Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas Day

and I miss Italy.  I know everyone who isn't an RM is probably sick of hearing this, but you have to understand how much those last two years meant to us.  Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my family and I've had some of my favorite memories here at home, but there is just something different about a Christmas with the tag on. 

My first Christmas away from home was in the city of Ferrara, home of the bicycles.  Let me just tell you that at first I was not excited to be there.  I was transferred from my first city about 2 weeks before Christmas, and I was a little bitter.  Plus, it was a relatively smaller town and I wanted to go to the big city...but don't worry, the Christmas spirit cheered me up, and the ward gave us an amazing Christmas present - let's just say I didn't have to buy food for a long, long time. :)

Anyways, Ferrara turned out to be quite the cool little town.  It had a castle right in the middle of the square, with a moat, and a drawbridge.  Pretty much awesome.  Then there was this huge Cathedral that did a full nativity play right in front.  It was awesome!

The pictures don't give it justice.  Everything was in lights and everything just spelled Christmas!!!  I loved it!  Well, we were invited to go spend Christmas with one of our investigators, and that was awesome with a LOT of great food!  But, my favorite part about this Christmas was that my companion and I were able to spend Christmas Eve and the latter part of Christmas day with Johnny (real name-Ionut - pronounced EE-oh-noo-tz).  Long story with Johnny, but he was having a hard time.  He's Romanian waiting to be able to return to his country, meanwhile in his apartment the heat was turned off, his aunt just left him there by himself (he's 19 at the time) and it just was a terrible situation.  So, my companion and I went over there, made some food, and just talked about everything with him.  We were the only people to come visit him.  There was no exchange of presents, just good company.  Me, Tolman, and Johnny. 

Since the mission, those of us who taught Johnny have kind of lost track of him, but we're trying and let me tell you, we all miss this kid!

The rest of Christmas I watched my companion open his presents (mine were sent later), we did a little bit of contacting, and read the Christmas story and reflected on Christ most of the day.  This is when I felt like I truly had a Christmas.  That's one of the reasons I miss Christmas in Italy.  First of all, I didn't want presents.  I almost don't want presents now still.  It's nice to get stuff, but in the end, that's mostly what you get: stuff.  That Christmas I strengthened my relationship with Christ, and that is sticking with me.  Not the random board game, or the pair of jeans.  Second, when you are on a mission, everything is about everyone else.  You forget about yourself (well, if you are doing it right).  It's a wonderful feeling not to be worrying about yourself all day long and to just help others.  Once you are back you have a lot to worry about: school, work, girls, etc.  On the mission, its: how can I help these people?  and that question can usually be answered by simple steps.  

So, when I come home, I get to see my family, and you get the Christmas songs, and the food, and all that jazz, but it is really easy to lose everything else.  This year, finals was a week before Christmas, so that kind of sucked the fun out of it.  I got home Friday night and it seemed I was at the store for about 2 hours every day with my mom getting presents.  I HATE SHOPPING now.  By golly, I can't stand stores.  Then it seemed with all the stress that everyone was on edge.  So, that wasn't fun. 

In the end, it worked out. Christmas Eve was my favorite part of Christmas as always.  My brother and sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law, parents, and my little bro had a MARVELOUS mexican dinner with my favorite Christmas desserts, and then we hopped in the car and drove around singing songs while looking at lights.  Once we come home, we have a little German Christmas tradition and then we open 1-2 presents.  

After that, me and some friends went to midnight mass at a local catholic church.  I usually find them interesting and spiritual, but this one was kind of weird.  Instead of the traditional mass, they put it to rock music, and I just felt awkward. But the message was good, so it all worked out.

This morning we opened presents, played games, ate food, opened more presents, ate food, played games, opened more presents, played games and ate more food, and now I'm about to go play games...

So, that's my little tidbit on Christmas...I might include some more...but that will be for later.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Now what...

So, it's 12:30 am, and I feel like I'm having a little bit of a quarter-life crises - I'm assuming that's correct since people usually have their mid-life crisis around 40.  (Actually, I just realized it's only 11:30 since my computer clock is an hour ahead.)

I'm living in that awkward stage of life where you repeatedly ask, "Well, now what?"  Before 21, my life was planned out.  Elementary school -> Middle School -> High School -> Mission -> College.  In their somewhere, I spiced it up with some good grades, sports, music, friends, but that is basically the gist of it.  Well, now I'm here at what?

I'm really jealous of people who have always known what they've wanted since they were children.  They grew up watching planes and wanted to be a pilot, or going to work at dad's architecture business and knowing they want to do that too.  Unfortunately, I never had that revelation.  In fact, I have this problem where I enjoy everything.  In fact, I tend to get caught up in whatever I am involved with.  For example, in Spring of this year I took an economics class and I was rather excited about it.  I was also in a Psychology class and decided to be a psychologist.  Then I took Accounting and that looked rather inviting.  Before the mission I was in English, History, Religion, Health, and Music classes and I was always convinced that I was going to go into that field.  This last semester I was in Italian, Chemistry, Statistics, Dance, and Religion again...I want to do it all.  Is it possible for me to be an statistically-inclined, religiously devoted, chemist who writes books on Italian literature while helping people as a doctor and playing in the city orchestra?  On the side of course I would give psychological advice while taking care of people's tax records and forecast the nation's economy for the next four years. 

Nor does it help that the things that I would absolutely ADORE doing give you absolutely no means to provide for a family.  It would be fabulous fun to play music all day long, practice until I'm one of the best in my area, and then play with coveted symphonies...and get paid zilch because I didn't start playing until I was 11 and everyone else has been playing since before they could use the restroom.  Or I would love to teach.  Everyone calls me crazy, but I would enjoy being that fun, sarcastic math teacher like Mr. Harris who made me excited to come to class.  Sure there would be jerks that would give me a "tude."  Don't worry, I can "tude" them right back.  Is there anyway to become a teacher and still give my family food?  I would rather not have to work on the side just so that my kids could have Christmas presents.

Yet, it would be my dream.  Do I stop kidding with myself and choose something that would be "ok," but that I'm not so excited about?  Or do I do something that I love so much, yet I'd have to scratch a living.  (I'm almost about to go on a rant about how annoying it is that teachers make jack squat when they have one of the most important jobs out there.) 

Now I've heard all the time that this is a blessing and a good problem to have - to be able to pick anything that I want with the probability of being successful at it.  However, so far I haven't met someone who really understands what I'm internally going through right now fighting over it.  I'm the kinda guy who plans his life out from day 1 to day last and I work to get there.  It is really hard to work till day last when you don't even know where, when, how, why, who, or what that day last will entail.  It doesn't provide much motivation.

Grr, it seriously for me is a dilemma.  What really is going to happen to me in the next couple of weeks/months/years?  A lot of people have been telling me that "God will let me know."  Well, I've been praying about this since before my mission, towards the end of my mission, and since my mission and I'm getting the feeling that God's gonna let me figure this one out on my own.  So, now what?  Next semester I will have taken classes from almost every single sub-college at BYU.  I think I'll be missing education or something like that. But really, they say if you take a class that you like go to the next level.  Well, I would be getting 20 majors if that happened.  So, really, my question is ... now what?  I've yet to take a class at the university level that I have not enjoyed (in regards to the subject).

How long will this fight go on?  When will it be over and when will I just know?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"You'll grow out of it...."

As you are going through that awkward adolescent stage, your parents, friends, and coaches at least once will tell you, "Oh don't worry, you'll grow out of it...."  Of course, what you are growing out of will definitely depend on your situation.  Linus from the peanuts cartoon has to grow out of his "security blanket"

Sometimes you have to grow out of a way of thinking.  I'm pretty every older brother/sister has told their younger ones to grow up.  At least, I heard it all the time...

And then there is your clothing style....When I was little, my favorite outfit was my lion king t-shirt with my purple cloth shorts. Unfortunately in 2nd grade, I had an unfortunate little mishap where my pants split right up my bum.  That was awkward, especially since it happened in the beginning of the day...

But let me just tell you, I have yet to grow out of it. Talking about bodily functions just makes me ... giggle.  I can't help but laugh when someone says poo.  I'm sorry, its a funny word.  When I heard that my little brother described the reproductive organs of a man and a woman as a pee pee and a wee wee, I couldn't help but laugh...for 10 minutes.  Yes, I know, "How very immature of me."  But at the same time, I bet I laugh more than those of you who can't laugh immaturely.  It makes life more fun, humorous, and overall more enjoyable.

So please, don't tell me to "grow up" or sigh that "I'll grow out of it..."  Even if sooner or later I will grow out of it, let me have fun now and let maturity take its course.