March 31, 2011

food for thought

“A mighty wind blew night and day,

it stole the oak trees leaves away.

Then snapped its boughs and pulled it’s bark

until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground

while other trees fell all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

How can you still be standing oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you

can break each branch of mine in two,

carry every leaf away,

shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth

growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them for you see

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today I wasn’t sure

of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

-Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

March 29, 2011

spring break 2011

Well I'm home! After weeks of looking forward to it and a much needed vacation, it came and went way to fast. Normally when I write in my journal, I write things like this day by day. So that is what I'm going to do because I don't want to forget anything! So brace yourself, it's gonna be a long one.

We left Salt Lake at around 6 to head down to St. George where we would be staying with some friends that night. We stopped in Provo to pick up Camille and then headed on our way. The drive was full of updates, laughs, and tons of singing and dancing along to old CD's. Oh how I love road trips! We got to St. George around 11:30 and met up with our friends. We had been sitting in the car all day so we all decided to go for a walk. We took glow sticks and went to this open area close by where we had a rap battle. The girls brought it home and we won (obviously). By the time we got back to the condo and started winding down, it was about 2 in the morning and we were planning on leaving St. George around 5 to make sure we had plenty of time to make it to our cruise. So I decided to just stay awake because sometimes if I sleep for a short amount of time I am more tired than if I don't sleep at all and being the driver, I needed to make sure I would be wide awake. So I stayed up and some people stayed up with me and we watched Up and then just had a giggle fest. It was great. Our friends were so hospitable and we are so grateful they allowed us to crash with them for a night! (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from this night... so mad at myself).

Left St. George at exactly 5 in the morning and headed to cali. Luckily things went very smoothly and we didn't get lost or have any problems and made it to the rainy port at about 10:30 California time. We were told the ship wouldn't start boarding until 12:30 so we were trying to figure out what to do, but amazingly a few cars of people who we would be spending the cruise with showed up at the same time we did. So we all just decided to go start the checking in process and actually got on the boat earlier than expected. It was pretty quick and easy and before I knew it there I was, finally aboard the Carnival Paradise.

We just hung out on the boat and explored for a while until our luggage arrived at our rooms. We got all ready and then had to go through a safety lesson. After that we bumped into some people in our group and just walked around the ship and hung out on the deck where there was a beautiful sunset.

Our dining time arrived which was at 8:15 so we headed to our dinning rooms. We had assigned tables so we made our way to the table we would be sitting at. We all kind of got split up but Rach and I were at a table together with some strangers. By this point I had been starting to feel a little sea sick. I had brought Dramamine but I didn't take it early enough and I had been going off of no sleep which I think played into it as well. I didn't really have an appetite and all dinner long I just wanted to go outside and get some fresh air. Apparently it was pretty clear I wasn't feeling very well because one of the cute old ladies at our table brought some sea sick wrist bands out of her purse and said, "here, I think you need these." She was such a sweetheart and I wore them all trip long, I have the tan lines to prove it. I never felt sea sick again. After dinner I just went straight to bed and had the best nights sleep of my life. This seemed to be what most people did because I think everyone was exhausted from traveling and everything so luckily I didn't miss out on too much.

This was our Catalina day. We woke up early and room serviced our breakfast (we definitely took full advantage of the 24 hour room service). The ship was anchored from 7:30 to 4:30 and we could go on and off the ship as we pleased between this time. We got off around 9:30 where we headed to a bike rental shop and rented some beach cruisers for the day. Rach and I got a tandem cause neither of us had ridden one before. Soooo much fun! Some other people in our group also rented golf carts, which were awesome for those super steep hills. It was so fun we just road our bikes around the island and saw the neat houses and gorgeous views. We also walked around the shops for a little and bought some tacos for lunch.

We got back on the ship around 3:30 and went to the pool on the deck for a little before we got ready for the evening. This night was formal night so we got a little dressed up and more fancy. We met our group at our "unofficial meeting spot" and we all went to the comedy show before dinner.

Tables got a little switched around for dinner and we ended up being at a different table. We were now with two other people from our group and this older couple named Patty and Don. They were a hoot I loved them so much. Patty always came bedazzled in glitter and sequins and Don didn't say as much, but when he did he was hilarious. After dinner we wanted to go see a show. We didn't really know what it was going to be like but it ended up being this like western dance performance. They sang all sorts of country songs and had dance numbers that went along with it. I can't say it was the best dancing/singing I have every seen, but it was pretty entertaining haha. After the show we decided we all wanted to go to the club that was on the ship. None of us had been before so we knew going into this trip that clubbin was a must. We brought our clubbin clothes and went to Club Rex. Such a great way to end the night!

This was our day in Ensanada, Mexico. We had all day here, the ship was docked from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. When we got off the ship our group sort of split in half and our half went to see the blowhole. Apparently it is a pretty popular tourist site. Water from the ocean crashes against these rocks and shoots up in the air. We managed to find a shuttle to take all of us to and back from it for a pretty cheap price. We had two hours there so we spent some time at the blowhole then walked around the flea market. I didn't really buy anything because I had gotten lots of stuff last time I was in Mexico, but my best purchase was my pineapple pina colada drink. We bargained the price way down and they even through in a free lei. What says spring break better than drinking out of a pineapple?! My arms were getting tired for carrying that heavy thing around, but it was worth it! We also went and got hair wraps and matching personalized bracelets from a man named Tom. We were cutting in close with our time limit so when the last person was done with their hair wrap we sprinted to the shuttle and made it just in time! The shuttle took us downtown where we just walked around and saw the sites. We ate some authentic mexican tacos (sooooo spicy) and I even paid in pesos. We got pictures on this donkey statue, met an adorable little boy named Jason, and tried some mexican candy which I have to say made me miss american candy.

When we got back on the boat it was probably about 5 and so we just went and lounged by the pool and hot tubbed before dinner. We had a lovely dinner with Patty and Don and then after was karaoke. I crossed off a lot of bucket list items this trip because this was another first for me and let me tell you, if wont be the last. Unfortunately my voice had been gone all week so singing wasn't exactly in the cards for me (not that I can sing anyways) but I definitely went up there with my girls and tried to sing as best I could and danced my heart out. Good thing we had some friends there to cheer us on because we had no idea what we were doing when we got up there to sing Fergalicious. Yes, Fergalicious... maybe next time we will have a better song choice. Oh well, at least we had heart! Quite a few people in our group did some songs so it was fun to watch and be loud for them. I filmed quite a few of them and thought about posting the performances, but I thought people might get upset with me for doing that so I refrained.

This was our day at sea where we just hung out on the boat. We laid out on the deck for a while and then Sadie and I finally did the water slide I had been waiting to do all trip long. It didn't disappoint. The weather started off nice and sunny, but then the clouds, wind, and cold came. To escape from it we went and used the sauna/steam room in the spa (free of course, I love cruises) to warm up. I have never felt so relaxed in my life.

We went to our last night of dinner where we joined in a congo line that went around the dinning place. We also said our goodbyes to Patty and Don who gave us their phone number and said to call them when we were in San Diego because that's where they were from. Man I miss them... I hate goodbyes. After dinner our group gathered together on the back deck of the boat and had a little jam sesh. One of the boys brought his guitar and another brought his harmonica and they just played and we sang songs. This lasted a good couple hours and was so much fun. When this ended some of us wanted to make one more stop at Club Rex so we went there for a little then just hung our for a while laughing and ordering room service.

The end of the cruise had arrived and we got off the boat that morning. So sad about it... at least spring break wasn't over yet!

We got off and waited around for everyone and then most of us who were on the cruise together all decided to go spend the day at Newport. It was only 20 minutes away and no one was ready to go home yet. When we got to Newport we found awesome parking then went to the beach. We played some ultimate frisbee, a game of football, went for a walk, laid in the sand and got swarmed by birds, got donuts from seaside and a frozen banana, and walked the boardwalk. It wasn't the warmest day at the beach, but it was sunny and nice and just a grand ole time!

We left Newport around 5:30 and headed for San Diego where we were staying with our friends family who we knew from Cedar City. He wasn't there because he was still in school, but his mom was nice enough to still let us stay. When we were on our way we got a little confused on the directions and thought we might have gone too far. We decided to pull off an exit and go ask someone. Well, It's a good thing we didn't go any further because apparently we were about 5 minutes from the border where supposedly things were really dangerous. EEK! That was close. We eventually made it to the house where our friends mom treated us like her own daughters. She had rooms all set up for us and then took us all out to dinner. She is the best.

We slept that morning to our hearts desire and it was fabulous. It was the first morning in a long time I didn't need to set an alarm for anything and it felt so good. I woke up and showered, then went downstairs to find that Heidi had cooked us breakfast and made some herbal tea. There was some lovely french music playing in the background and I literally felt like I was at a bed n' breakfast. Gosh I lover her. We got packed up, said our goodbyes, then got back on the road where we were heading for Cedar City.

We got to Cedar City around 11:30 that night and went and said hi to some friends who were playing basketball. It's always good to be back there. Then we made our way over to Cedar City's Club Rex where we were staying the night. We had a group of friends that lived in a house that they call Club Rex, it's even painted on the wall in the front room and everything. We saw the name Club Rex on the cruise and knew it wasn't a coincidence and they told us that is where they got their house name from haha. Anyways they were very nice and let us stay there that night.

Unfortunately a tragedy had occurred so we left Cedar City bright and early and headed for home. All my thoughts and prayers go out to the Barker and Smith family.

So there you have it! To make a long story short (HA! Too late) the trip was amazing. It was soooo much fun and just what I needed. I wish I could say I came home with more of a tan, but I came home with new friends and so many memories. Now it's back to reality... yikes!

March 20, 2011

All Aboard

Well, the countdown is almost over. I never thought this day would come.
Tomorrow is finally the day I set sail aboard the Carnival Paradise.
Such a great name for a cruise ship... Paradise :)


March 19, 2011

Luck of the Irish, DC concert, and fam hangouts

The past couple days have been super busy and a blast to say the least.

First of all, St. Patty's Day. I have never disliked this holiday, but for some reason I feel like I have always overlooked it and never really celebrated it. But that all changed this year and I have a new love for March 17.
I got to celebrate it by wearing my favorite color all day along with some funny accessories I found at Walmart.
I got to go to Gamma and witness a friend of mine get proposed to!! It was adorable and I am thrilled for them.
I got to do a fun activity with one of the fraternities that includes some of my very best guy friends who I love.
Then finally, I got to attend this amazing and well-planned St. Patty's Day party out in Draper that some friends were having. It included costumes, Irish name tags, lots of Irish/green food, dancing, plastic spoon fighting, boxing, drinking games (water of course), and musical performances.

Tonight I went to Highland's dance company concert.
As great as Highland was, I felt so weird and old being back at my high school. The only reason I ever go back is to see the dance co concerts.
I have to admit it made me a little emotional sitting in the audience remembering all the good times of performing and being in dance co... how I loved concert time and all the craziness that went along with it. Always was the highlight of the year for me.
I really was so impressed with the concert and thought the girls did an amazing job. It made me just want to dance all night long!

After the concert, I went to Brianna's house where we just hung out in her living room all night with her family.
We ate treats and laughed and just had the best time. Never a dull moment at their household.
I love nights like this were I get to be with people who may not be blood related, but who I consider to be family as well.
Definitely a friday night well spent.
Spring break is off to a great start and only going to get better.

2 days til cruise time!!!

March 14, 2011

Blog Makeover

I have to give a shout out and big THANK YOU to my dear friend kylee for making over my blog for me! Her blog is cute so I asked her if she would help me fix mine up a little bit. She went above and beyond and designed it and did everything for me. She's the sweetest. Thanks soooo much ky I love it!! (can't wait for you to teach me your ways)

March 12, 2011

sb '09

With spring break just around the corner, (9 days til cruise time!!) I can't help but think about where I was around this time 2 years ago.

I had the incredible opportunity to go on a humanitarian trip through SUU to Guaymas, Mexico. I went with one of my roommates and best friends, Rachel, along with 40 other students. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and it is something I think about often. This trip impacted me in more ways I could have ever imagined was probably the happiest I have ever felt. I have over 500 pictures from this trip so it was hard to narrow it down haha, but I tried my best. This is basically how the week went:

We left SUU on a Friday and drove to Flagstaff, Arizona where we stayed that night. We woke up bring and early on Saturday and drove allllll day long to Guaymas where we finally arrived that evening. We unpacked our stuff and the trailor of supplies, ate dinner at this DELICIOUS taco stand next to our hotel, then immediately put on our swimsuits and hopped in the pool. It felt great after 2 long days of driving. We were privileged to be serenaded as we swam and sat by the pool.

Here are all of the girls in our group on our first Sunday there about to go to church. We found a ward to go to that was all Spanish speaking. We thought we were just a little late and walked into sacrament as they were singing what we thought was the opening hymn. Little did we know it was actually the closing hymn and we just felt ridiculous because here was this huge group of people that walked in super late. We ended up just staying and waiting there for an hour until the next meeting started. Although I couldn't understand a word of anything that was being said, it was amazing how I felt the spirit just as strong.

After church, we took around bags of clothing donations to the more poor areas of Guaymas. This was one of my favorite things that we did. The clothes we had to offer were by no means nice clothes or in great condition, but these people didn't care. They were so humble and grateful to receive anything at all. The look on their faces to receive a new pair of shoes or a new shirt was unforgettable. It really made my appreciate everything I have and made me realize how much I take for granted. These people had very little and yet were still so happy. What a great example that was for me.

Later that night we got to just hang out and have a bon fire on the beach. It was fun to get to know everyone better who we would be spending the next week with.

The next morning we woke up and all got into different service groups where we would spend the morning. My group spent the morning doing the shopping for the rest of the week and other groups did a variety of other things. We met back at the hotel for lunch where a little war broke out of pushing people in the pool... those of us in the picture were the victims. After lunch our groups went back out to different service sites and my group went and handed out the rest of the clothing donations that we had.

The next morning, people were waking up early to do a sunrise hike and I decided to hop on board. It was an early morning and quite a painful hike up the mountain since we sort of invented our trail through the harsh terrain, but it was so worth it when we got to the top!

After the hike, we ate breakfast then split into groups again heading to different service sites. My group went to where we were building the house. The foundation was still being worked on so some of us went to a house nearby and worked on painting and building shelves. Some of the boys in our group also built a ramp for a man in a wheelchair.

The second half of the day was spent simply going around to neighborhoods and asking people we saw if they needed help with anything. One family asked us to help trim their trees, one asked us to rake leaves, and one asked us to knock down and dispose of this big cement structure. When we were working on knocking down the cement structure, neighborhood kids saw us and came right over and started helping us. The little boys grabbed shovels and the girls formed as assembly line to help us move the rocks. They were such sweet kids and so anxious to help.

The next morning I went with a group to the soup kitchen. We met the owner named Chewey who was probably one of the coolest guys I have ever met. Such a hoot. We spent the morning cleaning, setting up, and preparing for the people to come.

We got done pretty early so then we met up with another group who was working at a school. We played games with the kids and tried to help teach them english.

After lunch, we all went to the orphanage together where we had an ice cream party and dance party for the kids. They don't adopt out of this orphanage because they believe the orphanage can give them a better life than they would receive if adopted. These kids were adorable and we could tell it meant the world to them to have us come spend time with them.

We were a little behind on the house we were building because last minute before the trip the majority of the construction crew backed out of coming. So we spent the majority of the day working on the house. Unfortunately we didn't finish, but the man that was in charge went back a few weeks later and finished it. It was a long, hot day so as soon we got back to the hotel, Rach and I didn't even bother changing we just jumped right in the pool fully clothed.

Our last full day there was pretty low key. We went to the market and to the beach and just kind of hung out. It was bittersweet knowing this was my last full day in Mexico being with all this amazing people who I became very close with and serving the amazing people of Mexico.

Then the day arrived where we had to go home. Right before we crossed the border, we stopped at a taco stand to get our last taste of authentic Mexican mood. (Which, by the way, I think I like Americanized Mexican food better). Then we drove all day to the same hotel in Arizona we stayed at before, and arrived back in Cedar City the next afternoon.

Well there's Mexico for ya! Sorry this was such a long post, but I had just been looking through all the pictures and had been thinking a lot about this trip lately and felt the need to blog about it. I miss it every day. The people in Mexico were so kind with such sweet spirits. I went with the mindset of serving and doing so much for these people when in reality, they did so much more for me than I ever did for them. I couldn't be happier with the group I went with. I was able to go with one of my best friends and I also met some people I don't know if I would have met otherwise who I made lifelong friendships with. I am so grateful I was able to have this opportunity and hope to go back to Guaymas one day.