Thursday, 9:37 pm: A mass text asks if I would be interested in visiting the mission. Luckily, the only cool weekend plan I had was getting my car washed, so I start throwing clothes out of my laundry hamper and into an overnight bag.
Friday, 4:10 pm: I finish my first summer internship, and do not regret almost missing the early train because I stopped to take this triumphant selfie. The Utah Courts have a weird social media policy that you can't post where you're working at, but I'm not an intern anymore sooo...
Saturday, 3:00 am: We arrive tired and grateful at a member family's home where they have an air mattress and blankets all set up in their living room. Seriously, who lets a bunch of girls crash at their house in the middle of the night?? The. NICEST.
9:45 am: Hermano makes us delicious pancakes for breakfast and we head down to Santa Monica beach. We knew the forecast was less than ideal when we saw all the west coasters bundled up in hoodies-- but it was still warm enough to lay on the sand, listen to the ocean and read my book, which is all one really needs on a vacation.
Lindas preciosas <333
The In-N-Out I consumed after that day at the beach might make my top 10 meals I've ever eaten. I inhaled it so fast, Instagram never had a chance.
8:45 pm: We show up to the Reseda ward Father's Day activity, after most people have gone home and everyone is cleaning up. I am beyond delighted to see the families who are still there. And completely surprised to see one part member family who we had worked with during the months I spent in that area. I hadn't thought about them much; I would never have assumed I'd see them. But there they were, hanging around with the ward leaders and the missionaries after everyone else had left. By the time I approach, I'm too choked up to get a decent "Hi" out-- and instead of letting me play it cool and get it together, the hermano bear hugs me like, "Ohh there, cry, sweetheart. Cry, cry," and I sob into his shoulder like a child. "Truly, Hermana, thank you. I feel that you care. I feel your heart." Ahhhhhhhh missions. They keep you soft.
Sunday, 8:35 am: We arrive back at the Spanish stake center, where four wards meet, and where I feel like I have spent so many hours of my life. Everyone sees everyone and I get to hear the gospel in Spanish, which is still sweetly familiar after being home for a year.
After church we visit President and Sister Hall for a lovely chat. I'm so glad we got to see them before they're released in a couple weeks. I'm also very pleased they're moving to Saint George, because it seems close enough for me to be able to harass them as life coaches even more frequently.
Then we eat a delicious taco lun-che with some members from the ward.
Marta is the grandma who was baptized my last week in Reseda. To use a missionary cliché, she really was golden. I feel so lucky to have her as part of my life, and to have had the opportunity to spend time teaching her. AND she went through the temple last Saturday!!! If this was a normal post by Lauren, she would put up one tasteful picture and let it go. But lest we forget, this is a guest post by yo, Hermana Seen-son, who does not care about brevity and will unapologetically post every picture of Marta Alvarado there is on my phone.
But first things first, let's just take a second to appreciate how tiny and perfect she is: I am 5'4" and slouching.
Thanks to Shalee Mulliner's shenanigans, I HAVE A PICTURE OF A LATINA SMILING!!! OBSERVE!!
4:40 pm: We head back to the stake center for a baptism (aka the real reason we made this trip in the first place.) I didn't know the couple getting baptized but I liked letting kids crawl all over us during the talks. Also got to see and not hug two more of my favorite elders. It's hard to express how normal and comfortable they felt taking pictures with me.
Although more than 24 hours of our trip consisted of driving in the car, I have to say it wasn't bad at all. To stay awake during the night I made us play Kiss Kill Marry about elders from the mission, which was a great hit because everyone always had a ready answer for who they would choose to kill. We tried to move on to famous people after that, but one girl was unfamiliar with pop culture so I started throwing out U.S. presidents and historical figures instead. (I concede that round was a miss.)
It was also brought to my attention that these three former hermanas, all more righteous than I, do not hate Las Vegas. This surprised me, because I have held a personal vendetta against the city for years. 'Why?' you ask, 'because it is a self-proclaimed den of sin?' No, omg I would never judge, although now that you mention it I guess it IS straight-up Satan's Lair and based on the billboards I can safely assume no woman has ever been respected here. No, the truly damning thing about Vegas is that it is tacky. The monstrous fake castles, the neon casino lights, the fake Statue of Liberty-- it's like entering a Chuck-E-Cheese nightmare.
And again, the billboards. As we drove by "Thunder Down Under" for the second time on our way back to Utah, I realized that probably no man has ever been respected in Vegas, either.
If I were Queen of the Strip, I would open a nightclub called Handsome Men in Well-Tailored Suits, in which handsome men in well-tailored suits bring you slurpees and that frozen lemonade drink from Chick-fil-a, and listen to your opinions on things. "What's been on your mind, lately?" they are required by contract to ask, probably in a foreign accent.
Then when it's time for the main event, all the handsome men in well-tailored suits line up on stage and share excerpts from their favorite books, explaining why that passage is meaningful to them. Then a brief light show, the theme of which is "Tribute to Mom"-- pictures flash on screen while handsome men in well-tailored suits step forward and say nice things about their mothers. Then they sing a few songs or do some standup comedy bits to wrap things up. GO AHEAD, TELL ME THAT CLUB WOULDN'T DO WELL.
10:00 pm: We stop at In-N-Out for a second time. I regret nothing.
Monday, 6:50 am: I step out into my parking lot and have forty minutes to get ready for work. I have no clean shirts that match my dress pants, but at this point my legs are so hairy there's no socially acceptable way I can wear a skirt. Tender mercy, my friend also takes the later train that day and she wakes me up when we reach the Murray station.
I know it will take me a whole week to get back up to speed, but some things are worth it. And that trip was Some Things.
All in all, I'm just really happy that I get to live in Utah, and that summers look (and feel) like this.