Month: October 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

To all my great friends- Happy Halloween!  I loved Halloween as a kid (of course, what non-Jehovah witness kid doesnt?).  However, I went through a period where it didn’t seem like a grown up holiday.  My last roommates took care of that impression.  Thank goodness for that.  Now I get dressed up every year and we have a fun party (this year it is more of a scaled back affair but my costume is going to be AMAZING!).  I will post pictures tomorrow but I wanted to at least post my totally amazing pumpkin.  It is pretty much the best jackolantern ever. Have a great haunted night all you ghoulish friends of mine…

My Halloween costume
My Halloween costume
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Laughing

This weekend I had an interesting experience.  I was talking on the phone with one of my friends, Julia Graves, and we started telling funny stories about college friends and roommates we’ve both had.  It was one of those fun, chatty, girlie Sunday night phone calls. As I have mentioned before Julia was a favorite companion of mine on my mission and we have kept in touch ever since.  In fact, I am going to make a visit to Las Vegas soon to see her.  I wish she lived in Utah.  If she did, I would hang out with her all of the time!

Anyway, the two of us were chatting and laughing.  I particularly told the story of my klutzy college roommate named Jennifer.  To put it midly this girl was a mess.  She walked in a continuous cloud and was always bumping into things and couldn’t walk into her room without endangering her life!  The first day we met as roommates she decided to move her mattress and somehow ended up knocking the light cover off of the cieling sending shattered glass everywhere.  Unfortunately a piece of glass cut her forehead causing her to bleed rather profusely.  To our shock, after just meeting, she came in blood down her face, and said “I got hurt”.  My other roommate Heather and I naturally began to freak out and we may have even taken her to the emergency room. I don’t remember. It may sound odd to laugh over something like this but it was so typical of Jennifer that it became funny.  The ironic thing is that she was also a germaphobe and was constantly complaining about the cleanliness of the apartment and that it was too stuffy.  There were many nights when I went to bed freezing because she insisted on having the window open to squelch the stuffiness.

When you combined the klutziness and the germaphobic tendencies you can imagine our shock when at the end of Fall Semester Jennifer announced she was going to Guatemala for Winter term.  A friend of hers was going with BYU so Jennifer decided to go; however, the BYU group was full.  Did this stop her- no?  She planned the entire trip by herself and was venturing to Guatemala alone.  She couldn’t imagine why her parents weren’t supportive of this plan?  Imagine that?  When she left Heather and I kept expecting to hear news of an american tourist falling into a volcano in Guatamala.  I mean the girl couldn’t walk to her bedroom without bleeding- let alone a third world country!

So on Sunday Julia and I were laughing over these types of stories.  It was a pleasant conversation that I enjoyed but didn’t think much more of until the next day when I got an email from Julia.  She wrote that her life had been stressful lately and that she needed a good laugh.  Talking with me was exactly what she needed.  Now I am not trying to put myself on a pedestal or anything, but the experience reminded me of an important lesson.  Sometimes the most important gifts are found in the small moments of time and tender care. Sure Christmas presents are great, holidays are fun but the seamingly insignificant conversations, smiles and meals can have surprising impact on those we care about.  I can think of many instances when I have been stressed and a phone call, visiting teaching message, or talk in church lifted my spirits.  Sometimes even the memories of a happy time are enough to lift away the loneliness of my life.

My parents have always been good examples of appreciating small moments.  My dad used to say to me in college when I was stressed out over a test- “Are you enjoying the journey?”.  My mother was always available for an evening chat (still is over the phone) on her bed at night, or a conversation while she made dinner.  She is also a good example of doing her best- not just getting by- instead of just doing costumes for the school play, for instance, she researches the time period and adds time appropriate details. This is typical of the way my mother magnifies the moments she has and makes a difference in her family and to her friends.

I want to do more to recognize the minutes and seconds of joy in my life- to laugh with friends, develop talents and express gratitude.  Luckily the Lord amplifies whatever effort I can make by directing me (most of the time unaware) to the places and people I can help, and that can help me. Life is good!

One sad note, one happy

You can see in this photo all of the ink stains.
You can see in this photo all of the ink stains.
My sad face at losing my skirt!
My sad face at losing my skirt!

So, I wanted to make a quick post to let you all know that I am feeling quite a bit better. Rest over the last few days really helped.  Thanks for all the encouragement.  I hope my sister Megan improves as well. Now for the bad news…I was tired and threw a load into the wash and today realized there was a pen in my pocket.  Now there is ink dried onto the dryer and splotched onto an entire load of clothes including most of my underclothes. I also destroyed a skirt I had just bought from Lands End. 😦

Any of you domestic divas have any suggestions? My mom said something strong like paint thinner can get the stain off the dryer but I am scared of an explosion or passing out from the fumes (remember I live alone so passing out would be a bad thing). She also said dry cleaner formula called Thoro might help with the stains.  I would appreciate any suggestions.  Thanks in advance.

October isn’t nice

My friends I am writing to you as a sickie from sickville.   I’ve got a cough, sore throat, mild fever and am congested. Yuck! It’s actually kind of depressing because I was just sick before I went to Indiana and now to be sick again… It makes me feel like some kind of hypochondriac but I really am sick.

Now the reason I have been sick twice in one month- that I am not sure but I think part of it has to do with the change in seasons and another part is a sort of a recovery after my trip.  When I was little I used to always get sick at the beginning of Fall or Winter- it’s like my body’s way of rebelling against the cold.  Also, I tend to get sick after being on airplanes and after a particularly stressful time.  Don’t get me wrong my trip to Indiana and Michigan was amazing but it did leave me emotionally drained and exhausted.

It may also be that I never quite got over my last illness and the germs have regrouped and attacked once again.  I have always had a weak immune system (my whole family has).  If there is something going around it seems I always get it.  It’s only a matter of time.

The ironic thing is that I am actually trying to be healthy.  Since August I have eaten only a handful of sweets and am trying to exercise more.  My sister and I are doing monthly challenges for fitness and health. I believe from reading her blog that she is sick as well.  Something is not right! You are supposed to be healthier when you are trying to be healthy! Maybe this is another way my body is rebelling.  Stupid body!

In the meantime, I am resting up and trying to heal.  Anyone who wants to come nurse me back to health is welcome! I could certainly use the company.  I am kidding but I do need to fight this silly illness because I have 2 warm team events coming up- one on Saturday and on Monday.  I will be at the Cornbelly’s maze at Thanksgiving Point both days and the last thing I want is to be coughing and congested. In addition, next week is a very busy week with lots going on including my chocolate 101 cooking class (how fun does that sound), my book club at my house and of course there is Halloween on Friday (rapidly becoming one of my favorite adult holidays not just child holidays). I am dressing up this year as a Japanese princess (I would say geisha but that has negative connotations- so Japanese princess it is.)

At least being sick gives me a chance to catch up on my reading.  I always love that. Take care friends and please excuse this somewhat whiny post. My apologies.  Hope you are all well and happy.

Visiting Indiana

It is now Thursday October 16th and I have been home since Sunday from my business/mission trip that I took last week.  I meant to update my blog much sooner about the recent goings on but it has been go-go-go ever since I got back.  I often say that I need 2 or 3 days off after traveling in order to recover.  Sadly it was not the case. I don’t know how my father is able to function with all of his travel.  It’s exhausting!

That said- I had a great trip.  The first part of it was in Michigan where I was trained on how to set up our warmer booth at various events.  I learned more about the types of warmers we carry, and the history of the product-along with the type of salesmanship that works at warm team events. On the whole, it was a good trip and my first business trip was a success! I still can’t believe I am old enough to go on a business trip.  How did this happen?

Once I was finished with work on Thursday, I drove to my first area on the mission-Angola Indiana.  To drive into a location that formed so much of my character was a weird sensation.  It was on one hand underwhelming to see through common eyes and on the other completely overwhelming because of the memories that came pouring with each street, store and site. The whole time I was in Indiana I felt like I was in a museum of my life. All these artifacts that would mean nothing to others made me well over in tears. It’s an odd and overwhelming experience to try and go back in the past.

While I was touring the mission I listened to a radio program about blogging and the woman being interviewed said that in her blog she “tries to only tell my story”.  In other words, don’t bring in the life stories of others so that you can protect their privacy.  I understand what she was saying but the task seems impossible.  How can I write an authentic portrayal of my life without including the stories of those who touch me? I only hope every mention of others in my blog is complimentary if not glowing with praise. I will certainly remove anything if asked.

With that understanding let me tell a little about the people I saw in Indiana.  Starting with Angola, I stayed with Sister Bork (still hard for me to call her Jackie.  It’s how I was raised).  She was a great host, and I enjoyed reconnecting with her.  I hope that my visit provided some comfort and companionship (even if for only 2 nights) during a tough time in her life.  She is a great lady who saved me from starving on many occasions on my mission.   We used to specifically tract around her house because we knew we could count on her for a cup of cocoa or a meal if we didn’t have a dinner.  There was one night I particularly remember where we had tracted all day in the snow.  It was hard work, and we were starving.  We stopped at the Borks, and we must have looked like quite the site!  Sister Bork was making breakfast for dinner and we wolfed everything down.  I think I ate 4 or 5 fried eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and more!

This is the first house I lived in on my mission.  It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!
This is the first house I lived in on my mission. It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!

You see, that is the type of small memory that flooded my mind around every corner in Indiana.  It was emotional and amazing. It’s hard to describe in words.

In Angola I also had the treat of seeing others from the branch, getting an update on everyone and particularly seeing my friend Sarah Garner who was my rock on the mission.  She has a sweetness and sincerity that I admire.  I just wish she could understand how great she is. If you are reading this Sarah- it is true!

Finally, I got the privilege of seeing a family I taught in Angola named the Aronens. Since they had changed their emails, I had not kept in touch the way I would have liked.  It was so great to see them and again it brought back every memory of each discussion.  It meant a lot to me that they still had the photo of Sister Servito and I with their girls on their living room wall.  I know they have many struggles but it warms my heart to know they are thinking of me along the way.  It was good to hear they are active and doing great.  Their girls are so big. I can hardly believe it.  Regina is in 6th grade!  Wow! They are a family that I feel I was meant to find and teach the gospel to.  That is a great feeling to know and it’s something I carry with me when I am struggling.  One of the ways I know that the Lord loves me is because he let me help the Aronen’s find the gospel.

This is Regina and Brianna
This is Regina and Brianna
Melody Aronen
Melody Aronen

Moving on to Indianapolis (which by the way- I thought I might remember how to get around places, and I didn’t recognize one building! Not one street! Good thing I rented  a GPS unit.  Saved my life!).  I arrived on Saturday morning and was greeted by Sister Leonard whose home I lived in during my 6 months in Indy. It turns out I was lucky to see her, as she has been out of town for the last 2 months, and is going out of town again in a couple of weeks.  It was great to reconnect and reminisce.  So much has changed in her life and in the life of the ward since I left.  There is a whole new stake, and I hardly recognized anyone at church.

At Sister Leonards I went down into the sister’s basement apartment and again was flooded by memories.  I thought of Sister Graves sleeping on a bed on the floor as happy as can be.  I thought of Sister Livingston doing sit-ups while reading the scriptures and eating an apple (she’s got a gift for multitasking).  I thought of Sister Hathaway struggling over her lessons each day.  More than that, however, I thought of the time on my knees I had spent in that little apartment.  The times I had poured my heart out to the Lord trying to have the energy to work hard and love the people- trying to get the answers for investigators and then thanking the Lord when they would come.  I also couldn’t help but remember the struggles- the sore feet, the canceled appointments, the squabbles with companions.  All of those memories are part of the story of my mission and they are special, even sacred.

Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Sister Leonard and I.  She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.
Sister Leonard and I. She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.

Being in that little apartment made me want to be a better person.  On my mission I was such a visible servant of the Lord.  Every day I had a clear purpose. I know we have that each day as normal members but it isn’t quite the same.  Nevertheless, I want to do better, be better, live with more of an attitude of service. I want to make sure I am where the Lord needs me, when He needs me.

One last comment- I think it is easy to feel that our little lives don’t make much of a difference in the world. I sometimes wonder if I should be braver, more bold.  In Indiana I realized that I do make a difference- that I do matter.  There was one experience in Indianapolis when my companions and I felt prompted to visit a lady who had been having marital problems.  To be more blunt she was being abused.  At the time, we debated about whether visiting a member was the best use of our time (the elder’s had been riding us about not spending time with members) but we felt prompted to go and see her.  When we got to her house her husband had been arrested and  taken away.  This was a big step for her, and we helped her through the night until we had to leave.  I have thought about that moment and wondered what ever happened to the woman.  Well, on Sunday I got to see her, and she told me something that made me cry- no weep.  She said that when she is sad or lonely she thinks of that moment and knows that the Lord loves her.  When I heard that I was beyond words.  It amazes me to know that my attempt to serve helps someone years later to feel of the Lord’s love.

I am so grateful that we listened and am grateful to the Lord for letting me know that my service as a missionary mattered. I cry now just thinking of it. It was like a giant hug from my Heavenly Father. I am so comforted by the knowledge that what I do each day is important to the Lord- more than that- what I do is guided by the Lord.  What a humbling thought that is.  That moment was worth the whole trip, and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving it to me.

In closing, visiting my mission was a wonderful experience.  My mission was a wonderful experience. Life is a wonderful experience.  I just hope that I can be the type of person I was as a missionary- living a life guided by the Lord, full of His grace and goodness.  It will not be easy,my mission wasn’t easy, but as the cliche goes- it was and is worth it.

The woman we helped and her daughter.
The woman we helped and her daughter.
The speedway track.  I did the full tour this time
The speedway track. I did the full tour this time
Winner Winner!
Winner Winner!
The finish line.  Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.
The finish line. Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.

Conference

For those of you that are LDS we have all enjoyed our semi-annual general conference, the final session ending this afternoon.  Despite being sick I took notes and learned much.  Each general authority that spoke did so with authority and comfort.  It’s like hearing advice from an old friend that loves you.  At least that’s how I felt.  A couple of talks that particularly stuck out to me were Elder’s Holland, Hales, Wirthlin, and Uchtdorf and of course President Monson.  It is Elder Hales’ message that I would like to mention in this blog. He spoke about defending criticisms of our faith both as a church and as individual followers.  Instead of responding to criticism in defensive ways, he taught us to follow Christ’s example and love those that hate us:

“When we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christ-like, we invite others to feel his love and follow him as well,” Elder Hales said.

Elder Hales even said that sometimes these criticisms can be helpful by their attracting attention to the church, which then often leads to teaching moments.

I thought this was a beautiful message, and one that I want to exemplify more fully.  I have always been very independent and don’t like to be criticized or told what I should be doing in my life.  While I don’t think we should be doormats for people, there is a way to be bold without being defensive.  Elder Hales said that the spirit would dictate which response is appropriate.  Just as the savior responded in a different way to Nicodemus than he did to the moneychangers in the temple, we will know what is the best response for the different people in our lives.

I actually don’t have many in my life who directly criticize my church membership but often I hear hurtful things through the media and my initial response is to be defensive.  This is something I would like to work on.

I believe Elder Hales’ message also applies to criticism and feedback in general.  Even in my work, I have always had a hard time with criticism and although I think I have grown over the years, it still is something I can improve upon.

One cool thing I noticed in Elder Hales’ talk is that he mentioned using blogs to spread the gospel!  That made me feel good!  In that vein, let me state to all of you that I do have a testimony of the Mormon church and its current prophet President Thomas Monson.  I feel such a tremendous spirit when I hear him speak.  I also have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and know that it is a true book.  I know this because I have prayed about it and the spirit has confirmed to me that it is true.  I love reading that book. It is my sincerest desire to serve my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in any way I can including trying my best each day to be obedient to His teachings.  I also have a strong testimony in eternal temple ordinances and am grateful that the pain of grief can be assuaged by the knowledge of eternal covenants and families. I thank each of you for your love and support and know that much of this testimony can be attributed to the righteous influences each of you have showered in my life and heart.  God bless. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.