July 28, 2012


This is a post about my friend Caitlin.

She is a tall, skinny gringa with big Jewish curls and a singing voice that'll rock your world.

I am a short, brown-haired Latina, sometimes with big froofy curls (other times with frizzy straights).

We like to eat ice cream. (Well, let's be honest. We like to eat, period.)

We like to shop. (And sometimes, we straighten our hair.)

Also, we like to make hearts with our hands?

Sometimes, we tell each other random girl power things (while wearing crowns).

We have very specific opinions about hugging. (Ask us about it some time.)

Sometimes, we both talk really fast at the exact same time. (Yet somehow, we still understand each other?)

Sometimes, one of us dates Justin Bieber. (JK. I think that would be illegal, given that he's 12 and whatnot. But ALWAYS we are big fans of the Biebs. Except for that "Boyfriend" song. What is up with that, JB??)

And always, we have a lot of fun. :)

PS The real us:

**All photos of Selena and Taylor from here, here, or here.

July 27, 2012

Missing The Baby Bro + How to Clean a Tie in the Dishwasher

My brother has officially been gone for 3 weeks now. And I miss him. He was the person I talked to and texted the most (really- check my cell phone statements). I would tell him all the ridiculous things happening in my life, and he would tell me about the goings-on (or lack thereof) in his. 

One of the times that I would DEFINITELY always call my brother was when it was DARK and SCARY and I had to cross the wooded path to/from the metro at night.

Wooded path during the day.

SCARY, DARK path at night!! (!!!)

At my OWN RISK???!

In the last couple of weeks, I've rotated who I call when I'm walking in the dark, but I feel like I'm going to run out of friends here soon. I don't always tell people I'm calling them because I'm too scared to cross the dark path by myself (Maybe I'm a chicken? Oh, well. At least I'm not a dead chicken.).

Anyway, on account of the missing my brother thing, I bought him a 100% polyester tie when I went to Goodwill today. (They're moving to a new location, so everything was a million percent off! Kidding. Only 80%, meaning I spent something crazy like 70 cents on a tie for him.) I thought of how I was going to clean the tie (being thrifted and all), and I decided it would be silly to pay lots of $$ to have it dry cleaned. 

So, I did an experiment. I put it in the dishwasher (carefully laid flat on the top rack). And guess what? It worked! 

Clean polyester tie, fresh from its maiden voyage through the dishwasher!
(PS Hello, green stripey sock!)

I can't vouch for this method on ties made of silk or other more delicate materials, but for this 100% polyester thrift store tie, the dishwasher did the trick! (Polyester ties of the world, be ye clean!)

Anywho, thank you, Internet, for letting me vent a little about my brother withdrawals.

July 26, 2012

MTC: Week 3

This week's e-mail was shorter. But we've gotten to chat every week when he is at the computer (like gchat, but via e-mail), so I guess it's all good.

PS A reminder that all grammar errors are his. :)

Ni Hoa Wode Pengyou!
This week at the MTC has been crazy busy! I am learning Chinese at an exponetial rate! I can now hold a decent conversation! and yeah! Its awesome! My favorite lesson to teach are the Restoration! It is incredible! I am learning the 1st Vision in Zhongwen! Its coooool! This week for personal study I have been reading through Jesus The Christ! ITs awesome! It is so amazing to read through the life of the Master. He truly performed many miracles and was rejected by israel when they said we have no king but caesar! Its crazy. It truly is  inspiring to read about the life of the master!
This week has been pretty crazy we have been singing a lot of hymns lately and I really like it. it invites the spirirt and lets us focus. I really enjoy singing and wish I was better at it!
THis week to build District Unity we will try the Tower Challenge! In the MTC cafeteria there are towers of cereal and they hold about 74 bowls of cereal! as a district we are going to eat an entire tower! Its going to be a blast! and so spiriutual.... ;)
Things here are good though! I am getting into a routine finally I think...I am working harder and improving my study habbits everyday. I also am learning the importance of planning. When I plan at night the next day is just so much smoother and better than when I dont. I also testify of the reality of revelation through the BoM. I know my study time is more effective when I have personal questions I search for. Its awesome.
Thank you for all your packages and emails! Its so awesome! I love hearing from  you all and especially hearing about all of the smallest things that happen! Its crazy how news spreads here at the MTC! When I found out about the shootings at the dark knight rises I told someone and it spread like wildfire. Its crazy how fast news travels here.
The provo temple hasnt been open yet but it will open this week! I am excited to go to the temple on P day!
It has been so hot here lately! Its crazy! I am so grateful for my short sleeve shirts!
I am sorry this email was so short! I have to go though I love you all!
- Elder Zavala


The gray hairs of POTUS. Then and now. Image credit.

I believe in evolution. Now, this isn't to say I believe we came from monkeys or anything like that. Let me tell you about evolution and what I've learned/come to terms with recently.

Last week, I attended a conference for work, wherein I was surrounded by scientists (aka really smart people) all week. I was the dunce in the room and half the time, I didn't know what they were all talking about (something about the human genome, and enzymes, and that one virus- the name of which I can't remember right now, etc, etc). I sort of zoned out during one of the speakers, because I  didn't understand what he was talking about! So I read a science-y booklet about the NIH instead. It was fascinating! So many amazing things!

I was particularly struck by a little sidebar about evolution. The example they used was about hair cells. This isn't the exact scientific explanation, of course, but here's the gist of it. Take your hair cells (melanocytes? Science-y friends, help me out!). All their lives, they've been told to produce dark brown hair (for example). But one day, as you get older, your cells evolve. And the message changes. They are now told, "Hey, stop with the melanin already!" (PS Melanin is what gives your hair and skin its pigment.) So instead, they start making gray hair, or even white hair.

Friday night, in the middle of the night in Keuka Park, NY, I blow dried (why isn't it blew dried?) and flat ironed my hair. This is a process I repeat at least once a week. It usually takes me about an hour, and it allows me to become very closely acquainted with nearly every single hair on my head. Like, really close. Over the past year, I've occasionally found a gray hair or two as I engage in my weekly ritual. Friday night was different. I found a significant (to me) number of these little hairs. Of course, I ripped them out immediately!! When I got tired of pulling them out, I decided it was finally time to admit to myself (and to the universe) that my hair is evolving. I have gray hairs on my little dark brown head. (Like... more than 5 of them.)

I freaked out a little (OK, more than a little). And then I thought about how my hairs have evolved and thought, "Hmmm. Has the rest of me evolved?" And I waxed philosophical for about a half hour while I waited for Sara and Lee to get to KP. I'd like to think that those little hairs have been earned. My mom says stress gives you gray hairs. And I thought of the things in my life that cause me stress. Grad school. Personal trials. People trials (dating, friendships, or otherwise). Spiritual growth. The anxiety of not knowing what to do with my life. And then I thought of the blessings I've received from my life stressors. Increased knowledge and faith. Hopefully someday, a Master's degree and greater employability. A sense of self and an awareness of what I want/don't want. People skillz. Greater faith. etc., etc.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit (online, at that) that I felt terribly grateful that my five little hairs were in one of my underneath hair layers, so you couldn't really see them. I will also admit that I wasn't a fan of them, even after thinking about all of those life lessons. So, yep... I'll probably keep pulling them out when I see them. I thought about how different it is for a man to gray than for a woman. (I mean, just google "Obama gray hair" and see how much is out there about him! It's crazy!) A man is distinguished, wise, and handsome (My mom said so). A woman... Well, I don't know, but I sure don't feel distinguished, wise, or handsome (Maybe I should ask my mom? Except she's been dyeing (dying?) her hair since she was a teenager (I guess it's what cosmetologists do), so... maybe she's not the one to ask.). Perhaps I'll come to terms with these little guys one of these days (but really, I'll probably just pull out the rest of them?), but for now, I guess the reality of my life is that it's... evolving.

July 24, 2012

One of Life's Quandaries

This is quite possibly the most bizarre image I've ever found on a Google search. (Source.)

Sunday night, Jenn asked me if I'd ever considered telling people that my name "Rhymes With Quandary," rather than "Laundry." The answer is yes, but I don't want to confuse people even more, so... no.

(Related: This weekend, some guy -- whose name I can't remember. It was either Trevor or Travis. -- asked me what my name was. It went down as usual.

I said, "Yándary." 

He said, "What?"

I said, "Yawn-dree? Rhymes with Laundry?"

He said, "Can I call you Yolanda?"

And then I punched him in the nose, immediately forgot HIS name and said, "Can I call you Steve?"

Just kidding.

That's what I wanted to do. I said, "No," and possibly rolled my eyes (I honestly can't remember, but, well, it's very likely.). And I mentally checked out of that conversation right then and there.


Speaking of quandaries (which IS the title of this post, after all), why is it that when I have the most to get done, it's the easiest for me to get distracted and the most difficult for me to focus on something longer than the first two sentences of an article? (Two sentences! Not even the whole first paragraph! Whatever. Summer semester is almost over.)

I don't think I'll ever know.

July 23, 2012

Niagara Falls

This weekend, I got to take a trip with a few friends from my congregation. Our first stop was Niagara Falls (the American side)! I was amazed by how gorgeous the views were!

Elder Ufi and I served our missions together, and he's out here in DC for the summer doing an internship
on the Hill. We took this picture for our mission president's wife! (PS His real name is Brian, but I still
can't call him that... So for now, it's Ufi or Elder Ufi. Lol.) Thanks to him for this picture!

To get a closer look at the falls, we took a ride on the Maid of the Mist. ($12.20 well spent!) The views were incredible! (Seriously, it's worth paying to ride the boat. You just don't get the same view from land. Plus, who wouldn't want to sport a stylish, blue poncho?)

Photo courtesy of "Elder" Ufi

I'm not sure why our boat had a Canadian flag, since we were on the American side?
Our sweet, blue ponchos kept us "dry."

After riding the Maid of the Mist, we took a few more photos from the overlook.

And we paid the 25 cents to look through the fancy binoculars so we could see the tightrope walker!!
View of the Canadian side. If you look closely, you can see a tiny speck just to the left
of the building that looks like the Needle in Seattle. That's the tightrope man!
And to make up for the Canadian flag from the boat, here I am with a fake Lady Liberty.

Niagara Falls was STUNNING, but sorta smaller than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong; it was still GORGEOUS, but I guess I imagined the falls would be bigger. I'm bummed I didn't have my passport on me, because I hear the Canadian side has an even more gorgeous view. Overall, I really enjoyed this part of the trip, and I'd definitely come see it again.

More trip details to come! :)

July 22, 2012

MTC: Week 2

Better late than never, right?

July 17, 2012

Ni hoa wode Jiating!

Ni Jintian hoa ma?

Things here at the MTC are great this week! it has started to get cooler (or I am getting used to no AC? I'm not sure which it is...) But i try to stay postivie! So yesterday just as Everyone is finally getting used to our rooms all the chinese elders get a note on their doors that they will be receiving new bunks and new elders.... so starting tomorrow we are going to have 6 Elders in our room and two of us are going to have to share closets and desks with them....Awesome.... :) anyway everyone always looks forward to Wednesdays because we all love greeting the new Elders......and Sisters.... ;) who come in! ITs awesome! We are maxing out this week at 2900 Elders and Sisters.

So it is crazy crowded here.

Anywho! The Chinese is coming along...It's so tough, though. I am learning more everyday, but some days it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall....But I do my best to stay positive! and my 260 lb [Tongan] Companion always gets me to smile so I am very grateful for him!

So the MTC only carries 4 Mandarin Chinese books.....A Book of Mormon in all characters (which I can't read), A Joseph Smith Pamphlet in Characters (which I can't read), A primary picture book in Characters (which I can't read), And A Jesus the Christ in Characters (which I can't read), So the reading options are very limited here. But it is okay! Hopefully one day I will be able to read characers one day with a little bit of work.

This week we taught an Investigator who we were supposed to teach at 2 yesterday. Well me and my Comp showed up at 2 but what we didn't know was that we were supposed to be practing our door approaches. So not only did we not not know how to say we have a lesson for you we also didn't know how to make small talk which doesn't sound like a big deal but it is when you are talking to a stranger. So we had 20 minutes to start off with and I worked for 2 days every free chance I got to translate a lesson that would be good. and by the time we got everything sorted out we had 3 minutes to teach. So I opened up my PMG (Preach My Gospel, which is the missionary manual.) and read from the 5 minute lesson sections and It was horrible. When you are trying to speak the things of your heart, things that are most sacred unto you, and you cannot express the desires of your heart, it's like banging your head against a wall. So that was very discouraging. But I am doing my best. I know that I have places I can improve but We all have things like that. I know there is a reason the Lord has asked me to preach in Chinese and I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the Children of Men save he shall provide a way for them to accomplish the thing which he commandeth them to do.

After a bad lesson this week I was feeling so frustrated and so angry at my inability to communicate and understand what our investigator was saying and I came back and during personal study I read from1 Nephi 3 and From 1 Nephi 8. About the going and doing the things the Lord commandeth and about the tree of life. I Love these scriptures and in the moment I read them it was just what I needed to hear. I was given comfort when I needed it most and I cannot explain what that was like. Truly it was a tender mercy of the Lord (But behold I [Elder Zavala] will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen because of their faith to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance 1 Nephi 1:20) knowing this is what gives me drive some days. I know all I need to do is do my best and the Lord will take care of the rest. the Work here is very hard but I know with time I will Master this Language...because hey..its me? Was there ever any doubt?

I also wanted to tell you about the Gift of Tongues. I have gained such a strong testimony of this! Honestly it is so much easier to work when I feel that i have the spirit with me. When I was teaching one of my investigators last week I had just finished language study before the lesson and While I was bearing my testmony I felt the words that my investigator needed to hear slowly floating to the top of my head. I knew then that I was speaking what the Lord wanted this Lady to hear and not what I wanted to say. I testify that spirit has no Language barriers. That even though I am some 19 year old punk from Ogden that with faith in the lord I can become an instrument in his hands. Miracles happen here everyday I testify of this. That they can throw a group of 19 year olds into a classroom for 12 weeks and teach them a language thats older than time itself is truly a miracle. There is no other way to describe it.

So in other news.....Things That would be helpful here at the MTC a Tide to Go pen! Some dryer sheets! To do Laundry with! and Cookies and Candy! To comfort my soul on those tuff days and whatnot! and that's all that I can think of right now...I might be sending my Camera's SD card home so that y'all can see my pictures and stuff! there was supposed to be a photo kiosk here but there isnt! And yeah! oh btw YANDARY!!! You said there would be hangers here! there wasnt! I had to go buy some! it was silly.

ahh I am trying not to eat so much here because I have no desire to gain any weight while here (or anywhere for that matter....) but it's hard. haha. The ice cream on sundays and wednesdays is soo goooooood! and yeah! I've lost 2 lbs here but we'll see if the trends continue!

In other news, MTC basketball is everything and more I hoped it would be!

I played 3 games this week and I went:

Game 1:
3/8 FG 3 Assists 2 Blocks 3 Reb

1/11FG 2 Assists 4 Reb

Game 3:
5/9 FG 4 Assists 3 Reb

So I am getting better some days and some days I am getting worse...haha. They gym is closed because they are redoing the floors, so I won't be able to play for 9 days! awful! But I have been biking! Yesterday I rode 12 Miles on a stationary on "Cross Country" setting it was crazy. I have never sweat so much haha!

Anywho! My time is up! and I must go! Because I have to take a nap still (it's Pday) and thats about it!

I love you all sooo very much! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep those letters coming! I love to hear from all of you!

with much love
-Elder Zavala I

What a dork! I just noticed he wrote Elder Zavala I (as in, "the First!" LOL.)

Also, for those who want to write to Jason, you can send snail mail (and packages) to:

Elder Jason S. Zavala
MTC Box # 106-0918
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604

Or you can e-mail him at jason.zavala@myldsmail.net

July 19, 2012

My Kind of Week

This week has been my kind of week.

The kind where I get at least seven hours of sleep a night... AND I get to wear my red pants. :)

The kind where I actually get to go to FHE and it's something awesome like Screen on the Green (and they show a Looney Tunes cartoon before the movie! Fact: Looney Tunes is THE best cartoon of ALL time!) AND I get to finally see my friends after being gone for a million weeks.

Oh, that Bugs!

I <3 DC

The kind where I'm busy, busy, busy with work and school and homework, and I'm running from one thing to the next, but it's a GOOD thing, because I just do better when I'm busy.

The kind where I get to confidently network with so-called "important" people. (Important in the DC way, though they're also important in the we're-all-children-of-God kind of way.)

The kind where the tree branch only ALMOST falls on my car (and Justin's) but actually DOESN'T, because it's still hangin' by its last limb! (Ha! I'm punny!)

Justin's car, not mine, but my car was right next to it!

The kind where we get our electricity back!! Huzzah!! (We'll ignore the fact that it's been 2 weeks now since we had a working stove/oven, but whatevs.)

The kind where when I go to class and love it so much, I forget my phone exists and so I don't text Kelli back (sorry, Kelli!) even though I usually look at my phone throughout the whole class (sorry, professors!).

The kind where despite my near inability (I said NEAR inability, not COMPLETE inabi...) to focus or be still for extended periods of time, I discover (thanks, Ciara!) that I actually DO have the skillz required to meditate (Even if it's only for 5 minutes at the end of yoga. PS Thanks for that, yoga!).

The kind where I get to go to Palmyra (during Pageant!!) at the end of the week. (And LeAnna gets to come, too!)

The kind where Camille sends me this to prep me for said Palmyra trip. :)