a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Friday, April 29, 2011

For Manuel

The hospital where I saw miracles

If you’re a mother in Ecuador you probably don’t have the luxury of going to a big expensive hospital to receive healthcare for your sick child. No, you’ll most likely go to one of the government funded hospitals in the big city where the halls are dark, the nurses overwhelmed, the bugs run rampant, and only the service is paid for but not the equipment or medicine. The parent must provide all of that, every single piece. These hospitals are crowded. The line just to be admitted winds around corners and continues outside. The stressed out parents carrying their sick children in their arms just hoping they can get a bed or a crib.

This is where I spent almost two months, two long months where I cared for my son, a little three-month old baby boy named Manuel.

I left in February 2010 for one of the greatest adventures of my life. I left my home, my comforts, my luxuries, and my loved ones, to live in Ecuador and work in orphanages where none of the above blessings exist. It was a heart-wrenching, hard, beautiful, and miracle filled experience.
Manuel got sick near the beginning of my time in South America. I was assigned to look after him in the hospital since I spoke Spanish and could communicate with the nurses and doctors in his little room. His room had four cribs total with three other sick babies occupying them and their worried moms doting on each one.

March 8, 2010
I can see the look of worry in their faces although they try to hide it. The doctor just gave them another prescription but there’s no money. It costs $10. The child needs it. They’ll get it somehow. Three-day-old clothes are still being worn; their hair is tied back in a greasy ponytail. They can’t leave. They can’t go home. Their child is in the hospital. Living out of a diaper bag that has only formula and a couple diapers in it, maybe an extra blanket or change of clothes for the child. A big jug of water and maybe some juice on the old metal nightstand. They’ve slept in an uncomfortable reclining chair for countless nights and been woken up by crying babies or the lights being flipped on when the nurses come to distribute medicine at midnight and 4 am. There are cockroaches on the floor both dead and alive. Honking horns ring from the window. At least there’s a view.

When Manuel was admitted he weighed only six pounds even though he was three months old. Ever since his birth he hadn’t been eating well and was throwing up everything he did manage to get down. The trabajadoras at the orphanage finally decided to take him to the ER when they found blood in his stools.

They didn’t have high hopes that he would survive.

They underestimated this little boy’s courage and determination to live.

For two months I went to the hospital every day, sometimes twice, sometimes three times to be with Manuel. He didn’t have anyone else. He was an orphan. Every couple of nights I stayed through the night with him and slept in an old reclining chair next to his crib. More than once cockroaches crawled over me as I tried to sleep. I would hold him and feed him, change his diaper and rock him to sleep. He literally became my son. I loved that little boy with every piece of my soul. I had never sacrificed so much for another person, my sleep, comfort, will, and love. I got to know him in a very intimate way- I knew how he liked to be rocked, how to make his oversized diaper more comfortable, and how to bundle him in his blankets so he wouldn’t cry and so much more. I looked forward to seeing him every day and was reluctant to leave when I had to go to another shift at a different location.

This little boy had captured my heart.

He pulled through. He made it out, and slowly but surely he started recovering and recuperating enough to where his food would stay down and there wasn’t any more blood.

One Saturday night I spend with him at the hospital. It was a rough night. Manuel hadn’t slept much till the early morning and I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. I remember waking up in the uncomfortable chair and looking over to see how he was doing. He was awake. I put my head near his and just looked at his small sweet face. He looked back at me. For a few long minutes we just laid there looking at each other, my baby boy and me.

And then it happened, he smiled.

His face lit up and he smiled at me for the first time. All of a sudden it dawned on me that is was Easter morning. The impact of that glorious day more than 2000 years ago sent shivers through my entire body. I remembered the empty tomb. I remembered the words, “He is not here, but is risen.”

I thought of the special meaning those few simple words mean to me, of the hope they bring to my life.
And then I looked back at my baby. His smile. His hope. My hope for him. It was as if he knew who I was and what I had done for him. It was as if he was saying “I know you’re there. I love you. Thank you for loving me back.”

It was all worth it. Every second of sleep lost, every tear shed in worry, ever hour spent watching and waiting for him to get better. I would do it all over again.

I left the beautiful country of Ecuador one year ago today, but don’t worry, I will return to that land again. I will see my babies again….somehow, somewhere.

Dear Manuel: I have loved you since the day I met you. I got to take care of you and be your mother for a few short weeks. You mean more to be than you’ll ever know. I can’t wait to see you again, my dear boy, and hold you in my arms once more. I will be waiting for that moment till it comes.
Love, me
My little boy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some of my most precious

Starting a new phase of life usually means saying a lot of goodbyes at the same time. I'm not very fond of goodbyes. In fact, I hate them. I hate knowing I won't be able to see that person for months or years or perhaps longer. It makes me sad knowing I won't be able to see people grow and develop, or see my friend's kids grow up and start walking and talking and going to school, etc.

I consider my closest friends personal angels in my life, people who have influenced and shaped me and touched my life for good. I really value my friendships and try to always be the one who makes the effort to ensure they remain intact. Friends have been saviors and helpers and shoulders to lean and cry on.

Most people come and go in a lifetime but occasionally we find a person here and there who sticks out and changes our life for the better. Those people gain a portion of our heart. You'd be willing to do anything for them at a moments notice.

So here's to you my dearly beloved friends. I couldn't have made it to this point of my life without you.

Thank you McKayla for being one of the cutest girls on the planet. I met you when you were three weeks old. Now you're running and talking and only get cuter every day. I love you and your mom to death.

Carson I was in the hospital when you were born and met you when you were only minutes old. Your smile always makes me smile. I love your long eyelashes and full head of hair. You will be a heartbreaker when you're older.

Veronica, we only had three months to get to know each other during the semester that we lived together but I will forever cherish those times. Your blunt comments went right along with my sarcasm and your sincere generosity and listening ear made my life easier during a semester when I almost went crazy. Thank you. You will be forever gorgeous in my book.

Ryder you turned one today! You are always a pleasure to be around. You are happy, cheerful, smiling, and loving. Whenever I pick you up you put your head on my chest and smile. I love you for that. Your big sister Brilynn wasn't around to take a picture with but I love her just as much. She's all girl and her sassy attitude makes me laugh. You are both delights and your mom I will love forever!

Kiersten, there aren't words to describe how much you have done for me. I can only say I love you to infinity and beyond.

Natalie, you are a constant source of light and encouragement in my life and a wonderful example in all you do. Gosh, I love you.

Brittany, you will always make me laugh. Our study groups were a highlight of my semester. Britton, oh Britton, you are just amazing. I love you for understanding and being a constant example to me, and always being willing to help in any way possible. I intend to be friends for a very long time. Your influence has been grand.

Dearest Bob, I love the way you do things. I love that we could finally go to a Jazz game. I'm glad I got to share that experience with you and only you. I know you will do great things and that you'll always be there when I have an insatiable appetite for Buffalo Wild Wings. I promise we will go together again someday.

Dear most fantastic US Con Law study group, thanks for making me laugh incredibly hard every time we got together. Those times are important to me. I will never forget the hours we spent at the Cafe McKay, or the times before class, or the minutes spent in our semicircle. Those were the absolute best of times. We still need to make our rap.

Dear Heidi, there has always been something special about you. The spirit you carry, your kind words and understanding eyes have been a help. I could not believe your ability to magnify your calling when you were my counselor. You helped me more than you will ever know. I will forever love you and be grateful for your service. You are a kindred spirit indeed.

Tyler and Alex, oh how I wish we would have met each other earlier. I know there would have been a million more fun times and good laughs. I'm glad we got to experience graduation all together. Thanks for your spiritual apartment that was a getaway for me during stressful times.

Sometimes I get frustrated with language. I get frustrated that there aren't words to describe how I feel or the ability to express what's going on inside. This is the best I can do.

There are so many other friends that I'm leaving and already missing. I hope you all the best. Know that you each mean so much to me. I consider you family and look forward to the day we will be reunited once again. I will rejoice when that day finally comes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A magical Mexican town I couldn't get enough of

I've been to Mexico quite a few times. So many times, in fact, that I've lost count even though I think the number is in the low 20s. Needless to say, I love Mexico and have often felt I was born with half a Hispanic heart. I love the food, the culture, the bright colors, the people, and the language.

This last trip down south was a new adventure since we went to a place we'd never been before.

As of right now Mexico has 36 Magic Towns (Pueblos Mágicos) that range from tiny, almost undiscovered villages on the coast to sizable inland cities. What they all have in common is that they have some truly special cultural, historic or social importance.

Álamos, Sonora is one of those undiscovered villages and makes the list of Mexico's magic towns.

I can see why.

After two long bus rides to get there from San Carlos (if you look at the map above you can see the US-Mexico border at the top of the picture and the small block box at the bottom of the picture representing the location of Alamos), we arrived on a hot spring day last week. It only took us a couple minutes and a short walk around the plaza to get to our hotel, a renovated mansion that was built several hundred years ago. The man in charge took us to our room and I was surprised to find that it was a large family room with high ceilings and five individual beds. The tile floor looked old and I loved the turquoise painted walls in the bathroom. There is something magical about turquoise paint. It was extremely quaint, old-feeling, and intimate. The front of the hotel was lined with bougainvillea, my dad's favorite flowering bush, and an ornate gate allowing customers onto the premises.

We definitely took a nap since the ordeal of just getting to Alamos was exhausting, and after waking refreshed we decided to hit the village in search of some tacos. We didn't have to go far. The plaza was lined with vendors, their little spots erected with grills, tents, and benches.

Either we were all starving or those tacos were out of this world, but I'm not sure anything has tasted better. We each ate several tacos made with corn tortillas, carne asada, cabbage, fresh homemade salsas, and lime. Oh how glorious limes are to me. I also got homemade horchata in a water bottle and sitting there in the evening sun, drinking my creamy horchata and chowing down on savory tacos, well, I couldn't have been any happier. Pure bliss.

Alamos is not a big place and after we finished our dinner we took a stroll around. The reason why Alamos is considered a magic town is because of its historic colonial architecture. The beautiful streets with high cement sidewalks, gorgeous old doors, unique iron railings, bright funky colors on buildings, beautiful trees and bushes, cobblestone walkways, and stunning Catholics cathedrals.

It was magical to me.

We ended up just sitting on a bench, all five of us, at one of the plazas and watching people till it was dark. It was a perfect spring evening, warm and comfortable. We watched the lovers strolling hand in hand, the families with the children all dressed up and running around, the older folks watching the young play. It was serene. I didn't want the sunlight to slip away. I could have sat there and enjoyed that evening for an eternity. I bought more homemade horchata from an older woman for 7 pesos. It was even better than the horchata I had at dinner.

Our last stop of the night was a hotel hidden down a side street. When my dad told us this hotel, La Hacienda de los Santos, was one of the nicest and most expensive boutique hotels in the world I didn't want to believe him. Come on, there we were in this quaint old village. There's no way one of the most exclusive hotels could be stationed there as well, right?


Even though we were Americans and can normally do just about anything we want in Mexico because our nationality, at this hotel we were only allowed into the front porch/foyer. A nice woman greeted us and gave us a brief explanation of the five properties included within the hotel, the prices (the rooms start at $250/night for the cheapest during the off season and only go up from there), and all the amenities. To me, that place sounded like the celestial kingdom and officially became my dream honeymoon spot. (Guys, remember that okay?)

I know that a lot of people think we're absolutely crazy for going to Mexico all the time especially when we drive there ourselves, walk the streets at night, and don't carry weapons with us. Most people listen to the news and think Mexico is extremely dangerous with drug traffickers haunting the streets just looking for any American to kill. Well that may be true in some respects, I mean, if you go looking for trouble you're going to find it, but for me I've never felt in danger within Mexico. We're smart, stay in groups, walk with a purpose, don't carry a lot of money on us, and genuinely love the people we come into contact with. In my view it isn't any more dangerous than Los Angeles, Chicago, or NYC. You just have to be safe about it. I feel bad for people who are too afraid to visit and who prematurely judge all of Mexico's citizens as criminals and murderers. The Mexican people are so extremely kind, generous, and humble. You just have to try and they'll love you back forever and give you the shirt off their back.

Our one and only night in Alamos was truly a special night. I was sad we didn't reserve more time to spend there. I definitely want to go back someday and experience it in all its splendor. I want to walk the streets with my own lover, buy cold creamy horchata, sit in a plaza and enjoy my surroundings.

I love magical places, and this was one of them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Metaphor to Remember

My dad has taught me many lessons in life. He drilled me when I was younger till I spoke with correct grammar, he taught me not to judge people by their appearance or think less of them because of their vices. He's encouraged me to find the meaning in things.

As we parked at the trail head of Picacho Peak and started up all my dad said was "As we're on this hike I want each of you to look for the metaphor as we climb. We'll talk about it when we're done."

I've always loved hiking and since I haven't done it in a while I was glad to be on a new trail. The weather was perfect, two hours till sunset, a slight breeze, and enough warmth to make me sweat. At first the trail was not unusual. The ascent was of a medium difficulty and I enjoyed chatting with my family.

After a little while the trail became steeper as we wound around the base and soon enough we were stepping up boulders and using chains and thick wire to pull ourselves up the rocks. I love hikes like this. About halfway there we arrived at the saddle (shown in the mountain picture below) where the mountain slopes and you're in between the two peaks. At this point the sun was almost to the horizon and we knew we had to move quickly to get to the summit by sunset and then back down before it was completely dark.

When we left the saddle I started understanding the metaphor my dad was talking about. Instead of continuing to climb higher the trail took a huge plummet downhill and we had to hike and use chains to let ourselves down several hundred feet. The whole time I kept thinking "What in the world is going on! When do we start hiking back up again? How are we going to reach the summit climbing downhill?"

Sure enough there was a bend in the trail and I saw the ascent back up. I couldn't believe I had wasted all that energy climbing up, just to climb back down, and now to climb up again!

The trail got steeper and steeper and we had to use gloves with grip on them as we clung to chains and wire. Slowly but surely we were getting there.

Just as the sun was setting we arrived at the top. The view was spectacular. We could see in all directions- the desert, the ostrich farm, the highway, the sunset- a never-ending stretch into the horizon.

The sun setting, however, meant that we couldn't spend much time at the top because we still had to get all the way down (let me remind you that this would involve going down, then back up to the saddle, and finally down to the trail head). Luckily my dad and brother brought their head lamps which was a good thing because in no time it was almost completely dark. Very slowly, almost having to feel every step in the darkness, we led each other to the bottom.

An example of the chains and wire we had to use as we climbed to the top.

Just finding my inner chi at the top
So did you figure out the metaphor(s)?

I'm grateful for the lessons I learned on this gorgeous hike. When it gets dark you have to rely on the voice of others to guide you along the path. In spiritual language, you have to rely on the spirit. There is no possible way to get back safely without His help.

There are many times when we will be making our way to the top and all of a sudden the trail will head dramatically downhill. Whether those slopes come by our own making or simply from a loving Heavenly Father who tests and tries us depends on each experience. The last nine months represents my own battle back to the top after a devastating fall downhill. But, I wouldn't change that battle for anything. You have to fall and then climb up and on to ultimately get to the summit. The beautiful summit where you can see everything.

It's the summit that makes it all worth it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Modern Dinosaurs

I've never been much of a zoo attender. I enjoyed them as a young child and hope to take my own children to zoos someday, but until then, I don't get much of a thrill walking around a zoo in summer heat.

However, on this last trip to Mexico our first stop was Picacho Peak, a rugged mountain between Phoenix and Tucson, which showcases an OSTRICH FARM at its base. Let me tell you, this was an experience I will never forget.

I was relieved to get out of the car after a long drive but was a little anxious as we walked into the farm and saw the dozens of ostriches, their long necks, beady eyes, and humongous feathery bodies, perk up as we entered with cups of food to feed them. My sister-in-law seemed completely undaunted by them and immediately walked up to the fence, held up her hand with a piece of food on her open palm, and waited. All of a sudden an ostrich zoomed in with lightening speed and snatched the piece of food out of her palm. Mach 100 speed. It looked like it could have hurt her hand since the ostrich's beak hit it so hard. Nevertheless, Jamie was unhurt and explained that that's how it happens and there's no harm or pain involved. I was a little timid to say the least.

I watched as my brothers and dad all tried it but I was still afraid to open my palm thinking the ostrich would bite off one of my fingers. Alas, I was persuaded and I held up my hand. An ostrich zoomed in but to my surprise it grabbed the piece of food and barely touched my palm. There was a slight push of my hand toward the ground and that was all.

I was hooked. I couldn't get enough of these feathery, dinosaur-like animals and their competition to grab the food out of our hands. It was a pretty hilarious experience. And no, none of my fingers were bitten off.

The ostriches weren't the only animals to feed at the farm. Next we moved on to goats, deer, and donkeys. These three were all gentle and would calmly (but also slobberly) eat the food out of our hands. Once our cups of food were gone we grabbed little plastic cups full of nectar and headed inside to the lorikeet house.

Let me tell you again, this was sa-weet!!!! All we had to do was open our cups of nectar and all of a sudden the birds started landing on us. One even landed on top of me and I had to pray really hard it wouldn't dump its last meal on my head.

Way too soon our nectar ran out and the birds became uninterested in landing on us. If the food and nectar hadn't been expensive we would have definitely bought more. I could have fed those animals all day!

I couldn't believe how fun this one half hour turned out to be. I absolutely loved every second of it and definitely want to go back someday. In fact, I wish I could take every one of my friends and family members so they could experience the craziness that is feeding ostriches!

Monday, April 18, 2011

This only happens once

I was waiting for some big climatic moment to know that I was actually graduating and that it was all over. Half of me wanted real fireworks, cannons, and some sort of grand ceremonial tribute with musical instruments and streamers. I wanted something big and grand and memorable. While it wasn't completely what I had envisioned my moment finally came in the first of the two big ceremonies most graduates participate in: convocation.

After meticulously ironing my gown (I'd still appreciate it if someone can tell me why I paid $35 for a piece of black synthetic cloth resembling a table cloth) I threw it on, positioned my cardboard cap on my head, grabbed my red and gold tassels, and ran out the door.

Sitting on one of the Taylor chapel pews with several of my fellow PoliSci friends, my heart started thumping and my brow sweating. I was getting more and more excited. My entire family arrived, my dad with his humongous camera in tow, and seeing their smiling and proud faces only added to the spirit of accomplishment and joy. The chapel was packed with similar faces, parents with beaming smiles, younger siblings watching everything and knowing their time would come someday, older siblings congratulating and hugging their younger brothers and sisters.

The ceremony finally began. It was more lighthearted than I imagined with several student speakers who gave short, well-thought out talks, and a girl who recited an incredibly creative epic poem that won't be forgotten soon. Soon enough it was time for our special moment to walk across the stage and receive our diploma, or our diploma covers to be exact. There were camera flashes going off everywhere, parents hurriedly walking to the front in order to get a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot of their son or daughter shaking hands and getting their diploma.

I wasn't worried that I'd trip seeing as I was wearing flats, but I was worried that the moment would pass too quickly. Somehow I wanted to slow down time, to savor every millisecond as I walked across the stage. I was really happy. I knew that my time had come. I felt accomplished and burden-less and free. My smile went all the way across my face. There was my dad shooting as much as he could. I took my diploma cover, I shook the hands, I smiled into the crowd, I received my alumni pin, and then I took my seat once again. It felt so good.

Once it was over there was a rush to take pictures with friends and family and even say some goodbyes. I hugged friends who had influenced and helped me along me way in my classes, those who I'd studied with, written papers with, did projects with. Each one of those friends has been important to me in some way. I shook hands with several of my professors who have been dedicated examples and have taught me in the spirit of testimony and higher learning. I found my own family and hugged everyone, thanked them for their sacrifice in my behalf and their mark in my life. The pictures were taken and then gradually everyone started to leave the Taylor, leave after having jumped past one more stepping stone in life.

It was a joyous time.

The next morning was no less exciting as once again the graduates, cap and gown clad, gathered with all the thousands of graduates and their families in the BYU-I center for commencement. I loved standing in line with my PoliSci friends one last time, finding friends in other colleges and taking pictures, seeing my professors sporting their prestigious gowns and caps, of walking in the processional line into the auditorium accompanied by the applause of our respected professors, listening to Pomp and Circumstance being played on the organ, and finally taking my seat up front in front of the administration. President Clark was wearing his gorgeous red robes. This time the talks were even more impressive. The speakers- President Clark, Roger Christenson and Elder Steven E. Snow- encouraged us to continue to be good and seek the good in the world. They counseled us to put our education to good use, to be wise with our time and money, to marry and have children, and ultimately to be disciples of Jesus Christ wherever we end up. I was inspired.

Hearing the audience applause us for our accomplishments brought tears to me eyes and being able to put our hands together in honor of those who got us there was even more special. The choir sang and I was touched as I saw one of the graduates singing in the choir with tears streaming down her face. I got shivers all over. It was a moment to behold.

The whole experience was everything I hoped for. It was two long awaited days that ultimately panned out perfectly. It was a culmination of hundreds of hours studying, serving, working, learning, and teaching. For me it represented the end of another phase of life and the beginning of the next. It represented an end.

However, for me, it represented a fresh start. The start of new adventure in a new place and with new friends. I got excited. I was thrilled. This place has been good to me, it's been great to me.

I am ready. I am a Brigham Young University- Idaho Alumni.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A final paper

I've known since my first semester in college that eventually I'd have to take Senior Seminar. I never strayed from the Political Science major I had chosen before I even entered into college and therefore knew that eventually the day would come when I would have to take the infamous senior research class and write the eternally long senior research paper.

That day came.

And finally that day has ended.

When winter semester started I was prepared and although a little intimidated for what awaited me I was ready to take Senior Seminar by the horns and conquer it. Over three months time we studied Civic Engagement, the theme for our semester's course, read books, our professor's dissertation on the same subject, and eventually chose our own topic and started writing our paper. Since I have half of a Hispanic heart and have had many experiences living with, working with, and interacting with Hispanics, I decided to write my paper on the effect of Mexican immigration on American Civic Engagement. I wasn't so intimidated anymore because the topic interested me and 35 pages didn't seem too overwhelming.

Well as anyone else who's had a crazy insane last semester knows, I didn't have all the time in the world to dedicate to my paper. There were always other assignments to do and study groups to attend. But slowly and surely my paper started coming together. It was hard though and time consuming, sifting through hundreds of scholarly articles and choosing which ones to include, deciding exactly what my thesis would say, and how I would go about actually doing real political science for the first time in my life.

My paper was always in the back of my mind. It wasn't finished and I wanted it to be. I desperately wanted it to be done and over and have that weight, that thing I've had in the back of my mind for six years, out of my head and on paper.

It all came down to the last week. I had finals. I had other papers due. I was determined to have it finished three days in advance so that I could enjoy my graduation ceremonies and my family visiting. Ultimately I spent almost 10 hours in the library my second to last day in college working on my paper and putting the finishing touches on it. My eyes were going cross-eyed and my head ached. My body was tense and my limbs tired.

At last I pushed the print button and went to retrieve my final paper, all 32 pages of it. Every word I had written, every source I had found. It came out of the printer and dazily I started walking back to my library niche to pack up my things. I was overcome with emotion. It was just then that I saw my sister-in-law. She asked what I was doing and I handed her the paper. Tears started welling up in my eyes. It wasn't just the paper being done that brought me to tears. I was done. I was exhausted. I was emotionally and mentally drained from seven hard semesters that had tested and tried me in every way possible and being done with this paper represented a culmination of it all. The end of my college career. She handed me back my paper and once I gathered up my things I walked out to my car. I dumped all my stuff in the back seat, sank in the front seat and wept.

I was relieved. The burden I had carried, the stress of a higher education was over. At least for now. To have a hard last semester, instead of one with few credits, was a wise choice for me. It pushed me to the very extreme as I battled time and energy for months and through it all came out on top.

There might come a day when a paper containing more pages and more research might be assigned to me if I decide to pursue a graduate degree, but we'll see. For now I'm glad this one is in the past and forever written down on paper instead of the tablets of my brain.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Loving life, walks and parks

There was a high of 61 degrees today in Rexburg. The sun was shining the entire day. Blue skies and a whole lot of radiance. My roommate and I went on a walk after I got home from work. My first walk of the year. My first walk in spring. I love walks. We talked about life and hope. We talked about what spring represents and how it brings to life all that was dead during the long winter. The wind blew through our hair which I didn’t mind. I love wind.

I thought about all the things I’ve done, all the memories I have, just at Porter Parker. The summer days I played ultimate or football on the green grass, the FHE bbq’s under the pavilions, the walks and the runs around the path, the talks with friends in the shade of the trees, the dates swinging on the swings, the fateful bench that I avoid with my eyes, the simple time I’ve spent there just thinking about what God has planned for me.

Tomorrow is General Conference. Tomorrow we get to listen to God’s prophets. This will be the first time in my whole existence (not counting the three General Conferences on my mission) that I won’t be at home. I’m excited to hear what they have to say and get the answers to the questions I’ve been pondering. I always wonder if this will be the General Conference where they announce something big, like the gathering at Adam-Ondi-Ahman or the mission of two prophets to Jerusalem. I want to be listening when that time comes. Even if there’s not anything that big I know their words are very important. I’m grateful for a mother who sat us down in front of the TV, even for both Saturday sessions, and encouraged us to listen. Doing anything else was not an option. It taught me that General Conference was a top priority. So tomorrow I won’t be in the library or worrying about my homework, at least until later, because I want to hear their words and see what they have to say to me, to Hannah.

Life is good. Life is complete. In one week I graduate from college and there will be no more tests or papers or worrying about group projects. In 26 days my life changes dramatically and I move to DC.

Life is crazy. I am in love with life.