Thursday, December 24, 2009
I will always remember 2009 and the adventure of working together in a great effort which will affect so many people for good. It will be another adventure to see what the next challenge will be with this stake calling.
We will continue to count and report the numbers of names indexed through the end of the year. It will be great fun to see how far beyond the million we can get by December 31, 2009!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
It was an exciting day. For a change the mail actually came early...around 1:30 this afternoon. That made the last few hours at work pure torture and we made poor Bryan wait until we were home from work, so he felt tortured too. We promised him we'd be there by 6:00 p.m. and both Rob and I made it home with time to spare so it was just before 6:00 p.m. when he finally got to rip the envelope open the rest of the way (he had torn about 1" open and was trying to peek in when we got home.) Luckily, Larissa was there and kept him from opening it all the way before the official moment. Thank you, Larissa!
Here is a video clip of Elder Crouch opening and reading his letter:
So there you have it...Budapest, Hungary is the place Bryan will spend the next two years. He enters the MTC on March 10, 2010 and we are all very excited for him.
Let the next adventure begin!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Luckily, we got to have one more Japanese experience before we left. Ethan Shion Shumway was starring as the Tin Woodsman in the Kindergarten Play, The Wizard of Oz so we walked over to his school and watched the performance. Even without understanding the language it was an amazing show because all of those little six-year-olds spoke out their lines and acted their parts so well. It was cute! They had darling costumes and were so excited to perform for their parents and grandparents. I give the show five stars!
Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and Flying Monkeys
Bry and Kev slurping noodles before leaving Japan.
Cami in her fashionable hat Nana purchased for her.
I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry, paying bills, sending the indexing reports to all the Bishops, Stake Presidency and ward newsletter editors. Then I crashed and slept until noon on Sunday. It is nice to be back and now I'll try to get back into a routine, but I'm definitely a different person, traveling changes a person and gives us a different view of the world. I feel so blessed to have been able to make this journey.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
We had a full day (and I do mean a full 24 hour day) of travel as we left Gwanju, South Korea at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when we finally arrived in Tokyo. The ferry ride across the Yellow Sea was a blast. Our boat was called a “Beetle” and it was a hydrofoil, which means it rises up on blades and uses water jetting though the system to race across the top of the water. Our first difficulty of the day was when we arrived at customs in Fukuoka, Japan. Apparently they had not had any US citizens enter Japan this way and it really aroused suspicion about us. Since we also couldn’t answer the questions they were posing to us in Japanese (Kevin was trying to speak Korean, but no one understood that either), we were held up for quite awhile at customs while they located an English speaking agent to question us and finally stamp our passports and let us through into the country. That was a little nerve racking. Then we had to get ourselves to the rail station and trade our rail vouchers for the actual passes we would use while in the country. We figured out a bus schedule well enough to get on the right bus, but were anxious to not miss our stop and to become lost in Hakata. It was such a relief to get off that bus and find ourselves in the right place, but our relief turned to concern when we finally got our passes and then discovered there were no more trains to Tokyo that night and we could only get as far as Osaka.
We ended up finding a friendly rail worker in Osaka who took pity on us poor Americans and got us bus tickets to travel from Osaka to Tokyo. We phoned Mark and told him our plans and waited anxiously in the rain for our bus which departed at 11:50 p.m. When we finally were seated, we were so exhausted we fell into a stupor as this bus trundled us all through the night towards Tokyo. During the rainy night we would awake and listen to the names of the stops and try to guess how much closer we were to our destination.
I’ve always loved my brother, Mark, but I have to admit I’ve never been so happy to hear his voice as I was Wednesday morning as we wrestled our luggage off that bus and he said, “Can I help you?” I almost burst into tears of joy to turn around and see his sweet face. We put ourselves in his very capable hands and trusted in his skills of navigation and language and have had a fabulous time ever since.
The inside of Mark's & Nana's Apt. Bldg.
The outside view of their Apt. Bldg (Tokyo Towers)
After getting us to his apartment, we were shown to the spectacular guest lodging Nana had reserved for us. It was on the 26th floor of their building and had a spectacular view of the city and the huge river running through Tokyo. We freshened up and started to feel human again. Then Mark, Nana and Avery took us to the Imperial Palace and gardens and gave us a tour of that part of Tokyo. We ate a delicious Japanese lunch and dinner and enjoyed an evening with Eric, Ethan and Avery before calling it a day (what a day!) at about 8:00 p.m.
We needed the sleep because the next morning (Thursday) we took the train to Kyoto and had the most amazing day seeing many cultural and historical sights. Kyoto is truly a Japanese treasure! We rode taxis and walked all over the city having such an incredible day seeing Buddhist Temples, Shogun Palaces, Pagodas, Zen Gardens, Etc. The three hour train ride home that evening was even special for me because I was seated next to an American from San Francisco named Vivien and we became friends during that journey and I look forward to hearing from her by email so we can continue to become better acquainted.
Friday morning was another gorgeous day in Japan. The weather has been spectacular. It feels like September here instead of November and the leaves are so incredibly beautiful. I’ve collected several bright colored Japanese Maple, Ginko and Elm leaves that are just a sampling of the amazing fall colors showing here now. Our day in Kyoto was made even more memorable with the spectacular fall foliage at every place we visited. I kept thinking a tree couldn't be more beautiful than one I was looking at and then we would turn a corner and see an even more amazing combination of colors.
Friday Mark and Nana took us to several shopping districts in the city. Cami wanted us to bring her some true ‘Tokyo Street Fashion’ so they took us to Shibuya. It was like Broadway in Manhattan only more people and more shops and more crazy. Nana bought Cam the cutest hat and I found her a skirt. If she’ll add her own black tights, cute top, scarf and boots, she will look like a Tokyo Girl!
Mark took us to a special place in Shibuya for lunch where we had teriyaki eel for lunch. Then we walked through the sensory overload area known as Akihurba where every kind of digital, electronic, 'gadgety' item known to man can be found. We collected the boys after school and all of had a traditional dinner eating Sushi while seated on mats on the floor. I’ve had the California rolls before but this was my first experience eating the raw slices of mackerel, yellow tail, tuna, etc. The thing that really amazed me was watching three little boys eating all the raw fish, fish eggs and other things many adults, let alone children wouldn't even try.
Monday, November 23, 2009
A long day is ahead of us and I will try to attach photos and write all about it later or tomorrow or maybe after we get back. It seems like every day is too full to really give a sense of all the amazing adventures we are having and sights we are seeing.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Our next hotel did indeed make and KEEP the reservation Kevin made and had a room ready for us. What welcome news that was because it was the address we left with Korean Airlines to return the missing luggage. Sometime in the night after we were asleep, the phone rang and we were informed that the bag was here. First thing this morning Kevin went down and retrieved it for me from the front desk. Happy day!
So today, we are on our way out for more Korean adventures. We will walk downtown and take the subway system to visit some of Kevin's old mission areas. We found the Gwanju Stake Center yesterday and Kevin reminisced about attending church, bringing investigators, and spending P-Days playing ping pong there.
He says many things seem different and other things haven't changed at all. It is a strange feeling to come back to a place you've been away from for several years.
Tomorrow we will have to check out the hotel really early to catch the train to Pussan to catch the ferry to Fukuoka, Japan. So today is really our last day in Korea and we will try to make the most of today.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
A quaint rail station on our way to Daecheon
Kevin, Bryan and I made the long and arduous journey from Salt Lake International Airport to the Inchon International Airport as we flew through a day and a night and right through Bryan's 19th Birthday. Unfortunately, not all of our luggage made the voyage with us. My suitcase is sitting somewhere in this vast world where I'm not...I'm realizing what a material girl I am as I shower and put on the same clothes and don't have my toothbrush, hair gel, hair spray, makeup, etc. to prepare for the day.
The second setback came when we finally made our way through 3 subway transfers, a mad dash to make our reserved rail car, finally found a taxi driver who knew which hotel we were to stay at and finally upon arrival discovered that the hotel reservation didn't match up with anything at the Best Western Inn AND that they didn't have a single room available for the night. I for the first time in my life had an inkling of what Mary and Joseph must have felt as they were turned away in a strange place into a cold night without a room to stay in.
We pulled our remaining suitcases down the sidewalk and around the corner to another hotel and felt extremely blessed to find lodgings there. Thank goodness we didn't have to locate a stable, although a bed of straw may have been a little more comfortable than the rock-hard beds we slept on last night. But even with with the uncomfortable beds, the place was warm (too warm actually and how do you turn down the heat in here?) and there was bottled water in a little fridge (at only $2.00 per bottle on the provided list). Kevin went out this morning and bought us orange juice, fruit and crackers from a corner store so we had a little breakfast and now we are off on our next adventure.
As often as possible, I will post an update so those who know and care about us can keep track of where we are and what we are up to. Please also keep us in your prayers (I could use all the help possible so my suitcase will somehow find its way back to us.) Thanks!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Bryan and I got to spend Thanksgiving Day in the hospital. The next day Bryan weighed in at an even 10 pounds; I got a dozen metal staples removed from my belly; and Rob, Kevin and Dani came to take us home.
Nineteen things you might or might not know about Bryan:
1. He graduated from high school with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a 34 on his ACT
2. He earned a "full-ride" scholarship to every university in the state and several outside of Utah.
3. Bryan accepted the offer from the University of Utah and is majoring in Computer Science.
4. Bryan is anxiously awaiting a mission call!
5. He works for Weber School District Technical Support, setting up and maintaining the computers in every school in the district.
6. He doesn't like to shave, but will soon have to do it every single day!
7. Bryan is fearless when it comes to heights; he has rappelled down many cliffs and explored many canyons over the last few years.
8. He loves his own style of music...none of the rest of us can figure it out.
9. Bryan is very musical, he plays trumpet, baritone, bass and piano.
10. But he does not sing.
11. Bryan loves Larissa!
12. Bryan doesn't like football, basketball or baseball.
13. But he has a blue belt in karate.
14. Bryan has acted in two plays and played in four pit orchestras for musicals. He was also drum major for the marching band and played in symphonic and jazz bands.
15. Bryan is hilariously funny. If you want to laugh, spend a few minutes talking with him.
16. Bryan collects strange band shirts.
17. He is buying a footlocker to protect all of his band shirts and expensive electronics from the family during his mission.
18. Bry gets to tour part of South Korea and Japan over the next week and a half.
19. Bryan is very loyal to his friends and family.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Our map is waiting for any other guesses to be made over the next week or two while we wait. Post, email or call your guess to be pasted on the map.
As for our trip...we are less than three weeks from our departure date. Kevin has been working on booking our rail passes and lodging in Korea. Mark and Nana have reserved the guest lodging in their apartment building for us. My greatest worry at this point is that the mission call will come while we are away.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Along with that, Kevin, Bryan and I have just purchased our airline tickets to South Korea and Japan. We will be flying out of SLC on Nov. 20th, Bryan's Birthday. We will then fly for 16 hours and land at Inchon International Airport. We will spend two or three days touring Kevin's mission area of Dacheon and then we will ferry to Japan where we will take the bullet train to Tokyo. We get to spend four or five days with Mark, Nana and their adorable boys seeing some of the sites of the amazing country they now call home. We will fly back home from Tokyo, Japan on Nov. 28th.
Our passports have arrived, the tickets are purchased, the papers are nearly completed: we are poised on our mark...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Some things you should know about Cami:
1. She has a beautiful smile, she is the only one of the four kids who didn't have to wear braces to get those straight teeth.
2. Cami is very kind especially to animals, older people and those who are less fortunate in anyway. She has a soft heart.
3. Cami plays the violin and now has a desire to play the guitar. We are currently shopping for the perfect instrument.
4. Her math skills have usually left her frustrated, but this year she is doing very well in Geometry. Don't ask her to do Algebra though.
5. This sweet face can be contorted into the funniest and strangest face you've ever seen. Ask her to do the "Gloo" for you some time.
6. Camille LOVES new clothes. She says she wishes she could draw better because then she could be a fashion designer. She is the family's fashion advisor and won't let us out of the house if she doesn't approve of the outfit.
7. She also loves to dance. She has a natural ability and rhythm. She wants to be a Cougarette at BYU while she attends college there someday.
8. Camille has a sweet testimony of the Savior and the gospel. She loves to attend EFY, Firesides, and other events where she feels the spirit. She earned her Young Womanhood award two years ago just before her 14th birthday.
9. Cami has great communication skills, she writes beautifully and expresses herself well in both written and verbal means...as illustrated by her constant use of a cell phone, computer and her mouth.
Friday, October 2, 2009
As I was driving to work in the predawn, when the sky was opalescent pink and the western mountains only tipped with the very first ray of the sun, a flock of Canadian Geese took flight from a farmer's field. Their necks were stretched far forward and their strong wings beat in unity as they instantly moved into their 'V' formation.
God must find such joy in His amazing creations. I can only imagine how he must delight in the beauties of his designs. There are times when I see grace and form or hear music that stirs my soul when I desire to have even a particle of that creative ability to make something so beautiful it almost hurts to see or hear it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
As I drove home from work yesterday, I went past a ditch bank in Harrisville grown over with milkweed; their pods bursting open and fluffy seeds spilling out. It brought back such a rush of childhood memories. For several summers (from about 7-10 years old) my friends and I had a 'fort' in a canal with old elm trees hanging over it. Of course we had to endure the difficulty and inconvenience of having our fort uninhabitable whenever water was turned into that ditch and for a few muddy days after each irrigation turn. But when it was dry, that ditch was a fun place to hang out. One of the best things was the milkweeds that grew there. We discovered a multitude of uses for milkweed. At first, we just enjoyed those large pink/purple flowers of early summer, then we watched the tiny pods begin to develop. Then came the wonder of watching the stripped caterpillars climb into place leaving holes in the fuzzy leaves where they stopped to snack. The adventure of seeing them spin their cocoons where they hung down from the largest leaves and eventually the butterflies which emerged to sit and sip on the fading flowers. As the pods became larger they could be split into two sections and used as small cups to hold sand, pebbles, seeds, marbles, etc. Later in the summer the milkweed seeds were a blast to play with. Who needed bubbles when you had milkweed fluff to blow into the wind and watch them whisked in whatever direction the breeze would carry them. We made up stories about fairies and princesses since each seed looks like a little head and the downy part like a lacy ballgown. We would play at our make-believe games for hours. Another great thing about milkweed, is the gooey, white sap you find when you break the stock. We found this made the best glue. We pasted leaves together we brought paper and stuck up our drawings on the tree trunks and fence posts along the ditch. Would you ever believe that a common weed could bring out such discovery, creativity and imagination?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My Dad passed away on November 14, 2007. Perhaps its the very vivid memories of traveling back and forth between here and Arizona two years ago during my Father's illness and final months of life which makes me think about our Dads these days. I miss my Dad. I look at this photo of him every time I'm on the computer. It hangs above the clock at my desk. Fishing was his favorite activity. You can't see his face in this picture, but I'm sure he was smiling as he sat in this traquil setting and enjoyed his hobby of trout fishing in a mountain stream. My Dad was the hardest working man I've ever known. Luckily I remember him as the forceful and in-charge man that he was and not the one who lost his powerful strength to cancer. My Dad was a contractor. He built or worked on so many of the homes and businesses around town. Everyone knew him as a very capable and reliable carpenter. After his funeral, I was surprised at the number of people who told me about the beautiful work he had done on their homes.
These important men in my life are on the other side of the veil. I often wonder if they get together and visit about their common family still on this side. I like to think they team up to help us out when we need it. I could use a little 'Dad teamwork' tonight because I'm really missing them.