Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Park City 5

As some of you know, the organization that Jonathan and I are interning for here in Ecuador is planning an expedition. In July, about 40 people from Park City will be coming here to make a big difference in two of the indigenous communities that we've had the joy of working with for the past 3 months.

I just ran across a story on KSL about the families from Park City that will be coming to Riobamba for the expedition. They're a special group in that they are families who have recently lost children in tragic accidents. This service that they will be giving to others is their way of memorializing their children. Check out the video from KSL's website.

Video Courtesy of

I want to note, although it's not mentioned in the video, these people are coming to Ecuador through Ascend: A Humanitarian Alliance. Ascend is a Salt Lake City based humanitarian organization that works with the poorest people in Africa and Latin America. As one of their Ecuador interns, I have seen so much good come from projects that we organize.

I really have to admire these families for doing something so good after having such sad things happen to them. Their work will have a huge impact on two very poor communities.

As the video says, they are holding a couple events to raise money for the projects that we'll be doing in the communities. There is a 5K race this Saturday and a golf tournament on June 8th. If any of you are in a place to donate or participate in these events, you would be helping poor families in Ecuador and bringing happiness to these grieving families. See their website HERE for more information about making donations or participating in the fundraising events.

To see the KSL story on their website, click HERE.

(people, I have been blogging up a storm lately! don't miss my other posts from this week.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

sociocultural globalization

I've spent the morning creating Excel Spreadsheets containing basic medical records of the children in the communities where we do medical campaigns. The communities we work with are made up of indigenous people and are deep in the Andes, far away from the cities. Seriously, far. Buses don't go out there. We have to drive up to three hours on bumpy, windy, treacherous dirt roads to reach some of the communities. Many have no running water. Most of the women my age and older don't speak Spanish because they weren't allowed to go to school as children. Everyone speaks the native language, Quichua. These days most men and almost all of the children in grade school can speak Spanish.

Sometimes when we're working in one of these communities, with people who look like this,

and landcapes that look like this,

I feel like I couldn't get any farther from home. Everything is just so foreign to me. The way they dress, what they eat, what their lives consist of day to day, their aspirated and glottalized language, and the way they say SHHHOOOnathan (jonathan) and aMAUta (amanda).

Then one day, while working in a secluded community, I met a little girl named Jenny and a little boy named Jefferson.

hmmmm.... Now I've never met a Spanish-speaking person named Jenny, let alone Jefferson (as in... Thomas Jefferson? Third president of the United States?). They're all Marias and Carloses and Juans and Adrianas and Agustins. (I'm only slightly exaggerating about that.) So to meet a child whose mother probably only speaks Quichua have that name, surprised me. I was amazed and a little curious. I thought that this must just be an interesting anomaly.

"Wow, what a crazy coincidence meeting a Jenny and a Jefferson in the same day in a little village that couldn't be culturally farther from North America," I thought to myself. "Maybe Jefferson's parents are... American history buffs? Maybe a nice Canadian girl named Jenny randomly came to their village and they liked her so much that they named their daughter after her. How nice." And that was that.

Today, typing around a hundred children's names into the spreadsheets, I realized that Jenny and Jefferson are most certainly not anomalies.

It seems that the majority of young children in these seemingly isolated and far-flung communities carry at least one name that definitely isn't common to their culture nor geographical area. Here are some of my favorites:

Note: these children were all born in 2003 and later. They're six-years-old and younger.)

Anderson Carguachi can't argue that one's not from English.
Nancy Beatriz Lasso Altamirano lots of Nancys
Lizbeth Yungan Criollo tons of Lizbeths
Bridget Veronica Guzñay Huishca
Lizbeth Estefania Guzñay Huishca Stephanie...
Jessica Karina Daquilema Cuñas
Lisbeth Maritza Cuñas Marcatoma
Emily Mishel Guaraca Lasso
Widinson Guillermo Guaraca Marcatoma I'm pretty sure they were trying for an English name... WidinSON.
Byron Adrian Cuñas Guaraca
Jessica Erlinda Daquilema Altamirano
Janeth Paulina Simbaña Marcatoma Janet?
Jenny Maritza Guaraca Simbaña
Roxana Margot Pataron Cuñas
Mayra Elizabeth Guaraca Cuñas
German Oswaldo Condo Lasso the word "German" in Spanish is "alemán"
Norma Janeth Marcatoma Daquilema
Angel Yeferson Marcatoma Lema "Jefferson" with their pronunciation of "j"
Edison Javier Marcatoma Lema
Wilian Israel Pataron Guaraca close, close
Miryan Gladis Yumiceba Marcatoma pretty sure no 4-year-old in the U.S. has this name...
Yessica Estefania Chuquimarca Quingue again with the "j" to "y"
Jefferson Eduardo Marcatoma Condo
Mayra Elizabeth Daquilema Cuñas
Yhoselyn Viviana Daquilema Altamirano I think Jocelyn is of French origin. cool.
Yhon Javier Lema Daquilema John? I guess "Juan" got a little common or boring?
Jhonn Alexander Paltan Daquilema They like putting the "h" before the "o." Jonathan gets "Jhon" a lot
Yeferson Patricio Caguana Simbaña another
Vilma Susana Daquilema Criollo again... I'm pretty sure if your name's Wilma in the U.S., you're 80.
Nancy Maribel Caguana Chuquimarca
Miryan Susana Marcatoma Guaraca
Jhonn G. Quingue Chuquimarca
Franklin W. Guacho Lema
Evelyn Cuji Chuquimarca
Erika Susana Daquilema Caguano
Two more Edisons
Anderson Marcatoma
Bayron David Evas
Darwin Simbaña
Fany Belgica Marcatoma Evas my personal favorite
Fany Huishca
Gladys Malan Simbaña
Jaqueline Capito Simbaña I wonder how they pronounce this one.
Mirian Huishca Criolla
Myrian Lizbeth Guacho Roldan
Yeferson Malan
Yessica Guacho Marcatoma

and last, but not least, my personal favorite (and maybe deserving of its own post),
Jesus Stalin Cuñas Daquilema
(and I'm not kidding)

So, what do you think? Isn't this a fun mystery? I've been brainstorming a little bit about how these names could have infiltrated this indigenous culture.

First of all, I am not exaggerating when I say that every single adult indigenous woman I've ever met has been either María or Rosa. It seems probable that these women are sick of common names. And with all the Marcatoma Guaraca Chuquimarca last names* going around, they are probably feeling that now's the time to bring in some new names. I'm just still stumped about how they heard about Gladys, Fanny, and Wilma. What significance does Jefferson have to them? Do they just like how it sounds? Jessica and Jenny are popular in the English-speaking world, but these people don't have much interaction with English-speakers. With all the little Edisons running around, I wonder if their moms are just that grateful for the lightbulb? Why did Elizabeth turn into Lizbeth in so many cases? And Jesus Stalin? I'm sorry, but WTF?!

While having so many Yessicas and Jennys and Yhonns running around makes me feel just a tiny bit closer to home, I can't help but just be intrigued as to how this happened. I need your thoughts and expertise, people. Help me solve this mystery! Oh, and let me know which is your favorite.


*Most people in Spanish-speaking countries are given four names. If a woman gets married, she takes a fifth. It goes: "first name" + "middle name" + "father's paternal surname" + "mother's paternal surname." If the woman gets married, you add + "de 'husband's paternal surname.'" So my name, in the Spanish world would be Amanda Marie Chamberlain Polatis de(of) Gracey. How's that for a mouthful? Oh and even though I'm married, I'd still be Señora (Mrs.) Chamberlain. No name change.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

priceless photos

I just can't get over how cute my little niece, Madeline, is. See, I've been married almost 3 months and so far have managed not to get knocked-up. Since Jonathan and I are spending all of our money living in Ecuador as unpaid interns, it would probably be a little stressful to have a baby on the way. By the time we get home we'll have very little (or no) money, no place to live, no jobs, and no health insurance. However, little Maddie just makes it so hard not to throw caution into the wind.

Yesterday I saw a sequence of photos on my sister-in-law's (hi Kristine!) facebook that I had to steal and share with you all.

I think this has to be one of the best pictures I've ever seen.* The picture that comes next makes it even better.

left to right: Spike, Bella, my niece Madeline (of the Joseph and Jane Gracey clan), and Boston (of the Sam and Rachelle Gracey clan)

Looks like she decided to go for it.

See what I mean about the overwhelming cuteness?

Well if it's not the right time for a baby yet, I'm definitely going to need a dog.

This is the kind I want really really really really badly...

The breed is Mastiff. Can you honestly say these are not the cutest, most awesome-looking dogs you've ever seen? They're, um, the largest and heaviest breed of dog there is. I won't go into their awesome temperament (how cuddly and attached and non-vicious and loyal they are) and all that, but I want one. Real bad. I'll just have to make sure it doesn't sit on anyone...

*below: possibly the best picture I've ever seen (thanks again to Kristine's facebook).

brother-in-law james and little maddie. there's just so much that's completely perfect about this picture. i love my in-laws...

Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day

Friday, May 22, 2009

guess whose birthday it is...

happy . fun . generous . goal-setter . inspiring . kind . musical . family man . hard worker . go-getter . triathloner . runner . healthy . homework helper . good ideas . motivator . marshmallow . great to talk to . swimmer . friendly . intellectual . songwriter . camper . awesome . supportive . optimistic . good advice . Sunday talks . wedding singer . service . cinnamon bears . "Puffer Paul" . day-old doughnuts . honest . sweet-tooth . family vacation goer . good teacher . welcoming . adventurous . playhouse builder . patient . ssss-ssss-ssss laugher . handy man . meat carver . smart . wise . businessman . coach . blindingly white legs . loving . sacrificing . spiritual . landscaper . remodeler . horsey ride-giver . snowman-builder . easygoing . Dad

Dad and Mom, Halloween 2006

Dad, Josh, and Ben in Costa Rica, August 2008

Carving the... Turkey? Thanksgiving 2007

Dad, Josh, and me on the zip line in Costa Rica, August 2008

Ben, me, Dad, and Emily. Yellowstone trip, Summer 2006

I love you so much, Dad. Thanks for helping me move way too many times. Thanks for singing to me and Jonathan and Em and Alex at our weddings. Thanks for teaching me about service and the importance of helping those in need. Thanks for the awesome family you and Mom have created. Thanks for giving me such a horrible, wonderful sweet tooth. Thanks for spending so much of your time and energy with us, your family. Thanks for loving me no matter when, no matter what. Thanks for being so nice and welcoming to my friends (who all love you). Thanks for teaching me SO MUCH just through your example. Thanks for staying out past dark building igloos and snowmen with me and Em. Thanks for keeping yourself healthy and strong. Thanks for all the fun family trips and for teaching me to love camping and the outdoors. Thanks for changing my flat tire last year and teaching me how to do it (but I forgot). Thanks for always being on the sidelines, on the pool deck, in the bleachers, and in the audience.

There's so much more I could say! I wish I could be with you for your birthday. I'm sure I missed some things so anyone feel free to tell my dad what's awesome about him in the comments. There's just so much! Love you, Dad!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

no day at the beach...

Yikes. The past few days have been a little rough.


Two nights ago Jonathan started having some pretty severe chest pain and pressure (on the left side) to the point where he couldn't sleep. It got so bad (and I got so worried) that we finally went to the emergency room of a nearby hospital at 4 am. The doctor didn't seem to think it was a problem with his heart. He just gave him a shot for the pain and prescribed a couple pain meds. The pain meds didn't work too well and he was still in constant pain all day yesterday. I went to the church last night during Noche de Hogar and got the missionaries and another man in the ward to come give him a blessing. Later last night we were able to Skype with my parents' neighbor who is some sort of heart doctor. He didn't seem to think the pain was from a heart problem either but said it sounds like Jonathan has pleurisy.

Pleurisy is a painful inflammation/infection between the lungs and the rib cage. The doctor Skype-prescribed some good old ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. Jonathan feels a little better today and we're hoping that his pain will go away completely soon. I am so relieved and I'm ready to finally get some good sleep.

When Jonathan's brother James heard the good news that Jonathan's heart is okay and that he's feeling better, he sent me an email. I thought you all might enjoy it as much as I did...

"I am glad Jonathan is okay, it is a relief off my shoulders because I think he chest hurt because of me. About 10 years ago I remember putting some hot tamales in his oatmeal and he ate them all in one gulp!!!!!
I am so glad he is okay."

Me too!

Other news of interest to anyone who may be missing us (because we are missing all of you so much): Today, Thursday the 21st of May, is our HUMPDAY*! So it's all downhill from here**. We sure will miss Ecuador when we have to leave, but after a couple hard days, I really just miss Home. That feeling comes and goes. Maybe we'll just have to take another trip to the beach.

* No, Josh. No.
**I hate it when bands put common phrases into their songs and then when you say or write that common phrase you can't get the song out of your head. Hey JamesMc, remember when I liked New Found Glory? Remember how you hated my shirt in high school?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Freckles. And sand in "places."

Well I have a bit of catching up to do here. I had a birthday, my brother had a birthday, my mom had a Mother's Day, and Jonathan and I took a vacation all in the past 3 days.

First of all, I would like to say thanks to Josh for being born on May 10th, the day before my birthday. It's nice to be able to share parties and not have to be the center of attention. I really love sharing my birthday season with Josh. Second, Josh, I think it's really rude that you're 15 now. That just seems too old. Can't you go back to being the cute little 4-year-old that said big words? Like when I was 12 and was giving you a bath and I started draining the water and you said/screamed, "Amanda! Amanda! Look! The bath water is diminishing! It's DIMINISHING!" I had to go look it up in the dictionary.

Well now instead of being that cute little boy you are a cute big boy. And girls have crushes on you. And you will be in high school this fall. And you are going to start driving lessons. And it's all just really really rude.

Josh droppin' it like it's hot.

Also on May 10th was Mother's Day! I was bummed that I missed out being with my wonderful mom. The older I get, the more I realize how great she is. She has always made big sacrifices for all of her children and we are so grateful. She's fun, she's generous, she's understanding, she's helpful, she writes good notes when you need them, she was patient and supportive during the rough times, and she's happy and supportive now that those times are over. Love you, Mom!

Me, Mom, and Em at Em's night-before-the-wedding dinner. Hours later Jonathan and I would kiss for the first time. Aw. Tender.

My birthday was yesterday. Yep, the big 2-3. I think this is around the age when you start not caring to get any older. No more getting excited about the age milestones. Well, except maybe 25, when I can rent a car more easily and get my insurance rates lowered. Oh and 65, when I get senior discounts at the movie theater and Sizzler.

I told Jonathan all I wanted for my birthday was cereal, Nutella, Tropifruttis, KinderBuenos, and a trip to the beach. I'm a simple girl, you see. He came through with my wishes. So on Saturday at 2 am we left Riobamba by bus to eventually arrive in Montañita around 11:30 am.

Basically it was wonderful 3-day weekend filled with hangin' out in swimsuits, bare feet, swimming, big waves, no stingrays or jellyfish, long walks on the beach, salty air, warm humidity, amazing sunsets, childhood memories of California, gathering sea shells, drinking fresh fruit juice, eating ceviche, crepes, watching the surfers, sand everywhere, body boarding, getting thrashed by the huge waves and loving it, sleeping under an umbrella on the sand, going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean outside our open window, sleeping on a bed with no crack in the middle, playing cards on the bed with Jonathan until late and then sleeping in, meeting a Colombian hippy who has lived everywhere and who sold me some earrings, spilled beer on my feet, and spoke Portuguese with Jonathan, watching the sea spray through the reef, and never wanting to leave. For me, it was the best birthday present I could possibly get. I'm in love with the ocean and I loved every second of being there with Jonathan. It was almost a perfect weekend.

Before I show you the pictures, I'm going to have to explain that some unfortunate events did take place during our lovely beach weekend. Apart from sunburns and a mosquito bites (I have 15 below my knees), I accidentally left my camera in the common room of the hostel and someone stole it along with my favorite sweatshirt. Also, my flip flops got stolen off the beach. So now we are in the middle of our wonderful adventure without a camera (our second one to get stolen here! Grrrrr!). It's a pretty big bummer. We had some good sunset pictures and a cute picture of us, but you will all have to make do with these google image search pictures that I will pretend are mine...

This is Montañita. aahhhhh. (it really is Montañita.)

This is our hostel. (Actually ours was across the road from this building but this was the closest photo I could find. It looked pretty much the same.) This time we got a private room and bathroom. 20 bucks a night for us both including breakfast and a cocktail. Woo! You know how we love our cocktails.

This is Montañita's main street, wonderfully paved with sand. No one wears shoes. It's just what happens when a poor fishing village meets epic surfing and the hippies move in. I, personally, am a fan.

This is me/Jonathan bodyboarding on my birthday! (Okay maybe we never caught a wave quite that big, but we got some good ones and it was great fun.)

Here we are walking down the beach as the sun goes down on Sunday. (Picture my hair a little longer.)

So all in all, we had a blast and we hope to do it again before we leave. Thanks to Mom and Dad and Grandpa and Grandma for the birthday money that made this little trip possible. I really, really appreciate it! I may not have pictures to remind me of the trip, but my itching mosquito bites, continually finding sand in new places, our freshly freckled faces, and burned shoulders should keep it on the mind for awhile.

Friday, May 8, 2009

tip the maid

Today was a day that some nights I truly believed would never come. A day that I've dreamt about numerous times after drifting off while studying for a midterm. Today I put on a cap and gown, went to commencement exercises, and received my diploma from the University of Utah. Ah bliss...

Wait, no. I'm in Ecuador having a normal day at work while the rest of my graduating class walks. It's okay. I'll still get my diploma and everything. I thought I would care less about graduation day and walking and the cap and gown, but I'm actually a little sad not to be involved with the festivities. Plus I won't have pictures of myself in a cap and gown to prove to my children that I really did make it through college. Oh yeah. The diploma. Okay, I'm good.

So now what? That's the big question, right? I have a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies. Someone please tell me what I'm supposed to do now! I've heard the "go to law school" suggestion a billion times. No, thank you. Three years of memorizing stuff out of big books and writing long papers does not sound worth the reward. Practicing law. blugh. No offense to all you law school grads. I admire your knowledge and skills. I just don't envy them.

Getting a Master's Degree has always appealed to me. I kind of always thought in the back of my mind that I would like to get a Master's Degree in something. A few months ago I was seriously considering what I would like to study on a higher level. Education? Immigration Studies?Language Interpretation?

Well let me tell you a little secret. What I'd really like to study right now I would be much better off learning from family, friends. and the internet than from a professor. Here are some things I really want to learn at this point in life. I don't know where it all came from, but here you have it.

-I want to learn to sew so badly. I made a quilt for Jonathan for his birthday in January (with a bunch of help from my mom). He loves it. I thought it was fun. My mom, my mother-in-law, and both grandmothers are all talented seamstresses. One of my great-grandmothers made quilts to sell. Another great-grandma made all kinds of clothes for herself and her children. It's just in my blood and I'm itching to learn.

-I'd love to be a great photographer. I think photos can be so inspiring and I'd like to learn how to take better ones.

-I'm also feeling strong desires to learn web design, coding, etc. I'd love to be able to create a website from scratch. Jonathan would be a big help to me learning this and then maybe we can actually make some money from it.

-When I was single, I didn't feel the need to cook too much. Cereal, bread, and leftover Jasmine food are fine with me, thanks. Now that I'm married, I love cooking for Jonathan. I get so much satisfaction enjoying a meal with him that I made. He's always so happy and appreciative when I cook something for him. This has motivated me to want to learn to be a better cook. Maybe even a really good cook. I know plenty of great cooks, so tips and recipes shouldn't be hard to come by.

-Sort of in the cooking realm... I want to learn how to can fruits, veggies, and jams. Canning?! Seriously? It just seems so practical. I must be turning into an old lady.

- Another random thing I want to learn. Furniture restoration. I know, it sounds weird, but I am so fascinated and inspired by some "before and after" projects I've seen on crappy old chairs, coffee tables, headboards, etc. It seems like it would be so satisfying to bring some beauty into an old, ugly piece of furniture. I tried to reupholster my dad's old wing back chair in the weeks leading up to my wedding. I succeeded in ripping off most of the fabric... and nothing more. Sorry dad. I'll finish it when I get home!

Now that I'm done with my Bachelor's Degrees I can finally focus on what I really want to learn. Is that sad? Anyone know if any Universities offer a Master's Degree in Canning/Re-upholstery/Web Design/homemaking? ...didn't think so.

I have to ask. Mom and Dad, I know you haven't heard all of this from me. Are you surprised? Do people normally wish for a sewing machine, a better oven, and a good camera after graduating from college?

Realistically speaking, I do need to have something in mind for when Jonathan and I get back to the real world in August. He'll go back to his school that charges an arm and a leg. Thus I hope to find a good job where I can be happy doing whatever I'm doing. My dream job would be to work with a humanitarian NGO like the one we're interning for right now. However, I would consider almost anything else... as long as it doesn't involve filing papers and making copies all day. I need something that makes me think.

As for my opinions about what I learned in college (because I know everyone's dying to know), I will just say that I'm glad I speak Spanish. I love Latin America, it's history, culture, and it's people. I'm grateful for the knowledge I have in the political arena but I will never (ever ever ever) attempt to hold a public office. Maybe I'll expound on that at a later date.

Anyway, the many, many all-nighters, papers, note-taking, flashcards, parking tickets, power-point presentations, puking during finals, and study groups have finally (FINALLY) come to an end. I made it. I'm so glad.

I'm going to end this rambling post and leave you with the profound last sentence of the commencement remarks made by David McCullough at my graduation today (which I read online).

"And wherever you go in your travels to come, and I'm sure you will go far, before checking out of a hotel or motel, be sure to tip the maid."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

just when I thought my spanish was getting so good

Today at church I was sitting in elders quorum with Jonathan. Yes, elders quorum. The LDS church is really changing things up in South America. Or maybe it's just that I'm usually the only female on time to church in our branch. I've been to relief society one time in the two months that we've lived here. Anyway, Jonathan and I were chatting quietly as the branch president was about to get the class going. He (the branch pres.) looked over at me with the hymn book in his hand and said something and smiled. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention because I don't know what he said. Since we were about to start singing the opening hymn and he was looking at me, I figured he probably wanted me to lead it. So I got up, counted to 3, and started singing and leading. After we all sang the last verse I was about to go sit down when the branch president turned to me and asked me if I would now say the prayer. So I did and then sat down.

Jonathan then informed me that I was never asked to lead the hymn, but to pray. Oops. That must have been pretty funny for everyone...

Branch Pres: Amanda, will you say the opening prayer for us?
Me: (smile, stand up, and lead the whole hymn)

I'll be honest. I REALLY miss Utah church. Not that the church is more true in Utah... it's just that all my peeps live in Utah. Yes, my peeps.

Wanna hear something else that happened at church today? The Sunday School Pres. asked me if I am expecting a baby.

....uuhhhh...... I thought you were never supposed to ask that question unless you were SURE! Don't they KNOW that here?! I just don't get it. Maybe I need to never wear that dress again. I was pretty sure that my stomach is not among my chubby parts. I thought it looked nice and flat in that dress. AND I've been doing crunches and bicycles and really annoying things like that. I guess I really have some sucking in to do. And no, I'm NOT pregnant. ...deep breaths.....

After church today I was settling into bed for some Harry Potter reading and maybe a nap when Jonathan proceeded to scare me so bad that I screamed out loud, almost had a heart attack, and cried from the shock of it all. He felt pretty bad since he wasn't even trying to scare me in the first place. I know if I explain the story, everyone will make fun of me because it wasn't even that scary. But obviously it made an impression.

Okay, basically what happened is that the bedroom door was open a crack and I heard music coming from the front room so I assumed he was in there. Then all of the sudden there was a creepy rapist voice saying/whispering, "hey manda, heeey maandaaaa, hey hey maanda..." I don't know why my subconscious brain didn't figure out real fast that it was Jonathan, but I looked over and there was an eye peeking in the door and I freaked. That's all. Maybe a year taken off my life from the stress and shock on my heart.

Love you, babe.

Hmmm...Random thoughts from the past week (lists are the easiest):

-Haribo Tropifruttis are so delicious. When it comes to gummy candies, texture is everything. With Tropifruttis, I think Haribo hit it right on. Thanks Haribo!

-Jonathan claims to like my cooking. That is such an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

-My blisters from walking around all day in high heels (a.k.a. DEVIL SHOES) selling publicity for our magazine are starting to heal.

-Thursday morning for our employee bonding day we went to an awesome park and played ultimate frisbee and basketball. It was soooo fun.

-We got new FAST internet!!!!

-We have been living in Ecuador for two whole months. Weird!

-My parasite symptoms are back with a vengeance. I was reading about parasites online and got so grossed out that I think I am finally motivated to take care of mine. I hope they're not the earthworm-looking ones. urgle.

-Yesterday I felt very uncharacteristically cultured and refined. It was a rainy afternoon and Jonathan and I were sitting in the main room of our apartment. I was reading articles on the relationship between poverty and happiness for my research paper while Jonathan sketched the mountain view out of our window. Schubert piano quintets were playing in the background. Yeah, I'm serious.

-Jonathan and I would be much less happy people without the invention of cheese.

-It was Adriana's turn to give the random presentation in our team meeting this week. She gave it on HIV-AIDS. It was a powerpoint presentation filled with graphic animations demonstrating how to properly use a condom. She also told me and Jonathan and Carlos that since we are all sexually active that we won't get HIV as long as we're faithful to our spouses. Thanks...

-I got to talk to tons of family today on Skype. Woooo! Happy Birthday, Grandma!!! The big 6-9!!

-My awesome aunt is looking for a new roommate. I used to live with her and it was great. She's renting out a big private basement bedroom with a private NEW bathroom. She has a ping-pong table, washer and dryer, a big yard, she's fun, athletic, a good cook, etc. She's looking for a non-annoying, non-crazy girl to live with. Let me know if you know anyone!

-If you're looking for a part-time afternoon job in Salt Lake, I know of a company looking to hire a new receptionist. I used to work there. It involves a big bowl of candy on your desk and some taming the zoo of men that work there... along with answering phones, filing stuff, making copies. typing up sales orders, etc. Basically they need a Pam. Let me know if you're interested!

Okay, that's enough. I'll leave you with these pictures that make me laugh...

Face-first down the rickety slide. I love it.

One of these things is not like the other...

I don't know why it's funny to me. It just is.

Sometimes you can take a picture of Jonathan and zoom in on his face...

and it will look like this. Love him.