By small and simple things great things will come to pass. About two months ago a student of mine told me how she almost went back home to Africa for her Grandma's 75th birthday party. She ultimately decided against it because the very long and expensive trip would have been too short, just a few weeks. I concurred that it was a wise choice, probably better to save the trip for a later time when she could go for longer.
Less than a month ago I found out that all of my siblings were going to my Grandma's 90th birthday party. This was largely spurred by my brother in New York who decided to go. If he can come from New York then others could come as well right? With these two events I initially was tempted at the idea to go to the birthday party but then decided against it. It would be expensive and not fair to Maris who would be staying home with the kids. In addition there wasn't a Jazz home game that would fit into the travel plans. After giving it some thought and after having my Dad offer to pay for the ticket it became an easy decision. It was time to party in the USA.
Fall is my favorite season in the US and my least favorite season in Estonia. In Estonia the weather is wet, cold, and dark. There are no holidays to break up the monotony. In the US there are months and months of colors, crisp weather, clear skies, football, basketball, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. It doesn't get much better. This fall the weather has been great, I have an NFL game pass, and my Grandma's 90th birthday party make it one of the best Falls I have ever had!
It was good to be back in the United States. Wide streets, good eats, and drinking fountains! The crazy amount of pickup trucks gets me every time as well.
I loved going shopping at Harmon's, I brought back a 50 lbs suit case but wish I had another 50lbs for more candy. I flew threw Paris just a day before the terrorist attacks, got into Salt Lake city before anyone else. I realized that I forgot my plug adapter! Luckily for me there was a Radio Shack near by. Also a curry fried chicken restaurant. With Jet Lag I went to sleep early.
This was the view from the hotel room. It was nice to see mountains again! Seeing leaves, the blue sky, and the sun were also nice.
I got to go to the Bountiful temple with my sister Lynne (she's taking the picture). Even though there is a temple in Espoo Finland, it still takes a lot of time and money to plan a trip. With little kids it is very difficult. Much easier to go when I am in the US. This was on Friday one day before the mass resignation from the Church. I felt peace in the temple and again felt the confirmation that temple covenants can help us become better people and come closer to Christ. I still feel saddened when people are excluded from those blessings and when people distance themselves from them.
Salt Lake is one of my favorite cities. Only 40% of Salt Lake is Mormon despite it being the headquarters of the LDS church. The result is somewhat of a love-hate relationship. This is a statue of two Mormon missionaries, one is an alien, both are in a space ship. I'm not sure what it symbolizes but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the planet Kolob!
The birthday party was awesome, it was held in the same room where my Grandma got married about 65 years ago in the Joseph Smith Memorial building.
Grandma seemed very happy and looked great, 90 years old!
There were over 100 people there. Living in Estonia makes it hard to see the uncles, aunts, great uncles, great aunts, cousins, and other extended family members. I really enjoyed seeing and talking with everyone. My Grandma did a great job raising her family, a lot of wonderful people were there.
Random fact, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and saw a lady taking a picture with two sister missionaries. Mormons love sister missionaries so I didn't think anything of it but the lady looked familiar, then I realized that it was the sister missionaries who were taking pictures with the lady who turned out to be Sister Wixom. She was just in Estonia for a fireside a few weeks ago. I said hi and we both noted that we live in a small world. Sister Wixom is one of the nicest people I know!
I stole this picture from my sister Jill's blog, my camera wasn't working properly. Shout out to Lynne who also emailed me some pictures for the blog entry. This was the first time in 5 years that all 5 siblings were together. I love them all and wish I could see them more.
Jill and her oldest Emily! The kids grow up so fast.
We went to music and the spoken word in the tabernacle on temple square. We sat on the 2nd row, it was fantastic.
Temple square is a beautiful place, too bad there wasn't more time to explore. The Church history museum has a new exhibit and I think the visitor center has been redone since the last time I was there.
This is another borrowed picture from my sister Jill. We ate brunch at the Grand America, it was the grandest brunch I have ever had! This plate is the one from the kids' table with macaroni and cheese burgers, and mini corn dogs. That sounds foolish to waste space on that type of food but some of those we don't have in Estonia! It was really really good.
I got to see my some family on my Mom's side on the way back home via Pocatello. Spending the night home was great. I also had pumpkin flavored ice cream for the first time. I'm not a huge pumpkin fan but I loved that ice cream! Estonian ice cream is a bit bland, so I was eating up the pumpkin. My Mom had up some Thanksgiving and fall decorations. Europeans don't decorate their homes according to the holidays outside of a few things for Christmas.
Now I'm back in Estonia hard at work with an extra fat roll to hold me over for the winter, or at least until Thanksgiving :) Estonia is a great place and while it might not be as pleasurable, the lifestyle of less gluttony is a better one. I flew through Paris and noticed the soldiers with machine guns patrolling the airport. This Thanksgiving I will be thankful to have grown up in a peaceful place and thankful to be living in a peaceful place.