Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fort Knox

Last week, my parents surprised me with a trip to Fort Knox, Kentucky! Matt is joining the Army ROTC and had to complete the Leaders Training Course there. It's a 29-day long camp to qualify for entry into the senior-level ROTC program at university campuses across the nation, where the students have a crash course in Army. It was the longest 29 days because we only got to communicate through a few text messages per day, if the service was good. While I had difficulty with the separation though, it was nothing compared to the physical challenges that Matt faced! From ropes courses to rappelling to shooting to swimming to a 10K ruck march, he was exhausted at the end. But, he loved every second and definitely rose up to the challenge.

Matt is the second one back; a race on the obstacle course.
Standing with his platoon; second back, far left.
High ropes course.
At then end of 27 days, there was Family Day and Graduation. On Family Day, my mom and I were able to go on the base at Fort Knox, have a brief orientation and tour, and pick up our cadet (my favorite part). I had never been on a military base before-- it's like another world! The base is like it's own little city, completely self-sufficient and self-contained. I was so impressed by the amenities offered there to the servicemen and women and their families. The Army has really stepped up its game when it comes to helping and supporting the families of our soldiers. Not to mention, Fort Knox in itself is such a beautiful setting. Finally, we got to pick up Cadet Green from his barracks and get of base! I was so happy to see him. The last time we had been together was the weekend he proposed (June 1), so our reunion was long overdue. Not to mention the fact that the next time we're together will be the middle of August, less than a month before our wedding! Needless to say, we were two very happy people to be together again.

Me, Matt, and a cadet from Weber State

The day was very fun and relaxing. We had lunch, took a swim in the hotel pool, lounged, got the cadet a haircut, and went to dinner and ice cream. Nothing too fancy, but Matt and I were just happy to be together! I'm so thankful for my parents who could put up with spending time with us!

Graduation the next day was a really interesting and exciting event. It was a full-on military graduation ceremony that really put into perspective how big of an accomplishment it is to go through the course successfully. Army bands played, awards were given, salutes were made, cannons were fired, and hearts swelled with pride. Especially mine. I'm so proud of Matt and his decision to join the ROTC and find a way to serve our country. He is such a hard worker, and that will take him so far in whatever he chooses to pursue. Not to mention he looks adorable in his uniform.

Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon

Congrats, Cadet Green!

**For more information on this course, check out They have some awesome photographers that go out with the Cadets and take live-action film and pictures.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Mission.

This post has been a long time in coming. As most know, I came home from the MTC on Tuesday, April 30th. I am now engaged to be married to Matt, my boyfriend from before I received my mission call. I could not be more excited to marry him and for the future that we have before us. I love him with all my heart, but I also love the experience I had as a missionary.

Coming home was a difficult decision for me to make. It wasn't some happy-go-lucky "Oh I'm in love, I just want to go home now! Thanks!" because that's just not the way it works at the MTC. It was a very difficult, weighing, drawn-out, prayerful decision process that took a great toll. Now that I am home, though, I know I made the right decision for me. It might not make sense to a lot of people, and I know there are some who don't agree with my choice. To them I say that I respect your opinions, experiences, and advice, so I ask for your respect in return.

One thing I've realized since being home, talking to dear friends, and seeing the experiences of fellow sister missionaries, is that every mission is different -- because every mission is personal. My mission was 5 weeks long. It was within the small boundaries of the MTC. I only had one companion. I didn't master the language or even teach all of the lessons to an actual investigator. But, I did learn more about the scriptures than I ever have before. I gained a greater love for my Savior that I will always carry with me. I know from personal experiences that God answers our prayers and listens to us. He sends His angels to buoy us up and wraps His loving arms around us in our times of need. I will always be a disciple of Christ and proclaimer of truth. And I will always treasure and think about the time I spent as a set-apart missionary of the Lord. I truly consider it a blessing that I was able to spend 5 weeks in the MTC.

I also consider it an immense blessing to be engaged to the love of my life, preparing to be married for time and all eternity. I have never been so happy. A dear friend of mine, who also returned from her mission early, gave me the courage to write this post when she wrote:

"There is no sadness associated with my mission being shorter than most. And utterly no sense of failure.  None. It was a good mission... My mission is not something that needs to be tiptoed around. I would love to bore you with my excessive mission stories. My mission and the decisions that I have made regarding it are something I will never regret. I have learned a lot. And will continue to learn from it throughout the rest of my life. I consider missionary work to be an amazing way to spread the gospel. And I commend every single missionary for their commitment."

I echo her sentiments exactly. My personal mission was different, but not bad. I am reminded everyday of the beautiful experiences I had and people I met, and I will continue to learn from and be inspired by them. Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia will always have a piece of my heart. Volim te, Hrvatsku. Nikada neću zaboraviti.