Thursday, January 31, 2013

missionary diaries

i talked recently--was it last week? time moves too quickly--about the research i am doing this semester, reading the journals of missionaries who served in england during the victorian period, 1837-1901. the reading hasn't always been the most interesting; it seems that, out in the nottingham conference, there wasn't much to upset the mission routine. but, there are some things i've noticed.

i read the journals of elder albert jones, who served in london in the 1880s. he was cool because he included artifacts in his journal, including the passenger manifest of the ship he sailed to britain on, flowers from his grandfather's garden, and the program from the funeral of the lord mayor of london. and he was actively writing articles for the millennial star and the papers in london to address the "mormon question." several of the elders come from england originally, so their journals also contain genealogies and stories of their ancestors. 

each missionary writes about their experiences talking with people. sometimes the conversations go well, sometimes they don't go so well. they talk about their investigators and their converts and eating with them. sundays are full of meetings, just like for missionaries today.

homesickness is a pretty big thing, too. for most of the elders i'm reading about, they had to leave their wives (sometimes, literally, multiple wives) and children in order to serve, and their missions were often about two years long, still. some of the men wax poetic about their wives and their virtues; elder jones regrets not being able to give his children their christmas presents.

as i've said, i've been writing a missionary for two years, and it has struck me how similar his letters are to these journals from almost 150 years ago. it's amazing that this work is still going forward largely through faithful young men (though that missionary demographic is continually changing :))

this is visiting teaching week (haha), so here's a quote from president uchtdorf on missionary work.
The Lord … entrusts a testimony of the truth to those who will share it with others. Even more, the Lord expects the members of His Church to ‘open [their mouths] at all times, declaring [His] gospel with the sound of rejoicing’. … Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.

two years

remember how, basically every week for two years, i've written an email, full of office quotes and random facts about my week and thoughts about the gospel, and sent it off to an elder in mexico?

well, in about 18 days, that elder will be back on american soil. i keep forgetting that, soon, i'll be able to talk to him on the phone and text him and eventually see him again. has it been two years already? i can't wait!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

today is the day!

last night at fhe, we were talking about things we are grateful for, things we are looking forward to this week, and things that we are worried about. i said that there really wasn't much i was looking forward to, since this is supposed to be a pretty normal week. that reminded travis, my conversation partner, of something that i thought was really cool.

he said that, over the break, his mom had made them all (i'm assuming this was for some kind of lesson?) take out their phones, choose a random day in each month, and set an event saying "today is the day!" then, when the alarm went off to signify that today, in fact, was the day, they were supposed to do something out of the ordinary to make that day special. i asked him what he had done when he got the reminder, and he said "i went to vegas." "the day" had fallen on the thursday before the long weekend, so he and his brother had just decided to go to vegas, because today was the day. isn't that awesome?

i think i'm going to do that. it's easy for the days and weeks to just roll along without anything particularly extraordinary happening, and this seems like a cool and fun and easy way to bring some spice into your life. when today is the day, you've got to make it count.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

need and want

“to crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. for when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? and here again is a foreshadowing -- the world will be made whole. for to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. so whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again.”
marilynne robinson, housekeeping

 i don't consider myself a super needy person. i've always been fine with eating lunch alone or going to the movies by myself or just hanging out at home on a friday night. maybe this is partly a result of circumstance, but it's never bothered me all that much. i'm mostly okay on my own. but sometimes, i just want to be needed, you know?
“having someone wonder where you are when you don't come home at night is a very old human need. ”
margaret mead

this isn't meant to invite pity; i've just been thinking about the ideas of need and want lately. i feel like showing someone you need and/or want them in your life is part of being a good friend or potentially more than a friend. if that need is eventually fulfilled, does that mean that the relationship is over? it seems to me that if you don't need or want (i think of these two terms as kind of interchangeable, but i'm still trying to decide if they are significantly different.) a person anymore, something either needs to change or to end. 

i struggle with this, because it usually seems to me that time and experience and subsequent investment in a friendship (or whatever) would just create need/want that has some kind of enduring power. but i guess that's not the case? and i'm all about moving with the cheese, so it's something i need to just deal with. but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt when you realize you are not needed or wanted anymore.

eponine deals with this same feeling: "without me, his world will go on turning."
i feel you, eponine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

a quick word

the first key to writing is to WRITE, 
not to THINK.

finding forrester


i was reading in helaman yesterday, and one thing that struck me was that nephi, the prophet of the time, is praised and blessed for his "unwearyingness." as a twentysomething college student, i feel like i am in a constant state of fatigue, physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever. it's easy to get tired of the same routine or of the woes and frustrations of dating or of everything not falling together exactly as i think it should. but this isn't the way i should be approaching my life. yeah, you get tired sometimes. but this unwearyingness is really the model i should look to in every aspect--gospel living, social life, school endeavors, important goals.

just a thought :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


i keep trying to start posts about stuff that's going on, but none of them are fully formed, which i guess means i should just write something to get them out. so, without further ado, thoughts.

--i've been researching this week (and will be for the rest of the semester), reading some mormon missionary diaries of elders who served in england during the 1800s. it's pretty cool, partly because it seems like missionary life back then is a lot the same as it is now, though, to be fair, i haven't served a mission. but these elders talk about the people they talk to, the meals they eat, the travel and weather conditions. it is interesting to see how the church has changed and grown, too.

--the beginning of literature seminars, especially seminars that have some kind of focus on british literature, always make me homesick for london. this might turn into a real post; we'll see. but it's weird to think that my time in london was pre-blog, so none of it has been documented online. i did pull out my study abroad journal this week, so i'll be taking a little bit of time to read that in the next little while.

--today was the joseph smith memorial building wedding show. we go every year; it's awesome. one of these years one of us will actually be engaged. that would make it even better! then, i've been watching the bachelor, and trust that dumb show to make you feel sentimental. sometimes things are dumb.

--our bishopric is being released tomorrow. at least we found out last week; it was enough of a bombshell with advanced notice. i have loved these men and their amazing wives, and i will be sad to see them go. i've learned a lot and grown a lot under the leadership of these men. it will definitely be an adjustment, but it will be good. change is good.

that's what i've got for now. cheers to the long weekend!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

a sporting family

sometimes, i'm not in the mood for athletic events. i've been to a lot of games in my day, and there came a time last year where i was just tired of school spirit. but i find that it's pretty much back in full swing these days.

sporting events, for me, have never really been a friend thing. some people have huge groups that they get tickets with and camp out with for games. that's never been me. instead, games are a family thing. we all have tickets to everything--byu football and basketball--so it's basically family time.

last night, we went to the basketball game, all of us minus dad. carter, bergen, and i went about an hour and a half early so we could get decent seats in the student section, while mom and meredith sat in the (boring) (some say) season-ticket-holder seats. this is the time to be in the byu student section, people. now that things are revamped--you can call us the ROC...which stands for roar of cougars...yeah, i don't know--it's a pretty good time. carter ended up with a big foam board head of some guy from yo gabba gabba and we all had sweet balloons to wave when the opposing team was shooting free throws. dwight schrute was floating around, along with darth vader, tim tebow, and the fresh prince of bel air. we were dancing and singing and cheering and it was a good time.

i guess i will miss byu athletics when i eventually leave here. but the good thing is that i don't have to give up hanging out with my family :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


these past couple years one of my biggest challenges has been finding a good balance between being a successful student and a successful teacher. having my own classroom, albeit one where the rules and curriculum were created for me rather than by me, was amazing. i loved teaching writing 150 and interacting with students and figuring out who i am up in front of them. but, teaching is time-consuming. it's not as time-consuming once you've done it once or twice, but there are always things to worry about and tweak and grade. in the course of becoming a teacher, i forgot about myself as a student. i've taken a lot of graduate seminars, and they never seemed to really capture my interest like so any of my undergraduate english classes did. i felt dissatisfied with my coursework, so i started thinking of myself more as an instructor than as a student.

this semester, i'm not teaching. i guess i'm kinda sad about it, because, like i said, i love teaching, but this also means that i can remember what it means to be a student. i am determined to be the best student i can be this winter semester, my last at byu, my last as a student for what i hope will be a long while. it's easy to have good intentions at the beginning of the semester; this i know. but my primary job this time around is to be a student, and i want to excel in that job rather than just get by, like i have been for the rest of my graduate school experience. i'm pushing my cynicism aside and taking my education back into my own hands.

if anyone wants to reach me between now and april, i'll be in the library. and if i'm not in the library, you should probably steer me in that direction :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

resolution for 2013: in the kitchen

this just popped into my head as i was perusing pinterest: i want to eat a larger variety of things and become a better cook, especially in terms of things that everyone likes to eat or that you might eat on a semi-regular basis. like pancakes, or spaghetti. or whatever. i cook, and i've been known to make some pretty good meals, but i want to try new things, and i want to make sure i can make all those standards that people might ask for.

so, another goal for this year, which i hope to test out at least once a week: cook more 1) new things and 2) things that everyone should know how to cook.

and there was happy eating throughout the land.

this christmas

i'm doing this out of order--new year's report before christmas report. but better late than never, some people always say.

this christmas break has been...pretty great. basically, i've just been bumming around with the fam, occasionally leaving the house for a shopping or lunch trip.

we're a pretty good looking group, right?

on sunday night dad made us all go caroling to the neighborhood. i grumbled quite a bit, which i regret now. it was fun to visit with ward members and to squish in the car together, especially since i wasn't the one who had to lap-sit the whole time :)

on christmas eve we ate our delicious dinner of mock chicken legs and mashed potatoes and asparagus, then we opened our pajamas, then we gathered in the basement to watch white christmas. i've said it before, and i'll say it again: i love that movie. all us kids slept in the basement and then woke up at a leisurely hour for presents and breakfast, and the customary photo on the stairs and in front of the tree.

this year i finally--FINALLY--got catch phrase. i've only been wanting my very own game of catch phrase to offer the game night gods for years and years. now it's all mine! and, i got another jeopardy! desk calendar, which brought me almost unlimited joy in 2012 and promises to do the same in 2013.

and that was pretty much it. we received a surprise gift from mom and dad, we watched tv and napped together, we had a delicious dinner with friends, and we thought about the Savior. we listened to christmas music nonstop for three days, and i was still a little sad to see it go. it was a great christmas!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a new year's tasting party

since i had a really awesome outfit for christmas this year and i wanted to have an excuse to wear it again, i proposed that we have a family cocktail party, black tie style. we got out all of our little tasting dishes from nana and purchased a new set and planned the menu and shed a few frustrated tears and chose our ensembles and had an elegant candlelit soiree. though, if i had been thinking a little more clearly, i would have gotten the twinkle lights out. next year.

dinner is served! clockwise from top left: tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons, chili with mini cornbread muffins, sweet and sour meatballs, and bacon-wrapped lil' smokies

and for dessert? mousse parfaits, cherry cheesecake, and cream puffs and chocolate sauce

and then we all changed out of our clothes and laid around until the ball dropped, but it was still great. happy new year again!