Friday, November 12, 2010

Congratulations Brooke & Derek!

Brooke and I met our sophomore years of college, when we were assigned as random roommates on BYU's study abroad program in London.  We became the best of friends in our little South Kensington flat that semester, and we've had many adventures all over the world since!

I'm happy to announce that Brooke and Derek got hitched a few weekends ago!  After 6 years of on/off dating, I'd say it was about time!  Their wedding announcement, which is the most unique I've ever seen, tells their story.  I love it because it's so them...the only thing it doesn't say is, "Andrea said they'd get married all along."  Yes, I called it back in 2005.  Best friends always know.

B & D both live in Boston, but flew to Utah, so that they could be married where she grew up!  Secretly I was a little disappointed the wedding wasn't back east, since that would have given us a good excuse to go on another trip.... but it turned out to be simply lovely...

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Christensen!  What a striking couple!

BFF Megan flew in from Seattle for the big day!

They had a beautiful, intimate, cozy celebration up at Sundance that evening.  The leaves were electric, the food was incredible, and the night was magic....such a classy event!

This picture makes me laugh.... you couldn't get two different sized couples if you tried.  Mike & I are going to have some short little muffins someday..

My favorite part was at the end of the evening when a huge band of bagpipers showed up unexpectedly!  Brooke LOVES bagpipes, and her parents had hired them as a surprise!  It was so fun-- the dancing was awesome!

Congratulations Brooke & Derek!  WE love you and are so excited for you!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our trip back to Ohio!!

From 2007- 2009, I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Cleveland, Ohio Mission. In addition to proselyting, I had the opportunity to work at the Kirtland Historic Church history sites, where many of our church's earliest spiritual outpourings occurred. I have been blessed beyond measure as a result of my decision to serve a mission. I can honestly say that everything good in my life at this point is a result of that experience. Not a day goes by that I don't think back to my precious time in Ohio.

And to think I was the girl who never wanted to serve a mission.

I was 22 years old. After working hard at BYU, I had just graduated from their Advertising/Marketing program. Ever since I was young I'd dreamed of living and working in New York City. I landed an internship there with an agency, and packed my bags, thinking I'd never return. At the end of the summer I had several job opportunities, some of which were in New York. I was dating a lot. I was in the exact position I wanted to be, but after weighing my options, nothing really felt right. Confused, I decided to move back home for a month or so to figure out which job to take, which city to live in, and what to do with my life. After many frustrating weeks of contemplation, I finally decided I needed to figure out what God wanted for me. Almost immediately after softening my heart, I realized I needed to go on a mission. I had a spiritual experience that is far too personal to expound on in a blog, but it had such a powerful effect on me that within a week I had turned in my mission papers. A few months passed. On December 12th, 2007 I entered the mtc. I left behind career opportunities, a boyfriend, and life as I knew it. I thought it was going to be a sacrifice, but it turned out to be far from that. I was blessed in more ways than I could have ever comprehended. God is so good.

My mission changed me in so many ways. It made me a better person. It elevated my life perspective. It helped me to refocus my priorities. It changed my goals. I learned what it meant to see people as children of God. I came to know and love Jesus Christ and I came to see the blessings of his atonement in my life in meaningful ways. My testimony of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living prophets, and the power of God in my life was strengthened immeasurably.

One of the greatest blessings I received as a result of serving a mission, was meeting my husband Mike. When we first met, we were both focused on being missionaries, and sharing the gospel with the people of Ohio. It wasn't until we were both home from our missions, when we randomly became re acquainted one day, that we learned that we had much more in common than a love for missionary work. We dated, fell in love, and got married seven months later. Life has been wonderful ever since.

One of the things I love about our marriage is that we both have a love for missionary work, our missions, and the great state of Ohio! A few weeks ago my wonderful parents took Mike and I back to Ohio for a week! Neither one of us had been back since our missions, and so it was beyond exciting!

The trip met all of our expectations. We had such a great time. We might have served in the same mission, but Mike and I had VERY different experiences. I served in Amish Country, the Church history sites, and for the most part really nice area's. The majority of Mike's mission was spent in the ghetto in downtown Cleveland. We spent time in area's we each served in, visited members, recent converts & old friends, toured the Church History sites, and spent time doing touristy things as well....

Right before we landed in Ohio... seconds after this picture was taken I was crying! So excited to be back!!

Walking through one of Mike's area's in downtown Cleveland

"You can't visit Ohio without going to the Football Hall of Fame"- or so Mike and my dad tell me.....

Hymas family favorite: The Bronco's!!

Enjoying Amish country- especially the pastries, cheese & baskets

Burton, one of the cities in the country I served in had cute scarecrows all over the town square!

Churning apple butter at the Burton "Apple Butter Festival"

The view from the manor we stayed in the first few nights.... this picture doesn't do the beautiful autumn leaves justice. It was breathtaking!

The Revelation Room in the Johnson Farm in Hiram, Ohio. This is where the 76th section of the Doctrine & Covenants was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding life after death. There was an amazing spirit there, as always.

Standing on the front steps of the Johnson Farm. The prophet Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered one night when he lived here. His friends and family stayed up all night scraping the tar off his bloody, bruised body. The next morning he preached on these steps a sermon on forgiveness.

Visiting Harold & Lori Harvey, one of my very favorite recent converts in Brunswick. (We missed you Sister Knecht!)

The Newel K. Whitney store, in Kirtland. This is the store that Joseph Smith and Emma lived in for 1.5 years in Kirtland. Inside are the School of the Prophets and the Translation Rooms. About 17 Revelations found in the Doctrine & Covenants were received here by the prophet in the 1830's. One whole year of my mission was spent here at the Kirtland sites! Part of my heart will always be here.

The Butterfield's, the site directors and my second parents in Ohio, had me give the tour to my family with Sister Kingston. After a year and a half surprisingly a lot of it came right back! I cried through the whole thing!

Inside the Newel K. Whitney Store

The Hyrum Smith House in Kirtland! This is where I lived for about 8 months while I lived in Kirtland!

The beautiful Kirtland Temple, the first temple built by our church in this last dispensation. It no longer operates as a functioning temple, but it's still sacred.

This is hands down the coolest cemetery I've ever visited. It was thousands of acres, and one of the streets in it was called "Millionaire Row", where dozens of famous millionaires are buried, culminating with John D. Rockefeller himself! Here is his granite obalisk..

Tradition has it that if you put a dime on Rockefeller's grave you'll be rich! Here's to hoping this will bring on the cash flow!

Dinner with Ron and Diane Pepin, Mike's second parents in Ohio. We sat at our table for 4 hours, and I don't think any of us have ever laughed harder! Come visit us soon Ron and Diane!

An afternoon at the famous Westside Market in Cleveland

Nothing beats polish dogs, fudge, and apple fritters from the stands at the WSM

Cleveland: known for the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.... we didn't go to the actual museum because we've heard it's a huge let down. We did snag this picture in front of our hotel though.

The Glidden House, the cutest hotel ever

We took a trolley ride in downtown Cleveland. Not as quaint as a San Fran Trolley, but fascinating nonetheless!

It was so wonderful to be back in Ohio with 3 of the people that I love the very most in this world. I loved being able to share my mission with my parents, who lived through my mission with me via letters, and also my sweet husband. It was really neat for me to meet many of the people Mike touched, and to visit the area's that he served in as well.
Thank you so much Mom and Dad! This was an amazing trip that neither one of us will ever forget! Mike and I love you so much and are so grateful for you in our lives! You're the best!
Love you,