Monday, November 23, 2015

Places I've slept

I've been traveling lately and have had several nights with sparse sleep in interesting locations. Tonight I'm spending the night on a bus, and I started thinking about all the different ways and places I've overnighted. The following are those I could remember:
  • I've slept on buses, trains, planes, cars, vans, and trucks. 
  • I've slept on beds, large and small, soft and hard, including water mattresses.
  • I've slept on the porch. 
  • I've slept on the trampoline. 
  • I have never slept in snow. 
  • I've slept in tents
  • under the stars
  • under a mango tree
  • and on a boat. 
  • I've never slept in a cemetery, but I've slept in a house with a dead body. 
  • I've slept on benches
  • and couches
  • and sofas. 
  • I've slept under the kitchen table,
  • in the bathtub,
  • and in the rain. 
  • I've slept on a houseboat, in a cabin, and in trailers. 
  • I've slept in caravans, campers, and sheds.
  • Once, on a particularly wet night in Hana, I slept in a puddle of water. 
  • I don't think I've ever slept in a tepee. 
  • I've slept on grass, in the woods, and on a beach. 
  • I can't remember ever sleeping overnight in a hospital, or in a tree. 
  • I've slept in hostels, hotels, and motels. 
  • I've slept next to a river, and I've slept next to the Temple. 
  • Once, last week, I found myself sleeping at the top of a castle. It was amazing. 
  • I've slept at friend's houses, neighbor's, and family's. 
  • I've shared beds with babies, siblings, families, friends, and pets. 
  • Have I ever slept in a barn.....? I don't think so....
  • But I did sleep on an air mattress for 2.5 months in Berlin. 
  • I've slept in dormitories, 
  • on bunkbeds, 
  • and on wooden slats. 
  • I've slept in the back of my truck, and on the floors of many other vehicles. 
  • I've slept at truck stops,
  • and in a lot of chairs. 
  • I've never slept under a car,
  • on a sidewalk, 
  • in a cardboard box,
  • or on the side of a mountain (that I can remember), 
  • but I have slept on a driveway, 
  • in a parking lot, 
  • and in my house with all of my doors and windows open.
  • I've slept in airports, 
  • and in an office building. 
  • Once, way past exhausted, I wanted to sleep on campus under a tree on the concrete rather than walk to my house. But I didn't. 
  • I've slept outside a bomb shelter, 
  • In basements and attics, 
  • playrooms and treehouses. 
  • I've slept in a gym, a high school, and in a church. 
  • I've slept on lots of floors. 
  • I've slept in 14 countries and on 5 continents (is the Pacific a continent?)
  • According to my calculator, since I was born I have had roughly 9,945 nights. Some of those I didn't sleep at all. But most I did. :)
Just curious, where are some strange places you've slept?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015


Two weeks ago I celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday. It was an incredible, beautiful, absolutely blessed day. Since then, and really for the past two months, I just cannot stop smiling. I'm so happy, I sometimes feel like I'm not really alive--sounds cheesy, but it's true! I think overall this happiness just comes from the assurance I feel that I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I want and am supposed to be doing. I feel that God is happy with me, and that makes me happy.

I love getting older. I feel more at peace with myself, more comfortable with the person I am, and more appreciative of the experiences of my life. I feel better able to find joy in the journey.

Of course there are blessings around me which help too.

  • I'm grateful for friends who care about me and reach out to me.
  • I'm grateful for a safe, comfortable, fun place to live and the independence I have.
  • I'm grateful to be able to attend the Temple.
  • and I'm grateful for a car to get there! 
  • I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to get an education.
  • I'm grateful for my family, and their continuous love and support.
just some of them
  • I'm grateful for clothes to wear.
  • I'm grateful for the strength and health I have. I'm grateful my body functions properly.
  • I'm grateful for my job (teaching German) and being able to support myself and learn.
  • I'm grateful for wonderful supervisors.
  • I'm grateful for my calling as a Sunday school teacher and the opportunity to study the scriptures more.

  • I'm grateful for access to and a love for beautiful music, art, and literature. I'm grateful I've learned to appreciate these things.
  • I'm grateful to be able to use my agency to participate in good, uplifting, and edifying things that help me grow.
  • I'm grateful for my trials and being able to turn to the Lord.
  • I'm grateful God is in control of my life.
  • I'm grateful I've learned to love the rain.
  • I'm grateful I live in New Zealand.

  • I'm grateful for technology and all the ways it blesses my life.
  • I'm grateful for all the previous years and experiences and relationships of my life, and looking forward to those to come.
  • I'm grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and everything He means to me.
  • I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father and my relationship with Him.
  • I'm grateful for the Plan of Happiness.
  • I'm grateful for another year of life.

  • Oh... and I'm grateful for peanut butter m&ms :)

Life is a great reason to rejoice! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The White Chicken

We call my mom the Chicken Whisperer.

And there’s a reason for that.

She’s a farm girl, born and raised on a dairy farm in rural Idaho. Growing up, days were filled with tending cows, goats, chickens, and children. Now that mom has her own family but no real farm, she still hasn’t lost her love for the animals she grew up with, particularly chickens.

But not to eat. No way! Mom would probably rather chop off her own hand than to kill and eat one of her own chickens. They’re like her children! (Only they cause her less stress, haha). Heaven forbid the days when the circle of life comes full circle (no pun intended) and one of her chickens gets eaten by a dog or killed while crossing the road (not a joke, it really  happens)—mom’s been known to cry for hours in said circumstance.

That’s why we were so reluctant recently to tell her that one of her chickens bit the dust. (Actually, a dog bit it). Here’s the story:

Recently mom made her own day when she purchased a group of four chickens. They’re lovely, spotted, motherly hens who like to do normal chicken things like peck in the dirt and lay eggs. That is, all but one. One of them, a lovely solid white hen, is a little bit renegade. Whereas all the other chickens spend their days strolling around the backyard eating bugs and gossiping, the now infamous White Chicken (capitalized on purpose) chooses to spend hers off all alone playing her own version of “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” She is often found sneaking into the house via the pet door, whereupon she scales the kitchen bar stools marine-style, poses like a ceramic statue when someone walks by, and successfully steals food or water from whatever is being prepared or has been left on the kitchen counter. When we catch her in the act she just cocks her neck and stares up at us like she’s just woken up from sleep walking, innocent-like, “but what do you mean? How did I even get in here?” 

Guys, she’s crazy!

On the morning of the fourth of July I awoke around 7 am to see my little sister walking down the street in her pajamas. 
“Jorj, what are you doing?” I called out to her.
“I thought I saw mom’s white chicken walking down the street (in front of the house).”
“Oh, did you find her?”
“Okay, well come back in.”

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the house was full of family and the day full of promise. To pass the morning until everyone else woke up we grabbed the nail polish box and headed outside, our baby nephew and another sister in tow, to spend a leisurely couple of hours talking, laughing, and painting nails on the swing in the backyard.

Our quality time was suddenly interrupted by an unwelcome sound. A neighbors dog, suddenly barking uncontrollably from the yard behind our tall wooden privacy fence, was obviously getting extremely agitated by something in his yard. Then, in a cacophonous duet of sounds, a screaming chicken joined him, waking up the rest of the neighborhood I’m sure. Us sisters suddenly all looked at each other. In unison we said, “oh no! Mom’s White Chicken!!!” One sister ran to the fence and tried to peer through the slats. Suddenly, the noise all stopped. She turned back towards us and confirmed—the neighbors dog had enjoyed an Independence Day chicken BBQ. We spent a few moments in mournful silence before someone voiced what we were all thinking—“how are we going to tell mom?”

Fortunately, I had an answer. Having just watched “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” for family movie night the night before, re-penned lyrics came quickly to my mind. We rehearsed together, then when she came outside we broke then news to her in song:
“There’s one more chicken in heaven,
There’s one less here in our yard,
Mother it’s quite tough to tell you,
We know that you’ll take the news hard.
She went out for a wander this mornin’
We weren’t quite sure where she went
Until we heard a rather big commotion
There on the other side of the fence.”

Gratefully, whether it was because her euphoria at having all her kids home tempered her grief or because she appreciated our song so much, mum actually took the news quite well. But the story doesn’t end there.

The next day, Sunday, as we were all getting ready for Church and the front door was open to let everyone come and go to the car as they forgot their scriptures/shoes/lip gloss/mascara/tie/cheerio snacks, etc, who would come walking through the front door except The White Chicken!

But with no tail feathers!!!

We all stood in shocked amazement as The White Chicken casually strolled through the front door as if nothing on earth were more natural than her resurrecting from the dead, tail-feather-less, on a sunny summer Sabbath morning. We slowly picked our jaws up off the floor as she made her way through the front hallway and kitchen to the back door, where she resumed regular chicken activity.

Guys. Guys! This is not a made up story! The White Chicken, who has since been renamed Dundee, after “Crocodile Dundee” and her penchant for going “on walkabout,” is certifiably crazy. She has been known to climb on top of my mother and sit on her shoulder (like a parrot). She visits neighbors and surreptitiously breaks-and-enters their backyards, for her own pleasure. She was recently incarcerated for a two-week stint in a neighbor’s hen-house because he found her wandering in his yard and didn’t know where she came from. Boy was she happy to be rescued by mom, who “just happened” to be over at said neighbor’s house for a visit one evening.

As I was talking to my mom on Skype this afternoon, she informed me that she now has five new chickens, and they’re working through some segregation issues. All I can say is, may none of them be like The White Chicken, but may they all have seven lives the next time they’re eaten by a dog too. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

oh happy sweet life!

Oh yo!
Where does the time go?!?!?!
Today marks two years since I first arrived in NZ. What the?!

Highlights from the past twenty-four months (in no particular order):

Temple mission! Christmas 2014
Trip to Tonga Christmas 2013! Seeing some of my greatest loves two times in two years. Heart is full.
Another trip to Tonga--humanitarian! Jan-Feb 2014
Endowment! April 2014

Time with my grandparents!

Traveling with my little sister in Europe! June 2014

Blessed to go home four times!!!! April, July, Oct 2014 + July 2015
Sister's wedding! October 2014

Being at my adopted brother's missionary homecoming! March 2015
Young Women's and working with youth!

Seeing more of this beautiful country I'm so blessed to live in!!
Traveling, researching, discovering!
Working, learning, and growing!
Becoming an aunty!!!!!!! (to the world's most perfect nephew :) June 2014

Two years down, at least 18 months to go. 


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Palangi Crip: What it's like to be without a limb in a foreign country

Turns out I sometimes write things and forget to hit the "publish" button. Then I find them almost two years later and they make me laugh! Hope you enjoy this one, a narrative on my personal experience of having my foot crushed by a van one morning after I first moved to NZ.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013.  BEAUTIFUL morning. Woke up early. SO excited to get to school. The start of a two-day conference and my first presentation on Wednesday. Took care dressing. Ate pumpkin cookies for breakfast. Practically skipped down the sidewalk to the bus, humming with happiness and anticipation of all the wonderful things I was looking forward to.

Got to the corner, looked both ways. Double laned road--cars were stopped, backed up from the light up the block. Was going to walk between them to the other side (crosswalks do not exist here like they do in America); bus lane was clear. happy happy happy, oh what a beautiful morning! Thank you Father for this day,

Day 1, 8 am: SCREECH. BOOM. What the?! Woah--foot, you do not look good. Also, I can't feel you. Are you still there?
8:01 am: Oh, hi. Oh,  you hit me? With all your kids in the car? What a terrible way to start your day! I am so sorry. It must have been my fault. I didn't see you. Where did you come from?
8:02 am: Uhhhh, I don't know what to do. I can't walk. Foot? hello? Oh boy. I don't live here. I'm not from here. Mom, mom? 
8:03 am: Oh, you can take me to a clinic? Is a clinic like a hospital? Yeah, that might be a good idea. I'm going to be late for the conference.
8:05 am: Um, I just got hit by a car. Can I cry? I must be in shock.
8:06 am: Would you mind if I said a prayer in your car?
8:15 am:  Will my insurance cover this?
8:45 am: When will the shock stop making me feel like crying?
10 am: Woah! Crutches are so much harder to use than I thought! Holy ab work out! 
1:30 pm: Wait, you mean I can't put any weight on it? And I have to sit here with it up like this for how long?
9 pm: Wow, it takes so much longer to change into my pajamas when I only have one foot

Day 2, 10:30 am: I feel so silly. What am I gonna tell people?
12 pm: On second thought, I can handle this. It's not that bad. 
1:30 pm: I am the master crutch-user.

Days 3, 4, and 5: Life is good. Simplifying is good. Canceling everything will be okay--everything happens for a reason. I am so blessed. It's gonna be just fine. 

Days 6-12: Wait a second--my foot hurts really bad. Like, really bad. Are you sure it's not broken? How long does soft tissue take to heal? Is it ever going to be not-black again? Will it ever not be fat?

Day 13: This stinks. I wish that I could carry my own grocery bags. And that I wasn't such a burden to others. And that I could go on a walk. Dear God, I'm sorry for whining. 

Day 14: What is worse than not being able to walk? Having to move while not being able to walk.

Day 18: Look at that person walking up that hill. They are amazing. I can't wait to do that again.

Day 20: Patience, patience, patience. 

Day 22: I JUST WANT TO GO ON A WALK!!!! Also I can't stop dreaming about running.

Day 24: Really bank? Do I honestly have to stand in this line for forty-six minutes? Do you know how much fatter this is making my foot?

 Day 26: I love you foot. Thank you for being such a good foot. Thank you for supporting me and treating me well and being so strong and helpful. Take all the time you need.

Day 30: Wow. Foot without boot is nothing. I didn't realize I had grown a noodle.

Day 35: Foot, you are my best friend. Thank you for being useful again.

Moral of the story: it's not fun to have your foot crushed. Try to avoid it. If the occasion comes to you still, don't worry--you'll make it through. Laugh! And let other people help you! Be nice to your injury, and quit being impatient!  Everything happens for a reason. And at the end of the day, you will be so much more grateful for everyday you are not impaired. Yay for having two working feet! Having a body is a great reason to rejoice!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

to whom shall I go?

Lately the scripture John 6:66-68 has become especially meaningful in my life.

In the past six months, two of my very best friends from University have left the Church.

These two both served full-time missions, made covenants in the Temple, and incidentally, were both there when I received my endowments in the Temple.

Over many years of friendship we have shared testimonies, spiritual experiences, and heartfelt prayers. Their examples and faith have served, in so many ways, so many times, to strengthen my own.

But now, my friends have both decided that for right now, the Gospel is no longer for them. The reasons are different for each of them, and they are real reasons. In the eyes of my friends, they are reasons big enough that they would give up the foundation their lives have, up to now, been built upon, the eternal covenants that they have made, and many of their associations in the Church, for what they feel is the size of their reasons.

Of course, as a friend who loves them deeply, watching them turn away from the very thing that gives me the most peace and comfort and real Truth has been immensely painful. In many ways their choices have affected our relationships, simply because we are no longer able to talk about the same things in the same ways as we did before. Those things make me sad, and I initially struggled a lot over both.

BUT, there is another feeling besides sadness which I need to express--it is gladness. Gladness that there is a plan of Salvation which includes Agency--the ability to think for ourselves, to act and not to be acted upon, to make our own choices and be accountable for the consequences.

I am grateful for the freedom to make my own choices, and the blessing it is to be able to agree to disagree with people. I do not believe that we all have to be the same. I do not believe that there is only one way to be a good person or to do good things. I do, however, for myself, believe that there is only one true way back to the Lord's presence--that is through the Savior, Jesus Christ. I have chosen to stay with Him, and I will continue to choose Him, even as so many I love are going elsewhere. As much as that is difficult, for me it has been a simple and powerful, personal application of the prophesies of the Savior from the New Testament--Luke 12: 51-53 and Matthew 10:34-39.

Most of all, the words of Elder Pearson from this past General Conference keep ringing in my ears:

I know that most people in the world, indeed maybe most people who read this, will not and do not agree with me. That is fine. I greatly appreciate differences in opinion--they add richness to life and lead us to find Truth, if we seek after it. I just ask for respect for what I believe, even as I seek to offer it to those I don't agree with. For me, that is what the whole issue of my friends leaving the Church comes down to for me--respecting them and their freedom to choose. I do, and I will. But I won't join them. I'm going to stay right here, striving to hang on to the Iron Rod everyday, everyday, everyday. You will find me by the tree

Much love,