Tag: missionary

Thoughts on Earthquakes and Mission Phone Call Changes

earthquake

So I had a crazy experience this morning! I was working on various projects because I can’t sleep well these days and all of the sudden my bed was moving back and forth like it was on a vibrator setting. I thought perhaps on the slats had fallen out and needed to be replaced or something like that. I then looked around and realized it was an earthquake!!! The first was 3.2 and the second 3.8, which might not sound like much to you earthquake pros but it certainly jolted me out of bed!

I have never experienced anything like that before. It was so surreal and strange to feel my house rumbling around. It certainly hurt any chances I had at a normal nice evening of sleep because I got so excited by it. Evidently the epicenter was in Bluffdale, which is just a few minutes from where I live in Draper. Fortunately it was a small earthquake and no damage was reported but it sure got my attention.

corn mission photo

In other totally random news my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, announced a change in mission rules which will allow missionaries to call, text their families on a weekly basis. This may seem like a small thing for non-members of the church but for those of us who served a mission it is huge!

Previous to today missionaries were allowed 2 phone calls a year- one on Christmas and one on Mothers Day.  As an obedient missionary I used to dread the calls because it was a lot of pressure to talk to everyone and keep the phone call to an approved amount of time. One Christmas my companion Sister Hathaway didn’t even make her call it was so stressful.

That said, I think weekly contact with my family, particularly my parents, would have done me a world of good. One of the hardest parts of serving my mission was how lonely I constantly felt. This may seem crazy given I was constantly with my companions 24/7 but sometimes it’s tough to communicate with a companion and they struggled to understand my point of view. The only place I had to vent to was in my journals and monthly letters to my mission president. (You can’t talk to the members about your struggles because you are there to support them not the other way around).

mission

Being lonely also exacerbated any issues I had with my companion and just made the whole situation more difficult. Plus, I was always exhausted all the time (not an exaggeration). If I could have had a moment to talk to my Mom and Dad to get some encouragement it would have helped me a lot.

I can’t help but wonder what my mission presidents are thinking about this. Particularly my first mission president hated the bi-annual phone calls as he felt they were very distracting for the young men who often got to talk to their girlfriends they left behind. I remember he had the elders call the next day to check and see if we had stayed within our allotted time for calls and gave a firm talking to us if we were over. It was pretty intense!

The change makes a lot of sense when you consider most elders are now 18 years old. Dropping all contact with family is quite the ask at that age, and I’m thrilled they are changing this rule. I think for most missionaries it will be a net positive for their mental health, happiness and ability to serve.

What do you guys think about either of these topics? Have you been in an earthquake, even a small earthquake? What do you think of these missionary changes? Let me know in the comments section Thanks!

Faith and Loneliness

I have lots of different readers who enjoy my posts for different reasons. I love every last one of you! This is a religious post probably best suited for my Mormon readers but hopefully encouraging to anyone of faith. If religion isn’t your thing don’t worry will be posting about your favorite topic soon. It’s a huge part of my life so it will come up on the blog from time to time. Love you!

missionLately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my mission.  This year marks 10 years since I came home which has given me pause to think about the decade which has come and gone. Plus, I recently played host to my favorite companion Julia Graves and spent time with a sister who also served around my time Lisa Luddington.  We’ve shared stories and looked back on all we learned during those very intense 20 months (I extended).

Today I went to a homecoming for a friend and it touched my heart to see how strong she has become. I hope she can keep that strength and faith for a decade as I have striven to do however imperfectly.

Called to Serve Him.  No greater work.  No greater chance to become more Christlike
Called to Serve Him. No greater work. No greater chance to become more Christlike

As I’ve been thinking about my mission I realized something special it taught me I hadn’t put my finger on before.  It taught me how to deal with the loneliness of faith.

Let me explain.  There was a time on the mission I was given a companion who was bi-polar and thought that a mission would cure her mental illness. When it obviously didn’t she took her anger out on me and was emotionally and verbally abusive. I was berated as the worst missionary, ugly, stupid, inept, you name it.  Then she would go days with the silent treatment which was better but hard when you have to spend 24 hours a day with a person.

It was an especially hard time because I was trying so hard to be a good trainer and obedient.  We were opening a new area to sisters so I didn’t know anybody and we were far away from the mission home.  On LDS missions you are not allowed to call home, just weekly letters (although my parents did send me flowers. Love them!).

Got to love Indiana corn!
Got to love Indiana corn!

I’m not saying I was perfect because I wasn’t but I was trying to be obedient and I seemed to be punished for that where other people had great training experiences. Plus, how many times can you be told your a terrible missionary before you begin to believe it.

It was one of the loneliest time of my life. That may be surprising because I was with someone all the time but it just goes to show a person can be lonely who is surrounded by people.

pres quist
President Quist helped me so much through that lonely time

Anyway, I thought about coming home but I didn’t want to let my family down especially my younger siblings who needed an example missionary in their lives. I had to call the mission president every night and he helped me to get through every day.  I had a sister swap with my MTC comp Sister Noyes and that also helped.

But in the end I had to turn to my Heavenly Father in a way I hadn’t done to that point. He was all I had to really lean on. I read my scriptures and I prayed so hard my knees hurt. And you know what? He filled me up.  He let me know I wasn’t a bad missionary.  He helped me to forgive her, which was incredibly hard to do.  He loved me and I was not the same after that.  I was in 100% to the mission and while again I was far from perfect I know I was the missionary He needed me to be.

purdue
Purdue campus was the new area with tough companion but it was the site of many sacred experiences too

As hard as that experience was, and it was brutal, it gave me a gift.  In the 10 years since I came home there have been lonely times.  I don’t need to go into all of them but just trust me there have been lonely times. I’ve felt attacked, disappointed in the choices of others, angry, frustrated, confused and alone, as all humans do from time to time.

But I’ve always had that time on the mission in my pocket to carry me through.

I had discovered God’s ability to strengthen me during the lonely times and have never forgotten it and never will.

If you are feeling lonely or life is giving you a shellacking (we’ve all been there!) maybe it’s a moment God is trying to turn you into something better, like He made me the best missionary I could be?  Maybe he is trying to make you strong?

I absolutely believe moments of loneliness are essential to understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ and really applying it to your heart. We need it so bad in those moments and only then are we teachable and humble enough to make the tough choices and rely on His mercy completely.
me-in-snow-on-missionNever forget the scripture says

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Hoosier Meal

Yesterday I had a fun trip down memory lane thanks to the young men and women.  The youth in my ward were doing a missionary activity where they went to people’s homes and ate a meal from that person’s mission.  They could then ask questions and learn more about what a mission is like.  I signed up and luckily my voice lessons were cancelled so it all worked out.

It’s interesting because I have never really tried to make the food from my mission.  This is partly because it’s not all that good for you (chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes, double starch oh my!) and because I never learned how to do it since I was so busy being a missionary. I haven’t cooked for a large group in a long while and it was exhausting!  I cooked for 8 people and realized while I was doing it that it is the size of my family! Gave me a new respect for my Mother!

I’ll just post the photos because I am behind on work and don’t have time to write much.  The meal was pork tenderloin sandwiches (an Indiana favorite inspired by Mug N’ Bun in Speedway, Indiana

Here are the youth and the youth leader.  It was fun to talk to them about my mission and answer questions
Here are the youth and the youth leader. It was fun to talk to them about my mission and answer questions
Pork tenderloin sandwich an indiana favorite.  They are sometimes called Hoosier Sandwiches
Pork tenderloin sandwich an indiana favorite. They are sometimes called a Hoosier Sandwich
My inspiration.  Mug n Bun pork tenderloin.  Mine looks pretty close
My inspiration. Mug n Bun pork tenderloin. Mine looks pretty close
Hoosier pies or also called sugar cream pies.  Kind of like coconut cream pies without the coconut.
Hoosier pies or also called sugar cream pies. Kind of like coconut cream pies without the coconut.
Hoosier pie with berries on top (not traditional with the berries but the pie is so rich it needed it)
Hoosier pie with berries on top (not traditional with the berries but the pie is so rich it needed it)
The spread
The spread
dinner hoosier sandwiches, corn chips, guac, and cesear salad
dinner hoosier sandwiches, corn chips, guac, and Cesar salad

It was a lot of work!  I was exhausted afterwards but it was a lot of fun too.    Sometimes I think doing regular things like cleaning and cooking make more achy than working out.

By the way, this is in no ways a low calorie meal.  It’s that midwest stick to your ribs kind of cooking but it sure tasted good!  I was proud of the sandwiches because I don’t have a ton of experience deep frying (probably better that way) and they turned out very yummy.  My roommate agreed they were a success.  The teens loved them!

Here are the 2 recipes I used

Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

( I had the butcher pound out the pork so I skipped the first part of the recipe)

2 pounds center-cut boneless pork loin
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 sleeves saltines (about 80 crackers)
2 cups instant flour (such as Wondra)
Peanut oil, for frying
4 soft hamburger buns, split
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 half-sour dill pickles, thinly slicedDirectionsCut the pork crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Put each piece flat on a cutting board and slice horizontally almost in half (stop about 1 inch from the other side). Open like a book. Sprinkle each piece with water, place between 2 pieces of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thick with a mallet or heavy skillet.Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, garlic, 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and the cayenne in a shallow bowl. Add the pork, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.Pulse the crackers into coarse crumbs in a food processor, then transfer to a shallow dish. Put the flour in another dish. Remove each piece of pork from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Dredge both sides in the flour, dip in the buttermilk marinade again, then coat with the cracker crumbs.

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch peanut oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360. Fry the pork in batches until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Spread both halves of each bun with mayonnaise and mustard. Layer the lettuce, tomatoes and onion on the bottom halves. Add a piece of pork and a few pickle slices. Cover with the bun tops.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/hoosier-pork-tenderloin-sandwich-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

(I used store bought crust- Marie Calendars is my favorite)

For the Crust:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes; 4 tablespoons chilled, 3 tablespoons frozen for 15 minutes
For the Filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dustingDirections

Prepare the crust: Combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup ice water in a small bowl.

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the 4 tablespoons chilled butter and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized clumps and the mixture is sandy. Add the 3 tablespoons frozen butter; pulse until the frozen butter is also in pea-sized clumps. Add 5 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture; pulse 2 or 3 more times. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers. If it does not stay together easily, add 1 more tablespoon of the vinegar mixture and pulse 3 or 4 more times. (Do not let the dough come together.) Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gather into a lumpy ball; flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, about -inch thick. Fit into an 8-inch pie plate and trim the extra dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Fold the edges under the rim and crimp. Refrigerate the crust until firm, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line the chilled crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights; continue baking until the center of the crust is dry and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cover any cracks in the crust with the dough trimmings before filling.

Prepare the filling: Whisk the sugars and the flour in a medium bowl, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla in a separate bowl and slowly whisk into the sugar mixture until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust; bake until the pie begins to set around the edge but is still slightly wobbly in the middle, 40 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes if the crust gets too dark.) Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/hoosier-sugar-cream-pie-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback