is not going to help with anything.  I need to keep positive thoughts in my reserve for these times when I'm battling for my self-confidence.  I need to carry on and live my life better than I have been.

There are many physical limitations, and I do wish those were returned to me, but I don't think I will ever give up what I know now about my Lord, Jesus Christ, and the experiences I've gained thus far.  I have been so blessed with other talents that don't require legs and stomach balance (definitely struggling with that).  I'm inspired by Nie Nie figure out where I can put my talents to best use and match up my goals, and I'm optimistic about the end result because of my faith in God and Jesus Christ.  At the end of my life, I hope that I will have figured out what defines me...maybe the love I have for people or the work I do for them.  I hope most of all to be known as a good person and a good friend :)

Click here for Nie Nie's Video
Thank you for your inspiration Nie Nie!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Attempt at Fondue

Amidst the midterms and stress, it was time to participate in some very much needed girl time so I invited my lovelies for some awesome chocolate fondue with apples, marshmallows, bananas...that sounds so girly, right? Well, it was delicious!  It's always fun and relaxing to visit with each other ... and eat fondue.

Fondue pot or a double boiler
2 cups of water
1 bag baker's chocolate (dark or milk on preference) 
2 pieces of almond bark


1. Melt in a double boiler. Place water in sauce pan or lower boiler over low heat. Place cut pieces of chocolate (or chocolate chips) on top boiler or in a light, non plastic bowl. The steam will slowly cook the chocolate above.
  • Make sure not to put the bottom of the bowl (holding the chocolate) in contact with the steaming or boiling water. Contact with the water may cause the bowl to grow too warm, burning the chocolate instead of melting it.
  • You can melt the chocolate a 1/3 of bag at a time to make it go faster and more smoothly
  •  **Do not add water as the chocolate will become unusable. If you do happen to introduce a bit of water into the chocolate while melting, a little bit of vegetable oil will make the chocolate more usable, although it will still be grainy.
2. Stirring constantly, move the chocolate around until it begins to melt. Because chocolate is very easily scalded, be careful not to leave the room or stop stirring for too long.

3. Continue stirring until the chocolate has fully melted. Adjust the heat on the stove if you believe the chocolate is melting too quickly. The whole process should take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Use for recipe for dipping, dressing, or incorporating into another recipe. Again, take care not to accidentally introduce droplets of water to the chocolate with the stirring implement.

Check out instructions for microwave chocolate here and other methods here.

I love these girls! They have been here for me through and through.  I really enjoy the wonderful talks we have and all the laughter as well as tears we share.  I'm so thankful for friends and the way that they make life that much more interesting.  These simple moments of happiness in life are what I live for.  Thanks ladies for making it so worthwhile!