Friday, December 26, 2008


I think this is home. It is completely familiar (of course) and it almost feels like I've never even left. It does not feel like I was in Vienna only 4 days ago. I am sad to have left. But it feels like I was there so long ago. I will miss my new family and friends the most. But I am excited to be able to return to my family and friends here.

Even if I don't get to sleep in my bedroom the whole time I'm home, and I don't really want to unpack my clothes just to have to repack them in less than 1.5 weeks. This place is really amazing. And I'm happy to be surrounded by some of the people who love me most.

Yesterday was Christmas day and because we only got home on the 24th we didn't have a Christmas tree. Dad and Charles were wonderful and created a 2D tree on the wall with tinsle and lights and ornaments. We didn't have very many presents, because the main present was having Mom and Dad come to visit me in Vienna and bring me home. But it was enough, and it was wonderful.

I've even already had In-n-Out since I've been home. And rootbeer. Mom and Dad were nice enough to have us stop on the way home from the airport. It was delicious as ever. And, because Anthony and Jana haven't had it yet, once they are here I should be able to eat In-n-Out again.

I guess there are a few good things about being home.

P.S. My hair seems EXTREMELY long after having straightened it for the first time in 3.5 months.
P.S.2 Sometime while I was gone, my Cat managed to gain 5 pounds. Yes, that meanst instead of being a large cat at 15 pounds he is now a monster and weighs 20 pounds. Can you believe it?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This is Home

I've come to LOVE the beautiful city of Vienna and the WHOLE country of Austria, actually. I have had so many wonderful experiences this semester. If you would have asked me about two or three weeks ago if I was ready to go home, I would have said YES, in an instant. I'm SO grateful to say that i've reached the point where i'm not very excited to come home.

Granted there are things at home that I am very much looking forward to. 1. in n out burger 2. mexican food. 3. rootbeer. 4. my bed. 5. my pets. 6. the beach. 7. warm weather. 8. my parents. 9. returning to BYU (mostly to be with my girls, from before and my new girls.)10. to take an ASL class. --- No particular order, and there could be other things I'll love to have again in addition to these.

I don't know if could pick one particular thing to name as my VERY favorite. Some of my favorite things have been 1. bike riding 20 miles along the danube river. 2. the 2 hikes we did in Dorfgastein, one in the snow, and the 2nd straight up hill (and i did it in flats!) 3. the cute island of burano in venice, with the colorful houses. 4. playing soccer with the youth and JAE of the Vienna area -- and taking 3rd place. 5. temple in London. 6. the bath's in Budapest. 7. the Austria/Turkey soccer game -- learning the cheers, and loving the Turkish fans in front of us. 8. the friendships I've developed, with people in my program, my host family, and other members of the church here -- I think this is what I will miss the most. 8. the love I've gained for the german language. I can't imagine forgetting all that I've learned here. --- No particular order again.

I'm only glad to say that I will MISS so many things about Austria. I KNOW I will cry when I leave. I am grateful that I feel this way, because that means this place, this foreign place, really has become home to me. Even some of the things I hate here, I think I will miss. 1. The Scheibenwiese -- (this is our name for our bus) it comes early about every other day, and we often miss it by about 30 seconds. 2. Not understanding the language -- I loved going to Czech or Italy or wherever and hearing German, it was finally something familiar in those EVEN more foreign lands. 3. The strange food -- though there are MANY foods I miss eating here, I will miss the tasty treats (pastries, icecream, chocolate, usw) that Wien has to offer me -- even if they cause me to get a gut (ha -yotekaw)

"I've got my memories AlwaysInside of me But I can't go back Back to how it was... I've come to far... This is home Now I'm finally Where I belong... I've been searching For a place of my own Now I've found it... And I got my heart Set on
What happens next I got my eyes wide It's not over yet We are miracles And we're not alone And now after all My searching After all my questions I'm gonna call it home I got a brand new mindset I can finally see... And I won't go back Yeah, this is home" (parts of 'This is Home' -- by Switchfoot)

"Now we're back to the beginning It's just a feeling and no one knows yet But just because they can't feel it too Doesn't mean that you have to forget Let your memories grow stronger and stronger Til they're before your eyes You'll come back When they call you No need to say good bye" (parts of 'The Call' by Regina Spector)

Both of these songs are from the Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian. I feel like they embody my feelings almost perfectly. Wien is where my heart is now. Few others will ever know how much of an affinity my heart has for this city. I am so grateful for memories, and I hope I can hold these memories in my heart forever. Thank goodness for pictures to help with that.

My parents will be here in 12 days. 23 days till I am home to California. It might be quite a struggle for them to get me on that plane. I DON'T want to go.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Can I just tell you how much I absolutely loved the Fußball Spiel last night? Okay, so really, I've never been the BIGGEST soccer fan. Don't get me wrong. I really do love it. But I would never go out of my way to go to a soccer game. And, I haven't even been to that many. I'm the girl to get so pumped for a football or baseball game. But I think, I may have to become a HUGE soccer fan.

Okay, reason 1. I absolutely love playing soccer. Though I'm really not very great at it. I "stink at it" (if you will ;) 2. Soccer boys, honestly are probably the cutest of all. I just love their nice calfs - haha. 3. I'm positive if I lived here permanently I would be SO into it. The fans here are so heftig (fierce/insane). They had fireworks! (That would so, NOT be allowed in the USA)

The group in front of us was mostly Türkei fans, probably ages 8 to 14, except for one stalwart little boy, decked out in his Österreich gear. They were all so cute though. And they loved tormenting us that Turkey was winning. They were just having so much fun with it, and I loved watching them. One boy was friendly though, he kept giving us high 5s and he said "Österreich und Türkei. Es ist ein Freundschaft" (it's a friendship) and nach das Spiel (after the game) he told us to have a "schönen Abend doch" (pretty/nice evening however) One guy sitting behind us was nice enough to put the Austrian stripes on our faces. He had the sweetest facepaint stick thing, with the colors, it was like MAGIC.

The final score was 4 to 2, Türkei. But, it was still one of my favorite nights here in Wien. And thankfully, it didn't dissapoint at all. Because Claire and I definitely built it up before hand. But it was even BETTER than I could have hoped. We learned all the songs. I was hoping to lose my voice from screaming loud enough, but realized I couldn't shout as loud as I wanted because of how low the melodies were sung. Scade.

"Immer wieder, immer wieder, immer Wieder Österreich"
"Wir singen ROT, wir singen WEIß, wir singen ROT, WEIß, ÖSTERREICH"
"Lalallateedalala" (Not sure exactly how it goes, but they didn't really say anywords, it just seemed to be random nonsense. Though Georg got after me for singing it wrong --- somehow?)
"Wer nicht hopf, er ist ein Türkei"

Anyway, we were in the 5th row. And it was absolutely AMAZING. There is an Österreich Wien vs. Rapid Wien game on December 6th. Und ich glaube, dass ich gehen MUSS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

picture favorites -- London edition

Well, I will write about our Dublin and London adventures another time, maybe. I haven't even written about them in my journal yet. But because I am attempting to stay off of facebook for another week, till next Sunday (or I at LEAST have to survive till Wednesday) I decided I could post a few of our wonderful adventures here, via picture. I think that will please mother the most, and maybe it will help appease my addiction of FB and pictures.

The gorgeous London, England Temple and its reflection. This temple has the 2nd largest plot of land (compared to the other temples) , 28 acres. I am curious to what temple has more land.
We were bored waiting for the fireworks to start. So, we started 7X7 (hah), we set my camera on continual to take about 7 to 10 pics and made faces. This is the only picture we got with the 4 of us smiling, out of about 50 pictures.

 The firework show for Guy Fawkes night was VERY impressive. Maybe the best show I have seen in my life.

The Tower Bridge behind us. We went on an "exhibition" there and watched a little movie on the history of the bridge. We also got to walk across the bridge at the top, and enjoyed the view. (me, Melissa, Ali and Mirielle)

Big Ben (is actually the name of the bell inside the clock) and Parliament and the London Eye.
Windsor Castle is the size of 268 tennis courts. But if you ask Ali, she will tell you the queen has 268 tennis courts. The queen lives at Windsor Castle on the weekends. And this was completely one of my favorite things to do in London.All of us girls at Windsor Castle. We were able to get the Audio Guides, though we didn't want to walk that slow so I only listened to about the first half of every talk on the locations.
I thought this was a sweet picture through the golden gates (surrounding Buckingham Palace) of the trees in Green (?) Park.
Our wonderful double decker Bus ride in London. And it was probably the best double decker ever, with a door in the back, and the stairs were connected to the right outside and while he was stuck in traffic we just jumped right off.

We got to Trafalger Square again and saw a wonderful rainbow there. I was also very happy that the rain had finally stopped.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

blessings from the Lord

Last Sunday I asked Bruce for a blessing because I was not feeling very well. I had the 3 random bumps on the back of my head/neck plus this growing rash on my neck. Plus, I was EXTREMELY homesick. Bruce asked me to explain the situation a little, and I had to hold back the tears. He gave me a wonderful blessing of comfort and of health. One week later and the bump on my neck is totally gone and the 2 on my head behind my ear have shrunk immensely. The rash on my neck is almost gone as well. Shingles are supposed to last 3 to 5 weeks. But I am almost 100% positive that is what I had. The rash was pretty itchy most of the week, but doesn't itch any more and my ear isn't bothering me any more either. The Lord really is watching out for us, especially when we put our faith in Him.

Look how much better it looks today!

On Friday we rode the tube to Green Park and as we were walking through the park to Buckingham Palace Mirielle discovered that she didnot have her camera. She hadn't seen her camera since we were at Windsor Castle a few hours before because she was trying to conserve battery and take less pictures. She searched all of her pockets and her bag and could not find it anywhere. She went back to the tube to see if she could find it somewhere there. I said a little prayer to the Lord that she would be able to find it. Mirielle and Melissa came back a few minutes later with the camera in hand. She had found it in the middle pocket of her sweatshirt. Very likely the camera was there the whole time, though for some reason she couldn't find it before. But it is always good to remember that the Lord is watching out for us, and He did bless her that she found her camera, almost right away.

Saturday we were planning on leaving our hostel 3 hours before our plane was scheduled to take off. We figured that with an hour and a half travel time that seemed like a good amount of time, to check in and find our gate, and wait a little before the plane took off. We ended up not leaving our hostel till about 45 minutes after planned and then Melissa and I have extra pounds so we wanted to run to a grocery store to spend a little of it at least. We ran through the grocery store and grabbed a few things. The lines were a little long, but nothing to worry about from my point of view. Though Tony and Michelle were outside the grocery store immensely freaking out that we wouldn't make it to our flight. A few minutes later we got on the tube and made our way to a trainstation. Mirielle said she checked on line, and told us a station that we could catch a train at to the airport. But when we got there a man working there told us we needed to head to Liverpool street. Which was about 11 stops away. Luckily we didn't have any transfers and could take the "circle line" directly from where we were. The tube was extremely crowded but we HAD to get on anyway and jam ourselves in with our luggage. While we were on the tube I prayed, begging the Lord that we would make our flight in time. Otherwise, how were we going to get home?! We made it to liverpool station with about an hour and a half till our plane was going to leave. We caught a train that was leaving in about 5 minutes, and it was a 45 minute ride to the airport. Ali told us not to worry, because stressing doesn't help anything, and there was nothing we could do about it at that point. The whole time, I kept a prayer in my heart that we would make it in time. We got to the airport at about 6:10 and our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:55. We ran through the airport and got to the kiosk where the lady told us to check at the computers a bit away. I typed my confirmation number into the computer and it said "it is too late to check in. please seek assistance." I ran back to the woman, and a man was there also and told us we could check in with the people. Though the woman still didn't seem to understand and wanted us to go to the computers again. We hurried through security, and they stopped Tawny because she accidentally didn't take her toothpaste out or put it in a plastic bag for liquids. Mirielle and I were the first through and we continued to run through the airport to our gate. Our flight was supposed to leave in about 25 minutes and we got close and I saw on a screen "final boarding call" we got to our gate and there were still lots of other people boarding. Wow, what an answered prayer. We all were able to get on our flight just fine, and we were almost all able to sit CLOSE (not necessarily right next) to each other. It was nice not to have to sit at the airport for 2 hours before I flight left, but I think I'd rather take the wait then the stress I felt last night.

We also didn't know if the Ubahns would be running when we got back into Vienna, but luckily they still were. The bus dropped us off at the Erdberg station on the U3 and I just had to ride the U3 all the way home. Of course I missed my last bus, but its not TOO far of a walk, and I just hurried home from the station. Though that WAS A little difficult with my LARGE bag, stuffed to the brim and my purse. I made it home from the station in 20 to 25 minutes and the Lord was kind enough to answer another prayer and keep me safe all the way home.

I am so grateful for how much the Lord is watching out for each and everyone of His children. I just need to remember not to take advantage of Him and to give Him thanks for those blessings. Of course after each of these incidences I offered a prayer of gratitude.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


When I was in 1st grade I was infected with Herpes Zoster (shingles).

The infection with the varicella zoster virus which causes chicken pox. Sometimes the virus is not completely eliminated from the body, but can come back to cause shingles many years later. Usually shingles is more prevalent in those over 50 because of their weaker immune systems. Some of the symptoms are sensations of itching, burning, oversensitivity, etc. After a couple of days the initial phases are followed by a rash. This is limited to one side of the body and does not cross the midline. Zoster is more likely to occur in people who's immune system is impaired or because of stress. The rash and pain usually subside within 3 to 5 weeks.

That still doesn't explain my (now) 3 bumps. Two behind my ear, one in my hair and one visible, and one on my neck. Mom talked to a doctor today and showed him the picture of my neck, and he said the large bumps could be related to the "shingles" as well. We are assuming, or at least I am, now that my shingles have come back. I had been sick for a while, causing me to have a weakend immune system as well, plus I probably was pretty stressed this week, though I didn't really notice the stress until after the rash and bumps had already been appearing.

Actually the rash first looked like a bug bite. Just like it did when I was 6 years old. Except that time, once it broke out into blisters like it is now, I went to the doctor because we had no idea what it was.
My neck.

A picture of shingles from Wikipedia. --- They look similar, no?

Unfortunately the virus caused two of my little cousins to be infected with chicken pox. One was just a baby too. I really hope Matthi doesn't get them from me this time. I was holding him for a few minutes today because Birgit was finishing getting ready for church and he was crying a lot. Most of the time I was holding him out with my arms and bouncing him up and down. It was really difficult because he is so chubby and heavy (but its a good arm work out right?) I leaned him against my chest a couple of times, but I'm hoping because the bubbles have not popped yet that it will be okay. Maybe it will be good that I am gone this week for that reason, I do NOT want to get him sick.

Also, I don't particularly want my neck to be pussing, but I guess that gives me more of an excuse to wear my scarfs this week.

Sometimes after severe blistering, scarring and discolored skin remain. Fourteen years later and I still have a scar on my right thigh. Though thankfully it has faded a lot since I was in first grade. I'm praying my neck won't be as bad and won't scar, cause that might not look to pleasant.
My scarred thigh :(
I got a blessing from Bruce today. It was mostly for comfort but also to give me health. I know it will work. I have faith, and I know the Lord is watching out for me and I will be okay.

I am so excited to get distracted from everything this week, in Dublin and London and to just completely be loving life, again. I loved life this weekend mostly. And then I got sidetracked, but I'm trying to overcome that and focus on how amazing it was. This week will be even better!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Current Thoughts

  • Anthony and Jana being here was the best. They are two of my favorite people and I wish I could've spent even more time with them. Maybe forever. Thank goodness for Eternal Families. (More to come on their visit later)
  • Scarfs are bomb. I think I'm becoming a scarf person, at least a little bit. Scarfs are not only stylish but they also keep my neck nice and toasty. We'll see if I continue to wear them once I'm home though.
  • Facebook is so lame. I'm really sick of it, right now. And I'm thinking about getting rid of it for a bit. Who knows if I'll ever actually do it. But I did last spring for a month. So, maybe I'll have the motivation again to really do it? The only thing I like is looking at people's pictures on facebook, and posting them for mother to see. Would anyone support me in this decision? Claire and I just made a pack that we will only check it on Sundays. Hopefully that goes okay for us, and the first break will only be a day and a half so maybe that will wean us into it. Wish us luck!!
  • I'm sick of males. And the fact that we only have 5 boys in our group here is a little annoying as well. Because normally I prefer their company. They really aren't that bad. Just sometimes it is so hard with how different male and female's thought processes are. I dislike not being able to understand them whatsoever. And
  • 53 days till I will be home. Depending on whether Mom and Dad and Grandma are coming to pick me up here and travel around with me. If they decide not to and I fly home the 16th, then I will be home in 46 days. Its completely rockin' either way.
  • These 2 bumps behind my ear suck. My head is sensitive there now, and all of a sudden there are two random bumps on the back of my head. It worries me a little bit, but hopefully they'll go away in a couple days and there will be no problem.
  • A 4 pack of chocolate muffins may be one of the best purchases ever. I only ate one yesterday, but it was so absolutely delicious, and moisty and chocolatey. I may eat another for breakfast this morning, I'm really excited for it now!
  • I'm 90% sure of what I'll be doing in January. Often I doubt my decision. Very often actually, but I know it feels right. And hopefully it will be the best decision of my life. I guess time will tell.
  • Mexican food is so good. I went with a few people to the same Mexican restaurant that I went to before. Ali and I split a beef burrito so we could get chips and salsa as well. The salsa wasn't great, but the chips were great and salty. I can't wait to eat Rosa's when I come home.

I think that is all of my thoughts at the moment. I'll try writing about Prague and my time with Anthony and Jana soon. Hugs to all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the ZOO

Our whole group went to the Kreuzenstein castle on Wednesday. It was built over 900 years ago, but destroyed at one point. So they rebuilt it. We went on a tour, but we ended up being there way less time than I expected. So a group of us decided we should go to the zoo!

Going to the San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park is one of my favorite activities while I'm at home. I love seeing all of the animals and I especially love seeing them in their (somewhat) natural habitat at the WAP. I think part of it is because that way I don't feel as bad for them, because then they actually have space to run around, you know, stretch their legs a little. The Zoo in Vienna, the "Tiergarten," is located at Schonbrunn castle and is actually the oldest zoo in the world. That is pretty neat, isn't it? Now, I'm not complaining, but the zoo was a little small. I admit I am spoiled living in Southern California, but really, this zoo wasn't lacking on thevariety of animals it has, it was just lacking on space. The animals are all really close to each other which is fine and also nice for us since we had already been walking around most of the day. Though, I feel really bad for the animals having such small spaces to live. For example, (I don't know if this has to do with his lack of space, but) when we were visiting mister orangutan he was sitting near the window and I went and put my hand on the window and he ran up to the window and put his meanest face on and ran into the window! We were looking at him still when someone took a flash photo (completely allowed) and he ran into the window with this growling looking face again. It was hysterical, and of course at the time we were laughing like crazy. But now thinking about it, I feel really bad for the little guy. MAYBE he wasn't mad about being in a case, but obviously he wasn't very happy about something.

The great thing about this zoo though, was that they (somewhat) recently had baby tigers and lions born. And they are absolutely adorable! Of course everyone was trying to get good pictures of them, so I could hardly see them, and I couldn't even get a picture of the little tigers and only got an okay one of a lion cub. But I did get to see them wrestling with and chasing eachother. Also they have some young polar bears, but they aren't quite as young as the cat cubs, but still looked very cute and cuddly.
Another of my favorite parts was going into the rain forest house ( I don't know the actual name) and they had a dark room with tons of bats flying around. I was in the room with Nick, Mirielle and McKinlee and it was great listening to the other two girls scream as the bats flew almost right at them. I can honestly tell you I never SCREAMED, though I may have shrieked a little. One of the bats even landed right on McKinlee and Nick had quite a tough time getting out because one of the bats tried coming out with him and got stuck in between the two doors.

We also got to see flamingos, fish, turtles, giant tortoises, monkeys (a few kinds), panthers, a cheetah, butterflies (one was even coming right out of the cacoon, but he was taking too long so we couldn't wait for him to finish), sea lions, elephants, penguins, giraffes, koalas, pandas, snakes, hippos, rhinocerous, and probably a few others. I would have to say it was a very succesful day. (Jillian and I on the statue elephants)

We wandered around the gardens for a little till we had to leave to Institute. And I enjoyed a great (I'm guessing it was great) lesson in German on Lehi's vision. He even made each of us read a verse which gave me a little angst (fear auf Deutsch) but luckily I didn't get any hard words in mine. And I understood quite a bit of the lesson, which adds to my gratitude that I have a basic understanding of the scriptures so I could know what was going. For dinner we had pumpkin soup and crepes with nutalla and PEANUT BUTTER for dessert. This was my first time eating PB since I've been here, so it was an enjoyable experience, naturally.

Also, yesterday wasn't succesful because I am still in search of a German word for 'awkward.' Absolutely no one has given me a good answer. The answers I have recieved are, lustig (funny), komish (strange), peinlich (embarrassing) and plump (clumsy - I learned this one from a story read in my German class.) It makes me really sad that the German language is lacking this absolutely wonderful word. Though I an finally learning the difference between schön (pretty, hansdome, nice...), hübsch (pretty, cute - but mainly used as pretty) and süß (sweet, cute - this word would be used to describe a cute child.) Well, thats all for today, or yesterday for that matter. Gute nacht alle.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zurück von Italien

Ach meine Güte, where do I begin? Our trip to Italy was absolutely beautiful. I really do believe Italy is my favorite country, at least outside of the United States.

We first went to Florence on a night train. The bed was not comfortable at all but I slept better than most of the other people in our group so I felt good about that. A few of us bought pasteries for breakfast and mine was absolutely delicious, it was way cheaper and better than all the pasteries I've had in Vienna. We went on a tour of the city and saw St. Lorenzo's, another church and the big bridge across the river. We had some free time so Claire and I bought a really cute scarf in the open market and then we a group of us went to a restaurant and I got some tasty lasagna. We also got gelato twice before we met up with the big group at the Uffizi museum. The second time Claire and I shared so we wouldn't feel too bad about it, but it was absolutely delicious (maybe the best I've ever had), we got raspberry and amaretto flavor. In the Uffizi museum we saw the Boticelli's 'Birth of Venus' and 'Spring' and a bunch of other masterpieces, but after such a long day it was really difficult to pay attention to them all.
St. Lorenzo's.
On the bridge across the river. (Melissa, Claire, me and Kristen)
The river was really dirty but the reflection of the bridges were beautiful.
Nick and I always have fun together on the tours.
Enjoying our gelato (Brad, Trevor, Claire, McKinlee, Kristen and I)
Thursday we woke up and a few of us went to the top of the dome on St. Lorenzo's, it was a breathtaking view of the city so we stayed there for a little while. We went to the Accademia that has Michael Angelo's 'David', it took us about 2 hours to get inside, but I definitely think I appreciated it more this time than I did when I came to Europe at the age of 13. It is incredible how detailed everything is, you could even see the veins on his hand. Claire and I went back to the market and bought a few gifts for some people back home and I bought myself a purse. It is super cute and the zipper broke on the one I brought from home so it was a necessity.
We took a 3 hour long train ride to Venice and had free time for the rest of the evening. We walked around the city and got some dinner and really enjoyed seeing all the canals and teeny alley ways in the city.
Enjoying the view from the top of the dome. We had to take stairs up and our legs were pretty tired. (Me, Claire, Jen and Rachel)
View of the city of Florence
Claire and I loving the view.
We are in Venice! Claire is styling the scarf she bought it Florence.

Friday we went on a tour of the city of Venice which started in St. Mark’s square. Being in Venice definitely reminded me of the movies ‘Italian Job’ and ‘James Bond - Casino Royale.’ On our tour we saw a seagull swoop down and attack a pigeon, it killed it, it was pretty grotesque. We ended our tour at the Market and I bought a peach that was so huge and juicy and delicious. I went with Mirielle and Tawny and Ali on a water bus to the island of Burano (where we thought the glass was blown, but really it is Murano.) It was great getting to know those girls better. Burano was the cutest little island ever. All of the houses and different buildings were painted different colors and most of them were really bright colors. Like there was a pink house next to a turquoise house and a yellow next to a red, etc.
Some gondolas on one of the canals in Venice.

Look how huge that peach was.
The girls are enjoying the sunshine (Danielle, Ali, Mirielle, Tawny, Kasia, Lisa and Cassandra)
We are on a "bus" on the water! (Mirielle and I)
So many different colors.
See a turquoise house next to a pink one - so adorable.
Making wonderful sillhoutte shapes. When I saw the picture I said "wow, I look hecka flexible" probably not one of my best moments (me, Miriella and Ali)
On Saturday, Mirielle, Ali and I rode another water bus to St. Giorgio and went up the bell tower of the church for a glorious view of the islands of Venice. Last time when I came to Venice we didn’t do a lot so I didn’t enjoy it a lot, but this time we went to so many of the other islands that I absolutely loved it. The 3 of us went to the island of Lido and found our way to the beach on the other side of the island. I loved feeling the sand on my feet and Mirielle and I went swimming! It was a little cold, but not too bad, it was really shallow too, though it was great. We made our way back to the hotel and on the way we rode a 50cent gondola across the river. Now I can say I have ridden a gondola, but thankfully didn’t pay so much. We barely made it to the train station 10 minutes before our train departed to Wien.
Ali and I on the island of St. Giorgio.
One of the views from the Bell tower.
We are so happy to be at the beach. Mirielle forgot her swimsuit but still wanted to swim with me.
Yes! We went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Mirielle, Ali, and I at the beach.

My gondola ride.

It was difficult because I don’t know any Italian, but maybe I can learn it some day and visit again. It was so funny because whenever we heard English we got excited, but I got excited when I heard German as well, though here in Austria it doesn’t really excite me. I even asked somebody to take a picture of us in German - I am so cool!

There are so many wonderful things to see in Italy, I wish we had gotten to go to Rome as well. But I am grateful I got to see a few things in Florence and Venice that I didn’t see before. I got to enjoy some good Italian pasta and pizza and I got gelato 5 times! (Don’t worry, we were walking around plenty that it burned off the calories.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday best...

We got to watch two sessions of General Conference yesterday at the Stake Center here in Wien. We even got to watch the Sunday morning session live, so it was fun knowing that everyone back home was watching and hearing the exact same messages from our living prophets as I was.

Its so interesting comparing my feelings of the two catholic masses I have gone to here, to one of our church meetings, whether a normal sacrament meeting or the twice a year event of General Conference. I love the gospel. I used to hate wearing dresses or skirts, but now I like it. And I love getting dressed up for church and having an excuse to wear my "Sunday Best."

I think I paid more attention to this years conference than I have ever done before. I'm sure actually being in a church building instead of sitting on my comfortable couch helped. And I kept good notes too!

I especially enjoyed Sis. Dalton's talk on being a virtuous daughter. We really do have the strength to do anything with the help of the Lord. We need to be examples to everyone around us, because there is so much power in a righteous example. Being on a BYU study abroad I wouldn't have thought I would have much opportunity or need to be a good example as a member of the church. But I have made some new friends here and I hope they can see how important the gospel really is to me and I hope I convey the gospel in a good light to them. It is so amazing to me how strong the members are here. They had to go to highschool with out a support group of friends who are also members of the church. They had to be the examples (maybe the only one in their whole school) for their other friends, to be the one who dresses modestly, who doesn't drink or smoke. I am so impressed with them, and their strength.

I also expecially enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk on prayer. So often I forget to pray to the Lord, to really pray, in earnest. I end up only intently praying when I find myself in times of need. I found it really helpful at the beginning of this year, when I was going through a tough time, to only say prayers of gratitude. I'm sure there were things I wanted to ask for, but I made the personal decision to only give thanks in my discussions with the Lord and during that time I felt so close to Him.

I am so grateful we have living prophets today, How lucky are we that we have the truth in these treacherous times. More than ever we need to listen to and heed their words. I am so thankful that I have learned this throughout my life.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Austria traveling....

We met at the Institute early in the morning (Wednesday) and drove to Mauthausen, which once was a concentration camp. It was really foggy that morning while we were walking around, which I definitely think helped to set the mood. We walked around and saw some rooms with beds where the prisoners slept, we saw a gas chamber and a creamatory as well. We also saw a cliff where they would make the prisoners "sky dive" off or even push off their friends. We this really long set of stairs that they would force the prisoners to walk up carrying large rocks and if one fell everyone behind them would get knocked back to the bottom as well. It is so unfathomable for me to imagine anyone ever conflicting these types of pain on someone, on any one, no matter what sex or race or religion they may be. We next went to St. Florian Monastery and got to see some Catacombs. We sung a couple of hyms there because the acoustics were good. We finished our day driving to Hallstatt and having free time for the rest of the evening. The city is right on the edge of a lake and is surrounded by the mountains. It is one of my favorite cities in the world (that I've seen so far.)
They had memorials like this in so many different languages.
Jumping off the fountain at St. Florian. (Jen McCall, Claire Sorensen, McKinlee Covey, and I)
Happy to be at our hotel in Hallstatt. (Jen, Claire and I -- roommates for the trip)
Isn't it a gorgeous city?

The next morning (Thursday) we rode a tram up the mountain and went on a tour of a Salt Mine inside the mountain. We got to ride some slides that the miners used to transport themselves around and one of them was long and fun and we went really fast. Afterwards we went on a hike up to a waterfall, which was gorgeous. The only problem is I didn't bring good hiking shoes to Austria with me, and it was raining so my shoes and socks were totally soaked by the time the hike was over.

Loving our cute suits for the saltmines. (Jen, me, Claire and McKinlee)

Gorgeous view from a bridge above the city.

We made it to the waterfall! (Mirielle, Kasia, Cassandra, Sydney, Melissa, Claire, Camille, Allison, Rachel, Jen, Ali and I)

My hiking buddies. (Claire, Jen and I)

We spent the night in Salzburg. We went on a tour that morning (Friday), with the sweetest guide ever. We saw the Mirabel gardens, (that had parts of The Sound of Music filmed there) and also Mozart's birthhouse. After the tour we went to this great outlook where you could see almost the whole city, with the river and the castle on the hill, it was beautiful. We went on a short bus ride to schloss Hellbrunn and went on a tour there. The original archduke who had it built for him was quite a jokster so he had a bunch of random places throughout his gardens were water would come out and squirt people, except of course in the places where he would sit or be standing.

Beautiful view of Salzburg.

Walking on the fountain, like in Sound of Music. (Jillian, me, Claire, Jen, McKinlee and Melissa)

After we got wet from the trick fountains. (Nick Brewer and I - he got soaked on purpose)

A replica of the gazebo in Sound of Music. (me, Jen and Claire)

We rode two different gondolas up the mountain (Saturday). There was a few inches of snow at the top of the mountain and my feet were freezing. Luckily our hike was downhill from there so it got warmer and as long as we were keeping a steady pace my feet and hands weren't cold. It was gorgeous view from the top of the mountain, to see the green villages down below but to see the snow covered pine trees where we were. We went to a soccer game that afternoon, with a local Dorfgastein team, versus who knows. The boys were all probably in their 20s.

Riding up the gondola to the top of the mountain for our hike. (Claire, me and McKinlee)

Really cold and muddy on our hike. (McKinlee, Claire and I)

We loved the scenery. (Camille and I -- just for you Mom and Dad)

Beautiful view of Dorfgastein.

We went to a Catholic Mass, (Sunday) it was a special mass because it was their Thanksgiving Day. I didn't really understand any of it, but I could tell when they had a money donation and the sacrament. Because it was Thanksgiving a lot of people were dressed up in traditional clothing and they had a parade after the service was finished.

Posing with some of the men that were in the parade. (Jen, Claire, me, Sydney, Ali, Kristin, Tawny and McKinlee)

We had to wake up way too early (Monday) to hike up the mountain to a little cabin where we ater our breakfast. It was really steep and the altitude does all but kill me. But once we got to the cabin the breakfast was delicious, we had bread and delicious strawberry jam, and cake with powedered sugar on it, and hot chocolate, and scrambled eggs with ham. It was probably the best breakfast I've had so far. On the way down we fed some apples to some ponies and I pet a cat, which really made me miss Pipin. We had a 5 hour train ride back to Vienna, but somehow it didn't seem that long. The Greindl's have moved into their new home so hopefully McKinlee and I will be able to unpack everything again and finally in the next couple of days.

It was very foggy early in the morning, and still a little foggy when we got to the cabin. (Claire and I)

Petting the cute cuddly cat. (Nick Brewer)