Friday, November 25, 2011

MTC Letter #4 - November 22nd, 2011

Okay, so in honor of everyone who loves to hear about me wanting to die because I accidentally start laughing and can't stop (seriously trying to be better) - So, my district leader calls on me to say the prayer before class (we're with our Taiwanese teacher, Sister Fan, who I adore) and I started praying, and I kept stumbling over my words and messing this sentence up, so I started laughing a tiny bit, like, "geez", but then I started laughing a ton and then I couldn't finish the dang prayer because I couldn't speak, I was laughing too hard. After nudging Sister Winters, she finally took one for the team and finished my prayer for me. It was terrible. After the prayer, Sister Fan asked me, "Does speaking Chinese make you laugh?' I was like "Not usually!" (unless we're singing a fast hymn - talk about stumbling over words). And Elder Stallings said, "I've never met someone who couldn't finish their prayer because they were laughing too hard." Then Sister Fan started tellnig us about how on her mission, they taught someone who would always laugh when they taught her and then she told us that she had a mental disability. Thanks a lot, Sister Fan. Then she was telling us about how one time on her mission (she served in Taichung, Taiwan), they were praying with an old woman, who was a convert, who used to be Buddhist, and the way she was praying and the things she was saying sounded like traditional Buddhist chants or something. Sister Fan said she was trying so hard not to laugh, but because her companion couldn't speak teh language fluently, she didn't pick up on it at all. That's probably why Heavenly Father called me to learn such a hard language so that I won't be able to understand 80% of what goes on, especially the funny/awkward moments.

Also, sometimes when we learn a new grammar principle, Sister Fan divides sisters vs. elders and whoever can extend the most commitments wins. We all love this game, and it usually ends up with us extending commitments like, "Will you be willing to prepare for the second coming?" and other things that investigators definitely do not need to commit to.

This week when Sister Winters and I practiced teaching natives in TRC, the first women were from China and Taiwan, and they were so nice, but one of them talked so fast, I thought I was going to die. The second man we talked to was wearing a Beijing Olympics shirt and had one of those mountain-man hats, with the long racoon tail hanging down. I instantly liked him and I liked him even more once he started talking because he talked much slower than the other women. Listening to people talk always stresses me out, especially when you think you understand what they are saying and it turns out that they actually said something completely different. Our new favorite thing is to psyche the elders out, by acting freaked out when we leave a teaching appointment, whispering towards them, "That was a toughie! Goood luck." Actually, we did that in all seriousness and then realized that we liked the elders' reactions much, that we might as well keep it up. Man, I sound like the worst district member/sister missionary ever. I really am nice to them and Sister Winters and I are always trying to make sure they're all feeling okay and not too stressed out.

Oh, and since I mentioned cleaning last week, I'll mention cleaning again. This week, we had to clean the drinking fountains with poision. Seriously, it was this bright red stuff that kills AIDS, causes eye corrision if it contacts your eyes, and if it gets on your skin, you have to run your skin under water for 15-20 minutes. Yeah. Told you our cleaning jobs are no walk in the park.

Sister Winters is ultra talented and is constantly getting roped into doing musical numbers with people in our zone. This week, she played violin with a flutist and this elder in our zone accompanied them. This elder plays piano like a dream (apparently he got accepted to Juliard), but also a total diva about his piano pieces. They were done practicing, and the girls were like, "yeah, I feel good about this piece" and then that elder was like, "Um... my solos are just way too slow and boring. Seriously. I can't even stand it. I can't handle it." So then he cut all his slow solos out of the piece. Diva alert.

And this week, 2 of my favorite elders to eaves drop on and talk to (they're a total dream-team, I'll tell more about them later) were standing by this window and they looked all sad and depressed, so Sister Winters asked them why they looked so sad, and Elder Soule (he talks and acts really dramatically) was like, "We're sooo stressed out! Our investigator was high the last time we taught her!"
me: "Like pretending to be high?"
S: "No, she really was! She had just had a surgery and fell asleep twice during our lesson! She doesn't even remember what we taught her and we don't know what to teach her next!"
His comp, Elder M: "If this was a real investigator, we would've dropped her weeks ago!"
S: "Noo! Don't say that!! We looove Sister Wu! We're just stressed out!!"
So funny.

Okay, also, last thing - this week I watched some Joseph Smith restoration movie and it totally reinvigorated my testimony of the gospel and Joseph Smith. Lately, I feel stressed about the hardness of a mission, and how tired I always am, but watching that made me remember how much Joseph Smioth and the early saints did for the gospel, and that I can definitely do this little year and a half to share the gospel with others after so many have done so much for me to have the gospel. The gospel makes more and more sense to me all the time. Love it.

Sorry so rushed, always.

Love you all so, so much.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MTC Letter #3 - November 15th, 2011

Okay... so this week hasn't felt very eventful, but I'll do my best to make this an exciting email. Once a week, we do service projects here, aka just clean little things around the MTC. Sister Winters and I always joke about how hard it is and how much of a pain it is (sarcastically, because we always get the easiest jobs ever). For example, our list of duties we have had to do includes rinsing off chemical gloves, emptying heavy mop buckets, folding rags (by which I mean, we had to make a stack of twenty rags and then fold them in half), and lemon-oiling doors. When the custodian guy told us to do that, Sister Witners accidentally diva-ishly asked, "*All* the doors??" Ha, such a chore. We even got lemon oil on our cargo and sweat pants, respectively.

We tought in the TRC for the first time this week, which is where people come in to talk to you about gospel stuff so you can practice your language. It went okay. Our first session went well and then in the second session, the people wanted us to talk about the Plan of Salvation. We got about halfway through the lesson, before we had to tell them that we didn't know any more vocabulary to teach the rest of the lesson. Sister Fan, my Taiwanese MTC teacher who I adore, was watching us on the little TV things, and I asked her if she laughed at all while we were talking and she was like, "No.." and I said, "A little bit?" And she said, "Okay, yeah, a little bit." And then later she told us that sometimes she laughs a lot when she watches us. So flattering. Also, I asked her to give us example of something that Chinese people think is funny and after thinking about it, she told us that Chinese people always think it is really funny to watch white people try and speak Chinese. Great.

Okay, so one cool thing I realized about being a missionary is that my missionary purpose and the doctrine of Christ are the same thing (inviting others to come unto Christ, repent, accept baptism, receiving Holy Ghost and enduring to the end). And I also realized that what I am doing as a missionary is essentially the same thing that Christ would be doing if He were on the earth, albeit to a lesser degree. It's so cool to think about. I'm grateful that God trusts us with His work and lets us participate in it. Also, another cool thing I've realized since being here is how much God wants to help us and my dependence on Him. Like, before my mission, if I took a test, then I know I can study for it and I am physically capable of taking the test. I might pray for help, but it's something I can sort of do on my own and I sometimes feel bad for asking for God's help with things. But since coming on a mission, I've realized how much God wants to help us and that we strengthen our relationship with Him and show trsut in faith in Him when we recognize ourd ependce on Him and rely on and ask for His help. Also, it shows humility by acknowledging that youc an't do everything on your own. I've realized this more with missionary work, because like I said, I am physically able to take a test on my own, but I absolutely cannot do missionary work without God's help. And the biggest reason for that is because I and the epople I teach HAVE to have His spirit for conversion to happen and He is the one who grants His spirit to be with us. (Of course we have to be worthy and stuff, but you know what I am saying.) I'm also coming to realize that you can learn so much more and learn better when you have the spirit with you.

Chinese is still like the hardest language ever, but I really love it. Sometimes I feel like my mouth hurts from trying so hard to get the tons right (dramatic, I know). I sometimes can't imagine ever actually being able to speak it, but I'm also trying hard not to think like that and I'm trying to have faith that I'll be able to learn it. Also, drowsy allll the time. What do you do when you get tired or drowsy that helps you stay awake? Oh, one reason I know I am drowsy is because one of our new roommates sleeps on the top bunk of my bunk, and everytime she gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathrooom, she is sooo loud and the metal ladder always slams against the metal bed frame, which obvs always wakes me up. Love it so much. The other day the elders asked us how we get up to the top bunk, and said, "Do you use the heater to get up?" And we were like, "Uh, we obviously use the ladders." And they were like, "You have ladders in your rooms?!" So funny that the elders don't have ladders for their bunks.

I still love Sister Winters and we still crack each other up all the time. Love that she laughs at all my jokes and I think she is super funny, too. I would probably die without her. Already have separation anxiety when I have to go on splits on not be with her.

Thanks, everyone who wrote me letters this week!! Love you all so much and will try to respond to everyone today!!



Sunday, November 13, 2011

MTC Letter #2 - November 8th, 2011

Hi, everyone!

You should just know how stressed out i get to write home - i only get thirty minutes and so I am pant-breathin' the whole time trying to think of everything i need to say and type it out really fast. Sorry about the capitalization - I'm using a ghetto computer with a sticky shift button.
Okay, first things first, family, thank you so so so much for that cute lil' gum shoe orange package and Mom, thanks so much for sending towels! Thank you thank you thank you! And thanks for the snacks. You are all the best. But, also, i miss the boys so much and am a teensy bit chapped that they haven't written me yet. Even Zoe and Aunt Natalie have written me! C'MON! Other than that, still love you all so so much and i will try to write you all letters later today. The other thing that is really important to me - will you let me know when you have gotten an email or letter from me?? Because I wasn't even sure whether this email came through okay until Aunt Natalie mentioned it in a letter. Anyway, I get all stressed wondering if you have heard from me, so just let me know when you get something from me. Thanks!!

Chinese is getting better. I haven't felt quite so down about it or stressed about it because i have been trying to be super faithful and not fearful about it. I really do love the language and am trying hard to learn it. I definitely feel like David Sedaris' essay "Me Talk Pretty One Day." (read that essay - so funny.) We say eloquent sentences like, "When people no hearken, God bad give gospel." And the other day, someone bearing their testimony said, "I know God is monkey" instead of "I know God is alive." Love learning a language.

My companion is the BEST. Seriously, lucked out so much with her. Her mannerisms and the way she acts remind me of a mix of cousin Kayla and my India bestie Courtney Petersen (tall, DC.) She is so funny and she thinks i'm super funny, which you know how i thrive when peope think I am funny! And I can talk to her about anything, and she has learned that I need lots of reassurance, and so she is always complimenting me and telling me how much better my Chinese is getting, etc. She's so great.

I love my 2 Chinese teachers - one teacher is named Sister Fan - Faj she said that she is in that Chinese branch and that you are her high counciler person. Meet her!! i am in love with her. She is from Taiwan (biggest bonus everrrr to hear a native speak) and she served a mission in Taiwan, as well. She's great. Our other teacher is Brother Mix, and he served in Taichung. He is also really great and yes, Faj, he is super strict with tones and always corrects our tones which is awesome.

I love the people here in the MTC in my zone and branch and especially my district. My district is just me and my comp and a threesome of elders. I know i already told you that, but the dynamic of our district gets better and better. And by that, I basically just mean that the three of them are one-hundred percent different people, and so things get a little tense sometimes and Sister Winters and I always crack up. Sometimes Sister Winters and I chat with this elder from Cleveland (Matt Mays, he think maybe he knows you, but I kinda don't think he does - his name is Elder Tarver) going to Georgia on his mission. He's this tall, funny, black convert who told us the other day that he used to want to be a massage therapist, but decided not to do that becase he gets too grossed out by peoples' feet. Then he said, "This one woman - her feet looked like she'd been kicking car batteries. She had Tarzan toes, for reals. I am not massaging anyone's feet. Sorry, Jesus. That is one Christlike attribute I am NOT going to have." Anyway, love the people here.

Also, slightly funny story, we have been teaching an investigator name Wu Pei Rong, and Elder Stallings in my district, one time said her name in a gangster voice, and so, then, of course everytime someone says her name, I start cracking up. Like even in class. Dangerous. I blame the strict regime of the MTC on my extra laughy-ness. Luckily she isn't our investigator anymore

All the elders think I'm ridiculous because i crack up so easily. The other day, I was telling Sis. winters and the elders how much the laundry room stresses me out. I had just gone to get a sack lunch, and so I was making a pb&j in the lunch line, with plastic bags chuck full of clothes dangling from my wrists, so I was making the sandwich like a t-rex. So I'm already sweating and frazzled and then we get to the laundry room, which is just way too much stimulation for me. There are tons of washers and dryers, tons of people, gigantic fans, sweaty, hot, people standing in the skinny aisles, difficult to figure out how to buy soap and start your washer, etc. Anyway, the elders in my district reeeally appreciated that story (like just laughing so hard) and i thought you'd appreciate it because it is an example of me being ultimately disheveled. . Also, that same elder sometimes just says stuff in a gangster voice and I die laughing. The other day, Sister Winters was like, "Since we're getting better at reading (in Chinse), what do you say we start singing the hymns faster?" And Elder Stallings just looked at her, put his hand up and said in half gangster voice/half Chinese, "Hode up, Jie mei." (jie mei means sister in Chinese.) We died laughing. I will impersonate it when I get home and you will laugh too, even if you don't think it's funny now. Who would have thought I'd love gangster talk sooo much while on a mission?

I am learning so much about the gospel and how to talk about the gospel and how to answer peoples' questions about the gospel and how to teach the gospel. There is so much to learn. More and more, I am feeling the power of God's hand in my calling and I am realizing more and more the sacredness and solemness of this important calling. I'm so happy that I decided to do this. Even though it's been a short time, I already feel changed, and I already sort of can't imagine my life without havng this experience. I am trying to be more bold.

To everyone who wrote me this week, I think I'll be able to write you back today. Thanks for all the letters, you are all sooo great! Love you all so much.

Love love love all of you so much. Thanks so much for your support and prayers.

Love, Natalie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

MTC Letter #1 - November 1st, 2011

You guys, hi! I don't even know what to write but have got to write so much so fast!

So, first of all, my companion's name is Sister Winters. She goes to BYU and is a music ed major and is from Atlanta, GA. She is super awesome. The first day and a half or so, I felt like we didn't really connect or click really well, but now we get along so great and I love having her as my companion. Also, I think she is 100% the perfect companion for me to have right now. She is a diligent learner and hard worker, and even though she has no Chinese background, she is already awesome at Chinese. She is super patient with me and helps me with my Chinese a ton. So my district is me and her and then 3 other Elders who are in a threesome - they are Elder Stallings, Elder Timothy, and Elder Cranney. Elder Cranny is our district leader. We are all going to Taipei, except Elder Stallings is going to Houston, Mandarin speaking. We are together most of the time and have our Chinese classes together. I think that being in a threesome is a teeny bit rough for them, especially for one in particular. So sometimes when I see them, I like to say in a semi-condescending voice, "Elders, how's the threesome going??" They are always like, "oh, going good." But then one of them sometimes kind of secretly rolls his eyes. Funny. They are all so great though. Most of the missionaries in our zone are going to Taipei, and then some are going to Tai Zhung (sp?) and then others are going to NY, New Zealand, Australia, Vancouver, San Francisco, etc.

So, the other day, a bunch of the Taiwan missionaries got called to the nurses office. When we get there, we're all sitting around this table and the nurse starts explaining, "Okay, in order to go to Taiwan, you have to take 5 tests. Four of them are blood tests. No big deal. The fifth one is a stool test." She then proceded to tell us how we have to put this glove on, poo into this little container, break off a chunk of our poo, mix it with this liquid in this vial ("make sure there are no chunks!") and then turn it back into the health center. Yeah. As you can imagine, this has brought up tons of funny comments. For example, the other day, Sister Winters had the brilliant idea of running back into our classroom (where the elders were), grabbing her white paper bag (that has all the stuff we need for the test inside of it) and running back out to the bathroom. Dang, that's not funny written out, but promise it was super funny in person. Me = in the hallway, dying of laughter. Love making those elders mildly uncomfortable. Just kidding, we are super nice to them and always super appropriate with them. Also, let's just say that I did it the most difficult way. Yet another example of how I just naturally think to do things the hard way. Sorry, I know that is all so gross and so unspiritual, but it's basically made this whole week hilarious for me.

For the most part, the MTC is going really great and I really like it here. The first few days were weird/rough, but I'm liking it more and more. Occasionally the food is good (and I mean, who can complain about getting to use spatulas to butter your rolls!), and I am definitely eating more meat than I have ever eaten in my life. Love when thick white paste squeezes out from my chicken cordon bleu. No, but, really, the food is fine.

I had a minor breakdown on Sunday. I had the worst cramps I have ever had in my entire life and I had to keep running around trying to be places on time and I wanted to DIE. I accidentally broke down a little bit when I was interviewing with my branch president because I was so uncomfortable and in so much pain, especially because I couldn't stop and lie down or anything. But he and my companion were so kind and took such good care of me, and I felt better a little while later, and didn't feel frustrated or mopey anymore.

I am loving learning Chinese, but it is also so hard. The other day, as Sister Winters and I were sitting on the couches studying, we heard an elder say, "Depende" (as in, it depends in Spanish.) We were like, you have got to be kidding me. That's the easiest word I've ever heard. Just kidding, I'm not that judgmental because I think learning a language is always hard, no matter what language it is, but Chinese is extra rough. But, we have already learned how to pray, bear testimony, invite people to do things... and lots more. I'm blown away by how fast you can learn here. And I really like the energy of the MTC. Most everyone knows what their purpose is and people are always studying and progressing. It's a cool environment.

Everyone who wants to write me, will you use dear elder instead of regular email? I only have a few minutes to email, so if you want to email, then for while I am in the MTC, dear elder is the best way to go. You can call the MTC to get my address. But if you send something, they are really good about making sure I get mail.

Shout-outs! Allison, you win the prize for sending me TWO letters, Emily, you win the prize for telling me I look like a dream, and Ariel, you win the prize for sending me my first missionary letter! You all rock and I love you all so much. I will write you today.

Wah, love all you guys so, so much!! Being a missionary = totes fun and I can't wait to keep updating you and keep hearing about all of our lives.

Thanks. Out of time. Love and miss you all immensely.
- Natalie

(Editors Note: Sister Christensen's Dear Elder email address is: natalie.christensen (at)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just a huge backtrack.

I have been meaning to blog about my final days in India and trip to Delhi and Amritsar for like, 2 years - ever since I got back from India. And it'd really be pushing it if I put it off until after my mission.

After spending the night in the little piggy-pen outside the airport in Port Blair, we (me, Meghan, Courtney, Kristin) flew back to Chennai and then to Delhi. Once in Delhi, our taxi driver precariously piled our luggage on top of his taxi and drove us to a woman named Barbara's house, who we would be couch surfing with for a few days. At Barbara's house, a young bearded German man answered the door. We were hoping he was Barbara's young lover, but he was actually just a fellow couch surfer, named Moritz, who had just barely arrived in India from Germany. (Just another awesome benefit of couch surfing - meeting awesome people you never would have met otherwise.)

Street naan.


Red Fort

On my favorite day in Delhi, we spent a day with the goal of making it to the Red Fort, but purposefully took all day to get there. (One reason I love traveling with these girls/Moritz. The lack of agenda lends for super fun and interesting detours.) Along the way, we stopped to buy spices, chunky grandpa sweaters and gloves (no more Bay of Bengal, tell you what!), and tried all the street food and fruit we hadn't tried before. We especially wanted to introduce all our India favorites to Moritz. (Side note: sometimes the men in India wear the greatest sweaters and sweater vests I have ever seen – shimmery, fuzzy sweater vests in pink, lavender and bright orange. It’s great. Also, a lot of the women wear sweaters underneath their saris when it is cold. Which is funny, because the women – especially when they wear traditional clothes – are so classy and matchy and put together, but with the sweaters underneath, their saris become clashy and disheveled. It’s charming and endearing.) We also stopped at a peaceful, beautiful mosque we happened across along the way. Except maybe not so peaceful for Meghan, who had to deal with a weird guy tailing her all around saying in his low, raspy voice, "I love you. I love you. Love kiss? Love kiss?" over and over. We finally made it to the Red Fort later that afternoon.

Red Fort.

After the Red Fort, we walked across the street to the Jain temple. Upstairs there were tons of sick or injured birds in cages (the temple doubled as a hospital for birds), and a man summoned me over to a little office and let me feed a little bird three drops of medicine. Oh, you bet that was a highlight of India!

A poster illustrating the ways man can cause injury and death to birds.

The India Gate at night.

After a few days in Delhi, we took a train further north to Amritsar. It was the absolute worst train ride I have ever been on in my life. It was soooo cold, and the later and darker it got, the more freeeezing it got. The train ride was about 8 hours long and since we were in the low-class part of the train, there was no glass over the windows, just open bars. And the doors were never shut – always flapping open in the wind. The train was also really loud and so every time another train went past, it was so loud and abrasive. And because of how cold it was, I could feel myself getting progressively sicker as the night wore on. I told Meg and Courtney and Kristin that I hated this train ride so much that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to laugh about it. (Sure enough, it was already funny the next day.)

Finally, finally, finally we arrived in Amritsar and a man who we were going to couch surf with named Mr. Singh picked us up. Mr. Singh is a Sikh and he owns this beautiful old restored farmhouse in a village outside of Amritsar. He breeds white stallions for a living. He is one of the most hospitable people I have ever met and he loves the couch surfing program because there is a scripture he believes that says “a houseguest is a gift from God.”

When we got to the house, I was shocked to discover how spacious it was and that our bedroom had a huge, delicious bed, with tons of blankets and a shower with hot water. (I was expecting mats, cement floors, and freezing water.) I thought I was going to die from the divinity of it all. We slept so well that night and were awakened in the morning by a random woman in our room. Her name was Rayshma and she couldn’t speak English very well, but somehow communicated to us that she wanted us to go to her village with her to get food. We followed her. She introduced us to charming people, including some of her baby grandchildren and a young woman who did our henna.

Rayshma is the one with the beckoning hand.

Cow manure drying on the wall.

Our henna hands, done by one of Rayshma's friends.

We got back to the farmhouse and ate some of the most delicious food I have ever had in my life. I think a lot of the ingredients came from the farm’s garden. Fresh vegetables, creamy paneer.

Part of the farmhouse. Isn't it so great?! I loved the tile and skinny bricks.

The swimming pool at the farmhouse.

One of Mr. Singh's workers, tending the white stallions.

After eating, we left for the Golden Temple. We began walking towards the main road so we could catch an auto into the city, but Rayshma ran up to us and told us to get in the car with Mr. Singh's brother, who could drive us to the temple. We tried to resist and told her we didn't want to make him do that, but she said one of Indian people's favorite English phrases, "Nooo proooblem!!" So we hopped in and he drove us to the temple. We bought scarves to cover our heads and went into the temple complex.

We sat right here for a long time, looking at the temple as it changed colors as it got darker.

Courtney, Meghan, Kristin.

And we had to document our ultimately disheveled outfits. Grandpa sweaters over maxi dresses, socks with Chacos, fingerless gloves, head scarves, etc.

Waiting at a train station.

We were only in Amritsar for one day, and then took a train back to Delhi. The second the train stopped in the Delhi station, everyone waiting for the train began shoving their way onto the train before anyone could get off. People were even chucking their luggage in through the windows and climbing onto the train via the windows. It was a (hilarious) madhouse.

Once we were back in Delhi, we couch surfed with the coolest person ever. His name was Adam and he lived in Noida (a subcity of Delhi that smelled like rotten eggs/the grossest word ever). He was hilarious, had a "pet" spider who lived behind his toilet, and had the nicest roommate named Raj.

We took a day trip (3-4 hour train ride) to the Taj Mahal. It was for real dreamy. And since you've never seen the Taj Mahal, let me post a million pictures of it:

We spent all day there, minus a lunch break, where we dined looking out towards the Taj, Aladdin-style.

The train back to Delhi took about 5 or 6 hours instead of the 3 or 4. It included being stopped on the tracks in the middle of nowhere for a really long time, and no one knew what was going on. (Per usual.) It also included a middle-aged man sitting on the bench next to me blatantly passing gas in my direction. I'm talking - lifting up a bum cheek and pointing towards me, if you will. It was so great. But, really, India. Always funny.

One of our shopping excursions in Delhi. Wait, seriously, have you ever seen more people in your life?

We spent a little more time in Delhi, flew back to Vizag (where we had been all semester), picked up our luggage, bought sweets and noodles, and flew home the next day. When our director was accompanying us to the airport, some guy got in the way of the car and our driver had to slam on his brakes. Super common occurrence, no biggie. But Krishnayya (our director) exclaimed, "Oh, crap man! That guy is a nerd!" It was a good way to end my time in India.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

recent happenings

Oh, man, leaving so soon. Some missionary related things:

A. My old next door neighbor, Brother Murdock, (who I adore), emailed me and told me he thinks I'll be a wonderful missionary and then went on to say, "I know you have rough edges. I've heard you get angry and swear at your brothers. (They deserved it, by the way.)" Haha, funny slash embarrassing. Also, made me self-conscious. I bet he heard sooo much embarrassing stuff while we were growing up. We're so loud.

B. My mission president looks like Skinner (from X-Files). Meant To Be.

C. The Faj Mahal thinks my missionary clothes are way too un-conservative. When I showed him a floral skirt I bought, he exclaimed, "You think you can just run wild!" So great.

Some non-missionary related things:

Went to the Relief Society broadcast with Ariel. While we were walking with the hoards of women to the conference center, I kept getting really stressed because the lining of my skirt was hiking up so high that I couldn't pull it down and I could tell it was making my underclothing show a little bit in the back. I kept trying to tug my skirt down, but it wasn't really working. Then while standing on the street corner, a woman really nicely told me that I needed to pull my skirt down. I explained why I couldn't and she said to the girls around her, "All right, surround her!" So all the cute women around her (I think they were part of her family) surrounded me so I could lift my skirt up and pull the slip down, and they were definitely all helping pull the slip down, too. (Is this story tmi for a blog? Gah, hope not.) It was so funny and so cute of them. Made me love Mormon women even more.

Wait, have you guys been to that waffle/fries place in Salt Lake? I forgot how good it is. It is sooo good. Seriously some of the best food ever. Ariel and I went before the broadcast. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't take pictures of delicious food? Not the cute/fun kind, tell you what!

Dining with these awesome people (my summer camp besties). Taylor, Nic, KC. Some favorites. I have so many favorites.

I don't know why I am standing like that.

Park City art stroll with Brittany and Emily, MOA besties.

Niels ran his first marathon! The Faj Mahal ran his, like, 70th.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Actually, not done.

Here's a little video that illustrates what I had to put up with on the entire bike trip.

*Also, they hadn't been waiting for 2 hours. More like 2 minutes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Final Days

All right, we're just going to combine the last days into one blog, because this is getting a little old.

So, on Thursday morning, we woke up and biked about 19 miles, from Panguitch Lake up to Cedar Breaks. Again, it was a little rough because there was so much uphill, but it was a way shorter distance, so it was really manageable and so, so beautiful. Also, the weather was much cooler because we were gaining a lot of elevation. (Aka steep hills.) When we got to the campsite there, we ate, showered, read and listened to ipods for about 4 hours.

Breakfasting on prepackaged muffins from Panguitch Lake general store before biking.

The road we took up to Cedar Breaks.

Celebratory lunch. Prepackaged fruit pies, tapioca pudding, and pringles never looked so good. Am I right!

Just being the cutest sibs ever.

And we took portraits to document tan lines and sweaty faces.

Thighs n' tan line. I won for least significant tan lines, but they're still totally there! Win.



The Faj Mahal.

Hands-down tan line winner.

On Friday morning, we rode from Cedar Breaks down to Cedar City. It was a totally fun ride, because it was fast downhill the entire way. We got all the way down (about 26 miles) in about an hour. Brobros! So fast.

At the top of Cedar Breaks.

At the bottom of the canyon, after coming down from Cedar Breaks.

Once in Cedar City, we took a celebratory picture, act breakfast, and waited to meet up with my mom, Lars, and my aunt Bonnie. We spent the afternoon swimming in our motel pool, eating delicious food and desserts, and going to Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Festival.

All in all, such a fun trip. Biking trip - best trip ever. Whenever we got off our bikes, and had to get back on again, we would always (jokingly) be like, "Oh, man, just can't wait to get back on that bike! Can't wait to get that seat in between my legs again!" because we would be so sore and getting on a bike again sounded like the worst thing ever. But, seriously, still so fun. Loved it. Want to do it again. And the hardness of it was obviously way rewarding. It's a really great sense of accomplishment.

So, about that. The Faj Mahal Lars originally didn't have tickets, but then decided last minute that they wanted to come, so they had seats separate from ours. Well, this play had a more sexual interpretation than usual (like a make-out scene at the very beginning of the play, before any lines were even spoken). And we all know how Lars feels about sex. So I was secretly way entertained, imagining Lars' reaction to the whole thing (aka, couldn't stop cracking up during a make-out scene because I was picturing Lars' reaction - everyone for sure thought I was way immature.) So, after the play, I innocently asked, "Lars, did you like the play?"

Lars: "Uh, no. Not at all!"

Me: Why?!

Lars: I just didn't.

Me: Tell me why.

Lars: Okay, well, for one thing: way too much kissing! It's disgusting. Also, they talk to themselves way too much!

Hah, oh Lars. At least he knows what breastfeeding is.

Make up just doing wonders for my face - at the Shakespeare Festival.

Final biking stats:

Day 5—Panguitch Lake to Cedar Breaks Point Supreme Campground
Aug 19, 2011
19.6 miles
Ave. speed = 6.8 mph
Max speed = 35.2 mph
Time in saddle = 2:50
Total time = ~4 hours

Day 6—Cedar Breaks to Cedar City
Aug. 20, 2011
26.7 mph
Ave. speed = 20.1 mph
Max speed = 40.2 mph
Time in saddle = 1:07
Total time = ~ 1.5 hours