For B

My cute friend, Miss Shelby, has been requesting a blog post for quite some time about “why I went on a mission.” I have been neglecting her request, partially due to lack of time, and partially because it is such a deep, large, personally enveloping story that it is a little bit hard to know how in depth to go with it on a public, available for all to see, site. The nature of personal spiritual experiences is sacred, and just that — personal. But today I received some news that has shaken me and caused my heart to ache for that mission I hold so dear.. because of the people I grew to love.

It’s something I think about and miss to some degree every single day of my life. It changed my everything. It solidified my testimony of my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the fact that they have restored their church and their Gospel to this earth again today. It helped me understand the big picture.. an understanding that all too often slips away from me now, having been home almost 2 years (in December. weird.) I didn’t know it before I went, but I was going for so many reasons.. I was going for the people, I was going to build the kingdom, I was going to acquire new skills, I was going for my family and friends, I was going to learn about the world, I was going to prepare for the future, but most of all I think I was going to change. And a huge part of that change came about due to the amazing people I met throughout that 19 month period. These are people I will never allow to leave my heart. I hold them so dear. One of them emailed me tonight with some incredibly hard news. One of the young teenage daughters of one of my favorite member families has been diagnosed with cancer. When I heard the news tonight at work, I broke down in silent tears, and they kept flowing on the drive home. My heart is heavy for this wonderful family. They are rock solid examples of faith and generosity and optimism in the face of adversity. I hope you, my readers, will keep them in your prayers as they go through what may be some of the hardest experiences they ever face.

And this grave news has caused me some reflection, as situations like this often do. I think that’s part of the reason God puts them in front of us.. because it humbles us, and it forces us to remember. I feel sheepish every time it reoccurs.

And so in honor of this wonderful family and the way I came to know them, here you go, Shelb:

It was October 19, 2006 when I got the answer that changed my life foreva eva. Oh my goodness. That was 4 years ago today. Now it’s 1:30am on the 20th, but I didn’t even realize that correlation until now. Coincidence?
Negatron.
My brother had just left on his mission to Brazil on October 10th and I had met with the bishop the Sunday prior to get some counsel regarding my life. I graduated from the U the following spring and I had recently been feeling I was coming to a crossroads in my life. I basically figured I had 3 options: Go to grad school, go on a mission, or work and travel and play. The bishop told me I needed to figure out if a mission was logistically plausible and suggested I have my dad give me a blessing of counsel. I asked him for one that day, but we were busy. The following day my brother was being set apart since he was flying out Tuesday to go to the Missionary Training Center in Brazil. The stake presidency came to our house that night and my brother received a beautiful blessing that brought tears to everybody’s eyes. When they left, my family and my grandparents sat around the kitchen table discussing my brother and missions. My brother read his patriarchal blessing aloud and then each of us ended up reading ours as well. As I started to read mine, answers from long sessions of prayer and scripture study began to wash over me.. feelings of peace and love overwhelmed me and I had to choke back tears to hide it from everyone else. As I progressed further into the blessing it discussed spreading the Gospel and that I would take part in spreading it in ways that the Lord would make known to me. (that’s a small paraphrase of the basic idea) my grandma’s immediate reaction was, *gasp* “a mission!” I thought that was interesting considering that she didn’t know my recent thoughts, coupled with her consistent example of faith and being in tune with the spirit. Later that night, my dad gave Clarke (my brother) a father’s blessing. It was also incredible and a little more personal to him and it brought me to tears again because, up to that point, I’d been having a really hard time with him leaving. We are very close and I felt like I was losing a best friend. During that blessing I was filled with comfort, and after that I just felt excitement and happiness for him for this grand adventure he was about to have. The next day when we took him to the airport, I watched him walk away and felt excited about and almost a little jealous of what lay ahead of him.

But back to Monday night.. then came my turn. My dad gave me the blessing I’d asked for, and it was the most powerful blessing I have ever had. The Spirit was so strong it was almost tangible. Every word that came out of his mouth was an answer to my personal prayers — things my dad could never have known were weighing heavy on my mind and heart. Again he talked about Heavenly Father’s enormous love for me and I felt surrounded by love and peace, but also very exposed and humble. Heavenly Father knows me inside and out. He knows every nook and cranny; every subtlety. I became very aware that He is completely mindful of me, despite my insignificance and my headstrong rebellion. My dad went on to talk about the direction my life should take. Up until this time, I had thought it might be one of those situations where I had several good options before me and Heavenly Father would be fine with whatever I decided to do. However, my dad said in the blessing that there is one specific thing I was supposed to be doing and that God had a specific purpose and plan for me at that time. This, in and of itself, was a tremendous help and comfort. My dad said he wished he could tell me at that time what it was, but that Heavenly Father wanted me to study it out in my mind like it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, and to go to Him in humble prayer.

Just then I had the distinct impression and image of Heavenly Father as my father — not just God. I’ve never felt that so strongly before, and I felt even more humbled at the time, getting a glimpse of just how glorious He is and just how lowly and small I am. My dad told me the answer would be coming quickly and that I would not have to wait long for it, as time was of the essence. Immediately following the blessing, my dad said that he had the distinct impression that it was really only one of two choices: mission or grad school.
Boom. I probably would have opted to stay and work and travel to Europe and explore life if it was up to me.. but the Lord knows me better than I do.

For the next week, I prayed and thought and talked it out and prayed and thought some more. I felt mixed feelings when I thought about a mission because I knew what a sacrifice it would be to leave everything behind and go to some random place to work my butt off. I was under no illusion that it would be easy. I also considered the financial and emotional strain on my parents. I didn’t want to leave normal music and clothes and friends and dating and all of my mundane little me-world things behind.. but I also thought that not being willing to give that up for awhile to serve the Lord would be selfish of me, and despite all the hesitations, I felt like the lifelong blessings that would result from it would far outweigh the drawbacks, and make it all worth it. I loved the idea of attaining that higher level of spirituality, and how could I not want to go out and share this beautiful Gospel with others who don’t have it in their lives?

Conversely, when I thought about grad school, I had zero positive feelings. That could have been because the prospect of more school sounded about as appealing as gnawing my arms off at that point, or it could have been guidance from the Spirit. Maybe both.

I continued to wrestle with the idea, coming back multiple times to a feeling I had had maybe a year prior that I should serve a mission, though at that point it wasn’t the right time yet. I thought about the scripture in D&C 6:22-23 that says, “cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart… did I not speak peace to your mind concerning this matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” I wondered if God had already given me my answer, so I decided after much prayer and deliberation that I would move forward in the direction of a mission and let the Lord either confirm it or say no.

October 19th rolled around and I went to my institute class with Brother Keaton, a dear family friend. He had us sit on the floor with our eyes closed. He turned off the lights and turned on a piano arrangement of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” while he read the account in the Book of Mormon from 3 Nephi 11 of Christ coming to the Americas after his Resurrection. It was powerful. Suddenly I felt a tingly feeling in my chest that manifested to me that the Lord loves me more than I can comprehend and that I was supposed to serve a mission. It slapped me in the face.
(I should also mention that I have been sitting here listening to a mix of music from my mission throughout the composition of this post and “ironically” “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” started playing as I wrote this section of the story. This just gets better.)

I went home and told my mom I was going on a mission. That night, I went to my home stake institute class. I know it’s a lot of institute in one day, but I needed spiritual guidance. Guess what the lesson was on?
Yeah. Missionary work. I felt like I was being kicked in the face at this point.. like, “Hello. Can I make this any more clear? You are supposed to go.” One scripture in particular was poignant, D&C 31:3 “Life up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come: and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy to this generation.”

Got it. I can take a hint.

From there it all fell into place. I entered the MTC to prepare for service in the Florida Tampa Mission on May 23 of 2007 and never looked back.

I don’t know if anyone will even care to read this post, since it’s turned out to be so long.. but if it helps someone, then I’m happy. I know I needed to talk about it tonight. I can never doubt the reality of the answer I got that I needed to serve a mission, and the multiple confirmations throughout that year and a half that I was in the right place, learning the right language, with the right people.

If you are unfamiliar with many of the terms/phraseology I’ve used in this post (because it’s definitely weird if you haven’t been Mormon culture-ified), check out http://www.mormon.org or ask me. I’ll explain.

The church is true, folks.

It really is true.

stick this in your pants and shake it

ohmygash.

did I seriously go the entire month of september without posting a single thing?

I am a joke of a blogger.

ahem. I missed so much ish I don’t even know where to begin. let’s just say… that I had the craziest 48 hours of my life on a road trip to L.A. to see SoCo yet again the weekend after I saw them in SLC.. and that was so boss. during which time Cam and I bonded with our new adorable roommate, Natalie. we picked her up when the stork dropped her on our porch from the lovely state of Washington.. and we couldn’t be happier about our newest addition.



So then.. it was Labor Day. and that called for a trip to Angie’s cabin at Bear Lake. ahhh yeaahyuh. it was a perfect (and perfectly confusing) little weekend getaway, getting into all sorts of shenanigans. here’s Abe and I on the deck (being rihtards) overlooking the lake:

following which.. more madness ensued. I’ve been going on a slew of dates lately.. so that’s cool. but it also means I neglect things like blogs, etc. funny how when you have a life you don’t have time to talk about it, eh?

anyway, the most recent exciting news to share comes in the form of conference weekend this past Fri-Sun. for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is LDS General Conference. it happens twice a year and those two weekends probably win my favorite weekends out of the whole year. I get so excited and happy and filled from the outpouring of the Spirit and revelation through inspired church leaders.

and I think I should have known by now, but I didn’t even think about the fact that I just needed to reserve the whole weekend for mission reunion activities. Friday night was my official mission reunion, the first one with the mission president and his wife actually being released and able to attend. it was the BEST! but the most overwhelming and fabulous part was when my favorite companion from New Zealand (you might remember her from this post), Audrey Nonoa, decided to show up and surprise me. I literally about had a brain aneurism and screamed and jumped on her little 5’2″ frame. here’s us with the gorgeous Kristi Jensen.. another fave from the mission:

she stayed with me that night and we hung out with mission people throughout the weekend. the only thing that threw a big wrench into our fun was the fact that I had to work an extra Saturday in order to get certified to teach CPR to my students, so I had to drop her off at a friend’s after 3 hours of sleep, and go to work for a few hours. L to the ame. this is one of the funniest photos that’s passed through my phone in awhile. we were laying in bed at like 7am when I had to get up, and I took a photo of us, but forgot that my flash is so bright that it scorches retinas to the lowest level. this is the result:

hahahaha. it’s ok.. you can laugh… we are gorgeous.

then we went to lunch at Abe’s house and that night, as well as the night before post-reunion, went to a dance that was pretty much straight Polynesians. I was pretty sure I had graduated to the seventh level of heaven. but I was one of like 3 white people there. sweet. it was a blast, though. then we hit up conference downtown and had to go into the overflow theater in the conference center. still wonderful, and we happened to sit next to a member family visiting Utah from our mission. what a “coincidence!” here’s a blurry us sitting in the theater:

all in all.. my life is good. good things are happening along with the lame.

this is me highlighting it. yeah baby, yeah!

Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love

2 Ne. 1: 15

But behold, the Lord hath aredeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his bglory, and I am encircled about eternally in the carms of hisdlove.

that was the most poignant lesson he ever taught me. my first zone leader and, later, district leader as I opened a new area in the Florida Tampa Mission, Jeff Snelson, passed away yesterday. I felt shaken and emotional as I considered his passing to the other side, and reflected on the moments I spent around him that impacted my life, serving together as representatives of Jesus Christ.

he was bold and assured in everything he did, and 100% focused on his purpose as a missionary. his dry humor was an extra splash of personality that added to the powerhouse that was Elder Snelson.

before his mission, he battled brain cancer, and fought tooth and nail to be allowed to go out and serve a mission, once he was in remission. he started out English-speaking, which he was when I came out as a brand new greenie, and he served as my zone leader, having just been released as Assistant to the President, and later was switched to be a Spanish-speaking missionary. I didn’t see him for several months after my first couple of transfers, but when I was called to train a new missionary while simultaneously opening a brand new area for sisters in Fort Myers, he was my district leader. for those who don’t know much about mission jargon, the mission is broken down into districts and zones and missionaries are called to leadership positions within these smaller groups in order to run the whole mission organization more effectively.

he did the usual district leader training once a week. there were several memorable moments during these trainings. but the most touching instance in which I heard him teach, for me, personally, was hearing him bear his testimony about the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. this came just before he was to be sent home early due to the return of the brain cancer. my eyes are tearing up as I write this, remembering the Spirit that I felt that day. he shared his favorite scripture, 2 Nephi 1:15, and how he knew that he was encircled about in the arms of the love of the Savior.

I felt suddenly reminded of just how much the Savior loves me, as I was struggling through the most difficult 6 weeks of my mission, and felt grateful for his worthiness and desire to be an instrument for the Lord to speak to me, and I’m sure many others, that day.

Ex-Elder Snelson’s passing yesterday reminded me, again, about priorities, blessings, and just how much the Savior loves me. as I’ve been going through what has been one of the most difficult years of my life (seriously, 2010 hates me) I needed that reminder that he’s there, lifting me up and allowing me to become what he needs me to be. I know I am “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”

he’s the tall, red-headed one in the back, standing next to me.

I know you’re serving as valiantly on the other side as you did in this life, Jeff Snelson.

thank you for touching my life.

I like to blog about things that don’t matter.

ha, I noticed the other day that I primarily post things on my blog that are insignificant.. either because the little things mostly occupy my little mind or I don’t want to talk about the big things. but whatev. sorry I don’t always do the obligatory holiday posts or talk about the significant activities that go on in my life. I’m sure you’d much prefer to read about my latest fashion conquest or the fact that I just made my pizza look like a disaster trying to pick off the cheese and then put the toppings back on and even cut out some of the fat from the ham on the hawaiian slice.. and my co-worker made fun of me. (this is a usual occurance when I eat pizza. there is always a fascinated, amused observer.) or how I found a footie sock and a dryer sheet attached to the inside of my shirt throughout the course of the day today at work. that was pretty awesome.

but guys… isn’t life hilarious?
it’s just too good to be made up.

lately:

I got in an accident Monday pulling out of Target because there was a vehicle right in the blind spot behind my panel on the right side of the windshield. didn’t see her till the last second. smashed up Victoria the Volvo on the front right headlight and bumper. (she’s been in the shop since Wednesday.) the poor sweet girl’s SUV was not driveable. the drive train was hanging under the car. towed. citation. (my blessings for going to FHE, no doubt.)


I got in an accident Tuesday. I had just come from a QA critique w/my bosses, listening to myself unknowingly recorded on a phone call. stressful. hate those. waited to get on the on-ramp to the freeway (on the way to go get my car estimated) guy started moving and I pressed the gas and checked my blind spot right as he decided to stop suddenly. bam. damaged the bumper of my parents’ beater car for teenagers – the Esqui (a.k.a. Ford Escort) and the dude’s way old Volkswagon. citation.

then Thursday I was driving Esqui to work and lo and behold she stopped running. stranded on the side of the freeway. oh, wonderful.. I left my cell phone on my bed at home. I waited.. and waited.. nobody stopped. got out and started to hike up the freeway entrance in stiletto heels. finally a lady stopped and let me use her cell phone. dad rescued me and took me to work. turns out the car just ran out of gas and the gauge is kind of sticky so I was oblivious. ridiculous.

due to my excessive issues with vehicles (seriously, do you know anybody who has more car problems than I do?) and the amount of money they cost me, no school for me for now. not panning out. plans have faceplanted.

and not only no school, but plans to move out with Cam and Tara.. delayed. excitement placed on hold.

my job is.. it is.. somethin. burning me out to the core? killing me softly with its song? yep.

due to my recent crippling heartbreak in December, I was sworn to hate men for all eternity, or at least for a few months, while I recovered. didn’t care and nor did I have the emotional capacity to try. nope. boom! steamrolled by a someone who wants to be the someone. maybe a break wasn’t quite in the cards at the moment. he’s moving here from Florida for school. night and day difference in maturity level and commitment. my emotional mind is gradually changing. we’ll see how this goes.  (but what is WITH the long-distance magnetism?! I am a romantic joke!)

and continuing on the plus side, I have the best friends:

  • awesome mini mission reunion with ten of the coolest kids from the FTM at Chino’s homecoming
  • rockin CES fireside “date” with Saucy
  • FHE with Tara and Mark, etc.. which was cool till the whole smashing Victoria thing
  • institute, dinner, hot tub, Wii Super Mario Bros, consistently awesome adventures with Cam Bam
  • Thai Orchid and The Brothers Bloom with Michelle and Cam Bam
  • very amusing Sunday night gatherings at the Reeds

and the list goes on. kind of like how this post has gone on. for a really long time.

k I’m done now. firmly resolute in laughing in the face of whatever life has to throw at me.

it’s a beautiful day outside and I’m off in 30! kisses!

goooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!

well. shall I point out the obvious again and apologize for how bitter my last post was?

…after considering it, I think not.
for 2 reasons:

1. this is my blog. I do what I want.

2. that’s actually how I feel. so I’m not gonna put up a front of happy shiny perfection, because that’s not what life has been like lately. and sometimes that’s how it goes, so it’s ok.

(sidenote: sometimes I just want to vent my whole hot conflicted gut mess here and I wonder if I should consider restricting the viewers of my blog  or if I should have made it anonymous, but it’s too late for that ish. you know who I am. and I hate the  private blog hassle. so, I’ll stick to venting the most personal stuff in other areas, even though it would be convenient here. I know, I know.. everyone wants to hear the most juicy stories, but I can’t risk posting stuff like that on a public internet site. sorry kidlets.)

ANYway. my point in writing to you today is to share with you my goals for 2010.. because it is time to start anew. complete upheaval of everything you thought and planned has a way of spinning you. and it seems like everybody lately is oh so positive about life and a new year. I’m not gonna lie, I mostly liked 2009. I consider December to be its own entity entirely. but overall, the year after my mission treated me kindly. and now it’s time to figure out what’s up with me in a new decade. weird. it’s 2010? no freaking way.

Item 1: learn good posture. (seriously. I need to stop with the slumpies, especially when I sit. I know it’ll make me real tall and intimidating and everything, but it’s just good business.. for my back.)
Item 2: go to Europe. this is my lifelong dream. London screams my name. this needs to happen oh. so. bad. now. while I am so conveniently single. because we all know time and freedom do not multiply exponentially with age.
Item 3: forgive. purge hate. move past it and emerge cleansed and beautified.
Item 4: go to Vegas w/the girls, Wendover (for B-B-B-Boyz II Men!), and Hawaii (for Nonoa’s graduation and whatever else). I know. traveling is big on my list this year. and Florida to visit my mission would be fab tambien. oh and Chicago. kthanks. (my bank account might say that I have to restrict it to one big trip this year, but we shall see.)
Item 5: before this traveling happens.. pay off my Mac Daddy. (a.k.a. my lovely computer)
Item 6: find a new job.
Item 7: start cello lessons.
Item 8: use my Spanish scriptures in daily scripture study.
Item 9: less Facebook, more reading.
Item 10: try not to hate guys and anything related to dating. 🙂

it’s gonna be this kind of a year… the kind where I wear ties on my head just because I want to.
(I love that photo that my friend Colb took. he’s a super talented photographer, so y’all should check him out and employ him. but I’m not gonna lie, at first I didn’t recognize myself when I came across it.)

with love,
Aubrey

sunbeam

given that my vent session yesterday probably came off as a tad bit.. um.. negative, maybe?.. I decided I would write a sunbeam post.

this is partially for me, because lately I have felt myself slipping into a slumpy, slightly antisocial, rut in my life in general. a positive kick in the head might help. maybe. and it’s also partially because my gorgeous, hilarious, super stylin friend, Erica (a.k.a. Rica.. que quiere decir “rich and tasty” in espanish. perfect.) nominated me as a “Kreativ Blogger.” woop woop! (p.s. Rica, you nailed it when you said we laugh till we stop breathing. every time. it’s my faaavorite.) so.. here it goes.

1. Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog.
Idk what this is referring to. not gonna lie.

2. Thank the wonderful person that nominated you and link their blog.
done.

3. Write 7 things about yourself we don’t know.

1. I have had exactly 12 jobs. and I want a new one.

2. I basically like everything that is peach or guava flavored. just saying it makes my mouth water.

3. one time.. I had a gun pulled on me. while I was tracting as a missionary in Fort Myers, FL. he was an angry man. as you can see, however, I made it out alive.

4. I know an embarrassing amount about Disney movies. seriously. I own “Disney Scene It” every time. I’m the oldest of 5 kids, ok?

5.  my favorite store is Target.. classy yet affordable, and therefore super dangerous to my bank account.

6. I am addicted to Bubble Breaker on my phone. whenever I have a dull moment, I pull it out. or when I’m on a phone call with a babbler at the crisis line. it helps my A.D.D. mind focus. and I just got a new phone exactly a week ago because the other one wigged out on me and stopped sending and receiving messages. and just since then my little counter says I’ve already played 303 games of it. oops.

7. I just barely stuffed tissues into the toes of my shoes because they are too big. and when heels this tall are too big, walking is almost impossible. this compressed tissue thing works like a charm.

I think I will skip the nomination part, except to say that I nominate any reader who would like to play this game.

and secondly, I’m going to add my own little dash of something extra to this post.. because I have not yet blogged anything about Thanksgiving. I really like Thanksgiving. it is delicious, but more importantly, it is important. it always seems to get leap-frogged because Christmas is just so dang awesome that everyone wants to sprint to it.
but it’s also important to be thankful for what we have. Heavenly Father blesses us in a lot of little and big ways on a daily basis, and I would just like to take a moment to write a small list of things that make me feel blessed.

1. a wicked awesome family who thinks I’m funny and who loves me even when I’m ugly
2. alone moments in the car when I can turn up the music and sing at the top of my lungs
3. friends who are beautiful, hilarious, talented, and love me for me.. they’re so cool that I sometimes think people just like me for my friends
4. the ability to create and appreciate creativity
5. hot milk steamers, cold fruit smoothies, peach rings, and grandpa’s mashed potatoes
6. a closet full of cute things to wear
7. a warm house and a soft bed complete with my down comforter and my boyfriend–the electric blanket
8. hugs… big ones.
9. the fact that I have a job.. and cool co-workers
10. and more than anything else… my knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it heals my soul and fills me with peace

happy holiday season guys, and I hope your snowflakes all have sunbeams shining through them.

coming to grips

ever since I served my 18 months in sunny, humid, sweltering Florida… my blood has thinned. and I mean that literally. a girl who worked in a blood lab who was in my student ward confirmed this scientific fact. blood actually gets thinner in warm climates. I used to be a champ in the cold.. I was reared in Utah where it goes all freezing from October to sometimes even May. I know about snow and ice (both black and white) and frost and hail and freezing rain and inversion and all those other inclement weather vocabulary terms. but now.. I am weak sauce. completely. absolutely. weak. sauce. (i.e. I am wrapped up in a blanket in my office as I write this post because it’s SO BLOODY COLD IN HERE!)
I can’t hack it anymore. and I just have been wanting and wanting for the summer to hold on and heat me.. to lay on more sand grains and let those rays sweep over me. to deepen and tone this bronze glow I have been working on.. (WHICH, by the way.. leaves SO frustratingly fast. why must it fade away so quickly? come on damaged skin cells! stay with me! I thought you loved me as much as I loved you!)
but now.. I am finally coming to grips. I have re-awoken to the realization that fall is my absolute favorite season.. it always has been. I love the colors, the leaves, the clothes, the smells, the feeling, the sports, the holidays, the inexplicable undertone of exciting promise that always dances around me as it approaches.. it’s beautiful.

thank you, fall.. autumn.. otoño.. whatever you want to call yourself.. for helping me love you again.. even if you drag ice behind you as you go, I shall enjoy your every lovely moment.