Monday, April 30, 2012

Tender Mercies

Well, I've now survived my first week of school.  It's interesting.  I think it hits returned missionaries at different times that they are really home and they won't just wake-up back in the mission.  For me that reality hit this past week.  It was really hard.  I think the combination of new classes, living alone (literally) for the week, and just trying to get my life going here was a bit more than I was ready for.  The really incredible thing was that I saw so many little blessings in my life that really showed me that God was aware of me and really watching out.  I thought I'd share a few.

First, I got an e-mail from a family I taught.  Pictures and all.  It made my day.  Actually, it made my week.  It was such a beautiful e-mail, and it was from a family I really love and spent a lot of time with.  It was so good to hear from them.  I also got to skype with some people I taught.  Thursday night was so much fun! It was so fun just seeing them and hearing their voices.  It was a little bizarre seeing their house in the background and realizing it will be a while before I actually see them again, but it was still fun.

Second, I am meeting tons of awesome people! My ward is full of Sister Rm's and I've met a few in each of my classes.  Many of them have just gotten home like me so it is fun to talk with them and to feel like their are people feeling the same way I do.  The funniest was in my religion class.  At the end of class I heard a girl call out, "Sister", and well, I still answer to that one.  I turned around and she proceeded to tell me that she recognized me from the MTC! So cool.
Third, Hermana Brianna Wells is my next door neighbor!  This girl was one of my favorite companions, and now we live just a few doors apart! She sat behind me in sacrament meeting and then when it was over she said hi and I about jumped over the chairs to give her a hug.
Finally, I had just a fun experience Friday evening as I was practicing.  I'm still a little sensitive about how I sound on the flute right now.  I don't really like playing in front of people because I can tell I'm out of shape.  Anyhow, I was practicing at home Friday night, and in the middle of my practicing as I stopped between pieces I heard applause and cheering.  I didn't think much of it, until it happened multiple times and I realized the applause was for me.  Then I looked up and saw my landlord's grand kids. Not only were they cheering but they had thrown some picked flowers by my window.  It made my evening.  Big time. I really needed that.

As a side note of interest... I just got out of my first flute lesson since coming home.  It went fairly well... I at least now feel like my life has some direction, which is nice.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Things That Bring Me Joy

So I thought I should get on here and prove that I'm not AWOL and haven't just dropped off the face of the earth. I'm now in Provo and more or less moved in. All that I own is in the apartment, but I'm not in my room yet; the girl who is in my room doesn't move out until Thursday... so I'm in a temporary room.

It's a lot of fun and also a little weird being back in Provo. I am getting to see lots of people again. I had lunch with Tae and Chase before they left up to Idaho for Chase's new job, and Tia and I have been running around Provo trying to get everything ready for school and such. I've got lots more to catch up on, and lots of people to see, but things are off to a good start.

Also, un-packing after a year and a half is pretty fun. I've been finding lots of things that I'd forgotten about and it's brought various exclamations of joy as I've discovered things. The most exciting of which being these:

because I LOVE books... a lot. Opening boxes and finding them was wonderful. I'm so excited to read them all again. I might have hugged various books as I put them on the shelf. *grin*

Finding my lovely popcorn maker also made me super happy. I've missed it my whole mission, especially because my trainer and I always ate popcorn when we did weekly planning and so for the rest of my mission I needed popcorn each time we did weekly planning. My companions can attest to that one. So, I'm pretty excited to be able to make air popped popcorn, because nothing else can equal that.

Life in Provo is going well. Next week I'll start classes and also do a huge cleaning of the apartment. It's pretty dirty, and while I'm hoping that those who are moving out will clean, I'm also preparing to dedicate a good chunk of time to some serious cleaning. Because it's pretty nasty. Tia and I went to Walmart and stocked up on cleaning supplies, and so we are ready to attack the grime, because it needs to go. I'll try to post again soon, but no promises.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm Home...

Hello All,

Okay everyone. I'm here. It's Nicole again, and no longer Hermana Okeson. And let me tell you what, it's weird. So weird. I think I'm one of those squirrely RM's I used to make fun of. I keep making my sisters bed, and then after I finish my studies I wonder what to do with my life. I've practiced flute and come to the decision that you sound a little (okay maybe a lot) rusty after 1.5 years and that patience that apparently I failed to develop as a missionary is going to have another chance to develop itself in my life.

Coming home was good. The time felt right, and in some ways spending my last transfer in a new area made going home easier, I was less attached and then no one knew I was leaving so there was no huge fuss. I was able to go out working, which is what I wanted. The last night in the mission home was fun, and I enjoyed spending time with the Taylors and the other departing missionaries. It was a little weird because the group I went home with was almost all English missionaries, and as a Spanish missionary I really didn't have much contact with a lot of them. But it was fun none the less. We had a great time talking about lessons learned as missionaries and setting goals for the future. I also had the great opportunity to be taken to the mission home by my Grandma, which was just F.U.N. It was great to get to see her even if it was just for a short time.

The actual flight was long and un-eventful for the most part. I did get to talk with a young mother on the longer flight and help her through security in Japan and then hook her up with the website... so my missionary work isn't done. It was pretty fun, I enjoyed chatting with her and getting to invite her to learn more. I've got to do some follow up on that one. Besides that it was just a long experience, being a missionary for a year and a half has made me incredibly not good at just sitting around, so one day of flying and traveling just about killed me. I was pretty excited to get off of that last airplane. The reunion with my family was good, although a little delayed, as my suitcase got lost and so I spent a good hour trying to communicate with the baggage people in Shanghai... I realized pretty quick that my Spanish wasn't going to help me here. Super frustrating to speak more than one language and for neither one to be any good. Oh well. One hour after everyone else had gone through the gates I finally made it through to see my family, video camera and signs in hand waiting for me. I always joked that they sent me out a white girl and I was coming home a Mexican, but when I saw my family I realized it was true. One and a half years later I am now the short brown one of the family. My siblings all really shot up in height and all I did was get brown. haha.

So now I'm home, trying to finish adjusting... Mostly I'm just working at getting myself into some type of shape to start school in two weeks. I think that will be good for me. I'm not so good at just sitting around anymore, and I keep wanting to daily and weekly plan. I also keep wanting to start everything with a prayer, which for my flute playing is probably a good idea. But it's all good. I'm really enjoying the time with my family. I have a year and a half of harassing saved up for my brothers and I am enjoying spending time with them.

I'm enjoying sharing my experiences with them and taking some time to look back over all that I have learned and experienced as a missionary. It sure goes fast, I didn't realize before I left how fast it would go, but man, it has gone by really fast. I miss it, but I know that this is the next phase in my life and I am excited to see what lies in store. I have more to do, and like I said before I was released, just because the name tag is off, doesn't mean that I am done being a missionary, I have had a year and a half of great training and I am excited to continue to look for chances to serve and help others.

Thank you once again to all of you for your prayers and support. I appreciate it so much.