I completed my fourth half marathon in Price, Ut yesterday and it felt amazing! It felt so nice to be outside amongst the Red Rocks and blue sky and just think and ponder for a while. Along the way, I met two women from Missouri who had run a half marathon in 15 states already and were trying to reach all 50. I set that same goal for myself last year and meeting these women inspired me to go for it. I can't wait to pick the next state and get back into running and racing. Carpe Diem!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Last month my dear friend Kerry Jean from South Africa passed away due to a fatal accident. She has been on my mind constantly. This girl was beautiful in every way. I haven't met many people who had the spunk and zest for life that Kerry had. She was beyond generous in her kindness toward others. She had an incredible dedication to her family and the gospel that can only be admired and sought after. I only knew her a short time and she made such a difference in my life. She and I would send books and movies to read back and forth via snail mail between America to South Africa. Often we'd find funny cards and gifts to put in the packages. They always seemed to come at a time when I really needed a little boost. Kerry was amazing at just that…lifting others. My last experience with her in person happened to be in the Johannesburg Temple. She and I were folding clothing in the laundry room there and discussing our unknown futures. Of course being single at the age of 30 was an unwanted thing for both of us, but neither of us had a good explanation for why we wanted family so much and hadn't received it yet. That's just not a question that can be answered generically. However, Kerry being wise and in tune said something that has stuck with me since. She said, "I don't have any answer's Holly other than I know Heavenly Father loves us and has a plan for both of us". Kerry's plan included leaving this Earth quickly, most likely so she can watch over others. There are many people in her life that need her. Perhaps she will be capable of even more than she was on Earth, in Heaven. I know she has probably already met her prince and I am positive he adores her. You can't not adore Kerry. My plan is unknown still. And that is ok. I am trying to figure it out and navigate the path I am supposed to be on. I understand that I don't have all of the answers and will not receive them until I am supposed to. Unanswered prayers are sometimes our life vests in life's tormented oceans. I understand trials and tender mercies and God's refining tools. I am thankful for them. But still I wonder, which path do I choose? I'm always choosing between two positives. I've pretty much weeded out the negative choice but when someone so treasured leaves your life in an instant, it forces to the surface a couple of haunting questions. Serious questions.
The first, for me was…
- If I left the Earth right now, would I be prepared to meet the Savior face to face?
- Have I done any good in the World today? (this is not a question for my readers, this is a question for me)
Since Kerry's passing I have done a lot of pleading. There are times when we kneel and pray and thank Heavenly Father for our blessings and ask for help, and then there is pleading. Really, truly seeking for answers to these questions. There is a ginormous amount more that I can do. But what I mostly plead for is the confidence that Kerry had that "everything will be ok because Heavenly Father loves us". Don't get me wrong, deep down I know that too. I just want to feel it. I want to trust it. I want to know it without question and carry that spirit within me and all around me as Kerry did. I want to be better than I am. In the end I just want to know I am getting it right! Time will tell.
Sweet Kerry lives on in so many hearts. In my heart. She got it right! I love you Kerry Jean and I am so grateful for your gifts. Now find me a prince will you?
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Finally, finally I am getting around to posting about the incredible summer I had. This was my fourth summer being a Chef at Camp Rising Sun and I am pretty sure it was the best so far! Aside from getting to spend my time in the woods and sleeping under the stars in the beautiful Hudson Valley and cooking for an amazing 80 people from all over the World (a dream come true for me really), I learned so many lessons and so much about myself this summer. I will spare you and keep those things close to my heart, but I have to share camp with you all…because this place is so special. I have a plethora of pictures to post, but to save blog space if you would like to see more, you can refer to my Facebook page.
Things got busy very quickly in the kitchen and dining hall. At this camp, we LOVE to sing so we didn't hold back in getting that started at all. The campers were also very eager to cook this year which is my favorite part of my job.
I love being in the kitchen with them and I learned a ton of new cuisine from every region this year. I'll start with that! One of my favorite meals we did was the Hungarian Goulash over the open fire. My Hungarian mother Zsoka came back to camp this summer to volunteer for three weeks. I don't have words for my love for her. She helped me so much. Her wisdom and beauty and humbleness amaze me. She is just delightful to be around and an amazing cook.
Every week, the campers plan a special meal for Sunday evenings. This is so much fun because they get pretty creative. For one of the meals, the camper from South Africa suggested a Braai (South African BBQ). This was among the favorites because we grilled fresh veggies and steaks, chicken, and sausage. What boy wouldn't want three kinds of meat in one meal? Grilling is my favorite type of cuisine so of course I was in Heaven as well.
For Arts Weekend, I was asked to do a five hour Culinary Instruction. Let me preface by saying that baking isn't my strength, but with the help of the campers it actually turned out ok. We managed to bake and present Homemade Wheat Bread, Apple Pie, Coconut Cake, Pear Pizza with Goat Cheese and Arugula, Cinnamon Rolls, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Berry Tart! It was exhausting but I am really glad we took the challenge. What a fun day!
Another favorite part of cooking is sharing culture through food. I learned a ton! The campers brought spices from all over. We shared Falafel from Israel, Southern Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese, Tiki Masala from India, Indonesian Lemon Grass Soup, Chicken Rice from Peru, Dumplings from China and the list goes on.
Our Polish campers loved being in the kitchen much to my delight because I learned so much from them. Wojo and Alex totally knew what they were doing. Here they are making Pierogies. If you have never tried these, Go…Now…Eat Them. They are divine! They took nine hours to make, but were worth every ounce of time we spent. Wojo made his mother's beet soup and it was a delicious accompaniment.
One advantage to being a Chef at a camp is that the campers have team works and clean up for you! Isn't that fabulous? Even though it is hard work we really just have a blast the whole time singing and dancing in the kitchen. I love these boys. Mom's, if you are reading here is proof that your boys do know how to do dishes! Love them!
One quote we throw out often at camp is "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World". This is one of my favorite elements to camp. Each Friday I was able to take the boys to The Thompson House to sing to the elderly. Each week we would make a playlist and bring out guitars, violins etc and bust out our best "Oh When the Saints" or "You are My Sunshine". Afterwards the boys would visit with the residents there. The people were so incredibly grateful for our campers to come and loved visiting with them. This experience totally warmed my heart. I was so proud of the boys and the compassion they showed toward not only these people, but each other during the summer. I couldn't take pictures of the Elderly for confidentiality reasons, but just look how cute these campers are singing!
There is too much written in my journals and in the pages of my heart about these boys and what they mean to me, but as their older sister I will just post a few pics to show you how darling they are. I wish you could all meet them. They will grow up to be world leaders, musicians, scientists, doctors, humanitarians. They will change lives. I am so lucky to have all of these little brother's who I treasure. They inspire me so much!