Saturday, December 26, 2009

thank you thank you thank you all!

I am so humbled by the outpouring of support that Jonathan and I have received in response (I'm assuming) to my previous post. We received so many kind comments and words of encouragement on the blog, in emails, facebook messages, by phone, and in person.

The morning after I posted the depressing vent list, I received two gift cards in my email inbox. One from an aunt and another from a cousin. They said they were late wedding gifts, but they could not have come at a better time.

Later that night, a friend called to tell me that her family had an extra coat that might fit Jonathan. She brought it over the next morning along with a cute dress for me.

As I went to work that morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I finally started to feel that familiar twinge of Christmas happiness that I'd been trying to figure out how to find.

Upon returning home from work late that afternoon, I stopped in the kitchen to put some leftovers in the fridge and chat with Laura before heading downstairs to our apartment. As I stepped down the first few stairs, I saw slivers of wood, strips of bark, and ripped up paper all over the floor at the bottom of the stairs. 'Cia'd had a good time chewing on stuff last night and I hadn't cleaned it up yet. Then as I took a couple more steps down, I saw a bunch of presents under our little tree.

At first I was confused... I thought Jonathan and I decided not to get each other anything much this year, let alone 9 gifts. I knelt down next to the tree. Each gift had a tag that read either "To: J" or "To: A." Nothing was written to tell us who they were from.

It hit me. We'd been Secret Santa'd. I ran back upstairs to question Laura. She followed me back downstairs to see, saying she knew nothing about it. I called my mom. She swore it wasn't her.

I just have to say that it's amazing what a few unopened gifts under our tree did to lift my spirits on Christmas Eve. I don't think it was the fun of getting stuff that did it, as much as the realization that someone cares about Jonathan and me enough to do something that kind and generous. We decided to leave the gifts for Christmas morning. As I went about my Christmas Eve activities I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful people are.

After the festivities of Christmas Eve with each of our families, Jonathan and I went home to enjoy each other. We put on some Christmas music classics and lit some candles. I gave 'Cia a bath and picked up the apartment while Jonathan worked on his painting for Josh. At about 11:30, Jonathan had to run over to my parents' house for something he needed for Josh's present. He went upstairs to leave and then came back down carrying a box he'd found on the front doorstep. The tag said "Merry Christmas, Amanda and Jonathan." We opened it to find lots of food, baked goods, and candy.

The next morning we opened our presents from Secret Santa. We got some very nice and much needed new clothes, a cash gift card, a restaurant gift card, and some muffin mix.

Then I noticed an envelope on the tree that I'd missed before. I have no idea when it showed up there. It was an anonymous card with a generous amount of cash inside.

Another gift on the tree was from another friend: a grocery gift card.

We went to my parents' and were received with more nice gifts. Then on to my grandparents where we received a game and another generous late wedding gift that again, could not have come at a better time.

Christmas evening, at the Graceys', I finally succumbed to my first game of Settlers of Catan (thanks Sica) and actually really enjoyed it (and won) despite it's length. Two friends stopped by to visit with their cute kids and dropped off another generous gift card.

We feel so loved.

To all who have given to us, thank you, thank you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your thoughtfulness and generosity means more than I could ever express. Christmas quickly turned around for me from being a painful reminder of how little we have to a beautiful reminder of how much we really do have in people who love us.

To those who gave us the food, clothes, gift cards, and cash anonymously, I wish I knew who you were so I could thank you personally. Please know that as soon as we have the means, your wonderful good deed to us will be paid forward to another. Thanks for the excitement, anticipation, and true spirit of Christ that you have given us.

We love you all. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

moaning myrtle

I've been wanting to blog more. I really enjoy connecting with people through blogs. My problem is that I'm afraid I'll just keep posting downer posts if I post at all. Thus all the random YouTube clip posts lately. I don't want to use my blog just to gripe, whine, complain, and vent... but on the other hand, I want to write about some of the struggles I've been having lately.

Yes, I could write these things privately, but is there or is there not some great release in just telling the whole world (or maybe 20 people) that life sucks sometimes? ...And then move on. I think there is.

So if you're not in the mood for Moaning Myrtle, then go read nienie. She deals with a lot more than me and still seems happy and upbeat. Whatev. I'm giving in.

If you want to commiserate, read on...

-I got fired from a dream job that I had for three days in August because I wasn't peppy enough.

-I now work in a restaurant under the most power-tripping, demeaning, socially inept, and just plain mean boss ever. I hate going to work but I pick up every possible shift because we need money so badly.

-Actively job-hunting since May has been hurting my ego and slowly killing my soul.

-Jonathan finally found a job. An hour away. $9/hour. 1-2 days/week. bluh.

-I hate money.

-Student loans are the bane of my existence. Sallie #$@%ing Mae wants to eat our firstborn. they also say we owe $3000 that Jonathan never used (in addition to the $15,000 that we legitimately owe). The Art $@!&ing Institute wants to eat our doggy. they say they sent the Sallie Mae money back. Sallie Mae begs to differ. It's a mess.

-If we pay the minimum amounts to our creditors each month, plus rent, we usually can't buy enough food. I bring home food from the restaurant as much as possible and we eat at parents' houses a lot. The pits.

-We keep getting tantalizing possible job opportunities that have all shriveled up and died just as we were getting excited about them.

-Settlers of Catan has stolen my husband.

-My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are getting divorced and I'm so sad/frustrated/confused/depressed/angry about it.

-Buying Christmas gifts is pretty out of the question.

-We haven't been able to afford to get one of our vehicles inspected, registered, and titled in our name. Tonight Jonathan got pulled over and was given a ticket for expired registration. $$$. Now we really can't afford to. The cop said he decided not to impound the car because "Merry Christmas."

-I love decorating and reading design and craft blogs but our place is really blah. Nothing on the walls. No money + lack of motivation = ugly house.

-Policia chewed my only decent church shoes to oblivion. He chewed holes in the halfway decent ones so I still wear them but my feet get wet.

-Jonathan doesn't have a coat. We are running out of pants that don't have holes or stains.

-An old man at work yelled at me and told me I am despicable because he wasn't happy with the amount of time his food took to get to him. Instead of saying something horrible back I held it in. Then I cried. Then my boss threatened to fire me in front of all the customers and coworkers because of something random and stupid. I had to keep serving but I couldn't stop crying. I felt weak and stupid. Then my boss got mad because I was unprofessional for crying in front of customers.

-I have anxiety that someone I love is going to get hurt, sick, or die.

-We still haven't written thank you notes for all of our wedding gifts and I feel terrible about it. People were so generous and I still haven't thanked so many of them! I'm horrible!

-I want to control a lot things that I can't possibly control.

-My digestive system still suffers the effects of Ecuador.

-I will probably get fired for writing all this stuff about work and my boss on this blog. Everyone cross your fingers that he's not an internet stalker.


Anyway... We're fine. We'll be fine. Maybe one day we'll even have extra money and jobs we like. Right now it's just the uncertainty that's so hard. When is it going to get a little easier? Who knows. Will it get even harder? I hope not.

I hear on the news about kids going missing, young spouses dying, and terrible accidents and abuse. I read about people with horrible illnesses and health struggles. I hear my parents report on a refugee family they're helping for Christmas that has no kitchen table, blankets, towels, beds, etc. All of that makes me feel a so guilty for thinking that my life is hard right now. We're mostly healthy. We have the necessities. Why am I complaining?!

The good news is that Jonathan is a trooper. He gets way less stressed about all these things than I do, which is a relief. We can't both be a mess. He keeps me sane. He and the rest of my family are my happy and bright section of life. Everything else seems a little dim and uncertain right now. Thank you, Heavenly Father for family.

...and also for blogs. Writing this all down has been cathartic. I'm glad that I've done it. I won't always blog about hard things but today I am and it's fine.

If anyone else feels like griping, venting, whining, or complaining, feel free to do it in the comments. It'll be fun. Just this once. You can even post anonymously if you need to. I'll also take any advice from anyone on any point I've whined about in the list. In addition, any good vibes, prayers, or happy thoughts in our behalf would mean a lot.

In the words of a new friend of mine (and probably a lot of other people), "Life sucks and then you die. So you might as well be happy." The ultimate pessimist's optimism. I'm going to try it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

you will love

don't know who he is or where he's from but he is awesome. end of story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

favorite movie quote

man: ...the train service has improved so.
Cecil: I always travel by balloon.

from the film "A Room with a View," based on the novel by E.M. Forster.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank You, BBC

I'm a sap. Can't get BBC's new version of Emma out of my head. It's not available in the U.S. yet but someone posted all 4 episodes on youtube in 10 minute parts.

Jane Austen has grown on me in my old age. Sigh.

My favorite dance scene I've ever seen in a movie. I just love it:

Go check it out if you're an Austen fan. Warning: make sure you have 4 hours to spare over the next couple of days. It's divided into hour-long episodes, but it's hard not to just click right onto the next. Here's the first one.

P.S. Can someone please organize a ball like that? And we all have to dress like that and learn the dances and have a live orchestra. Pretty please?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

my new favorite part about christmas...

is this little surprise that i found at a recent trip to dan's:

those equal these:

which we all know are the best part about easter.

thanks, santa.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I haven't been writing much lately, but life is continuing along.

My cute sister is getting more and more pregnant. I can't wait for my little nephew to come in march.

My mom's side of the family all celebrated my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend. My Papa proposed to my Granny with the ring I now wear as my own wedding ring. Two cows were sold to pay for it in the 50's.

The cute couple

They didn't get to cut the cake at their own wedding, so my amazing aunt Cathy made a beautiful anniversary cake and they cut it in front of all of their posterity.

Happy with the family

My beautiful and sweet cousin married her best friend of 7 years on Saturday. It was the first temple sealing I'd seen since my own and it was just beautiful. There are no words for how it feels to have the promise of an eternal life with the person you love most in the world.

They got married in the Jordan River Temple so there were no steps to fit the family on for the picture... which our big family kind of needs.

I loved her hair!

My family at the temple. 3 of my cousins have come to live with my parents for awhile. They are so cute and fun to have around.

My mom and I trying to stay warm during the temple picture-taking.

My Granny putting the finishing touches on her beautiful cake.

It turned out so cute and unique. Perfect for Lindsay and Jeff.

I loved these little birds on the top of the cake.

Jonathan watching Ice Age in the basement of the reception center while the bride got ready.

They had a little ring ceremony before the dinner and read a Shakespearean sonnet together.

I got to be a bridesmaid. The dress was cute but I ended up flashing some people during the dancing part of the night. Oops.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


i was complaining to jonathan yesterday about how i want to blog more but there's nothing to say.

so jonathan told me to blog about our doggy. well he's fun and exciting for us and we love him but i think i already talk about him to much to my friends and family and they're probably sick of him. i can't help but post a cute picture of him though.

he suggested i blog about his beard. jonathan has had a beard for the first time in his life for about 3 months now. he might shave it soon. i think he's hot both ways so whatever.

he suggested i blog about the work we're doing on our little basement apartment. we've been painting a lot. our new bedroom is now a blueish greenish. swan sea. it looks better than it sounds. i can't wait to get carpet and organized.

i refuse to get too settled in my current blugh restaurant job... which means i've been officially searching for a job for more than 5 months. rough.

jonathan has been searching for a job for about 3 months. he even resorted to applying at 7-11 the other day. :(

my little bro, josh, got swine flu. i hear gargling warm salt water twice a day and drinking hot drinks or soups helps keep flu germs from growing in your throat. let's hope it works.

i have never been a huge t.v. person, but abc's new show flashforward is really entertaining. we've been watching it. i recommend it.

so see? nothing too crazy going on around here. life's kind of a yawn right now. but a good yawn.

(pay attention starting at 00:11)

yep, life's kind of like that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

duck pajamas

thanks to everyone who commented on my post-college crisis thoughts from a couple of days ago. it's nice to know i'm not the only one in a weird spot in life or that hates that need for money is guiding my decisions. i appreciate hearing people's thoughts and experiences. sometimes, through being honest and open about our frustrations and hardships, we can really comfort and motivate each other. yes!

jonathan and i just got back from volunteering at ascend's (the organization we interned for) annual gala. it was quite an experience to sit in the company of people throwing around thousands of dollars for basketball games, private concerts, and vacations during the live auction. of course it was all for a good cause and i know the people in the countries that ascend works in will really benefit from the money coming to them. (it would be cool if we didn't have to use luxury vacations to get help to the poor, but if it works, it works. aaahhhhhhh i said it. whew feels good to get that off my chest. okay.)

jonathan was in the silent auction with his design skills up for bid. he spent days (and even pulled an all-nighter after they made a bunch of print changes) designing the program for this gala. so we were hoping someone would bid on him at the gala to help pay for his hours of work on the program design. we don't know if anyone bid on him yet. i have to say, i'll be disappointed if he doesn't get paid for his hard work.

BUT we can live off of canned tuna and rice here just like we did in ecuador if we have to. and there are always our parents for a nice meal. it's funny to think that we're about as poor as the people we worked with in ecuador right now.

well, financial security is overrated. i'm serious. i'm happier now, poor, than i was a couple years ago when i had a lot of money.*

plus, jonathan is wearing my duck pajama pants right now (from the girls' section of aeropostale), and that makes me happy too.

(no pictures please:)

*not to say one can't have money and happiness. someday.... someday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

this is what happens when you don't feel like giving up your husband to guys night.

What I am doing right now:

(the edge of the laptop screen in the bottom left corner of the photo means that i'm participating in my own amusement... not wii mario battle or whatever it is.)

What I wish I was doing right now:

(the blanket is every bit as soft as it looks. the pink wingback chairs next to me are the ones i hope to reupholster... someday. also, when did jonathan take this picture?)

What I hope Policia is doing right now. (and not chewing up chair legs or eating rat poison)

Monday, September 21, 2009

feeling philosophic

what is it with all these thoughts in my head?

how is it that i have four chairs and a kitchen table and a headboard and walls that all need painting or reupholstering or both and i haven't started. why can't i start?!?!

is there ever not someone in the del taco drive-through? nope. there is always someone. always.

i want kids. you really have to have money to have kids?

my dog is cute. why does he love jonathan more than me?

family is the answer to life.

i love colorful walls but i really want to paint my walls gray.

it's getting cold outside. crisp. it feels weird. aren't i supposed to be going to school when this happens?

i met this girl that's really nice. like really really nice. seemingly genuinely nice and caring. like she wants to really make you feel good and welcome and happy and belonging. really. why do i have to wonder if it's fake niceness? are people really that nice with no motives? can i be?

how did i ever get lucky enough to have someone that makes me happier than i've ever been just by being himself? who he is. even when i'm sore and exhausted from work and being a grown-up i'm just happy when he's there. i can honestly say that i don't care how sappy or mushy that sounds. and the below picture...

says it. sums it up. i love it. sappy mushy happiness.

vacuuming can change your outlook on life. (and in a way that sweeping never will. there's always that line of dust and tiny crumbs that won't get on the dustpan.)

maps are so beautiful and intriguing to me. but why?

what am i supposed to be doing at this exact point in life? if money were not an issue, what would i be doing right now?

basically i don't know what the heck i'm doing. i studied politics. i'm working as a server. i feed people and fancily open bottles of wine and hope i look like i know what the heck i'm doing. because i don't. and when people are snooty to me and look down their noses at the waitress that just brought them the wrong spaghetti and doesn't know what wine to drink with salmon and grated parmesan cheese onto their cell phone... i wonder what the heck i'm doing. and even when i get a huge tip because the couple loved their just-attentive-enough server and delicious food and perfect wine... i wonder what the heck i'm doing.

i know step-by-step u.s. foreign policy during the cold war. i know about lots of u.s. presidents and what they did and why and how they got elected. i know that great britain has a constitutional monarchy; that gabriel garcia marquez often wrote in the literary style of magical realism; that cinco de mayo isn't really mexico's independence day; when to use the subjunctive tense (usually). now i'm learning about differences between merlots and pinot noirs and chiantis and that pasta florentine means that it has spinach and how to make lattes versus cappuccinos.

and what does any of it matter? is all of my knowledge only important because of the experiences i'm having while working to gain it? because i sure can't solve any pressing political problems of the day. i can't even take a side. and i can hardly bear to listen to people who talk about the side they've taken. i can't solve the illegal immigrant family's poverty, suffering, and worries by speaking spanish to them. i don't even want to be able to tell someone what wine they might like but now i have to.

you know what sounds kinda good?

move into a little log house with rocking chairs and with lots of land. have chickens and cows for food. maybe a goat too because they're funny. grow crops for food. burn a fire for warmth and a candle for light. read books and sing and dance and play games for fun. have a duck and a pig and a couple more dogs for pets. bake bread and grow pumpkins for the county fair once a year. simple life. not easy, but simple.

anyone with me?

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's all a game of give and take.

I think everyone knows that sometimes life just doesn't give you what you ask it for... or even what you think you deserve. Sometimes life even tells you it's giving you something and then takes it away. Sometimes life just takes and takes.

I have to try to remember during the taking times how good the giving times are. And for me, the giving times the past year have given a lot of good stuff.

Recently, Life took away a cool job that I had for only 3 days.
Well... maybe it wasn't going to be that cool of a job anyway.

Life took away 650 dollars to give our cute dog a plasma transfusion and overnight care at the emergency vet to stave off his extreme internal bleeding (He ate rat poison.).
BUT he lives and is currently wrestling with Jonathan on the floor next to me.

Life took away a chunk from the bottom of my foot thanks to a rusty nail right before my 6-hour server shift. And then it took away 40 bucks more for a tetanus booster.
At least I made enough in my shift to pay for it.

Life broke the drivers' side door to my beloved little red truck (or was that Jonathan?).
Then Life loaned us another car to drive for awhile and it even has AC and power steering (thanks Mom and Dad).

When Life was making us a little discouraged about rent prices and unemployment,
Life decided to give us an nice aunt who offered to rent us her basement for a good deal.

I guess the point I'm trying to make to myself is... Life is sometimes hard but good anyway. Also, marriage is awesome. And so so poor.

So for those of you out of the loop (who care to be in the loop), I found a job as a server. Jonathan's working on freelance graphic design jobs, looking for a more consistent job, and getting ready to go back to school in a few weeks. We live in Laura's basement. The red truck has a couple more dents and the door doesn't shut right. Rat poison is the devil. Someone needs to think of a less painful and less dangerous way to kill rats and mice. Moving has made me realize that I keep too much stuff and that life is just as good without literal excess baggage. Now someone throw it all away. (Notes and homework from my first semester of college as a metallurgical engineering student? I seriously thought I should keep that?) Policia (our dog) is scared of the guitar when it's being played. My lil sis is preg. woo! Also, Jonathan has a beard.

How's that for an update?

Oh, Sarah's been asking to see a picture of Policia, or "Cia," as we usually call him. (yes, he answers to "See Ya!" Oops.) So today will be his big blog debut.

My mom says he looks like a Dingo. Dingos are wild dogs from Australia. The vet said he looks like an Australian Shepherd. We know he's a mut from an indigenous village in Ecuador. So maybe we'll just call him an Ecuadorian Shepherd.

My boys.

When he was suffering the effects of rat poison. Evil evil rat poison.

Here you can see where the vet shaved his right leg to put in the catheter for the plasma transfusion.

Here he is playing with my family dog, Cleo. It's a semi-long video for what it is so I'll tell you that the highlight for me is from 00:59 to 00:30.

Okay now I definitely feel like a mommy blogger. Except I'm just a dog mom. Nothing to be ashamed of. Right?

So. That's life for now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

i miss blogging

and i have a lot i could say.

i could tell about the amazingly fun last two weeks traveling ecuador with jonathan's bro and sis.

i could tell about how awesome and wonderful it was to see all of our family and friends (and grocery stores and normal cuts of meat and a queen bed) upon returning home.

i could tell the story about the cute ecuadorian puppy named policia that we got the day we got home.

i could tell about the fun trip to bear lake with the whole honkin' chamberlain fam.

i could tell about how exciting it was to get a job that i loved... and then how heartbreaking it was when it didn't work out.

i could tell about how we almost moved into my great-grandma's old house while it's being sold but then they got their first offer on it the day we were planning to move in. (after trying to sell it all year with NO offers)

i could tell about how awesome my husband is.

i could tell about how we're living out of suitcases and boxes because we're in a small bedroom at my parents' house with no room for anything.

we've really had some great ups and some hard downs in the past month.

but... i won't go too much into all that. maybe in the future i'll put up a few choice pictures and videos.

for now, jonathan and i are job-hunting and apartment-hunting. and we're oh-so-grateful for our supportive families.

If you or someone you know is hiring...

aspiring mid-degree graphic designer with lots of experience and a good portfolio. 2 years experience as a server.

recent U of U grad in poli-sci and spanish. also 2 years experience as a server.

but really, life is still good even when it's sometimes bad and you get knocked on your bum.
and we're gonna be OOOOkay!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

my mom worries when i don't blog

So..... wow. I am exhausted.

I'll start on Friday the 17th, the day after my last post.

Actually, that's too tiring to think about. Quick summary seems nice. Jonathan and I spent Friday the 17th through Wednesday the 22nd living (camping) in a remote community about 1.5 hours outside of Riobamba. We, along with the Ascend staff, were in charge of an expedition of 50 United Statesians doing humanitarian projects in two communities to make people's lives better.

What got done:

  • 2 brick ovens built for baking bread and pizza to sell
  • most of a cafeteria for a school
  • part of a classroom for a school
  • cooking classes to teach the people how to use the ovens to make bread and pizza
  • cooking classes to teach the people how to use healthy crops they grow in creative ways
  • sex ed class
  • family planning class
  • 2 medical treatment clinics
  • 2 playgrounds built and painted
  • 2 community parks renovated and painted
  • english classes
  • remodeling of a classroom
  • business techniques classes
  • teaching new games to the kids
  • making puppets, a puppet theater, and putting on a puppet show for the community
  • dancing and cultural exchanges
  • first aid class
  • parenting techniques class
  • nutrition classes
The people of the communities were really happy with how it all turned out and I think the expedition participants were too. You may remember my post about the Park City 5. This expedition was made up mostly of the friends and family of 5 teenagers from Park City who died in separate accidents within the same year. Serving some of the most needy people here in Ecuador was a way for loved ones to honor these kids in a meaningful way.

Planning for the expedition (menu, food, buying utensils, planning the agenda, figuring out the budget, etc.) was one of the most stressful and difficult things I've ever done. It has also been one of the most rewarding. And exhausting. I'm grateful for my current opportunity of working in such a satisfying job.

Wednesday, the last day of the expedition, I was sick. Again. Sick again. Seriously?

This time my sickness involved the most painful pain I've ever felt. Luckily it passed in less than a day.

Thursday we took an extra long 7 hour bus ride to Cuenca for the big fundraising Gala we've been planning. It was a fancy night. People were dressy. Money was raised. Music was played. Good food was eaten.

I had to translate a bit since we had a good mix of English and Spanish-speakers there. We danced until 2:30 am with our coworkers and then Jonathan and I crashed into a twin bed. Exhaustion and satisfaction. Did I mention I am exhausted? Also, it was fun.

Upon returning home to Riobamba from Cuenca, we found Jonathan's brother, James, waiting at our doorstep. We all headed up to Quito to pick up Kristine from the airport. Now we're doing Ecuador and it's great. And I'm tired. But it's great.

We've done Quito, now headed to Baños, then to the Amazon to explore, then to Guamote, then Guayaquil, then Montañita, then maybe Isla de la Plata. Home on the 8th in the morning!

Here are some memories from the expedition...

kids singing a welcome song for the expedition

view from one of the expedition communities

another view

making pancakes for breakfast for 65 people.

handy ladder coming out of the roof

parenting techniques class

pizza cooking class

peeling the bark off for the swingset before we painted

pizza cooking class again.

the new swingset. the kids were on it all day and all night.

family planning class... bananas and condoms involved

village troublemaker with his new puppet

jonathan and daniel painting their mural.

the final product. Park City mountains alongside Andes mountains.

My new friends Blanca and Ana Maria who begged me to take a picture with them but then got really shy when the camera came out. They plan on not getting married until they're 30 and in the meantime studying to be chefs and working in big cities in Ecuador. Very rare ambitions for their culture.

building the community brick oven.

new swingset in progress in Galte Miraloma.

this kid was so excited for the swing that he wouldn't wait for the paint to dry.

above the clouds in the communities.

carlos speaking at the fancy gala in cuenca

Ascend staff and interns from Riobamba and Cuenca plus Sallee and Carolyn from headquarters in Salt Lake. At the Gala in Cuenca.

So there's a quick summary and some pictures for ya'll. Now I'm off to Baños to soak in some hot springs and ride bikes to beautiful waterfalls. See you all soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Well I promised a post about last weekend and I will write one. It has been a crazy week for us. Tonight a group of 50 Utahns arrived in Quito. Tomorrow afternoon they'll meet us out in one of the little communities we work in and we'll work work work until Wednesday.

It has taken a ton of planning and running around like chickens with our heads cut off to get this expedition organized. I think we've done our absolute best to have it go smoothly. Now let's just hope it really does. Tomorrow the real crazyness begins. Wish us luck.

Now back to last weekend.

Jonathan was told 2 Sundays ago that that coming Friday we would have a Young Men and Young Women campout. 1 night. The Young Women leader told Jonathan to bring me and since they know that we've both camped with church groups before, that we'd just tell them what you're supposed to do on campouts. Jonathan suggested that we take a couple more weeks and plan a little more but, in the words of the YW leader, "These things are just better when you don't plan them too much." (in Spanish... but you get the idea.)

I was a little skeptical of how this would all turn out on such short notice. Plus it's REALLY cold in the high areas of Ecuador right now and the thought of sleeping in a tent just didn't sound fun. But.... Of course I agreed to go. I knew it had potential.

Ecuador has very few campgrounds and campouts just aren't something the locals do much. So a couple in the ward offered their friends' cabin. It turned out to be in a beautiful area. Plus bathrooms and a kitchen. We slept in tents on their land so we could get a little of the campout experience.

It basically played out like a normal church campout... campfire testimony devotional thingy, hot chocolate, marshmallow roasting, stepping in cow pies in the dark, playing hide and seek and sardines in the dark, squeaaaaaling giggling girls, showoff-y guys, and an amazing hike.

I had a thick sleeping bag and didn't get too cold. Everything was pretty much great. Here are some pictures we took. If you're friends with Jonathan on facebook, you've probably already seen them.

Align Center
view from the cabin in the morning. rio chambo.

the cabin

jonathan with a couple of his young men. andres and shayid.

on the hike... i guess they were under the impression that if everyone held onto the rope they wouldn't fall into the stream.

excited for a day of hiking.

sometimes jonathan is a 6-year-old boy.

eating limes with salt... makes my tongue hurt to watch.

a gate post that jonathan and i found funny. seems like they couldn't decide what to put on it so they just put everything. air balloon...

an awkward group picture that left me wondering why we were all raising our hands.

jonathan crossing a very precarious bridge over a very fast river. i tried to make him stop but sometimes i feel guilty for smothering adventurousness... just hope he doesn't die.

hiking break.

jonathan and some great countryside.

me and a great cow (that really wanted me to go away)

All in all it was a great time. However, I'm asking myself now if it was worth it. Why?

Saturday after we got home, I showered and took a nap. Then I woke up and puked. And then puked again. Then again. The next day I had the worst headache of my life, fever chills, aches. Next day I felt a little better besides the headache. Next day all day stomachache again.

I ate something BAD.

Those who have read my blog for awhile know that I've had my share of sickness... I think I forgot what it feels like to feel healthy and good.

I'm making a good recovery, though, so let's hope I stay good for the expedition. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

I just updated Ascend's Ecuador blog. If anyone's interested in learning more about what we'll be doing on this expedition, go here!