05 December 2013

Every. Day.

This truck drives by doing this every day. At least once, if not two or three times. Part of me hates it. The other part of me is reminded of the Latino produce trucks on the mission that broadcast the last lines of "La Cucarracha" over their loudspeakers every day...

But don't ask me what he's saying. It's not English.

Made My Day

27 November 2013

Día de Gracias

Thanksgiving... one of the few days of the year when I actually miss not just "Home," which no longer exists for me, but physically being in the USA. Of course the British all know about Thanksgiving, but the typical reaction is probably most accurately described as, "Oh that's nice." There's just no way to transfer the historical, social, and cultural knowledge, understanding, and implications associated with this uniquely American holiday. (I obviously don't really consider Canadian Thanksgiving the same thing bc it came about in a different way.) But I really appreciate that they try.

So tonight for dinner my housemates and I went to the pub down the road from our house, which none of us had ever been to before.
We were entertained by the musical stylings of some cliché American music during dinner, namely the Backstreet Boys and Hilary Duff. Classic.

I got the closest thing to a Thanksgiving meal as I could: Sausage and Mash with Red Onion and Gravy. Yeah I know... not at all like Thanksgiving. haha
The "Let's pretend otherwise" face

 I was so hungry after spending all day on campus sans comida that I really didn't care what I ate, as long as it tasted good. Check.

Sarah and Chloe both opted for burgers, which of course as a Blackburn I found a perfectly appropriate Thanksgiving meal.

Chloe was in some serious pain after dominating her double decker...
...which obviously is all par for the course on Thanksgiving. As a neophyte to the holiday, she's now experienced the consequences endured by millions of Americans today. haha pobrecita

Sarah, however, was still going strong. She decided to celebrate Movember AND Thanksgiving all rolled into one. Victory.

Of course no Thanksgiving would be complete without dessert, no matter what form it comes in.
 After a slight mishap from the kitchen, we ended up with this delicious dark chocolate hot fudge cake with vanilla cream. Bliss.
Total Domination.

Of course before we ate I made us all go around and say something specific and recent that we are grateful for, since that IS the whole point of the holiday... I shared a few more specific ones with them, but the overall theme is that:

This year I'm grateful for living the dream. MY DREAM, in fact. I really can't imagine how my life could be any better or how I could be any happier right now. But God keeps surprising me, and my life continues to become more incredible. Thanks to all who have helped me make the UK my new home. And thanks to all who have supported and encouraged me to help me get here. My life is so much richer because of the wonderful people in it. So Thank You!

And Happy Thanksgiving! Feliz Día de Gracias!

22 November 2013

Newsflash: Gnomes.

In trying to decide what to do for Christmas I've been looking up some family history sites. On one of the village's websites, this is the top news story:

Kirk Ireton - Now with added Gnomes! 
It has recently been brought to our attention that the village is being invaded by gnomes!
While a recent Gnome Patrol has reported an upsetting scene of a gnome massacre on the entry to the village from Hob Lane, the other colonies living on Bottom Lons, Moor Lane and Wirksworth Road all appear to be thriving.
If anybody has any further information, or more if any more are spotted please let us know!
This silly little newsflash makes me think that this village is probably just as quirky and charming now as it was when my ancestors lived there 350 years ago. Even if I don't end up going there for Christmas, I'll definitely be going there!

20 November 2013


*Sorry to those that don't speak Spanish, but I needed to write this post in Spanish. It's the only language that allows me to adequately express these thoughts, however poor my grammar has become.* 

Hace dos años, un investigador David fue bautizado. Fue un día tan especial. El tenía tanta fe y fue bien preparado. Él había orado para saber por si mismo que la Iglesia de Jesu Christi de los Santos de los Últimos Días es la iglesia de Dios sobre la tierra. David había recibido su respuesta por medio del Espíritu Santo. Esto le ayudo a cambiar mucho de su vida antes de ser bautizada. Todo el día David fue bien feliz, y durante toda la semana también. El proximo Domingo él recibí el Don del Espíritu Santo. Y estaba yo TAN emocionada y orgullosa de él--por su fe y ejemplo para mi y toda su familia, por las oportunidades que ahora él tendría, y porque le ví yo a David con toda su potencial eterno y pude sentir el amor de nuestro Padre Celestial por él.

Después de recibir el Don del Espíritu Santo, David nunca regresó a la iglesia.

¡Qué tristeza! ¡Qué tragedia! Todavía my corazón se rompe cuando pienso de David. Pienso que tal vez debía hacer más o algo diferente. Pero en estos momentos, el Espíritu me recuerda que él sabía y entendía el Evangelio y sus convenios muy bien. Él eligió dejar el camino correcto y no es mi culpa que él escojó así. Tenemos nuestro albedrío, él lo usó. Pero también tenemos la oportunidad de arrepentirnos y empezar de nuevo en el camino verdadero. Entonces, siempre hay esperanza por David, por mis otros conversos como él, por mis hermanos y sus familias, y por todos que han dejado el camino seguro. Gracias a Dios por el don de Su Hijo Amado y por la Expiación que todos nosotros necesitamos.

Hoy estoy especialmente agradecida por esta milagro en mi vida, y en las vidas de todos que escogen seguir el ejemplo de Jesu Christi y vivir el evangelio restaurado.

18 November 2013

Break time

After feverishly working on my two papers the past few weeks, I decided to take a weekend off of school work. Here's what I did instead:

Housemate bonding.

On Friday night we decorated for Christmas. Our house is so cold that the mirrors are all fogged over and you can see your breath. So after a few hours of decorating, we needed to unthaw our hands and toes. So we made hot chocolate and watched The Sound of Music in my bed, underneath my electric blanket. Almost 50 years later and it's still such a delightful movie!

Saturday we went to the Birmingham German Christmas Market for a bit before I had to go meet my friend Erin. We went to see the opera, Tosca, at the Birmingham Hippodrome. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I loved it!

Well, when I got home from the opera, the house was dark so I thought my housemates had decided to go to a YSA get-together across town... well then I walked in my room, turned on my lights, and found this:

Snuggling in my bed watching Downton Abbey. 

Yep. It was a great weekend! :)

And now it's time to get back to work!

17 November 2013

"Suffer the children to come to me"

There are only 3 active children in my Primary class, out of 11 children on the roster. So today I felt prompted to have my girls write notes to all those who don't come, just to say that we miss them and love them, and to invite them to come join us.

One of the girls decided to write her testimony in one of these letters:

"We would like to invite you to church to join us. We have been learning about the pioneers and we have started singing some Christmas songs.
I'd like to bear my testimony to say I know that this church is the true church and I know that Heavenly Father lives and I know Jesus Christ lives and I know that the Bible has the true stories and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

My heart was just so touched by 1) her initiative, 2) her faith and courage, and 3) her pure, sweet testimony which she was happy to share when she saw the opportunity. I hope I can follow her example this week.

13 November 2013

Helping Hands

I'm so grateful to be a member of a church that is able to mobilize so much aid and volunteers in such a short amount of time. Not only do we learn about emergency preparedness, food and water storage, and financial savings on an individual/family level, but we are also able to be anxiously engaged in helping disaster survivors on the other side of the world.


As a side note, I don't know who the LDS Disaster Response team members are, but this isn't the first time I've wanted to become one. Lucky for me, with my degree it just might be possible...

12 November 2013

Every week in my Social Analysis class a group of students gives a presentation on the particular topic of that session, and afterward the class can ask questions/give feedback, etc. which the students then use to write their individual assignments reflecting on how they did. 

Well today in class, I had a question for them so I raised my hand. After class, one of the girls came over and told me that she was terrified when she saw my hand go up because I always ask really hard/intimidating questions about things she's never thought of...

I couldn't help but laugh because my questions always feel really basic, naïve, ignorant, etc. in my head. But as I walked home after that experience I was reminded of the Priesthood Blessing I received from my Uncle Tim before I moved to the UK. Among the many things mentioned was that  I would be an asset to my classmates, that they would come to value my contributions in classes and coursework and hold me in high esteem as a good example among them. This particular aspect of the blessing has not been one I've thought of much until today, but I'm grateful that the Spirit brought it to my remembrance. 

I had such a joyful, peaceful feeling of absolute contentment all the way home. What a wonderful blessing to know that I'm doing what the Lord would have me do, where He would have me do it. There is nothing like feeling absolutely confident in my abilities because I know that God is confident in my abilities!

09 November 2013

My Holistic Education

As a brief reprieve from my studies I decided to watch an episode of Doctor Who, which just happened to have this gem of a conversation that fits perfectly with the paper I'm writing. Unfortunately, I don't think my professors would find it nearly as amusing as I do, so I decided to include it here rather than in my paper. haha

The Doctor: Call me old fashioned, but if you really wanted peace couldn't you just stop fighting?
Lieutenent Cobb: Only when we have the Source. It will give us the power to erase every stinking Hath off the face of this planet.
The Doctor: Hang on, a second ago it was peace in our time and now you're talking about genocide!
Lieutenent Cobb: For us, that means the same thing!
The Doctor: Then you need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up genocide. You'll see a little picture of me there and the caption'll read 'over my dead body!'

08 November 2013

A piece of peace?

"It is as if somewhere there was once a rich, holistic peace concept which was then split into several components, one component being given to each part of humankind! And thus it comes about that not only is there plenty of unpeace in a fragmented humanity; the concept of peace is itself fragmented." -Johan Galtung, 1985 

I came across this little gem in my research today and couldn't help but smile. I'd never thought of it in this way before, but as I pondered on it I realized the truth in it... Peace is a gospel principle in its purest form. So just as the fulness of gospel has fragmented during the many apostasies which have occurred in between the gospel dispensations, it would follow that any other true principles suffered a similar fate, including the concept of peace.

07 November 2013

The wisdom of the learned shall perish.

In my studies over the last couple weeks, I've come across many theories of peace and conflict, cultural and social frameworks, etc. that try to summarize and generalize the human experience by reducing it to power, social structure, various networks of kinship relations, or other seemingly trite differences. On Tuesday I had a reading about the Patriarchal Bargaining framework, which is a theory that describes how women basically have to bargain, manipulate, and strategize to survive within the patriarchal social and household structures in which they live. As I discussed these ideas with my group, I realized that something about this rigid interpretation of the world bothered me, but I couldn't quite pinpoint what about it seemed weak to me. All of the examples the author used (and more given by my classmates) made sense, and yet I still couldn't bring myself to embrace it as truth.

It's been bothering me ever since, so I've pondered on it an awful lot. This morning I think I finally realized why:

In relying only upon the ideas of power, status, agency, etc. to describe how (and why) a woman interacts within her marriage, household, kinship, and community, the concepts of love, kindness, sacrifice, trust, empathy, open communication, etc. are all cast by the wayside. I know in countless examples around the world, there is much truth in the reality that a woman only thrives if she learns the culturally appropriate strategies to gain and maintain access to socio-economic power (i.e. controlling the family finances, getting a say as to her children's educational and medical care opportunities, etc). But even so, I hate the idea that womanhood has even theoretically, and especially in reality, been reduced to such terms and has lost all that is "lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy."

This idea also assumes that every husband and father is a selfish, domineering social climber who only marries because of the increased social status and other benefits that he can gain from having a wife (read servant) to control. As cynical and degrading as I see the above view of womanhood, I equally reject this pessimistic view of men and manhood. In general, people are good, no matter where they come from!

No matter what culture a man or woman adheres to, I discount any idea that suggests social structure leaves little to no agency for an individual (and therefore a married couple) to express and experience kindness, respect, equality, communication, shared responsibilities, sacrifice, forgiveness, and love. There might be precious few examples of these kinds of relationships in certain cultures or regions of the world, but they do exist everywhere, and therefore they can exist even more abundantly if we choose to foster these types of relationships--no matter where we live. Of course, when it comes to marriage, it takes two people to work in tandem to create such a home, but I've seen examples of this everywhere I've been. And more importantly, the Spirit has confirmed in my soul that THIS is universal truth.

I really do LOVE what I'm studying, and I see many opportunities to apply these new principles I learn as I try to go about doing good to all men and women. But today, I'm especially grateful for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and his role to help me know truth wherever I find it.

03 November 2013

The Song of the Righteous

There really are no words to adequately portray the sheer magnitude of my feelings during and after our first Lamb of God rehearsal yesterday. Singing my testimony of the Savior with all the intensity of my heart and voice, surrounded by a glorious choir and a full orchestra... It's such a different experience from just having the volume on a stereo up all the way. It's like the music became a part of my soul, piercing me to the core and filling up my very being with truth, joy, and love--aka The Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23). Except it is more than just being full of the Spirit, because I've experienced that on many other occasions. How to describe it?!

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to step into your favorite painting and LIVE it? To be a part of it and experience it in an entirely new and tangible way, more magnificent than just merely seeing it and admiring it?

Well it was like that, but with the musical score rather than a painting... I stepped into the music and LIVED it... was a part of it and experienced it more intensely than just hearing it or being moved by it.

If that doesn't make sense at all, then I suppose I just have to stick with my first clichéd admission that verbal language is entirely inadequate to describe the transcendental experience that the Lamb of God is proving to be for me.

On a slightly different note, I had the distinct thought yesterday that if this is what it feels like to be an angel singing praises to God all day long, then that gig no longer seems quite so tedious a future as it used to. ;)

25 October 2013

Blessings of Scripture

I was asked to speak in church this Sunday on 1 Nephi 19:23:
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.
Now you all know just how much I LOVE the scriptures... or if you don't, you don't really know me at all. haha But whereas many members of the church shy away from studying the Bible, and even the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon, I find that those are some of my favorite parts! It of course helps that I know the history, culture, geography, etc. of the ancient near east. I relish all the interesting cultural tidbits, and the rich descriptions of the land. But I also understand that those details can feel like wading through a quagmire for people who don't already have an appreciation and understanding of the setting and background of the region.

That being said, it's not impossible to gain an understanding and appreciation of these contexts. So if you are one of those that avoids studying the Bible because it it too hard for you to understand, I invite you to reconsider! Make it a matter of prayer. Find some basic references that can help paint a better picture of what's going on. If all else fails, google it! haha But seriously. The Bible, however many errors it might contain, is STILL the Word of God. And He is a God of Mercy, which is made more clear to me in the Bible than in any other book of scripture.

While preparing my talk I rediscovered this Mormon Message, which I LOVE on so many different levels. And since I can't actually show it for my talk on Sunday, I thought I'd at least share it here.

20 October 2013

What's in a name?

I don't know, but there must be something in MY name, because no one can say it right.

I always thought my name was so simple and straight forward... just like me. But on the mission, a lot of people had trouble with my last name, so they nicknamed me Hermana Quemadita, "The Little Burnt Sister." Ok I guess the "ur" sound is a little tricky for Latinos. No big deal.

But here in England, where people speak English, few people say my name right. They all call me Dawna, because they normally say "a" as in "-aw" not "a" as in "-ay." One of the Elders, who is Scottish, told me that they normally spell my name here as Daena or Daina. In Utah, everyone tries to spell it Dayna. So perhaps I have a vowel missing from my name that prevents people from saying it correctly?

Then when I interact with the ESL students at Uni... well they've never heard of my name, so they all call me Diana, no matter how many times I tell them. haha

It just leaves me to wonder how such a short and simple name has created so much difficulty for people from all around the world... Suffice it to say, I go by many names these days.

18 October 2013

Liverpool and Preston

Last weekend the YSA (young single adults) went on a Temple trip up to the Preston Temple. But since we had a few hours in the morning, we made a pitstop at Albert Dock in Liverpool.

I don't know what this building is, but it's beautiful, and an interesting contrast to the rest of the city that is either industrial brick buildings or modern glass and steel constructions.

After walking around the dock a bit, my friend Camie and I went into the Maritime Museum. 

Then we ventured over to the Museum of Liverpool, which was also nearby. Conveniently enough there happened to be an Irish Festival at the latter on the day we were there. I took a video of some little girls doing some Irish dancing, but for some reason it won't load, so a picture of the musicians will have to suffice.

 There were several of these bizarre painted statues outside the museum... reminding me of the painted Berlin Bears and Cincinnati Pigs I saw years ago. The only problem is that I had no notion what this particular creature was supposed to be...

...but fear not. I found the answer! Superlambananas, apparently. Don't ask me what in creation THAT is supposed to be, though. haha

I thought this was going to be Elvis. Apparently this is the British Elvis, Billy Fury. Apparently he was a big deal. No one I was with had ever heard of him. But even THEY all know who Elvis is. Sorry Billy. Better luck next time?

And just in case you could manage to forget that Liverpool was the home of the Beatles, their faces are plastered everywhere, in all kinds of creative ways. This one was by far my favorite.
Can  you tell what it's made out of???? 
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans!!!
(FYI: ERYN SINCLAIR... this store was MADE for YOU!
Is it just me or does the guy on the bottom right look more like a 40yr old Harry Potter than a Beatle?

Obviously, though, the highlight of the trip was going to the temple. We got there late and were in a hurry, so I wasn't able to get my own picture of the temple, but this one is sufficiently gorgeous for my purposes here.  :)

One of the things I've missed the most living here in Birmingham is being close enough to go to the temple often. So I absolutely relished the opportunity to be back inside the House of the Lord. Perhaps because it's been a few weeks, or maybe more likely because of everything I've been learning from life, institute, and General Conference over those weeks, I felt like the windows of heaven were opened and I learned SO MUCH this time around. And I had a really special experience with my ancestor whose name I took through. There are no words to express just how much I love my family, no matter how long ago they may have lived! Ann Mather was born in 1656, so she'd been waiting more than 300 years to make those sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father. The love I felt for her was overwhelming, as was the feeling of her gratitude, joy, and sheer excitement that surrounded me during the session.  I was so grateful to the chance to go to the Temple, and looking forward to going again as soon as possible!

13 October 2013

General Conference Gems

That magical time of year came and went last weekend, and it was absolutely glorious in word and spirit. There is no point in me going on and on about how great it was. Instead, I shall entice and encourage you to read/watch/listen to conference yourself by including some of my favorite tidbits.

Here! Listen to a Prophet's Voice!

*President Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet of God upon the earth. He is not only the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also the Prophet for the entire world.*

"Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy." -Elder Richard G. Scott

"...man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior.... We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks

"We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There is only one way. True change—permanent change—can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you—each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change!" -Elder Russell M. Nelson

"There is joy guaranteed for the faithful." -President Henry B. Eyring

"Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience." -Elder David A. Bednar

"We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage. There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family. Whatever else a woman may accomplish, her moral influence is no more optimally employed than here." -Elder D. Todd Christofferson

"No matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now!" -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over. Remember the pattern recorded frequently in scripture: we gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them." -Elder Robert D. Hales

09 October 2013

Invasion of the Doctors, part 2

*This part of the story mostly focuses on my personal ponderings regarding a conversation I had during the filming with one of the actors and several of the film crew. So be prepared for a soapbox rant.*

As I mentioned on Facebook:
They are now filming in my room, and one of the actors said quite assuredly, "You've never had so many men in your room, love." Followed by one of those young men saying, "Well, we were all thinking it but we never would've said it." hahahahahaha I wonder if it was the giant book that says "Eternal Marriage" on my shelf or the picture of Jesus on my mirror that gave me away.

 The film crew scurrying about my room just before the above conversation.

For those of you who were curious as to my own response to the actor... It was one of those moments when multiple ideas and retorts passed through my mind, all clear as day, in the blink of an eye. I thought, "Should I be offended?" "Should I laugh it off?" "Should I own it?" "How can I use this to share the gospel?," and even the words of Romans 1:16 ran briefly through my mind: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." By the end of that brief introspection, I had decided to own it, no matter how that may have seemed to them. So I said, "Well that's true!" And laughed. That seemed to break the momentary tension of all the young men in the room as they realized that I was not offended or embarrassed to be called out as a virgin in front of all these strangers. But I wasn't just playing it off trying not to be embarrassed like I usually do... instead I realized that I really WASN'T ashamed for my virginity to be broadcast to an entire room full of men. How odd.

I've thought a lot about that experience over the last week, and it keeps getting funnier with every re-living of it! But in light of having watched General Conference in between the two days of filming, I've also learned a lot from it. I was able to pinpoint the true gospel principles that helped me 1) stand firm, and 2) not be ashamed of my choice or even 3) of making that choice known to strangers regarding why I've decided to remain chaste before marriage.

Elder Christofferson, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, said: 
"Most sacred is a woman’s role in the creation of life. We know that our physical bodies have a divine origin4 and that we must experience both a physical birth and a spiritual rebirth to reach the highest realms in God’s celestial kingdom.5 Thus, women play an integral part (sometimes at the risk of their own lives) in God’s work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”6 As grandmothers, mothers, and role models, women have been the guardians of the wellspring of life, teaching each generation the importance of sexual purity—of chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage. In this way, they have been a civilizing influence in society; they have brought out the best in men; they have perpetuated wholesome environments in which to raise secure and healthy children."
As the muses say in Hercules, "That's the Gospel truth!" I REALLY believe that, because the Holy Ghost has confirmed the truth of it in my own heart. So what might seem to many like an old-fashioned choice based on bizarre religious fervor, or even a misunderstanding that my personal worth only exists if I remain pure before marriage, I choose to remain chaste because I hold my womanhood and my divine role as sacred. I am grateful for my physical body, imperfections included, and the power and responsibility that I have to bring life into the world. Because I value and honor that privilege, I have chosen to exercise it only within the bonds of marriage, with a man worthy of being sealed to me for eternity and not just "until death do us part."

*Ok, I'll now step down from my soap box. :) *

They also thought the outside of our home was adequately horrendous for their filming purposes. The tall blonde woman, Leigh, played the American niece in the episode. She was mortified by the disgraceful state of our living conditions and made me promise to keep complaining about all the mold to the landlord until someone fixes it. haha If only she'd seen the other places I've lived (like Alpine aptmts in Provo!) then she'd know I have it pretty good here. haha

We did take pictures of the other actors, but I'll have to wait to get them from my roommate, since we snuck them on her phone. ;) I'll add them here as soon as I get them though!

Invasion of the Doctors, Part 1

This has to be one of the most random, ridiculous, fascinating experiences I've ever had... and for those who know anything about my life, that actually really is quite a feat.

*For those who haven't been following my Facebook updates, BBC filmed the British soap opera Doctors in my house over two days. This post was written during the filming.*

Our little town house is easily overrun, but the film crew, actors, and production team have literally invaded every nook and cranny of our quaint little home. There are only so many places for them to go, so the big hang out for the actors is my room (since they are filming in Sarah's room). But there isn't anywhere else for me to go, so I'm just here working on my bed in the midst of them all. It's actually been quite enjoyable to chat with and get to know them all a bit.

My room, completely overrun with furniture, equipment, and other supplies... now just add about 8 people in here and you'll understand why it felt so cramped!

 They also took over the living room...

(Plus about 25 people in and out of here.)

... and the kitchen. 

The only time you'll ever see/smell coffee in my home! haha

Since they have been hanging out in my room, they've been reading all the things on my walls... mainly inspirational/motivational quotes, etc. Their various reactions have sparked some interesting conversations, and some of them have even taken pictures of them to send to their children. haha I think it must be as unique for them to be in the room of a young, single American woman who has very little interest in things of the world as it is for me to have them in here. I wonder how many of them have ever seen a picture of Jesus Christ hanging in the room of a 26 yr old woman before, or how many of them have ever seen a giant manual all about "Eternal Marriage." haha I am definitely a peculiar person, but hopefully in the way I'm meant to be.

 The episode is about an old woman, named Flo, who is dying and is visited by her American niece before her passing. This is my roommate, Sarah, in her/Flo's bed. Don't worry... we took all these pictures while they were at lunch. ;)

They used Sarah's scriptures as props in Flo's bedroom! haha

Needless to say, it's been a day full of trying to suppress my giggles and generally failing at it. 

30 September 2013

Me and Mickey

My bishop asked me if my degree was a Mickey Mouse degree. I promptly said, "No." He then clarified and asked if I'd be able to get a job with it. I quickly gave an emphatic, "Yes!"

Not sure if it was my hope or my pride that responded, but either way I'm grateful that my fears didn't have time to speak up. I know without a doubt that this is where I'm meant to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to do. Now where that will lead, I have NO clue. But the Spirit has led me here on no uncertain terms, and that gives me all the confidence I need to go forward with faith that Heavenly Father really DOES have a plan for me.

So even if it does turn out to be a Mickey Mouse degree, maybe God means for me to work at Disney World. There are worse futures than the most Magical Place On Earth.

28 September 2013


Pronounced "Warrick," not "War-wick"

I was able to meet a friend and his family in Warwick for the day, and we had a blast! He and I were at BYU Nauvoo together in 2006, and I haven't seen him and his wife in about 5 years. They now have two delightful children, and it was so great to finally meet them.

But since I've been told that people just want to see my pictures, I won't bother going into the details of the day. So without further ado:

St. Mary's Parish Church 

 This plaque gives the details of the couple's tomb shown above.

Warwick Castle 


One example of the fantastic language used on various signs here.

 One of the walls displayed with bits of the family's extensive collection of armor and weaponry.

A gorgeous piece of furniture... an elaborately hand carved buffet, documented for you, Mom.

View from the mound across the Castle Park 

The mound (right) was the original site of fortification, with a wooden stockade built atop in 1068. A keep was added to the site in the 13th Century if I remember correctly. And well, the rest is history.

 Looking up at the mound

 View from the ramparts down at the Castle Gatehouse and out upon the city, with the tower of St. Mary's showing quite prominently.

It was a bit windy up on top! 

A row of houses built in the 14th and 15th centuries along the River Avon.

River Avon... (Warwick is only about 9 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon

Suffice it to say that I think every child deserves the chance to visit Warwick Castle. It was truly enchanting, with a load of family-friendly activities. And we had some beautiful views that only added to the atmosphere. Hopefully I'll take the time to go back and explore a bit more on my own.