Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Abbie

Just wanted to wish this little girl

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I wish I could be there to celebrate your birthday but I will be thinking of you on Wednesday.  Take lots of pictures of everything you do for your birthday and then blog about it so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. 

I miss you and love you.  You are the best.  Enjoy this wonderful day.  The big 10.  I can’t believe you’re so old.  Pretty soon you’ll be in Young Women’s.  Crazy.  Keep being such a wonderful girl.  Love, Love!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fairytale Land of Luxembourg

I love everything about Luxembourg.  My first great love of this place is the fact that my dear sweet wonderful beautiful companion, Berenice Delrue, lives here.


She’s AMAZING.  I spent four months with her on the mission and she taught me what it truly means to follow the Spirit.  She was like this European dream on the mission, her accent, her mannerisms, her beauty, and her Mary Poppins like nature.  She’s practically perfect in every way.  I hadn’t seen or talked to her for over ten years.  Thank goodness for facebook we were able to reconnect and I got to spend three blissful nights with her and her wonderful boys (husband Aphy, 4 boys, Adam, Iliam, Yoann, Michealang). 


Here are some more pics of the boys.  I love the one of Yoann “meditating”.  He’s hilarious.  Although the boys already speak 2-3 languages, English is not one of them.  But despite the language barrier we laughed and played the whole time we were there.  Sure wish they weren’t so far away.

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Berenice lives about 30 km North of Luxembourg City.  We took a train to her small little village of Colmur-Berg, arriving at 11:30 PM.  There she was waiting for us.  I felt this overwhelming feeling of love and joy as we embraced.  I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of one of the most influential people in my life.  I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to be with her again and in such a magical place.

We got to her lovely home and were pleasantly surprised to find a beautifully big room with two twin beds and a bag full of chocolates.  What???  Have I died and gone to heaven?  We had just come from a sixteen bed dorm to this dream with an angel…


and chocolates.

We woke up to a wonderful breakfast of hot chocolate (the real stuff) and bread and jam.  We were off to church in Luxembourg City and then Chloe and I were going to stick around and tour the city for the day.  Berenice, the angel that she is, packed us a lunch full of wonderful goodies. 

Church was wonderful and the men were beautiful.  Too bad most of them were married.  Anyway, the service was in French so we had a translator.  The members treated us like gold.  Seriously, I love being a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Instant best friends where ever you go.

After church Chloe and I walked around our fortress, because of course we were princesses for the day in our fairytale world with castles, Kings and Queens, and our very own charming (non-existent) prince.  Following are some pics from our walk around the city.

We arrived home to a wonderful meal, cute little plum pies, and adorable boys to chase around the house.  The perfect day.


Day 2 in Luxembourg (Monday Sept 21st) -

Castle Surfing

Remember as a kid dreaming of being a Knight or a Princess and having your own castle?  Well today we went from castle to castle and saw visions of grandeur become reality.  Sweet little Berenice was our chauffer for the day.  Our first stop: Vianden, the only castle in Luxembourg that was restored to its original form.  We got to take a little tour of the castle as well.  Apparently, Victor Hugo spent some time there so we had to get a pic of his house.

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Next stop the castle in the northern part of Luxembourg, Clervaux.  Chloe and I hopped on a train and drove through the beautiful countryside of Luxembourg.  We were a bit disappointed when we reached Clervaux because everything was closed.  We took a few pictures and hopped back on the train about 30 minutes later.

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Berenice met us back at the train station to take us to the other two Chateau’s.  This time she brought her two youngest boys.  We visited the castle in Esch-sur-sure and Chateau de Bourscheid.  Both of these castles were in ruins.  We chased the boys around the ruins, climbed towers, enjoyed spectacular views, threw rocks, and even spent some time meditating.  Made me wish that my nieces and nephews also had castles 20 minutes away that they could play in.

I decided to climb beyond the gated fence to the highest point of the castle.  When I was coming down from my perch the spires in the following picture went right up my pants and put a nice hole in them.  It was worth it and Berenice quickly sewed them just like new.


After the castles we came home to yet another wonderful meal and yummy treats.  We had FHE with the fam and Berenice showed pictures to the boys of the good ol’ mission days.  Another perfect day in Luxembourg.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Day 1 (Friday Sept 18) -

I flew in at 7:30 AM.  The flight felt short mostly because I slept the whole time.  I spent the next two hours rearranging my luggage so I could store all my Africa stuff in a locker.  I checked on the train situation and then waited for Chloe to show up.  I was looking forward to seeing her.


From the airport we headed to our hostile: Shelter Jordan Christian Hostel in the Jordaan.  It was super clean and the people were very friendly.  They even had bible study every night but unfortunately we were so tired we missed it.


After we dropped our luggage we let Rick Steve’s take us on a tour of the city.  We had fries with mayonnaise, watched some magicians at Dam Square, went to the Amsterdam History Museum, people watched at Leidseplein square (the random old man walking around in a thong…sorry no pictures), walked along the flower market, went into some shops that sold lots of illegal drugs (legal in Amsterdam), and toured the Rijksmuseum filled with Rembrandt’s, Verneer’s, Steen’s, and more.  It was about 6:30 PM by that point and Chloe and I were about to collapse with jetlag.  We decided to head back to the hostile for an early retirement.

Day 2 (Saturday Sept 19)-

After getting almost 12 hrs of sleep we were much more alert and ready for another memorable day in Amsterdam.  This place is so fun.  The city is built around canals so almost every block you cross a little bridge.  There are bikers everywhere.  Everyone bikes.  I was informed of that before I came but didn’t realize the extent of what that meant.  There are bikes everywhere.  It’s crazy.  There are even car seats in the front of bikes for little children.  You have to be super careful so as not to get hit by one of the bicyclists.

We started the day off by taking a tour of the Van Gogh museum.  It was incredible.  I love his paintings and couldn’t believe I was standing right in front of his originals.  I so desperately wanted to steal the Sunflowers painting and bring it home with me but knew I didn’t have enough room in my luggage for it.  Chloe and I keep having to remind ourselves that this isn’t a dream.  We feel so lucky to be able to be here experiencing it all.  What a blessing.

After the museum we headed to the Anne Frank home.  This was a sobering experience.  I’ve never read the book (surprise, surprise) but I sure did buy one after going through her house.  We saw the actual room where she slept with markings on the wall showing how much she and her sister had grown.  We saw the actual diary that she wrote in and other writings she had.  Below is a picture of the bookcase that hid the entrance to the Franks living quarters and a picture of the home where she lived.

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The rest of the day was spent wandering around the quiet suburb of Jordaan, dodging bikes, admiring canals, going through random doors that lead to beautiful courtyards, and enjoying the ambience of Amsterdam. 

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Visit to Utah

I got to spend a couple crazy busy weeks in Utah before I left for Africa. The first week was spent at a training for the curriculum I’ll be teaching at the MWB school. It was nice to be able to get a little more information about what I’ll be doing for the next year of my life.

While I was in Utah I got to spend time with people that I just love and adore. Below is a play by play of the two weeks while I was there:

Day 1 Monday -

I stayed at Ben and Breezy’s house while I was there. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of them but I do have one of the room I stayed in. Breezy had a little basket of goodies for me. She’s such a sweetheart and so nice to let me stay in her home. I loved it.

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Day 2 Tuesday -

Nothing better than dinner and a movie with my dear friend Bryce Glover.

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Day 3 Wednesday -

Cafe Rio with Cindy Sullivan. I love this girl. It was so much fun to reconnect with her. She’s so good to me and I love our conversations. Not to mention the great food of my favorite place to eat.

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While Cindy and I were chatting, some kids at another table kept saying my name. I turned around and lo and behold was one of my most favorite students of all time, David Skanchy. Seriously, this kid was the greatest. He could get me laughing so that I was in tears and would have to leave the room. He would do the craziest things. One day he got the whole entire class to hide outside. I was a bit confused why I didn’t have any students five minutes after the bell rang. I heard some snickering outside my window and sure enough the whole class was out there with their ring leader, David Skanchy. I didn’t think I would ever see him again and it was such a tender mercy running into him. We reminisced about the good ‘ol days when he was in my class. Once again, I laughed that gut belly laugh as he told me story after story of what actually happened in our math class. It’s a good thing he’s so smart because I don’t think I taught him a thing but we sure had fun.

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After dinner I drove to P-town to visit my dear friend Becky. I met her in Africa three summers ago and she has been a loyal close friend ever since. She’s such a blessing in my life. I will miss our frequent chats about every detail of our lives.

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Day 4 Thursday -

Reunion with Sparkle Motion. During my stay in Utah I was fortunate to live at “the party house”. Every year at the talent show, the girls of the party house would put together a dance to a different era. The fourth year was the big reunion tour with a mix of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. I have many fond and wonderful memories of these amazing women. Those in Arkansas, Florida, and Boston were missed at our little parte’. I will cherish all their friendships forever.

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Day 5 Friday -

Started the morning off with a sunrise hike to Sunset Peak with my most favorite of all students, Tess Collett. She shares my same passion of the great outdoors and it was so nice to be able to spend some time with her. I sure do love that girl. I can’t wait for her to come see me in Africa.

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Instead of going to my training I went home and slept for a few hours. I went to the training for an hour and then ditched to go and see these little ones.

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Aren’t they the most adorable kids ever. I just love them to bits and pieces. I miss them and wish I lived closer.

Day 6 Saturday -

Today I climbed my most favorite mountain of all mountains: Timpanogas. I grew up in the shadow of this mountain and so I feel like it’s mine. I’ve hiked it almost every summer since I was eleven and didn’t want to pass up another opportunity. The weather wasn’t the greatest but I loved every minute of it.

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After the hike I had a little high school get together. It’s always so good to spend time with dear friends who’ve known me since I was in Kindergarten.

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Day 7 Sunday -

Extended family reunion. I emailed Camille a few weeks before I came to Utah and told her I wanted to get the family together. That’s all I had to do and suddenly we had ourselves a party with family that I hadn’t seen for years. It was so good to catch up and see what’s going on with everyone. Thanks Camille and Dorothy for putting this together. It was fantastic.

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Day 8 Monday -

Seven Peaks with Megan, Josh, and Zack. It was so nice to spend time with the niece and nephews and soak up some rays. I’m not sure Josh and Zack will ever forgive me for trying to force them on the slides. One of these days they’ll understand the beauty of speed and water but until then the wave pool and lazy river it is. No complaints from me. I loved every minute of it.

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Day 9 Tuesday -

There’s nothing better than a picnic up Provo Canyon, near bridle falls with kids I love and adore and a wonderful brother. Miriam and Aaron were at Youth Conference and were greatly missed.

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Becks came over for a sleepover. I just love that girl.

Day 10 Wednesday -

I got to see my sweet little companion, Madeline Geyers Flinders, again. She was my last companion and I only got to be with her for six weeks but it was a memorable six weeks. Lots of fun but mostly we just worked our butts off. She has four adorable children and is married to a wonderful man. I’m so glad she’s in Utah now so I can visit on occasion.

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I also got to see Tess again. Her sister works for Great Harvest so she got me free goodies. She’s just so good to me. I wish I could just take her with me everywhere.

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Later in the afternoon the Mike and Stacie Raddatz clan and I headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to go camping. I was so happy to spend some quality time with these kids. We told stories, went on adventures to the water, ate real good food, roasted marshmallows and made smores until I was sick. Mike and Mia entertained us by catching the mice that were running around camp. We also got to see a meteor shower. At midnight Bud, Mia, Mike, and I were all laying on the ground with Mike’s pillows (he brought like ten) watching the shooting stars. It was a little piece of heaven. Sure do love my family.

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Day 11 Thursday -

We got back pretty early from our campout and I took a nap. I was exhausted and it was a much needed break from all the playing. After the nap I went and saw good ol’ Shera, one of my dearest companions. I had such good companions on the mish. I’m super fortunate.

Nikki and I laughed for an entire two months. There were very few prayers that we made it through without busting a gut. This girl’s hilarious. One little story about this gem: One day we were riding home on our bikes and all of a sudden Nikki starts pulling up her dress, pulled down her nylons, and then proceeded to pull down her garments and give me a full on moon, all while she was riding her bike in broad day light. Who is this girl? She’s such a blessing in my life. Long live Xena, Shera, Iceman, and Heman. Looking forward to having my mansion right next to hers.

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Day 12 Friday -

This morning I got to have breakfast with Smorley Morley. Paul’s been around for years and being with him always feels like coming home. We sat at the good ‘ol Ihop for hours just chattin’ about life. I sure do love that boy. It’s always good to spend time with him.

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I also stopped by J&M and M&S again for a final goodbye.

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Day 12 continued and Day 13 Friday and Saturday: King’s Peak -

I’m trying to get ready to hike Kilimanjaro so I called up my dear friend Scotty and asked him if he’d like to hike the highest peak in Utah with me. Of course he agreed because how can you refuse an invitation like that? Unfortunately, our luck wasn’t so great.

We left SLC at about five which put us at the trailhead at nine. By this point it was pouring down rain and neither of us wanted to set up the tent so we just slept in the car…not the greatest beginning to our little adventure.

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The weather wasn’t much better the following morning. As a matter of fact, it was foggy and rainy for most of the morning.

At one point it started hailing and we had to stop so Scott could put on his “rain poncho”.

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An hour or so later it started thundering and lighting and the hail turned to snow.

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At this point everyone is turning around. Scott and I had a hard time deciding what we should do but felt it was best to let go of some pride, follow the crowd, and turn around without the success of a summit.

Here I am admitting defeat:

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A few hours after that we got this:

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A beautiful blue sky with a bright shining happy sun. Such is life. The hike down was harder than the hike up and my knees were killing me. We were happy to finally see the cars after more than 12 hrs and 23 miles of hiking.

Day 14 Sunday -

Bud took me to the airport and I said farewell to Utah for another year.