Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fall Happenings

October was a busy month with trips to start and end the month and a birthday celebration in between. My birthday was pretty low key this year with dinner with some friends and a small gathering afterward featuring my favorite dessert--ice cream.

I decided to skip town for Halloween and headed down to the Sunshine state instead. I went to visit a friend living in Orlando and we packed the weekend with fun Florida things. Clearwater Beach (Gulf Coast), Tampa, Disneyworld, and Daytona Beach. You all know how much I love the ocean, so this was a perfect weekend!

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

 Birthday Dinner

 Opening Gifts

 How does that yoga pose look like again? Obviously, I don't yoga.

 Yup, it's real!

 Daytona can actually drive your car right onto the beach and park, which we did.

Friday, November 26, 2010


A few things I'm thankful for...

A loving Heavenly Father
Jesus Christ
Plan of Salvation
Fall colors
Warms rolls w/butter
Clean sheets
Nieces and Nephews
Indoor Plumbing
Not living in Pioneer times (idea stolen from my friend Stephanie, but I completely agree)
Cell phones
Ice cream
Conference Talks
Beautiful planet we live on

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where everybody knows your name...


I love living on the east coast and having cool cities so close. The first week of October brought me to Boston for my friend Doug's wedding, and to visit longtime friend, Whitney. First time to Boston--it was worth the wait. I'll forgo the daily itinerary and just offer a synopsis with lots of pictures.

Arrived Wed night, stayed through Tuesday night: North End, Harvard, Boston University, the "T", late chats with Whitters, Cannolis, Italian food, Lexington, Fenway Park, Boston Temple, wedding, reception, drive to Maine and back, Freedom Trail, long runs on Minute Man Trail, more chats with Whitters, new friends, awesome food, great times! I love Boston!

 Ok, so I know this is a fuzzy photo, but it's all I got. 
The North Church..."one if by land, two if by sea."


 Specialty chocolate shop = delicious Hot Chocolate!!!

 The Beautiful Couple: Doug and Sarah Rodermund

 Lexington Bridge....Where the shot was heard around the world

 I'm not too sure about holding Flat Stanley in this picture

 Walden Pond
Need to come back when it's a bit warmer to take a dip

 Welcome to Maine! First time eating not worth the money

 Portland--East coast sytle!

 Can you help me out with the sign? Dorms at Bowdoin College...beautiful campus, weird sign.

I'll be coming back to Boston in May for Whit's graduation. I'm hoping to catch a game and see the inside of Fenway Park.  Boston was everything I hoped for and more (including the Boston accent)!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What a day

Yesterday I ran a marathon.
And I got a job offer.

Good things do come to those wait...and work hard.

(details to follow)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.

Ragnar D.C. September 24-25, 201 miles of running relay fun! I wasn't too thrilled about running this race, but my running buddy Traci made a deal that if I ran the relay, she'd run the marathon with me in November. The Ragnar Race originated in Utah and has since expanded to locations around the country. The idea is 12 runners, 200 miles, each runner runs 3 separate legs ranging from 3-9 miles. Sounds easy right...well, it's a beast!

Reflection Vests are required from dusk to dawn

My running buddy. 13.1 check...201 check...26.2 bring it on!

The race began at 12 noon on Friday September 24 in Cumberland, MD. 200 miles and about 30 hours later we ended up in Alexandria, VA. The weather was insane, with temperatures nearing 95 degrees. We slept in increments that maybe totaled 5 hours. I ran at 4:30 pm, 2:00 am, and 12 pm (the next day) for a total of 16.5 miles. This race is crazy, but for some reason, I love it!

Next year....Ragnar Florida Keys!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


In August, I was able to go back to Ukraine for the Kyiv Ukraine Temple dedication. It was my first time back since the mission and the experience was incredible. Memories flooded back and for the first few days I felt like I walked into another life and possibly an alternate universe. Everything seemed surreal, but so familiar and almost exactly as I had left it a few years ago. I wish this post could capture all my emotions, memories, and experiences, but there is no way to put that all down in words and pictures.

The journey getting there and back was a little hectic, but I made all my connections and everything seemed to fall into place, even if it was last minute. In the 10 days I was there, I spent time in 8 different airports in 6 different countries...I was a little confused by the many languages and time changes. I left DC with a plane ticket and an address of a hostel. For those of you who know me well, know that that while I can live with a little spontaneity, I really like knowing exactly what is coming next and am quite leery of "flying by the seat of my pants," though that is exactly how it went. I was a little unsure of staying at a hostel. I had been emailing a member (who I had never met) in Kyiv who gave me the address and assured me it was a clean hostel and the Ukrainian youth performing in the cultural celebration would be staying there. As I turned off my phone to get on my transatlantic flight, I said a quick, but absolutely sincere prayer that all would work out.

Well I made it to Hamburg and onto to Warsaw (even with passport control lines that were insane and I really believed I would miss my connection to Kyiv). I randomly met up with a guy who had served with me in Ukraine. He was also heading for the dedication and had a few more of his details worked out. I decided to tag along and after arriving in Kyiv, headed to a member's house to figure out places to stay. While I waited in the airport for this new found friend, I saw another friend of mine, a Ukrainian friend. Mariya had been living in DC and was in my ward over the summer. She was coming home for the dedication. I had tried contacting her before I left the US, but we were unable to connect. At the airport she gave me her home phone number and said her parents were fine with me staying there. That's a lot of detail, but I just wanted to show how many many mini miracles happened along this trip. I needed to be in Ukraine and the path kept opening up in front of me.

The new Famine Monument. Ukraine experienced a man made famine imposed by Stalin in the 1930's. Over 6 million Ukrainians were starved to death so that Stalin could gain more strength over the region. It's a sobering part of history, but one that needs to be shared.

This is "Big Mama" the famous statue in Kyiv that houses a World War II museum. 'Big Mama' is also known as "Mother of the Nation" and was the symbol used during Soviet times to rally national support.

I spent a few days in Kyiv visiting the Temple site, churches, parks, museums, and enjoying walking Kreshatik (the main street). On Saturday I met up with my friend Eli who served with me and we attended the cultural celebration. President Monson, President Uchtdorf, Elder Nelson, and other area authorities were in attendance. The celebration focused on the history of the church in Ukraine starting with the earliest introduction of Christianity, where Ukrainians believed the Apostle Andrew was sent into the area to spread Christianity. The production showed other important events such as President (then Elder Benson) visiting Moscow while acting as the Secretary of Agriculture, the dedication of Ukraine for the preaching of the Gospel in September 1991 one month after Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, and the organization of the first stake in 2004 (which I was there for). As the events were displayed, I felt the Spirit so strongly testifying to me the truthfulness of the Gospel. The Lord has blessed this land and it is very humbling and overwhelming to think that in a very small way, I was part of the building of the Church in Ukraine. The event was spectacular. In addition to the festivities I met up with many members I had served among and even found a senior couple I had taught in the MTC.

Natasha Fihel (member in Chernivtsi-my first area)

Ira Demchenko (member in Chernivtsi)
Here I'm with Elder and Sister Thatcher who I taught in the MTC at the Cultural Celebration. All the missionaries in the mission were present.

Sunday I attended the Temple dedication at the Stake Center adjacent to the Temple. The dedication was beautiful and the Ukrainian and Russian saints in attendance were thrilled to be part of such an event.

The girls from Chernivtsi

A family I taught in L'viv, who were later baptized and had a sealing date for the following Tuesday after the dedication.

Irina Sinegub, my companion in L'viv. Irina is from Central Ukraine.

Sunday night, I hopped a night train to L'viv. For those of you who received letters from me know that I served almost half my mission in L'viv. L'viv is a beautiful city. It's a city that has had many ruling countries over years due to war and borders changes, but even with the changes, the city has been fairly well preserved. I spent two days in L'viv exploring the city and visiting members and old investigators. It was fantastic! One thing I LOVE about L'viv is that people actually speak Ukrainian!!! It's so great to understand and be understood. Amazing! After two days in L'viv, I took another night train back to Kyiv to fly out the next day.

L'viv Opera House


The new branch house in L'viv, with two elders I had served with in L'viv. We each planned our trips separately, but met up in Ukraine.

Oksanna Kravchenko, a member who I had taught and got baptized in L'viv.

Ploshka!!! My favorite Ukrainian sweet bread. This seriously is heaven!

The trip was absolutely incredible. This post does not do justice to all the experiences and emotions I went through in my ten days. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go back to Ukraine and to be there at such an important and memorable time. I needed this trip.

Viva Ukraina!!!