Sunday, August 25, 2013

Matyroshka Goodness

Bah! Guys! Look at what I found the other day (and of course had to buy):

[photo courtesy of] 
They're measuring cups shaped like a матрёшка (matyroshka--the Russian stacking dolls). 

How cool is that? 

Answer: soooooo cool. 

I will be baking with these, thank you very much. [the white, plastic ones. NOT the hand-painted, wooden ones.]

And, just for kicks, here's a great sign we saw the other day at the Logan Temple: 

Don't park there. Just don't do it. 

Or else I will challenge you to a Soviet staring contest . . . 

and win. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

[no such thing.]

Lest you think that I am too serious, you should also take a look at what else went down last night.

It's called Megan is Cool. 

Look at that swag. Ohhhhhhhhh, yeah, baby.

Pajamas and high ponytails. The next big thing.

It is called: dressed to kill. 



Back to School Night

. . . talk about stepping into the Twilight Zone.

Last night my uncle, who teaches Physics at my former high school, asked us to help decorate his classroom before school starts tomorrow.

So, of course I went. I mean, I might not be majoring in art, and I may not even have any talents in interior design, but I won't pass up an opportunity to decorate. Cards, cupcakes, classrooms, take your pick.

It was the first time I'd been back at my old high school in a long time. And it was weird, to say the least. Strange to walk on those tiled floors, past rows of lockers, and enter my old physics classroom. Honors Physics. Sophomore year. A1. My first day, first class of high school.

I was greeted by classic black science desks, friendly-neighborhood Expo markers, and that familiar, pungent scent of bat guano (our high school is ancient--I *think* the bats are out of the ceiling by now? I *think* they got rid of them my senior year? In any case, they left their mark).

The memories rushed back, too. Early morning light streaming over the mountains and onto my physics assignment. F = ma. Force. Pressure. Those growing pains of adolescence. Gaining confidence. Losing it. Gaining it again. Making friends. Seating charts changing. Awkwardly flirting with the cute junior boy sitting next to me. Falling flat on my face. Getting up again. Learning. Growing. Changing. Some things never do. Newton's laws. 9.8 m/s squared.

And some things never do change. Cycles. Rotations. Transitions. Seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen. We learn and grow and cry and laugh--and that is life.

And tomorrow, there will be a new beginning for those students. Who knows what will be? A fresh canvas of beautiful possibilities. Heartbreaking disappointments. Mistakes and experience. Desirable to make one wise.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" ~ Anne of Green Gables 

Welcome back.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Shout-Out to Kyra

Guys! I am so excited! I get to see my cousin, Kyra, tomorrow! I haven't seen her in like, two years! And there's so much that has happened for both of us. It will be a wonderful reunion.

[and yes, Kyra, this is a thank-you for your blog post about me a month ago. just returning the favor. love you.]

Kyra and I have had some pretty incredible adventures together.

Like escaping from pirates.
And crossing the plains in pioneer bonnets.
And battling villains who either wanted to marry us or make us their slaves.

Granted, these all happened in the safety of a downstairs playroom or a grassy backyard, but they still happened.

Do you know what else also happened?

Whenever we got together, we made theatrical performances that we then forced our parents to watch.

[um, yes, this is now one of my favorite pictures of all time. how awesome are we? so awesome. what are we even singing/dancing to? i don't remember. joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat, maybe? probably. because we are just that awesome.]*

We would write stories with each other/to each other. About kids living in hotels (and, might I add, this was before The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, people. We were way ahead of our time). About princesses and pioneers and Nephites. We were just that cool. 

I always enjoyed being with Kyra because she was smart, funny, kind, and clever. She always had the most interesting ideas and it was fun to talk with her. It still is fun to talk to her. Did I mention she's clever? [like, you have no idea. like, wrote-a-master's-thesis-in-electrical-engineering-while-pregnant-genius-girl clever. amazing.] 

But if you need some visual proof of her cleverness, just look at what she made me for my birthday while I was on my mission: 

 That's right, people. 

Also, did I mention I'm so excited to see this little guy? ^him^

Because I am. So excited.

Did I mention I'm excited?


Kyra, you're just wonderful.



*I think that is the most recent picture we have with each other? And it's from, like, 2001? We should probably get a new one tomorrow. Just sayin'.*

Thursday, August 15, 2013

[and so it goes.]

Just something beautiful I found. 

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

~Jorge Luis Borges 

translated by Veronica A. Shoffstall

beautiful, no? beautiful. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Love and Trust

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between love and trust.

I just finished reading The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clay Christensen (which I highly recommend, by the way), and in his book he has example after example of regular people sharing the gospel.

In one chapter, Brother Christensen shares the stories of three wards in three different areas of the world. Each of these wards had experienced phenomenal growth in a relatively short amount of time while the wards around them only had mediocre success in missionary work. Why? Brother Christensen suggests that it is not because there was a higher percentage of “prepared” people in the flourishing wards and a lack of “elect” in the surrounding areas. Rather, Brother Christensen says that it was because God could trust the members of these wards. He trusted them because they were actually going what He has asked all of us to do: they were being member missionaries. They were opening their mouths. They were fellowshipping less-active members of the Church and non-members. They were full of love, which “casteth out all fear” (1 John 4:18). God knew these members. He knew their character and their hearts, and He knew He could trust them with His children. Brother Christensen writes, “God has promised that He will answer the prayers of His children. If He can’t trust us, then he must use other means to answer the prayers of others.”

Gaining the trust of God is a very real thing . . . and it is a deeper aspect of His love. 

I first had this discussion with a missionary companion during companionship study in a dusty little room in Ukraine. My companion was talking about one of the elders we served with, and she mentioned that God didn’t just love this elder—He trusted him.

The comment struck me.

I thought, “That’s what I want. I want to be someone God can trust. I already know I have His love, but I want to meet His trust.”

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.

We don’t earn the love of God. God loves us because He loves us. He is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children. God chooses to love us. The love of God is what saves the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Everything God does is calculated only to bless, because he “first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We are literally the sons and daughters of God, created in His image, and He loves us with an all-encompassing, filling, healing love. I have felt His love, and it is available to everyone. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (see Romans 8:35-39) . . . only if we willingly choose to reject him. “For this eternal truth is given, that God will force no man to heaven.”

God loves all of us. We are His children. But trust is a different matter.

People trust us when they know we love them. The Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

If we truly love God, then we will want to keep His commandments.

I love my little brother, but I don’t trust him to drive me to Salt Lake. He hasn’t earned his driver’s license, and no amount of my love will keep us safe on the road. Only knowledge of and obedience to the rules of the road.

I love my 12-year-old cousin. But I don’t trust him with my journal. He hasn’t earned that level of trust.

God loves me. But if I don’t keep His commandments, how can He trust me?

If I don’t study my scriptures and pray every day, why would He trust me with continuous personal revelation?

If I don’t open my mouth to share the gospel, why would He trust me with His children who are praying to find the truth?

If I don’t repent daily, why would He trust me with His Spirit?

Meeting the trust of God is nothing new. The scriptures are full of examples.

·         Abraham earned the trust of God so much that He was even called the “friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8). God knew Abraham’s character, and trusted him enough to make covenants with him. He could trust Abraham to bring up a righteous posterity:

“And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 17:17-19)

·         A Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, aligned his will so perfectly with God’s that God granted him incredible power. God granted him this power because he knew he would never ask for anything contrary to the will of God:

“Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but has sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty and word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shall not ask that which is contrary to my will.” (Helaman 10:3-5)

If that’s not trust, I don’t know what is.

·         From Church history, I love the example of Joseph Smith. One reason I love his example so much is because we can see his progression as he grows in the knowledge and trust of God and as he becomes someone who God can always count on. Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect (none of us are). He made mistakes (as all of us do). It took him four years (1823-1827) to be ready to receive the gold plates because God was teaching him and training him . . . and, ultimately making sure he could trust Joseph. Even then, Joseph sometimes made mistakes—sometimes big mistakes (116 lost pages, anyone?). Some things we learn from the episode of the 116 lost pages (and there are many) are that:  
                1. It's the purposes of man, not the purposes of God that are foiled. (D&C 3:3)
                2. When God tells us not to do something, just don't do it. 
                3. We can earn the trust of God again. Look at what the Lord tells Joseph: 
                           "Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, 
                            but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. 
                            But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done
                           which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work." (D&C 3:9-10). 

    Joseph repented. He regained God's trust completely, finished translating the Book of Mormon by the power of God, and was the means by which God restored His gospel and Church to the earth in our day. He was a prophet of God in every sense of that sacred calling. 

     Joseph Smith said in 1843, "I have made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it."
     That is someone God can trust.

That is someone who loves God.

And the first sign of love is always loyalty.

I know I've only scratched the surface of this topic. But these are my musings for tonight.

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. 

[if you have any more thoughts about love vs. trust, please comment below!] 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This one's for Nicole

So, I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile. But basically, a few weeks ago, my friend Nicole came out to Utah! She was on a road trip, visiting missionary friends and enjoying the sites.

Now, you need to understand just how incredible Nicole is. Nicole was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just five months ago. And she is on fire. She has the most amazing conversion story. It’s not my place to post her story to the entire world. But let’s just say it’s a beautiful example of how God works so delicately and perfectly in our lives. And I’m honored to have played just a small role in it. My role? Not much. I was just a friend, really. A friend who lived and loved the gospel and was happy to answer questions.

This is us at the Salt Lake Temple. It was so wonderful—a year ago, Nicole was at Temple Square as a tourist . . . now she is able to go inside of the temple! yayayayayayayay.

It was great having her with us. I feel badly that she had to put up with my family's overall craziness. But I did warn her, “You’ve heard of My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding? Well, this will be My Big, Fat, Mormon Family Reunion.” But seriously. Thanks for putting up with us, Nicole! We love you! Come back soon. J

Friday, August 9, 2013

I'm so weird it's normal

Yes, I am that crazy RSM.

[Note: RSM=returned sister missionary]

Now that I’m back from Ukraine, there are some things my poor family just has to get used to.

Like how I sing hymns in Russian now.

Or say, “ух ты!” all the time. [Pronounced “ook-ti!” It means, “wow!” or, “ooh!”]

Or how I’ve taught my 2-year-old cousin to say, “opa,” instead of “oops.”

And then, how I love chai (tea) now. Love, love, love it. Herbal tea. Mmmmmm. Tonight I had some chamomile tea and it was sooooooooo gooooooood. And I was just singing about how good it was and my dad was laughing at me. In a, “you’re cute, Megan,” way. He just doesn’t understand how good it is, or he’d be singing about how great chai is, too. So, so, SO good.

And finally, that awkward moment when you’re playing Just Dance with your siblings, and your brother gets too close to you as he’s doing a wicked-awesome dance move and you duck and say, “Don’t touch me!” yeahhhhhh. Sorry, brother. Just be careful around the RSM. 

So, there’s a taste of my craziness. I am now that crazy returned sister missionary. And I’m coming to a singles ward near you. Bwahahahaha. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

you've got to run to her, jonah!

Or, Why I am A Dork—Reason #135,609.

Today I was driving down to Provo to volunteer with the senior missionaries at the MTC. They needed people to help tutor Russian, and since I just got back from the former CCCP, and because I really miss Russian, I went over to help.

On the way down, I was just jamming to some tunes, cruising down University Avenue when something went weird with the radio. The song stopped and it sounded like there was an ad from the 1960s or something, with this lady speaking in sultry tones. Shto-takoe? I could not figure it out for the life of me, and I couldn’t get the radio to come back on.* So I tried turning up the volume, and realized: It was Baroness Schrader from The Sound of Music! Apparently, I had accidently turned on the movie player that we have in our van, and now I was listening to the movie without being able to see it.

But did I turn it off? Ohhhhhhhh, no.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, it was at a great part. 

[okay. let's be honest. All parts of The Sound of Music are wonderful. just humor me for a little bit.] 

Like I was saying, it was at a great part

Like, the part where Maria is gloomily wandering around the gazebo, all alone, and the Baroness and Captain Von Trapp are watching her, and the Captain finally, truly realizes that he loves Maria and breaks off his engagement with the Baroness and then goes down to Maria and they sing a love song and kiss and get engaged. 

That part, my friends. That. Part. 

So, I turned up the volume. Of course. 

And this may or may not have been what I was like while I was listening to the dialog:

The Baroness: “And somewhere out there . . . is a young lady who, I think . . . will never be a nun.”

Me: That’s right. Go to her, Captain. Go to her. Go to her right now and confess your love. Ruuuuuuuuun.

 Captain Von Trapp: You know, I was thinking and I was wondering two things: Why did you run away to the abbey? And what was it that made you come back? 

 Me: You know quite well why she came back. And you’re just dying because you want to hear her say it. Say it, Maria. Say it, say it.

 Maria: Well, I had an obligation to fulfill. . . and I came back to fulfill it. 

 Me: Ahhh! Just say you love him! Just say it!

 Captain: Is that all? 

 Me: Of course not. Oh, just ask her already. Just say it already. 
Maria: And I missed the children. 
Me: Bah! Oh, he’s dying here. 
Captain: Only the children? 

 Me: See? Dying. Like all of us here. The tension is killing me.

 Maria: No. Yes. Isn't it right that I missed them? 

 Captain: Oh, yes. Yes, of course. I was only hoping that perhaps you. . . . Perhaps you might. . . . 

 Me: Say it, say it! 

 Maria: Yes? 

 Captain: Well, nothing was the same when you were away. . . and it'll be all wrong again after you leave. . . and I just thought perhaps you might change your mind. 

 Me: Aww, that's sweet, but she still doesn’t know that you love her! Say it, man! Don’t be afraid! 

 Maria: Well, I'm sure the baroness will be able to make things fine for you.

 Me: Oh, she is hurt. She’s so confused. And she doesn’t want to be confused anymore.  

 Captain: Maria. . . . There isn't going to be any baroness. 

 Maria: There isn't? 

 Captain: No. 

 Me: Bingo! 

 Maria: I don't understand. 

 Captain: Well, you can't marry someone when you're. . . in love with someone else. . . can you? 

 Me: YES! Now kiss her! Kiss her! Oh, it’s just so beautiful. Ah. So beautiful. 

 Maria: The Reverend Mother always says:  "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." 

 Captain: What else does the Reverend Mother say? 

 Maria: That you have to look for your life. 

 Captain: Is that why you came back? And have you found it. . . Maria? 

 Maria: I think I have. I know I have. 

 Captain: I love you. 

 Maria: Oh, can this be happening to me? 

Me: dying here. Just dying from the sheer goodness and wonderfulness of this all. ahhhhhh. [good thing I was in the parking lot by this point so I could just relish the in the glory of this love story.]

Oookay. Freak out done. For now. But oh, it’s just so good. I might just be a *little* starved for a good chick flick after 18 months.

Love it. love, love, love it. Gah!

And after that, I went to teach some senior missionaries about using чтобы. Such is my life.

Climb every mountain. 

*I still have no idea how that video started playing. No idea. No idea at all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

There and back again . . . some thoughts on adjusting

Do you know what the most awkward group on the face of the planet is?
ding, ding ding! You guessed it! Recently returned missionaries! We are the most adorably awkward people on earth. And you can’t really blame us.

I’ve had some interesting experiences the past couple of days with recently returned missionaries. First, I’m taking an institute class for recently-returned RMs. As one person so bluntly put it, “It’s like RM rehab.” We all just cling to each other and as other RMs tell their stories/experiences/share their testimonies, we all get this dreamy, faraway, knowing look in our eyes: “Oh, yeah. I know exactly how it is.” [but the thing is, we really do. just in different ways. and yet eerily similar ways. it’s a weird phenomenon.] We are all crazy and weird together and it is great, because we all understand each other. [yep. RM rehab.]  

Then yesterday, I went to volunteer at the TRC (the Teaching Resource Center) at the Missionary Training Center. And I was with a bunch of recently-returned RMs who all went to Russia on their missions. So, we were an even smaller and rarer group of awkward. We all just bonded over how weird it was to be back in the MTC, and about how we almost died when we went to Costco for the first time, and we spoke Russian with each other and swapped Soviet train stories. We were all besties in like, five minutes. And all so awkward. Wonderfully, adorably awkward. Love it.

But the thing is, the transition back is hard. It’s hard for everyone. And it should be hard. You’ve just left some of the most trying, refining years of your life. And you’ve changed . . . and it feels as though the world around you hasn’t.

There are two ways I like to explain coming home from a mission. One way is from a friend of mine, the other is my own idea.

My thoughts. Coming home feels a lot like when Frodo comes back to the Shire in Return of the King. Do you remember that scene when he’s back at Bag End, writing some memoirs, and he says,

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back?”

Because there is no going back. You can’t go back. You have to move on—because you’re a new, changed person, and the world around you is different. Mostly because you’re different. So you have to move forward. You go forth with faith.

Wisdom from my friend. Coming home is like the last scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when the Pevensie siblings come tumbling out of the wardrobe . . . and they’re suddenly back, without any preparation. And the world around them is exactly the same, and they look exactly the same, but they have all of their experiences in Narnia—they have grown up in Narnia, and they have become kings and queens there and their souls are entirely different. But no one understands, except those who have been to Narnia.

[image courtesy of]

In short, coming back from a life-changing experience is not easy.

I've obviously been thinking about this quite a bit. So, I’ve compiled some thoughts of challenges I and others have experienced when coming home and my own two-cents of how to cope with these challenges . .  . at least, what has been helpful for me.

Common challenges of being home:
-          What it feels like: crushing, disconnected, weird, alone, I feel like I don’t belong anywhere. These are just a few responses I’ve heard/I have felt.
-           You know you’ve changed, but people expect you to be the same.
-          You keep wanting to go back; you are homesick for your mission.
-          Not sure where you fit in anymore.
-          Keep wanting to build the kingdom of God/be of some type of service . . . and feeling like you are wasting time/not being helpful.
-          A general feeling of “now what?” You know that last scene of Finding Nemo where the aquarium fish finally get out of the dentist office and into the sea? They’re so happy to be out and “free” . . . but they’re still stuck in the plastic bags and the pufferfish says, “Well, now what?” Yep. That’s us.
-          I know there are more. Too many to count, really. 

Some things that have helped me adjust:
-          Have a schedule. Whether it’s work, school, or a schedule you create yourself, it is good to have things to do and to be consistent. This is not only good for right after the mission, but it’s just healthy to be organized. Make sure that you make time for gospel study and for service.
-          Be patient. Remember that it is a transition. It takes some time. Also, if being a “weird RM” means that you love and talk about the Gospel more than you used to, that’s not a bad thing. You don’t want to go back to how you used to be. Because you’re better than you used to be.
-         Do talk about your mission. Don’t worry about stereotypes. Find someone who you can trust and who will just listen. And then talk, even if you both know they won’t understand everything.
-          Smile and be happy—attitude really does matter. Humor helps, too.
-          Write down how you are feeling. Writing is a wonderful outlet.
-          Love and move forward. Faith, hope, and charity. 
      You can never go wrong when you follow advice from the prophet: “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.” – Thomas S. Monson
-          Again, I know there are more remedies.*

It’s not easy, this thing called life. It’s full of growing pains, changes, and sometimes it is downright confusing. But, if there’s anything I learned on my mission (and that I need to apply every day), is that I need to trust in God more. He loves us. He knows what He's doing. He really does care for us, and He has a plan for each of us; He wants us to be happy. Because that's what the plan is called, isn't it? The Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Happiness. 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

*If any of you have more advice/thoughts on adjusting—to anything, whether it be post-mission or postpartum life, feel free to comment below.  

home sweet home

There is something so right about being home.
Some things never change, although the players do.
The ten-to-twelve-year-old cousins in the backyard, almost too old for imagination games, and beginning to discuss those growing pains of young adolescence. When the world first starts to spin.
Rook games at one table,
Hand-and-Foot at another.
Holding the newest baby.
The three-year-old runs around and around my chair, “Is it my turn to plaaaaay yet?”
Grown-ups discuss politics and family gossip.
Do you remember when you wanted to be a part of the grown-up table?
We’re all trying to grow up too fast . . . and then we try to seem younger than we actually are.
Cheerful chaos.

Welcome home.  

Intimidation Nation

For those who don’t know, I’m on the job hunt for Fall semester at BYU. I’m keeping my options open, and I’ve found some promising possibilities. Today, while blowing off the dust from my computer files, trying to find a somewhat-updated resume, I found some waaaaaaaaaaaay old applications I had written when I applied to work at the BYU Writing Center, way back when I was pre-mish and innocent and naive and sophomoric. I’m not a big fan of reading things that I wrote way-back-when. I cringe. It happened when I read my application today. ewwwww. Why did they hire me? Obviously, I can’t write. At least not personal statements or resumes. [at least, not then I couldn’t.] Obviously, getting to work at the Writing Center was a miracle.

Then I remembered that they had also asked for samples of my writing. I stumbled across something else I had written my sophomore year at university. Something I had submitted for my work application. It was a research paper I wrote for my lit crit class.


It was dang good. Just sayin’. So that’s why they hired me. I can write a killer research paper. 

Anyway, after reviewing my research papers and resumes and just thinking in general about what has happened in the past 18 months, I have come to a grand conclusion:

I am intimidating.

aka, I scare boys.
aka, forget about getting married anytime soon.    

Forget about beating back the boys with a stick. I’m blinding them by my sheer awesomeness. 

Let’s just look at the facts, shall we?

-Brains. I got ‘em. And I ain’t dumbing down anytime soon. For anyone. Not a threat, just a fact.
-Beauty. Yep. [and this is a blog post for another day, but can we please just talk about how incredibly gorgeous, well-dressed women are some of the scariest creatures in the world? They were some of the hardest people for me to talk with on my mission. They are just intimidating and their aura just screams: don’t bother me, because I am judging you right now, you frumpy little girl.]
-Brawn. I’ve got this confidence now. Don’t mess with me because . . .
-I know Russian. Bam. Which leads me to,
-Um, I’m a returned sister missionary. Do you know how awesome we are? My intimidation/awesome factor went up by 1,455,892 points. What.
-Also, I served a mission in Ukraine. That’s Eastern Europe, people. Right by Russia. In fact, I was practically in Russia. I lived in places worse than the Bronx. Provo, Utah’s got nothing on me. Bring it, Provo. Bring it. [you think this bad neighborhood? watch this. because it is funny. although, pardon his language at the very end.] 

I could go on, but I don’t want to scare you anymore.

Point is, with all this intimidation factoring going on, I’m probably not going to go on any dates this next semester. Oh, well. I’ll just go read Tolstoy.

Back to the Future

So, I just returned from a mission. Which means that, because this is my blog and my blog=my rules, I can be that annoying returned sister missionary here and talk about my mission all.of.the.time. Because, let’s be honest, it’s just going to happen. *just a disclaimer that you already knew*

People have been asking me what some of my favorite things about being home are/what my favorite things about Ukraine are. It’s a hard question, and there’s no way to be pithy about it. It’s not fair for me, my mission, or Ukraine. But just for posterity’s sake, here’s a compilation of favorite firsts about home and some things I miss about Ukraine:

Favorite Firsts:

·         Seeing/hugging my family as I came down the escalator. So surreal. A dream, really. But so, so good.
·         Teaching my sister how to make пироги (peer-o-gi), which are Russian pies. Did I speak to her in Russian while making them? Yes. Did she understand me? Of course not.
·         Finding the words to my favorite musicals in Russian! And then singing them around the house.
·         Fireworks. I came home around Independence Day. So I got to have an American Fourth of July. Beautiful.
·         Catching up with friends and family. But it’s weird because you feel so different and they don’t really see you as such. And it can be hard for you to see how they’ve changed.  If you’ve come home from a mission, you understand.
·         Going to the temple for the first time after 18 months. Wonderful. So, so good.
·         My first sunset. You just don’t get to see sunsets very often in Ukraine. The concrete doms block them.
·         Culture Shock. Ohhhh, man. My family looked at me so weird when I was freaking out about—
1.      The front lawn. It is green. It is gorgeous. And I can sit on it (and the concrete sidewalk, for that matter), and no one will yell at me and tell me that I will never have children. Beautiful world.
2.      The mountains. Um, hello, sleeping giants.
3.      People smile at me here. And it’s not weird for them if I smile at them. Why are people so nice?
4.      People speak English here? Um, what? But really, it’s weird for me not to hear Russian on the streets all of the time.
5.      Consumer overload at Wal-mart and Costco. [help me. cannot breathe. suffocation.]
6.      Almost crying when I used our oven for the first time. Um, guys. It is big. It is electric. And it is so full of light. Is this real life?

Things I Miss About Ukraine:

·         The people. I miss them so much. Members, members, investigators, people on the street. I love them. They are so resilient and determined and strong. My best friends are still in Ukraine.  
·         Walking everywhere. I really do miss just being able to get everything and go everywhere just by foot.
·         Russian. The end. Do I still slip into Russian sometimes? Конечно же.
·         The food. The fruit and vegetables there are so incredibly delicious. And it’s watermelon season right now.
·         The fields, trees, and skies. (Look at my banner for a glimpse of my beautiful Украина.  

·         Getting to be a missionary there. I love being a missionary so much. Good thing missions never have to leave you, right? 

Life in Transition

I love railway stations.

Think the old, European-style stations. King’s Cross. Grand Central. 
High, gorgeous ceilings span the sky, clocks everywhere display the time, and people rush back and forth, all on the way to somewhere.

[image courtesy of] 

[image courtesy of]

Making connections.
Making memories.
Making transitions.

That is where my life is right now. I just got off a train, and am headed on a new one. I’m not exactly sure where it will take me; I can only see the starting point. There’s a hopeful destination, but there will be schedule changes, I’m sure. Some delays. Transitions.

So, with a new era in my life, I’m changing the name of my blog. Again. And some of the themes will change, too. Life in transition. Because we all are in different stages of life, each year a transition into something new, each sunset beckons a horizon. The train arrives at the station.

Life is change.
I am changing all the time.

And yet, some things remain constant. Eternal truths. Truth is reason, truth eternal.

Transition zones. Being in the middle. Breaking cycles. That seems to be my calling in life.
And so, my friends, enjoy this life in transition.

Train arriving on platform 10. 


Well . . . I’m back.

What an incredible, inspiring, challenging, demanding, refining, wonderful, hard, life-changing 18 months this has been.

Ukraine Donetsk Mission.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.

It would be impossible for me to put into words how much this mission means to me. Or how I have changed. For better and for good.

This girl is different. As she should be. You don’t leave on a mission and come back the same. At least—you shouldn’t, in my opinion.

You’ll have to see me again and talk to me again to see what I mean.

Because some things cannot be explained, only felt and known.

But this I will say: It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But the best decision of my life.

Hello, world. I’m flying into the sun, ready to embrace the future. Whatever it may hold.