I dreamed last night that I was sent to prison. It was no ordinary prison, however. In the middle of an open-air mall there sat a very small, very dingy Payless shoe store with metal bars stretching across the storefront. I was escorted in along with another prisoner -- a tiny oldy lady who resembled something between a troll, a hobbit, and Kristen Chenoweth. The 10x20-foot space had cement floor and shelves of shoes from 2001, which were all covered in dust and dirt from the same era. Benches were crowded with people trying on sandals and tennies. As I shuffled past them, the little imp of a woman under my care, I took in my pitiful surroundings and watched as inmates tied up their Airwalk laces and walked out the door. "They can just leave?" I said, mostly to myself, as the little troll lady was most likely deaf. I quickly learned that all it took to escape these hellish confines was to find a pair of shoes that fit, and liked, and be on your way.

I wanted desperately to find a pair of shoes, but my hobbit-like friend needed help, and I felt obligated to aid her before seeking my own pair. She was no bigger than 4-feet-11-inches, with feet to match. But nothing seemed to fit her. And then, as if a light from the heavens beamed down through the cinderblocks, we saw a section of childrens shoes just two feet from where we stood. "This is it!" I exclaimed. "We're going to find your shoes and you'll be free and then so will I." But I quickly realized it wouldn't be so simple. She was a picky little devil, and nothing could satisfy her, although all the shoes were like Cinderella's glass slipper on her foot. One by one, she tried them on, discarding them each with a sniff and toss. I became more and more panicked at the thought of being stuck in that Payless prison. My panic turned to anger as I watched her impotence and arrogance and selfishness -- and then the words, whether they made sense or not, came pouring out. But without a sound. I could no longer vocalize my thoughts. I watched in helpless agony. "How dare she! Can't she see how many perfectly good pairs she's disregarding? Rejecting?! If only I could find a pair of black PF Fliers in my size, I'd be so happy."

I never saw that day. She continued to try on shoes as I slipped from dreams into reality. Somehow reality resembles the dream too much.



I heard it today. I heard my life. Through the chambers of a trumpet and across piano keys I heard my life. Smooth. Lively. Inviting. The kind of rhythm that brings a smile -- forces a smile. No. The kind of rhythm that slips a smile on to your unsuspecting face, like a pick pocket in reverse.

That's how I hear it, no matter what those people say. They tell me I can't be happy here, can't be happy alone, can't be happy until I have. But I do have. And I hear. And I see. All around me it swirls, unglimpsed by them, but a cloud of colors to me. I hear my life and I see the notes from my future. In the mist I watch the shapes of those yet to be, the memories and the unborn and the unmet just waiting for me to arrive. "I'm coming," I sing to them, dancing my way toward what will be, enveloped in the magic that is.


[photo taken at Disneyland in February, by me.]


I don't talk much about my mission. People don't ask and I don't bring it up. I'm very aware of the stereotypes and the stigmas surrounding returned missionaries, and I am bound and determined not be be clumped with them. But regardless of whether I choose to begin every Sunday School comment with, "Well, on my mission ...", there are some things worth sharing about my time with the tag.

I want to tell you about Manuel.

Manuel is about 75 years old. He can't quite remember what year he was born, and it really doesn't matter in the end. Manuel lives in a temporary, one-room house behind the homes of his daughter and his son. His own house fell down during the earthquake in 2010 and he hasn't been able to rebuild it yet. He was baptized the Sunday before I got to Til-Til, and was the first lesson I got to help teach when I arrived. He didn't understand a word I said, but instead of making me feel foolish, he sat back, patted his weather-worn face and simply said, "Que lindo, que lindo." He didn't care about words; he cared about the feeling they brought.

Manuel was in the military as a younger man. He traveled all across South America, breaking hearts in every country, and leaving a few illegitimate children behind to prove it. He owns a dog named Satanás (Satan), who is always tied up behind his house. He would yell, "Sále! Satanás!" when the dog would bark incesently. In other words, "DEPART! SATAN!"

Manuel came to church every single Sunday, riding the bus 20 minutes to get there and spending what little money he had to do it. That man wears a suit well, and a sweater underneath his suit coat even better. One Sunday he came, his tie dangling from his outstretched hand, and asked if I could help him tie it. I think it was that same Sunday that he gave the prayer in Sunday School and concluded with the words: "... Please bless the missionaries. Please bless the members of this church. They are so good and so beautiful. And please bless my neighbor, who's a little rude, but ...... oh well."
(I guess it might be less impactful in English, and even less so by the fact that you can't hear him say it while holding you're breath during the long pause before he finally finished the thought about his vecino. "Pero ....... bueno.")

Manuel is also the man I shared a hymn book with when the power went out during General Conference and we all sang hymns to fill the time until conference came back on. I had arrived in Chile just a week or so earlier. I didn't know how to communicate with him, or anyone, in Spanish, but sitting next to him in that pew, just me and him and a hymn book, I didn't need to say anything. We just sang. And it was perfect.

I don't feel this way about many, and I say it about even fewer, but Manuel is a kindred spirit. And he demonstrates faith and love of God in all he is. I never want to forget him. So that part of my mission is worth sharing.


Happy Mother's Day, Mom. 
[Sorry for the blatant disrespect Catherine exhibits here.]



Thought on Humanity:

There's this girl that lives at my apartment complex. She's white, with dirty blond dread locks, and an electric car that's covered in Coexist, Save the Planet, Don't Shoot Cows stickers. To be honest, I thought that would be me in another life. Probably for the dread locks. [I researched how to make my hair into dread locks in 10th grade. Didn't follow through. But I digress.] I saw her the other day, getting out of her electric car, wearing her bio-degradable pants, carrying about 10 bags of groceries. IN PLASTIC BAGS. I lost all hope in humanity in that moment. And I realized she should be stripped of her Chacos; her buckets of red paint confiscated. Plastic bags. Sheesh. Who does she think she is?

Thoughts on Pinterest:

1) Either I'm getting old or my friends are trying REALLY hard to be geniune hipsters, because there seems to be an over-abundance of knitting and crocheting pins lately.

2) One of these days I'm going to start pinning lots of baby things, then wedding and engagement related things, just to freak people out. It'll culminate with breast feeding tips, Teen Mom cover stories, "How to Pick the Right Sperm Donor" articles, and wedding/baby shower invitation design ideas. People will be so confused. It'll be hilarious. I'm just sad I won't be able to see their faces.


I started collecting quotes like ... a ... person who likes collecting quotes, in 8th grade. I wrote them down, by hand, from the internet. Apparently I didn't have access to a printer. Or MAYBE that's the reason my handwriting is so great. Regardless, there seemed to be quite a few quotes by some mysterious genius named "Anon." I was intrigued. Who was this man? Where did he glean all his widsom? What was his last name? Was he a contemporary of Socrates? Shakespeare? Hemingway? It wasn't until my junior year -- three YEARS later -- that I discovered the mystery behind the four-lettered man. I'm more than slightly ashamed.

A Photo:
Found this guy in OKC. At the biggest -- OK, so really the ONLY -- skyscraper in the city.
Psh, brother, please. I'm gonna tell my own dang story. I'm not letting those jokers out there ruin my story with bad punctuation and misplaced capitalization.