Monday, May 27, 2013

Missionary Pictures

After church today I asked Mom to snap a few pictures of me before I head out next week. Mom is awesome, and I love looking at these and just imagining how much I will grow through this experience. God is so good. I am so grateful for this life and His love and His gospel. He knows us so much better than we will ever know ourselves.

Don't think I've really ever been happier about anything in my life.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sacrament Talk

I can hardly believe that time has passed so quickly and that next week I am leaving for Chile! It's a little crazy, but I think I am pretty much ready to go. Typically, before missionaries head out, they speak in their home wards (church). I had the opportunity to speak in both my ward, and also in my old bishop's ward. I really enjoyed writing this talk and sharing it:

About a year ago, I tried to convince anyone in my family to sign up for a mud run with me after seeing pictures of some friends who had recently run one. After some serious begging and convincing, I got Suzanne to say yes. We eventually signed up for another one because they looked so fun, so we were looking forward to doing two mud runs in May.

Our first race was three weeks ago, and then we ran another one last weekend. The race courses were about three miles long, filled with several different obstacles and lots of mud, as expected. By the time we were done running, we were covered from head to toe in thick, nasty mud. It was everywhere, but it was a ton of fun. After the first one, we just hoped in the car mud and all to avoid waiting in lines to rinse off, so when we walked in the house still caked in mud, and Dad just started laughing at us.

Looking back and thinking about the mud runs Suzanne and I just finished, there are a lot of parallels to our experiences here in this life, whatever we may be doing.

I guess the first lesson that could be taken away from this experience is to be very cautious of others trying to tempt and convince us. I had to work on Suzanne for a while before I got her to agree to run with me. Gray was a little more resistant, and he never let me convince him to run with us. So I guess you’d have to ask Suzanne for sure, but I don’t really think I convinced her to do any evil, and we had a good time. However, there are so many situations today where we are easily tempted and people try to convince us every day to lead us away from this gospel and the Spirit. In Alma Chapter 34, verse 39 it reads, “Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye my not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing.” We learn from Alma that having faith in Christ, being humble, and continually leaning unto Heavenly Father and Christ through prayer will help us identify and resist the temptations of the devil. The Lord often helps us to avoid temptations, and we are blessed as we endure them. Just like the lyrics of the song Taylor just sang, I know that Christ has the power to ransom us from Satan’s grasp and power, and that as we truly come to know and believe in Him, we can feel of the peace and love He wants us to for eternity.

Another prominent lesson we can pull from our mud run is the importance of preparing, and being humble. For the past few months Suzanne and I have looked at each other and said, “We need to start running every day again.” But unfortunately just thinking about running never actually did anything for us—we definitely could have been a little bit more diligent with our efforts in order to be more prepared. The first run was a lot of fun and it was more obstacles with just short periods of running in between. The course was pretty flat, and we ran it with really no problem. I was thinking the second run would pretty much be just like the first. Then the night before, Suzanne was looking at pictures on the internet and she turned to me and said, “This course looks a lot harder than the last one.” We started running the course a week ago, and there was a lot more uphill and climbing then we had anticipated. When I think about my lack of diligent and consistent preparation for this race, it reminds me of the importance of our spiritual preparation during this life. It needs to be a continual and consistent thing, and I do not want to be the “servant, which knew the Lord’s will, and prepared not himself” (Luke 12:47). In Alma Chapter 5 verse 29, it reads, “behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand.” If we make the efforts every day to prepare ourselves a little more to face each day, to go through life’s experiences, and eventually see our Father in Heaven and our Savior again, we are told in D&C that “if we are prepared, we shall not fear.” This earthly life is a preparatory state, and I want to be as prepared as I can be to meet my Father and Savior again someday. I don’t want to finish my life and know that I could have definitely prepared a lot more, like I was thinking for the mud run.

 So we started running, and there were a lot of obstacles, just like we face in this life. Some of them were a lot of fun, and we actually enjoyed being knee deep in the muddy water with hundreds of other people. Some obstacles we didn’t enjoy so much.

One of my favorite obstacles was an underground tunnel. Suzanne hated this one. There was a tunnel that was only big enough for you to crawl through on your hands and knees, and it was actually pretty long. We started crawling through, and after a few feet, you really couldn’t see anything—it was pitch black. The turns in the tunnel were unexpected and you couldn’t see them, so you sort of just had to feel your way through the tunnel. Suzanne was behind me, and I guess it turns out she is a little claustrophobic because she was making a lot of noise back there. In Job Chapter 29, verse 3, it reads, “and by His light I walked through darkness”. Similarly, in Micah Chapter 7, verse 8, it reads, “When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” Through Christ’s light and through the light that the gospel brings into our lives, we can make it through dark and trying times. There have been several times in my life when I haven’t really known which direction to take, and it definitely brings peace to my mind knowing that we have a Heavenly Father that loves us so much and a Savior that has done so much for us, that they do not want to leave us in the dark. We never have to be alone.

Another fun obstacle they had was a huge, raised balance beam that went uphill, you jumped over a few higher boards, and then balanced back down. It reminds me of how life can be a balancing act. For me, if I looked down, I would lose my balance a little bit—looking straight ahead was a lot easier for me, helped me focus more. I think of my Mom when it comes to balancing. She has to balance the lives of nine kids, work, exercise, finances, church, serving others, friends, and so much more every day. She is honestly one of the most amazing women I know, and she does so much for everyone else, and it is definitely a trial in and of itself to balance everything that she does. Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “Coping with the complex and diverse challenges of everyday life, which is not an easy task, can upset the balance and harmony we seek. Many good people who care a great deal are trying very hard to maintain balance, but they sometimes feel overwhelmed and defeated.” He made several suggestions to help us establish and maintain a balance in our lives, such as setting priorities and goals, establishing family relationships, and studying the scriptures. He said, “when I am in tune spiritually, I find that I can balance everything in my life much more easily.” I feel so blessed and grateful to know the purposes of this life, and to have an eternal goal to be able to live with my Heavenly Father again one day. I had Sister Phelps as a seminary teacher for four years, and I remember her saying all that time that as we put God first in our lives, everything else will fall into place how it is supposed to. That has definitely helped me obtain a balance in my own life, especially in deciding to serve a mission when I have many other things going on. The eternal goals and truths I have help me keep a central focus and give me an eternal perspective to help me make it through earthly life.

One of the hardest obstacles was having to pull ourselves up a muddy, slippery hill using a rope. You couldn’t really even crawl, because there was a network of barbed wire just above our heads. I definitely am not the strongest person in the world, but if you didn’t cling on to that rope, you would slide right back down to the bottom of the hill and have to start all over again. I had a death grip on that thing. To me, this one is so obvious. When I don’t cling to the gospel with all my might and strength, things are so much harder. The gospel has helped to guide me, and has lifted me up just when I needed it to. I find peace and direction from the scriptures, the prophet, and so many loving leaders. In 1971, President Harold B. Lee said, “If there is any one thing most needed in this time of tumult and frustrations, when men and women and youth and young adults are desperately seeking for answers to the problems which afflict mankind, it is an ‘iron rod’ as a safe guide along the straight path on the way to eternal life, amidst the strange and devious roadways that would eventually lead to destruction.” That was forty two years ago, and it remains very true today. There are so many paths that try and lead us away from happiness and peace in the gospel. Undoubtedly, at times I will slip and fall. I struggle just like everyone else. However, just like the rope in that race never went away, the gospel will always be there for us, and that is such a gift. We can quickly regain hold of the iron rod. Through the atonement, we have the gift of being able to repent and learn from our mistakes and trials. Christ suffered all of our pains, sorrows, and sins so that we can have a way to return to our Heavenly Father despite our imperfections, so that we can grow here in this life. In Mosiah Chapter 13, verse 28, it reads, “and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish.” Whenever I fall just a little bit, I can always come back hanging on even tighter. God’s divine plan is so incredibly merciful, and he has provided the way for us as we lean to Him and have faith in Him.

I’ll tell you about one last obstacle. At the end of the race, there was one last mud pit again with barbed wire over top. You could see the finish line about twenty feet in front of you, and we watched other people finish the race as we tried to get through this last mud pit. This mud was incredibly sticky. It felt like it was sucking my feet deep into the ground, and I lost my shoe. I was tempted just to leave my shoe right there in the mud, since we weren’t keeping them anyway. Trials can hit us at any time. Satan wants to cause us to sink into everlasting misery and woe, just like him, and I’ve found he will try to work on us as hard as he can. However, in Doctrine and Covenants, section 6 verse 13, we are taught that “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” Working through life’s experiences, through all the obstacles, having faith and building our testimonies to cling to, trying hard to prepare for the next life, and enduring to the end will all be worth our while.

I am definitely grateful for the fun experiences we had doing those mud runs this month. I am grateful for my crazy sister who let me convince her to sign up for a three mile run where we get covered in mud from head to toe. The relationships we have with our families are so important, and I have such a strong testimony of eternal families. I am so blessed to be sealed for eternity to such a crazy and fun bunch of people. Families give us teams to lean on and to work alongside—they are some of the best people to run this race of life with.

This life is a race with so many obstacles and so much nasty, thick mud. In Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1, we are counseled that we might “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Also, we are told by King Benjamin that “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize.” As we have faith in Christ and prepare ourselves to endure and grow in this mortal life, we prepare ourselves to obtain the immortality and eternal life the Lord desires for us to obtain. The little medals and t-shirts Suzanne and I got from running our mud races were nice and cute, but they pale in the comparison to the prizes we can obtain from faithfully and successfully running the race of life. We had so much fun running those two races. We have so much fun in everyday life, and this race can be just as fun, but it too requires a lot of work and effort.

I love this gospel so much, and I love the guidance that it gives me in my own race of life. About a year ago, I was in Germany visiting the Shield’s family and taking care of their four little kids for a week. We walked to church one Sunday and during sacrament meeting, a sister missionary was speaking about her experiences after just returning home. I wrote the following in my journal that night: “At dinner, Aubrey asked me if I was going to serve a mission. Honestly, I think I would LOVE that. I’ve thought about it on more than one occasion, but who knows where my life could be in two or three years. I guess it will all work out in the end.”

During the Saturday session back in October, I actually wasn’t even watching conference. I had no idea about the age-change revelation because I was racing in Philadelphia for a Crew Regatta with VCU. My great friend Kavya and I had been talking about our plans for the future that day, like we so often do. Her education and life for the next several years is pretty much planned out, and in comparison to hers, my plans for the future have always been a little bit haphazard. We were talking that Saturday about what we were going to do after we graduated, and I mentioned possibly serving a mission, but like always, who really knew what would happen. I had time to figure it all out anyways. She thought I was just a little bit crazy, like always.

When I walked into our house late Saturday night, Mom asked me if I had heard the news, but I had no idea what she was talking about. She told me about the age-change, and I hopped on the internet to read it myself. Initially I was definitely shocked and surprised. Hours before I had just been talking about wanting to serve a mission, but at that point it was something I wanted to do in the future. Now, I could go now if I wanted to.

I didn’t decide immediately that I wanted to go—but after a little bit, I was ready. Honestly, even though I wanted to go, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t happen because so much depended on what VCU would say. I emailed a dean at VCU asking him if my spot and scholarship could be held for two years, and to my surprise, they had no problem. Then, one night I opened up my scriptures and read 3 Nephi Chapter 28. I read verse 18, and I knew then that now was the right time for me to serve a mission: “But this much I know, according to the record which hath been given—they did go forth upon the face of the land, and did minister unto all the people, uniting as many to the church as would believe in their preaching.” Everything added up perfectly. I put in my papers, I got my call, and now I am just a little over a week away from leaving and heading to Chile for the next eighteen months.

When I think about why I want to serve a mission, Luke Chapter 22 verse 32 comes to mind: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” I have a testimony of this gospel and the peace, happiness, and strength it gives to me in my life. I want to share it with others, and I want to share the love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us. I know that by sharing the gospel and my testimony with others, that they can be strengthened and they can find hope and purpose, just like I have. I know that the gospel enhances so many aspects of our lives, and helps to lift us up, and it is a humbling thing to be called to share the gospel with people in a completely different part of the world, in a language I really don’t know yet. I am so grateful for the trust, faith, and love Heavenly Father has shown me these past few months, and I am so grateful to be called as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So I guess this is the next obstacle in my ever-changing race-course of life. I know it’s going to be hard, but I also know it’s going to be the greatest thing I have done so far in my life.

In Zechariah chapter 10, verse five it reads, “And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight, because the Lord is with them.” I want to live a life where the Lord can be with me, where I can be guided by the Spirit, and where I can be mighty for His purposes. I want to tread down my enemies in the mud and sludge of this world, and be able to return home again one day. I hope that I can be a mighty missionary while serving in Santiago, Chile, and I know that as I have faith in and try to follow the ultimate example of the Savior, I can be.

I want to close with my testimony that I love this gospel. I love the scriptures and how much they apply to our day, and how they can apply to my life specifically. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I know that Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration. I know that Thomas Monson is the living prophet today, who leads and guides us with so much love. I love my family, and am grateful for them every day. I know that the ultimate prize if we endure to the end will be greater than we can ever imagine. I am grateful for the experiences in life that allow us to reflect on our eternal potentials. I am humbled and grateful to serve the Lord over the next eighteen months, and I am excited to see how this experience will change me and others. I know this gospel is true and I know that the Lord truly does have a plan for each of us and knows us all so well. I love how Heavenly Father truly knows the direction of our lives, and He truly hears us and loves us. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, May 3, 2013

sooooooooooo close.

so close to being done i can almost taste it.

sitting in a random building on campus. it's pretty quiet in here. my friend deserted me to get some sleep. i guess it's a good thing that at this hour of the night you need an ID badge to get in here, lol. the library is way too busy these days. standing room only.

eight hours til i am free from organic chemistry. studying is going a lot better than i expected, so let's just hope this exam goes the same way.

tomorrow i shall pass out.

**Update: hahahaha. that exam did NOT go well. but that's okay, because i am done with organic chemistry classes forever.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Seriously Decreased Enthusiasm

Classes officially ended yesterday. Folks, I sat through my last college class for two years yesterday. Now I just have to make it through these next two days studying the crap out of organic chemistry in hopes to make an A. My final is Friday morning at 9am, so as soon as that is over I will be done worrying about school :) I have two nursing finals next week, but I know I'll do fine on those ones!

This semester both seems to have really drug on and also flown by super quickly. It has seemed to fly by whenever I've looked at the missionary countdown on my computer and see that I only have so many days left before I am in Chile. When I'm in classes and working through exams and papers and labs, it seems like it will be forever before I am in Chile. To say my enthusiasm towards school has seriously decreased would be one hundred percent accurate. I called Dad last night and he said he knew that would happen. Ha. Yeah, something about moving to another country in just about a month and living there for eighteen months not having to worry about homework, lab reports, papers, exams, etc, makes school just seem that much more frustrating. At this point, I'm just ready to be in Chile.

My room is completely pack up, and has been for almost a week. I still have a week left in this room.
I'm ready to be home and away from Richmond.
And I am almost ready to head to Chile.

Struggling through to the end.....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Love the Weekends

Other than the college kids that actually do live at home, I think I am home a ridiculous amount for the normal college kid. Every single weekend this semester, I have gone home. I love it. School is great and all, but there is just so much more to do for me at home. Even if it is just sitting on the couch in my pajamas all day, it's always better at home. The weekends are always good, and I think they have helped this semester blow by just a little bit more quickly. Always a good thing.

This weekend when I got home a lot of the kids were actually gone. It was just Bryce, Rachel, Evan, and I, so we went out and got some ice-cream. The weather was so nice, so we just spent the rest of the night outside. Evan would stay outside all day if he could, no matter what the weather. He follows anyone outside.

He was pretty excited about getting his own little chocolate ice-cream cone.

I really do have some seriously cute brothers. 

Rachel and the boys: chocolate, Oreo, and key lime pie for Bryce. He liked trying the weird flavors.

Sunday was church. The morning actually started off pretty interestingly because Mom decided to give her elbow a nice whack. It swelled up, and grossed poor Bryce out. One of Mom's friends from Colorado came to church with us. Mom actually found Kanoe when she was searching to find more about her birth mother and her biological family. Kanoe is great friends with Rose, mom's half-sister who was also put up for adoption. It was so good to see her!  

Folks, I accurately diagnosed her with olecranon bursitis. Just go ahead and call me Megan Kemmey, M.D.

 Suzanne and me all dressed up for church, wearing skirts from Kavya :)

 On the way over to church, Evan broke his glasses (the pair we had just found THAT morning) right in half. Seriously, that kid. 

 I got really mad at him and he got upset. He definitely did not want me holding him during church, that's for sure. 

Kanoe and all of us girls

 Kanoe and Mom 

 Kanoe gave me a card congratulating me on my mission call. Loved the inside of it.

After church, Mom just snapped a few pictures on her iPhone. Dad was actually just a tad grumpy about two seconds before this. Don't worry, he usually doesn't scowl quite so much.

 Me with my slightly grumpy pops :)

 He might've been a little grumpy, but he can't resist my jokes.

The weekends are the best. Counting down til Friday afternoon again.

Shopping with the Pops

This weekend I had to work here in Richmond, so instead of Mom picking me up on Friday like usual, Dad picked me up Saturday afternoon. I had an appointment with the Apple Store to have them fix my iPod, so we raced over there. After we were done, Dad wanted to do some shopping of his own.

Our first stop was to REI. Dad now has a few things on his wish list, that's for sure. About a year ago, I told Dad that when I graduated from undergrad, I wanted to take a month off of work/school and go hike part of the Appalachian Trail for a month. So that trip to REI definitely got me dreaming about that again. I will graduate about four years from now, so there is plenty of time. I'm sure some of the boys will want to go too. It will be awesome.

So the first store wasn't that odd. Just a good old outdoors store. Then Dad wanted to stop at an RV dealership.

Yep, that sounds exactly like my Dad.

For years now, Dad has wanted to take all of his family, shove us into an RV, and travel across the country. I think it would honestly be a lot of fun. I doubt some of my siblings would think the same thing, though. Anyways, Dad's looked at them on the internet, just day-dreaming, so he finally wanted to go in and look at one, just to look. Let me tell you, the guy really didn't want to give us the time-of-day. But, the RV's were pretty neat. It would be some seriously tight living quarters, that's for sure :)

 The RV guy that thought we were a little nuts, I'm sure. 

 Now I can say I've been RV shopping...

Just us with the RVs. 

When Mom picks me up from school, we race to get home and be off the highway. When Dad picks me up, we spend three hours day-dreaming and making plans for when we strike it rich one day. Just a little bit different :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Suzanne's off to Prom

Gray and I both skipped out on our high school proms. It definitely wasn't anything I was interested in going to. It nearly killed my Grandma, and she thought I was nuts. Gray didn't go to either of his high school proms, but then once he graduated high school he ended up going back to two proms, and that's a long story.

However, nobody ever had any doubt that Suzanne would be attending her high school proms. She is definitely much more of a social butterfly than the rest of us. In that way, we are definitely pretty different. Anyways, a few weeks ago she started dating a guy from school, Devon.

Prom is coming up at the end of April, so everyone is getting asked to prom and some people are trying to ask in cute and creative ways. Well, I think Devon did a pretty good job:

 She definitely thought so too. Pretty cute.

Let's just take a minute and zoom up on Devon. He is quite the stud:

Ladies and gentlemen, be careful who you send your selfies to.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lunch for 400

Mom has helped plan, cook, and serve for several different church activities. She came to girls camp for years and helped cook in the kitchen for all of the girls. She has helped with the midnight breakfasts for the youth New Year's Eve dance, and she has helped with lunches for Relief Society broadcasts and conferences. A few weeks ago, she and a few other women were in charge of another lunch for the Relief Society conference, and were told to plan for about 400 people. Of course, when Mom signed up to help, the whole family was enlisted :)

Other leaders had already decided they wanted to have a wide variety of salads for the lunch. They had planned to have a garden salad and a Caesar as the two main salads, and then there were tons of toppings and grilled chicken to go on top. Then there were a few different side salads. Mom and I made a broccoli salad and a cucumber salad, and other people made a chicken pasta salad, a ramen noodle salad, and an Asian fruit salad. Everything was delicious, but it was definitely hard work. Mom had been shopping and got all of the food ready to go, and when I got home from school on Friday afternoon, the fun started. We were in the kitchen all night Friday, and started working over at the church early Saturday morning.No surprise at all, but the lunch went off perfectly.

Cucumbers for a delicious cucumber salad... my favorite.

Mom and I chopped hundreds of vegetables. Broccoli, celery, onion, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce. It was looking pretty healthy in that kitchen, that's for sure.

Dad was volunteered to grill five huge bags of Costco chicken breasts. He was grilling for three and a half straight hours, but it was sure delicious.

Even using the food processor to just quickly chop up the onions, the juices were everywhere. Thanks to Suzanne's goggles, not a tear was shed (which was awesome because I cry like a baby when I chop onions). Genius idea if I do say so myself.

Evan climbed all around the kitchen just saying, "I'm helping. I'm helping." Cutest help there is.

Mom and I. She was definitely a little bit on the tired side. 

The fridge was packed. Thankfully it was plenty cold outside, so we left some of the other things in the van.

My helper and I 

We did a lot, but so many people are always involved in big events like this. Almost 50 tables were set up and decorated for everyone.

Beautiful center pieces on the tables.

With my Mom, I sure have been taught a few things about cooking. My family really is lucky to have a Mom that can cook pretty dang well. She has let my siblings and I experiment and learn for ourselves in the kitchen. I definitely don't think many people my age could say they have cooked for 400 :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just a Good Day

Like I've mentioned before, this semester has been my first clinical experience in the hospitals for nursing school. I am a nursing student working with patients and nurses on the trauma floor. Sometimes there are actually quite a few trauma patients, but there are also general surgery or general med patients, too. Some weeks I've had patients with exciting medical histories and problems, and then other weeks I just have a patient that's recovering from something or other and is pretty independent.

At MCV, there are Care Partners on the different units. One of the care partners on the trauma floor is actually a nursing student in the accelerated program at VCU, so she is just a little bit ahead of us. She is super nice and helpful, and this morning rather than being paired with a nurse and just one patient, I was paired with the care partner and we had about five patients that we were working with.

Today was just one of those good mornings. Nothing too exciting happened, just several sets of blood glucose tests and vital signs, but all the patients were just so nice and talkative and funny today. Just a good day. One of my patients was this super cute, eighty-two year old woman who was literally the funniest thing. Just had such a happy disposition despite being so dependent on other people and pretty miserable at times. Makes it so easy to want to take care of people like that.

I had another patient who was also just so cute and nice and talkative. I ended up getting her some coffee and everything, and fixed it up with some cream and sugar. I went back in her room, and her coffee was sitting there on the table half-empty, and I asked her if I did an okay job making the coffee, because I've never had it before. She was flabbergasted. She said: "Honey, if you want to be a nurse and have so many kids, you need to get some coffee in you! Where are you from, anyways?" She thought I was from foreign land where coffee didn't exist... was surprised when I told her I lived in Virginia all my life :).

And lastly, the best part of my day: So the very first week of clinical I was paired up with my friend Stephania and we had two patients to take care of. Well, one of them was super nice, and she had been there for a few weeks. We went back a week later for classes, and she was still there. I was taking care of a patient in the same room, but I checked on her and asked her if she remembered me from the week before. She said that she didn't really, but I had only seen her for such a little period of time. That second week, the lady was discharged and got to go home--she was so excited. Today, a few weeks later, she was back and I stopped in again. I said, "Hey! What are you doing back again, you were supposed to stay out of this place! Do you remember me?" She looked up and started laughing and said, "Of course! You were the one taking care of that crazy lady that I shared a room with last time." So we chatted for a few minutes, and then I was off.

It's nice having days where everyone you run into is just so nice, upbeat, and happy about life. And hey, if all these patients in the hospital have nothing to complain about, what should I be complaining about?

Main 9 Central Clinical Group!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just showing my true colors...

So I got another job at the YMCA, working in their child-care center watching the little kiddos while the parents work out. In order to be employed, I had to have a background check and a drug screening done. The place that I had to closed at 4, and I got out of my lab at 3, so I was a bit in a rush. I forgot my wallet with my ID and insurance card in my room, so I had to run back there after lab really quickly. While I was in my room, I used the bathroom before heading out since I had to pee so badly--I hadn't peed since the morning. Relief, relief.

So I sped over to the building on my friend's bike, and my Mom calls as I am walking in asking what I was up to. "Nothing much, Mom, just getting this blood work done for the drug screening." That's when she decides to inform me that it's just a pee-in-a-cup deal, no blood work. WHAT? My bladder was absolutely empty. Didn't have to pee an ounce. Thanks for the heads up, Mom.

Maybe everyone else in the world knows about drug screenings. But hey, it was the first time I ever had to do one, and the paperwork that I had looked just like the blood work papers I have had several times. Also, it was as LabCorp, which is were I always go to get my blood taken. An honest mistake, really.

So I went immediately to the water fountain and I chugged three bottles of water in like fifteen minutes. Then they called me back. Awesome, I still didn't have to pee at all. My kidneys couldn't work that quickly! So I go back to the waiting room and drink four more full water bottles. Oh man, I was praying for those little kidneys of mine to kick it into high gear. Thankfully, after an hour at that stinking place, my little kidneys obliged, and the drug screening was over. Somewhat of a blonde moment, if you will. But you can be absolutely sure that I will never pee right before a drug screening again.

I walked out at almost 5, and even though I hadn't had time to eat since breakfast, my stomach was soooo full. There was a ridiculous amount of water in my body, and I was supposed to meet my friend Kavya at the gym at 6. I texted her and said, "Hey, I'm not making it to the gym at 6. I'll probably go around 8:30. I just chugged seven bottles of water in an hour and my stomach is so full I would barf."

I ended up peeing like five times last night. Thank you, little kidneys of mine.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Does that look good to you?

After I got my mission call and found out I was going to be in Chile for 18 months, I did a Google search for "Chile Santiago West Mission." Lo and behold, just as I had expected, a few results popped up for missionary blogs of LDS missionaries who had served in Chile and had kept a blog about their experiences.

I started reading a little bit of one of the blogs in order to learn a little bit more about the area and see some pictures of what it was like, when this thing called a "Completo" kept popping up. I decided to research it a little bit more.


A completo is a Chilean style hotdog. Basically, it is a hotdog stuffed in a bun, packed with lots of avocado, a huge amount of mayonnaise, sauerkraut and chopped tomatoes. If you want, you can put ketchup or mustard or whatever on top. Apparently everyone loves them.

Seriously? Does that honestly look delicious? The mayonnaise just kills me. I mean, I like avocados and tomatoes. I could do those, no problem. But really, the mayonnaise? And all of that on a hotdog just sounds disgusting. I'm not a huge fan of hotdogs, either. I also read that most people put sauerkraut on top.

Hey, they look absolutely disgusting, but I am pretty certain I'll definitely be trying one of those at some point during that 18 months. I'll let you know how they really are.

Whatever it tastes like, it can't be worse than the Balut my cousin has eaten in the Philippines (or the gecko, or rats, or dog...)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Called to Serve!

Well the day that has been pretty heavily anticipated came and went last week! On Tuesday, February 19, I checked my mail box and inside lay (folded up and very crinkled--they clearly did not know what was in that envelope!) my mission call! Since my parents had just returned me to VCU, and I was going back home that weekend, it didn't make sense to go home and open it that night, so I waited until Saturday to open it with the family and some close friends. People all week were asking me how on Earth I could stand to wait that long, but I think I actually had a lot more anticipation before the call was in my box. Once I had it in my possession, I knew I would be opening it that weekend, and it was pretty easy to wait! I wanted to be there with the family! However, it definitely made for a longer week than usual!

Many, many more guesses were added to this board by the time I opened my call!

Best mail I have EVER gotten. 

It's here, It's here! I suppose you could say I was excited! :)
Basically everyone knows that I am leaving for eighteen months to serve a mission. Not everyone understands it completely, but everyone seems to be so excited for me. Everyone in nursing school and back here at home have been asking me where I am headed for a few weeks now, and every time I see them they ask if I've gotten the letter yet! I can't think of anyone who hasn't been supportive of me, and it's awesome. I truly am blessed and have tons of support!

The youth in my home-stake that are leaving to serve missions with our Stake President! SO exciting. I'm pretty sure we've all received our calls now.

The week passed by, and finally Saturday came. Thankfully, I had to work all morning Saturday and into the afternoon, so I wasn't sitting around anticipating the call all day--we planned to open it at 8pm. Kavya and I (she came home, too, of course!) fixed dinner for the family and made a few snacks, and then finally a few people started showing up over at the house around 7:30! Time was ticking down. Mom came home from work, my Aunt, her daughter, and Suzanne and Rachel came back into town from Virginia Beach, my Uncle came up, my Grandma drove SIX hours and SURPRISED us all by coming (so awesome!), and a few close families from church that have been so supportive and helpful in this whole mission process and growing up came over.

My mission call sitting so nicely on the entertainment center waiting to be opened! On Friday, the second, smaller envelope was sitting in my mailbox. It was from the Travel Division for the church, and because several of my other friends have received similar letters with their calls, I was pretty sure at this point that I was headed out of the country. 

The room filled up with many friends and family and just a few minutes after eight, I began opening my call. It was awesome. I could definitely feel the Spirit in the room, and was so excited as I read the beginning of my letter outloud. I covered it up, so that I didn't sneak a peek too much before everyone else. I read:

"Dear Sister Kemmey,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Chile Santiago West Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."

As soon as I said "Chile Santiago..." the room was filled with excitement and screaming. I was so happy and SO excited. I would go anywhere, but I am so excited about the place I was assigned! I can't wait to learn more about Chile, the gospel there, and to be able to serve the people in Santiago, Chile, for 18 months. I'm pretty sure this will be THE hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

Oh, and I took German for 5 years in middle and high school. How much Spanish did I take? Not an ounce. The extent of my Spanish language is "Hola" and "Por favor." I've got some work to do!        

 Room full of people waiting to hear where I was going!
 We even got the old man (Grandpa Gray) on Skype! Technology is so awesome!

 As I was opening the letter!

  I had just read that I was called to serve, and assigned to the Chile Santiago West Mission! The whole room errupted and I was so excited!

After the initial excitement died down, we started digging through the mission packet and we all sat around and talked about Chile and serving and everything! That night was awesome. We had a bunch of snacks and goodies, and my Aunt Amy made cute sugar cookie missionary tags. She is awesome.

 Dad and Bishop Phelps digging through the mission packet, learning a little bit more about where I am headed for the next 18 months! 

  Sugar cookies from Aunt Amy! 

 Bishop Phelps and Joy. Love these two people. Joy taught my seminary class in the mornings for four years. They are amazing examples to me. 

 My best friend in the world. She came home to support me and has been so excited for me through this whole process (since October!). She's taken it rough at times, too, but I am so glad she was there! She was a little bit upset when she heard I was going to be in CHILE for 18 months, but I will write plenty of letters! 

 Out of all of the guesses made, Lily Jones was the only one who nailed it! She guessed Chile! Keith and Brother Desmond were the next closest. 

 Sister Jones, the Sharpie Queen, hooked me up with some sharpies and journals to start me off with all of the studying I have been doing! She is awesome. Love all of it.

 Aunt Amy and I.

 The cutest two little girls I know! Such an awesome family.

 Dad was so ANXIOUS about where I was going to get called! He said there were 100 places that he didn't want me going, but I think we made out pretty well with Chile! Not too dangerous, but a new place and an exciting experience! 

 I have the best Grandparents. Darling Grandma drove SIX hours Friday to be there on Saturday, and didn't tell a soul. So awesome, and I loved seeing her. Grandpa braved the Skype world, and I know Grandma Gray was looking down on the us. Back in November when I told her I was going to serve a mission, she promised to write me as much as she could. She was really excited for me. But I know she's doing her own work now and has her own mission in the next life!
 Cute little Evan man! Pretty soon he will just know me as a picture :)

 The official mission call and assignment.

This week my Grandpa forwarded me an email. My Grandma is Parley P. Pratt's great, great granddaughter. I did not know any of this. Just goes to show exactly how inspired the process of assigning a mission is. I honestly have a strong testimony that the Lord has sent me where he needs me, and that I have been called to Chile for a reason. I have no idea what that reason is now, but at some point, I'm sure I'll come to know why. Anyways, apparently Parley P. Pratt was the first missionary to go Spanish speaking and that was in Chile from 1851-1852. He did a lot of work, and he said that he hoped his descendants would never forget the Spanish speaking people. I have several other ancestors who have done missionary work in Mexico and South America, which is so neat. One of my relatives went to Chile and opened a branch in Valparaiso. The church has grown so much there since then, and I am excited to see how the people grow and how I grow as I serve there for 18 months. It's amazing that here I am, nearly 175 years later, headed to work with the people in Chile and serving them.

I love this gospel. I am so thankful that I was able to grow up with the knowledge and blessing of the gospel, and to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. I am really thankful I was able to go to school and distance myself a little bit from home (although just barely), and develop a stronger and deeper faith in my religion. I have been so blessed to have awesome parents and leaders throughout my life that have been great examples to me. Right now I have the best institute teacher, who teaches me so much every single week. I love my Father in Heaven, and the Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for His atoning sacrifice, that I might be able to live with Him again someday. I have a strong testimony of prayer, and I know that I am a Child of God and that He loves and knows each and every one of us. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and man of God, who restored this gospel and the priesthood and endured so much that God's plan might be fulfilled. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Word of God, and they really do guide and inspire us in this life. Life is so great, and I have been so blessed to have learned of the eternal purpose for this life. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a latter-day prophet who leads this church, and I am so grateful for the revelation to change the female missionary age to 19-years-old. I know that serving a mission is what I want to be doing, and what is right for me right now. I have been so blessed with an amazing family, and the Plan of Salvation is so important to me. I know that there are people prepared to hear the gospel, and I hope that I can help them feel the same joy that I have felt from knowing and living the gospel. I know that serving a mission is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding, and I am so excited.

Mission Call Video: Mom is so awesome and made an awesome video about the night! Love it! 

 So excited to be Sister Kemmey, serving in the Chile Santiago West Mission. There is a LOT to do before I leave, but I am so excited.