Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Decision to Serve the Lord

There have been a few times in my life where I can distinctly remember wanting to serve a mission and to have all of the experiences that a mission brings. When I was 15, I had the opportunity to go to EFY--a church program for the youth. During the week we attend spiritual classes, activities, service projects, dances, etc. The counselors for this program are in their 20s. Well, at the end of the week at one of the firesides, one of the female counselors was called up on stage. She had just received her mission call in the mail, and her family drove down and brought it to her to open. She decided to open it with everyone there and read it aloud, and as she did the Spirit was incredibly strong. I wrote in my journal that night that "I would love to serve a mission one day and to feel the same Spirit I felt tonight when I open my own mission call."

Over the summer I was in Germany for two weeks. The second week I took the kids to church while the parents were on vacation, and that Sunday, one of the sisters gave a "welcome-home" talk from her mission. She served in Chile, and the spirit that I felt as she talked about her mission and the people she met and the many ways she was able to serve was so strong. I wanted to be able to touch others' lives like she was able to, and to come to better know the gospel as she had. Later that night, the Shields' oldest daughter Aubrey asked me if I was going to serve a mission, but I had no idea.

More often, I can recall times and moments where I've thought about serving a mission, but really had no idea what I would end up doing. It seems to have happened a lot more lately. Last semester I went with the missionaries to teach a lesson and I thought about it. I thought about it often as I contemplated my major for school and whether to go to medical school. I think about it often when I hear from my cousin serving in the Philippines. On October 6, I was in Pennsylvania for a Regatta for crew, and I was talking to one of my good friends, Kavya, about school. In some ways, the two of us are very alike: very driven, motivated, school-oriented. Then there are ways we are completely different: she knows without a doubt that she wants to go to medical school. In fact, she already has a guaranteed spot and wants to becomes a neurosurgeon. Anyways, we were talking about the rest of our undergraduate study and where to go to medical school after, and I brought up the idea of serving a mission rather than continuing right away with any more school.

That night, I walked into my house around eleven after we got back from the regatta, and my Mom asked me if I had heard the news about the missionary ages that were announced in General Conference. I hadn't been on the internet at all or gotten a chance to watch any of conference, so I had no idea what she was talking about. I quickly hoped on my Facebook and many of the girls I had met throughout the years at EFY or church or girls camp had posted about the new age: rather than leaving for a mission at age 21, girls were now able to leave at the age of 19.

So for the past few weeks, I've been thinking, pondering, and praying a lot about serving a mission now rather than waiting until I finish out my undergraduate degree. I sent a few emails to some of the administrators at VCU to see if I could leave at the end of this school year and still keep my scholarship when I return. Surprisingly, they were extremely cooperative, and agreed without much question to hold my scholarship until the Fall of 2015. I will be dropped from the Nursing School simply because they cannot hold a spot for so long, but my adviser told me that it will not be hard to pick it back up. I just need to apply for readmit for formality's sake. I think my adviser and some of my friends think I'm crazy, but oh well.

With everything worked out, I have decided to serve an 18 month mission, and I am so excited. I can't wait for this school year to be over now, but I'm definitely grateful for the time I have to prepare before I actually go. I think of all the people I wanted to tell about my decision, I was most excited to email my cousin, Elder Kemmey, in the Philippines. I emailed him Sunday night, and when I woke up Monday I had a reply from him: "I'm really happy that you've decided to serve. The work needs someone like you no matter where you are assigned. Be a disciple of Christ and your mission will be a success and will shape you and prepare you for the rest of your life. I can't wait to email you as Sister Kemmey!!" Now that I've decided to serve a mission, I won't actually see Jacob for two MORE years, but when I do, it will definitely be exciting.

I know without a doubt that serving a mission is what I should be doing right now. So I'm submitting my papers in January, will be ready to leave in June, and cannot wait!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inappropriate Skype Date

Skyping with Evan is seriously one of the cutest things in the world. The other night he just started stripping right there for us. Quite a show.

 Who put this ridiculous Elmo shirt on me? That show is for chumps.

 Dad, get out of the shot. This is my show. 

Can't wait to go home on Thursday and see these people for real.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Picking Apples at Carter Mountain

This past weekend my Grandma and Aunt Tara and her boys came to visit for the long weekend. I actually had a Regatta on Saturday in Pennsylvania, so I didn't think I was going to be able to make it home and see them this trip, which I was bummed about. It was also Suzanne's homecoming weekend and her birthday, so I was bummed not to get to go home for that as well.

When I left on Friday to head to the Regatta, we drove right past the exit for my house. Naturally, the idea popped into my head that I would be driving right past again on Saturday night, and it would be nice to go home. After my race on Saturday I called Dad and was chatting with him and he said something like, "It would have been nice if you could've come home this weekend" to which I replied, "Well, actually, I am going to drive right past our exit on the way home, and I was thinking that I could come home and go apple picking with the family if that is still the plan." Like I told Dad, I can't ever drive past my house without figuring out a way to go home! So Saturday night I rolled right back into town.

Sunday Mom had planned for the family to go to Carter Mountain to pick apples. After a slightly rough start related to seating in our way too small 15 passenger van, we were on our way. We got to the mountain and everyone was pretty excited. It was beautiful, but a little bit chilly. Poor Evan didn't even have a coat so we mummied him up in his thick blanket, which he was not too happy about. He didn't seem to be bothered by the cold at all. He just wanted to get down and eat all of the apples!

The orchard had a few different varieties of apples, so we went around and picked one variety at a time. It's funny how different one apple variety tastes from another, and Dad cut one of each variety up to taste and see which ones we liked best. There were a few that we didn't want to pick at all because nobody really liked them, like Winesnap Apples. However, everyone loved the Fuji and Stayman apples. Gray and I really liked the York apples, too, but they weren't as widely received as the others. They tasted like a sour green apple Jolly Rancher.

Gray and Evan chomping down on those apples

He would not share his apple with anyone. He ate most of that apple on his own! Also, he added the word "apple" to his vocabulary, and said it only a million times on that mountain!

Despite the looks on their faces, Evan and Kyan actually had a good time. Evan just takes eating very seriously. 

It was amazing how many apples were lying on the grounds. Unfortunate, really, because they were so good! 

Group Shot! Suzanne was behind the camera for this one. 

It was actually Suzanne's birthday on Sunday, too. She was walking along the path and searching around and found this old abandoned house. It was so well hidden it was ridiculous. This was the only side of the house where you could actually see it. Suzanne spotted a little door in the midst of a bunch of trees and ivy, so she walked over to it. She sat around debating whether to go in or not until Gray showed up, and they went exploring. I joined them later, and it was so neat. 

It would be interesting to know who actually used to live here, and what happened to the house. It was really big. It had two stories, and numerous rooms. There was a really neat fireplace, too.

After we were finished picking our apples, we wandered back down to the farm store and barn so that we could pay. We ended up buying $30 worth of freshly picked apples. Of course while we were there we had to have some hot apple cider, and we split hot apple doughnuts. Yum. I loved the fresh apple cider. 

Some gourds outside the barn--makes me excited to go to the pumpkin patch this year!

The Apple Barn

The view of Charlottesville from the top of Carter Mountain Apple Orchard!

Before I went back to school, we had to make something with some of our apples! After we ate dinner, the kids and I started making a homemade apple pie! Yum! Dad and I made a homemade apple pie last year for Thanksgiving, and we had quite the difficult time making the crust. This time, however, making the crust couldn't have gone better. It was so fun, and the kids had fun peeling the apples. For some reason, they always eat the skins, which doesn't sound that appetizing to me. I left to head back to school without eating any of the pie, but apparently it was good because it was all gone when I called home the next day.

The other boys like to help peel the apples and what-not, but Ryan has always been the one to stay and help me cook the whole time. I think he enjoys cooking and baking :)

The pie all assembled before it went into the oven. I was pretty proud of that lattice pie crust, too.

The finished product!

I took three apples back to school with me, and they are now gone. They were SO good--crisp and crunchy and so flavorful. Apparently everyone has been enjoying them at home, too. Rachel made an apple crisp, which I was definitely sad to miss. Before this fall is over, it would be fun to get another bushel of apples and make homemade applesauce again. Mom and I did that last fall, and it was so good!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Update and Evan

Wow, it feels like forever since I've touched this blog. I got on the other night and didn't feel like figuring out the new blogger interface. Anyways, things have been moving along fairly quickly this semester--thankfully it is already October. Hopefully before I know it Christmas will be here and this semester will be behind me. It's a crazy one, that's for sure. I have all these science classes and then a philosophy class. I absolutely despise my philosophy class, but it's one of the required honors courses, so I'm glad it will be out of the way. My favorite class is probably actually organic chemistry this semester. For once it is a class that I really have to think and work in. We'll see how well I end up doing. I took my first exam in it on Monday, and I feel really good about it. Hopefully that translates into an A :) \

I'm still doing crew, and I love it even more than last year. Last semester my boat had difficulty getting a good, reliable line-up. This year I am so thankful to be in a pretty decent varsity boat. I'm loving the competitiveness we have and how each practice seems better than the last. We have our first regatta this weekend in Pennsylvania, and hopefully we will do well. I feel pretty good about what we've accomplished so far this semester.

When I signed up for all of my courses for this semester, I thought I might not have as much time to go home as often as I did last year--which was basically every weekend or every other weekend. Who was I kidding--I have been home every single weekend that I can. It definitely worked out that I ended up at a school only one hour away from home. Sometimes I have to go home and work, but most of the time I just head home and lounge around with the family.

So an update about the family: Harrison is now thirteen--he had his birthday last week. Mom had her 43rd birthday on the 15th, too. School seems to be going pretty well for all of the kids. Rachel is actually being home-schooled this year, and she seems to be doing really well. She is actually keeping a blog as part of her school work which is always fun to read. Gray is in his last semester of college, and will be graduate a year and a half early in December. Not only will he graduate, but he already has a job once he graduates. To say I'm insanely jealous is an understatement. Evan seems to be growing like a little weed, and is seriously so ridiculously cute. Always look forward to coming home and seeing him! He doesn't say many actual words, but he talks in his own little language all day long. I'm excited to see what he is thinking and saying when he actual transitions to using English! So far he says Mom, Dad, hot, uh-oh, and a few others. So cute.

 The boy eats all day long. He is a little garbage disposal.

 If he is hanging out in his diaper, he pulls on the edges and eventually his little butt crack starts to stick out. 

 A few weeks ago Dad and Gray finished building a table to seat 12 people. The built it from scratch, and it looks really nice. It definitely did not fit in the old dining room, so we rearranged the rooms a little. The old piano/computer room is now the dining room, and the old dining room is now the piano room and play room for all the babies hanging around the house. Mom pulled up Suzanne's old train table and trains, and Evan LOVES them. He will play with them for hours, and it is so funny. 

 Still looks cute with that little snot bubble. :)

 I love being on the older end of this big family of mine, and being able to see the younger guys grow up and develop into their own person. So fun watching Evan develop his own strong personality :)

 Don't be fooled by this picture. He really does not like to share his trains.

Early one morning. He clearly is in need of a hair cut :) When I pulled out the clippers to cut Gray's hair Evan was fascinated. We put the longest guard on and let Evan hold them. Mom still refuses to cut his locks, though!