Dec 17, 2013

From Twenty to Two at 22

One of my favorite parts of Earth Life is family.
I was blessed to come to big one. There were seven in it when I arrived, and last I counted it has grown to twenty. That's a lot of people, Uncle Ed! I love my family very much, and I am so happy that I was blessed to be raised by them.

Now lets have story time. 

In September 2010, the ex-Elder Bernal returned to visit his mission friends in Kiev, Ukraine. He planned to go a couple months earlier to see the temple dedicated, but every time he thought about going he got sick to his stomach. September felt right, so he changed his plans and went late. That same week, my parents were also visiting Ukraine. My Aunt Jenne (the sly mission president's wife who had asked Bernal to call me when he left his mission) introduced Bernal to my parents and offered him as their tour guide. I got at call at 3am: "Hey Cam it's your mom! We're in Ukraine! I gave a boy your number!" I mumbled something like, "Mom, that's not OK. Goodnight!"

On December 27th 2010 I was visiting home for the holidays. We planned to take a trip to SoCal, but winter storms prompted the idea to have a stay-cation in Salt Lake. In the middle of a Grizzley's hokey game, I got a call from some random kid. (whispers) "Mom, it's that kid Bernal you met in Virginia... What should I do?" "SDFOIOAOIEYYYYEESSSS!!!!!! TALK TO HIM FOREVER!!!" He felt bad for not calling, and called to say he was on his way to school in Virginia and he was sorry he didn't call me months earlier. Cool? We talked for about an hour and decided that despite our awkward set-up, we could still be friends.  

On March 8th 2011 after 3 months of Skyping, Garret decided to go home to Seattle for Spring Break. He came to my house, introduced himself, and we loaded up our ski stuff. 

 Our first picture together, in the car, driving to Whistler BC, Canada 
 I'm not sure whose idea it was to go on a 3-day ski trip/blind-date to Canada, but we had a good time :)
We talked a lot. We talked about hypothetically getting married, and I told him I was going on a mission (the first time the thought had ever entered my brain) so... sorry, man. 
 Later that week we did some Seattle exploring
 Garret's sister snuck a pic of us sleeping in mass. Those Gregorian monks know how to put on a show, tell you what.
 Months earlier I had planned to attend an Open House at Southern Virginia University. So two weeks after Canada, we met back up in Virginia. We went to a costume dance as Tiger Woods and his Mistress. It made school history. 
 We kinda broke up after that... the long-distance thing is crap. But in the spring, Garret moved to Portland! So we started hanging out again on the weekends. We rented our first home - 2 days in this lovely Yurt on the Oregon Coast

We might have lived here, too, for a little while

 One weekend we brought along our adopted son, Ben. We love Ben.  At 6'6" he is so clearly our offspring. He is a missionary now. 
 We weren't really "dating", we just looked super hott together, so we had to hang out all the time.
Or something.
 Weekends in Portland were interesting. 
 Every-other weekend or so he would come up to Seattle and we would party
 Then in July it was time for me to move back to Utah. Then he decided to move back to Virginia. So we drove to Utah, then Virginia! 
You really don't know someone until you drive 3000+ miles with them.

 We saw some sights and set up camp in some super sketch places. 
Then we broke up again. Lots.
 In December of 2011 I was back in Seattle visiting/working, and Garret was home for Christmas. He called me up and wanted to hang out. Hmmm... fine. How could I say no to so much attractiveness? 

Then he talked me into heading back up for New Years. I brought Hanna. She's pretty safe. 
That night he told me he wanted me to go on a mission then come home and marry him. HAHA. I didn't believe him, we broke up (were we back together? I can't keep track), I left on my mission, he was bad at writing me for the first few months, then he got pretty good at it. I remained bad at writing him back... forever. 

In April 2013 I was doing my P-Day emails and received a picture of him in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He thought he would just stop by Rome and say hey. He called me and I told him to get lost :) But I was actually pretty sad. And confused. For 18 months. 
 I got home on September 6th 2013, and 5 days later he came to visit me. Suddenly it all just came together. It is amazing how much forgiving and forgetting can happen in 18 months, and it was exactly what we needed to start fresh and just be who we have become instead of dragging on the sad beings of who we were before. Who we were never worked. Who we are is just lovely :)
 On October 6th 2013 I moved to Virginia. 
 We hung out every day and accidentally matched. Every day.
We kind of un-writtenly decided to think about eventually getting around to talking about getting married in March. Then one night I said, "Hey we should get married before my parents leave on their mission in 3 weeks" I think he peed a little.
A week later, he proposed
 On December 6th 2013 we were sealed in the Bountiful Utah Temple. 
Sealed means married.
We got married.

I love my new family of two.

Nov 25, 2013


I get all emotional just thinking about writing this post. Mistretta pretty much changed my mission, and as a result it changed my life. No joke. The best part is, because I served there, I have THE MOST jokes! I never laughed so hard, so consistently in my life as I did during my 12 weeks in the obscure town on the Northern Coast of Sicily with Sorella Annie Fuller.
After 3 transfers in Ragusa, I thought I would for sure head back to the mainland. President even told me that would be the case during an interview. So when the call came to head to Mistretta from Ragusa, we were all a little confused. I had met Sorella Fuller momentarily during a P-day after a Zone Conference a few weeks earlier, and I thought she was the strangest human to ever grace our mission. I secretly prayed that we would never be companions, because I didn't know if I could handle her quirkiness. Turns out she thought I was freakin awesome (get in line, sorella) (jokes) and was praying that someday we could be companions! I guess Heavenly Father loved her more. That's the conclusion we always came to anyway :)
Sorella Fuller was beginning her 2nd transfer, I was beginning my 4th. We were the youngest companionship in the mission and neither of us really knew what we were doing. Luckily she had studied Italian before her mission, and somewhere during our 3 hour drive to Mistretta we went from me to being hostile and ungrateful to realizing we both really loved each other! Go figure!
 On reason I knew the transfer would not be heck was the middle consul in our car (who we later named Sorella Benzina, 'Sister Gas'. Sister missionaries do strange things. I was no exception). A bottle of my favorite soda, Gassosa, and a bottle of Nutella with a fork. Yes please. These two remained in the car (well we refueled the nutella every couple days) throughout the whole 12 weeks. 
 Arriving in Mistretta was like a fairytale. Picture Beauty and the Beast. The baker was pulling around his cart of bread, the produce man had his truck and was yelling out prices to the birds in the square, two men were fighting over a card game on the sidewalk, and a donkey went walking past. A DONKEY. I was not in Ragusa anymore. Then a car drove past and a little girl leaned out the window yelling, "IS THAT HER?! THE NEW SISTER?!" and a man walked up to us with a grin on his face eager to shake our hands and invite us to dinner. I was in a dreamy haze, not sure if it was reality. 
The picture above is the 2nd man I met in Mistretta, Brother Nino Purpari. He is 97% blind and makes 97% of all his own food. Wonderful man :) 
We made a quick stop at a Chinese store where I picked out this cute little number. S Fuller bought one too, but she wasn't as sassy as me. Well, not the first day. 
 We decided that at the end of every day of the duration of our companionship, we would take a picture expressing how we felt about the day. I can't share them all with you, they would permanently scar the children. But here are a few examples :)

Oh dear heavens, forgive us for looking like this while still wearing our nametags
 One of the first things that had to be done was to furnish our new apartment. It had only been lived in for a couple transfers, and the sisters before us were way too tolerant. We made a trip to Ikea for some desks, shelves, rugs, etc. Studying in bed isn't very effective. 
Major stress-relief for me: build furniture. 
 Once we go our living quarters somewhat liveable, we headed out! 
This was one of the first families I met. The Rigoli's! Giuseppe and his daughter were two of the most genuine, humble, wealthy sicilians I ever met. We taught them about 3 days a week, and Guiseppe called us multiple times a day to tell us what he was learning and studying. He is, to this day, the #1 most active non-member of the Mistretta branch. GET IN THE WATER, GIUSEPPE! 
I guess there was high-water one day...
The roads of Mistretta
Since we worked so far from home, lunch and language study were done at the beach
This is "Wheezy Joe" (an investigator, Giuseppe Lima who had a horrible cough that lasted years), Fuller, and our buddy Costanza. EVERY male on the Northern Coast is named Giuseppe. We once met this 8 month old baby named Guiseppe Pio Kevin. KEVIN?! Then we called each other Kevin for the rest of the transfer. 
Crazy storms left boats all over the coastline. Beautiful and sad. 
One day while strolling around the town of... I can't remember, we came across this lovely party

*Parental Warning* 
The following photo expresses a scene of distress, as well as undies. 
We were NEVER home. We would leave at 9am (an hour early), do our companion study on the road, and usually wouldn't return until about 10pm (an hour late), again doing our study and planning on the road. While necessary, this schedule resulted in havoc at home. All we did there was sleep, shower, and make a mess, I guess. (How many Master Crumble boxes can you spy in this photo?)
 There was ONE less-active family in the whole town, and we tried almost every day to contact them. This is what it felt like. Then at the end of the transfer we heard that they had moved to Canada. We were still blessed for our efforts :)
 For Halloween/P-day the Elders came up from Palermo to visit the Piramide with us. This artist put these huge, strange works of art all over the northern coast. You can see this big metal thing for miles. 
 Our new mission car! 
 We found a popcorn machine in our apartment, but the only correct electric outlet was in the bathroom.  We had no counter space, but luckily we were blessed to be able to clear a spot on the floor. For the rest of the transfer, bathroom popcorn was our staple meal. It made for a lovely mid-shower or mid-poopoo snack. 
 THANKSGIVING! We held a ward party in Palermo. None of them knew what Thanksgiving was, so they brought pizza. Perfect! The Elders were in charge of the turkey, but it was a bit too expensive, so they just bought the cheapest meat they could find. 
 Gopher, Everett? 
 Sometimes I would fall asleep a little in the car. 
12:12 on 12/12/12! Street party in Catania! 
 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! 
 One time we were talking to people in the main square (piazza!) and we stopped a lovely little family. We started asking them about their christmas traditions etc., but they wouldn't stop staring at my feet. Finally I looked down and realized I was standing in a very fresh, juicy pile of dog dung. Or maybe it was from an elephant. It was very plentiful. The family slowly backed away, and we ran laughingly down to the beach where I bathed my foot in the sea. Divine intervention, I guess. Anyway, we couldn't stop laughing so Sorella F whipped out this incredible drawing of the Plan of Salvation instead. 
 For our last P-day, the Elders invited us on a hike to the fortress at the top of the mountain in CefalĂș. YES PLEASE. It was stunna. Google it. 
 BUON NATALE! Christmas morning brought many lovely tidings, including a call from the mission office telling us we were both being transfered, Elders would be taking our place (good thing, because we were down to one priesthood holder in our branch, meaning we could no longer have church), and that we had to leave that afternoon because of an impending storm. 
 We snuggled up in our genuine Grover-skin blankets (whodathunk that blue fuzz could be so snuggly?!) and pondered over how it would be possible to just leave our area in a matter of hours. It was a little heart breaking. I mean, we had finally received approval to buy a dehumidifier! R2D2! We fought hard for that thing! 
We went to tell our branch president (who lived next door) and him and his wife started crying. It was not a very merry Christmas. 
 First things first - scrape the mold off the walls. (We knew the Elders wouldn't get around to it, and R2D2 couldn't repair damage, just prevent it. Why am I telling you this). I'm still not sure how she got back there. 
 We got out, but it was right after the storm hit and it took us about 7 hours to get to Catania instead of 3. Good thing my dad-dad-daddio taught me how to drive in the snow! 
We spent the rest of Christmas day on Mount Etna (which is currently exploding) sledding on air mattresses down the "oreo" mountain (black lava rock and snow) with the other missionaries. We later realized this is very illegal. But no one went to the hospital! Bonus! 
At the train station we decided to open our old bottle of Gassosa. We drank it with pride :) 

I have many more lovely pictures of this transfer at home. You'll probly never see them, so just give up hope now. Sorry, man.