Well despite 2013 being relatively unsuccessful from a blogging standpoint, I’ve got to admit that in reality it’s been one for the books. (Sadly such books don’t include my personal journal)
I rang in the New Year from the roof of my parent’s four-storey terraced house in Frankfurt, under a shower of not-illegal fireworks (god bless Europe for its damp and safety-conscious disposition); and now I’m saying good-bye to it from the other hemisphere, under the lazy sun in South Africa. My parents have continued in their thirst for roaming other greener pastures across this earth. Thankfully, I get to tag along now and then- but for all intents and purposes, 2013’s been a good year for my own roaming. I’m sensationally blessed to have moved to greatest city in the entire world: London.
London’s its own country if you ask me. It’s dripping with culture- both of its own volition and of cultures from the world over. At every corner there’s something old but new, something hidden, something for YOU. I’ve waited my whole life to feel like a piece of soil could feel like a home, and here I’ve found it- but only because I feel like I could get utterly lost if I stop paying attention. If London were a man, I’d marry it in a second.
At the close of this year, I feel a clarity of my wealth. Not in the $$ sense of the word (my shopaholicism will never allow me to use that word in this way), but in a way that I’m poignantly aware that I am blessed beyond measure with great friends, incredible opportunities for personal growth and refinement, and family who are deeply invested in my wellbeing. Most importantly I’m grateful for being able to feel Gods love for me every single day. Writing that out like this makes me feel like a recording artist, writing it on the inside of their album jacket. But I’m totally serious- I feel Him watching over me and I know He alone knows me completely. I reckon He gets a good laugh at the many embarrassing things I do- and he probably shakes His head in dismay a lot in the movie of my life. But despite my many follies, it overwhelms me to know that he keeps watching. He loves me- what a strange thing to believe. But an undeniable thing too.
Here are the things I’ll remember about 2013- a year that I coined The Year of Hollie/ Operation S*** Together (the fact that I used asterix’s there is proof in the pudding, my friends).
My name in print- a few times over.A couple of things I wrote cropped up in the Ensign magazine. I never imagined my name would be in print for anything other than trivial fiction, but I guess my writing career has happened in a backwards way that sees me as something of a journalist. A Newsroom I work with at work is also plastered with my pen, and I also chief wrote and edited this book.
The big move to the big smoke.
My ever-generous parents packed me and my things into their car and drove me to London via cruise ship. Unloading that car and stepping into a hideously wallpapered room was one of the scariest things I’ve done. Closing my new front door and turning around to dead silence was even more terrifying. But luckily even then I knew that it was also the most exciting moment of my life to date.
Grannie’s gone- but always here.
In April my father’s mother passed away. A quick trip to Ireland and I was reunited with my parents and lots of other family. It was a unique moment in my family history, to see my father reminiscing with his sisters about my grandmother. So many funny and beautiful stories about such a strong-willed and elegant woman. I loved meeting so many of her friends and loved ones, and I loved spending time in my father’s hometown.
We went many times when we were kids, but there’s something about going as an adult and seeing buildings and roads and skies that your ancestry ruled. I spoke at the funeral and I’m glad of the opportunity because as I reflected on what I could say about my grandmother I realized that she was a woman of great faith, who knew the importance and value of prayer. I learned a lot from her example.
The Fab Neighbors.
As the summer burned on in London, my neighbors and I spent a considerable amount of time playing and philosophizing together. We’re not the group of friends who are oblivious to the amazing city we live in- and every moment we spent together was a British adventure: from sampling way too expensive treats at the Harrods chocolate counter, to biking the Thames at sunset, to driving to Brighton beach at 3am to watch the sun rise. We were delighted to watch two of the FF fall in love (congrats E & J).
London in summer, this year at least, was the hottest, most humid state of affairs since Ghana times. It’s a sad day when, packed in a tube carriage with thousands of other commuters, you begin to feel the beads of sweat trickle down your legs. That’s a struggle. Meanwhile a new heir to the British throne was born (I hope Prince George stays as chubby as he is now), and I had a few visitors from lands afar. It was especially great to be reunited with Sarah for a twinkling of an eye.
One of my favourite highlights of the year was my reunion with my sweet little brother Logan, who finished serving a full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland. I touched down in Zurich and joined the re-unioners (parents) and had the greatest time touring some of Logan’s favourite places, including Basel, Bern and Zermatt. We took cable cars to the top of the Matterhorn Mountain and surveyed the Swiss Alps and countryside. The view was astounding, and once again I realized I was privileged enough to stand on some of this planet’s most beautiful land.
A room full of prophets.
On a sunny morning in July I shook sweaty hands with three apostles of God. Daunting, yes. I never imagined I would get to be involved in interviewing such incredible men for a couple of Church news stories about the British Pageant, a musical show that paid tribute to the British heritage of the Mormon Church. If you didn’t know anything about the role of an apostle, I’ll just say this: it’s very obvious that they are called of God, and that they are special and personal witnesses of Jesus Christ. I realized how taxing it must be to travel the world over and over. But I was amazed to hear their testimonies of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Even in moments that were between photo shoots and recordings, their defending of the Savior was rigorous and determined. It was the alarming.
A surprising call.
I was called to be the Relief Society president in my ward at Church- a role that I’ve watched my mother excel in throughout my childhood, but one that I was completely blindsided by myself. I felt unbelievably overwhelmed accepting the assignment, but so far it’s been the most enlightening experience of my spiritual life: knowing and feeling that I’m never alone, and feeling that love of stewardship in womanhood. I think over the last few years I’ve learned more and more about the divine tuition of women- and I can see that with the incredible councilors and influential women in my life right now, I’ll continue to learn about the unique way women can change the world.
Girls just wanna have fun- and so does William.
In November one of my favourite duo’s came to stay: Aunty Juli and cousin William! Their whirlwind London adventure took us to the favourite tourist spots. We were joined by our best girl Aunty Mary, and the party continued! Throw in London Dungeon hilarity and Chinese take-out and it was a trip to remember. It’s the best of times when family crosses paths!
Return of the native.
Closing out a busy year in my beloved Africa is just what the Doctor ordered, and though I’m anxious to return to my soul city, I’m in love with being in the warm and perfumey air of South Africa. It’s the perfect end to a year of reflection and hard work!