Fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, August 19, 2013


Well, it's been fun but it is time to say goodbye to "Lauren's Rhapsody". In less than 24 hours I will be set apart as a missionary.

Before I say Adios and head off to the MTC I will post some pictures from my adventures in Oregon.

We went on a short hike to a really cool view of like 5 different mountains. It was foggy. We saw 0 mountains.

Love this boy.

We saw a whole bunch of waterfalls! This is Bridal Veil Falls.

A random farm. With random chairs.

And lots of sunflowers.

Murder mystery dinner train ride.

The train.

Boat ride on the Columbia Gorge.

I fed some alpacas. At an alpaca farm.

Ski lift ride up...

to Mount Hood.

The beach.

Maegan and I bought little alpaca's.

Beach again.

That's a real live wild starfish. 

We went tide pooling. Awesome. That is seaweed.

Portland Temple. It was closed so we didn't get to go inside.
It was a wonderful trip. Seriously. I loved it. Oregon is beautiful and it was wonderful to spend time with my family right before I leave.

I want to thank all four of you for being faithful or even just occasional readers. I truly appreciate it.

While on my mission my lovely sister will be posting weekly letters on a new blog. The web address is sisterlaurenkasteler.blogspot.com. She will make sure that my mailing address gets updated as well. If she's slacking....tell her to stop slacking for me. :)

If you want to write me or send me packages in the MTC, this is my address:
Sister Lauren Kasteler
2007 N 900 E Unit  40
Provo UT 84602

And if you ran out of stamps or your mailbox got eaten by a velociraptor, feel free to send me an email at lauren.kasteler@myldsmail.net.

I promise that if you write, I will write back. It might not be for a while but I promise that I will eventually write back. :)

I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful 18 months! It's gonna fly :)

This girl.

She is getting married on Thursday. And I love her to death. She has always been there for me and I know she always will be. She is silly with me and we talk about serious things together. We've laughed. We've cried. I am going to miss her like crazy and I'm so excited for the new life she is starting with the man of her dreams. I couldn't be happier for her! There are a few people in my life that I consider to be my best friends. She is definitely one of them and always will be.

I love you Jerrica Osmun.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Travel Log

July 23, 2013, 10:45 PM   We excitedly drove to American Fork Canyon.

July 23, 2013, 11:30 PM    We reached the trail head.

July 23, 2013, 11:45 PM    We happily started the trek.

July 24, 2014, 5:20 AM      We finally reached the summit of Mount Timpanogos.

July 24, 2013, 6:15 AM      We shivered while watching the sun rise in the east.

July 24, 2013, 6:35 AM      We wrote our names in the book.

July 24, 2013, 6:40 AM      We slowly started our descent.

July 24, 2013, 10:20 AM    We silently reached the cars and collapsed into the seats.

July 24, 2013, 10:22 AM    We made our way down the canyon, relieved.

July 24, 2013, 11:00 AM    We wobbled into Denny's and ordered breakfast.

July 24, 2013, 11:45 AM    We arrived home.

July 24, 2013, 12:00 PM     I sluggishly took a shower.

July 24, 2013, 12:45 PM     I quickly fell asleep on my bed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I am a college graduate.

I promised a long one. Here it is. Good luck reading the whole thing.

Three years ago I started a journey. I moved up to Logan, Utah to start my higher education at Utah State University. My brother rode up in my car with me. My mom drove with my dad in his truck. My sister, unfortunately, had to work so she couldn't join us. I got checked in and was given a key to my dorm room. I found Valley View Tower #228 and took a deep breath. I started moving my things in, anxious to start this new life. A couple hours later, my roommate Kenzee walked in. At that moment I didn't know we were going to become the best of friends. A little while later I hugged my mom, my dad, and my brother goodbye.
Throughout the next week I attended an institute activity, my new ward, some freshmen welcome activities, and University Connections (the freshmen orientation class). Kenzee and I didn't talk a lot. Not at first. One night, we found some people playing frisbee and decided to join in. I don't remember who was there, but that was the beginning of the freshmen social life. Our first friends. Paul, John, Michael ("Ninja"), Rob, Sterling and Tyler.
The next Monday came along and it was time for real college classes. I was nervous and excited. Schedule in hand, I walked out of Valley View Tower ready to start. My first class was U.S. Institutions in the TSC. There were 200 people in the class and the professor....well, he was your typical history professor. That first week was filled with syllabi, my first lectures, and studying. And the weeks after that....more studying

Before I knew it, it was October 8 and my world got turned upside down. That word you never want to hear in relation to anyone you love: Cancer. My dad was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. The prognosis wasn't sure but I had faith. My family joined together and we tried to help strengthen each other every day. If anyone was going to kick cancer's butt, it was going to be my father.
Also in October, I got a call from a dear friend inviting me to his baptism. That was a glorious day. October also meant studying for midterms. College classes were more difficult than high school but I was feeling confident and driven. More people had entered my life. I had some pretty close friends and some others who I really wanted to be friends with. Kenzee and I started hanging out with other people like Francisco, Kevin, Chris, Jessi, Josh, Jerrica, Jenni, Michael Zajac, Cambri, and Richie. Oh, and don't let me forget about that night that my Aggies won against the Cougars in one of my two favorite football games ever.

November came and went and December brought my first college finals. I came out with all As and was feeling very good about being a college student. I spent Christmas break with my family. My eyes were opened to the suffering that my father was going through that I hadn't seen while in living in Logan. Chemo made him sick and he was tired and in pain all the time.

After New Years it was time for round two. This time I was trying 18 credits. Not only did I do extremely well in....most of them, but I had an absolute blast with some wonderful friends. I went skiing and to the hot springs for the first time. Somewhere in there I started a blog. My friends and I went out for numerous midnight Rancheritos runs, went sledding, spent a week in St. George. A few more friends entered the picture. Andrew, Molly, Taylor, Caleb. I dated this boy named Joshua. One by one all of the boys that I have mentioned started getting their mission calls. Arizona, Virginia, El Salvador, Mexico, Thailand, Texas, Australia, Argentina. In May, once finals were over I had to say goodbye to Logan for a few months and some of those boys for two years.

The summer of 2011 was jam packed! I got a job working for Okland Construction. I spent 9 hours a day in boots, an orange vest, and a hard hat. I had to wake up at 4:30 every morning. It was the most demanding but best paying job I have ever had. I didn't think it was possible but I was actually sad to leave. My boss loved me so on my last day he ordered pizza and I got to climb the tower crane. When I wasn't working I went on Trek as the ward photographer/aunt where I had some fun experiences and some very powerful ones as well. I also went with my family on a cruise to Alaska. I will never forget those memories. We spent our time in Alaska whale watching, eating food, enjoying a lumberjack show, shopping, and more eating. I spent half a week volunteering at Camp Hawkins with my best friend Bethany. On the weekends I hung out with my friends and attended missionary farewells.

One by one they left. I knew it was time to go back to school when I had said my final "see you laters" and given the last of the hugs. So I headed back up to Logan. The day I moved up my dad ended up in the hospital. It wasn't the first, and it wasn't the last. Finally I got to Jones 202. I wasn't thrilled about living on campus again but I was happy to be living with Kenz, Jen, and Jer. My two new roommates were Chantee and Karen. We started calling them the "newbs" but quickly started to know them and love them. I had been accepted into the Elementary Education program during the summer so this is when I started my level II. Along with my classes I spent time in the 2 year old preschool class and a second grade class. In my classes I met some forever friends. Shelley, Jordan, Jessica, Karissa.
Even though I was busy with school. I still made some time for fun. I made some new friends. Kevin, Cameron, Eric S, Mike, Mike C, Eric F, Melissa, Heather, Josh B, Dallas, Dallin and others. Jerrica and I became really close and we enjoyed early morning Pepperidge Farm runs, going to the DI, yard saling, going on photoshoots, and going to institute dances. I dated that boy named Eric S. for a little.

My dad got sicker and sicker. Eventually they told us "weeks to months". Once he got pneumonia we knew it was only a matter of time. I watched as my hero got weaker and weaker. We brought him home to be with us. Pretty soon, he couldn't even talk to us. From what we could tell he was not aware of anything that was going on. I will never forget the people who were there for me and my family at this time. November 18 my daddy left this earth. He was free from his broken and diseased body. The next few days were unending. Funeral plans, picking a burial plot, choosing a casket, putting on a smiling face for the hundreds of people at the viewing, being strong for my family. I didn't even cry for a couple months after he was gone. I had to be strong. I will always remember seeing the face of my friends in the line at the viewing. Oh how grateful I was for their love. I will also never forget speaking at the funeral. I loved it. I truly loved it. Especially when I got everyone in the room to stick out their tongue. It was an honor to pay tribute to the most amazing man I know.

Luckily I had some very understanding professors and teachers and was able to finish the semester with all As. I spent Christmas break at home. It was hard. We needed to be there for each other though and we had a wonderful Christmas.

January. It was time for transition classes. Transition classes are the ones that aren't level II and they aren't level III but they are still required. Classes like Educational Psychology, PE Methods, Technology and a few others. This was also the semester that was the culmination of a series of events which led me to change my major. Instead of dual Special Education and Elementary Education, I decided to stick to just K-6. Of course, like I always do, I started having second thoughts. There was a lot on my mind especially having to do with money. I was very blessed to apply, interview, and get offered a summer job and Oakcrest LDS girls camp. The same day I got news about the job I got offered a scholarship for the next year of school. Everything had fallen into place. This semester Jerrica and I had the time of our lives on two spring breaks. First we spent a whole week in San Francisco for USU's spring break. Then a few weeks later we skipped school for a few days and went with her family to Goblin Valley. So much fun.

The semester ended well and I was ready for summer. Little did I know that it would be the best summer of my life thus far. I spent a spontaneous week in Disneyland with my family. It was magical and wonderful. Then, it was time for Oakcrest to start. How do I put that experience into words? It was my mini mission. It was the most challenging, the most fun, the most demanding, and the most spiritually growing experience of my life. I will never forget the experiences I had at Oakcrest, the feelings I had there, and the people that changed my life. I truly learned to Trust and rely on the Savior in all areas of my life.

Right before the first week of Oakcrest I met a boy. His name is Kevin. We ended up seeing each other every weekend. We had a lot of fun together and got to know each other really well. He wrote me letters to me at Oakcrest and he contributed to 2012 being the best summer of my life.

Once Oakcrest was done it was time to get ready to move back to Logan.  I moved into Continental Apartments with my best friend Jerrica and was ready to start Level III. The first nine weeks were filled with classes that taught me how to teach. The last part of the semester was spent in Mrs. Taylor's third grade class. I loved third grade and my class. That fall semester is when my other favorite football game happened. The one where we played the University of Utah. My Aggies won.

One of the most wonderful things happened. My sister decided to come to Utah State too. My roommates Tina, Courtney, Kendra, and Chelan were incredible. I met a lot of other new friends during my time in Continental. Spencer H, Blake, Eric S, Kam, Levi, James, Steven, Grant, Phil, Hannah, Mitch, Russel, Spencer C, Tarah, Thomas, Jordan, Devon, Trevor, David C, and Sabastian along with others. Trevor and I were in charge of Linger Longers. What a fun calling! Especially when your bishop owns a meat packaging company so the Linger Longers are the best in the state.

Winter came and Jerrica left. She moved home to work on her mission papers. Christmas break was fun and relaxing. At the end of the break Jerrica met a boy who was mission companions with our friend Caleb. Long story short, she didn't put her mission papers in. January meant that it was time to go back to school. Peaches otherwise known as Paige moved into Jerrica's spot. School was different this time.  I was starting my student teaching. I started first in Mrs. Hellstern's kindergarten class. I was a little hesitant to be in a kindergarten class but I ended up loving it so much. Then I had to move to Mrs. Jones' sixth grade math class. SIXTH GRADE MATH. It was a little different than kindergarten. It was also in a middle school so it was interesting to have a different set of students each hour and teach the same lesson four times a day. I ended up loving all of my 130 students but not loving the middle school experience. Teaching the same lesson all day long wasn't really my cup of tea. I really enjoyed Mrs. Jones and she taught me a lot. I also had the opportunity to be the team captain of a Relay for Life team. It was absolutely amazing. We raised over $1000 and had a wonderful time walking around the track all night long!

Around March I started thinking about the future (uh-oh). It was time to get serious. Would I get a teaching job? Another option was to go on a mission. I had always wanted to go on a mission. I prayed and prayed. Find a teaching job? Or go on a mission? I wasn't getting any answers and I knew that this decision was one that God was going to give me. I decided to do both. I went to the teacher fair, applied for teaching jobs, and went to a couple interviews all while starting my mission papers. I met with the bishop to get my papers started and I walked out of his office with a desire to serve a mission. I didn't know for sure if that was the right choice but I knew that it was what I WANTED to do. I told God what my decision was and asked him to let me know if I was making the wrong one. My papers went in at the end of April. I was very excited to get my mission call. It came Thursday during finals week.

Dear Sister Kasteler: 
       You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Florida Jacksonville Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. 
       You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English language....

Jacksonville, Florida. August 21. I couldn't believe it. I was going to be one of the Lord's missionaries.

Two days later, I walked in the USU commencement ceremony. I had two classes still to attend but other than that I was done with my Bachelor's Degree. Graduation was as great as graduation ceremonies are. I was so happy to have my mom, brother, sister, and a couple friends there to support me.

Two days after that I moved to Edgebrook Hall. My wonderful roommates were Amber, Aubri, Maddie, and Hannah. I started one of the two classes I had left. Preschool lab. Three hours a day with five-year-olds. I loved all 18 of them so much. It took a minute to adjust from sixth grade to preschool but it didn't take too long. Then it happened. That boy who Jerrica met in December? They got engaged. Pretty soon my last class started. Both of the classes went so fast. Even though they were busy I managed to find time to spend time at Porcupine, tube Oneida, hike to the wind caves, go boating with my ward, and do some other fun things. I went through the temple, caught the Family History work wave, and met more friends. Pretty soon it was my last week of preschool. The week I happened to be the head teacher. I was busy beyond belief and just like that, it was over. All I had were two more days of the other class and a final. The final....a piece of cake.

And that was it. I am a college graduate. A few days ago I left Logan and moved home to Sandy. It was so sad to leave. Now, I am waiting for my diploma to come in the mail, spending time with friends and family, and preparing to serve the Lord in Florida.

The journey to this moment has been a wonderful and sometimes hard one. The past three years have been filled with tears, laughs, smiles, twists and turns, adventures, wonderful people, heartache, prayers, life lessons, mistakes, growth, change, and joy. It astounds me thinking about all of the things that have happened in my life, especially the last three years. It makes me excited to see what happens in the next three years and the rest of my life. I know that I have been through so much that has made me the person I am today. I am grateful for the bumps along the way and the people who have been there for me. I am grateful for God's great Plan of Happiness. He knows exactly what I need and what I should do. Sometimes I think I know best. I don't. If I have learned anything in the last three years is to trust in Him and be prepared for him to change your plans. If I live my life according to His will, then everything will work out somehow and I will become someone who knows who she is and where she is going. That doesn't mean that I know what is going to happen in the next year or even the next month, but I do know that all I have to do is put my trust in him and live more like the Savior, every day of my life. He is going to take care of me. I am His daughter and I will trust in His plan.