Thursday, June 30, 2011

Travel Bug

Well I guess it's that time of year again.... I've got the travel bug.  Which means that I'll start checking flights to all kinds of realistic and unrealistic places.  I'll then crave dealing with airport security and the butterflies I get from take-off.

Some of my hopeful to-go's are as follows (but not really in any particular order):

  • Washington DC (a bucket list item for the last... 3 years?)
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • Alaska
  • Paris, France
  • Costa Rica
...and I'm sure others.

So, until I have travel updates or other exciting news...


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reflections from June 2010

It dawned on me the other day, that approximately one year ago I was in Mexico.  I was living amongst a people whom I'd never met, in a culture that was so differently from mine, but whom I loved instantly.  It was an unreal experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.  The feelings I had, the people I learned from and the gratitude I experienced is something that still affects my daily life.  I don't know that I'll ever be so grateful to stand in a shower without shoes on or drink straight from the tap, or have access to free public restrooms.  (Yup.  There are people who are grateful for them.)

Here is a walk down memory lane of my Mexican Adventures from June of 2010:

First day in the village of Bautisa Grande. They had an incredible cultural show prepared for us.  The children were amazing and touched me right from the start.

Ooh!  We got to go around and meet them all... well, rather we let them touch our hands and we took pictures.  They were absolutely adorable!

My ninas.

Teaching in the schools was a beautiful experience.  They were like little sponges that wanted to soak in everything!  The kids wanted to learn English so much.  Later in the week they followed the Spanish speakers in our group around and asked them to tell them the English version of specific words.  We made flash cards for them on the bus ride and left them with the school supplies.  Ahh!  I miss them!

Butterfly and animal puppets

Cute kids at the school

San Cristobal.  This is a view of the city where we lived.

A church in San Cristobal as we walked the markets our last Sunday in Mexico.

Me and Shmance

More of the beautiful city, San Cristobal.

Ah!  We all fell in love with the kids in the village. :)

One of the projects we worked on was a mural that was inspired by the children.  This is the finished, sealed product.  I'm excited to see pics of it in this years trip down there.

This is the school yard. Those buildings in the background are the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms.

More adorable children.

This little guy was a hoot.  He was doing cartwheels and all sorts of other tricks for me.  As I'd take pictures he'd want to see them all.  It was priceless.

More of the school.  This is more typical of what the yard looked like - even during school.

Another project we worked on was digging and laying the foundation for a free-standing bathroom for the kindergarten and pre-k students.  (Those are their classrooms in the background.)  The tarp is covering the hole that was being dug for the well.  YouthLinc partners with a rotary clubs and they provided the money for this project.  The locals provided the manpower.  It was AWESOME!

Our dorms.

Nancy on a... llama?

THIS is where we washed out laundry.  I will never, ever whine about doing laundry.  The water was COLD and I hate starchy butt jeans.

Playing at the playground at La Albarata (the name of the school where we stayed).

Walking to the banos to take pictures showing how short the showers were here.

Yumm!  There are the sinks where we spat when brushing teeth and washed hands.

THESE are the lovely, state of the art showers we used. 

Okay, seriously... Nancy is the only one on her tippy toes.

Our room.  I think it had like 9 bunk beds.  It was a little like glorified girls camp here.

Merritt's and my Chaco tan lines.
Adorable children!

We loved to play games with them.  I think the favorites were Duck, Duck, Goose (pato, pato, gillina) and  Ring Around the Rosie.

Me and my little Victor.  He managed to steal the heart of just about every girl in our group.  He was so tender and could tell that he just wanted to be given attention and love.  I pray that someday I'm able to meet him again.

The reality is, I've been given so much... we've all been given so much. The odds are that you're reading this post on a laptop - not in an internet cafe, which means you have significantly more than the majority of the people in the world and all of the people I worked with in Mexico.  For that you have reason to be grateful.

Remember your blessings please.  Thank God that you've been given so much.  Look for ways to bless the lives of those around you, because you don't have to leave the country to make a difference. My experience allowed me to go elsewhere to love and serve and being among these children and their humble circumstances reminded me over and over that there is a God in Heaven.  He loves his children (whom we all are) and He wants us to come back to Him.  As I watched drunken men come stumbling into the school yard (which is essentially the city center) it became abundantly more clear to me that true happiness is found through the entirety of his Gospel.  I hope that someday when I meet my Heavenly Father again that I can account for the time I've been given with joy as I am able to see what I allowed him to make of me and my abilities to love and serve.

Do your best to make a difference for the better and do what you know to be right. :)

This is Brittish Knees signing out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Humor, irony... whatever. I call it life.

After my last post I didn't think I'd have anything funny to post for a while (a bit of a let down), then I went country dancing...

A few days ago (well... it was Wednesday, so two days ago) I went country dancing with some friends.  Country dancing is a funny thing; whether or not you dance seems to be feast or famine.  For whatever reason Wednesday was a feast.  I'd not danced with more than 4-5 guys when a young man asked me to dance and during the process of spinning me forgot to bring his elbow back in and my forehead met it... hard.  While the impact was hard, I was mostly just taken back and was able to laugh it off. Thus for a good two days I had the remainings of a goose egg in the middle of my forehead. 

When I got home, I wasn't so sure I was going to be able to sleep because of the headache (which had echoed down into my bone just below my right eye) I could feel developing.  So... I called up a friend who was still awake and we made a late night Macey's run for pain killers and a few groceries.  (Pain killers for me and groceries for him and his roommate.)

Oh... in case you're wondering.  I'm fine. No bruise, concussion, or even amnesia.  All in all, it was a good night.

Moral of the story:  forget keeping your eye on the ball... watch out for elbows.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Humor in the Morning

"Brittney... Brittney... You're date is at the door.  He's ready and everything!"

This is how my roommate woke me up this morning.  This week I was set up on two dates, both for today.  It never really occurred to me to check the AM/PM part of the time... (first mistake).  Thus when 8:30 this morning came and my date came-a-knocking, I was still in bed.

It played out something like this:

*Knock, knock, knock*
"Is Brittney here?"
"Yes, let me go get her."
"Brittney... Brittney.... You're date is here.  He's ready and everything!"
I halfway hear her my wonderful roommate and am terribly confused as to why my date is here at the wrong time then I realize... dun dun dun!:


I threw my covers off, started digging through my laundry basket of clean clothes and frantically said, "Tell him to give me five minutes!"

I more or less jumped out of my pjs and into jeans and a top, snatched some shoes, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, threw on a little eye liner and powder, and even sported the specks rather than contacts.Approximately 3 minutes later, guess who was ready?  Oh me.

It's probably a good thing this wasn't a first encounter for my date and I.  We've been friends for a few weeks now, and from what  he was forgiving.  We gallivanted off to breakfast and had a great time laughing about the whole thing.

Moral of the story:  Hilarious things happen in the mornings in our apartment.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

15ish Single Adults + Monday Night + Nearly Laughing to Tears = Successful FHE

Every Monday night in BV 10 looks approximately the same.  There are between 10-20 guys and girls squished onto couches, plopped on the floor or uncomfortable enduring hard chairs for Family Home Evening (affectionately known as FHE).  That's right, my calling in my new ward is FHE Mom.  It's been really fun thus far and this last Monday proved to be very exciting.

We have about eight apartments in our FHE group.  Several guys and several girls.  Surprise that there are WAY more girls that come than guys... the men who do come are brilliant!  The odds are completely in their favor.  Why the rest don't come.... I'll never know.

BV 5 (a guys apartment) took charge this week. (Oh how I love delegation!)  We sang a song, that only about half of the group knew - which was fun and had a prayer.  They shared a great thought from 3 Nephi 18 regarding how Satan is always trying to get us, regardless of what our position in the Church is.  We talked about how to overcome his temptations and "enticements".  Well done Men of 5!

We then were introduced to the Sock Game.  Don't let the name fool you, or really the description.  It's probably one of the funnest games I've played - at least since The Animal Game.  Now that I've got you all sorts of intrigued, I'll tell you how to play.  Everyone sits in a circle on the floor in a tight circle.  Legs are bent to about a 90 degree angle and hand/arms go under your legs.  (It gets a little squishy and I think I may have a bruised tailbone, but it was well worth it!)  Several socks are placed into a long tube sock (to make a sort of ball at the end) and tied off.

Here comes the fun part:  one person stands in the middle and as everyone on the floor is passing the sock through each others legs without being caught with it.  The person in the middle doesn't just have to know where the sock is, they have to get it from whoever has it.  Yup!  They get a little grabby and all personal space goes out the window as whoever is in the middle grabs behind legs in search of a sock.

Oh, could this game get any better??  YES!!!!  As per your discretion, the people in the circle can proceed to hit the person in the middle with the sock - you know... taunt them with what they are looking for.  (Sorta reminds me of dating... in a very Provo sort of way.  Hehe...)  The game proceeds in this manner until the person in the middle finds the sock.  Whoever they took it from is then in the middle.  The game continues until either everyone has a turn in the middle or you get tired of playing.

In the many rounds we played there were knees planted in toes and shins and arms under four sets of legs in either direction.  All in all it was a great night with lots of good "Mormon Fun".

For everyone in FHE groups 1 and 3, thanks for a great time!

Brittish Knees :-)