Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"is anyone nervous about teaching a 12 hour workshop on a topic you're not totally familiar with in another language?" [-mike anderson]

oh my goodness, yes!
but it has been a beautiful experience. absolutely beautiful.
first taller! May 17/18 Mayo, 2012
this was our first group: return missionaries (casi todos) who speak English.
Laura and I have just marveled at what an incredible group it was--such a tender mercy! They were perfect little angels. They listened, learned, participated, practiced, followed the schedule...did everything perfectly! They were sent from above so our first time teaching the taller could go as flawlessly as possible. 
this was our first spanish taller! 24/25 Mayo, 2012
i had a blasty blast! granted there is sooo much i need to learn, do, become, better, etc, but i had a super enjoyable experience. :) 
they were amazing. i'm excited to watch them go out and conquer the mundo!
this workshop is real, guys. it is absolutely drenched in the spirit and gospel principles. it invigorates and inspires participants to recognize and use their God-given talents to fulfill their potential and reach their goals. 
it's different than being a missionary. but it's reminding me of it a whoooole lot.
and i love it.
we're already seeing results; one boy went out for an interview two days after the workshop, and he got the job! he then proceeded to write a testimony of the effectiveness of the workshop to be forwarded to everyone who had been invited to the workshop the following week. and he sent us the sweetest email, too, to thank us.
we didn't do anything.
what a blessing to be a part of such an inspired program!
the church is true!
this guy...rodrigo rivera. es el MAXIMO (aka he's the man).
hot rod
and he's figured out REALLY QUICKLY just how to spoil us. 
we are getting along great. :)
cool story. 
when i first got to san diego, i was assigned to serve in an English ward for the first five months of my mission. don't get me wrong, i absolutely loooooved chula and had absolutely unforgettable experiences and met amazing people that changed/shaped my mission and life. 
however, that was a challenge for me in the spanish department.
so when i got changed to spanish, i felt super inadequate and behind. but heavenly father blessed me to be in the BEST branch on the planet! not only that, but also with an amazing district. one elder in particular helped me out a ton--elder callejas from el salvado. he was always happy, smiling, cracking jokes, serving people, and talking to everyone in the branch/on the streets...everywhere. he and his companion set such a good example for me to just forget myself and get to work!
my first sunday here in costa we get greeted by this adorable, way sweet man named hermano callejas. I smiled as laura asked him to repeat his unusual last name, remembering with gratitude this elder and that epoch of my mission. we met hermano callejas' family: wife and daughters. one of his daughters--after hours of talking and being together at an activity--eventually told me that her brother had served in san diego, too. "maybe you know him, elder callejas?" 
the world is so small. 
needless to say, there's an instabond with us. last week the callejas' invited us over to make pupusas! QUE RICAS!!!!!  
it's maza stuffed with freaking delicious carne and semi-spicy stuff (haha really descriptive, tawny).
then you cook em (not fry them! imagine that!), top em with repollo (kinda like cole slaw) and salsita and ya. provecho. suuuuper good.
speaking of food....
like... wow. 
no words come out of the mouth.
everything's so fresh and cheap! if you don't eat it RIGHT AWAY it'll echarse a perder...? go rotten. last week, i bought lettuce three times. ha ha, i just kept eating it so fast on/with everything and the remains were bad and the only option was to just get more. oh man. such a good problem.
one of my personal favorites: zucchini.
i saw this gorgeous striped beauty in the supermarket and almost bit into it right then. oookay.
this is chicken, onion, garlic, peppers, zucchini... oh man.
i'm pretty sure hermana mendoza tried to explain this fruit to me once. it tastes like creamy coconut with a hint of strawberry thrown in there. it's called guanabana.
after we arrived here that saturday at 5 am ha ha, we went to the feria--sorta like a farmer's market only 50 billion hundred times better--and i purchased this without really knowing what it was.
pretty sure i had a bite and then craaaaaaaved it all day every day that week until it was gone and i'm still craving it to this second. and i dream about it. no, seriously.
and i didn't even want to put it in a licuado. it's that good. i was afraid of mixing it with ANYTHING because i just want to taste IT. amazing.
so confused by the riconess of this watermelon, strawberry goodness in my cup right there.
we had a neat experience meeting a girl named iza in a moment when we needed each other. she came to the taller, helped us get to institute, and told us some stuff going on in her life. we just felt instantly close to her. she came to eat with us on friday night and we made her...
german pancakes. :)
except we don't have any pans so we just used these pots.
and guess what? 
um yeah. it worked WAY better! the pancakes were thick and fluffy and AMAZING and cooked freaking fast. it was bomb. she was pleased. and i was too, especially when she suggested we eat on the floor since we only have two chairs. done!
last weekend we went to heredura to do service, remember? that was on the Pacific ocean side of Costa rica.
well, this past saturday ivan took us to a little place called Cahuita, which is on the Caribbean ocean side of costa rica.
it's a famous national park where the trees grow toward the ocean.
so bomb. it was free admission.
no one was there.
as we walked through the jungle...
we passed perezosos (SLOTHS!) sleeping (of course) and
monkeys threw coconuts at us.
then we found a private. beachy. spot.
 and literally swam in the caribbean ocean for four hours.
oh, and it rained while we were swimming. 
:) bliss!
so that's what's been going on as of late. i hope you enjoy these fots. i love being here.
today rodrigo took us to a place named guapiles to organize our next taller. [listen, i recognize that i'm not the best videographer. the point is that this first video sorta captures the GORGEOUSNESS of the ruta on the way there. 
the second is rodrigo entertaining himself and us as we waited in traffic after a huge jungle tree collapsed on a car on the one-way highway because of the torrential tropical downpour. ha ha. classical music...he's just directing it, LOVING his life.
and we love him!]
pura vida.

Monday, May 21, 2012

¡costa riquísima!

remember how i said that the blessings from the lord have been flowing more rapidly than i could receive them?
how true that is.
in so few words, a little while after getting back from my mission, i thought i was going to explode with all the decisions i had to make. among the largest looming ones was that of an internship; it's a requirement to have a capstone experience asi for my major, but i wasn't feeling the opportunities i found in the utah valley area. i wanted to do something meaningful, something that would stretch me, and something with spanish. after some searching, emailing and calling, this literally fell into my lap. from above, i tell you! for sure no other option.
i am an intern for the church teaching the lds employment resource services workshop in costa rica for the summer.
for those of you who don't have a clue where that is, or who are thinking of puerto rico--which, in all probability, is most likely somewhere around 95-100% of you--it's the part in verde.
america. but central style.
i will admit, when i applied, my top three options were guadalajara, distrito federal, and puebla. aka mexico. i wanted to go to mexico. 
but when i eagerly ripped open my "call letter" (aka my acceptance letter) outside the kennedy center, i read, "you've been assigned to labor in...costa rica." costa rica?! 
i knew the lord has something else in mind. 
and i trust him.

feelin super blessed.
We had a faaaaabulous week of training up at church headquarters. 
first of all--what a HUGE blessing! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!! 
second of all--i love temple square. go temple square sisters. the spirit up there is unreal! walking around and passing building after building that has been dedicated for a spiritual cause just blew my mind. zion!
third of all--we are in such good hands; the ecclesiastical leaders and those who work for the church ROCK. sinceramente, i felt so inspired and spiritually fed all week long. THANK YOU mike, jeff, tim, michelle, wayne, gustavo, liz, and ron!
seventh--josh/jared are in lima, peru. taylor/abe are in puebla, mexico. and that leaves laura and me in costa. with matt. no, just kidding (i do love me some matt costa, though. what a guy).
and then we boarded a plane.
and then we got off a plane.
and then we were somehow in costa rica.
(and it really is the happiest country in the world. i don't know how one would go about defining, measuring or determining maximum happiness, but costa ricans are it.)
solely for your enjoyment. 
and when i say "little"/"small"/"tiny" in this clip i mean it in an endearing way, not that this is really a little place, because it's totally not. we're feeling super great and spacious-esque over here! and this is a furnished apartment--which is bomb. what on EARTH would i have done without a blender? surely i'd be dead.

on thursday we taught our FIRST TALLER!!! 
(just for knowing--taller is how you say workshop. chances are that i'm probably never going to actually go that far out of my way to call it a WORK-SHOP. way too hard. so it's a taller. se pronuncia thai-yer.) we spent the week calling ex-misioneros (aka rms. when i first heard that term on my mission it sounded bad...like they'd fallen away from the church or something. ha ha. no. exmisionero=rm.) (enough perenthesis ya?) (cool) and inviting them because this taller was taught in ENGLISH. which was weird but good for us. we'd prepared and practiced everything all week long in spanny, but it was perfect to get a grasp on the beast in one fell swoop in our native tongue.
by the way, i've never once in my life called spanish spanny before. i hope that never happens again. ever.
so wow, anyway, above is laura drawing a pie chart with datos on employment searching. 
it reminds me of real pie.
(i truly ate this during training week. in the church headquarters cafeteria. um ya.)
drawing my terrid coat of arms. i'm no artist!
laura is a master teacher. she has taught me soooo much and we've only just begun! i am amazed and grateful to be here with someone who is sooo wise beyond her years. she's incredible. i know that if i humble myself, ask for her help, and constantly try to follow her awesome teaching tactics, she won't have to drag me so much, we'll have the spirit to be with us and we'll be suuuper successful. :)
we had piña three nights in a row for dessert. it's becoming a norm! ha ha!

on saturday we went with the adultos solteros (ysa) to do a "service project" of picking up litter at Playa La Herradura, Las Tunas.
(oh, and then spend the rest of the day chilling at the beach.)
 great service project everyone!
laura serving. doing away with what strongly resembles but hopefully is not a human femer. um?
just a couple cangrejitos! (baby crabs)
fossil much? i thought it was beautiful!
so after the "service", i sat my grateful self on the rocky-ness to bask, loving life. a chavo named ivan joined us, then another named johnny. after chatting we got in the water with some other clowns, and didn't get out for about three hours. needless to say our faces got sunburnt. but we had a PARTY swimming out way far (very carefully, parents!) and then playing in the waves. 
de verdad, como un pez en el agua!
i feel so at home in the water!

then there was water por abajo y por arriba. 
it started raining and i almost started crying i was so happy. swimming in the ocean in the rain?! 
that's happiness.

we left a little while after, but this picture is my euphoria.
gotta happen.
do you see those villas? imagínense!
this was what our drive there was like.
through the jungle and over the river (full of crocodiles)... to the beach we go... 
ivan, our friend from the beach ayer, invited us to his house to eat gallo pinto--a traditional costa riquence plate. basically beans and rice. ha ha. but so different! 
(and ps. that sorta looks like huge chunks of butter on our platos. jamás! it's yuca! 
ivan and his adorrrrrrrrable grandma. who asked me to take a picture of her
this was after she cooked for us. what! what service.
they live up in the mountains outside of san jose.
beauuuuuutiful. so fake!
eating empanadas and licuados. not even knowing what to say.
costa ricans always say this--"pura vida!" it literally means "pure life." it's a greeting here, and i LOVE it. it's basically a hakuna matata typa phrase. 
costa ricans are soooo chill and easygoing. i love them. and i love their outlook on life.
so to all of you, i say pura vida. 
lets live the pura vida! 
it's oh, so good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"it looks like you've got bare feet on!"

so. much. to. say.

you know when you get inexplicably behind in your journal and tons of crap has happened and it's like this unbearably overwhelmingly annoyingly necessary thing for you to just go and sit barricaded for a few hours to do a killer catch up session? that's definitely how i'm feeling right about now. or how i've been feeling for months now. i was thinking that what i really needed was just a freaking place to put up a bunch of pictures that would summarize my life facilmente. then i learned that that's what instagram's all about. so i downloaded it. then i left the country without ever even opening the app or using it. whoops. we'll get to that part in a little while.

ah. i freaking don't even know where to start. i'll just go with it. a flood of words and pictures and quotes and thoughts and then i'll hopefully just be done and ya. 


well. believe it or not, i am alive. 
we can just summarize the past four months into complete insanity.
 honestly, sometimes when i really think how on earth i survived this semester, my only answer is by the grace of god. 
he was unbelievably good to me. the blessings flowed so freely i literally didn't have room to receive them. 

 i ended up working at carrabbas (i've alllllways wanted to be a waitress)--which i Loved, capital L. it was such an adventure!

i didn't do it on purpose. it just sorta happened. 
but...i also got a job at the mtc.
it was sooo fun to be able to wear a tag again and feel that beautiful connection to my mission. i was able to teach in the zone where i was as a missionary and the memories came rushing back. i seriously felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be there, to be associating with missionaries, for my mission, for the restoration of the gospel, for the Savior and His atonement, and these wonderfully willing missionaries preparing to go invite others to partake of the atonement by entering into the covenant of baptism. ah. it was so fulfilling!

but between both jobs and 18 credits, i nearly drowned.
the semester was beautiful, i loved my classes, had my brain capacity stretched, and did surprisingly well. 
i survived literally by the grace of god. 
i may not have eaten, slept, or had much of a social life the whole semester, but i was happy. like i said, the lord has blessed me abundantly. and he taught me a lot in the meantime.
i am happy! life is beautiful!

it is physically impossible that i could be more
proud of 
grateful for
he has been such a light, blessing and example to all of us. having him home is...wow. the best. there are few people in the world who know how to make me laugh like he does. and his perspective of life and the world and the gospel and everything has changed bastante. he's going to go so far in life! i can't wait to see all the things he accomplishes, the lives he touches and the changes he makes in the world. 
bro, i love you! 

spreading a little cheer de mexico. 
I gave my family these ponchos for christmas. 

bro sporting his christmas present!
he's a proud chilean. 
i'm a proud mexicana. 
we're getting along okay. :)

aaaaaaah two years coming:
reunion: CAFE WEST. oreo shake. late at night. this was accompanied with a long chat up at one of my favorite vistas by the provo temple listening to all sorts of beautiful tuneage and talking about life.

willy took us to ruth's chris. i guess he was saving up some gift cards for the past two years and we went as a reunited fam. beautiful. delicious. full.

all the cousins together at bro's homecoming! 

before bro left, i took him to Joe's. and we got piñas. and we cried. because we love each other. ha ha no it's because they're so rico they make you shed tears. 
so this was a celebration of reuniting! :)

my niece is freaking adorable.

sister adams had a birthday!!!!! 
happy birthday, sister! and thanks for the excuse to reunite!
(me, sis ploeg, sis adams, sis livingston, sis lee)

this is a funny story. 
for her bday, sister adams took herself shopping. she said she tried to "channel" me and bought a sheer white shirt and a black undershirt. that night at her surprise party, look what i showed up in!
and i guess that's what channeling is.
very accurate.

la, staish and i reunited at el azteca for our high school tradish of fried ice. this pic was taken for our beloved sister park who is KILLING it in the mission! we love you!


i've learned a lot about myself this last little while. 
 this explanation could be really long or really short... i'll go with the latter. basically, i'm way more careless than i thought. maybe irresponsible is a better word. i dunno. either way. the second classes ended, i peaced out to catch a flight (i actually left early. ha). a few nights before school ended i was feeling sad, so, naturally, i got online and found a plane ticket to my heaven. my parents were totally supportive (what could they have done though, really?) and let me fly like a free bird (pun). i was an adult and rented a car and just did whatevertheheck i wanted alllllll weekend long. i didn't plan a thing. all i knew was that i was going to go to a sealing on thursday morning of my dearest darlingest familia rosales--which was honestly one of the most beautiful, sacred things on the earth. and then the rest of the time? whatevertheheck i wnated. allllllll weekend long!
so happy.
haha. so leslie happened to be in town and we met up. then partied for a day. i took her to the battalion. oh yeah. get it.

that first night i slept on a yacht. 
we slept on a yacht. ha ha! it was RIDICULOUS. leslie has pictures of us eating pie and ice cream which i will snag from her. but this was our view when we woke up. 

then i ate breakfast...

no big.

and drove her to the airport. this is downtown. ahh!

sis kearsley. my soul sista.

i loved more than anything surprising my sisters. :)

the cuuuuuutest kids on planet earth! guido, diego and isabela.

i even got to spend time at my tios with my adorable cousins! so fun! we definitely don't get to see each other enough!
after i finished one of my finals (booo) i was OFF to visit people and love my life. 
i was seriously like a three year old.

one of my first stops was the familia salvador. 
i LOVE that family so much. my last night on the mission they asked us to not come back and i thought my heart would burst. but i felt the need to go visit them, and it was a beautiful little reunion. :) 
i have no doubt in my mind that they will come around. the Lord is aware of all of His children--especially such beautiful like Karen and Karla--and He wants them to be an eternal family. and there's NO other way than to accept the gospel, be baptized, be sealed as a family and perseverar hasta el fin.

my dearest papa de chile. making empanadas. :)

second family. 

oh, hermana solano! one of my favorite human beings on planet earth.
this sassy little lady totally made fun of my hat. ha ha ha.

on sunday, after relief society, hermana patterson announced that we were going to sing happy birthday to one of the hermanas. i looked around excitedly wondering whose bday it was. "...de la hermana christensen." what?
first of all, my bday was way far away.
and second of all, how did she know?
third of all, she went out of her way to bake a cake and all. sooooooo sweet!

i was blown away by the goodness of my hermanos all weekend. it's only been a few months since i left them, but i forget how giving and loving and open and FREE they are with everything and everyone. they are such examples to me and i hope someday to be as amazing, thoughtful, selfless and christlike as they are.

felicidades a mi amigo hermano chavez por cumplir UN ANO DE SER MIEMBRO!
congrats hermano chavez! it was recently his one year mark since his baptism. :)
that man... gave la hermana mendoza y yo suuuuuch grief. ha. but we love him so much and are so grateful for his faith, his love for the Lord, his willingness to repent, change, and follow the Savior. I can't WAIT for him to enter the temple and receive ever greater blessings y hacer convenios aun mas altos!

my trip to sd was soooo impromptu and sooo unplanned. anybody who went with me would've hated it. but.
it was perrrrrfect for me. 
lately that's been kinda getting me into trouble--being so...flying by the seat of my pants (whatever that means)--but asi soy! that's just how i am! and i'm just going to embrace it! not knowing where i was going to sleep or eat or do or anything made me feel soooo free. it was liberating and beautiful. 
i heart san diego
she taught me who i am and how to be reeeeally happy. 
and i have a feeling everytime i forget that, she'll be there, ready to re-teach me.


thank goodness for good, timeless, stable friends.
in my moment of need staish graciously organized an...event... that needed to happen. 

it was necessary.
my mom asked if it was mature--what we were doing--which it wasn't. but we did it anyway. it was amazing...watching so much of me and my life fade away into this little mass of reddishness. and ya, the end. we took time to review sad things that'd happened to us and then talked about the good things coming out way. we cried, laughed, hugged, had our childish/girly/whatever moment, and then that was that.

speaking of timeless friends...
mal and makena took me to los for my 23rd. 
i got there a little later than they did, but they'd ordered for me. 
hahaha. only your bestest friends know EXACTLY what you want. call it obesity or freaking awesome friends. it is what it is. and we'll always be that way. 

i sorta hate birthdays. well, not yours. i actually love celebrating other people's bdays, just not mine.
cadence and johnny (other timeless friends) captured me late at night and took me alllllllll around town. i. had. SOOO much fun! we went to winco, beto's, taco amigo, and who knows where else. they gave me great counsel, made me laugh real hard, and ended the day with a bang.
(and this picture is important because i'm actually eating something from beto's. i'm anti. but i took a bite.)

willy, the master planner, has been planning a cruise for...about two years now. ha. it was a reunion cruise. and it wasn't just the immediate but also the extended family. and it was SO FUN.

sunset in atlanta. stunning.

you know how i feel about the rain.
and the ocean.
so the two together?

todo artsy. 

oh yeah.

oreo dream. best.

accidental. but im' always loving them when they happen. every time.

my friends. 
the zebras.
hahaha. i had... quite the zebra-reminiscent tan lines. that's what happens to you when you spend 19 months in a pioneer dress. then you go on a bike ride and get a really weird burn on some parts of your body and not others. then your swim suit does you another one. next thing you know you're a freakin striped, red, awesome mess, and your sister is making fun of you hardcore. and you're making fun of yourself, too. and posing for pictures like this one.

homemade za joint.

i spent the major (ity) of my time with these clowns. 
loved my life.

mchaniff, our baller waiter dude. super on the ball. brought me a bday cake. 

for the beauty of the earth!

buseando en mexico. 

i was in heaven.
i love my gente!

we found a beach we could swim at the last little while of our stay and i darted on in. 
como un pez en el agua!

lovin my tortilla shirt!

my dear friend, michael j pratt, inspired me to read the bom in a short amount of time to get the story line better. 
i had a really beautiful experience reading this sacred book full of plain and precious truths and holy COW is it ever plain and precious! i was just blown away by the repeating message: 
it was sacred to me. i know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. there is no other option. I know that men will get closer to God and Jesus Christ by reading the book and obeying its precepts because i've lived and experienced it. so let's read it again and again, live it, be it, breathe it, and share it! the world needs so desperately what we have!

unreal beauty. full moon on the open ocean.

i loooooved running on the track around the ship. for some reason it empowered me. i got as close to a half marathon as i ever have before. yeeeah!

favorite past-time (besides swimming): frozen yogurt.

drinking from a freaking coconut. and then i went back later and the guy gutted it and gave me straight up fresh coconut. dreeeeeeeeeeeeam.

conversando while the sun was setting on the balcon.

so this deserves an explanation. 
colby, kaylynn and i tried to do a flash mob. for those of you who don't know what that is--shame on you. (just kidding, i just barely learned what it is, ha ha.) but google it. basically a bunch of people learn a dance and then come together in a crowded area and randomly start dancing. it is a completely genius idea. 
so when we found out that they were doing it on the cruise ship we went down with bells and swimming suits on. but! it turned out to be a complete fail. a huuuge fail. too many bodies too much commotion too little difference between dancing randoms and other drunk randoms standing around. so these pictures commemorate first, our anger, and second, our deepest disappointment.

so before bro took those pics he accidentally made a video and this is just so funny. kay and colb were NOT having it. and no one likes my dang nighty.  ha ha.

eventually, our time on the largest cruise ship in the world came to an end. 

this was the whole crew.
thank you gma and pa for everything! it was sooooo fun being one big clan on the seas!


we were all so happy to get back to baby tabstar.


"you cannot limit yourself by what you think is your capacity. we must allow the lord to expand our capacity...and he will."-elder zwick

"your love will be safe with me" -bon

“Every nation contains the center of its happiness within itself” (1967–1968, 5: 509).

this is seriously in the main body of one of my textbooks: "there are so many things that influence other things." wow. thank you. profound.

empathy: the ability to accurately infer the specific content of another person's thoughts and feelings (ickes, 1993, p. 588).


the other night i went longboarding down palisades late at night (one of my favoritest things to do on earth) and this guy walking his dog commented on my lack of shoes by saying, "it looks like you've got bare feet on!" isn't that a weird way of asking why i was barefoot? haha. i just laughed and rolled on to a new epoch of life.

and that's that. 
if you made it through this, the longest post on the planet, i congratulate you.
but i feel good. i feel like i unloaded and now it's out into the cyber universe and we can just move on and talk about other things. 
that'll be in another post though. 

so long!