Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sacrament Meeting Talk...

Singles ward. Sacrament. Poor little male speaking. Check out the high dosages of enlightening that went down:

"My seminary teacher once told us that we should pray for our future spouse. So I just think that's something that we should all be doing. Praying for our future spouse...and that we'll be attracted to each other."

There are a lot of things I can think to pray about for my future spouse but, I must confess that it has never crossed my mind to pray "please bless that my future husband is super dooper hot. And that we can't keep our eyes off each other because of the ridiculous amounts of physical attraction that we'll have for each other." haha I may or may not have laughed a little bit (along with several other people) when this seminary teacher pass-along was bestowed upon us. Made me laugh. Best of times.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seeing what He sees

My dear friend Jacquel got home from her mission yesterday. We've spent a lot of time together talking about her mission--that was still happening just yesterday--and it has caused me to reflect on mine. What it meant to me and the impact that it will continue to have on my life.

I had a hard time when I first got home when people would ask me, "So how was your mission?". I don't have the dictionary memorized but I can assure you there is no one word answer that would accurately answer that question for you. It was hard, beautiful, fun, heart-breaking, humbling, strengthening, wonderful, etc. Someone once told me that your mission will come with its tailor made challenges for you. I had struggles and saw challenges that I had not forseen happening. But I also learned more about myself, the gospel, and my testimony by the many difficult experiences that taught me so much.

In several things, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. It's kind of like what I was saying many-a-post ago in my "parable of the chef". I thought I knew what I wanted my mission to be and what to expect. But at the end of the day, I can't and won't be anything but grateful for what the Lord gave me. It taught me so much and made me rely on the Lord at a level that never would have been possible if I'd just been granted my mission expectations. How would He ever be able to show me what I'm made of if my mission was challenge free? When I was in the MTC someone asked us if we knew how much God loved us. She said that if we didn't know, we should go back to our rooms that night and ask Him. I remember orginally thinking, "Well sure God loves me. He loves everyone." At the time it was a basic fact--something I'd learned in primary. But I remember specific prayers uttered during my mission when needing to know, once more, of His love and plan for me would be what kept me going. I think at a certain time I felt I had unanswered reasons in my search for purpose behind the situations we were facing. At times it maybe even left a bad taste in my mouth. But I look back and see that God is the one who has a very clear idea of who I am, what I can do, and who I will be.

It is His vision of who I am that I'll be trusting. He knows me the most, is aware of my capabilities, and has the purest vision when it comes to looking at me and seeing who I am. Of all people in my life, I want to see what He sees when He looks at me. Because it doesn't really matter what anyone else sees. His vision is clear. His purposes are there. And only in increasing my trust in Him can I truly take the steps toward sees myself and my potential as He does. I am happy with who I am because God has shown me through both blessings and challenges that I am good. I'm grateful that I see that. I think everyone should see their own goodness. I love love loved my mission. I'm thankful that it wasn't easy. I'm thankful that it pushed my limits. I'm thankful that it taught me how to truly love people. I'm thankful that I have the gospel and was blessed with opportunity to share it. It brought me heart-ache. It brought me joy. It brought me closer to Him. I know it will continue to bless my life and help me to improve as I reflect on what I've learned and live according to the knowledge that I have.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Year Anniversary.

I cannot believe it. First, that God somehow thought it was a great idea for me to serve a mission. It's not something I had ever planned on doing but I will forever be grateful for His insistence in my need to go. And I can't believe that I've already been home for one year. I remember being in the MTC in the line to get dinner and naturally I'd just ask where the missionaries in front and behind me in line were going on their missions. It didn't take long for me to realize that I should try to change the subject before the get a chance to ask me where I was going. Because they'd usually seem disappointed with where they were serving afterward--which is no good. I'd always try to save it by saying something like, "Oh come on, Wisconsin will be great. There are clearly some great things for you to do there." Which is true. But deep down, I knew from the get go that mine was special. Not only is it (in my super biased opinion) the most beautiful place in the world, but someone there needs me to play a role in bringing them the gospel. That was so cool to think about. Opening my call letter to find the words "Italy Rome Mission" is a moment I will never ever forget. Nothing had ever felt so right.

This post is going to be SOOO long but I figure it's more for me than for anyone else. Here are just some pics of a few highlights: the food, the beautiful places, the funny stories, and the amazing people:
The Food

Italian pizza. Not over-rated.

Oh mamma I can't remember what this is called but the Magnanti fam made it for us and you just eat it off the table. Fun and yummers.

Less appetizing. This is worm cheese. It's technically illegal but missionaries that get shipped to the island just have to try it if they can find it. Yes, worm cheese meaning there are lots of little white live jumping worms all over (and inside) it.

Bread. Pastries. Enough said.

Pandoro. THE item you want members to give you for Christmas. :)


The Colosseum. I got to serve in Rome two times. Didn't get sick of this place.

Yes please. This is Portovenere. It was like 45 minutes from my home in La Spezia. Picturesque.
The Spanish Steps.

The Roman Forum

Yep yep, Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Trevi Fountain.

Little Town called Vernazza. Just a wee train ride from my apartment in La Spezia. I was in that area for 6 months and thusly went here on P-days many-a-time. But I'm convinced I couldn't get sick of this place if I tried.


My last area. All my shoes had died by then. I bought this pair for 10 euro--not wanting to spend much. They uh...destroyed my feet. By the end of the night I'd try to do something creative to not have to stand on them...at least while waiting for the bus.

Anziano Graham just coming prepared with food on the metro.

S.lla Dalia and I cleaned out La Spezia's death closet. BAGS of really unattractive, Websters definition of 'frumpy' sister missionary clothes. We had to bring all of it to the church to give to the president. Adventure.

On our way home from the mission our airplane had problems in Paris. After waiting on the plane for a good 4 hours, they announced that we'd have to stay the night in Paris and that they'd fly us out the following day. We called our mission president and he advised we go see the Eiffel Tower while we're there. Are..you...serious!? We are coming home from our missions from Rome Italy, we are having engine problems in Paris, are told we can get a cab (though it was a Mercedes for some reason) to take us to Eiffel Tower, and they took us the Champs Elysees route?! This is a pic of Anziano Heldings mind exploding at the limitless amount of incredible that situation was.

Christmas zone conference skits. We did a parody of the Grinch. Anziano Nielsen wrapped his face in tinsel...to look like the Grinch--uh, hilarious. And somehow Anziano Nancollas is his dog Max...though he has a stricking resemblance to a certain Star Wars character.

Sorella Skabelunds bed was a bust...literally. It was bent in half. We may or may not have stacked a wallop of old video cassettes under her bed so she could sleep flat.

THE PEOPLE--the most beautiful and important part.

My last transfer circle before dying.

S.lla Margheriti-one of the most incredible women that I've actually met in real life. I adore her.

Shane and Mona. They joined us for many-a-lesson and are incredible member missionaries.

S.lla Dalia. One transfer together. But it was an incredible one. We love eachother.

S.lla Bellu taught us how to make bread and homemade pasta. Uh...yes please!

Alessandra and Judy.

The Rome Zone at zone singing.

S.lla Miles. My last comp. I love her.

Joseph! I love love and LOVE this man. And he kinda adored us right back. After every appointment he'd make us stay and eat bananas squished between two crackers. Delish. Funny. Love it caus I sure love him. He's so brilliant but so humble. I always walked away learning something new from him. Incredible man.

Teaching follow-up lessons to Giusella on Sunday. Lovely family of sisters and a great last district.


The sister missionaries of the Rome Mission...well...most of them

I Love Fratello Carli. He is the most darling man. So kind and yet always good for a laugh.

The youth of La spezia. This is pretty much the whole YM/YW group. I admire them an awful lot. They're very strong.

Ariel and Miguel.

Fernanda. Baptized in Rome 3.

I got to see Diana before I went home. She got baptized when I was just a greenie--with my trainer still. She is always happy and I love that about her.

Well I will stop here. These aren't even pics from my whole mission but my computer battery is about to go belly up so I suppose it's time to close. Saro' grata per sempre per la possibilita' di svolgere una missione. Mi ha cambiato tanto. Ha benedetto la mia vita piu' che potrei mai spiegare. Ho conosciuto delle persone meravigliose. La mia testimonianza del vangelo e' stato rafforzato e il mio rapporto con Dio e Gesu' Cristo e' molto piu' forte e personale. So che Dio mi ama e mi vuole benedire. So che la felicita' dipende su quanto uno e' obbediente ai comandamenti. So che le difficolta' nella vita ci dovrebbero portare piu' vicino a Dio--ma e' la nostra scelta. Mi ha mostrato quanto sono forte--hmm...o magari dovrei dire che mi ha mostrato quanto posso fare con la fede e l'aiuto di Dio. Amo quel anno e mezzo della mia vita. Certamente era difficile, ma piu' di tutto era la definizione di bellezza. Ha reso la mia vita bella in un modo che non sarebbe potuto essere se non fosse per quel tempo di servire a tempo pieno.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Details you may or may not have wanted to know...

  • I found a job. It's a phone job. Not my number one choice. But it's a paycheck and I'm lucky to be employed in this economy that is a blow up the kilt. Hmm...there is a story behind that saying...Paris. Lots of Scottish men. Moulin Rouge. Long, hilarious story for another day.

  • We went to Family Home Evening tonight, though apparently we're just supposed to call it Home Evening now. Hmm. Anyway, we were sanding blocks for kids to play with. I really really love sitting down by strangers and talking to them. I love going home with positive feelings for people that I didn't know existed even hours before.

  • I L-O-V-E working out to Jillian Michaels workout DVD. It's very berry satisfying. Magari in part because I feel like it's getting easier. And one marvelous truth that my mission president taught me is that we like doing things that we're good at. So if you don't like doing something, it's probably because you're not good at it. I think of a lot about things in my life like this. Well if I don't like it, I need to do it (stick with it) until I'm good at it and then doing it will be enjoyable. Mmm...isn't that great? I think about that a lot.

  • I got a new calling--2nd counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. Honestly, I had no clue what that even meant. But from what I understand, it's going to be fabulous and the other ladies in the presidency are really cool so...win-win.

  • I cut 6 inches of hair right off. I am a wee bit of a git because every time I cut my hair, I always miss it. haha Thanks to my pal Mindle, she recommended a vitamin and special shampoo that apparently makes your hair grow faster. Placebo effect? Don't mind if I do!

  • I tried my usual spinach & banana smoothie with some blueberries today. Not a disappointment. I find it slightly humorous that breakfast cereal was honestly my go-to...every morning. Not like I'm judging people who have cereal for breakfast--cause I'm not. But for me, it was a good thing to branch out. And I don't even want it anymore. Who knew Popeye the sailor man was on to something?! Smart man that lad. Smart man.

  • On Sunday, my roommate and I decided that we wanted to sing hymns together. She pulled out her guitar, and I pulled out my mandolin and we had a....religious jam session?? haha It was a good time.

  • I went to the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean @ midnight o'clock. Why do I find Johnny Depp entirely fascinating?

  • I'm working on reading "Standing for Something" by President Gordon B. Hinckley. He said something simple, probably not meaning to be profound, in the beginning of the book. Have a taste, "My life has been rich because it has been filled with problems to solve and associations to savor." Sometimes I read things like this and make audible "Mmm" sounds of satisfaction. I just completely agree.

  • I cut myself shaving my legs the other morning and I felt like I was 13 years old again.

  • I wear a ring on my ring finger on my left hand. It seems like people have been commenting on it more frequently. I find it slightly humorous because it's a fairly big flower-shaped ring that I bought in Mexico years ago. I just assume it's understood that it's obviously not an engagement ring but people ask me about it sometimes. Laughable. Apparently that finger cannot be adorned with anything but a diamond covered ring bestowed upon you by a male of your choice. Yeah, I just like wearing rings...even if they're ones that I've purchased for myself. :)

  • My dentist told me that I have very small lips. He also thinks due to my extreme nighttime teeth grinding that I should go on a calming walk in the evening because he thinks I'm stressed. Since when do dentists make remarks about anything beside the presence or lack of cavities??

  • My brother Cody and I hiked the Y on Saturday. I love hiking. It is one of the things that kept me sane when I first got home from my mission. I loved doing something physical and being able to clear my head in a beautiful place. It was nice to spend some time with my big bro. He has some pretty fierce strides. I felt like I took 2 steps to every 1 of his. haha He's great and it was fun to spend time with him. My darling Paris friend Stephanie had a beautiful baby--Natalie. It was really fun to sit and talk with Steph for a while. We had some hilarious good times in Europe and did many ridiculous things that we talk about to this day. I'm so happy for her that she's married to such a darling guy and they've made a beautiful little baby. Mission friend Breanna Hawkey had a bunch of us Italian missionaries over to her place. We always have so much fun together laughing and talking about those wonderful crazy italians that we'll never stop loving. In the pic below are Jamie, Layne, me, and Breanna. Jamie was my MTC companion. What a huge blessing it was to be companions with her. She has an incredible capacity to love. I had never experienced anything like it before I met her. The way she treats you, talks to you, interacts with you, even looks at you makes you feel her pure love for you. Feeling something like that has definitely made an impact on the way I interact with people and the way I hope they feel when they're around me. I still have a long way to go but I feel very blessed to have seen and experienced something so beautiful and Christlike in my dear friend and companion.

  • Miss Layne is leaving for Italy this week to spend the summer there doing research for an Anthropology question. I am so excited for her to return to that beautiful country. What an incredible opportunity to learn more of the language, see a new part of the country, get to know more strangers who then become dear loved ones, and have a completely foreign experience that molds your character forever. She's going to do amazing and I'm so excited for her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cotton balls & Muffins

So I had a moment on Monday that made me think of Paris. (Not the first time, nor will it be the last that I share moments about that place and...an apology would be insincere cause I'm not really sorry. haha) I remember before I left to Paris being scared out of my mind because I'd heard soo many people tell me how mean and stuck up everyone was in Paris. Being the personality that I am, this made me all the more determined to find great things about them. I was on a quest! I tried to be extra nice and looked for & appreciated any glimmer of their kindness. I think (at least in part) because of this mentality, I adored my three months there. I loved every single detail.

One moment in particular came to mind on Monday and later I'll explain why. My friend kate and I were walking to the metro (on our way home from institute or something) and I had been pretty sick for like a week. Bad headache, stuffy nose, a wee bit achy...all things that are no good. But I remember thinking, "How cool is it that I'm sick in Paris?! Most people that come here aren't even here long enough to get sick. But I got myself some parisian germs and the fact that I'm sick here, makes this place officially a home and not just a vacation spot." Yes, my friends, determined positivity to a possible fault.

We were walking to the metro, we stopped by our friends' crepe stand and said good night to them, and I vaguely remember hitting my arm on someones backpack on the street when we left. We stopped in a pharmacy to see if I could find myself some medicine or something for whatever it was these parisian germs had given me. I went up the cashier and the two guys from behind the counter looked at my arm with big eyes, spoke quiet & beautiful french, and one of them came back with a cotton ball and some sort of liquid medicine on it. I was completely lost. They pointed to my arm and it was bleeding. I guess I'd hit that persons backpack fairly hard because there was a little blood running down my arm. I hadn't even noticed. So these darling french boys went out of their way to get me a cotton ball to clean up a little bit. I remember walking out of the store holding the cotton ball to my arm and I was so happy and thankful and surprised and ...almost started crying to my friend kate. haha (I realize I'm possibly losing cool points over this story and I'm surprisingly okay with it.) I just thought it was so awesome that these supposedly "stuck up" french boys would go completely out of their way to help a little foreign blondey with her scraped arm. I just thought it was awfully thoughtful. I kept thinking, "Well geez, they didn't have to do that. That's the sweetest thing." haha My friend Kate teases me to this day that all it takes is a cotton ball to make me cry of gratitude.

So Monday was my birthday. I had honestly not thought a lot about it. I had a grundle of stuff due the weekend before and 5 finals coming up this week--2 of which were on my birthday. Needless to say I hadn't had time to think about it and none of my friends were going to be in town on that day anyway so ...I had zero celebratory plans. It was just another Monday. I woke up super early to finish up some last minute studying and a couple of hours later, at 9:30, I scurried on up to take my back-to-back finals.

I got to my first final like 10 minutes early so I sat down to read my notes some more. One of my classmates saw me sit down on the bench and came up to me with a little brown bag, set it down by me and said, "Happy Birthday Mallory". She brought me a blueberry muffin. Though to someone like me, it might as well have been a blueberry cotton ball. haha

How sweet right? I have no clue how she even knew it was my birthday...had to be facebook. haha I just thought it was the sweetest thing that someone would stop to do something so sweet and simple when they obviously have plenty of things to do. You guessed it. I think I almost cried. Partially because I wasn't planning on anything groundbreaking happening that day. But the muffin pushed me over the top. haha Also...I may have been stressed and sleep deprived. Can I blame my almost existent emotional tears partially on that?? I just love those little moments in life when the only thought that comes to mind is, "Wow, you didn't have to do that." Alls I have to say is my dear little future husband has got it so easy. haha Seriously? Cottonballs and muffins? Yeah...

P.S. thanks for your phone calls, texts, and fb messages. Loved them and love you. The end.