Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of the holiday, I decided to post a picture taken right before the family party a couple Sundays ago. Even though you can't really tell what most of us are supposed to be (Mom - Dorothy, Scott - Wizard of Oz, Carter and I - mafia members / Blues Brothers), we had a lot of fun competing against the rest of the extended family in pumpkin carving and fear factor. It's a pity they didn't bring in some halloween word game or something - we would have smoked everyone! (Esp. since Ryan, Jill, and I are all very much in-practice when it comes to playing word games every day online. Thank you facebook!)

Last Friday was the Homecoming Dance. Manuel and I doubled with Liz and Manuel's friend Mike. Can I say how much fun it is to go to a dance with someone who REALLY knows how to dance? It's awesome! Manuel can do it all--breakdance, ballroom dance, swing dance...we had so much fun together trying all the different styles. So much fun, in fact, that we went dancing twice this week (instead of the usual once) at the Fun Park and at Club New York (country swing and ballroom, respectively), and we're also going to the Howl tonight to dance some more. Funny story--at Club New York on Tuesday night, Manuel was teaching me how to break dance. I can now do the windmill (I think that's what it's called) and this other little floor twist thing. One of these days I plan to bust out a breakdance routine in a public place to the wonder and awe of all present. I think it would be hilarious.

This morning I had to teach my first full-length class! I spent a full hour teaching Modern Poetry to my Teaching Literature class while they filled out evaluations. It went SO well--I'm really happy about it, actually. My teacher was so happy with how I did that she actually had me come up to her office afterwards to give me (as a gift) one of her personal books on teaching, plus she praised a few of the specific things I did in front of the whole class, and told them to model theirs after mine. I tried to incorporate lots of different components and learning styles into it to connect with everyone, and I ended up having a lot of fun with it; we watched a clip from Dead Poets Society, listened to the radio a bit (as an analogy of how a good poem is like getting a good radio signal, but to pick up on the signal, the radio, or reader, has to be in good condition and know how to receive it), talked about what poetry is and is not, and even wrote our own "slang" poems. I'm so happy that it went well, and that it's done now---I can finally concentrate on other things!

So I go through the temple next week...I couldn't be more excited! I've waited my whole life to finally get to go through for myself, and I feel ready to take this step in my life; I know it will help me prepare for my mission even more. Boy, I can't wait!

I've got to run off to my last class of the day now...but I just wanted to say, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random Pictures From the Last Month

For my birthday, my friends took me out to Winger's for dinner (above), and earlier Manuel took me out to a new restaurant on Main Street called the Blackstone and bought me a gorgeous arrangement of tigerlilies, red roses, and sunflowers. Even though I still had to go to school and do homework and all that fun stuff, I had a great birthday. It's super weird to be 22 and I feel like I'm growing up way too fast, but what can ya do? I've learned a ton over the last year especially, and I'm glad I waited this extra year to turn in my mission papers; I'm much more prepared to go now than I would have been a year ago.

This is Matt and me at the Saturday morning session of General Conference (I also went to the Sunday morning session with Manuel). Matt's dad is in the Tabernacle Choir, so we had KILLER seats--about 6 or 7 rows back from the front on the far right, behind all the missionaries. Between that and the fact that the first couple talks were completely about missionary work, I got positively giddy at the thought that this would be me in just a few short months. Hooray! After, Matt and I went to what is now probably our favorite place to eat together--the downtown Leatherby's. SOO good. It brings back all sorts of memories when I used to go down to the one at the Five Points with Kayla every week, or with Grandma and Grandpa Austin on special occasions.

Last week, after Liz and I and our friend Will went to Manuel's soccer game, we all decided on the spur of the moment to buy these huge 4o-lb pumpkins and have a carving contest. It took us two consecutive nights of staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning to finish, but here's the finished product--I think it turned out rather rad, if I do say so myself. Manuel did the design though, so I can't take credit for that. But I will take credit for the left half and body of the spider and part of the web.

I took these last two when Mom and I went to see Jill and the girls after I got some of my shots for the mission. The top picture of Zoe seriously cracks me up--she was so dirty! She had drawn chalk all over her face and would keep coming up to me to deposit all her chalk into my lap. Mom pointed out that the two new babies would be Zoe's age when I got home--how strange is that? I'll really miss not being able to see my two new nephews grow up that first 18 months...hopefully Chris and Sarah will send lots of pictures!

Well, that's about all for now. School's still going really well; sometimes it surprises me HOW well it's going, considering that I sometimes procrastinate WAY too much (like yesterday--I wrote one of my essays in literally 20 minutes, right before class started). Hopefully I'll be more on top of things this week so I won't have to crunch things that close next time.

I can't believe November's only about a week ago--where is this semester/year going?! It's a good thing though--the only thing on my mind is mission mission mission, so the sooner it comes, probably the better. Only three months and one week left to go...

Mission Call

I had just sat down to eat a pb & honey sandwich and watch Oprah two Fridays ago when I got an unexpected call from Mom telling me my call had come. I had completely given up hope that it would come that week (because they usually come on Wednesday or Thursday), so I wasn't expecting it at all. I was supposed to go to the Fall Ball with Manuel that night, but there was no way I could wait to open it. Liz drove Kayla and I down to Bountiful (like a madwoman, I might add), and I was met at the house by most everyone in the immediate family and Grandma, as well as many of my closest friends. I've got to say that I was a complete spaz from the moment I got the phone call to about the time I was slitting open the envelope; I was shaking all over and would randomly emit a high-pitched squeal. Thank goodness it didn't come on Wednesday--I can't even imagine having to wait two whole days!

The thing I was most nervous about was that I would be disappointed or that I wouldn't get the confirmation that that was the place I was supposed to be. But I'd been praying for weeks that I would be able to get over these fears and that I would indeed know that wherever I was called was the right place for me to go. When I opened the envelope and pulled out the letter with my assignment in it, I let my eyes skip ahead so that I could see where I was going before everyone else knew. It took a second for my brain to process it, but the second I read aloud "El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission," I KNEW that I'd been called to the right place (which would explain partly why I started crying right then). I just felt the Spirit so strong bearing witness to me that that was exactly where I was supposed to go and that I would love it. I am so thrilled! I really wanted to go Spanish-speaking and I really wanted to go foreign, so I'm feeling incredibly blessed right now; I just know that this will be one of the best experiences of my whole life and I can't wait to leave! Of course, I still have over three months until I enter the MTC on January 28th, but luckily I have school to keep me occupied for at least part of it. It will be strange to leave everything and everyone (and how I'll miss everyone!), but I know this is what I'm supposed to do. What could be better for me than to spread the happy message of the restored gospel, which I have come to know for myself is true? I'm so so excited. Thank you everyone for your support and love and for helping me become the kind of person that would want to do this! I love you all :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Quick Update Before I Have to Run...

I haven't updated in a couple weeks (mostly because I've just been so stinkin' busy!), but I thought I'd pop in here real quick to do a quick update on what's been happening. I wish I had some way of getting the pictures from my camera onto one of these school computers, but alas! The pictures will have to wait until next week when I go home (not that there are that many, but maybe by then there will be more).

This week's been pretty crazy; I had so much to do this week that I actually took off work tonight (I do drop-in tutoring for 2.5 hours every Wednesday and Thursday) so I could have some extra time to work on a big essay that's due tomorrow for my Mark Twain class. And yes, I probably should be working on that right now as I write this, but I have an athlete coming in about 15 minutes for help with math, and I figure there wasn't much use in getting everything spread out everywhere only to have to collect it all back up again. Luckily she only needs help for an hour, so I'll have the rest of the night to work on my essay.

Despite my busy-ness (and even despite the fact that I might possibly be coming down with a cold), I've had an excellent week. Today I had a big presentation in my African Lit class that required a lot of preparation on my part, and although I rarely get nervous before speaking, I got a teensy bit nervous before this particular presentation. But the whole thing went GREAT--much smoother than I thought it would, and I even got some really nice compliments from my classmates and teacher. So I feel really good about that. Last week marked a first for me in my academic college career: in this same African Lit class, I missed my first assignment ever (just because I'd totally spaced it), and my teacher was nice enough to let me hand it in late. Originally he said he was going to knock off a few points for it being late, but I got it back today and I'd received full marks! Happy day! I will never cease to marvel at the tender mercies my Father in Heaven gives me every week; it blows my mind.

Last week I had the opportunity to go to two sessions of conference down in Salt Lake--once with Matt and once with Manuel (a guy I met swing dancing about a month ago who I've become fast friends with). When Matt and I went, we had KILLER seats about seven rows back from the very front, right behind all the full-time missionaries. It made me SO giddy about my own mission coming up--I just couldn't wait to get out and spread the good word! Speaking of that, my call didn't come this week, just like I figured it probably wouldn't. But just knowing it COULD have come this week was exciting; I was on pins and needles all day yesterday just thinking about it. But I have a feeling it will come next least that's what I'm hoping for...

Funny story of the week: So I was in my mission prep (Institute) class the other day, and my teacher for that makes us do a lot of practical things--like teach lessons to each other--that we'll have to do on the mission. So last week got a chance to testify and teach to the class about how the Holy Ghost works in our lives, and every time someone teaches, the whole class always gives them a critique afterwards. Well, after I was done testifying (and had challenged the "investigators"), my teacher asked the class, "Okay, great. So class, what are your responses to that?" And some guy in the front row looks right at me and pipes up: "I will marry you right now." Between bursts of laughter, my teacher said, "Torrie, I think what he really means to say is, Will you wait for me two years?" So awkward. But so funny.

Anywho, I need to take a potty break before my athlete comes, so I'd better cut this off now. Hopefully by next week I'll have pictures (and my mission call!) to talk about. Until then, peace and love y'all!
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