Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
UTZ Potato Stix.
That's the name of the potato snack my Grandma discovered at a Walmart while visiting Ventura this last week.
They taste just like In-N-Out fries, only tiny and crunchy. They even look like mini french fries!
We were immediately addicted.
Is this a bad thing?
I don't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied. A tiny handful is enough.
So before hitting the road for the long trek home, we went to Walmart and bought the last 4 cans on the shelf.
They're probably available in Utah, but we didn't want to take a chance.
I love a good tasty treat.
Friday, September 26, 2014
I finally found a bottle of coke recommending I share the bottle with myself. Not some stranger. Not with a friend or family member.
A bottle that says: "Share a coke with Sarah."
And so I did, with gleeful selfish glory, drinking half and putting the other half in the fridge for later.
Then my Grandma found it, took it out, thinking it was hers, and drank the rest.
Guess I ended up sharing the coke after all!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Whenever I tell people where I grew up it goes something like this:
"Have you heard of Porterville California? You haven't? That's okay, I'd feel sorry if you had. It's located between Fresno and Bakersfield, close to Visalia. You don't know where that is? It's at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills. You've never heard of that? Have you noticed how, in the middle of California, there's this bowl like valley sounded by mountains? You haven't? Well, it's called the Central Valley, and I grew up in its southern end."
Okay, I don't always have to get that far into the explanation, but sometimes I've had to.
Why do I bring this up? Last week I found circulating on Facebook an article on Forbes.com entitled, "The Most and Least Educated Cities in America."
The lists were put together by the financial site Wallet Hub, looking at America's 150 largest metros. They took into account number of graduates with High School, associates degrees, etc, doctors in the area and other factors
Under the top 10 list at #4 is Provo, which is close to where I live. That's pretty cool. Guess I earned my B.A. in a pretty smart area.
So I guess that helps balance where I grew up.
Porterville may not have been counted, because it's more like a city town then a metro, but on the least educated city list is Visalia CA at #6, #7 is Bakersfield, and #10 is Fresno. Porterville's in their midst. And just above Fresno is Modesto, which made the least educated list at #5. Central California really represents.
With all that being said, I have to say that I got a good education growing up, and I had excellent professors while attending Porterville College and College of the Sequoias in Visalia.
(As a side note, I took a picture of a map while at a gas station on the way to California last week, to show where I grew up. Looking at it, seeing all the surrounding cities to Porterville, has made me a little reminiscent. I miss those beautiful Sequoia trees.)
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I was so excited! I have wanted to serve a mission since High School, hoping and praying I would have the opportunity. But regardless of how strong my desire was, and how much I wanted to go, one thing or another prevented me from serving a mission. I was 21 when I transferred to BYU to earn a music degree, the earliest age women used to be able to serve a mission, now they can leave at 19, but I knew my place was at BYU. The heavens literally opened for me to get into the classical voice program, and that's where I was supposed to be at that moment. But as time went on after graduation, no matter how many times I wanted to serve, it was never right.
And then a few weeks ago the miraculous happened. It seemed the heavens opened once again and everything fell into place. I would finally have the opportunity to go into the World and share my testimony, trusting my life entirely to Him, our Redeemer and Savior, giving up everything for full devotion. (see Footnote #1)
But as the days went on, preparing by having an interview with my Bishop (see Footnote #2), going to the dentist and doctor, something wasn't feeling right. Something in my spirit just didn't feel right.
I expressed concern with my family, and my brother Steven sent me a link to a talk by Elder Holland entitled, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence."
It's an incredible talk about the adversary and staying true to what we originally feel in terms of promptings and feeling the spirit. I listened to this talk with my Mom as we drove around doing errands, and I felt comforted and renewed, ready to continue my mission prep and everything that goes into having my papers submitted. (see Footnote #3).
But there was an event that was truly startled me. Something that pulled me back and pause. My doctor, who's known me for over a decade and is LDS, said, "So this is the one thing you'll be asked over and over again: Why now?" Why am I'm serving a mission at 32? (see Footnote #4)
Why after all this time am I leaving to serve a mission?
I told him how I've always wanted to serve, how I'm still single, how life is hard to predict, etc, but it wasn't until a couple days later it clicked. Where was the burning fire? Where was the light? Why didn't I feel that burning in my bosom, as we Mormons call it, an overwhelming feeling of the spirit? Why didn't I feel it?
Why haven't I felt it?
I wanted to serve a mission so badly I jumped right in, but something deep within was telling me "No." I was just too excited to listen.
For years I had held onto the hope of serving a mission, but honestly there are so many ways to serve. So many ways I can serve, without leaving for 18 months to proselyte.
Friday, September 5th, I talked with my Mom and brother Steven, talking until midnight about everything. Some of the talking was intense, some confused, but by the end I felt peace. Peace about the future. Peace about finding faith in my music and talents. You know, I've never doubted the existence of God. Ever since I can remember I've always believed. But believing in God, and believing Gods timetable for me, are two different things. I've struggled with having faith in myself.
I have a strong testimony. I know this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is true. I know God loves us and is real. I know he's my Father and watches over me, even when I struggle and stumble. I know the Book of Mormon is a testament, a witness of Gods love and attention over those who lived on the American continents. It's a true book of Ancient American Prophets. A second witness of Christ on this side of the World. God loves all his people. He loves all of us, still. He hasn't left. He's still here with us, performing miracles, speaking through Prophets and Apostles. Covenants, Ordinances, the Priesthood, and Temple are just as important now as with those who lived during ancient times. I feel so blessed to have these things in my life.
For whatever reason unbeknown to me, I'm not supposed to serve a full-time mission, but I will always carry with me the missionary spirit. And I will never stop loving God.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Footnote #1: When you serve an LDS mission you live really strict guidelines, beyond the standards we already live. You can't go to the movies or watch TV. You can't listen to the radio, and what you can listen to is really restricted (Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Especially for Youth, etc.) You work 6 days a week from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm, with little breaks. And the 7th day, P day (preparation), still has standards. There might be some sightseeing, but there's service, too. And P day is the only day you can email home. That's another thing, you can't call home or talk to your loved ones, except on Mothers Day and Christmas. All your correspondence is through letters and emails (and hopefully you're allotted enough time on P day to go through your emails and write home.) A missionaries life is not easy, by no means. It's not a vacation. It's very hard work.
Footnote #2: In the LDS church a congregation is called a Ward, and the presiding member of the ward is called a Bishop. It's an unpaid calling that lasts a few years until someone else is called to serve as Bishop. All church callings are unpaid. I've served twice as choir director, several teaching callings, Relief Society President, etc, all volunteer.
Footnote #3: "Submitting ones papers" is something that happens after being interviewed by the bishop and stake president, getting cleared by the doctor and dentist, and filling out a few forms. After these forms are submitted and sent to Church headquarters, a "Mission Call" is sent, a letter mailed to the preparing missionary that tells him/her where they are to serve, what language they'll speak , and when to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). You don't get to choose. If you don't know the language you are going to speak, you learn it from scratch at the MTC. My brother Robbie was called to Argentina not knowing any Spanish, and he lived in the MTC for 2 months to learn Spanish and train as a missionary. And yes, after only two months, he was sent to Argentina having to converse and give lessons in Spanish. It used to be 1 month in the MTC for native English, 2 months for Romantic/Germanic languages, and 3 months for non-romantic languages (Asian languages, Russian, Etc.) (I may be wrong on the time frames with some of these languages. I do know Japanese was a 3 month language). But they've changed it. 2 weeks in the MTC for English, 6 weeks for Romantic/Germanic languages, and 8-10 weeks for Asian, etc. (I don't know if it's 8 or 10 weeks now, I just know they no longer spend 3 months in the MTC to learn Japanese, Chinese, etc).
Footnote #4: Boys can serve missions from age 18-25. Girls can serve from 19-39. Then there are couple missionaries. My Grandparents served a mission together to the Philippines several years back. And Mission Presidents are married couples as well. My best friend's Father in Elementary was called to be the mission president over Costa Rica, and they sold their house and moved there. Mission Presidents serve for 3 years. Boys serve for 2 years. Girls and Couple missions are 18 months.