Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Got This

Ok, so we're leaving for China. TOMORROW. And I find myself thinking. A LOT.

So first of all, I wanted to say another thank you to all our friends in Jacksonville. This summer has been amazing, and we miss you all so much. I can't wait to see you all again, please keep me updated with your lives and all the funny things your kids are doing.

Second, thank you so much to our family and friends in Utah and California, especially the grandparents. We loved seeing you all, and we are so grateful that you are willing to feed/house/play with us when we are in town. We are so excited to see you all when we get back for school next year!

Third, I am so grateful for Spencer. He is so excited about our trip to China and is trying to so hard to keep me optimistic and help me get excited. He knows I'm nervous, and he is doing everything he can think of to take care of me. I am trying so hard to be strong, and I will be excited and optimistic! I will!

And I keep thinking about all the things I love about the USA. And I start to miss it, even though I haven't left yet. Summer/fall nights, being surrounded by family, greasy fried southern food (Cracker Barrel, I will return!), English speakers, toilets, general cleanliness, my car, ovens and things that I can make with them...these are all things that I won't necessarily have in China and will miss dearly. But then I think about how excited I'll be to have those things again when we get back, and I get excited. I made sure to eat Mexican food, In N Out, and Jack in the Box. We went to the temple this morning with my parents and we're going to the beach and having a bonfire tonight. We are organized, we are ready. We've done just about everything we wanted to before we left. We can do this.

I'm actually feeling pretty calm and have been up to this point, but as the minutes and hours tick closer to "go time" I feel an ever increasing flutter in my chest that I have to suppress. I vary rapidly from denial to panic to acceptance and calm to panic to denial again.

So I'm babbling. But the point is this. We are going to China. In less than 24 hours. And I can do this. I can do this because I have Spencer, and because I have family and friends who are praying and rooting for me. And I have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love me and know what I'm doing and are with me every step of the way. I can do this.

China, here we come!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Temple and a Baptism

I LOVE going to the temple. Love love love. And I'm so sad that we won't be able to go for the year we're in China. So I've especially appreciated each trip that we've been able to make this summer.

With the nearest temple being two hours away we usually stop for lunch on the way home. We see Steak 'n Shakes ALL over the place, so we thought we'd try it out.


The same day of this particular temple trip in July our friend Carlos was baptized. We met Carlos our first Sunday in Jacksonville. He lives a few houses down from the church building and had wanted to go for weeks and had finally decided to come that Sunday. He had never talked to the missionaries and really didn't know anything about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But he came anyways. That Tuesday we were at the building for choir and he was there, sitting in the back of the room just listening and reading through the hymnbook. We talked to him afterwards for a while and he told us about some changes he was trying to make in his life, and he and Spencer exchanged phone numbers. Less than 30 minutes after we got home he called Spencer, he was very upset and needed to talk to someone. Spencer went over to his house and talked to him for about 2 hours, and since then we've been good friends and we loved seeing him at church every week and watching him grow in his testimony. So Spencer was very excited and honored when Carlos told us that he had decided to get baptized and asked Spencer to baptize him.

SUCH a great day! I am so grateful for the gospel and for the joy that it brings to my life and to those I love.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back To The Temple and Back In Time

So in June Spencer and I decided to head to historic Nauvoo (where early Mormons settled before they trekked west) before their big pageant started and it got crazy busy. So we woke up early on a Saturday morning and headed off. Nauvoo is just over 2 hours away, but that's only because the roads to get there all look like this:

There are no main roads that go straight there, just a lot of back highways, otherwise it would only take about an hour. But we were very excited to come around a corner and see the temple!

After a great session at the temple (it felt like it had been forever since we'd been!) we took a few pictures...

We took about 10 before we got the whole
temple in the background and then Spencer

And then we changed and went to get lunch

And of course dessert. I LOVE fudge (I think I get it from my mother) and so Spencer and I decided to indulge in some of the sweet goodness.

See? It's a commandment.

For the record, we didn't just chow on it like
it looks, this is purely for picture sake

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the recreated homes and shops like the bakery, the blacksmith, the boot maker, the printing press, the brickyard, and others. It is such a fun place, with demonstrations and souvenirs that you can take home with you.

After we saw what we could, we headed over to Carthage, where the first LDS prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. The Carthage Jail site is beautiful and peaceful and was the perfect end to our day. We had both been there before, but it is so cool to see things and experience them together.

I love Carthage, there is such a spirit there and I'm so glad we went. Our last stop before we headed home was a surprisingly delicious Mexican place called El Camino that the missionaries in Carthage suggested to us. Who knew? Good Mexican in Illinois.

Self? Great day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm In Lurv

Friday morning before Spencer went to work he informed me that that day was Christmas. Christmas? Christmas means presents, right?!

Oh boy does this man love me.

I'm in lurv.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Can I Have One?

So remember how I said our ward is so awesome? So our Bishop and his wife have this awesome cabin about an hour from Jacksonville and they offered to let us use it for a weekend. Um, YES!

Their place is awesome. It sits right on the bank of the lake and it is BEAUTIFUL.

 The first night we decided to take the paddle boat up and down the lake. We were the first one's to use the boat this year so it took some work cleaning it off and getting it down to the water, but we finally "shoved off".

Oh man, everyone should get a chance to sit out in the middle of a lake at sunset. It was so beautiful, so serene. I love being outside and feeling that reconnection to nature and life. It is always such a blessing to feel that peace, like Heavenly Father is gently reminding me how much he loves me with the beauty that I'm surrounded by.

My "artistic" shots.

I love this man, he makes me so incredibly happy and I loved being there with him.

The next day was actually kind of overcast, so we spent the the day switching off between playing games, eating food, and playing in the water. And Spencer mowed the lawn, we told the Drakes we would as payment for letting us stay.

We decided to go fishing before we left for home. The lake was brimming and we had seen fish jumping out of the water like crazy all day. We both snagged several fish, but I was the only one who actually pulled anything out of the water.

Nasty looking thing, huh? We guessed it was a gar, and after getting home and looking it up I think we were right. It actually broke my line and flopped back into the water when I tried to hold it up for a picture (we were planning on throwing it back anyways) but it was very exciting. We're guessing he was about 18-20 inches long. And there was definitely a loud embarrassing shriek when I realized that I had him.

Bye Fishie

It was an AMAZING weekend and we loved the chance to "get away". THANK YOU DRAKES!