two thousand nine was a truly remarkable year - within these twelve months i think i hit both the high point and the low point of my whole life. i spent the first seven months reveling in the wonder of being a full-time missionary and i experienced joy that i could have never wildly imagined. those seven months were all spent in my last, beloved area and it was just such an exquisite time of life. the last five - crazy august to december - i spent in an absolute whirlwind of living, trying to figure out how to be a new person in an old world and what my dreams are beyond the mission.
all in all, i've learned so much and been so blessed. and now a new year is ahead; i cannot believe it is two thousand ten. since i was a little girl i always had big, lush visions and dreams for my life, but for some reason i never thought beyond two thousand nine. i am glitteringly exuberant inside to think about all the ways my dreams have come true in the last twenty three years, but my mind whizzes these days thinking - what is next??? today the answer is, i really really don't know, but i am determined to make it remarkable.
i've been organizing my files and things to prepare to leave the country in just a few short weeks and i've been thinking about how blessed i have been this year. let's take a little glimpse into all that i have experienced - the highlights of two thousand nine--
i spent the mornings of the first seven months like this:
and the last five either reveling in sleeping in or rushing to work at 6:30 am!
in january i settled into a new area with a new companion and enjoyed the magic of the snow in reading. there's nothing like stopping people on the street while it is snowing and passionately telling them that god loves them.
in february i got to celebrate valentine's day with a companion whose birthday also happens to be the 14th, and enjoy an unbelievably joyful reunion with my trainer and three of the beloved people we taught together.
in march i was so blessed to witness the baptism of richard tankard and also i became a grandmother! (meaning the girl i trained trained a new missionary)
april was very eventful: our dear friends dani, dianne and andrew & elaine were baptized, all within a 10 days! i recall being completely overcome with all the joy i felt in seeing these people's lives light up with the gospel. i also hit my 15 month mark in april and had the biggest bonfire of the mission to date! i wasn't sure what the specified thing to burn was, so we just burned 15 flat finds (stuff other sisters had left in our flat). another highlight was frolicking through fields of bluebells with a companion that i learned to adore and ward members that had become like family.
as may approached, i was surprised to get another daughter (i trained again) and sister mcgraw and i began a great adventure together.
in june i experienced the most spiritually exhilarating experiences of my life and in one weekend felt so much joy that i was fit to burst: i was in the presence of apostles of the lord jesus christ and received such beautiful, specific instruction from them in what has to be the most incredible meeting i've ever attended and the very next day witnessed someone i taught baptize his son. you know in the scriptures when it talks about missionaries literally passing out because they feel so much joy? i thought that was just for the books or for olden days, but i experienced it - i almost fainted from sheer elation several times that weekend. and then, i was blessed with my 3rd daughter and celebrated my 23rd birthday in my beloved reading with beloved member friends.
the later half of june brought me to the legendary london trip (our mission president took all departing missionaries through the city since most of us wouldn't have served in central london) and an awesome temple conference.
then came july - and let me tell you, you've gotta get creative in order to celebrate independence day while living in the country from which we fought to be independent. sister meredith and i painted our faces and made homemade sparklers out of old rags and forks. you know, like you do. ha! july was the month of goodbyes - goodbye to the heinously ugly shoes that carried me a million miles as a missionary, goodbye to my favourite quirks about reading that gave that random town its endearing charm (like the big statue outside gilbert's meat market on oxford road), goodbye to people that are so dear to me and who i got to play the part of angel for. the ward mission leader, who became one of my best friends in all the world, organized a surprise party for me on my last monday in the mission and i've never been so touched in all my life. the photo is of me with many of the people i taught and saw baptized as a missionary.
and it was goodbye to missionary work and life as i knew and adored it. my last night as a missionary i walked home down beloved oxford road, past the ethnic shops, and the sunset was stunning. my heart was soaring and breaking simultaneously.
then came the transition of a lifetime, and to be brutally honest, the first six weeks were really dark. i was such a mess - this was the hardest time in my life. but when i finally could dig myself out, that hardship made the happiness the followed so very glorious. the first few weeks back brought reunions with loved ones and the mountains and i spent as much time as possible in the temple which was a haven to me - the only place i really felt like i belonged for a while.in august i took some adventures to bear lake and disneyland and these were helpful as i re-learned how to make my way through the crazy world without the mantle of a missionary. and! cath's wedding! she waited for me to get home!! - and it was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
september brought an epic trip to new york city for my brother's gorgeous and super joyful wedding and then the big move down to provo. it was exhilarating and healing to get up in the mountains, and as the trees blazed their autumn colors, i started falling in love with my world religions class, my awesome job, and maybe a certain curiously enchanting boy.october was when the sun started shining again brilliantly in my heart and was a time for lots of fun parties and a gorgeous road trip to the closest place one can get to heaven - kolob. in october i had several perfect, glittering moments where i wanted to burst out of skin from happiness because of the beauty i was beholding or the love i felt. and - i adore halloween because it is an excuse to cover myself in sparkles.
november was full of fires on the back porch and late nights and giddy mornings with roommates. it also kindly included a spectacular trip to sunny arizona to hang out with my favourite people in the world - my neices and nephew.and december - beautiful, sparkly december! twinkly lights, enchanting celebrations, concerts on temple square, and my first christmas as both an adult/santa's elf and one of the kids. we had a lovely holiday in st. george with my sister's family and it was such a great way to end off a really remarkable year.
well, there you have it. to be honest, this post took me about a week to finally finish, but it has been fun to remember what a blessed year it has been. life is so lush and varied. i am excited for what is ahead; i know good things are ahead. i feel like this is poopy writing, but i have run out of steam. bottom line: oh nine was oh so fine - and the best is yet to come!