Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Went Inside Today

One of my favorite primary songs is I Love To See The Temple. The song starts out with the words "I love to see the temple. I'm going there someday." Ever since I was little I have loved looking for the castle on the hill (AKA the temple). And always I've wanted to go inside. Well today I was no longer going there someday. I was going there TODAY!

I was a little nervous, but I felt like I was pretty prepared. I had taken both a mission prep and a temple prep class and I had read a few different books about preparing for the temple. I was ready.

It was so beautiful inside and out, just like a castle should be! I felt just like a princess and I knew I was just that. It was a wonderful experience to hear the teachings of the temple and be surrounded with family and friends. There was a moment when I felt a little overwhelmed but then I was reminded that I didn't have to understand it all. I didn't have to remember everything. I just needed to focus on the spirit and feeling the peace of the temple. So that's what I did and it was great.

I love the temple and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to go inside today. I know that the things taught in the temple are true and that it truly is the House of the Lord. I love the peace I feel there and I can't wait to go back again. I am also grateful for the people that were able to be there with me and for the examples that they are to me. I am so excited to serve the people of the Philippines and to teach them about this glorious gospel so that they too may have the wonderful blessings of the temple. 46 more days!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Have I Ever Had 10 Toes

Have you ever played that game "Never have I ever..." where you say something you've never done and anyone who has done it is out? Well, I'm the champ of that game. Never have I ever been on an airplane. Never have I ever been to Disney Land. Never have I ever had 10 toes. Wait, what? That's right. I've never had 10 toes.

I was born with a condition known as fibular hemimelia, which is characterized by a completely or partially missing fibula. Because the fibula is missing, the tibia is often bowed, resulting in a length discrepancy between legs. Usually the discrepancy is anywhere from 15% to 30% difference in leg length. My parents were told that when I was done growing my right leg would be about 6 inches shorter than my left. The missing bone also results in an unstable ankle joint and a partially formed foot. Thus, the reason I have never had 10 toes, I was born with only 3 on my right foot. 

Well how did I get it? Did my mom eat something she wasn't supposed to? Did she do something crazy while she was pregnant with me? No, my mom did nothing wrong. There is currently no known cause for the condition. It randomly occurs within the first two months of fetal development and for whatever reason, the leg doesn't form correctly. 

There are two treatment options, 1) leg lengthening and reconstructive surgeries or 2) amputation and a prosthesis. The first consists of multiple major surgeries over the course of 15 years to lengthen the leg bone and muscle and reconstruct the foot and ankle. This option may have allowed my leg to be salvaged and I may have gained full use of the leg by the time I reached adulthood, but I would have had to endure huge amounts of pain and would most likely have missed a lot of schooling due to the care I would have required. The second option was to amputate the foot at about 12 months of age, issue a prosthesis about 2 months prior to the surgery, and learn to walk on the prosthesis. I would have complete mobility and function of that leg comparable to the other one and life would go on as normal, except for the occasional stares and curious questions of others.

My parents chose the latter (a decision I am SO grateful for) and I underwent a Symes amputation (meaning through the ankle joint) when I was 14 months old. A pie shaped piece of bone was also taken out of my bowed tibia to straighten it out. A few months later I was in my new stylish hot pink prosthesis and learning to walk, just like any other toddler.

Over the years, I have gone through 18 legs, all provided free of charge by Shriners' Hospital, a wonderful organization which I will talk about in a later post. Each one is unique and has gone through it's own challenges with me. And each one has made me stronger. People have asked me, "Do you ever wish you had 2 real legs?" and my answer without hesitation is always no. If I had 2 real legs, I probably wouldn't have accomplished half of the things that I have. If I had 2 real legs, I wouldn't have met some of the most amazing people I have ever met. If I had 2 real legs, I wouldn't have had many of the awesome opportunities that I've had. And quite frankly, if I had 2 real legs I wouldn't be me. Being an amputee has had such a huge part in making me who I am and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So if you ever wondered what happened to my leg but were afraid you'd offend me if you asked, there ya go. And for future reference, if you have questions just ask! I'm not offended by them at all. In fact, I'd rather you ask questions than just have to wonder for the rest of your life. So if you have questions, feel free to comment below :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

You're Gonna Miss This

I have officially finished my freshman year at the University of Utah! I can't believe how quickly it has flown by! When I moved to Salt Lake City and started college last August I never could have even imagined the experiences I was going to have and the people I was going to meet. To be honest, college and I didn't start out on the best foot. I didn't really know too many people, my roommates were almost never home, my classes were hard, and I was still getting used to living on my own. But it got better and looking back now I wouldn't change a thing. I was blessed with so many wonderful people and opportunities! One of the biggest blessings in my eyes was that I was able to move in with Amanda, Avery, and Lya because not only did those three become my best friends, I also got three more less expected ones, three sweet boys that offered to help me move and eventually ended up singing songs in our shower, and with them came so many adventures!

Fall 2012
I'm gonna miss a lot of things about college. I'm gonna miss secretly laughing at the people running to catch the shuttle and then having to suck up my pride and do the same. I'm gonna miss getting donuts and chocolate milk every week in my LEAP class. I'm gonna miss falling asleep in the heavenly womb chairs in the library. I'm gonna miss hearing Brother Case's awesome stories in Mission Prep and always being able to count on free food at the Institute. I'm gonna miss the city lights and beautiful sunsets. I'm gonna miss habitually checking my mail everyday and getting super excited when it miraculously wasn't empty. I'm even going to miss trips to the HC, not because the food was good, or even edible, but because I have so many memories there.
Winter 2013
But what I'm going to miss the most is the people. I'm gonna miss Freshman Council meetings every Tuesday and family dinners afterwards. I'm gonna miss Neena and Oliver's entertaining arguments. I'm gonna miss hearing about Ashlynn's polygamist schemes and every other hilarious thing that came out of that girl's mouth. I'm gonna miss trying not to laugh listening to Chase and Ashlynn argue like a married couple. I'm gonna miss going to the temple every week with my roommates, late night talks outside Amanda's door, and sleepovers in the living room. I'm gonna miss Avery's cute little notes and gifts and her attempts to get Amanda and I to the gym despite our endless list of excuses not to. I'm gonna miss being able to count on Pitch Perfect quotes and a Taylor Swift jam session to 22 every day. I'm gonna miss never going to bed without a hug and a reminder that I was loved. I'm gonna miss Sunday morning brunch before church. I'm gonna miss our "study" parties in the living room. I'm gonna miss going on adventures with Jeremy, Sione, and London and knowing they would watch out for us all the way. I'm gonna miss hearing them say that they were "just watching out for their favorite suite". I'm gonna miss having them randomly show up at our door. I'm gonna miss hearing London rock the guitar. I'm gonna miss that angel voice of Sione's. I'm gonna miss Jeremy's awesome improv raps and Sione's beat-boxing. I'm gonna miss seeing "The Shower Song" performed live in our actual shower. I'm gonna miss getting after the boys for clanning too much. I'm gonna miss having Sione make up songs just for us and falling asleep on the couch to the sound of his ukulele. I'm even gonna miss their silly little pranks.

The Best Friends (minus Amanda)
I'm gonna miss a lot of things but most of all I'm gonna miss them; Amanda, Avery, Lya, Sione, Jeremy, and London. Saying goodbye to them all this weekend was rough. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears. Or a lot of them. Goodbyes aren't as hard when you know you're going to see that person again though, and I know I'll see them all again. It's the big one in two months I'm worried about. But even then, there 's this:
"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
I am so grateful for the opportunity I've had to attend the University of Utah and to have met the people I have. They can't possibly know how much they mean to me because I'm not really very good at telling them. They have all made me a better, stronger, happier person. It's impossible not to be better, not to feel like you can do anything, not to be happy when those 6 are around you. I love them oh so much and I am incredibly blessed to have met them.

Spring 2013
I'm gonna miss college. I really am. But don't worry University of Utah! I'll be back! Just give me 18 months :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Final Freshman Adventures

The final two weeks of my Freshman year at the University of Utah were filled with adventures with fabulous people. Here's just an idea of what they were like.

Color Festival
We weren't able to go to the big one in Spanish Fork so we went to the one in SLC! It was a lot smaller scale but it was still a blast!
                             Before                                                        After 

Suicide Rock
After Color Fest, a couple of our favorite boys took us to Suicide Rock. It's just this big rock with a bunch of really cool graffiti on it. Of course we left our mark :)

FC Banquet
Freshman Council was definitely the best decision I made this year! I met so many amazing people I wouldn't have met and had lots of awesome experiences I wouldn't have had otherwise. It's so strange to realize we won't be having meetings every Tuesday anymore and we won't be having little family dinners and I might never see some of these people, who have become such a big part of my life, again. I'm definitely going to miss this but I know the people in this group are going to accomplish some amazing things!
This is one amazing group of people
Sunset Hike
London and Jeremy took Avery and I on a hike that was supposed to be to The Living Room on Saturday. But we got lost. All I really wanted was to see the sunset without the city in the way though, so I was happy :)

The Pie
It's Legendary. All U of U students have to go there at some point, so we chose to make it part of our week of adventures!
                       Roommates                                  All my favorite people!

Hike to The Living Room
The boys couldn't let their pride be shattered so they went back and actually found The Living Room and then took us with them Tuesday night. It was an adventure, that's for sure. They took us on the most difficult trail, we listened to some epic music, quoted Pitch Perfect, watched the sunset, had a few near-death experiences, went down the "slip n' slide" on our bums so we didn't fall down the mountain, and finally made it home safe and sound.

Temple Road Trip
On Wednesday, Amanda, Avery, and I decided to go to all of the temples North of Salt Lake in one day. We went to the Bountiful, Brigham City, and Logan temples. It was really awesome and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to go to the temple!

Build a Fort
Wednesday night we did exactly what college students are supposed to do... We built a fort! Avery and I had never made a fort before but thanks to Amanda's expertise we built the coolest fort you've probably ever seen! Then we watched The Office and had a sleepover in our little fort :)

Hike to the U
Thursday we hiked to the U!

Natural History Museum
After our hike, we went over to the Natural History Museum. I'm not much of a history person but the dinosaurs were pretty darn cool! However, my favorite part was probably laying in the sun on the roof.