Sunday, October 23, 2016

how we met

This is mostly for posterity's sake, but here is how me and Shae met each other.

I was in the fourth transfer of my mission, so I had been out around six months. It was my first transfer in Catania (Sicily), and it was zone conference. Zone conference was kind of a big deal down there in Sicily because we literally never saw the mission president. Our mission is so big and includes islands etc so we really didn't get a lot of interaction. It was going to be a 2 day zone conference where we got to have interviews with the president, and then a day of the zone conference and probably arancini for lunch (woo!). 

We showed up to the Catania church in the evening (probably after doing finding) for interviews and naturally that place was packed with missionaries from the other cities in the zone. I was new to the mission and I had spent all my time on the island of Sardegna so I didn't really know many other missionaries. I was waiting in the entrance of the church for some sisters to finish their interviews, because I needed to take them back to our apartment where they'd be staying the night, and there were like four or five anziani I hadn't seen before waiting too. 

I walked up to one and it went something like this, "Hi Anziano..." (reads name tag) "Bryant."


"I'm Sorella Marquis."

"Yeah. I've heard of you. You were in Cagliari with Sorella Caramia."

"Yep. So where are you from?"

"Las Vegas."


"Are you in Malta right now?"

"No, but I served there."


Conversation over. I probably awkwardly backed away and started talking to someone else. Also I asked Shae about this and he literally has no memory of it. 

The next day was the zone conference so we all met back at the church to have training from the president and assistants and zone leaders and stuff.  Turns out Anziano Bryant wasn't in my zone, but he was one of the assistants. I remember he and his companion gave a really good training on commitments. Then it was over and everyone went back to their cities and we got our apartment back after it was overrun by a dozen sorelle. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we're getting our transfer calls. I was staying in Catania and getting a new companion, and we were getting a new Anziano in Catania to replace one who was finishing his mission if I remember correctly. I asked Anziano Hurlburt if he knew who his new companion was and he said, "Yeah, it's Anziano Bryant!" Me: "Is that the one who was the assistant just barely?" "Yeah, and he'll be the new zone leader."

Anziano Bryant showed up the next week, and for the next six weeks I don't think we really talked. We might have had a few transactional conversations about meetings and appointments but I literally knew nothing about him except that he was from Las Vegas and was really serious and walked fast with his hands in fists.

The next transfer, I stayed in Catania with another new companion, and Anziano Bryant stayed in Catania with his same companion. It was the transfer that included April General Conference, and it was also Anziano Bryant's birthday that week. I took it upon myself during my mission to make sure that everyone in my districts had a good birthday and got some kind of treat. So I made his birthday cake, and all the missionaries in Catania got to watch conference at the church together. That was probably the first time I ever had a non-business conversation with Anz Bryant. I don't remember it, but after that I could tell he was a lot more comfortable talking to me at district meetings and english course. 

Mainly, I admired him because he was a really good teacher and he was pretty serious about being the best missionary he could be. He was a good example and a good leader, and definitely made me want to be more thorough and obedient. 

We both stayed in Catania for one more transfer after that. That transfer was probably one of my favorites during my mission because our district was all really awesome missionaries and we were all good friends. We saw some really awesome things happen that transfer, including a baptism in our district, and Anz Bryant passing a golden investigator (who later got baptized) to me and my companion. Some also not awesome things happened that transfer, like me and my companion missing the last train way out in the boonies and having to call Anz Bryant to come pick us up in the car (I was SCARED to make that phone call haha), and I got some weird lung disease and had to call Anz Bryant again to take me to the hospital on the American Navy base. He was just always willing to serve and help everyone, and he was always really pumped about other people's successes more than his own. 

All the missionaries from Sicily who were getting transferred up to the mainland rode up on a train together. So it's kind of cool to say that we rode on a train all the way up the coast of Italy for 10 hours and it was really beautiful. Anz Bryant hopped off in Napoli and I was pretty sad to say goodbye to him. I really thought to myself, "Well, have a good life. I'll probably never see you again. Friendship over." But I was glad to have been able to serve with a really good example and friend.

He finished his mission six weeks after that, and since I was in Rome I got to see all the missionaries who were about to go home that P-day. Anz Bryant was there and seemed happy to see me, which was a nice surprise! I kind of imagined that our friendship was more meaningful to me than it was to him. But he took the time to talk to me and to listen to how things were going in my new area.

After he'd been home for a week or two and I was still serving up in the Rome zone, I got an email one P-day from Shae Bryant. Whaaa? We were still going to be friends without being plopped in the same city by chance and required to work together? I have to say I was pretty happy about that.

As I was writing this, Shae leaned over and hugged me and said, "I'm so glad we can hug now!!!" I am too.

To be continued sometime ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

happy moments

I went through my phone pictures the other day, and couldn't help but share some of my favorite moments here. Photos really don't deserve to just sit on our camera roll or our hard drive, never to see the light of day. So here are some of my images that are really making me happy lately. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Thursday, October 13, 2016

How I feel about Stranger Things

I feel like there was a lot of hype about Stranger Things (2016), the new Netflix show, so I wanted to know for myself why everyone was fah-reaking out about it. I watched the whole season (8 episodes) over the past couple weeks ...

I really, really wanted to like it. But I didn't.

Let me say that there were a lot of things I did like about the show. 1) The production design. It's set in the 80s, and I feel like the designers did a fantastic job. I wasn't alive in the 80s, but I do know good design when I see it, and I would give their design team an A. It's really nice and fun and nostalgic. 2) I liked the child actors. I thought the boys, especially Dustin, were quite good. I believed them. 3) I watched every episode and didn't quit, so that means that there was something drawing me in. Haven't quite put my finger on it ... Was it the 80s music?

I think the first issue I had with Stranger things is that it was eight hour-long episodes. It could have been a 90-minute film. I felt like the plot just wasn't actually that eventful and it was stretched out way longer than it should have been. Every episode had the same basic elements: "We have to find Will," Winona Ryder having a breakdown, one kid getting mad at another kid, some kind of encounter with a bully, the chief of police sneaking around, a flashback, and the climax when Eleven does something that gives her a bloody nose. I think each of those things happened a few too many times. Again, it would have made a pretty good movie if all of the plot points were condensed into an hour and a half.

I love Winona Ryder for real. She usually plays kind of a melancholy, or even deadbeat, character and that super works for her. Seeing her as a hysterical mom just wasn't quite what I wanted from her and it inched toward the annoying side. I also thought it was a shame that she had pretty much no character development. She starts out as a mess, and is pretty much a mess throughout.

I like the sci-fi genre in general, and I love thrillers. However, I think there is one brilliant thing about scary movies that Stranger Things did wrong (in my opinion). They revealed the monster too early. Part of what makes a scary movie scary is the unknown. We're scared when we don't actually know what we're afraid of. Think Jaws (1975). The actual shark isn't shown until at least halfway through the movie. It's the musical theme and the hints at the shark's presence that makes our hair stand on end. Stranger Things showed us the whole monster in the first or second episode. We know what we're up against very early on, and while it is a gruesome creature, the unknown element is gone.

I had a minor issue with Hopper, the police chief. It's unclear whether the writers wanted us to identify with him or not, or at least sympathize. They set him up as kind of this fallen hero. But he never actually redeems himself. He kind of sneaks around and I'm not sure if he's solving this mystery for himself, because it's his job, or because Joyce is his friend. Does he see Will as a proxy for his daughter and feels like he needs to save him because he couldn't save his daughter? I think that's what they were getting at, but they didn't get at that till the very last episode... I just had a hard time understanding the character's motives throughout. At the end, too, they make it look like he's made deal with the bad guys ... I just didn't get him. That could totally be my bad though.

Lucas, while such an adorable boy, was also flat. He flip flops between hating Eleven and being buddy buddy with the group, but there's just no explanation for it. Does Lucas have a family? What's his deal? I just found out today that SNL did a sketch about that which touched on my questions I had in my head about Lucas the whole season, and it's pretty hilarious. Watch here.

I also cringed a little bit when Steve swoops in and whacks the monster with a baseball bat when it should have been Jonathan. He gets this big heroic moment after being a huge jerk every episode. It could be argued that it's his turning point when he decides not to be terrible anymore, but it bummed me out.

I really don't like to criticize films because every piece of cinema was made by caring people who love what they do and just want to make stuff. These people actually made a thing that people are watching, and that is definitely worth something. Like I said, it wasn't bad, I just wish it had been a movie instead of eight hours of tv.

They set up the last episode so that they could make a second season, but to be honest I don't think I'll watch it if it has the same conflicts going on. It's called Stranger ThingS, which means they could explore a lot more strange things and monsters and people. It might even be cool if the second season had a completely different cast and characters and plot. Kind of like a Twilight Zone type of thing.

Please don't hate me.


Whole Foods has a sweet selection of pumpkins right now.
Don't we all wish fall lasted a little longer?

Sunday, October 9, 2016


"Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the Resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbable. Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power."

LDS Bible Dictionary.

Christ Portrait by J Kirk Richards

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Normal things that go through the wash: coins, chapstick, sticky notes, maybe even pens or golf tees?
Not normal things: teeth carved by your husband. 

Me: "I'm sorry, this just came through the laundry. I don't think it's ruined though."
Shae: "Oh, it's fine. I didn't care about that tooth." There must more where that came from.