Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nostalgia...

So I've been secretly planning a blog entry all week about the day I received my mission call (one of the girls at work is going to get her's on Wednesday).
The day I got my mission call, I actually went on a field trip to a corn maze. I was living with my friend Monique and her 5 kids. Wendy (the girl) needed a chaperone for her field trip. I had a good time-really didn't think I was old enough to be a chaperone, but 5th graders amused me. It was a rainy day in September so I hit the shower as soon as I got home. The only trick to that was that I wasn't actually home at that point. I was babysitting the girls through the back fence while their parents were at Lake Powell. I had just finished drying my hair and the phone rang. I andswered it to Monique screaming, "IT'S HERE!!!!" I had just submitted the papers a week before. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. "I WENT TO CHECK THE MAIL AND IT'S HERE! YOUR MISSION CALL IS HERE!!!" I called my parents (they were in Nebraksa) and Mom said Dad was on his way home from work, but they would call Monique's as soon as he got home. At that point it all sunk in and the girls and I went home to Monique's. I got home to find not one, but two envelopes. The first was the standard big white envelope from the First Presidency. The second was a standard-sized mailing envelope from the Church Travel Office. Upon a second look I discovered that I could see through the smaller envelope. There was a piece of orange/peach paper with a big header across the top that said "Visa Requirements for Chile". I think I said something along the lines of, "Oh my gosh!" and ran down the hall to my bedroom. Monique followed me down the hall, "You cheated! You cheated!" and she confiscated BOTH envelopes until my parents called. When my parents finally called, I found out that I was going to Osorno, Chile. I was going to learn Spanish. I understood that missions change lives, but I don't think I understood the magnitude of the impact it would have on MY life. This morning I woke up to write and found out about the earthquake in Chile. Wow. Want to talk about a wave of nostalgia? All of a sudden I am concerned from those I met and loved. There's not really anything that I can do for them right now. I'll keep them in my prayers and I'll keep my eyes open for opportunities to serve and bless them like they blessed me. If I go back for a visit...so be it. I'm always up for a good trip.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bucket list...

I've had a theory that since I graduated, my attention span has deteriorated to the bitter dregs of nothingness. Because of that, I have about a million things to blog about and don't remember what they are. Here's comes the discombobulated list:
-THIS is my secret passion in life.
-My misfortunes: Your road to glory will be rocky but fulfilling; Be prepared to modify your plans; Be Content with your lot. One cannot be first in everything. Thanks you PF Changs.
-My nephew is 18 months old and 35 inches tall. That's over half my height.
-For the 6th time, I've learned how to knit. I think it may have stuck this time.
-Approximately a year ago, I went to the East coast with my parents. I successfully left my toothbrush in Utah. After a trip to the local CVS, an adequate toothbrush was procured and deemed "too hard for a soft head". After the trip it was shoved to the back of the drawer. Approximately 2 weeks ago, it was rediscovered, retried and has been titled "the favorite toothbrush".
-I like having Italian friends. They teach you how to make Italian food.
-Running in the morning DOES make my life better.
-Chickflicks and Chocolate. Must involve MASTERPIECE THEATER. Best thing since sliced bread.
-Why did I think that celebrating Lent and giving up ice cream was a good idea?
-I want to "get lost on purpose" this weekend. Snow shoes? Anyone? Anyone at all?
-I need separation in my life. I use my work key to get into my house and my house key to get into the office. Never works quite like I want it to. Grrrrr.

Monday, February 22, 2010

happy birthday george!

for your birthday, i went running.
i also celebrated by purchasing four wonderful red peppers and an assortment of fresh fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, and apples. I feel happy.
happy birthday george.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

observations...

In a desperate attempt to help me wake up in the mornings, I have moved upstairs hoping that seeing sunlight in the morning will give me an incentive to wake up. This morning I got more than sunlight. One of the neighboring houses has a rooster. Nothing says "Good Morning!" like a rooster. I feel like I'm in Los Lagos again.

*10 hours later* I actually saw the previously mentioned rooster. walking down the street in front of my house. Oh my. It's white with grey speckles and looks like a rooster for the most part. It may look like a rabbit from the waist down, but I didn't get a good look...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lessons learned on a really big boat...

Lesson One: Feminine Wiles
I learned how to walk in the high heels (highest that I have owned to date) on rough, choppy water in a long NARROW corridor. (I can't walk in a straight line anyway.) Ha. So I looked like a fool. Eh, I'll probably never see most of those people again. The few that I will see again already KNOW that I can't walk in heels. They won't judge me.
Lesson Two: Synchronized Swimming
Keep your feet away from other people's faces. It's kind of self explanatory.
Lesson Three: Trust the Waitress
We had the most AMAZING waitress on the ship. She recommend the best things on the menu and if we didn't order them-she brought them anyway. That's exactly how we got the BEST food. By the end of the week we had some of our friends coming over to our table to get the recommendations before they ordered. Ha. LOVED IT! LOVED HER!!! She was from Thailand. She might be my favorite Thai woman. Ever.
Lesson Four: Travel in a backpack.
I didn't check luggage this trip. I survived the entire week out of a backpack. I plan on continuing to do this my entire life. Or at least as long as I can carry a backpack.
Lesson Five: Miracles happen.
Four women. Four adult, grown women shared exactly one shower and one electrical socket, (not even an outlet) for an entire week. All four of us could get ready for dinner in an hour and a half. (and we didn't even touch the boat blow dryer because it was frightening!)
Lesson Six: Transitions
A) Two of the girls on the trip had a rough time gaining their sea legs. I had no problem. Now, I've been home for a week, I've been fighting bouts of vertigo and rocking.
B) The number one comment I have received since I got home has nothing to do with my tan. (I am flesh colored now.) The number one, most received, comment that I have had was "Did you lighten your hair?" Apparently my hair knows that it was once blond and doesn't like the darkening concept either.
Lesson Seven: Well...the final lesson for the trip might be a lesson adapted from Belize.
Really...there's no place like home. As much as I loved playing with monkeys and my other great adventures, one of my favorite moments from the trip was squatting down in front of my nephew and giving him a stuffed turtle that miraculously fit in my bag. He mirrored the squat, looked at me with a huge smile and said "Yaya!". That beats any vista, animal, or food that any vacation could give me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eat your heart out PF Changs!

As of late, I have had some rather dubious fortunes from my fortune cookies, for example, "Your road to glory will be rocky, but fulfilling." I like Rocky Road of all varieties, but at the same time, it still gives me headaches. Today's fortune said "Be prepared to modify your plans." WHAT PLANS!?! My life has been so up in the air as of late that I have just kind of given up on plans. They are for people with structure in their lives. I haven't quite made it to that category yet. In the meantime, I plan on making modify-able plans.

Lessons learned in Cayman...

Lesson One: Superstition
I kissed a stingray. Twice. Apparently I get 14 years good luck for that.
Lesson Two: Water like blue KoolAid
When I was a kid I didn't learn how to swim until I was 12 because I spent most of my summers in a cast. Because of that, I've never been a big swimmer and have developed the philosophy that "I like to play ON water, not IN water." After my first snorkeling experience, I've decided that if I go back, I will scuba certify first. There is something AMAZING about that world. No question in my mind.
Lesson Three: American food tastes better OUTSIDE the States (lesson relearned)
The best MacDonalds I've ever been to is in Valdivia, Chile. The best Blizzard I've ever eaten was in Grand Cayman.
Lesson Four: Lifestyles
I had many flash backs to my mission on this trip. One of them was to a moment I had in my first area: I was standing on a river bank, wishing I had a raft, and the elder next to me said, "I was born in the water and I'll die in the water, but for these 2 years-I can't even touch it." I couldn't fathom that mentality. I mean, I liked the water (I was even wishing for a raft!), but it wasn't THAT big a part of my life. Flash forward to Cayman, I sat there watching the waves splash past I us and had the realization that I had entered a completely different lifestyle when I had climbed on that boat. The men on that boat lived for the waves and the salty wind in their faces. The captain's 12-year-old nephew stood on the bow of the boat and dreamed of the day that he would have his own boat. I'm sure of it. I don't remember the last time I dreamt about the future like that...
Lesson Five: Limits
I like traveling with cash. I know. It's a liquid asset that is easily stolen. You have to be careful. But at the same time there are perks to having visual limits. Traveling with a backpack and NO checked luggage also helps because then you don't really have space to pack stuff either. Postcards. This is exactly why I love postcards.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lessons learned in Hondorus...


Lesson One: How to Cook an Iguana
They are in season in March and April. Traditionally they are stewed in coconut milk and then just before they are ready to eat they add an egg (of the iguana variety) and eat it before the egg gets hard. (This basic recipe [minus the egg] also works for red rabbits too.)
Lesson Two: I want to buy an island off of Honduras
I LOVE this country. I think I freaked out my grandmother when I told her that I secretly wanted to live there forever. It was green and warm and incredibly BEAUTIFUL. The people weren't nearly as pushy as they had been at the other ports-in fact, they were downright polite.
Lesson Three: I LOVE KNOWING ANOTHER LANGUAGE (lesson re-learned)
Our taxi driver was a very polite man named Heraldo who spoke English...a little. The other two had me sit up front with him and he and I chatted in Spanish ALL DAY LONG. It felt so good. I miss it. In fact, I think I dreamt about it that night.
Lesson Four: Just a plug for women's clothing.
Secretly, I really had to go on a mission to learn how to be a girl. I learned how to wear girly clothes and how to wear makeup. I guess I was in a location that was entirely too cold for sun dresses. I had to learn about them in Honduras. I heart them. They are super comfortable and cool. That's about it.
Lesson Five: Monkeys eat Doritos...and peanuts.
Who would have ever guessed? Well, I eat Doritos and peanuts...sometimes. I guess that makes sense. I can't imagine that they would be very good for them, but then again, I eat things that aren't good for me too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lessons learned in Belize...

1) "Hey guys! We're half way to somewhere! We're almost there!" These are the words of Edwin, one of the tour guides that took us wandering through the jungle in search of a river. I don't think I've ever heard it stated better.
2) Carmen San Diego lied to me. Okay. Maybe not lied to me me, but definitely misguided me. "From Berlin down to Belize" was not sufficient to prepare me for what I saw. The city was more like Jamaica than my previous Latin America experience. Once we went out into the country, it seemed a little more Latin to me, but at the same time, the jungle TOTALLY threw me off. I'm not going to lie. It is probably the poorest country I've ever experienced. Which leads to...
3) I'm proud to be an American. I grew up here. I left for a while, but I came back. After chatting with Dennis (our local tour guide) about the economy, I learned quite a bit (and I'm sure this same thing applies to other third world countries as well). There are intelligent people in Belize that actually have good business sense and a good understanding of how to make the country thrive physically, socially, and economically, BUT they all leave the country for their education. They never come back. That doesn't help the country. Ever.
4) Allspice smells like Christmas. I actually discovered that earlier in the month while I was out for cocoa with some friends, but we couldn't peg the actual spice that was used to flavor the cocoa. I only realized that when Dennis knocked a few leaves out of the allspice tree (which apparently only grows in the jungle?!?) and crushed them up and passed them around for us to smell. HEAVENLY. Perfect for hot cocoa.
(I have to apologize for the lack of pictures. We were in the water A LOT this day and therefore had one of the cheapie waterproof film cameras. They don't download so quickly as digital).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

a slight commercial interruption.


26 years ago today I got my first set of Legos. Thanks Sqweeg! (You didn't have to bribe me, I would have liked you anyway.) Happy Birthday Brother!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lessons learned in Tulum (Cozumel)...



Lesson One: Mid-sized boats are NOT the happy medium.
The first couple days, I was the only one of our group that did not get sick on the ship. That didn't help me in Cozumel. From Cozumel island we took a smaller boat to mainland. It didn't work out as nicely as I thought it would. I nearly died. I have no problems with small boats (like unto a raft). Large boats cause me no grief. Apparently mid-sized boats are not my friends.
Lesson Two: There is merit to hypno-birthing.
No. I did not give birth on the boat. But I did use some of the techniques that my sister-in-law is learning for her next laborious experience. I'm all about deep breathing and happy places. Even though I was is in 85 degree weather, I found my solace in snow shoeing to Stewart Falls.
Lesson Three: I LOVE KNOWING ANOTHER LANGUAGE!
While on my mission, I got a letter from a former roommate who learned Estonian on her mission. She said "Isn't speaking another language awesome? It's liking speaking in a secret code that EVERYONE understands." It was so fun to listen to and understand people that didn't think the tall blond gringa would have a clue.
Lesson Four: The Book of Mormon is true.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Nephites and Lamanites existed. Having visited the city of Tulum and circling the temple there, I have a vivid/visual understanding of King Benjamin and his tower. There were tents facing the prophet and the people were educated. The Lord loves ALL of His children (even those that lived on the American continent) and made sure that they had all knowledge that they needed to be happy.
Lesson Five: There are no sister missionaries in Mexico.
I had the blessed opportunity to deflate a misnomer. Our tour guide had read the Book of Mormon and had met with the missionaries, but was absolutely shocked to find out that I had learned Spanish as a Mormon missionary in Chile. He was absolutely certain that only men did that kind of thing. Female missionaries must be a new thing, right? Sorry Raul. My mom was a missionary. (Thanks Mom!) We've been sharing the gospel for a long time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

All things considered...

I'm home. And happy. And full of all sorts of great stories which will hopefully be nicely categorized into "Lessons learned..." from each port. I think I may have even successfully avoided flogging by a wet carrot.