Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour?

What would you do if you were placed in a situation where you had the opportunity to help another in need? Would you pass them by or would you stop and drop what you were doing and help? I would hope that I would be found among those that would be lending a helping hand rather that try and fool myself into thinking that my agenda was more important than what the Lord had in mind for me. If we are to be true neighbors, we will be required to step out of our comfort zone and help anyone in need not just our family or friends or those we already care about.

Being a good Samaritan is not about just doing what is right and being kind to those that are kind to us, it requires that we perform acts of service to all people even those who are not of our faith or of our friendship circle.

“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” Luke 15:28-32

It is my personal challenge that I will always go and do likewise as the Lord counseled us to do.

Lose your life and you will save it

I have always loved the principle of losing our lives to save them, but this week particularly I was impressed when the Savior asked, “…what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 It hit me hard, we work so hard for things in this life and try to convince ourselves that we have things of value, but in the end we can’t trade wealth or a car for our salvation, yet we spend our entire lives trying to make ourselves happy by attaining these things.

Thus we see that if we are to gain anything in this life we must give. Give our lives in the service of others, share the talents the Lord has blessed us with to all those we come  in contact with.  This change doesn’t happen over night it comes as we become the person we are emulating, by changing our actions we change out lives.  What a great truth to live by every day of our lives, stop thinking about how can I become a better person, just start acting like the person you would like to be and you will eventually become something much greater than you could have f you had spent all your time focusing on your own problems.

Moments that take your breath away

Today was an amazing day! Much bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.  The build up started last night when Lex, Lily and Olivia were practicing there song for JT's baptism.  They sang the song, "Gethsemane", they sounded to me like angels from heaven.  I may be partial but it was very touching to me to hear my 3 daughters singing in harmony for their little brother.  This morning we awoke early to JT's excitement, he was so excited he actually slept on our floor.  He ran around the house singing and screaming with excitement.  JT asked Mason to baptize him and for me to confirm him.  That made it even more special, to see them both preparing themselves both mentally and spiritually for the big day was a real treat.  Before we left for the church the 3 of us knelt and prayed, I let them know that as a missionary you always pray before leaving the the apartment and in preparation to perform sacred ordinances.  This was a very powerful moment we all felt the power of the spirit prepare our minds and hearts for the upcoming sacred baptism.

During the opening meeting in the chapel we met with all the youth in our stake who were being baptized, there were only 3 total so it was very quaint and personal.  Tyler our friend and renter spoke on the importance of baptism and the power of the Holy Ghost, it was spot on for the excited youth being baptized.  We each took turns going into the RS room where the font was located.  We were fortunate enough to be the last ward, this was special because it allowed us to stay after the baptism while JT and Mason changed their clothes.  When Mason and JT entered the font the spirit was very string and it felt as if we were in a different realm for a moment.  Mason spoke with power and confidence as he said the baptismal prayer, and gracefully and lovingly he baptized his younger brother.

We then quickly helped JT change into dry clothes, as Mason changed as well. Lily provided some thoughtful music for the family while they waited. Bishop Andrews conducted the meeting as we confirmed JT with with all of the Parker Uncles, both Grandpa's, Brad, Tyler, and Casey standing in the circle.  I was the mouth piece and the spirit flowed though me to bless JT, this was one of the most powerful blessing I have ever experienced and I contribute a lot of this to our preparation with prayer before we left home.

Lex, Lily, and Olivia then sang the song, "Gethsemane" with Jodi at the piano.  This was so tender and touching to me, they sang so beautifully and so personally to JT the spirit was very strong once again in the room.  Bishop asked for Jodi to share her testimony, she shared a very personal message with us all, reminding us that on this very day 33 years ago she was baptized.  She is a wonderful friend, wife and mother in our family.  Bishop took a few minutes to welcome JT to the ward and let us know he is the only baptism this year in our ward.  He put a climbing harness on JT and instructed that it is time to "Climb On", the harness is like the Holy Ghost and it will keep you safe as you go through life.  It will also help guide you back to the path up the mountain, he did a great job of making the comparison and the importance of being protected by the Spirit.

Lunchtime, we had a great lunch in our gym with food provided by friends and family.  This is where I chose to share the baptism video we made for JT, it was so fun to watch JT as he watched himself in the video.  I thought to myself this is a great day, but it was just beginning.  We were able to go and watch Olivia perform her dance routines in a local dance recital.  She looks like she is having so much fun when she dances, makes all the driving her to practice worth the effort.

Round 3, with Lex getting her call she chose to take out her endowments today as well.  I had no idea how awesome this would be, I remember well my first visit to the Temple, it was a very special day for me but I didn't realize how special it was for the parents and others.  With the Idaho Falls Temple being closed for renovation, we have at least twice the visitors as usual so we had to to get to the Temple early to make sure we could get into the session.  Since we had some extra time we chose to do some initiatory work,  Myself, Dad, Brad, and Grandpa Baldwin did this while Jodi, Mom, Amy and Grandma Baldwin helped Lex do her own initiatory work.  This was a great refresher since we don;t do this very often, the blessings that lie in store are amazing.  It was neat to have one of my professors and "Beehive Bob" working in this area and helping us to get the work done.  This was all great but there was better to come, when I walked into the room and saw Lex and Jodi sitting there in preparation for our session it was breathe taking, I was overcome with so many emotions at one time, Joy, Relief, Peace, Love, just to name a few.  The spirit felt there in that room was intense, I could feel the presence of Michele, Grandpa and Grandma Parker and Sperry, Dot and Everett, Josh Strobel, Elder Taylor and so many more it was amazing to say it mild.  I just keep thinking to myself this is a fullness of joy, this is the climax, this is what it is all about.  There were many other events that took place that I am not able to write because of the sacredness of them, it was simly an astonishing feeling and so very powerful to experience.  I wept several times during the session and felt so many great feelings, to see all my siblings and my wife and daughter in the celestial room was priceless!  Makes it worth every challenge we have to overcome, every effort put forth to make the last 19 years lead up to this were all paid back tonight in this very special event. John said it well in 3 John 1:4 – "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."  What a day!  I feel that today I have experienced a small glimpse of Eternal Life and it was so sweet,  I wish I could convey my feelings of this day better, but just know that days like in my life this can be counted on one hand, they are so very very special.

Charity easier said than done…

Charity is something I think we all know about but how many times do we ignore the opportunities to do what we know? So many time we hear stories of great people sharing with others, building others to help them get back on their feet again.  I personally find myself many times reading great stories of great acts of charity done by others and think boy I would do the same thing if I were in that situation. Yet everyday I experience little opportunities to forgive another or to help another in need and can't seem to find the courage or to swallow my pride and do something about it.  I have taken a personal challenge to focus on becoming more charitable in my life to take the opportunities to help others when they need and to forgive when forgiveness is needed.  I love the quote below by Elder Holland, he seems to puts things so much more elegantly than I ever could.

“Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail. … May we all rejoice in the thought that when we say edifying, encouraging things unto the least of these, our brethren and sisters and little ones, we say it unto God.” —Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Tongue of Angels," Ensign, May 2007

Dia Viente/ Chao OSSO

Two of my favorite Tias. Clarissa and Jenny.image  I ❤️ Cuenca.imageOverlook at the llama museum.
imageThe mural. Translation: you may not have my eyes or my smile, but from the very first moment you had my heart.image

Well today was officially my last day in Cuenca. I miss it already as I sit in the Quito airport.

My morning shift/last shift was in Milagros. I love those boys! One of them told me I had to write him a note for later. Haha two of the boys in there are just the cutest of friends and I love to tease them and watch them tease each other.

I got to push the kids in the swings and hold the baby/3-year-old from Milagros. He is the cutest thing. I felt like it was the perfect ending to my last 3 weeks.

I had the afternoon off to pack, but I was done so I went to the culture museum with Hannah, Nicole, Madie, and Nik. It was really cool. I even got to see a real live llama! Haha After that we went home and worked on the mural. I got to write the quote and sign it. Yay!

When I was first assigned to Cuenca I was really uncomfortable and nervous. I wasn’t used to the type of atmosphere in that orphanage and I wasn’t too excited about stretching myself.

Even on my first day I was overwhelmed with the challenge I knew it would be for me. After this week I don’t know what the heck was wrong with me and I wish I hadn’t spent so much time stressing. The children at Los Pequiñitos de OSSO are the best thing to bless my life.

I have learned so much from them and I wish you could all meet them because they are my best friends. Saying goodbye to them today was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. When I took the boy his note he hugged me while I sobbed in his crippled arms. After he read my note he even hugged me again.

When I got to OSSO the two pieces of advice that stood out the most to me were from Hailey and Jacie. Jacie told me not to worry about trying to be just like the other volunteers. She said that the individuality of each volunteer is what the kids need. Hailey said that these kids are just like me and you, the only difference is that we can move and talk more.

When I took time to apply these advices into my time at OSSO I found myself growing the most. If any of you ever get the chance to serve in a similar situation as mine, I hope this advice is just as beneficial. I love you all and I can’t wait to tell you all about my life in Ecuador.

❤️The Girl with Big Plans

Dia Diecinueve

Chao Hailey and Jacie.imageSelfie in front of HML because that’s what we do best.
imageLice checks. image

Hello all. Today was probably one of the best shifts of my life. Well, one of the saddest too.

My morning shift was in Cunas with Madie. I love her. The kids do therapies in the morning so we only had one or two. When we went in with the itty bitties I got to feed and burp two of them.

At lunch we had a goodbye ceremony for all those who are leaving. We got our OSSO rings and after the meeting we all went up to pack and talk.

My second shift was in Esperanza with Madie again. Today the Tias came out and played with us and it was the best. We played duck, duck, goose, some game that was like London bridges, and we jump roped. Meanwhile it was POURING outside.
 We tried to get everything done early so we could say bye to Hailey and Jacie before HML. I am so sad they are leaving because they are the best.

HML was fun. We did a talent show for the activity, and all the volunteers did random silly talent they had. Heather had the funniest ones. She called them freaky human tricks. The girls love Frozen and they made me sing “Love is an Open Door” with Nik. It was so awkward! Good thing it was only one verse.

When we got home I made soup for everyone because they are all sick. Then of course came the Social Walk..my last one..😞 we went on the swings today and it was way fun.

Now we are currently doing lice checks because one of the volunteers has lice. Oh no! I am dying. I honestly think it would be a good part of experiencing Ecuador, but that could just be me. I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to leave! My last shift is in the morning and then I am going o the llama museum with Nicole, Hannah, and Madie. I am excited to tell you all more details about life here when I get home! XOXO

❤️The Girl with Big Plans

Dia Dieciocho

So happy fast Sunday. I almost died today because it was probably the longest time I have fasted in my life. Nicole and I wanted bananas but we were both fasting so we wrote our names on two. imageMy first shift today was in Casas. My last shift there. I as a really good time, but I also missed church again. I worked with Logan and Shawni. There was a huge group of college students that came and helped out so there wasn’t very much to do. I seriously love the Casas kids. Today they did lice checks and there was definately a girl with lice. Also Esperanza has lice now too. I am praying I don’t get it!

Two of my roomates got sick last night. So at lunch Nicole and I went and got them sprite for their stomachs. I also am praying that I don’t get that either.

My second shift was in Cunas with Shawni. While we were there we listed to an sciatic piano CD and a lot of the songs Lily knows we’re in it. It made me miss her and the rest of the family! We are down to only four kids there because one of them went home with his mom the other day. We got done really fast and usually we would help the Tia in itty bitties, but today the Tia wouldn’t let us. I don’t think she liked us.

Anyways we ended up going back to Casas and I said goodbye to all the kids. One of the girls came and sat in my lap and asked when I was leaving. When she found out it was Tuesday she came back over and hugged me for a while and then rubbed my hand. I was so close to crying. I love those kids. They all came up afterwards and said “Hola Lesi!” then gave me hugs. One of the boys (age 6) car up behind me and pinched my bum. Not okay, but funny.

Everyone at the house tonight is in a bad mood because we are all sick and packing. So sad! I am excited to see you all this week! Keep the orphans in your prayers. They are worth every one of them. I love you all!

❤️The Girl with Big Plans

Dia Deicisiete

So this is a panoramic of the view ziplining. I know it is awful quality, but jts the best I’ve got..imageme and Hannah in our gearimageHannah, Nicole, me
image America’s Birthday Cakeimage

Happy Fourth of July!! I am sad I am not in the U.S. To celebrate! Today Nicole, Hannah, and I had an off because we were in the zip lining group. So, we got up early and made crepes and eggs for everyone to eat before shift. We also decorated the house with the Fourth of July stuff mom got from te dollar store.

Zipljning was so fun! I went with Hannah, Nicole, Logan, Heather, Madie, and Shawni. The helmet there definately didn’t fit me or Nicole. At least they stayed on somewhat the entire time. The view was so AMAZING! We got to ride 7 different lines and it took around an hour.

This morning I also helped Hannah make sugar cookies for the Copa America finals today. We had a huge party at OSSO this smarter noon during shift.

I worked with Logan in Alegria, my last shift there. The kids from Alegria weren’t so interested so I missed most of the game. Esta bien.

Instead I helped clean up two pooped in underwear, courtesy of the same child. I also helped one of the boys make a bracelet and spent time with the two cute little girls in Alegria.

For dinner I helped my “Little Man” eat. He was cracking me up. He pushes the food away in the cutest way and then he would look at me and laugh. Every time I gave him a bite he would hold it in his mouth and then open it to reaves like the previous few bites as well. I had to manually make him chew. He thought it was hilarious. He also spilled his soup down my shirt while pushing it away. I found out at the end of shift that Chile won in PKs for anyone who was wondering.

Tonight we had a BBQ for the Fourth and we grilled veggies, pineapple, and hot dogs. We had so much food! We also made some United States shaped cookies for all the volunteers and Katie made a blue and white birthday cake for us. We definately sang happy birthday to America with it. Roddy bought us two fireworks that were so great because they reminded everyone of home. We also discuses all of our favorite memories/traditions for the Fourth at the dinner table, that also reminded me of home.

This week and the next three days are going to be really hard. I am working some of my last shifts in each place and it breaks my heart. These kids mean a lot to me and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to meet them. They have changed me for the better. I keep thinking of the song from the Forgotton Carols that says, “Its strange how things are changed when touched by love.” I know it is super cheesy, but it is a good explanation of how I feel about now. I had no idea what how much this experience would impact me. I love you all! See you in 3 days. 😢😳😫😊

Dia Dieciséis

Today my first shift was in Casas. It was pretty crazy! I worked with Shawnie and Jacie. At first the kids were all on therapies so we only had to take care of like 5 total. After therapies they all start getting crazy. They run all over the place and you can’t find half of them because there are so many. So, our solution was to take them down to the Canchas where they could play and we could see them all at once.

While we were down there two kids got in a fight an done hit the other in the face. We are in charge of punishing them so I took him and had to hold him in time out; where he tried to bite me. I told him no and he kept squirming so I grabbed his legs and held him like a baby. He wasn’t too happy about that and he clawed my face. I lost it and grabbed his ha fans squoze it really hard and said no in a really stern voice. I think he is a little scared of me, but it might be a good thing.

HEFY came and helped us today along with Nicole who was working in Cunas so the workload wasn’t awful. We skipped the snack because am we had a going away party for 5 siblings who are leaving tomorrow. They get to go home with their mom. We ate cake and they gave us a juice made with jello packets. It wasn’t very good especially towards the end.

Furing lunchtime Heather and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was really fun. Heather is like everyone’s big sister.

My afternoon shift was in Esperanza with Jacie. I was so excited today because one of the girls from Eaperanza offered me a hug before I even asked. (I ask her everyday.) The Tia that is more serious was working today and I think she finally is starting to adjust to me.

Tonight we had a movie party with a few of the kids from each Casa. We let one of the boys from Alegria pick it and he chose Pinnochio. That movie put almost all the volunteers to sleep.The kids really liked it and one of the Milagros boys laughed the entire time. I love that kid!

Tonight we masked and started painting our mural. It is going to be sweet. I will post the finished product! It will be really classy. Sorry I don’t have any pictures today. Tomorrow is zip lining so hopeful I get some then that are cool enough to make up for today! I love you all!

💕The Girl with Big Plans

Dia Cince

Yay! Look we finally started out mural! Also the bottom picture is of a ladder we stole from the construction workers behind our house. The one in the pink is Hailey. She is the greatest. The one on the bottom with the ladder is Madie.
image image

Hola hola! Today my first shift was solo mi in Alergria. It was actually really fun. I am starting to love all the Tias here! I also seriously adore my little Alegria kids. One of the kids spent two hours trying to make bubbles out of water and soap, and he eventually got it to work!

Today two of the kids had their mom visit them. They wee brother and sister both living in Alegria. Their mom looked really young, maybe in her twenties. She brought candy and a new pair of shoes for her son. It was so sad to watch her hand her babies to me and say goodbye.

We also had one of the orphans class come today. I was really happy to see her interact with the kids her age. The entire time they were there on of my Alegria kids would just sit and watch them swing, jump rope, play soccer, etc.  At one point I went and sat by him and he went behind me and just wrapped his arms around my neck and kept saying Lesi, Lesi, Lesi. Today when I was leaving Alegria two of the kids gave me hugs and kisses. It is the sweetest thing next to having them learn your name.

Another Amegria kid always comes up to you and makes you sit somewhere and sing a certain song to him over and over. He also wears bright blue glasses and has a hearing aid. In Alegria I have a “little man” and a “little grandpa.”

My second shift today was a split shift between Milagros and Esperanza. We got to go to the park and play with all the kids. One of the little girls from Alegria sat in dog poop and they just took off her pants and let her play in her underwear. While we were there I spent my time with Nicole, Logan, and Hailey, mostly Nicole, and we pushed the kids around in their wheelchairs.

When I went into Milagros one of my favorite kids was sitting in the floor laughing about who knows what. The Tia and two of the boys told me my blue eyes were beautiful. One if them told me that his eyes were dark briwn with a blue ring around the outside. I didn’t see it, but whatever he says goes. Haha

After today I was seriously contemplating changing my return date and extending because words cannot express the love I have grown to have for the people here at Los Pequiñitos de OSSO.

This week there are a lot of fun things to look forward to, but it is definately bitersweet. Last night one of the volunteers decided to stay two months less than he planed on and that makes a total of like 7 of us leaving next week. I am so sad to be leaving and there is definitely a sad spirit? I don’t know what to call it…around the house.

Tonight was a few of the girls’ last time at HML and it was really am sad to watch. The taxi home was really quiet and most everyone was sleeping or half asleep. HML is hard because there isn’t really time for dinner before we leave so we end up eating at like 8 and by then people don’t want to eat real food. It is still worth it though, even though the kids speak really fast Spanish and I don’t understand a lick of what they say to me. Haha

I realize that no matter what time I have here it is going to be really difficult to leave. I am making he most of the time I have left and I am excited to tell you about my OSSO family that I LOVE! I love you all!

❤️ The Girl with Big Plans