Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I love to see the Temple

 Deciding when to go through the temple was tricky.  There were several people that I wanted to be there and had to coordinate with.  The first was my sister, Klah, since she lives two states away.  She could come almost any week in January, none in February, and the week before I enter the MTC.  So Mum hit the calenders and figured out the best week for us too.  Since everyone was giving the advice to go through as soon as possible so I could go as often as possible (not knowing how often I can go during my mission), we decided to go in January.  There was a debate between the 21st and the 28th so I called the second person that I really wanted there, Love.  As mentioned before, Love has had a really huge impact on my choice of serving a mission, and on me in general, so it was natural for me to invite her.  The 21st turned out to be the best weekend for her since she would be in Logan at a conference and thus 2 hours closer than normal. Perfect!!  The plans were then made known to everyone, January 21st at the Provo temple, be there by 6:20. 

Jump of plot points but stick with me.  Everyone was really curious which temple I would go through for the first time.  To me there wasn't really a question,  the Provo temple is the one I have grown up with.  It was the temple we went to when I was first able to do baptisms for the dead, the one that Da goes to every Saturday for his shift (he's a temple worker), it's where my parents were married.  There was the small question of "My sisters and Mum went through the Salt Lake temple, should I as well?"  But it was quickly ruled out because I don't feel like I have a real connection there. 
Jump back to main story.

The week before I went through the temple I did a technology fast.  No computer, no tv, no smart part of the smart phone.  I did the fast so I could clear my head of distractions and focus on the gospel, Christ, and the temple.  It was one of the hardest things I have done.  Though my room did get cleaned really well that week.  And it was a lot easier to keep a good schedule.  So hard, but totally worth it in the end.

Llama and Georgia boy came down from Idaho on the 20th and we met up at Beauty's house (I was "kidnapping" Georgia Boy for his birthday).  I think the best part about this meeting was that no one knew that I had cut my hair.  All of their reactions were awesome by the way. 
Anyway, that night was pretty fun.  Georgia Boy slept at one of my friends house and I picked him up the next morning.  The night before we had decided to go do baptisms for the dead with Kwistin.  She and I had been going every Saturday for three weeks prior and I really loved it.  Plus it was suggested that it would be an awesome experience to go through all the ordinances, excluding sealings, in one day.  The baptistry was overflowing with ladies as usual so they pulled those that couldn't fit into a side meeting room and we sang hymns.  It was a really amazing experience and I'm really glad my day started that way.

The weather of Utah is usually odd but this year has been even more so.  Winter has seemed more of a late Fall, cold but no snow, until, you guessed it,  January 21st. The 20th was great weather, so was the 22nd, go figure.  When we arrived at the temple that morning for baptisms it was raining pretty hard, we even had to jump over some small lakes.  Coming out of the temple nothing had really changed.  But I didn't really think about it.  I had been praying really hard that everyone would be able to make it so I wasn't really worried.   However that changed when Love called around 3:30.

It was snowing in Logan and one of her classmates had said that the canyon out of Logan was pretty scary due to the weather.  She couldn't make it, she wanted to but she couldn't.  I told her it was fine, I would rather have her safe and sound rather than her almost dying trying to get to the temple. 
I was a little upset, I had been really looking forward to seeing her, but I shook it off.  Like I had told her, I would rather her be alive and well.

Less than thirty minutes later Georgia Boy got a call from Beauty and he handed the phone to me.  You know something is up when she starts out the conversation with "You're pretty =}"  She wasn't coming, Llama wasn't either.  Llama had apparently almost spun off the roads a couple of times dropping her chilluns off at her in-laws and then going to try to meet Beauty to come down.  We then got a phone call from Llama a few minutes later.  Both gave their biggest regrets but like with Love I would rather them be safe than dead.  Specially with both being moms already and then expecting. 
At this point I was pretty devastated, but with a long hug from Georgia boy and the knowledge they were safe I focused on the temple. 

We left about an hour later, it was lightly raining, almost snowing. 
All I can say about the temple was it was amazing.  I was a little nervous but after it all I can really say I love the temple.  I can't help but smile when I'm in the temple.  The handful of others I had invited, close family and friends, had made it safely and it was wonderful to have them there.  It was the first time that my immediate family, My parents, my two sisters, and I, could and were in the temple together.  It was amazing. 
When we left the temple, say three four hours later, there was something like four to five inches of snow, if not more.  Roads were slightly tricky but not to bad for Utah. 

I'm proud to say that I've been back almost every week since.  I just love the temple.  Not to mention almost every time I've gone I've gotten the answer that I'm still supposed to be going on a mission (and yes I still ask if it's the right thing to do). 

35  days until the MTC

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preperation Time

Now that I have my call it's time to do one thing that I don't like to do: shopping.
We held off going and getting anything until a letter from my mission president. After it arrived the shopping started.  We've been doing it in spurts, thankfully my Mum understands that I don't last long shopping, unless it's for books.
So far we've gotten good water proof shoes and boots (apparently it rains a lot in Boston), a full length coat (I wasn't so sure about it when we bought it but now I love it), a new set of scriptures with my full name on them, a sling bag that I have dubbed the Mary Poppins bag (seriously that thing has so many pockets within pockets, and it's a lot bigger than it looks), the missionary "library", sheets, professional looking shirts, undershirts, a small sewing kit, laundry basket, and other little things I'll need.  I'm glad I'm going in the states though, at least I know the general stores where I can buy things I forget to take with me.
I'm also trying to re-read the Book of Mormon before March 28th.  I completed my goal of the summer of finishing it before the end of the year so re-reading I am.  I'm already in Alma but I still have 300 pages to go.
This next story relates to preparing I promise:
I've been ward hopping ever since I got back from school.  Maybe hopping isn't the right word.  I'm only attending two wards.  My singles ward and my home ward.  I love the singles ward but since I'm "leaving" from my home ward my records are there.  The singles ward starts at 10:30 and the home ward starts at 1.  I usually make it to both.  Sacrament and Sunday school at the singles ward and the full block of meetings at the home ward.  It's a little tiring but I figure I might as well get used to it, I have 18 months of this kinda stuff ahead of me.
Anyway, about two weeks ago I got a call from one of the members of the Bishopric in the singles ward.  I didn't really think anything of it until he told me why he had called.  He wanted me to speak in Sacrament meeting.  I really wanted to blurt out that I wasn't even in the ward.  I get really nervous about speaking see.  The first time I had to talk in Sacrament meeting I got hives, I was so scared.  But I said I would do it.  After all I need the practice right?  My subject was Doctrine and Covenants 115:5.  I spoke with a guy that I had known in high school, who just got off his mission.  It really was my pre-farewell talk.  A missionary leaving and a missionary coming home.    The best part was my heart decided it didn't want to escape this time, so my legs weren't shaking as bad as they usually were, my voice was a lot steadier, and I didn't cry through the whole thing.  Yay!

 Oh and the other thing I did in preparing for a mission?
I cut my hair, surprise!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Receiving the Call

I was told that I would have to wait at least a week and two days after I had turned in my papers for my call to come.  It was easy for the first week to ignore the fact that my life was hanging on receiving this call because it was a. finals week, b. I was getting ready for graduation, c. packing and cleaning of the apartment, and d.  boy drama/awesomeness.  It was the next four days that killed me.  Tuesday came and I tried to forget that this was the day that my call was supposed to come.  It didn't go so well.  My stomach was in knots the whole day, they didn't go away after I checked the mail either.  My call wasn't there.  It didn't come Wednesday either.
Wednesday night I gave up on my call coming that week, it was easier than waiting each and every day.  That night I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  Mostly how I would serve anywhere in the world the Lord wanted me to.  It was one of the best nights of prayer I have ever had.
Thursday morning I drifted in and out of sleep to the ringing of the phone (Mum was out on errands).  Then Mum burst into my room telling me to get up.  I must have groaned or something because she said something to the effect of "That was Brother Van Houton on the phone.  He's been calling all morning.  He's on his way over!"
Background:  Brother VH works in the Postal Office and if you warn him about the call coming, he keeps an eye out for it and delivers it.
I jumped out of bed, ran out to the kitchen/living room excited as all get out.  I even was running around in circles for a bit.  I quickly got dressed and waited anxiously by the door.  Brother VH dropped off the envelope and I resisted the urge to rip it open.  It was delivered around 10, and phone calls were quickly made to arrange a time to open it up.  We decided on 5 o'clock sharp.   We decided on 5 so my sister, her husband and family, my da, two of my close friends, and my neighbor could be there.  My other sister would be joining us by Skype, Llama would be on the phone.
The other phone calls were to Llama, she was super excited and may have hung up on her sister to answer my phone call.  I cleared it with her that we'd open the call around 5 and I would call her.
I then called Beauty (nicknames are hard to come up with, specially when their already nicknames would take a lot of explaining to use them... I'm trying to think of a less generic one...), who Llama hung up on to explain why.  Her reaction was pretty great.  I think the conversation when something like this.
"So there's a reason why Llama hung up"
"Oh reaaaally."  I think she was expecting an engagement
"I have a white envelope sitting in my living room and I would like you to be here when I open it."
"Wait, what?  What? When did this happen?"
I was laughing so hard while I explained what had happened.  Sadly she wasn't able to come.
Then I phoned Love and she was super excited as well.
And I called Georgia Boy.  He was going out to be with friends at the time but he wanted to know as soon as I would want to call him.

The next 7 hours were torture, with the envelope sitting in the Christmas tree.  I showered, I dressed, I got all gussied up.  I was ready by 11.  I tried to distract myself and it kinda worked.  But all day I was trying to convince myself that i was going to Russia and that was okay.  (Russia and I would not get along, too cold, way too hard of a language and too many stories).  I even tried to peak at my call.  All I got was a peak at a map that I couldn't decide if it was Europe or South America.  It was a very small not detailed peak at this map.  I then continued my mantra of "It's Russia, and that's okay.  The Lord wants me there."  over and over.
5 finally came around. Finally!  Everyone was there, except for Kwistin.  She was running late.  While waiting for her I got a text from Georgia Boy asking if I'd opened it yet.  I think he was as nervous as I was.
Kwistin finally arrived and we got right to it.  I got Klah , my sisiter, on skype.  Llama and Georgia Boy were on the phone along with my Aunt.
I was so nervous I had a hard time opening the stinkin envelope.  I finally got it open and I started to read.  As I read Massachusetts Boston Mission, relief flooded through me and extreme excitement.  I've wanted to live in Boston for a few years now, not to mention it wasn't Russia!! Plus I know it's where I'm most needed.
I promised Llama, Klah, and Georgia Boy I would call them back soon and just sat and talked with those who were there for a while.  Then the phone calls started.  I honestly don't think I've ever used the phone so much, not even working as a Secretary in Human Resources. 
There were so many people to call, it was crazy.  But it was so much fun.  Everyone was so excited.  It added to the experience, this being the first mission call opening that I remember being a part of it.
That night I skipped around singing "I'm going to Boston.  I'm going to Boston!"
Opening the envelope
Reading the call

It's Boston!!!
Talking with Llama and Georgia Boy
Oh and it turned out the small section of a map I saw?  It was on the front cover of the booklet they send out to all missionaries, and it was of the whole world.  Oops. 
Reading the Packet. You can kinda see the Map
I finally know!!!