Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Goodbye for 18 months

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine." ~Thomas Jefferson

Well, this is it. Today is my 21st birthday and tomorrow I enter the MTC. What an eventful 8 months it's been since I decided to go on a mission. And you know, I wouldn't change anything. It's been a great ride. I've been able to make a lot of wonderful memories. Speaking of, Jill and Jamie, I have loved texting those memories back and forth. I can't wait for our next adventures when I get home ;)

My farewell was yesterday... or 2 days ago I guess seeing that it is technically Tuesday now. I felt really good about the way my talk went. And I felt even better that I didn't cry,
seeing how I have my mother's genes. It probably helped that I looked right over the heads of my friends and didn't look toward my family.

I am so grateful to all my friends who came up/ down to hear me speak. You guys have no idea what it meant to me to have you there. I am so grateful for your love and support, and for the wonderful friendships we have been able to build over the past year or more. We've had some great times. Though I will admit, I thought it would be a lot harder to say goodbye to some of you than it was. Not that I didn't cry a little or that I won't miss you. I just guess that means I'm really ready to go.

I was pretty busy yesterday getting things ready. I cleaned my room some and labeled everything. Wow was that a fun chore. And I started actually packing my luggage. Everything has been in my luggage because of lack of a better place to keep it, but with no rhyme or reason to it. Of course, we'll probably end up taking everything out and repacking it later today when Dad the master packer can help me so i can sorta get an idea of how to do it for transfers.

However, today will be a super busy day. I have so much to do. I have to do laundry. I have to iron. I have to finish packing. I have to register my car and renew my drivers license. I was making cards to send for birthdays or thank yous and making them look all cute, but have completely run out of time so I'm just going to put one simple stamp in one simple color on them. Sorry in advance to anyone who gets a boring card. It's not because I'm lazy. I have to then separate my stamps and ink and such from mom's and put them away. I have to change the sheets on my bed. Oh man. So much to do! It's sure not going to seem like much of a birthday--not to mention all my new mission clothes and the camera mom and dad gave me after I tripped over Bear and broke my old one WERE my birthday gifts. But I'm not
complaining. Like i said, I really am super excited that I'm leaving tomorrow! I know that the Lord has something wonderful in store for me on my mission and I can't wait to find out what that is!

I can't wait to be a missionary. My aunt sent me some pictures of her with my old roommate Megan who is serving in the same mission. It was so good to see Megan's face. It's fun to hear them talk about each other in their letters. After I get home, Megan and I will have to make a trip to see Linda and Steve.

I know that this Church is true. I have read the Book of Mormon many times and have taken Moroni's challenge to pray about what I read, and I have felt the Holy Ghose testify to me that it is true. I know that Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet on the earth today and that the Lord gives us counsel and direction through President Monson and the other General Authorities. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. He knows what is best for us and so lons as we are livign our lives in accordance to His commandments, He will greatly bless our lives. I have a strong testimony of the power of the Priesthood. I have seen it work in my own life as well as in the lives of people around me. I know that the Lord gives us trials to strengthen us, and that while our burdens may sometimes seem hard to bear, He will never try us above what we are able to bear. I know that our loving Heavenly Father created a Great Plan of Happiness so that we can return and live with Him as we repent of our sins for which the Savior has already suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. I also know that the Lord never leaves us alone. He will always be there for us to help us through whatever we may be facing at the moment, so long as we pray to Him and ask Him for the necessary guidance and direction.

Well, There isn't much more to say, other than goodbye. I love you all, and will see you in 18 months! Keep your eye on my blog for the updates I'm going to have my mom post.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye Rexburg

I leave on my mission in less than 5 days. I really am super excited to go... once I get past all of my goodbyes anyway. I really wanted to go Latin Dancing one more time before I leave, so last night after dinner I hopped in my car and drove on up. Shaina and I went Latin Dancing which could have been better than could have been worse. While we were there, we ran into my old FHE sister and her fiance (they're getting married 2 days after I leave). It was fun to visit with them and catch up with them. After dancing, Shaina treated me to a milkshake at Hogi Yogi. It was very tasty! (btw, how do you like my new glasses?)

Shaina and I went around and visited a few people so I could say goodbye. Luckily I wasn't super close to any of them (no offense) so I didn't totally lose it. In fact, not one tear was shed. Yes, you should be proud of me.

When Jamie got home that night, she pulled out her cereal party bowls and came back to Shaina's room asking if I wanted to have one last cereal party before I leave. I really wasn't hungry because of my milkshake, but I couldn't resist. When I lived with her we had cereal parties every night at midnight. And so we had one last midnight cereal party.
I spent the night with them so I could get up and go to the temple this morning. The ward was doing baptisms for the dead at 6:00 this morning so I got up at 5:00 so I could get ready and go up there with them. (I only got about 3 hours of sleep, if that a) because I was with my old roommates and b) because it was so dang hot. I woke up around 2:30 thinking i heard my alarm going off and had a hard time falling back asleep. But it was worth it...except now I'm paying for it, fighting to stay awake.) So we headed up to the temple early this morning. There really isn't a better way to start the day. I was able to work instead of doing the baptisms, so I was able to see and talk to all of my friends who were there and say goodbye (I was in the dressing room). That was a neat experience. After we were done with baptisms, I went upstairs and went through a session--very likely the last session I'll go to before I leave on Wednesday.

Before I left town, I made one last stop at the Cocoa Bean. I got a Mint Truffle Frappe, and boy was it tasty! I sure am going to miss that place... then again, my wallet will appreciate me being gone. I fill up at least one punch card (by 5 get one free) a semester, sometimes more. I had filled up a punch card, but hadn't gotten my free drink yet so my drink today cost me nothing :) But I made sure to leave my wallet in my car so I wouldn't be tempted to get one of their amazing cupcakes.I was surprisingly fine as I drove out of town. I kinda surprised myself when I didn't cry. I know, I'm a big cry baby--and it's only been worse the past few weeks as I've realized how soon I really am leaving. I took one last look at the auditorium and the temple and drove away back down the road to come home.

And so it is. Goodbye, Rexburg. I'll see you in 18 months. And I'll freeze. And I won't recognize anything. But I'll be back, and I'll be happy to be there despite the cold and lack of friends (because mine will all be graduated, with a few exceptions.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

It was Father's Day today. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak in the Branch (they had to catch me to give a farewell talk) and of course it was on Father's Day. I'd copy and paste my talk, except I had no time so I just wrote out a rough outline and went for it. Actually, my talk went pretty well for how little I prepared...other than the fact that I was a blubbering fool up there. I should have told my family to sit on the side instead of in the middle so I couldn't see them.

Anyway, I just wanted to write a tribute, so to speak, about each of the fathers in my life--my dad and both of my grandpas.

My dad is an amazing man. He has been such an example to me throughout my entire life. He has supported me in everything that I have done. This probably sounds cliche, but I want the man I marry someday to be just like my dad. He has always been there for our family and really has provided us with everything we need and then some. I am so grateful that he holds the Priesthood and that he is able to give me blessings when I need them. I know that he loves me, and I really do love him even though I may not always show it. I look up to my dad with a lot of respect. I know that he wants the best for us. I am so grateful that he has raised me with the Gospel and for the testimony which he has helped me to gain. I'm sure that it's not an easy thing for him to be sending his little girl off on a mission and not see her for 18 months. But I also know that he is behind me 100%. I can tell that he is excited for me to get out there. And I'm sure that our relationship will only be better when I get home.
My grandpa Thompson is also an amazing man. I don't know if I've ever seen him upset. He is so easy going. I am so grateful that we live close so I can see him often. For a 90 year old man, he's got a lot of spunk. He's got a lot of miles left in him. There's still a lot that he wants to do-- including seeing my baby brother come home from his mission in 9 years. I love to see him out working in his yard or downstairs in his shop creating some wonderful new creation. Every night I fall asleep to the tick-tock of the clock he made me a few years ago for Christmas. And every morning (or at least most mornings) I wake up and choose a necklace that is hanging on the necklace tree he gave me this past Christmas. He still loves to get down on the floor and play with my brothers. If they get something for Christmas or a birthday they have to put together, Grandpa is right there with them putting it together.I love my grandpa Good, and I think about him every day and I have felt him with me at times. Even though he's been gone for almost 8 1/2 years, he is still very much a part of my life. I regret that I didn't get to know him better while he was alive. In fact, that gives me a brilliant idea! I need to take a story of an ancestor to the MTC... why not talk to dad and call grandma and get some about grandpa? My favorite memory of Grandpa was Christmas of '99. We always have a Christmas eve program. That particular year, grandpa wanted to tell the story of the 3 bears in German. (Heck, why not go back and refresh my memory by watching this video and use this for my story. It's hilarious!) He used my mom's footstool for her glider rocker for baby bear's chair, and when he got to the part where Goldilocks breaks Baby Bear's chair, he tumbled off of the footstool and CRACK! The footstool broke! It was amazing.

These are 3 wonderful men in my life, and I am so grateful to have been blessed to know them.

Another Missionary

Another week, another missionary. Last week it was my cousin, who is now in the MTC learning Spanish heading to LA. This week was one of my best friends who is headed to Houston. I met Whitney in high school and we just kinda clicked. She has certainly been a good friend. I'm looking forward to writing to her and hearing about her experiences and sharing mine with her.

Something I've looked forward to

It was really fun to be in Rexburg and watch the Rexburg Temple be built. Granted, I wasn't up there yet when the construction was started so I didn't see the ground breaking or framework going up, but I was still able to see progress. I remember the morning that they put Angel Moroni on the spire. The weather was awful. It was pouring rain--I was soaked and i was under an umbrella. Everyone on campus was so excited to see the statue go up. I remember receiving an e-mail telling us that if we were going to watch it and were going to be late to class that we would be marked absent. And although I was very strict with myself about not skipping class for anything, I remember telling myself that I didn't care. I would much rather watch the Angel Moroni placed on top of the temple than go to class because that isn't something you get to see very often in your life. I'll be lucky if I ever get to see that again. (Though I will admit that I really didn't care for the class I would have skipped--but I was able to make it on time.) I wasn't able to meet up with anyone I knew, so I stood alone, but that didn't matter. We all cheered as the crane lifted Moroni off the ground. I remember tears running down my face as the statue flew through the air and was settled into place.I loved how I could see the temple from my living room window and how it was the first thing I saw when I walked out the door to class in the morning. I remember how excited my roommates and I were the first time they turned the lights on the temple at night. We stood outside taking pictures despite the freezing cold. I spent many nights taking pictures of the temple from our balcony.

I was up in Rexburg during the temple open house. I went through it several times, once with my family and the rest with roommates. I was even able to volunteer at the open house twice. I loved feeling the Spirit in the temple, even during the open house. I remember being so excited for it to be dedicated so I could go inside and do baptisms, which I did almost on a weekly basis after the dedication. And I remember being so disappointed that the dedication was postponed for a week because President Hinckley, who was supposed to perform the dedication, passed away. But when President Monson came to Rexburg to dedicate the temple, it didn't matter. We were ready. Knowing that a Prophet of God was in Rexburg meant so much to all of us. As I sit here tonight, I remember the strong Spirit that I felt as I sat in the Hart that beautiful February morning (though you wouldn't know it with the warm temperatures and sunshine that day) waiting for the dedication to begin. Each week, I made the long, cold trek up the hill to the temple so I could perform baptisms for the dead. I had a long wait each time, but I never minded. Being able to sit in my Heavenly Father's house brough such peace to my life. Sometimes I went with roommates. Once I took Kesha when she was visiting me for the weekend. But usually I went alone and spent time pondering and in prayer or reading the scriptures. My temple days were the best days of the week and helped everything go better.

Well, yesterday was a day I have waited for for a long time. The Idaho Falls Temple is closed for cleaning and maintenance. So Mom, Dad, and I woke up early (I was up at 5:15) so we could drive up to Rexburg and go through a session there. I was so excited. I still remember the Spirit I felt as I walked through the temple during the open house, but the memory of the beauty of the temple (other than the baptistry) was fading. After all, it's been a year and a half since the open house. All I could clearly remember was the chandalier in the Celestial Room. I was so happy as I walked through the front door. As I sat waiting for the session to start, I thought about what the Rexburg temple means to me. When I was little, I called the Idaho Falls temple "My Temple." I couldn't wait to go inside. But with all of the service I have done in the Rexburg temple--both before and after the dedication--it truly has become "my temple." It was such and awesome experience to be able to do an endowment session in the Rexburg temple, and I plan on going back this week despite everything I have to do before I leave next week. It was truly a wonderful experience to be able to attend that beautiful temple which has been so much a part of my life for the past year and a half--and then some as I watched it go up.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Missionary Cousins

My cousin Daniel goes into the MTC this week, heading to the Los Angeles Spanish Speaking Misison. His family stopped here yesterday and today to spend time with us before they drop him off on Wednesday and before I leave in 2 weeks. It was good to see him again before we both leave, though chances are pretty good that I'll see him a time or two in the MTC since we'll be there for 6 weeks together. I am so grateful to know that I'll have 2 wonderful missionary cousins out serving with me (his older brother, Michael is in Hungary.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Don't get me wrong. We need the rain. I love the rain. A warm summer rain is one of my favorite thing. But every day for weeks? I'm just kinda starting to get sick of the rain. I leave in a mere 15 days and have a lot of things that I want to do... outside. Yep. I'm starting to cancel plans that I've made because the weather just isn't cooperating. According to the Post Register we have had almost 2.5 inches of rain here in IF--as of Friday. And it's rained since then. Our average rainfall for that timeframe is less than .5 inches. We're fast on our way to having the wettest June on record--just over another inch to go to beat that. And we've already doubled the average rainfall for the entire month! And lately, every time it hasnt' been raining, I've been at work so I haven't been able to enjoy what little sunshine we have had. It's actually quite depressing.

Well, one of the things that I had on my "to do before i leave" list was to go up to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes. I've gone for the past 2 summers and had a blast! I guess I've kinda made it a tradition in my mind. Saturday morning was beautiful! I was hoping and praying for good weather so we could head up there that evening. Jill was up in Rexburg for the weekend and we'd been planning on going to the dunes for weeks. Well, about an hour before I got off work it started to rain. I'm sure you can imagine my disappointment. Because lately when it rains around here it pours. No, let me rephrase that. It dumps. Buckets full of water. So driving up to Rexburg in the rain (and most days lately) I've felt a lot like this:Well, when I got up to Rexburg I sat and talked with Shaina and Jill for a while, you know, catching up on our oh-so exciting lives of school or work. Then we were like "Okay. What are we going to do tonight." None of us really had any ideas. Then Jill remembered that one of her friends told her that she needed to go see this gorge that's about 20 or 30 minutes south-east of Rexburg. We figured we could do that in the rain, so we got in her car and headed out.

Honestly, I'm so grateful that our plans of going to the dunes fell through. I had forgotten how beautiful Idaho really is. As we drove out through all of these fields of hay and potatoes I was in awe. Yes, I see potato and hay fields every day. But they went on for miles! They were all that I could see! And backed by the hills and gray clouds it was really a beautiful sight.
As I stared out the car window at the amazing beauty I was surrounded by, I was so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving us so many wonderful things. And I was grateful that our plans to go to the dunes were ruined. The dunes look the same every year. All you can see is sand for miles upon miles. But on our drive everything was so lush and green--because of all the rain that we've had. When we got to the gorge and got out of the car, it was POURING down rain. We were all super grateful for our hoodies to keep us somewhat dry. Yet despite the rain, we just stood there looking around at the beauty around us for a good 15 minutes--at least. Enjoy the pictures...even though they don't do it justice, but forgive the blurriness because of the rain. Wow. How beautiful. On the way back down we stopped at a couple of dilapidated houses/ barns and got out and took more pictures.

It was really interesting to see these little snippets of history. It really made me wonder how long they'd been there and the stories behind them.

Our journey also took us past the "haunted" swing. As the story goes, there was a little girl who loved to swing so her dad put up this swing in the middle of no where, surrounded by fields and one day he ran over her with the tractor so the swing is constantly moving whether or not there is a breeze. (I'm here to say that the swing was most definitely not moving, but that's another story for another day.)

All in all, our adventure was great fun and I was glad our plans to go to the dunes were ruined so we could see this. As I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, my mind wandered to this drive, and I thought of my favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art.
O Lord, my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent him to die; I scarce can take it in
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim my God, how great Thou art

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Safe Harbors

I'm the kind of person who thinks a lot, especially when I'm alone. When I'm driving somewhere, I rarely have people with me in my car so I spend a lot of time thinking. I have a 20 minute drive to and from work each day... that's lots of thinking time. When something is bothering me or weighing on my mind, I think a lot, and probably get carried away when I'm alone. But at those times when something is bothering me or something is just plain on my mind and I have somewhere to go, I have a mix of churchy songs I can pop in my CD player and listen to as I drive. I've listened to that CD a lot over the past 7 months since I had the feeling that I need to go on a mission. That was a big decision to make and there was lots of thinking to be done. There have been several songs on there that have had just the right message for me at that time, and those songs always seem to be the next one to be played on the CD.

Driving home from work last night was just one of those times. I was pretty upset by the whole issue of families not being able to go into the MTC anymore, so I got into my car to drive to work on Thursday and put in my CD, though it did nothing to help. When I got into my car last night to come home the first song that played was Safe Harbors by Michael McLean.
There are refugees among us
That are not from foreign shores,
And the battles they are waging
Are from very private wars.
And there are no correspondents
Documenting all their grief,
But these refugees among us
All are yearning for relief.

There are refugees among us.
They don't carry flags or signs.
They are standing right beside us
In the market checkout lines.
And the wars that they've been fighting
Will not be televised,
But the story of their need for love
Is written in their eyes.

This is a call to arms, to reacho out and to hold
The evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms, to lead anguished souls
To safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees
For safe harbors of the heart?

Can you see through their disgusies?
Can you hear what words won't tell?
Some are losing faith in heaven
'Cause their life's a living hell.
Is there anyone to help those
Who have nowhere else to flee?
For the only arms protecting them
Belong to you and me.

This is a call to arms, to reach out and to hold
The evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms, to lead anguished souls
To safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees
For safe harbors of the heart?

This is a call to arms, to reacho out and to hold
The evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms, to lead anguished souls
To safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees
For safe harbors of the heart?
That song was the theme for my first year of girls camp 9 years ago (has it really been that long?!) and has been one of my favorites since. But last night it took on a whole new meaning for me. For 9 years that song has meant exactly what Michael meant it to mean. That we need to reach out and help those around us, even if it's simply sharing a smile. But the closer I get to my mission, the more I think about serving. And last night it hit me that this is exactly what I'm going to be doing. I'm going to be reaching out to the refugees that are spoken of in this song and bring them into the safe harbor that is the Gospel. Because the Gospel really is a safe harbor. If we live the Gospel we can be protected from the storms of life. Not necessarily avoid them, but they will be so much easier to deal with, and what a comfort that is!

And I guess that I've accepted the fact that families can't go into the MTC anymore. It just came as somewhat of a shock, especially because that's something I have looked forward to. I'm not going to lie. I was really upset. I tried to play it off like it wasn't a big deal. But to me it was. To be completely honest, I cried on my way to work Thursday, and when it was slow and I started thinking again and I had to really try to hold back the tears. When I went to bed Thursday night I completely lost it. When I told mom about the change in policy Thursday morning she was certainly disappointed, though I don't know exactly what her thoughts were. Then she said something along the lines of "Well, we might as well just stick you on a bus and send you down." I wasn't going to go for that... though I admit that the exact same thought crossed my mind. And at least I know about it before I go. My understanding is that there were several missionaries who went in this week who had no idea about the new policy. That would have been hard. I have been able to think about this logically and realize that this is for the benefit of the missionaries who the Lord has called to go out and share the Gospel with His children around the world, and that it will now be more similar to what it is like when missionaries go to foreign MTCs and their families drop them off at the airport.

My prayers are with the missionaries right now, for their health. And for those reading this, I ask that you do as well. Two of my best friends' younger brothers are in the MTC right now, and unfortunately one of them has been diagnosed as having the Swine Flu. My prayers are especially with him. But knowing that I will be in the MTC in 3 1/2 short weeks I am also praying for my own health, that my immune system will be strengthened that I can remain healthy. I have the faith that I will be fine, and I completely trust in the Lord knowing that He will direct my life down the path He knows I need to travel, so long as I listen to the quiet whisperings of the Spirit and live the Gospel which I have been taught for my whole life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Little Disappointed

So I've pretty much all of the hype about the Swine Flu. No big, right? What were the chances of it actually affecting me? Well, it does. I don't have it or anything, but there are at least 3 missionaries at the MTC who have it, and 15 others with symptoms of it, according to Jill's brother who is there right now. And she told me that they announced on KSL News in Utah that they have permanently changed the protocol for dropping off missionaries. Families are no longer allowed inside the MTC, but rather have to drop missionaries off at the door. I understand that they're trying to protect the public... but why now? A few more months and this whole thing will be old news. I mean, think about the Bird Flu that was a big deal a few years ago. You never hear about that anymore. Anyway, I go into the MTC in 4 weeks. I wasn't exactly looking forward to saying goodbye to my family anyway, but now to have to get out of the car with my luggage and that's that... I don't know how I feel about that. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for my mission and I can't wait to go, but I'm really close to my family and just really hate goodbyes.