in the late 1960s, my dad was called to serve an lds mission to South Asia, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. while there, then Elder Gordon B. Hinckley--the prophet of my youth--came to the Philippines and made the country its own mission.

when I was 8, just around the time I was getting baptized, my oldest sister Melissa was called to serve in the Philippines Cabanatuan mission.

and 2 months ago, I opened a letter from the prophet now, President Thomas S. Monson, calling me to serve for 18 months for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Iloilo mission. I am to leave in 1 month today!


on monday...

some rad photos of my dad in the Philippines.



photo by Rick Egan| S alt Lake Tribune

wouldn't it be fun to go to Barnum and Bailey's circus this weekend? i've recently been wanting to be an acrobat.

thanks family.

thanks kate, mom + dad. not pictured: parker, jon + jenn, phoebe + megan, laura, lori. melissa, and emily. st. george lds temple.


"is mcdonald there?"

small beauty of living with mom and dad this fall:

about once a week i am sitting in my mother's kitchen when i hear a loud knocking on the front door--the kind of knocking that you expect the UPS man or the police to do. but it is no such company. it is, in fact, small neighborhood children. i open the door and find these depressingly beautiful children. they have big grins on their faces, but also look at me in fear because to them i am a stranger.

"we're here to see mcdonald," they say. now, mcdonald is my last name and i know that these cute kids are here to see my mom because she feeds them popsicles and lets them do whatever they want as long as they promise not to tell their moms, but why are they calling her mcdonald? not sister mcdonald or mrs. mcdonald--but literally: "is mcdonald here?"

"who's mcdonald?" i reply. to which they start giggling as if i was their grandfather just trying to get their goat. "you mean, carolyn?"

they are so adorable and tiptoe into our house as if it was a magical land that they can only muster up the courage to come into about once every two weeks. and my mom talks in a magical little whisper and takes them down to the garage where they smash all our diet coke cans (magical, right?).

and of course, 2 hershey kisses right before dinner...but don't tell your mommies.


nalgene and loss.

dad's old nalgene from our great hike today.

the transition phase we call puberty that tweens and teens go through is understood, even expected, and sympathized by society at large. the changes young adolescents experience are not just physical--and the world stands by as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, never expecting a 13-year-old to be polished or poised, confident or caring.

of course i experienced all these changes at the appropriate age and compliment my audiences on their patience and perseverance in seeing my potential. recently, however, i feel i am undergoing a similar transition of not a physical nature but personally and socially. i feel the same kind of added awareness of my own actions i felt when i was 13, but for completely different reasons. and people keep telling me, "you seem different." or "you've changed." well, what should a person say to that? why, yes. i have changed since i was 17 and have attended three years of college. and the spectators of my life don't wait patiently for me to fully acclimate because my awkward pause of transition is only taking place inside.

looking back on my years of consciousness, i feel my present mind is a bit stifled, and perhaps swallowed. the archives of this cyber journal are the perfect display of my loss of thoughtfulness, reflection, and writing habits over time.

case in point:

i wrote this at the beginning of july and never finished.
i can hardly believe it's july. i feel comfortable with the idea, although it seems impossible that i've lived in washington, d.c. for over 2 months. as far as cities go, i love it here. i think in my mind i have this idea that i've lived in cities all over the country

and i wrote this at the beginning of august. and never finished.
goodbye d.c., hello august. i feel a loss of openness in my life over the past three years. when i started this blog, almost three years ago exactly, i felt i had nothing to hide and nothing to prove. when i began experiencing things--moving away from home, going to college, making new friends, parting with old ones--floods of words would come to my mind and expressing myself via keyboard felt easy, gratifying. those moments of true expression when i had put into words my abstract emotions and impressions

ending my third year of college didn't even phase me. not one heartfelt goodbye, not a single blog entry about the passing of time or the way my life is always changing, like a baby gap.

i remember
my journalism professor told me once that we generally want to do what people tell us we're good at. i think for me, this was definitely the case. when people ask me why i went into journalism, i tell them i went into it because i wanted to write. that was it for me--whatever it was, travel writing, blogging, the atlantic, whatever--that was it.

i don't really know what my point is. but i know that my brain isn't empty. it just doesn't think the way it used to--in constant blogging narrative. i wish it did.


deep beauty.

my mind and heart are so full these days, that i can hardly think of anything at all.

i have been thinking about deep beauty, however, thanks to sister Dalton. she told this story:

When I was attending Brigham Young University, I learned what it truly means to be a queen. I was given a unique opportunity, along with a small group of other students, to meet the prophet, President David O. McKay. I was told to wear my best dress and to be ready to travel early the next morning to Huntsville, Utah, to the home of the prophet. I will never forget the experience I had. As soon as we entered the home, I felt the spirit which filled that home. We were seated in the prophet’s living room, surrounding him. President McKay had on a white suit, and seated next to him was his wife. He asked for each of us to come forward and tell him about ourselves. As I went forward, he held out his hand and held mine, and as I told him about my life and my family, he looked deeply into my eyes.

After we had finished, he leaned back in his chair and reached for his wife’s hand and said, “Now, young women, I would like you to meet my queen.” There seated next to him was his wife, Emma Ray McKay. Although she did not wear a crown of sparkling diamonds, nor was she seated on a throne, I knew she was a true queen. Her white hair was her crown, and her pure eyes sparkled like jewels. As President and Sister McKay spoke of their family and their life together, their intertwined hands spoke volumes about their love. Joy radiated from their faces. Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.

On that fall day in Huntsville, Utah, I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.

Elaine S. Dalton, "Remember Who You Are!", April 2010 General Young Women Meeting