Thursday, September 30, 2010

Exhilarating

I'm totally someone that prefers company to being alone (most of the time), especially when the company is Mitch. But today I experienced something exhilarating alone.

Since Mitch had to be out late for a working retreat (how lame that wives were not invited) I decided to spend my evening by going straight to the Museum of Costume and Lace after work (before dark) and then watch the General Relief Society broadcast by myself.  It was exhilarating to be able to be alone, not only in a huge city, but in a foreign city,  and know that I was considered a "local" compared to the 1-day visitors that I walked past because I knew my way around. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sixties exhibition at the museum---what a wonderful period that must have been to wear fashion. I sort of wish we could go back to having those awesome hair-do's. 

Watching the broadcast was a special experience. I hope those of you who are back home got to enjoy it.  I was surprised at how "relieved" I was when I started watching the broadcast. In a foreign country, I have gotten so used to being the only one on the metro that is mormon, and one of the few that can't understand what anyone else is saying. It was so nice to remember that in a different part of this world, there are so many women that have the exact same values and goals in life that I do, and speak the same language as me with the same accent. I admire women that live in foreign countries and now understand how valuable the Relief Society is as a refuge and place to feel united with other women with the same values. 

I had one other exhilarating thought during the broadcast that I want to share here. Everyday at work and at home doing homework, I am constantly thinking about globalization and how much the world stands to benefit from free trade. I realized that the Church has truly embraced "globalization." Did you notice that most of the stories about strong, faithful sisters were about women in different countries? I have gotten to witness first hand in this ward how true it is that some of the strongest people in the Church come from not only outside of Utah, but outside of the country. 

I am so sorry this is getting long, you can stop reading if you want, but this is like a journal entry so I have to say one more thing about this. My new ward is bilingual--English and French. Sacrament meeting is in one language one week and the other the next week. In Relief Society, we meet together for announcements, and then split up into English and French.  Most commonly during the English part, it is me the only American, and then Asian, South American, or African sisters for whom English is the second language, and French is not the first. It is such a treat every Sunday as I hear these women humbly speak their testimonies in the English words they know. Most of them are converts and still learning new things about the doctrine, but they are so spiritually strong that they strengthen me. I am grateful for them, and I am grateful for all you back at home that have strengthened me to be able to recognize the blessings that I am now getting from this new experience.  What an exhilarating evening it has been! I love being a woman and a sister! 

P.S. President Monson's talk was tear jerking, humbling, and absolutely beautiful. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Street Performers and Beggars

THEY ARE EVERYWHERE in Europe.

Mitch and I laugh at which one are the most ridiculous and the ones that are our favorites. One guy has a bunch of bunnies with collars . . .maybe he could eat if he didn't have to pay to feed all those bunnies. Another girl decided to practice the violin in the metro station and see if she could pick up a few extra bucks. I doubt she did cause her scales were so out of tune. We laughed as we walked past a lady who had her dog play dead to get sympathy money. But this guy, in Paris, was our favorite, and we did acutally give him a Euro. Pretty cool huh? I didn't even get some of the best tricks on film! (like twirling while doing a hand stand and holding the ball with his foot)

video

And check out my sister-in-law's blog to find the latest on the miracles in their family. mattandnatclan.blogspot.com. I hope to have the faith that she and my brother posess.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Confession


The night before I left Provo to live here in Belgium, I was nervous.
Fear crept up inside me and told me that I would rather stay home in the comfort of family and friends. I hated to say good-bye to people and our comfortable lifestyle. I was nervous to start my internship, and I was nervous for Mitch to start his. I was nervous to find our apartment, and how to find my way around the city.
Then we got to Brussels, and quickly left to do two weeks of backpacking through Europe. My heart quickly forgot my fears as I let myslef imerse into these beautiful places and cultures. And then we got to meet my parents in France. It was such a highlight to have a wonderful time there with family. So on that Sunday night, after I kissed my parents good-bye, and we found our cute apartment and unpacked our bags, that fear crept up again and wanted me to break down and cry.
I had been away from family for longer before when I went to Jerusalem. But this was different, this time Mitch and I were on our own. We had no giant Jerusalem center with missionary couples to be our parents and have all our meals prepared for us. Instead we just had eachother to hug as we told eachother how nervous we were for Monday to come.
Monday came. And it went. I love the people I work with, I know my way around, I found a great grocery store and near-by laundry mat. Everything that fear tried to tell me would be terrible are in fact just fine.
And as we rode home on the train yesterday afternoon from a fabulous day in Antwerp and Gent, Mitch read his book and I stared out the window across my beautiful new home, Belgium. I nearly laughed thinking how much we would have missed out if we had not come. It is funny how our hearts initially react to change with such discontent. But once we are given some time to soak up the change, we realize how much better we are now. I love it here, and I love it more with my best friend beside me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Home

Let me introduce you to the place I am growing to love more every day,

This is the entry way to the building Mitch and I live in. This skinny building I think is entirely owned by our land-lady who has the basement and main floor to herself. Mitch and I live in the middle floor, and one man lives on the top floor. What I love about this building are the super tall, old doors with antique knobs. I also love the pretty crown-molding on the ceiling that is too hard to capture on camera. Anyway, Mitch is standing in the narrow stairwell that we walk up to our apartment.
This is the fabulous street that we live on. It is fun because each little building is just a different color than the ones next to it, making it a cute neigborhood.
This is our building--we live in the apartment second from the tob. Cute balcony huh?

Welcome to my new home, I hope you enjoyed your short visit! If anyone wants a tour of the inside of our apartment, I would love to Skype or Google chat. We are 8 hours ahead of Utah so Utah time around noon or really late at night (like 11:30 pm) work best for me!





Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mitch's Contribution

There is nothing quite like…

…being the youngest person sitting around a lunch table with 10 different people from 10 different countries and being one of only three people married. My boss is married. He has a husband.

…walking down a street and seeing a guy peeing in a nifty open-air urinal.

…hearing a commotion outside, going to your window where you then see a five-minute fight going on between a group of local Turks. (We are on the third floor and they were across the street. I think it should be a one time thing).

…having a mandatory car free Sunday in the city of Brussels.

…enjoying a cone of frites (that’s french fries) when about 100 bicycles drive ride down the street with a marching band.

…finding Heather’s favorite Israeli cereal and eating three boxes of it in five days.

…having a land-lady who only speaks French. Sorry Heather.

…hosting the head of the IMF, an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chief Economist of Google in three consecutive days at work.

…discovering Hulu doesn’t work in Europe. (We tried several suggestions for getting around the problem, but it still persists) This means no Glee till December. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There is nothing quite like . . .


. . . Getting onto a dark night train, quietly making your way up the ladder in pitch black to crawl into your bed, only to find someone else IN your bed.

. . . Nearly forgetting your passports in a Venice Hotel, but remembering at the last minute, and having the old man owner kiss you because of it.

. . . Having the ticket booth man schedule your train ticket for the wrong day, so when that day comes and you discover your ticket is for the wrong day when the train is only minutes away, scrambling to buy another ticket for that train (thank goodness there are still seats available) and having to pay a hefty extra amount of money for getting new tickets.

. . . Ordering a what looks-like pesto pizza that turns out to be blue cheese, YUCK!

. . . Seeing an old woman hanging out in her bra and underwear like she owns the night train

. . . Having an old woman walk in on you in the bathroom and get a good look at your bottom

. . . There is nothing quite like the adventures you have while traveling. (More stories to come)


Sunday, September 12, 2010

2 weeks of crazy adventure

Okay, most importantly, Mitch and I are safe and moved into Brussels!
I will have to do a video tour of our lovely apartment and balcony and post it up.
The past two weeks were so crazy, tiring, awe-inspiring, fun, emotinaly, motivating, exhilarating, relaxing, etc. I could talk forever about it, but for now I'll just give some sneak-peak pictures, and then maybe talk about each country one post at a time as to not be overwhelming.