Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I am back!!

I am home now!!! I got back to California on Wednesday evening, August 25th, and then on Thursday afternoon, after unpacking, washing all of my clothes, and repacking, we packed the car and drove back to Provo, Utah. So I was at home for a total of 20 hours!!! But all of my clothes were finally clean, and dry from a dryer machine!
We arrived in Provo at 3:30 a.m. ... it took us a while to get on the road, but because we had five drivers in the car, we were able to keep switching. I was able to drive the last hour and a half probably because my body thought it was 1 p.m. (Europe time) instead of the middle of the night. When we arrived at Aunt Melissa's, the one time they locked all of their doors, and were asleep is when we arrive in the middle of the night. Oh well, we just called and called until Aunt Melissa woke up and let us in. I quickly crawled in bed with Ellen, who had been in Utah for a month. It was so exciting to finally see Ellen!!! We left Downey quickly so that we could be with Ellen, and our entire family was reunited again!!!

I moved into my apartment on Thursday, but stayed with my family until they left on Friday afternoon to drive home and make it to a wedding on Saturday morning. So now i live in the FLSR (Foreign Language Student Residency) which is on-campusing housing for students who want to live in an apartment where the rules include only speaking the language of the 'house' you belong to. I live in the German house, so in my apartment I normally only speak German! It is really a great experience!! I have four roommates taht are awesome! And they all help me with my German skills that are still lacking. There are 9 different languages total in our complex. German, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, and Portuguese. I really enjoy living here not only because I still get to speak German all the time, but because the people here are super nice and they all have had many world experiences!
Viel Spass!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reise (trip)

I am now in Dorfgastein, Austria, a little tiny dorf (town) with a little over a thousand people. It is in the middle of the Alps! It is so beautiful! Yesterday we went hiking in beautiful mountains! It was such a magnificent view below! Definitely should be on your list of things to do in your lifetime! It started pouring rain as we were on our way down, we were basically in the middle of the clouds, and right next to a thunder storm. It was a bit scary, but we made it down safely, and soaking wet!
We left Vienna on Tuesday early morning, and made our way to Hallstatt, but before that, we went to Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Wow! Powerful. That is all I gotta say. All those things I have learned in my history classes, just became so much more real.
We then made our way to Hallstatt, a little town in the center of the Alps, at least it felt like it. Huge mountains on all sides of us, with a lake in the middle. While we were there, we went into the largest Salt Mine in Europe! It was really neat to be in the middle of a mountain! A few of us rented a boat, and hung out in the middle of the lake for an hour. It was so relaxing! About ten of us jumped into the freezing lake at 10pm, a true polar bear slunge, in the middle of the Alps!! IT was really, really cold, but an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!
After Hallstatt, we stopped in Salzburg for two days. It was fun to see lots of the places where The Sound of Music was filmed! We have been singing lots of the songs form the musical this past week!
On our way here to Dorfgastein, we went into an Ice Cave, where it was 0 degrees celcius, but really awesome to see so much ice!! Again, it was cool to be in the middle of a mountain ( no pun intended ☺).
We will be here in Dorfgastein until Friday morning, where we will go bak to Vienna for a day, and then most of the group flies home on Satuday, the same day that Russell flies in!!! I am so excited that he is coming!!!!!!! I can’t believe how fast this summer has flown by!

20 years old

My birthday was on Sunday, our last Sunday as a BYU group in Vienna. It was a really great day! I was in Primary instead of relief society because a lady asked Anne and I if we could help her sing Families can be together forever, and I love to see the temple (auf deutsch of course) for the kids. There are only about six kids in the entire Primary. It was really cute listening to the lesson about the temple, and to see how much those kids already know about the gospel. I am so grateful for Primary and that we have been learning the gospel since we were very young! It was really great to be at church worshiping the lord on my birthday. Fast and testimony meeting was also really amazing! It is so wonderful to feel the spirit even in another language. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony again in German.

After church, Anne and I went back to the bishop’s and had lunch with the family, Poppyseed, and Berry Knödel. It was realy yummy! Oh, and before we went to church, the family all sang happy birthday to me. It was a wonderful day! Later that night, I went back over to Heather’s house to make dinner together, and also to make the box cake that my mom had sent me. However, the oven was not working, so we made up the batter, and then cooked it like pancakes, well sort of. As we finished making dinner, I was all of a sudden blindfolded, and for the next thirty minutes, blindly lead by Kari, Heather, Megan, and Leah to four different u-bahn stations, I had no idea where we were going, and finally I was unblindfolded at Schönbrunn Palace!! We had a picnic in front of the palace! It was magical! I had a great birthday!!! It was really wonderful, and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people. Thank you for all of your birthday wishes!

AUGUST 1, 2009

Wow it is twenty minutes before august 2, 2009 in Vienna, Austria. WOW! So I have twenty minutes left as a teenager ☺ it is really crazy how time flies, I thought that I would just stay young forever, but I am actually excited to turn another year older, because with that, I am another year wiser too ☺ I have been thinking about the last year of my life, and I really have had a lot of life changing experiences this past year…

Last week of school and moving:

We finally moved to the Bishops house. He has two kids, Jonathan is 6 and Matthias is 1. He and his wife were really nice! I never really spoke to them before we moved into their house. It is really far from the center of the city (which is where I used to live). It is at the end of an u-bahn (metro) station, and then we had to take a bus for a few more stops, but it was a really cute house. They have a front yard, and on Sunday Anne and I laid on lawn chairs as we relaxed and read. It was really nice to get away from the city for a few days. Instead of five minutes to the center of the city, it took about a half an hour.
Last day of German classes – So we finished our German classes on July 30th. We had our finals and said goodbye to our German teachers Patrick and Peter. Peter has been our teacher the entire summer, and I have really enjoyed having him teach our class. He was really dedicated to helping us learn the language, especially the grammar, and he was really funny too. Our other teacher, Patrick was really great because he had us write a few essays about topics such as public transportation, and an experience in our lives that had a significant impact. I really fel like my German has improved a ton since I have been here in Austria, and I am so glad that I will be living in the German house when I get back!

Art museums – We went into several art museums with our art class, and again it was way better than sitting in a classroom looking at slideshows all day. We would meet at Professor Isaak’s apartrment and she would show us slides of what we were going to see in the museums the next day. It was really amazing!! We saw lots of works by Gustav Klimt including the famous “The Kiss”. WE also saw works by Kokoschka, Schiele, Claude Monet, Albrecht Dürer, Holbein, Breugel, Caravaggio, Rubens, Velazquez, Rembrant, Vermeer, David, Friedrich, Renoir, and the very famous Raphael. I really enjoyed time looking at paintings instead of just whizzing through museums like I would normally do because I previously didn’t really know anything about art. It was really great learning more about the details of a piece of art. For one of our assignments, we had to sit in front of a piece of art for at least 15 minutes and pick a character and write our thoughts as though we were that character in the painting. That assignment really changed the way I look at a piece of artwork. I also began to appreciate that, wow! How did these painters put so much detail into their works? Talent!!
Art project and poem: For another one of our assignments, we had to pick one of the three secessionist artists (Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele) and create an art piece after their style. I chose to take one of Schiele’s pieces and recreate it. I had lots of fun using water colors and colored pencils to paint. We also had to write lyrics that one of two composers (Arnold Schönberg, and Gustav Mahler) would write music to. Mahler did a series of depressing “Kindertotenlieder” and several of us wrote poems in this style. For our last day of art class, Wednesday, July 29th, we had a ‘Salon’ where we all shared our pieces of artwork. It was a fun way to end our class.

After classes were over on Thursday, I went to a surprise birthday party for Victoria, one of the YSAs in my ward. It was really nice to just sit outside, eat really yummy German food, and shat for a few hours (all in German, it was wonderful!!) The people here in Austria are really sweet! It has been such a great experience getting to know the people who live here. I definitely have a new perspective, now that I know people who live all over the world! I have also met many people from the middle east who have come here to get away from the corruption that is going on in their home countries.

Thursday night I tried to find my new home, the bishop’s, in the dark, and I hadn no idea what the address was, or where I needed to get off the bus. It was almost midnight, and the last bus. I only knew that the house was by the cemetery, I said lots of prayers and met lots of angels. Luckly my roommate was home and was able to give me the address and describe some of the buildings near by. I just have to say that Heavenly Father really was watching over me the entire time. Although I was really panicked, He helped me find the house really quickly, and no harm came over me! I do believe in MIRACLES!!

Crazy cuz it is the last weekend in Vienna, I feel panicked hopefully I have seen all that I want to, I need to enjoy the time that I have had, and the opportunity that I have had to be here.
Speaking German helps me think in German, and it makes my English worse
I have been using German grammer when I have been speaking English… ☺
I love it though!
The next two weeks we are going on adventures
Salzburg, Halsstadt, Dorfgastein


swimming in the donau… we’ve gone swimming lots of times… P.S. I jumped off a bridge in to the river on August 1st!! Kylen and Phil jumped first, then I said to myself, hey this would be a fun last thing to do as a 19 year old! So, they said that they were going to jump again because it was so much fun, and I ran up there with them. As we were about to climb over the bridge, Danny, who was taking pictures said that he had to do it too, so all four of us jumped together. Of course I screamed, and lost control of my body, so I didn’t go straight in. Instead, I landed on my behind, and wow that hurt real bad! But, it was still fun! A great last thing to do as a 19 year old. I found a few bruises on my thigh a few days later, and they are still visible, and I am still a bit sore on my back side, but, I am so glad that I faced that fear. It was really funny because I didn’t allow myself to feel fearful, like I normally allow myself. It was kind of a neat experience because I kind was able to control my level of fear. That might sound pretty weird, but it was a great experience for me. This year I am really going to try to work on overcoming some of my great fears that I have.
There was a crazy storm on the way to mckay’s house …flooding in the streets. Broken window in our apartment because of the strong winds
Saturday, July 25th… Alex’s hochzeit party (wedding reception). She got married in Holland on Wednesday then came back for a reception on Saturday at the ward house. We had to me moved out of our apartment by the 31st of July. It has been crazy pretty much the last few weeks as the apartment has been getting cleared out. Anne and I were worried because we didn’t know where we would be moving to, and it was during finals and such…
Sunday feeling at home in this ward, I really love my ward. The people are so kind, and really my favorite part is hearing the gospel in German!
Making pizza with heather, leah, kari, megan on Sundays we started having dinner together!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trust in the Lord

I just received an amazing email from my little brother Jacob. He doesn’t seem to be so little any more. He is definitely growing up, and that excites me, yet that also means that he is no longer the little rascal he once was. I know that there are many great memories ahead, and that excites me! My sister Ellen is also growing up. It seems that as I came here to Vienna in the summer of 2009, everyone back in the states are really growing up. That is a bittersweet moment, because when I get back, I will be a little older too! This is the biggest step I have made in my life thus far, and wow, there is no turning back to childhood anymore. When I get back to the states, I will no longer officially be a teenager, which means new responsibilities, and new opportunities to grow.

A few thoughts on the past few weekends. Grandpa was in the hospital during Grandma Ellen’s 80th birthday. The next weekend, the father of Sharon Ready, (a good friend from my stake back home) suddenly past away. He was the rock of their family, and there are still a few young children at home with a mother who is ill. The emotions of the death of a loved one came flowing back. Death is a struggle to work through, but I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of eternal families. One of my roommates from BYU last year went into the hospital because of hypothermia. The next weekend, Russell went on an adventure to walk from the Provo Temple to the Salt Lake Temple. On the way, he got dehydrated and had heat stroke, and ended up in the hospital after a few seizures. This past week, I found out that my three-week-old cousin Clarissa is struggling for life. After a few surgeries, she is doing better, but is on 24-hour watch in the hospital. We still don’t know how long she will make it. I also found out that one of my best friends will be married at the end of this year.

What a roller-coaster life! Life is so fragile, and I am so grateful for the knowledge that “all flesh is in His Hands.” So many times in the past month has the Lord given me a test. It is by no means been an easy ride, especially being across the world from all of my family when this is all going on. However, He never said that it would be easy. He never said, ‘Hillary, when you get to Austria, the language will just suddenly be in your head. Time is going to stop on the other side of the world, and everything will work out perfectly!” He has said however, “Trust in the Lord with all thy might, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The Lord has really been teaching me that I need to truly put my trust in Him. He does know all things. He does have a plan for each of us. He does know which experiences we need to have in order to strengthen us individually. Life is not meant to be easy. Life is a test. It is a gift from God to be tested. “And if men come into me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)