Check out my other blog HERE

Monday, December 20


I was sharing this story with a some friends a few days ago and I decided I ought write it down.

During December of 2005 I had been a missionary in Argentina for about a 2 months.  It was more difficult to adjust than I had anticipated.  I didn't have a hard time speaking but I couldn't understand much of what people said to me.  My trainer didn't really like Americans (I was her only American companion during her entire mission).  Often we split up to cover more of the area.

**As an aside I will tell you that the first time we split up (went on "divisiones") was when I had been in the country for 2 days.  She gave me a list of addresses and sent me off with a 17 girl named Cynthia who wore an Avril Lavigne backpack (that detail isn't important, I just thought it was funny).  I had no idea who these people were and what I was supposed to say to them; I didn't know if they were members, less active members, investigators or street contacts.  We wandered around the neighborhood as I tried to find the addresses and I cried about 5 times in 3 hours because I didn't know where I was and what I was supposed to be doing and couldn't understand what anyone told me every time I stopped to ask for directions.  It was that day that I realized my trainer was hard core or crazy or maybe both.**

That was mid-October.  By mid-December I had been emergency transferred (5 days into the mission), survived giant cockroaches crawling in my shoes and on my neck, been kissed by a drunk man, been admitted to the hospital twice for blisters/rash/foot fungus/who-knows-what that wouldn't disappear from the tops of my feet and toes,witnessed 3 investigators be baptized, learned how to ride a bus, learned how to shop with Argentine pesos, worn out/melted a pair of shoes, gagged down all sorts of nasty food and gone on "divisiones" several more times.  I was starting to adjust to life in the mission field.  Each day was getting hotter than the next and it didn't really feel like Christmas to me without cold rainy/snowy weather and without any familiar faces.  But I was enjoying Argentina and the funny people

One December afternoon my companion and I split up again to cover more ground.  This time I planned the afternoon of work all by myself.  I was feeling more confident in my planning abilities and my ability to understand "Castellano" Spanish.  This time I went with Lourdes Orlandi.  Lourdes was 21 or 22 and I felt more confident with her because she was older and not afraid to speak up and talk to people in the streets and help me teach during lessons.  Also, Lourdes was waiting for her mission call.  She had been waiting for about 8 months and was getting very anxious to find out where she was going.  Lourdes was from the ward where I had been emergency transferred from after 5 days in the area.  That area was extremely poor.  Lourdes herself lived in one of the humblest areas with her father and a brother.  I had been to her house only once and I remember that it had either cement or dirt floors.  The only furniture I saw in the main room was a sink and a table and chairs.  I was impressed that even after working all day long (putting away all the money for her mission) she was willing to come help us.

The afternoon that Lourdes and I worked together went well until I completely ran out of stuff to do.  I was feeling discouraged that after all of my careful planning, nothing had worked out.  I decided to talk to people in the streets as we walked back to the apartment.  Lourdes turned to me and asked if we could make a quick stop before going home.  I said yes and followed her into a party store.  I watched her pick out a little 1-foot tall tree and then some tinsel, ornaments and large red star for the top.  It was fun to help her decide which colors would look best and I didn't mind helping her shop because I knew she didn't have too many chances to come to the shopping district of our town (she lived in the outskirts).  I was surprised that everything came to 20 pesos, it seemed like a lot of money for her to spend when she was trying so hard to save all of her money to pay for her mission.  I reminded myself that these were probably the only decorations she and her dad and brother would have--to Lourdes it was probably worth the sacrifice to part with some of her hard earned money to buy a few nice things for her humble home.

We got home about 20 minutes before my trainer would return and so Lourdes turned to me and said something to the effect of, "well, let's decorate, let's set up your tree."  I wish I could have seen my face at that moment when I realized that she hadn't picked out this tiny little tree for HER Christmas, she had sacrificed some of her mission money for MY Christmas.  Here she was, with all of her own problems, anxious over the 8 long months she had been waiting to receive her mission call, worried about how she would be able to pay for it all, worried about who would take care of her dad and brother while she was gone, she had no money for shoes or clothes or luggage and she was concerned about me and my happiness as a new missionary in foreign country.  I will never forget how surprised and humbled I felt.  It was such a simple thing but it meant so much because I knew how much of a sacrifice those 20 pesos were for Lourdes.  The following quote by Elder Ballard describes this kind of sacrifice,
Opportunities to serve others in meaningful ways, as we have covenanted to do, rarely come at convenient times. But there is no spiritual power in living by convenience. The power comes as we keep our covenants.  (Found in THIS talk)
Service is not often convenient.  Sacrifice is not convenient. But there is power in following Jesus Christ's example.  Lourdes knew that the best way she could celebrate Christmas was through unselfish service.  I pull that little tree out each Christmas and it reminds to serve, love and sacrifice regardless of whether it's easy or convenient.

Sometime between the 25th of December and the 1st of January Lourdes received her mission call to the Argentina Resistencia Mission.  She came over and my trainer cut her hair, we scavenged through our storage room (where missionaries would leave stuff that they didn't plan on taking with them back to the states) and found a large duffel bag, some old shoes and clothes for her to take on the mission.

 Me and Cynthia (the 17 yr old with Avril Lavigne backpack) after I had cried 5 times in 3 hours.

 Our little Christmas Tree.

Lourdes (a few days before she left for the MTC in Bs. As.) getting her hair cut.

Friday, December 17

Healthy Holiday Dips

Edamame Guacamole
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 small, ripe avocado, peeled & pitted
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (optional)
1/3 bunch cilantro
1/4 white onion, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2-3 Tbsp water
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put edamame, avocado, chipotle, cilantro, onion, and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Add enough water to make a creamy consistency and pulse again. Transfer guacamole to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Oil-free Hatch Green Chile Hummus
2 garlic cloves
1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added garbanzo bean, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup water - more if needed
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp reduced sodium tamari
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 (6 oz) can hatch green chilies, drained
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
Put garlic in a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add garbanzos, tahini, water, lemon juice, tamari, cumin, coriander, hatch chilies, and a pinch of cayenne (you may add more later to increase the heat), and process until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Spinach Artichoke Dip with White Beans
1 (15 oz) can no-salt white beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8 oz) jar artichoke hearts in water, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups spinach, blanched
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup shaved parmesan-optional (save some for garnish)
Put white beans, artichokes, garlic, spinach, lemon juice and parmesan in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Garnish with shaved parmesan. It can be served warm by heating in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Monday, December 13

Is it Spring or Winter?

It's December 13th, so while it's technically still Fall, I would usually call December and even November winter months here in Utah (if its snowing, its winter).  However, today on my drive home it was 53 degrees outside.  It seriously felt like Spring.  If only it would stay this way all winter...

Thursday, December 2


Wouldn't it be great if the internet were multi-sensory? As it is, we are limited to sight and sound online. I would really love it I could smell and feel the images I see online (with a few exceptions of course). C'mon, how 'bout it science? Let's give it a go.

Friday, November 26

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

I was laughing out loud at this little kid. Doesn't she just sound like a general authority during general conference? Well, until she starts impersonating God's voice. My favorite is the man in the background. Does this kid even know how to read?

Sunday, November 21

Some Thankfuls

Being that Thanksgiving is around the corner, all of the talks at church today revolved around being grateful.  I haven't been doing a good job in appreciating the good things that happen each day and in turn I've been pretty crabby lately.  Sure, there is a lot going on right now and I could probably justify my foul mood to some...but instead I'd like to tell you the good things about my week.

-Friday only 2/3 of my  kids were at school, and it was most of the one's that I like.
-I got to chastise this annoying girl for skipping my class...she is like the bane of my existence and I can't wait to tell her mother who thinks that her daughter can do no wrong.  Really this is good news.
-Bingham won the 5A state championship
-Claud and Dave got sealed and I attended my 2nd sealing this month
-Ate at Buca di Beppos for the second time this month after a sealing
-Hung out with the lovely Makamae who came to visit from Texas, we will still have fun and laugh together when we are 90 and living in the same retirement home (or something like that).  Maybe we'll have wheelchair races down the halls and talk about how much we loved Brandon Boyd.
-My life was spared despite my horrible driving in the freak snowstorm of Saturday night.
-Got to see Claud's parents--love them.
-Erica shoveled the sidewalk this morning.
-My Thursday class which is usually the worst part of the day was actually the bright spot in my day.
-More snow is predicted and I get the garage this week!
-I finished the BOM on Saturday.


Monday, November 1

Which Dress?

I have been wanting to buy a fancy dress for awhile now.  I wear dresses all the time to school so now it never feels the same when I try to dress up for something special.  So here are 2 styles of dresses, each in 2 colors, tell me which ones you like.  I'm debating whether to just buy one, or one of each style cuz they're kinda expensive...especially because I'm going to have them change the length to below the knee instead of at the knee.

Friday, October 29

Today is the last day of the quarter.  Hallelujah.  Yesterday I had 20-30 kids swarming my room after school.  All trying to turn in late work, make up a test or check their grade one last time.  Isn't it funny how I'm okay with my own procrastination but despise how much work it creates for me when my students do?  Skyward (our online grading system) was creeping along, making it tough to access and input grades.  As the line to my desk grew unbearably long, a student marched right up to my desk, passing by all the others and handed me her cell phone.  "My mom wants to talk to you!"  So I answered the phone and Mom proceeded to chew me out because I was unfairly grading her daughter.  "That is just unacceptable," she screamed.  "Wow lady, calm down," I thought, "how interesting that all of the sudden the day before the quarter ends she has a problem with her daughter's grade even though it's been a C+ or lower for the ENTIRE QUARTER."  Well, the silliest part of the whole situation was how the entire roomful of students (plus a mother/daughter combo waiting to talk to me about her grade) heard this wretched woman yelling at me on the top of her lungs over the cell phone.  I prayed a lot after that incident that I could just keep my cool and make it successfully though the rest of my day and night since I had my overwhelming 4 hour ESL endorsement class still to endure.

Anyways, I'm not gonna lie, October was rough this year. Teaching middle school is crazy hard. Today was the best day of the month because I allowed myself to laugh and release some stress. We blasted that song by Taio Cruz (about thowin' your hands up in the air sometimes) and I got all 32 students in 5th period to dance around the room in a conga line with me. Sayin' a-yo, gotta let go.

Wednesday, September 22


Why I am so cranky?  I called in sick today, I've been feeling crummy.  It all started Sunday night when this fire in the foothills by my house (okay, well, in Herriman) started burning down houses and they evacuated like 1700 homes and they so I was just nervous about how smoky it was and which schools they would cancel and stuff.  So I didn't sleep well and then I've just been in a funk and getting sicker by the day.  Now my computer ac adapter is broken, so I bought a new one and that one didn't work either, so I think something inside my computer is broken.  I dunno, I'll have to take it in this weekend when I have time to breathe again.  I do NOT recommend taking 18 credits (even if it is over 8 months) and teaching without a prep period.  7 straight classes, no breaks, I almost cried yesterday after work.  I went to the copy room and all 3 copiers were broken.  Tears were welling up in my eyes.  It was my first day with no meetings after school and I was feeling sick and achy and I just wanted to go home, and I couldn't even get my copies done.  I miss Jocelyn the copy lady who is not with us this year and so they didn't bother getting a new copy lady.

Wow, did you read all of that?  Pat yourself on the back if you did.  I let out a big shriek/yell tonight because I was so frustrated.  I think I scared my roomies.  Oh well.  Ya know what, it didn't even make me feel better.  I would go exercise but I jacked up my knees running around the lake on Saturday night.  Note to self:  stick to the eliptical machines at the gym.  Wow, are you still reading?  You deserve some ice cream or some delicious mexican food.  I'm done.

Saturday, July 3


For those of you who do not know, I have been working up in northern Utah (beaver dam, in between tremonton and logan) at a Cub Scout Day Camp.  It has been an adventure for many reasons, but no regrets, I have been able to work with some people that I have really come to love.  I just want to share with you a few experiences from my last full week of work.  Well, let me begin the story a month before...

...Over Memorial Day our Bishop had us watch some cheesy movie about our country or something like that.  The song, "Proud to be an American" was playing and I HATE that song.  But as much as I hate that song, I started to think about my Grandpa and how he requested that song to be sung at his funeral/memorial service.  That dumb song on it's own wouldn't bring tears to my eyes but the memories of my Grandpa did.  I thought about how much I really wasn't proud at all to be an American and didn't really feel any sense of patriotism or gratitude.  I haven't really felt much like an "American" since 2007 when I arrived home from Argentina.  I kind of began to feel a little guilty for having no sense of pride or loyalty for my country.  A few times after Memorial Day I prayed that I might understand why my Grandpa liked that song and why he chose it.

...Fast forward to scout camp.  Though I am usually working just in the trading post, last week I was asked to teach the citizenship class for the weblos in camp for a few days.  With each lesson, more and more I felt like I was understanding the beautiful symbolism of our flag.  Among other things, I would teach the boys what the pledge of allegiance meant and really came to understand those words myself.  My salutes at flag felt different when I started realizing I was showing reverence toward liberty, justice and my country rather than just reverencing a piece of colorful fabric.  I started thinking about my forefathers who believed so deeply that people ought to have basic freedoms and rights and protection that they were willing to sacrifice everything (even their lives) to defend it all.  At the end of that week, on Friday night, at our campfire, we had a flag retirement.  It was actually the third flag retirement I had seen, but this time was different.  First off, there was an incredible sense of reverence among the scouts and staff who were there.  I kept thinking about the comments of a war veteran from earlier that week who had picked up the folded flag I was using in my class, he hugged it and talked about how a flag is a living thing, a living symbol and that is why it is burned when it is no longer in conditions to be flown.  After the flag was lowered into the fire, as a staff we sang patriotic songs as the scouts passed by the fire to pay their last respects to the flag.  When everyone else had left, our staff circled around the fire and it was just completely quiet.  The spirit was so strong.  I couldn't speak, though a few staff members started to share their feelings about what we had just witnessed.  I wish I could share all of their insights with you!  It was emotional.  I just kept staring into the fire thinking about why I was having such strong feelings and then it hit me that  Heavenly Father was blessing me with what I had asked for.  I knew I needed to have a love for my country and I was feeling it!  I feel like my Grandpa choosing that song for his funeral was a message to me...and truthfully I think it's the legacy he wanted to leave for his grandchildren who have not had to sacrifice the way he did.  When I think of him now, I think of patriotism and I am grateful for the way that he is an example to me.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Sunday, April 18

I'm Thirsty

I have a good life.  The end.

I am incredibly fortunate.  I have some really cool opportunities living here in Salt Lake.  One is being able to work in the Salt Lake Temple.  I can't tell you how many Argentines were so jealous of the fact that I have been to temple square and the conference center, and here I am, getting to spend every other Saturday working in the most iconic temple of our dispensation.  I am lucky that I still get to see many of my friends from college.  I am lucky that I basically fell into my job on a fluke and I have one prep and get to teach only Spanish 2.  I am lucky that I have enough money for my needs (obviously not all of my wants--we always want more than we have--right now I really want braces and can't afford it).  I have a comfortable place to live, a reliable car and my health.  Living in Salt Lake I have gotten to rub shoulders with some pretty cool people.

A couple things have been on my mind.  One was going to do sealings this weekend.  I honestly can't even put into words how I felt.  The spirit was very strong and a lot of feelings came to me about what my parents must have felt as they were sealed and then to me.  The other thing on my mind was a conference talk where somebody mentioned how we live far beneath our privileges.  I think that I am blessed now, but I know that I have untapped resources and opportunities.  I know that I can have even more spiritual power if I am willing to put in the effort.  I used to think my trainer was crazy for always talking about "poder espiritual" but I think I'm starting to get what she meant.

Sorry if this post seems cryptic and/or disjointed.  Lot's on my mind.

Tuesday, April 6

3 YEARS--How did that happen?

3 years ago today I was getting on a plane in Mendoza to fly to Buenos Aires and then to Atlanta, Georgia and then to Portland, Oregon.  I remember trying to soak in every last drop of Argentina that I possibly could.  I took mental pictures of the Andes mountains and the vineyards as we rose into the air.  We touched down in San Juan for a second and I just wanted to get out and smell the air for a second.  I chatted with anyone that I could find as we waited in the MTC in Buenos Aires for our evening flight--I knew my days of speaking "castellano" would be coming to an end.  

Though I tried with "great fervor" to soak up all things Argentina during my last transfer, I fear that some beautiful moments of the mission have become hazy.  Others come back to me randomly when I most need them, such sweet little tender mercies.  The last few days I have been recalling a quote wall that Hermana Gunderson and I kept.  I'm not sure what provoked our quote wall, but subconsciously (at least a little bit) I think it was to help us laugh and deal with some losses that greatly impacted us during our time in San Luis.  

Today a snippet from our quote wall came back to me full force and made me all giggly inside, just like the first time I heard it. 
 "Not the bajonies!!!!!"

I don't know if I even remember the whole story behind why E' Molina and Divis started saying this in the first place.  Elder Divis was still learning Spanish and Elder Molina spoke perfect English and so they often spoke English.  I remember something about how they were with a member or teaching a lesson and somebody was telling some silly story about "los bajones"--the downers.  Some adult reacted dramatically and said, "no los bajones!!!!" and so I think the Elders tried to recreate the scene in English for us and out came "not the ba-honies".  Such spanglish.  I can still picture them gasping the phrase, mouth open wide in shock as both hands smacked the sides of their face.

So next time you feel a little down in the dumps, make the above face and say to yourself, 

Sunday, February 21

Thoughts on my profession.

Where to start? This school year started out pretty rocky; I was completely biased and comparing my students from last year to my current 9th graders. Many of my old students have come back to visit me--and while I love seeing them--it's evident that they are not my students anymore. I'm not with them every day anymore. But I do love hearing about their high school adventures and driver licenses and all that good stuff. It makes me happy to know that they are finding out what they are good at and being successful.

I have really come to enjoy my current students and their unique personalities. It can be a challenge to adequately give 36 students the opportunity to be heard and express themselves in 50 minutes but I do my best and I think they can tell that I really do care about them.

Some of you may have heard about the 30 million dollar shortfall that the Jordan District is trying to deal with for next years budget. The school board opted to not raise taxes and to instead cut teachers and programs. This has left us educators completely baffled and shocked. There is a chance that I may lose my job next year. They are waiting to calculate enrollment and registration for next year before they begin letting teachers go, but it's looking like anywhere from 7 -12 teachers at my school will be gone next year. The average class size will be 40. While I would be the first Spanish teacher to be let go (this is based on the hiring date of myself and another Spanish teacher who was hired around the same time as me) I am feeling that next years Spanish enrollment will still be quite large. In fact, at the beginning of this year I had a few classes that were 38-40 which freaked me out because I only had 35 desks.

A few funny stories. I still have a few students who say the most random things to me. I won't get into all of the details but I'll just say that I laugh every day at the ridiculous things these boys say to me. Let me share with you the words from a Valentine I received from G, the same boy who wrote me out a personal check for L-O-V-E instead of money. And I quote the Valentine:
"To: Mrs. Spravzoff
I love you in every single way. everytime you say my name I hear it in my heart for the rest of day. Your eyes remind me of a toilet full of love and some poo. I heart U."
Here's my embarrassing story of the week--I had seen this kid around school quite a bit. He was Polynesian kid who seemed awfully quiet but had a sweet disposition. I will often stand outside of my portable door if the weather is decent because it also means that the kids are more prone to rough house and goof off out there. I will often say hi to kids that I know as they pass by, greet my kids or yell at kids throwing bark dust at each other or what not. I noticed that this kid took French 7th period in the portable next to mine. So one day I decided to compliment quiet/nice boy. I called out from the steps of my portable as nice kid walked slowly by me (but not really paying attention) "hey, you sure seem like such a nice boy." While a few other kids nearby heard me and looked at me to see if I was talking to them, nice boy didn't acknowledge. So I said even louder and more pointedly, "hey you, yeah you, you seem like such a nice boy." Nice boy stops this time, looking at me confused for a second and responds softly and slowly, "I'm a girl" and walked off to the French room.

I wanted to die. I felt so horrible. More than anything because it's not like I thought, "wow, I not sure if this kid is a boy or a girl so I'll tell them they're a great kid" I 100% thought S was a boy. There was no doubt in my mind in fact. Moral of the Story: Sometimes a sincere compliment turns out just to be an insult--so compliment carefully.

And check this out.