My heart keeps expanding as I reflect over the many blessings this semester has brought me. The Christmas season brings out a sentimental side of me…ok lets face it, life brings out a sentimental side of me. I look back on the many Christmases I spent in Utah from years of winter in the desert to one particularly freezing winter in Logan, each year I cherish the season. I love how many Christmas parties are thrown and how easy it is to see friends and loved ones. It’s like we all agree that this time of year means that we “sacrifice” our time at work or school and make more of an effort to be in the company of those who matter most.
After I almost had a panic attack waiting for the Bakerloo line this morning, I was grateful to step out into the crisp air in Greenwich. I told my friend how lovely of a day it was – a steel grey sky that signifies that you are, in fact, in London. I was excited to finally get out of my dorm room and see something new. We made the hour trip into Greenwich and explored the Old Royal Naval Academy where my friend Jess recounted the awkward run in that she had with Daniel Radcliffe last time she was there. The ORNA serves as a back drop to many films like Sherlock and the new Frankenstein.
Jess kept making us enter the beautiful buildings first so that she could gauge our reactions. I know my reaction to the chapel was good as the scene opened up in front of me. The beautiful cathedral ceiling looked like white marble carved against a perfect blue sky. The chapel was warmly lit with a large Christmas tree in the corner. In front of the pew, an all girls primary school were rehearsing for their Christmas concert with traditional advent songs and Christmas favorites. They were so well-behaved and sang beautifully. Other children played string instruments in prelude. While the music teacher remained unimpressed, it took everything in me not to leap up from my seat and give them a standing ovation. I am so American.
Next we wandered through the Maritime Museum and ran around a giant map of the world to show each other all the places we’ve been. Then we headed to Borough Market for lunch where I ordered a strange burrito/burger hybrid that tasted better than it sounds. We continued to stroll through the market, occasionally being offered samples of chocolates and other sweets. We even found non-alcoholic cider that was freshly made and delicious.
Usually I get these bursts of gratitude out of nowhere and I am grateful for them. They keep me joyful and conscious of all the ways I am being blessed. However, today was different. Today I was continuously joyful and grateful. I feel so happy to know the people I do and to be friends with them. I am thankful for time to reflect on these blessings that often come on tube rides back to my little dorm where I study literature that I love. I am thankful for the Gospel and for the home it has provided me with. I know that wherever I am, the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains unchanged and I can be at home anywhere, especially if I can find a LDS chapel. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to collect these moments and memories with friends. I am thankful I get to go home and see my giant family this Christmas. All five siblings, all three brother-in-laws, all nine nieces and nephews, and of course, mom and dad.
Thank you, mom and dad, for giving me my dream. Growing up, you took me all around the world and let me fall in love with history and literature in a way that most kids don’t get the opportunity to do. You encouraged my passion for writing and reading. You let me find my own way but always pushed me to push myself. You have given me so much by helping me live here in London and I am grateful for it. London has shaped me and grown me in ways I never imagined. It has changed me for the better and you have been there every step of the journey to offer your support, share my joy, and cry with me when it felt like too much. Not only do I know that I am where I am supposed to be but I know now more than ever that Heavenly Father gave you to me because there was no better fit. You are exactly what I need as parents and I love you so very much. Thank you again for supporting my first semester abroad. Here’s to three more years! xxxxx