Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Vignette

"Three of us could fit in this tree, Tracy. I mean three of us like the pair of us, so six, not three of us individually."

We sat side by side on the wooden swing, swaying front and back and side to side, twisting and dangling and laughing. The leaves glowed gold and vermilion, blazing on the trees as the setting sun came around the corner. And my best friend, who's hair matches the leaves, and I stared up into the branches that weaved a lattice curtain which partially blocked the sky. Soon we were joined by Jake and broke out the ice cream. Cookies and Cream. The container froze my hands as the cream itself chilled us in the fall shade. And yet our hearts were warm with all the wonderful cliches of a fall day. Conversation about Europe and missions and Africans and existentialism and trying to not sound pretentious was often punctuated by heart-felt laughs and excited gesticulation which caused the swing to rock a little more vigorously than usual. Spoonful after spoonful of (too much) ice cream. Impressive insights and shocking stories. And a lot of love.

It was a moment too perfect for a picture, but one really should have been taken anyway. It would show me on a wood swing hanging from a branch about 20 feet up. I'm in my salmon-y cardigan, grinning with a nose crinkled from giggling, and my stripey TOMs dancing just an inch or two off the ground. Next to me is Tracy. She's grasping the rope with her right hand, her legs crossed in a pencil skirt and boots and her mouth open in her excited, time-to-change-the-world face. And Jake stands across from us, his hands in his pockets causing him to be almost hunched forward, but only because of the nippy air. His head is high and his face wears the quiet but confident and caring smile that happens in a middle of a good conversation. No one did take that picture--we were too busy living the moment to think about it at the time. And then it was over too soon and Tracy and I slid off the swing and walked home.

"Tracy, I just really want to jump in that pile of leaves. But someone worked so hard to rake them up, so I won't. Remember that one time we played in the leaves. . . "

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blog Repentance

How many times in the past year+ since I've been home have I said that I will be better at blogging? I'm pretty sure it's been at least 15, and seeing how that's about how many blog posts I've had . . . yeah, we're not doing so hot.

But tonight is not that night because it is late and I have to go read some Romantic Poetry. But here's what's on my mind lately, in no particular order:

  • Russia
  • Tom Hiddleston
  • Harry Potter leggings and swimsuits
  • Shakespeare
  • Feminism
  • People
  • Missionary work
  • Traveling
  • the Future
  • Graduation
  • Trying not to die from school-related stress
Goodnight, world. Look forward in the near future to a poem to dedicated to Tom Hiddleston, and more thoughts about life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kind of Wordsworthian poem about leaving my mission almost 14 months ago

I sat on a plane, not alone but lonely
Leaving my home for my homeland
But then, I glanced out the window
And saw my town

The Green City

And instead of being seatbelted down and trapped
I was throwing golden brown leaves,
Wading through knee-high waves of snow,
Running up Monument's hill
And exploring the old cemetery in the forest.
Walking along the glistening lakes.
Feeling the frozen air in my nose
While simultaneously basking in the warm flowers
Of a long winter's end.

I saw all four seasons
And dear people and happiness
Through that little window

And although I was on that plane
My heart was in Moscow
And I sobbed in sorrow and in joy. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Real World

So, after freaking out for a while about what I'm going to do after graduation, I still don't know what is going to happen. But in this past week I actually took some real steps to having a real world job and making a real world difference living in a real world place. Tracy and I have been doing some heavy research tonight about places to live--temple radius, institute numbers, cultural opportunities, etc. It is a lot more exciting than I thought it would be. But a lot more terrifying than I thought it would be. But it just feels right. So we'll see what happens and where I end up.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


So the title of this started of as something like "Well..." but you know how you can say it with a "wh" sound sometimes, and then add a p at the end? So I wanted to do that and it somehow ended up as "whelp." I did not intend to title this post after a young animal or impudent child.

Basically, I had all these ideas to blog about and just get me writing again, but then I just kind of started living life and forgot about my blog, which I actually don't want to do. I mean, the forgetting about the blog thing. I want to live my life. Quite fully, actually. And now school is in full swing (yes, already, 2nd day of classes and I'm going to die). So we might not be seeing much. Maybe I'll force myself to blog during study breaks at least once a day or something.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pack Rat

This is more or less what my room looks like right now. But more clothes. Lots of books and clothes EVERYWHERE. ANd it's amazing what comes up when you Google Image search "pile of stuff"
Moving is always an interesting process. And it is a process. One of self-discovery actually.

Right now I'm in the middle of switching bedrooms in my house. This, of course, forced me to go through all the stuff that I have just laying around. Stuff I'd forgotten that I had. Stuff I knew I had, but didn't know where. I found tickets and a program in an old bag from 6 years ago when I went to the Cedar City Shakespeare Festival with the Honors Program and the girls who are now some of my best friends. I found my tap shoes, both the really beat up ones from when I did Millie senior year of high school and the nicer ones I got my second semester of tap here. I found Russia/mission memorabilia, probably over a hundred essays and literature tests, and pictures from various years. I realized just how many books I have--and how much EVERYTHING I have. It really is quite amazing to think, "Okay, I am just one person. And I have been collecting this stuff essentially for 24 years, but mostly just the past 6. AND I HAVE THIS MUCH STUFF! I can only imagine how much stuff my parents have! (Approximate answer: multiply that by 10 people and an extra 15-20 years)."

I really hate packing things up, but really, I don't even have to pack up this time, and going through things stimulates the whole process of rediscovery and remembering who you have been and who you are. Which is probably why it's so hard for me to throw things away. Because things, or more appropriately the people and experiences the objects represent to me, become a part of my life and my soul and me so deeply and so quickly. I love looking back and reminiscing and seeing how far I've come. It's an odd feeling to look at something you know was very important to you 3 years ago and now the only thing that is tempting you to keep it is that you're partially sad it's not important to you anymore. But moving on is good. And not everything needs to be like that, either. There's also something very special about the feeling seeing a picture of you and your best friend at the Boise Zoo in 4th Grade, and smiling because that picture was taken 15 years ago and you're still best friends and the only thing that's changed is . . . well, not much in a lot of the important aspects. :) It's made me really grateful for this little moving experience, especially coming to the end of my college career.

And you know what, as long as I don't turn into one of those creepy hoarder people (which there is no way, don't worry, I've seen way too many real-life examples), I love being kind of a pack rat. Because it's been a good 6 years. It's been a good 15 years. Heck, it's been a great 24 years here on this Earth so far. And I have a room and soul full of heartfelt junk to prove it. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Worth It

From here
At this point in my life, I have experienced probably almost any travel nightmare you can think of. From lost luggage, to long long lines at passport control; from late flights and missed connections to those flights that are completely cancelled and push all your plans back a day. I've had short 45 minute flights, and long overseas flights. I've had all-day and cross-country car trips with sick siblings. I've traveled while sick, while on my period, while hungry. I've had the unknown: not really knowing where you're going or having anyway to contact anyone. I've traveled with friends and family and little kids and all alone. I've had lodging situations not work out as planned, luggage break, and credit cards not work. And, for the most part, I am pretty good at keeping my head in those situations. But whether or not it's a good day or a bad day, it's always stressful. Today was no exception. After 5 hours of unproductive, not-my-fault waiting, the only thing to do was change my tickets to tomorrow and return to town. Through a not-so-small string of small miracles, Tracy and I met up again, and went to go drown our travel sorrows in ice cream, free wifi, and the fairytale charm of Wroclaw.

But even with all the times I pulled my sunglasses on today to hide the oncoming tears (I was running off of 4 hours of sleep and 3 months of traveling), once everything worked out and I found Tracy again, it was like, "How lucky am I? Flight cancelled. I have to spend one more day in Europe with one of my best friends. #firstworldproblems." And not only that, but I started to reflect on why I love traveling. I have to stay, when standing in that line for 2 hours, I often wondered, "Why do I do this?" And then I thought of the feeling I get when I'm landing in a new place--the decision has been made, and there are so many new opportunities ahead. I thought of the people I meet and spend time with--whether it's the friends I'm traveling with, or a cute Polish girl I talk with in Starbucks for about an hour about feminism and God and fashion and life. I thought of the different spirit that each city or place I've traveled to has, and what it's like to discover that and to discover a part of yourself there too. You always discover a part of yourself; at least I do. That's why I love traveling. I find myself scattered across the world in hundreds of different pieces. I learn about others, and in them and their cultures and their cityscapes, I find myself. No matter where I go, there is something to learn and to love. And you always change, become a little bit different after each day you really live out there in the world.

So despite all the hours of lines and the horror stories and the cankles that come from sitting on oversea flights and the stress and the tears and the expenses and how much I hate packing--the answer to a travel opportunity is always (at least in my heart) a resounding YES. There is a time to go home, and that has come, but you always know when it's time. And the travel experience just wouldn't be as meaningful without the real life to go home and apply it to.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last Night

It's always hard to find words when something so magical is ending. My summer this year has been much different than the 2 previous ones. It's very hard to believe that in just a day (plus a few hours for time differences) I will be back in America. But more later. Time to go enjoy the last little bit.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Not-Pretentious Miracle of my Life

I wish I could talk about all the miracles that have happened to me this weekend since leaving Moscow. But I'm actually supposed to be writing a paper right now, so I'll keep in short.

  • A lovely guard in the luggage storage room at the Kiev airport, who thought I was actually from Moscow at first, chatted my ear off, made sure I knew where I was going, and told me how to be safe. 
  • Being in the temple. And with Habibullina, no less. In Kiev.
  • Understanding a temple session in Ukrainian and doing parts of it in Russian too.
  • Church with a lot of senior couple missionaries.
  • Miraculously making my 2nd flight to Wroclaw. Really, if you knew the whole story, it's such a huge birthday miracle.
  • Being in the fairy-tale city that is Wroclaw with one of my favorite people Tracy Allen.
  • Finally being 24. My body has finally caught up to my brain and soul on this one. It's weird. I have definitely thought I was 24 for a while now.
And here I am, sitting at a Starbucks, looking out onto the Rinok in Wroclaw, listening to Polish (so it's not Russian, but it's Slavic and everything Slavic just makes me so happy) reading a bunch of lit and historical crit on feminism in 19th-century Russia and writing a paper on how Turgenev's Fathers and Children shows the necessity of women in rebuilding society and making social change. And it's so beautiful and I can't believe that I have been so blessed. Last night Tracy and I were talking about how sometimes we are afraid to sound pretentious when we talk about our lives. Because we really like to do things that are usually associated with being pretentious. But we take them and make them more real and down-to-earth and not pretentious. At least I hope so. 

My life is unreal, guys. So, so blessed. This summer has really helped me reinforce the fact that my whole life and everything that has happened to me is one big miracle from Heavenly Father. Miracles miracles miracles.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Last Day

Well, it's come around again. My last day in Moscow. As I've already said many times, it's less sad this time around. There have certainly been a lot less tears. I am kind of hoping that I do cry on the plane tomorrow. The ever-emotional part of me is feeling like I will have lost some of my attachment to Moscow and Russia if I don't cry. But really, I'm feeling fine. This morning I got up feeling ready to hop on a plane. I am ready. I am ready to go to the temple. I am ready to see my roommates and other friends and be in my cute little Lookout House and be with my family and get back to a normal life.

My plans for the day involve me going to work to pick up a present they have for me (they are really so nice, I have felt so needed and appreciated the past little while), dropping something off at the Central building, eating a last Russian meal at Teremok, and then wandering around center. I really want to see Red Square at night, because I love that place. I love this entire city.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Important Things in Life

Since I'm leaving Moscow (again) in 4 days, I've obviously been thinking a lot about what all it taught me the first time I was here, and what it's taught me this time around. (I've also been having a lot of lovely Harry Potter thoughts, but that is unrelated). Perhaps one of the most important discoveries I had today while eating couple-times-a-week Teremok meal . . .

I could eat blini (and/or pelmeni and/or borsch) every day for the rest of eternity, and it would always be super great and never cease to make me happy.
Found on Google Images from here

Friday, July 26, 2013

1025 Years and Other Things to Love About Russia

As my time here in Russia coming to a close, I am getting more and more excited to get back to normal life, to see my family and roommates and friends, to live in my cute little house with carpet and a nice bed and a kitchen. But really, especially if I had a real kitchen, I could live here indefinitely. And every day or two there's something that reminds me how much I love Russia and that it will still be hard to leave this time around. I've been lucky to have 2 big ones the past few days. I'll try to be brief and not get too long-winded, but I can't promise anything.

First, yesterday (July 25) there was this huge, free concert on Red Square to celebrate the 1025 anniversary of the Baptism of the Rus people. It had it's wonderful, quirky, crazy moments. Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church (think pope or prophet, but Russian and Pravoslavni) spoke, and there was an opera reenacting the baptism and lots of folk music and dancing. Crazily dressed Russian pop-stars. A letter from Putin. It was fantastic. So Russian. And I loved it. Here are some random thoughts. The first is how connected church and state are here. It is kind of weird for an American, where we are so seperate (seperate? separate?) and still not as separate as some think it should be. And not just church and state, but church and EVERYTHING. To be Russian is to be Pravoslavni. A lot of times, especially when I was a missionary, this was very obnoxious, and even at times hurtful (on both a logistical and emotional level). However, my mission president always spoke of how we needed to be grateful to Pravoslaviya because it had managed to keep Christianity alive in Russia through horrible times--years of oppresion, beginning with the Mongol-Tatar invasion in 1240 and continuing clear through atheistic communism. And although I don't believe in the Russian Orthodox church and I'm very aware of a lot of corruption that goes on and frankly get really annoyed with it sometimes, I am, like President Sorenson, grateful for the good that is has done. Which leads me to my second point. That Russians are awesome. And by Russians I really mean all Eastern Europeans. They have lived through so much. One of the songs just repeated over and over again "We will survive through the pain and suffering and all this other hard stuff" and it was just so full of the Russian spirit that they can and will conquer anything. And they are amazing, and I love them for it.

And then tonight I went to see one of my favorite families in all of Russia and we ate Russian food and sang songs and laughed and talked and it was just so wonderful. And I was reminded of how much I love these people once again. And when we were walking out to their car at the end of the night to go back to the metro, Luba leaned over and gave me a hug and told me that she was so happy I was here. And my heart just smiled and broke at the same time, because I love it to, and I have to leave again in a week.

The past little while I have wondered if I was going to cry or not when I fly to Ukraine next week, or at least when I leave Eastern Europe in general. I have just been so ready to go home. But really, I could be here forever. And when I leave, it will still be hard, even though I thought it wouldn't. It will be easier than a year ago, as I'm only saying bye to Russia and not my mission, but it will still rip out part of my heart. I will probably cry. I always cry.

Russia, I love you.
And P.S. Sorry that this was super long even though I tried to make it short. Blin. I can't write anything short.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Missing the Kitchen

I have never really been super big into making food. If I'm doing it with friends, then yes. But otherwise, it's whatever. But I always love eating really delicious food, and everything always tastes better when it's homemade and you know it was made by your parent, or sibling, or roommate with lots of love. But here in Russia, I am deprived of a good kitchen, and it has helped me realize how dependent I am on having an oven and basic cooking supplies (both utensils and ingrediants) at hand. It's worth putting in the effort every once in a while, but it's really draining to make something in a horrible kitchen. At least for me. After a while, you really start to miss eating delicious food, and even making it. Which means that almost every time I get on Pinterest, I die. Everything is looking delicious. EVERYTHING.
Found this on my cousin's pinterest. It comes from here. Probably not super healthy, but oh my goodness it looks soooo good, along with every other homemade food picture on the freakin' internet.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Slightly Mushy Post about my Mission

Rainy days always remind me of my mission. I'm not sure why, because I don't remember it raining all that often, but the mission memories I have associated with rain are lovely. Checking addresses and singing in freak thunderstorms with my Mama. The time there was a beautiful thunderstorm and rainbows with Sister Thrall. Having it start to pour on a hard day and just letting the rain wash everything away. Random times just getting caught in it and being soaked. So it's appropriate, I think that today was/is a day full of mission memories. It's raining and I walked around Moscow in a skirt with an umbrella.

I knew I would miss the mission today. It started last night. Ksusha (my dear девушка) got set apart today. First, anytime I am in the chapel of the Central Building, I just think of my mission. I can't believe that it's already been basically a year since the last time I stood there to bear a missionary testimony. Anyway, I saw some of the Elders I served with (one Russian who I haven't seen in probably a year and a half, one Russian I see fairly often, one of my Germans who is sitll serving). And most importantly, Ksenia was set apart. Pres. Boiko said some beautiful words about being a missionary and what it means and how as a missionary you are someone's angel and how those you teach, whether they get baptized or not, will always remember you, and here I am looking at this girl, one of my best friends, who I met and taught about humility and then 2 weeks later I spoke at her baptism and for the next 9 months we worked together and taught each other and then she served a mini-mission and I went home and we remained best friends. And now, she's leaving and I could not be more proud. We will always remember each other and love each other--angels for one another. And although the past two days I've been missing my mission more than I have in a long time (like being a missionary and not just the mission, since I'm in Moscow), today it was such a happy missing. I was definitely crying tears of joy. I can't wait to go cry more when I am her "first companion" (just like she was my "last companion") and take her to the airport on Tuesday.

I am so grateful I was able to be a missionary for my Lord and Savior. I am so grateful that I served in the Russia Moscow Mission. I am so grateful for Ksusha. I am so grateful for everything connected with my mission. It changed me, and I only hope that I changed it (meaning the people and situation in my mission) even a hundredth part of how it changed me. Maybe Russia is not really "home" anymore, but it always will be. Part of my heart will always be here, and my missionary name tag will always be engraved on my heart. I will miss it--for better or for worse (luckily now that the first few months back are long gone, it will mostly be for better)--every day of my life. And I am so glad that now Ksusha will be able to have those experiences, and feel what I feel. I hope that one day soon she will find her twin somewhere in St. Petersburg--a twin she'll be able to teach and love and grow with and send on a mission.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm Crazy

Yesterday I asked people if I was crazy. Cheysi just shook her head "No" very emphatically. But let's be honest--everyone's a little bit crazy. So I asked John. He said, in his very best Russian voice, "Fifty-fifty." Here are his reasons as to why I am crazy. I'm quite proud of them.

  1. Doctor Who
  2. Harry Potter
  3. reading/books
  4. Fountains
  5. "That Benedict Cucumberlakhgklehglka guy" (I don't really remember how he tried to say Cumberbatch, but it was hilarious)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Resolve

So, in an attempt to actually feel like I'm being productive about this whole job-search, post-graduation thing that is very quickly coming upon me I have spent the past few hours updating my very-much neglected (as in, I logged in maybe once or twice years ago and then never again) LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of procrastinating my Russian homework and test, but we'll get there eventually.

Anyway, I am updating this profile and I see that blogging can be listed as a skill. So I decide to list it. But then I figured that meant that I actually needed to be more consistent at blogging. So...we're going to try to make blogging a more regular thing. Like it was before my mission. And I mean that this time. I can be interesting and fun and insightful and classy again, right?

Monday, July 8, 2013

City of Spires, City of Music, City of Mine

Well, it's about time I finally posted again about all my adventures. There have been quite a lot.

Prague: City of Spires
Prague was a very interesting experience for me. I fell in love. It is such a beautiful, beautiful city. I don't think I walked down a not-breathtakingly-beautiful street the entire three days I was there. And yet, although I loved it and would love to go back, I don't think I would want to live in Prague. It was just very touristy, and I didn't feel disappointed leaving after a few days. And, especially after getting used to Moscow, I know I would get accustomed to the beauty after a while and it would cease to lose its charm. It wouldn't get old, but I would just stop noticing it, I think. But we had many adventures, buying bread and cheese and strawberries and eating lunch on Old Town Square, seeing a free Czech Symphony and Bobby McFerrin concert on same square, just wandering, hiking the hill to the castle 3 times, seeing a lot of beautiful churches and the Jewish Quarter and buying ice cream every day. Prague helped me remember why I love traveling--from the thrill of the first sight of a new place from the plane to learning the spirit of a new place through wandering. Not to mention, we rode a train to Vienna(which is obviously the best way to travel, as long as it's a fairly nice train), which had its own adventures including a ticket mix-up and desperate scramble and a wonderful, spiritual missionary experience with a woman named Katka. Oh, and Tracy and I had fun comparing Russian and Polish to Czech. I was actually really surprised with how much I could read, and how much Russian I heard and saw.
One of my favorite picture from Prague

Vienna: City of Music
Although I fell in love with Prague's beauty and how she taught me how to be a tourist again, Vienna captured my soul in a way Prague couldn't. I could seriously see myself living in Vienna--it's a lot like London, half really beautiful and half nitty-gritty, with a lot of old history, and new life, and culture and art and music and museums and everything that I love. It was rainy our whole time there, which provided its own adventures, but even with wet shoes we enjoyed wandering the streets that glistened in the rain, riding the wonderful public transport, trying to remember my German, and other wonderful things. We ate lunch our first day at a little cafe, where I finally settled my craving for Indian food and we shared hot chocolate. We bought lots of pastries and breads every day. We went to a concert in the Golden Hall where all the performers were dressed up in period dress and everything was Mozart or Strauss and got standing tickets to the opera, which had the best soprano I have maybe ever heard. We saw Rubens and Monet and Rodin and Klimt and Picasso and had discussions about art and life as we wandered around art galleries and the streets. I was disappointed to leave Vienna, and not just because I was leaving Megs and Tracy. I felt like there was a part of my soul there, just like I did in London and just like I do in Moscow.
Our first rainy day in Vienna

It is interesting, because I haven't really been a tourist for a LONG time. Both on my mission (obviously) and this time in Moscow, I am definitely not a tourist. Even now, even though I do touristy things, I never feel like one since I already know the city and the language and people and have LIVED in the city for a year and a half and am living there for the summer. So it was fun to really just be wandering a completely new place in a fully tourist way. No commitment, just wandering and loving it. It was such an interesting experience. Especially being with Megan and Tracy. Not that I don't love my internship friends--they have become such a huge part of my life and I enjoy being with them. And not that I don't love the people in Moscow. But there's something about having been roommates for so long that just binds us (and the rest of our 208/Lookout extended family) together. They bring out parts of me that I love--a good balance of intellectual and adventure and goofy, which honestly, is the perfect attitude for traveling.

Moscow: City of Mine
Right after I got back from traveling, I was off again to Nizhniy Novgorod with the YSAs for a mini conference. It was fun to be with the youth and ride more trains (a sleeper one this time) and see a different part of Russia. Since coming back to Moscow, it's been interesting--not that I don't love Moscow or that I want to leave, but I just feel an itch to go do something else, but also to not. It was nice to come home and know the language and where I'm going and I have been trying to experience more of the city; for example, I went to an art gallery with Ksusha the other day. But at the same time, I have really been throwing myself into my internship when I'm there, to be productive. And I have wanted to spend a lot of time by myself, reading and thinking and writing and even doing a puzzle. I have been noticing things that I miss about America-home and things that I dislike about Moscow-home: the smell, carpet (or lack thereof), just to name a couple. I have spent a lot of time skyping with friends from home (or who are at least not in Moscow right now). I think that I won't miss Russia as much this time around. Which is kind of sad, but is good. Not that I won't miss it, but one thing that traveling to Prague and Vienna helped me remember is that there are other places that I love and other people I love, and Moscow is allowed to share my heart.

Sorry for the long post. This weekend I'm off to Saint Petersburg with 3 of the other interns, which should be fabulous. And I am determined to start writing regularly again. (I know, I know, how many times have I said that?)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Future

Being back in Moscow briefly took my mind off of certain stresses, but since then it has turned my thoughts back to things like graduation, post-graduation plans, where my life is going, etc. My internship has helped me realize that while I don’t hate translation, it usually isn’t my favorite—and that was something that I felt very strongly drawn towards at the beginning of the year when I was praying about what to do with my life. Although I love them, the other interns—some of whom know what they’re doing in life, some of whom don’t, and all of whom have varying talents and abilities and interests—often help me feel not as sure in my plans, my skills, and myself in general. (Note: this is all me, and not at all their actions. They are great.) Yesterday, a blog post by my friend Matt got me thinking about them even more. More or less he wrote about how there’s a twinge of regret that he studied something he loved and didn’t develop more marketable skills—not that studying something you love is a bad thing, but that there needs to be balance so that later you can work doing something related to what you love and not just sit around jobless or stuck in a boring job that you absolutely hate. Of course, he said it a lot more eloquently than I can right now. (If you'd like to read his post, it's right here.)

I have felt like this on and off for a while, and though to an extent I have some things figured out, I still worry. I am scared that I will pick the wrong path or am just generally unsure about what to do. I am scared that my plans won’t work out and that I will 1) be a failure and 2) not know what to do after that. I am scared that I will live without realizing some dreams because I’m just not really sure what they are. I am scared that I will end up alone, in both a romantic/future family way and in a friends/new place way. I am scared that I don’t have any marketable skills and that I hide my good qualities. On a similar strain, I worry that I can’t find the right balance, for example between being bold and being meek. I am scared that the future won’t make me happy and that I will spend the rest of my life looking back on “the good ol’ days.” I am scared that the skills that I do have, and that I felt strongly that I needed to continue to develop (like Russian or music or writing) are 1) not actually as good as I thought they were and 2) going to be fairly useless in my actual future career and 3) the scariest option—I will stop loving them or not find them meaningful anymore.

In short, the future is scary. But God has taken care of my so far, so I have faith that He will continue to do so. I only hope that He helps me access the help I need to play my part in my own future. And that someday soon all the pieces of the future start to come together and actually start making sense instead of just being this big UNKNOWN that right now devours anything after December 2013. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Little Bright Moments

  • FINALLY riding the Ferris Wheel at ВДНХ.
  • Making hilarious bets with John and Cheysi
  • Tickle fights and staying up late laughing.
  • Matching Sister Sorenson in yellow at stake conference.
  • Finding out just how much I influenced my last companion and how much she loves me though word of mouth and by what sisters I've never met know about me.
  • Did I ever mention the time John, Cheysi and I found a dance floor and did some swing along the Moscow River? It was really fun and magical.
  • Watching fountains in the parks light up with color and dance to music.
  • President Sorenson telling me at stake conference that every time he sees me, that many minutes are added to his life. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Sometimes I feel like there isn't a lot interesting to blog about, because really, life is just super normal but in the most awesome way possible. But I guess it's not normal for you, so here's a typical day for me.

If it's a Tuesday/Thursday, Cheysi and I usually wake up and scramble to get ready for class. Our classroom changes every day, and we don't know where it will be until Sunday or Monday. Remember, Russians hate planning in advance (not having phone plans, but instead adding money to your SIM card, not planning interviews until the interns are in the country, not having a set classroom schedule). Our teacher is Russian and very funny. She usually just makes fun of us when we speak Russian poorly. It usually goes about every other day for me--sometimes I feel really great at Russian and other days not so much. That is usually how it goes independent of class, but being in class for 3 hours at a time, and in the morning (you know me and mornings), just seems to escalate the extremeness of my abilities.

After class, I finish getting ready for the day and head off to work. It's about 45 minutes from the moment I walk out my door. It's about 3 minutes waiting for elevators, another 3 to the metro. Then I ride on the red line to one of three stations where I can transfer. I usually go all the way up to Chistie Prudi and then get on the green line to go one station down to Chkalovskaya. This way the transfer is shorter, I get a brief glimpse of one of my favorite stations (Srentenski Bulvar) and I end up right where I need to be. Today I discovered a short-cut to work. I actually really enjoy my walk. I will take pictures later (speaking of pictures, I didn't bring my camera since my battery is kind of permanently dead and only brought my iPod, but my iPod is now mostly dead. Luckily it will still take pictures). Turns out that I passed by Winzavod on the train very often when I was in my last area. Who'da thunk? At work, I sit at a desk and just translate for a couple hours. It's not my favorite thing to do--I'd rather do something with people, but I still enjoy it. It's like a puzzle.

At night, or on the days when we don't have class, I spend my time with John and Cheysi or my Moscow peeps and we walk around Moscow and it's great.

More later. Poka!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Indescribably Happy

This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to see one of my dear friends who I taught in my first area get baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. That also meant the wonderful opportunity for me to go back to my first area for the first time in almost 2 years (I left in September 2011).

So I had this paragraph here about all the growth and little miracles that were so visible to me being back after such a long absence, but it got deleted. Just know that it was such a wonderful tender mercy and miracle for me to be able to see all these large, but gradual, changes that I bet the members or the missionaries that either just arrived or have been going from week to week don't even notice. But I saw them. And it was such a great blessing to know that I was an instrument in the hand of the Lord that brought about that. And I was just so proud of those members and all the work and change that they have done. It was especially fitting since a member of the Area Presidency was visiting and spoke about how real, true Gospel growth is not about quantity or speed, neither of which apply to a ward that has been considered "dead" in missionary work for about 2 years. But it's about quality, which is what I saw so much of today. Which is what allowed me to love these people so much 2 years ago, and so much today when I felt so proud that they were actually running a functioning ward full of loving people who know and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (As a side note, it was also interesting, since the last time I was in this ward I did not speak Russian anywhere near as well as I do know, and was also a lot shyer because I was still trying to figure out the language and who I was as a missionary, but that's all gone now and I could just talk freely with whomever I wanted and they responded and it was just great)
God is good, my friends. He is so so so good. I am so amazed at how being back in Moscow, He shows me almost every day some little reminder of all the good that I helped do on my mission. Because, honestly, so many people don't get that. But for me it is such a tender mercy because there have been so many days when, even though I know that I did my best and God accepts that sacrifice and that it was more for me than for other people and etc etc etc, that I still feel bummed or sad that I didn't see more visible success. But now I am seeing it. Through Sabina. Through my 3 wards/branches (aka the BEST приходы in the world). Through other missionaries. And it is such a miracle to me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Say Something Anyway

The title of this post was on the shirt of someone I saw in the metro today.

Today was one of those "I feel so legit and just want to sing and dance up and down the street days." Walking around Moscow in nice jeans, strutting your stuff, rocking out to your iPod...it's pretty great. I feel so legit most of the time. In addition, I started my internship today and there are now 2 event summaries translated by me into English up on the Winzavod website. Basically, life is good.

Like a boss.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Updates

Hey look! I'm posting on my blog without you having to had wait a week!

The main thing that has happened since I last posted was that I officially got my internship. It's actually going to be super super chill. I will be working at Winzavod, a contemporary art center here in Moscow, translating their website into English (the current English version has some problems), running their Facebook, and taking some pictures at some big events. The "interview" took about 10 minutes tops and the woman told me that I could basically come in whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted, as long as it was at least 2 times a week for 2 hours a piece. I will probably try to put in more hours, but having the flexibility will be really nice. Most of the other interns will be working full work days, but this will give me plenty of time to see everyone and everything that I want to here, while taking other side trips basically whenever I want. But also kind of work-related . . . I had a job offer today! Kind of. A family from one of my areas called me, asked me how long I was going to be here, and were bummed that I was only here until August because they wanted to invite me to come teach English a few times a week at a school they were opening up in September. They even offered me free board. So that was flattering and very cool. Unfortunately, BYU still has claim on me until December.

Most of the last little bit has been spent getting to know my group. I've gotten to be especially good friends with Cheysi, my roommate and the only other girl on the program, and John. Cheysi is really funny and cute. John is hereby added to my group of redheads (I think I have an unusual amount of really good friends who are redheads. It just kind of happens)

Yesterday I got to see my trainer! She lives here in Moscow now with her husband, and I saw her for a little bit when she was in Utah for General Conference, but it was so nice to just get to walk around with her and then we went and ate dinner at a chain restaurant that we always joked about going to when we were comps. We both got sirniki, which was one of our favorite Russian foods to eat together. It was so great to be with her. I love seeing people around randomly--on the street, in institute.

Class is going fairly well. Yesterday I felt a lot better about my Russian than I did last week. I was a lot more comfortable just making mistakes and not comparing myself to the other interns. We have quite a bit of homework though (it doesn't help that I can never seem to focus on it for longer than 10 minutes at a time). It actually isn't that bad, and if I just did it, I could get it done faster. But tomorrow I was picked to give a presentation, so I need to go read 6 pages of statistics about migration in Russian and figure out how to present them. Out for now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

First Week

Well, it's been a while. Sorry, I know I said I would be posting more on my blog and I haven't. I have just been too busy gulat-ing around Moscow. In the past week I have been everywhere. Here is a quick run-down.

Saturday: I wasn’t planning on fully crashing the Zone Conference that was going on, but that kind of happened. Sister Habibullina (X2 from my missionary emails aka my Russian daughter) had told me she was going to be at Central Building for this conference, and I really wanted to see her, and that was it. But then I ended up agreeing to meet Ksusha there at 2 and then I ended up getting there at 1 and it just kind of happened. But this way, I got to see some missionaries and President and Sister Sorenson! I walked in and President and Elders Brown and Roberts were right by the door talking and President smiled really big and the Elders just looked shocked and were like “Hi . . . Sister Ashby . . . Rachel . . . what . . . this is weird . . .” I met my granddaughter and my great-granddaughter (that was weird. I’m not old enough to have one of those) and saw my other granddaughter who I already knew and both my daughters! Too bad it wasn’t all at the same time, or I should have gotten a family picture. I even got to hear Sister X2 bear her final missionary testimony. I bawled my eyes out. But not as much as I did when I bore mine. But it really was such a great blessing to get to hear it. I went up to Red Square with Ksusha and then we eventually made it up to Zelenograd.

Sunday: Church in ZGrad! It felt just like coming home. Everyone there said it was just like I had never left. I was asked to bear my testimony, which was surprising, but nice, and I translated for the Suttons in Sacrament Meeting. It really was just like being a missionary again, but different in a good way. Went back down to Moscow and went to choir practice. Finally made it back to my dorm room, where I met the rest of my group. Mostly. 

Monday: Orientation. The first time our entire group was all together. I like the mix of people we have. There are only 6 of us: two girls and four guys. We talked more about what to expect and what is going on and figured things out.

Honestly, I don't really remember what all has happened on what days. But we've had class twice--our teacher is great. She pushes us and doesn't baby us, but it still nice and not intimidating. I haven't had an interview for my internship yet, but hopefully that will happen sometime this week. We have been to quite a few museums already--the Tretyakov gallery, WWII museum, etc. and have just walked around the center and other places a lot. It's nice since I already know where I'm going for the most part. 

I went to transfer meeting and that was fun to just see a lot of missionaries. I got to see Sister Nielsen, my roommate's sister who just arrived here in Moscow! And I saw all of my ZGrad missionaries who are/were still here. Lots of great people. It was nice because there were even some sisters who looked familiar, but I couldn't tell you there names because they were brand new when I left, who came up to me and remembered me, which was super awesome--kind of like I know that I made a difference in their mission, at least a little bit. Walked around the center and up to the office-area with all the departing missionaries and it was just fun. Ksusha and I walked all around the center and then halfway down the red line--not on purpose, but it just turned out to be like 7 miles. It was so nice.

We had dinner as a group with our BYU director and our RANE (the academy here) director and some other professors. We had a night in where my roommate Cheysi (the other girl) and John (he is a red-head and served in the Baltics with Zach Thomas) stayed in and just talked. Mostly it's just gulat-ing (Gulat is the Russian word for walking around as a social activity, like to stroll or something). But I love it and it's great. It's nice just to relax and be here and ride the Metro and do all these little things that I have missed and see people and take my time doing it. Old friends, new friends, old sights, new sights. 

Yesterday I went to University branch (just because of the metro/area of town, it's actually a normal not just YSA branch), which is where we're "supposed" to go (but it doesn't really matter since we're only here for 3 months). I think I will end up going there probably about every other week and spend the off-weeks in my old wards/branches (all 3 of them, haha). But it was nice. It is a great little branch, and I played piano in RS and then translated for an American woman (young, just a little older than me) who doesn't speak Russian but is here teaching English with her husband.  I have also given my number to a couple different missionary companionships--one of them asked me to help on a lesson the other day but I was already busy so I couldn't, but I gave them my number so that I could generally. It's nice to be able to serve in very similar ways but in an entirely different capacity. 

Last thoughts, that have no other place. It's crazy to actually wander and see what's above ground on different metro stops that I have been at so many times but never actually seen above. I love church in Russian. I have missed so many crazy things about Russia, and it has been crazy how much I realized that I had forgotten about. It was in my head all along, I just wasn't accessing it, so it wasn't weird coming back, but I had just forgotten. Life is exciting. I love it here. Sorry this is super long, but it's been a long week and I just didn't post it in smaller increments.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bullet Points

I love being back in Moscow. It is the best. I really cannot describe it. Besides the buildings in Missionary Alley being torn down (I miss the music!) and me not being a missionary, nothing has really changed. And I love it that way. And even not being a missionary isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s kind of fun. I mean, I miss my mission, but this way I can help out with the work and still have the freedom of a normal person. And also not deal with a lot of the crazy things. But honestly, it really is like coming home. I feel like I was just here yesterday and almost all the pain that I felt about leaving and all the worries that I had about it being different in a bad way are gone. I’m home.
Ways Moscow is different so far not being a missionary:
  • ·         People are nicer. For example, I had misremembered from what I read online and couldn’t see the price sign when I was buying my metro pass, plus some of the ticket options have changed, and the lady was so NICE AND PATIENT with me. I know from personal experience that if I had been wearing my tablichka that it would have been different.
  • ·         People also don’t stare at you. Even today when I was in a dress all day, people don’t stare at you funny. Now, obviously, it’s good when people notice your nametag, but even so, it’s nice to be able to be on the metro and not have a million eyes just starting you down.
  • ·         I am by myself—actually, I’ve been with people for a lot of the time, but still there have been long periods of time when I’ve been on the metro alone. Oddly, it’s not that weird.
  • ·         Some people call me Rachel . . . and I introduce myself as Rachel. That one is still weird. Especially when I’m meeting new(er) missionaries. Because they have tags and so I think I have one and I just introduce myself as Sister Ashby.

Ways Moscow is the EXACT SAME:
  • ·         I can walk around in the Central Building or ZGrad with my eyes closed (well, you know, figuratively).
  • ·         I still know the metro as well as I did when I left—I even remember where you need to be to exit or transfer or most of the stations I used often. It’s kind of like muscle memory.
  • ·         People still call me Sister Ashby. Honestly, I am not complaining. Missionaries I knew and served with who are wierded out calling me anything else, new missionaries whose comps know me or who I accidentally introduced myself to as Sister Ashby, members . . . it’s so great. The one time Ksusha called me Rachel it was super odd, and one of my favorite moments here so far is when an Elder who I knew called across the Central Building “Hey Sister Ashby, wanna help us on a lesson?” (Unfortunately I already had plans with Ksusha, but I told him that I’d be happy to help another day once I got a phone.)

I wrote this on Sunday and there are others now, but I don’t have time and figured I’d give all of you who were bugging me before I left to post on my blog something to read. More later!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Well. This is it. I'm in Russia.

My flights were pretty crazy. I slept most of the way to D.C, but once there my flight to Frankfurt was delayed by 2 hours. And the internet at the airport was really horrible. Oh well, because I got to play with 2 adorable Indian kids who were running around and were sooooo cute. The flight wasn't too bad. It's amazing how when a flight is only 8 hours and you sleep for 2, are sitting to a nice BYU Law student, and can actually watch movies (The Hobbit knocks out 3 hours), how fast the flight goes. Nevertheless, I was so ready to get off that plane and to run to my connecting flight, which I had 20 minutes to make. Unfortunately, Frankfurt airport is huge length-wise and it took me about 40 minutes to get to my gate. Luckily, a nice airport lady who was helping people find connecting flights told me this and told me where to go to rebook my flight. That was fairly painless and I just ended up chilling in Frankfurt airport for an extra 4 hours.

Finally, I was able to hop on the plane to Moscow. It was way funny--I was sitting next to this German guy going to Moscow to "make a party for 3 days." He immediately gave me a piece of gum and gave me half of his earbuds to play me some music. He was really funny and nice, if not a bit crazy. I was just laughing the entire time...until I went to sleep. I woke up right as we were descending low enough for my beloved Russia to come into view through the clouds.

Imagine the moment in your life where in that moment you would have done anything to change what you were doing right then, and it was so painful. For me, that was the moment I stepped onto a plane that would take me from Moscow to America, and when the plane started down the runway I just burst into tears and was bawling and wanted more than anything to get off that plane. Now imagine be able to do something that would eliminate at least a bit of that pain. THat was yesterday. I was almost crying from happiness and excitement. :)

Stepped off the plane. Went through the familiar passport control process, although it was different without my MTC group, haha. Found my baggage quickly and after trying to convince multiple taxi drivers that I did NOT need a ride or a phone to make a call, I ran into the guy who was picking me up. He had a taxi ready to take us to the academy. After that everything gets kind of blurry. I was super tired. It was hot and I crashed as soon as I got up to my room. About 3 hours later I woke up, and was going to run down to MacDonald's to use the internet (I don't have the password to the Academy internet yet), but it was dark and since I don't know the area I'm in very well yet and I'm also alone, I thought that it was best to not do that and to go exploring later. So I unpacked a little bit and went back to bed. I woke up naturally and feeling great around 6, finished unpacking and then came down here. I stopped to talk to the lady at the front desk and asked her a few questions I was confused about--she had mentioned some things the day before that I only vaguely remembered due to jet lag. But now everything is taken care of, and

Well, there's a run down of my adventures. They were actually quite exciting. Also, Lufthansa has pretty good food as far as planes are concerned. They also bring around hot wet wipes a few times in the trip, which is soooo nice. Anyway, now that the stores are open, I need to run and go buy some things (mainly shampoo) so that I can take a nice, real shower and then go see some of the people I love most at the Central Building! GAH I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT I'M IN MOSCOW!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sorry for a lot of not-so serious things

Sometimes I just don't write for a really long time. And for that, I apologize. And vote to turn over a new leaf. I know, I know. You're all thinking "Sure...that's what she's said for the past 8 months..." But seriously. This will be happening. Because my life is about to actually get more interesting and actually blog-worthy. Not that my life has been boring since I got home, but it just hasn't been very bloggable and I haven't really been in a writing mood, but there is an adventure underfoot which is sure to change things.

I don't know if I ever officially stated it here, but I'm going back to my beloved city Moscow. In 9 days. I'm just trying to do so many things at once--relax, party with the roommates, take advantage of the temple, clean, and get everything ready to go. But I'm not stressed. I'm just very excited, but it's all very surreal. The thought of being on a plane heading back home to a place I love and miss as much as I do Moscow is so odd. It's really happening. I told myself that it would, but now that it is, I'm not quite sure what to think. I'm really nervous that it will be different in a bad way. I'm really happy that I get to go back and see so many wonderful people who I love so much. I'm really nervous that my Russian has gotten really bad and my dear blunt Russians will comment on how much worse I've gotten at Russian. I'm really grateful that the Lord blessed me with this opportunity and has helped everything work out since I thought I wasn't going to get to go for a while there.

So, for those of you wondering, here's the down-low:

  • I fly out May 9th (Victory Day--I'm kind of sad I won't be in Russia for it) and arrive in Moscow on the 10th.
  • I will be taking some Russian classes at The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration which will allow me to graduate with my double Russian major in December.
  • I will also be working an internship. Although it's not 100% until I interview in Moscow, I've been accepted as an intern to work in the PR Department at the Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art. (Yeah, way cool! Check out the link--it's an old wine factory converted into a museum/gallery. And yes, I don't really know anything about contemporary Russian art, but I do know how to research about art!)
  • At the end of June I'm going to be meeting up with two of my roommates in Prague for a weekend adventure.
  • My classes and internship end on August 2, after which I'll be traveling to the temple in Kiev with my first trainee (who ends her mission a week after I get to Moscow and is from around Ekaterinburg in Russia) and then to Poland to see my roommate Tracy!
  • When I get home on August 8, I'll get to see my younger brother for the first time in over 2 and a half years. For the win. 
  • Some dear friends have already started plotting about what we're going to do. Most of it involves me wearing pants and staying out past 10:30 at night! Hahahaha
Well, that's about it. Which I guess isn't really all that impressive since this is a pretty long post. I hope that in Moscow I will post more often and shorter posts. But who knows. Okay yeah. I'm wrapping this up now, because it's just getting awkward.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slightly Long-Winded Post About my Grandma and my Many, Many Blessings

Yesterday was my Grandma's 80th birthday. First of all, I have been so blessed with two wonderful women as my grandmothers. They have both raised beautiful families and influenced me for the better with their love and example. In honor of my Grandma Ashby, here are just a few of the many lessons that she has taught me.

  • Sing all the time, because when I do it reminds her of her mother.
  • I can do anything I want, from being a mother to going to law school.
  • The people in our lives, especially our families, are what we live for.
  • There is always a reason to be happy and smile, so savor every moment of life and count your blessings.
So. Yesterday at Grandma's birthday party, I had the opportunity to spend time with some cousins and aunts and uncles, as well as visit with my Grandma, and it got me thinking about where I am in my life. As a background: I am 6 in a line of 29 grandkids. 7 of them are married, 6 (not counting the in-laws) have served missions, 2 are currently serving, and at least 3 are planning to go on missions in the next year or two. There are 4 great-grandkids with another one on the way. There are 5(ish?) college graduates, with more soon coming. People have impressive jobs and families. Let me tell you, newest great-grandbaby Mia is perfect and the only one people wanted to see last night (besides Grandma, that is) and for good reason. And yet, on top of that, everyone was just so happy to hear about how I was doing, and were so impressed with my life. In a lot of ways I felt like the cool cousin, which was kind of weird to me since I'm single and sometimes feel like I'm not doing anything significant with my life right now. And especially after a conversation with Tracy about opportunities earlier that day, I got to thinking.

At the young age of 23, I have accomplished a lot with my life.
  • I graduated high school with a 4.0 as valedictorian.
  • I've performed in front of hundreds and thousands of people.
  • I hiked across the UK for 2 months.
  • I served the Lord as a missionary, and lived in Russia for a year and a half.
  • I speak Russian basically fluently.
  • I've worked 70 hour weeks, supported myself for much of the past 5ish years, held a couple jobs, and tried to make a difference.
  • I've traveled to about 10 countries, and will add at least 1 more to my list this summer (hopefully another 2 or 3). I've seen famous paintings and landmarks that people dream of seeing. I've lived about 8% of my life abroad.
  • Perhaps it hasn't happened yet, but by the end of the year I will have graduated in English and Russian with a music minor from BYU with no debt and pretty good grades.
  • I have an internship in Moscow this summer. International work experience before I'm 24.
  • I have so many other possible opportunities after graduation: working or living on the East Coast, or abroad or even somewhere closer to home. Teach for America. Graduate school. Travelling. Who knows what will happen. 
And there's more important things, like:
  • I've had lots of fun and learned to laugh and cherish life.
  • I have made literally hundreds of friends who I love with all my heart, and of course a couple dozen who I would give my life for.
  • I've gained and strengthened a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of his Gospel on the earth today.
I could go on. And honestly, I don't mean this to brag. They were just some thoughts I've had. I'm not married and don't have kids yet, and honestly, when there are friends and cousins younger than you who have gotten there, it's hard sometimes. Especially when sometimes you feel that parents and some peers and things see you and think you're putting priorities in the wrong place. (Note to parents, if you by some chance read this: I don't always feel that way, just sometimes. I know you support and love me). You see those important things that you and everyone else wants and expects and feel like you're not getting anywhere. These are things I'd love to have, and hopefully will have sometime soon (but not too soon). But you know what? The Lord has certainly blessed me with a heck of a lot while I wait for those other things. How many people can say that they've done the things I have, or at least the things I will do in the near future? And the huge adventures he's giving me right now? They'll help me change my future family and even the world for the better. They'll give me things to tell me kids and grandkids, so that when I'm my Grandma Ashby's age I can say to my 23-year-old granddaughter, "Look, here's what I did with my life. I did what I wanted and, more importantly, what the Lord wanted and accomplished so much in so many different areas. He blessed me with so much love and happiness that I tried to pass on to others. And now it's your turn."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hustle and Bustle

I recently realized something about myself.

I am a city girl.

This was news to me. I have always loved the country. But really, that's mostly where I've lived most of my life. And I loved visiting cities. But it wasn't until I lived there for a long time and then left that I realized that I need the energy of a city to feel really great. Public transportation, the thrill of independence with so many possibilities, millions of people and feeling so insignificant and so important at the same time. The beauty, the culture, the sophistication, the nit and the grit and the dirty. I don't think I'd ever want the hassle of raising a family in the city, but I definitely want to live close enough to a bigger city so that I can go there when I need to, or work there, or take my kids there to feel the internal whoosh that I get when you feel the wind of the metro or feel dwarfed by beautiful tall buildings. I remember people were always so surprised when I told them that I loved Moscow. "But WHY?" Most people were so confused. But not Olga. I told her what I told everyone else: that I loved the Spirit of Moscow, the energy and driving force I felt there. And she agreed with me.

That's what I need. And honestly, just a few more months until I'm back in Moscow for a bit--and also traveling to other great cities like Saint Petersburg, and possibly Prague and Istanbul and Warsaw. And so I guess I can wait. But visiting LA over break and sending one of my best friends off to DC really just makes me want to be there. It doesn't really matter where I go. New York, DC, LA, Chicago, London, Moscow, Berlin, Boston, Edinburgh, Paris, Vienna, Rio, Tokyo, Sydney . . . honestly, at this moment in time it doesn't even have to be a huge city. It just needs to have energy and spirit and a push towards inner discovery. And maybe I'll get there and realize that this city doesn't have quite what I'm looking for, and in that case I'll go to another one. But that city wonder is something that Provo just isn't making happen right now (or ever). Even though it might be trying to imitate a city with the amount of pollution in the air.

One day, one day soon. I'll go home to a city.
Is this too much to ask for?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Been A While

A start of a new year always brings new goals, an attempt at a new life and self, new mindsets, new semesters, new new new. But it's also a time to look back, to remember. The beginning of a New Year is always nostalgic for me, and while I am excited for the opportunities that will come, and the automatic fresh start (that really we can receive anytime through the Atonement, but a New Year is definitely a good starting point), there is something wistful and almost painful about leaving behind the past.

Today I was looking at these two articles/things, courtesy of my dear friend Sarah. I love the words Hiraeth (Welsh) and Saudade (Portuguese) that are in the second one/the infographic. Homesickness and an earnest desire for that of the past, longing for something that might never return. That is how I feel about my mission. Even though I love life as it is now so much, and know that I am where I'm supposed to be, I still often feel that saudade (which Google Translate says translates into ностальгия in Russian. Nostaliga. Not really, I feel like, but I suppose it very well could be the best translation and GT isn't all that great anyway). 

Also today I went to the temple in between classes, and when I was leaving it was drop-off time at the MTC. It reminded me that 2 years ago tomorrow (or I guess today, if we're counting midnight, and the official date on this post) I was set apart as a missionary, and 2 years ago Saturday I entered the MTC to start the most wonderful adventure of my life. I also was helping my roommate in Russian 101 with some Russian and also looked back on the MTC days, partially longingly, when I didn't know Russian at all and was learning the same things she is right now. The longing was mostly for the missionary things, not the not knowing Russian yet, but even then, there was something exciting about learning Russian in the MTC. It wasn't just a new language. It was my mission language, and that made it the ultimate adventure. But that being 2 years ago already means that I've been home 5 months on Saturday. Weird. It doesn't feel like that long. And yet, it feels like so much longer.

I think a part of me will always miss it. I don't think this will be like England, where I miss it hardcore for a while, and then afterwards I recognize that it changed me and was awesome and I every once in a while miss it. As far as I can tell, my mission and Moscow will be those things that I think about every day, that I yearn for, sometimes painfully, even if the rest of me is so ridiculously happy. It will always be that happy missing that sometimes turns sad because you can't go back, but mostly is just happy because you had the opportunity. It will always be what I randomly cry over (either joyfully or with melancholy) at night or in the car when something strikes just the right part of my soul and reminds me of how wonderful it was.

Россия и миссия--вас не нватает мне.