Monday, November 24, 2008

Early Thanks-Giving!

Since I'll down in St. George this whole week for Thanksgiving, I figured I'd start my thanks-giving early!

I've had a great year, and have a lot of things to be grateful for.

These are in no particular order (mostly because I don't know how to upload pictures in the order I want on here):

1. All my free trips that I've gotten this year! Talk about lucky! First I had the almost-too-good-to-be-true free trip to Hawaii through Student Athletic Services, and then the trip to Las Vegas with my kids and the other counselors from Upward Bound. Pretty lucky, I'd have to say.

2. The Temple!!! I've always loved going before, but now that I've been through for myself, it has become a sweet refuge for me. I love having so many temples so close to me, and I love how I have the opportunity to go every week. Love it!

3. The opportunity to have so many occasions where the whole family came together. I love how even though we all live far apart and most of us are adults and have our own lives, we all still take the time to spend together. I realize more and more every year how blessed I've been to come from such a strong, supportive, caring family. You guys are the best! I love you all!

4. Dancing (both with roommates and with my various dance partners)! I've learned a TON about partner dancing this year, and I've now performed three times in front of screaming crowds...well, maybe not screaming, but appreciative :) Dancing is one of my new passions, and I love that I have friends who love it too!

This is Manuel (probably my favorite dance partner of all time!) and I all dressed up for The Howl. In case you can't tell, we went as a Christmas tree and Christmas present.

5. All of my friends finally being home from their missions! Boy, did I have fun with them all this summer! I'm glad that I was able to spend so much time with them all before I go on my own mission.

6. The chance to view some of the awe-inspiring scenes of nature, be it in Havasupai, Hawaii, or just in good ol' Utah. I love how I've done so many things out in nature that I never really used to get into, like camping, snow-shoeing, sledding, backpacking, rock's been a great year to be outdoors!
7. Nieces and nephews who always know how to bring a great big smile to my face and who remind me that life, even amidst all its complexities and hardships, is still something to smile about!!!

8. The chance to live in the greatest apartment EVER for three whole years. Boy, do I miss you Old Farm!

I could never count all the things I'm grateful for, but as this holiday season comes up, I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for a loving family, understanding friends, joys in my everyday life, and the opportunity to serve a mission in only two short months. I can't wait to spread the joy of the Gospel to the people of El Salvador. We truly do have a Savior who loves us dearly, and His true Gospel on the earth today. Yay life!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Temple Day!

So the day that I've been preparing for my whole life came on Saturday--the day I went through the temple for myself! Talk about a fantastic experience, holy cow! I loved it so so much, and I can't wait to go back. In fact, I originally was going to wait a couple weeks before coming home again, but I'm so eager to go through again that I'm making a special trip home this weekend just for that.

I was so excited that so many of my friends could be there with me. Callin was going to come too, but he had to work, and the six of us below were later joined in Chukarama by most of my other friends--Kayla, Liz, Taylor, and Fish.

I tried to have this picture of everyone first, but for some reason it came up second, so here's everyone who came through with me. It was so much fun having everyone wait in the Celestial Room for me after to congratulate me and give me hugs. Thanks everyone for all the support now and throughout all my life--it is because of you all that I was able to do this!

After, we all made the usual trip to Chuck-a-Rama to gorge ourselves on fresh rolls and thick slabs of roast beef. Carter, Ryan, and Hannah all joined us there too. Side note: Jill and Andrew were at the temple too, but they just weren't in the pictures.

What a good looking group! I'm sure going to miss everyone...
So afterward, I had a lot of people ask me how it was and what I thought. Really, the most honest thing I can say is this: it was worth everything it took to get there. I have never experienced such an overpowering confirmation of God's love as I did in the temple, and I know that He is so pleased with my decision to go on a mission. A lot of the lessons on Sunday were focused on the gathering of Israel and on missionary work in general, and I just got so excited--my heart started pounding faster, and I couldn't keep a smile off my face. I love the people of El Salvador already, and I hope that these next couple months I can prepare myself the best I can so I can serve them in the best way I possibly can.
I love this last picture of Mom and me--Mom was my escort, and I loved having her by my side through this beautiful experience. Thank you Mom, for everything you do for me: I love you so much!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Box Elder Bugs

Piles of crumbling black and red bodies suffocate the windows of the English building at USU (which I’ve affectionately dubbed the Ray B. Baby), creating clouds of insect dust that seems to hover like an oppressive film over the glass. Live specimens pick their way among the debris of legs and broken antennas, sunbathing in the early morning sunlight. My eye catches the one climbing with steady steps up the windowpane and watches as it billows its wings out like a sheet and flutters to a stop at my desk. I cringe, fighting the urge to wrap my fingers around my face and run. I watch it click its sooty feet over my desk, black feelers probing the wooden grooves of the “Lord of the Rings” desk, and think back to Funda’s class last year when Bradford, Jon, and Rory all enjoyed the spectacle of putting bugs on my shoulders and hearing me squeal. Good times.

Box elder bugs always come in droves, never one by one. They crawl over each other, mating, oblivious to everything but their own instinctual passions. Hedonistic, they pour through the cracks into the pleasure of warmth and a rousing lecture on Mark Twain, parachuting down the pinpricked white walls and swooping up again with the breeze. The one on my desk continues to patter along over my notes, blackening its feet with undried ink. I start to feel itchy.

We sit here in opposition. Me versus It—one focused, collective, worried, self-concerned, the other following natural pleasures and the reflexes of survival, seeking heat and flight and sex wherever he can get it. I envy him for his freedom, but more for his simplicity. He envies nothing as he explores his newfound territory, this playground of wood and metal and carpet.

As the snow starts to fall by the flake outside and I start slowly adding more and more layers of long johns and sweaters, he moves less and less, conserving his energy. Mating season is over, and he prepares himself for months of stillness, stirring only in the piercing rays of noonday, occasionally letting a wing uncurl in the wind of a heater. I scrutinize his scrapings and rustlings, looking for signs—clues about the answer to my own existence. But all he does is nap in the dry heat, never considering for a moment that life has any reason for concern.
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