Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Here, There, and Everywhere

I can't even believe Europe has come and gone. I feel like I just filled out my application last week, and here I am back in the US of A. I have to say, It was pretty easy to forget all about reality when running through the streets of six different countries in Europe. Who would have thought!?

"Scuzie" was probably the most used phrase wandering through Italy. Im not sure if it was the only thing easy enough to pronounce, or the fact we were with a group of over  fifty people so every step we took someone would get run into. So if you consider being fluent in Italian being able to say "excuse me" then Im practically bi-lingual. 

While visiting the
Colliseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi fountain, Vatican city, and the Sistine Chapel I literally felt like I was in disneyland. I know, I know it doesn't look anything like it and there aren't any rides, but nothing felt real! Needless to say it took me a while to take everything in and not feel like I was living in a dream.  Luckily a threw a coin in the Trevi fountain so if I go back, I won't be in such a daze. 
Let me tell you, one of the hardest parts of initially landing in Italy was not the jet lag, but....reading a real map, pathetic I know. I wish I was kidding. Generally speaking I am probably the most directionally challenged human to ever walk the earth. My eyes were quickly opened to just how awful I actually was when opening the map and not even knowing where I was, let alone where I wanted to end up. Although, sometimes it worked in our favor because we ended up seeing parts of the country we wouldn't have otherwise.


Saying goodbye to Italy was bitter sweet.While we traveled I learned rather quickly how I prefer country over the city, so I was ready for a little country hop and change of scenery. Next on our stop were the Chez Republic, Germany and Austria. To be completely honest, there were times when I literally had no idea what country we were in. The language barrier didn't help much either. I soon figured out that smile and nod was probably my most practical way of communicating, playing charades was rather helpful at times too.  Now I thought I had seen natural beauty before, but quickly learned that was nothing in comparison to the drive through the Swiss Alpps. It was absolutely jaw dropping, I thought the mountains in Utah and Lake Tahoe were big...

We did everything from taking a tip to some salt mines(which was more like umpa lumpas taking a trip to Willie Wonka's factory), seeing the remains of the Berlin wall that still stand,  to visiting a Holocaust museum. What a heart wrenching experience that was. I was so thankful to be born when I was, where I was, and into the the family I was born into. I can not even imagine being in that position, and I was truly humbled. One of the best parts of Austria was the "Sound of music" tour. I know get to say I walked where Julie Andrews walked....I guess I'm practically famous. It was probably a good thing I wasn't in the movie though, let's just say I sound nothing like the Von Trapp family.

We said goodbye to the beautiful green trees, autumn leaves, and clean air and headed to France. I have to say it  did not make the best first impression. As we stood on top of the Arch de Triumph we thought our eyes may have been deceiving us, but they weren't....there he was, a naked man was just meandering across the street. Next thing we knew the roads were blocked, police were tackling him to the ground and people were taking pictures left and right. I know the French tend to have a great fashion sense but let's hope being nude is not the next up and coming trend. Our opinions soon changed as we took an elevator to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and saw over the entire city. It was literally like we were on top of the world. We visited the infamous Lock Bridge, played bottle cap soccer in the Louvre, said hello to our good friend Mona Lisa, ate our weight in cheese, and went to the gardens of Versailles. It was like the secret garden in real life, perfect for a never ending game of hide and seek.
We finally headed to a place where we would be able to 
communicate with other people...England! I had never been so thankful for english speakers. And soon I would become even more grateful for the use of cars for transportation. Remember the directionally challenged issue I mentioned earlier, it was about to get even worse. Blue line, yellow line, district line, circle line, Northern line, Metropolitan line, let's just throw in a hexagon line while we are at it! As confusing as it was, there were others who knew where they were going so we made it to all of the right places.

We got to do baptisms at the LDS temple in Preston,visited the locations where early apostles Wilford Woodruff, Orson Hyde, and Heber C.Kimball taught the gospel to the early Saints, we saw the Queen's jewels in the  Tower of London, the Magna Carta, and Rosetta Stone in the local museum, stopped in to Westminister Abbey, went to visit good ole' Sherlock Holmes' house, reenacted the Beatles picture on Abbey Road, saw the changing of the Guard (If people ask I'll  just say I saw the Queen through the window), Saw Big Ben, the London Eye, walked across the London Bridge, and got to see four broadway plays:The lion King, Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked.  I know you aren't really supposed to have favorites, but I have to admit, England was by far the most fun. Maybe I was in a trance because everyone had accents, so it made everything seem more fun then it really was, but even if those were gone, well..... Austria would come in a close second. At each place I found myself thinking, could I live here. And the only place I answered with a definite yes was Austria. Will that happen, most likely not, but it was fun to think about!  

It truly was a trip of a life time. I had a blast with the people I was with, had many opportunities to talk about the church and what I believed (this is one of the couples I talked to the right), visit places I never dreamed I would see in real life, and create memories I will cherish forever.However, I didn't expect to learn as much as I did. Not only about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but about other religions, those who sacrifice so much for what they believe in, and most importantly myself.

Within each of us there is a desire to learn, to seek for answers, and to share with others what we know. We may not agree with the way people act, what they wear, the way they speak, the way they treat others,or the lifestyle they choose to live. But, no matter where in the world you go, you can see that there is one commonality among all individuals.  We each have a common desire in finding purpose within or about ourselves. To know that in some way, because of something, or to some one... we are important. In discovering about yourself, you then have the ability help others discover their potential. No matter where in the world you are, you can have an influence on someone's life for good, and be...

Positively contagious

Monday, October 28, 2013

One Small Step....

When first hearing the word contagious, it's likely an assumption would be made that it's regarding an illness. With this can come a negative connotation.

This however can be changed by addressing the word "contagious" in a more positive light. Anything can be contagious really, but ultimately being positively contagious is what will make a difference in the world.

Clearly, this is not an easy task. Let along nearly impossible if done by one person. So what's the key... a chain relation. And not only be a part of it, but be the first person to start it.

The first piece to this chain...turn inward.

Now this may seem backwards as contagious implies affecting others. Yet, in order to positively influence those around you, it is necessary to do a little soul searching.

As divinely created individuals we have been given talents and abilities. To some the talent of being artistic, others are athletes, some have the ability to listen and understand, others have been given the gift of happiness. Some talents we have and others we are striving to develop. But in finding, comes sharing. By initially focusing inward, we can then turn outward. By influencing one, you can influence multiple then affecting hundreds, and eventually thousands, creating a chain reaction.

This is the beginning of being

  Positively Contagious