My parents can testify that I haven't always been the one to do it myself or to seek opportunities without a nudge but college really has made me grow up a lot. My computer crashed a month into the semester and I lost all of my notes and some vital information. I felt like I was going back to the stone ages writing notes by hand and trekking to the library nearly every day to use the computers there. Then right before finals week my iPhone 4 decides it is going to hate me as well. The sleep/wake button on the top got jammed suddenly and I had to send it away to get repaired. It was quite interesting trying to handle all this basically on my own. My dad sent me a new harddrive for my computer and so I took it apart and installed it by myself! I was so amazed and truly felt accomplished.
Throughout last semester I had the opportunity to work with a service group called Horses for Healing. Tami, the owner, works with kids who have RAD, moderate to severe Autism, and other mental or physical handicaps. It has been so humbling to hear the stories of these poor children. One particular story really touched me when I went this past Saturday. A warning to those who are a bit queasy, this story is not for the light of heart.
Tami told us of a young girl from Ethiopia that had been adopted by a family here. Apparently the orphanage that she was raised in from an infant from the time of 18 months on would sell her for prostitution. She was violently raped and molested. The orphanage would also film the children and turn them into pornographic movies. They would sell these to raise money. Not only were the kids treated horrifically but they were deprived of basic necessities and tools for learning. This young girl arrived in America and was shocked that suddenly she had clothes, a bed to sleep in, and two loving parents. Because RAD is a mental disorder caused by trauma at a young age this girl had developed it. She has an extreme Love/Hate (mostly hate) relationship with her mother that is heartbreaking to watch. These RAD kids thrive on attention and can be very manipulative to get it. One time while she was riding she threw herself off the horse while her mom was leading just to get her attention. That day while we were there instantly when her mom was leading her around she would slouch down in the saddle. When asked how she felt when us, the volunteers were leading her she said "Good" but when her mother led her she replied "Sad." It was heartbreaking to watch the love this mother had for her daughter not being returned.
More about RAD: I'll make my next post dedicated to this disorder. In the mean time you can learn more about it on RadKid.Org
While out at the ranch we often shovel a lot of manure. On Saturday Mark, Caleb, Cambria, Josh, and I were shoveling a particularly filthy pen. It was home to a mother and two young foals. It was fun to watch them frolic around. Because this pen was outside the snow and manure had mixed forming a nasty frozen slush. We used shovels to break it into chunks before dumping it into wheelbarrows. This took nearly an hour. Something about shoveling all that manure makes me realize how much I truly do love horses and even the messy not so fun stuff can be quite enjoyable in the right company. I was actually grateful that it was frozen because trust me frozen manure does not have the stench of it does on a hot, humid, day in August. Waking up today with my arms and shoulder sore reminded me that I have made a difference. Tami honestly could not run it alone. I look forward to going there every Saturday and helping out.
When Mark and I got home we were starved! So I made some oatmeal while he enjoyed a nice bowl of coco puffs. After that we got talking and we talked for nearly 3 hours before realizing that his sister would be there soon to pick us up for his brother's basketball game. We got ready and headed off to the game. Kirk won 58 to about 33. It was great to see him smiling and enjoying the game. He is quite an agressive player. The scare of the game was when number 35 on his team fell and slammed his knee into the bleachers. As he hobbled off the court and into the locker room you could see the blood. Being an amazing trouper that he was though he was only off the court for about 10 minutes and then he was back in the game. That amazed me because I though for sure he had shattered his knee cap or worse!
After the Game we took Kirk out to Chick-fil-a. I hadn't been there in ages so I was super excited. Munching on my chicken nuggets and talking with Mark's family was really enjoyable. I was pretty tired on the ride back, and when we arrived home in Provo Mark and I relaxed and started talking again. He was telling me some family stories and about his Grandma who passed away in August. This brought back a flood of memories about my Grandpa Phillip Edwards "Poppy". Before I knew it tears were flowing and I could barely choke out a few words. I guess I had never truly grieved about it before. My mind just took the event and tucked it deep away where it wouldn't surface and cause pain. It felt wonderful to have Mark there and talk things through with him. It made me that much more grateful for the Gospel and I know that I will see him again, hopefully not too soon though.
After everything that has happened over the past few months I have learned that you really do have to shovel Manure sometimes in order to find out who you really are. Honestly, I can say that I have learned so much more about myself being here and not just in school. I realize that my future is bright and am grateful for the little things like a box of fruity pebbles or a new shirt that I earned. It really is the little things in life that make you grateful. I'm grateful for my trials because without them I would not be the Kierstyn Edwards I am today. So next time you are ankle deep in Manure just remember, sometimes you gotta shovel it anyway and just keep keepin' on.
Random Fact: Women are 37% more likely to go to a psychiatrist than men are.