Tag: Salt Lake City

Mission Companion New Years Reunion

Normally New Years is one of my least favorite holidays. For a long time it was fun but I’ve found it frustrating because it is a very couply holiday and one where I increasingly seemed to get left out. See post New Years Eve Sucks)

Not this year!

This year my friend and former mission companion Julia Graves came for a visit and it was such a treat.  I rarely have visitors that are here just to see me.  My family comes a lot but they have their own house and sometimes I hardly see them because of their work responsibilities and other family things.

Regardless, they aren’t here just to see me and for me to be host and show them around.That hardly ever happens despite my very comfortable guest room! (It’s ready for anyone to come on over!).  So it was so great to have Julia here for a visit and to have fun and reminisce.

She arrived on the 30th and we went to lunch and then got settled in and she was kind enough to join me for our SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) end of year banquet.  We spent a fair amount of time in the car and had a lot of fun talking with each other.

Then the 31st we went to Blue Plate Diner in SLC and had a yummy breakfast.

diner

And then I had gotten a room for New Years at my favorite hotel- the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake.  It is the place I went when I quit my job in 2007 and so it has always had a special significance (one of the best days of my life!). I also went there for my Eat Pray Love weekend in 2012.

hotel1It’s a lovely hotel with great linens and fluffy robes for all the guests.  They have yummy room service and an amazing pool!  It is one of my favorite places in the world.

I also successfully parallel parked twice! Pretty impressive right?

parallel

Then we went to Copper Common- the sister restaurant of my favorite place Copper Onion and it was very yummy!

copper commonAfter that we spent a bit of time at Temple Square and listening to music and enjoying the lights of the city (there was a lot going on this year with eveslc.com).  It was the most walking I’ve done since the knee injury which was good.  I felt it the next few days but it was a start. good menThere was a faux light fireworks display but we were so cold we decided to head home and watch the New York ball drop (what a letdown that was.  They didn’t even show the countdown!). But we had a great time with the hot tub and pool and just enjoying the hotel.

hotelWe rang in the New Year with gusto a little early and then crashed! It was great.

happy new year happy new year2New Years Day we went to breakfast at the hotel and then went to the new Living Aquarium in Draper.  I’ve been wanting to go and it was really fun! My knee was hurting from pushing it the previous day so I used my cane and it helped a lot.

The aquarium was easy to work around with lots of animals and fun exhibits.  My favorite was the penguins.

aquarium penguins turtles julia turtlesWe spent about 3 hours at the aquarium, and I have a membership now so if you want to go call me up and let’s go!  Your kids will LOVE it!

After the aquarium my parents and grandma came over and we had fajitas and Mexican food together.  They got to hear all about our memories from the mission.  It is so strange to think it will be 10 years in March since I came home from my mission.  Being with Julia made it feel like yesterday.

Today was the final day of the trip and we went to Bake 360 for breakfast (their new cafe is so delish!).  Then we did some shopping and tried to go to 2 different art museums but they were both closed! (Art was not on our side!).

So we went to the Leonardo.  They have one of those plastic body exhibits and those creepy me out so we just went to the regular exhibits and it was fun.  I thought it was an art museum but it’s actually science and math based.

leonardoJulia wanted to go to Chick-fila since they don’t have them in Nevada so we finished off the day eating some chicken and ended up visiting my Grandma in some extra time.

chickfilaIt was just a great trip and time with a friend.  I am so lucky to have wonderful friends in my life and playing host was a blast.  I loved reminiscing about our mission and all the years since. Julia is also single and we have very similar personalities and are both still active in the church. Our faith is very important to us and sharing it with the Hoosiers has given us a bond that will last forever. I just had the most lovely time.

Definitely my best New Years Eve ever!  A great way to start 2015!

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True to the Faith…Legacy of Pioneers

Today is a holiday in Utah. We celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.   This first party led by Brigham Young was called to leave their homes for the third or fourth time- most of them in a matter of hours.  Gathering their few meager possessions and loved ones, they willingly left all for a better, more free life.  This exodus on the heels of the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith and the  extermination order by the governor of Missouri Lilburn W. Boggs calling for the “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State”.  In the country founded by religious pilgrims and Christian ideals they were literally kicked out because of their faith.  Making things harder  is that the initial party only knew they were heading west – no more.  Brigham Young didn’t even have an exact idea of the final destination. While on the way Brigham Young happened upon famed tracker Jim Bridger who discouraged the Great Basin as an eventual landing place for the Saints.  Bridger claimed the soil was too salty for crops and the winter’s too frigid.  He recommend they move on to California’s more furtile lands.  However, Brigham Young knew the Saints needed a place that other’s found undesirable, so the Saints could have the peace and space to prosper.   Eventually arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham and his counselors climbed Emigration canyon and exclaimed by revelation “this is the place”.

The Mormon pioneers continued the exodus until the arrival of the railroad in 1869.  While still difficult, most groups traveled without serious problems.  This all changed in 1856 when two handcart companies, leaving late, found themselves in the middle of a brutal Wyoming winter.  Hundreds died of exposure, fatigue and even despair.  Finally, word came to Brigham Young of the suffering and he sent relief parties out immediately- halting all further addresses at the General Conference, which was occurring when he found out.   To rally the people Brigham Young said:

“The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them up. You know that I would give more for a dish of pudding and milk, or a baked potato and salt, were I in the situation of those who have just come in, than I would for your prayers, though you were to stay here all the afternoon and pray. Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place.”

Even with relief, hundreds died in the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  The suffering and sacrifice was great.   Here is an emotional video with President Gordon B. Hinckley describing the price that was paid for religious freedom by the pioneers:

I often think- “Could I have done it?  Could I have been a pioneer?”.  I know that I am a pioneer in some aspects of my life, but I do not physically suffer for my beliefs.  Could I do it?  The simple answer is- “I don’t know”.  I suppose many of the pioneers didn’t know if they could do it before they were forced on the path.

The closest I can come to estimating my physical stamina for my faith is my mission.  Compared to the thousands of miles walked by the pioneers, it is nothing, but to me it was a grueling experience.  With my foot condition I was in serious pain everyday.  Sometimes I handled it well and at other moments I wept in pain.  This was one of the many difficulties of a my mission.  Why did I keep going? The simple answer is I knew it was true.  I wanted to tell the people of Indiana that  God does speak to a prophet today,  He does love us, the Book of Mormon is true, and His gospel has been restored.  This was worth any sacrifice .  The few people I was able to teach made all the achy feet seem like a small price to pay (or at least medium price!).  I am grateful to my companions for walking slow with me and putting up with my bad days! I wonder if the pioneers had bad days where they complained about their aching feet and muscles?  They probably did!

Still, as a group they were amazingly optimistic- even taking time for joyous events while on the trail.  When I think of my mission I had tough days when I wanted to give up, and I was certainly not pushed as hard as the pioneers in any way.  How did they do it?  How did they hold on to their faith so hard that they not only kept walking but danced at night and held concerts to sing the hymns? They even had a band, which preformed along the way.  It’s an inspiration!

I hope  I can face my small challenges with the same courage, happiness and religious devotion as the pioneers.  I challenge all of you to look at their example and with me, try a little harder to serve the Lord each day. This way their legacy will not be wasted or counted for naught.

The pioneer anthem was Come, Come, Ye Saints .  Please listen to it and remember the sacrifices they made on this pioneer day!