Thursday, March 29, 2012


After 3 months of waiting and delays, I FINALLY got my mission call.

I'll be serving in the Russia-Samara mission. I report to the MTC on July 17, 2012.

I'm so beyond excited; it would be impossible to explain how amazing I feel right now. This mission call is the answer to a LOT of prayers. I know you're not supposed to ask for specific missions, but I kept hoping that I would get a mission call that would mean something special to me, that I'd be able to make a connection with the people and the area itself. Russia was the perfect answer to those hopes. I've always loved learning about Russian history/culture, I studied the Russian language for a year during college, and I was also able to study Russian literature for a semester. I've always wanted to travel to Russia; now, I'll be living there for a year and a half. HOLY GEEZ!

Alright, here's the story of how this little mission call came to be.

It all started on Sunday, while Isaac was being set apart as a missionary. I got a really strong feeling that I would be serving in Eastern Europe, around Russia/The Ukraine area. When we went out to put Isaac's pin up on the Stake's missionary board, my Bishop noticed a long line of missionaries from my ward down the western coast of the Americas, all the way from Alaska to South America. There is also one elder from our ward serving in Singapore. My bishop said, "Annalee, we need someone in the middle. You're gonna have to fill that gap." I told him I'd work on it. That night, and in the days to follow, I kept getting the same strong feeling that I'd be going somewhere Slavic-speaking.

That brings us to Wednesday (yesterday).

I thought for sure the call would come yesterday. My younger brother entered the MTC yesterday afternoon, and I was really hoping to tell him where I was serving before he reported. I took off work so that I could watch for the mail, and then literally sat in front of a window for two hours, waiting for the mail to come. I skyped Caitie in a few minutes beforehand so that she could be there when I read the call to both her and Isaac. When the mail finally came around 1:00 pm, I ran out to the mailbox and was met with bills, a letter from my grandparents, and a newspaper that looked like it was printed by a five-year old. I was pretty distraught to say the least.

About 30 minutes later, I went to work and talked to one of my favorite 'coworkers,' Tony. We actually ended up talking about Russian; he took Russian in both high school and college, which is something NO ONE does. I told him about my own Russia-studies, and we traded a few choice Russian phrases before spending the rest of the afternoon emailing Hunger Games references to each other. It was exactly the afternoon I needed. None of this information is important…

THIS AFTERNOON is where it gets good.

I woke up later in the morning, hoping that I would be able to sleep until 1:00 pm and the mail would magically appear in the mailbox as I rolled out of bed. I walked upstairs, walked around aimlessly for a few minutes, learned "Be Still My Soul" on the piano, and then Lark and I camped by the front window. The mail came around 2:30 pm. Caitie called in on Skype, and only Lark, Mary Alice, and my mom were home. I ran to the mailbox, pulled out my mission call, and ran back inside in my pajama bottoms. The original plan for opening the call was to wait until later when my whole family could be there. Instead, my mom, Caitie, and my sisters all decided to yell at me until I opened it right then.

So, I did.

I read the letter silently to myself at first. When I read "Russia Samara," I could feel my eyes get really wide and my jaw drop. I was so, so, so happy. And shocked. As I read the letter out loud, all I heard was screaming and jumping up and down. Everything after that is kind of a blur. I called my brother's friend, James, so that he could tell Isaac in the MTC, then I called/emailed a bunch of different people. Each conversation made me more excited about going. Plus, it was nice to talk to people I hadn't talked to in a while about such great news.

After talking to people and wandering around my house in a daze, I went to the gym (screaming "I'm going to Russia!" in my car the entire way there), took my dog for a walk in the perfect Virginia sunset, took a shower, picked up my brother, and went back home for THE reading.

Around 9:00 pm, the rest of my family got together for the official announcement. I got a bunch of different predictions pinned down on a huge map on the dining room table (about 8 of which ended up being in Russia) and read the letter to my family and grandparents. I don't really remember anything about it but my dad yelling, "WAY TO GO, ANNALEE!" Then, I made the rest of my calls to various friends/family members to make sure my bases were covered. Afterwards, my family and I went to Chipotle (which is a mission call tradition in our family, apparently).

Now, a story that really has nothing to do with the mission call itself.

The universe has a way of blessing me with little experiences on days of importance. On my birthday, I met two elderly men in Los Angeles that made me feel like an ANGEL. They said I was wise beyond my years and that I was a very beautiful person, inside and out. It was the best. After I got my mission call, I headed to Shoppers to pick up a few things, and ran into a man at the self check out counter. He didn't speak any English, but motioned for me to help scan his groceries. I scanned, bagged, and loaded his groceries for him while he watched, and helped him pay when it was all done. As I left, he said, "You're very gentle. Thank you very much. Have a good night." It was really touching, actually.

And then I left Shoppers and shattered my phone's screen. But, since the universe is on my side, it's still functioning! Woohoo!

Now, for some fun facts about Samara, Russia.

-It's the largest mission in Russia, covering 3 different time zones.
-It includes Samara, the 6th largest city in Russia.
-There are no LDS Stakes in the Samara mission.
-Samara was once the home to Tolstoy and includes a Tolstoy museum.
-The record low temperature in Samara, Russia, is -40 degrees.
-The Samara mission borders Kazakhstan.
-My mission president, Brother Sartori, and his wife, have seven children, and both served in Russia themselves.
-The mission opened in 1990.
-If you look up "Russian food" on Wikipedia, the first section of the article details a cold soup made using sour milk, cucumbers, potatoes, and a boiled meat such as beef or fish. Neat!
-The full name of the area is Samara, Samarskaya oblast, Russia
-It's on the bank of Russia's largest river, the Volga River.
-It's got a circus AND a zoo.

I'm excited :)

Da svedania!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


If there's one thing my family does right, it's Sunday dinners. My family's always been kind of weird in a "coloring outside of the lines" kind of way, but for some reason it all comes to a head on Sunday nights. It's one of the things I'll miss most about my family once we all run off and get our own lives, and I love every single Sunday dinner I get to spend with my family while I'm home.

Tonight's dinner started out pretty regularly until we got on the subject of Mary Alice, my youngest sister, being a cat lady in the making after she commented on how much she loved her sweatpants. This was only the beginning. From there, we proceeded to come up with a bizarro-world version of everyone in our family. Now, reading this as an outsider won't do much since none of these are particularly funny unless you know my family/were at the table while these were being made up. I'm pretty much jut recording these for my own memory.

Mary Alice: The cat lady

-Has dozens of cats
-Names them all after British actors and historical figures
-Performs marriages on them in her spare time
-Grows her hair super long and braids it in the same brain every day.
-Loves sweat suits
-Changes her name to Heather
-"Doesn't hate" the taste of cat food

Lark: White Trash

-Lives in a trailer park
-Has infinite amounts of children. None of her children age past five years old, and she is somehow always carrying two children in her arms, and one in the chest pocket of her single-strapped overalls.
-Drives a bus that used to belong to the school district
-Is interviews on the news after every natural disaster, crying about her babies.
-In a relationship with Nate, who only uses her for her bus
-Children are constantly escaping
-Has a hook for a hand

Isaac: Mr. Mom

-Marries a Latina version of Mrs. Trunchbull
-Loves tupperware
-Gets involved with his wife's drug-dealing family, providing food for all their events.
-Clinton from "What Not to Wear"
-Wife keeps a box of chocolates he's not allowed to eat.

Annalee: The Annoying One

-Always trying to one-up everyone
-Wears gym clothes everywhere
-Marries a 90 year old man (Regis?)

Ben: Artistic Genius

-Crazy filmmaker that no one gets.
-70 nominations, 1 Oscar
-Speaks "frail." Or brail
-Muppet for an assistant
-Wears a swan to awards shows, has his muppet handle all interviews
-Works in a shack on his property
-Speaks in metaphors

Taylor: The fake Guru

-Lives on top of a ziggurat
-Has tried for years to finish a Rubics cube, but always has one square out of place
-Has a stash of twinkies and technology in a room in his Ziggurat
-Trained Honey to be a person
-Also speaks Frail to Honey.
-Gets Ben's movies
-Gives people advice from all over the globe

Mom: The Original Hippie

-Started Woodstock and is somehow in the corner of every Woodstock photo
-"Glorn, pie charts: square, man."
-Travels around with her oils
-Perpetually high
-Gets Taylor's movies as well.
-Makes fun of Dad for selling out

Dad: The History Teacher/Failed Comedian

-Act includes pie charts, powerpoints, historical comedy, and internet joke lists.
-Gives extra credit to his students for attending his act
-Constantly references his "wife" but really means his mother.
-Has his class fill out MadLibs, which he reads during his act.

That's about it. Like I said, you really had to be there. Or be in my family.