Monday, December 8, 2014

THAT TIME I OPTED OUT OF STUDYING

That one time Kristin and Risa decided to bring this home with them...


...also happens to be the one time I opted out of studying for finals to join them.

Don't go thinking I'm a complete slacker though. I did manage to write a nutrition paper, make some taco seasoning, a batch of hummus, some banana muffins and deseed a pomegranate beforehand. That counts for something, right?

Anyways, this movie is one of those things that will forever remind me of the Philippines. That is also probably why I couldn't pass up the chance to watch it again. The first time I saw it was in Cebu with Arturo as we were trying to figure out how on earth we were going to get our new passports. The second time was just days after Robinson's, a mall in Tacloban reopened. For months Chris, one of our country directors, just wanted to go to the movies so when Robinson's opened back up that was exactly what we did. This memories associated with this movie go a lot deeper than that though. Just rewind with me a tiny bit and you'll see. 

I went to Cebu quite a few times over the summer. Arturo and I went twice to figure out passports, which could be, and should be, an entire series of post all on it's own. 


Exactly six weeks later I was in Cebu again, this time alone, but with my passport finally in hand. 


Little did I know that just one week later I would be on my way back, this time with, Stephen, Amber, and Ian, Dalyn, and Clark Carel.  No passport drama, just a day at the temple dedicated to making this family eternal. 


Thought my time in Cebu I felt guilt, but also acceptance. I felt frustration, but also achievement. I felt unsure, but hopeful. But more than anything in Cebu I felt inspiration and love. Cebu brought some of the most incredible experiences. While I was there I learned so much from the people around me, and the people I met while I was there. I developed a trust in myself that I didn't have before, and reaffirmed to me that God's hand really is in all things. Cebu was the trip I never intended to make, but the exact trip I needed each and every time. 

To me the reopening of Robinson's seemed to be a symbol of just how far Tacloban had come since Yolanda. Robinson's had everything. It was a place where people could get the things the need, such as groceries, clothes, or prescriptions. It was a place where they could get things they wanted such as construction materials for a project, or accessories for a phone. It was a place they could go to escape the struggles of everyday life; like at the arcade or the theatre. For at least seven months that wasn't available. The day Robinson's opened was a day of major accomplishment for Tacloban. 

Leave it to me to turn a night watching The Amazing Spiderman 2 with my roommates in to a trip down memory lane. Hopefully it doesn't bother you. If it does you probably stopped reading a long time ago. But for me having those memories to look back on is something that I will treasure forever, because some of those moments are what inspire me to be better each and every day. 

Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) Update: From what I've heard from people in Tacloban, everyone there was kept safe throughout the duration of the typhoon. Samar is another story, and I am still waiting to hear from people assessing damages there, but there is no doubt in my mind that because of Yolanda in 2013, more lives were spared when Ruby came knocking in 2014. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

YOLANDA AND RUBY.

Haiyan and Hagupit. For me there is one extreme difference. I don't remember hearing much about Haiyan until it had already made landfall. The damage was already done. I read every article, and watched every report. I talked to people that I knew in the Philippines to find out how Haiyan had effected their city. I wanted to be a part of every fundraiser, and every group that went over to help. I wanted to do something for the people that had done so much for me over the last year and a half. 

Hagupit has been almost exactly the same. I have watched every report and read every article, only this time I am getting updates from people in Tacloban. I am getting updates from my friends.


Over the summer these people became some of my closest friends. When I would have a bad day they would be right there cheering me up. They were the only people that never failed to bring a smile to my face. I watched them give when they had nothing to give. They are some of the most hardworking people I know. They made my experience in Tacloban. 

For the last three days I have talked to them as they've prepared for Hagupit to make landfall. I saw the Facebook post telling the members that the church in Tacloban were once again open for evacuation. They've told me of their fears for parents who were far away. I have worried as they have returned home to make sure they can get their family together before returning to the evacuation centers. 

Even amongst the fear they have been able to keep their spirits high. They have done their best to distract each other. After hearing the stories that followed Haiyan, I know that the chapels are the safest places they could possibly be.  My heart aches knowing that they have to go through this again. Heaven only knows that I would give anything to be there with them right now. I've never met a more faithful group of people and I am so very grateful for their examples in my life. I add my prayers and faith to theirs, that Hagupit with pass quickly and that they will be blessed with the safety and supplies they need to make it through. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NO SUCH THING AS A LONG DAY

Every Tuesday for the last 15 weeks my day has gone a just like this:

9 AM to 1:45 PM HELP Internship
2 PM to 10:20 PM - Shift @ Aspen

Usually the first thing people say is 
"Wow, that is such a long day."
Maybe it is, but to tell you the truth I love it that way.
I made it that way.  

There is something about 
BEING SURROUNDED BY GENUINELY GOOD PEOPLE.

There is something about 
PEOPLE YOU ENJOY BEING AROUND.

There is something about 
BEING NEEDED, BUT AT THE SAME TIME VALUED.

There is something about 
BEING ABLE TO HELP SOMEONE DO SOMETHING THEY CAN'T DO THEMSELVES.

When you can spend an entire day with people who build you up, make you laugh, and motivate you to be your best self then there is no such thing as a long day. If anything it is way to short. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

If there is one thing that I could tell every person I come in contact with it is this:

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.

I've been on both sides. The side where you have absolutely no idea what you want to do with your life, and the other side where you are so passionate about something that it is all you want to do. At times I thought I wanted to be a nurse, a photographer, or even an ultrasonographer. I got certifications that would allow me to work in the medical field. I took classes; so many in fact that I was one class away from applying for the nursing program. I worked, and still do work in the medical field. I love it, and for so long I thought it was my passion. I started college with a medical mind, switched out of it for two years and took other classes to explore other options. Where did I end up after that? Right back on the medical track. For three years thats where I stayed. I liked what I was learning, but that passion for it just wasn't there. That's when I decided that I needed to take some time away from school to figure out what I wanted to do. 

Taking time off of school was both the greatest and more difficult things I could have done.During those two years I didn't take any classes. I didn't go on a mission. I was constantly worrying that people thought I was wasting my time. I as 25, had been working on my bachelors since I graduated with my associates at 18, and had absolutely nothing to show for it, or so I thought. Whether I liked the job I had at the time or not, I worked to earn money. Because I wasn't in school often times held two, sometimes three jobs, just to make sure I wasn't wasting my time. Much to my surprise it wasn't the work experience that led me to something I was passionate. My work experience led me to a bunch of things I realized that I wouldn't want to do forever. It was my free time that made the biggest led me to where I wanted to go. In my free time I would immerse myself in things that made me feel like I was making a difference. I didn't do it thinking that it would turn into anything special, or in hopes that it would give me experience in the field. I honestly didn't even know the field existed. I did it because I loved it. I did it because, paid or not, it was something that I was passionate about.  

I'm now back in school, and yesterday in my speech com class we watched a speech online that was given by a man named Patrick Combs. I had never heard of him before that, but I swear he used my life as an example when putting the material together. I know what it's like to do something with no passion. To do something because it's "just a degree." Don't settle for something you don't love though. And don't be afraid to take some time to figure it out. The trick is to never stop learning. Never stop learning about the world around you, and never stop learning about yourself.

"The only way you do great work is if you love what you do." 
STEVE JOBS


HIGHLIGHTS

"You don't have to be a celebrity to live your passion." 

"Don't let fear stop you from doing what you really want to do. "

"Fear threatens to hold you back from what you are really good at."

"It does take courage for you to go for that think that you actually want love to be. That thing that makes you come alive. That thing you do for fun. That thing that would really start to put the pieces of your dream life in to place."

"The bizarre thing about college is that they only advertise about five jobs. They always publish the entry level salary."

"You have to manufacture and create your dream job."

"What if your dream job, maybe a job you haven't even discovered yet, pays decent." 

"Maybe the money will take care itself if you follow your passion."

"If you're great at what you do you are rewarded handsomely for it. If your good at what you do you are probably going to get laid off soon."

"I'm hoping that you don't go in to something that you feel mediocre about because you'll be mediocre at it. I'm hoping that you do into something that you feel excited and great about because then you'll be excited and great at it."

"It doesn't matter where you go to college. It's not your grades. It's what you do in college." 

"Learn to work with your mind."

"The most important homework you are ever going to do is never going to be assigned."

THE UNASSIGNED HOMEWORK
1. Do three internships.
2. Run a student organization.
3. Study abroad.
4. Join 1-3 professional associations in your field.
5. Get a mentor.

"The unassigned homework makes the difference."

"If you can do in college what it takes to be standing at the end of the game you will be ahead of 99% of every one else."

"This university experience is not designed to teach you about your career."

"You just don't know what you don't know, but somebody else does."

"48% of graduating high school seniors reported they wanted to go overseas in college. 1% actually go."

"You do not have to know how to get to your dream job. Nobody who is starting off to go towards their dream job knows how to get to their dream job. Your responsibility should you want a passionate life, is to just be committed to a passionate life. And when you think you've spotted a job that you might like to have just start taking steps in that direction without knowing how it is going to come true." 

"When you are bold mighty forces come to your rescue."

"When you engage with your passion, your passion knows how to get you there."

"Is this who you truly are? Does this make you come alive? If not, say no."

Take a risk. 

"Fear is the only thing that can stop a person from reaching their dreams."
PAULE COELHO

Decide it is time to attack that fear.

"I did not know I loved the water for 36 years of my life. That is what fear will do. Fear will kill you over and over again."

"Your fears lie to you all the time to keep you small. When you dare to live your dream job you acer going to feel that."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

OH HEY PALEO. IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU.

I'm not one to get stressed out often, but I will tell you what, on days like yesterday I am so grateful for my mom. School I'm good with. Work I'm good with. Interning I'm good with. Major diet changes...those I'm not so good with. Ever since I got back from the Philippines I've been trying to eat a little healthier. I switched to whole grain bread. I didn't buy anything that had high amounts of sugar in them. As a matter of fact the only thing I did buy that had some sugar in it was granola bars. Granted, I'd let myself slide when I was out with friends or things like that, but compared to pre-Philippines I was doing a million times better. Then this happened.


One day. That was about how much I was losing in one day. It got to the point where I was afraid to wash my hair because that is when I would loose the most. I would wear my hair up in an extremely loose side pony so that I wouldn't have to worry about it falling out throughout the day. I had already cut back on blow drying and straightening my hair, but at that point I just quit all together. Nothing helped. 

I told a few people that I am close to. Usually their first reaction was stress. My schedule was crazy busy, but I really liked it that way. School wasn't getting to me. Work wasn't getting to me. My internship wasn't getting to me. In fact I loved it all; classes, my patients, the people in the office I intern with. Other than the fact that I was terrified of being bald in two months, I could only think of one thing that stressed me out. Even that I was only having to deal with a couple times a week. The only other thing I could think of was that it was a delayed reaction from dengue. The more I looked into it the lease likely it seemed that dengue was the problem.

At that point I decided to go in to the doctor to get my blood tested. When the test came back it showed that I had hypothyroidism. I got put on a thyroid medication and all I knew was that I would have to go back in six weeks. Naturally the first thing I did was jump online to figure out what it was. The symptoms made sense, but the causes didn't sense at all. 

I still don't know what caused it, but I do know that there is something in all sorts of foods that makes it worse. Goitrogens. I won't bore you with the list, but I knew that if I wanted to stay on top of it I was going to have to completely revamp my pantry. Paleo websites became my new best friend. Looking at the recipes I was going to have to modify them somewhat, but I found quite a few that looked good. I even found some cupcakes :) So yesterday after looking up enough recipes to get me through the next couple days my ever-so-patient mother went with me to restock my pantry. Overwhelmed is the only word that comes to mind when I think of how that experience was. My mom definitely made it a million times better though. 

So here's to a new lifestyle. It's not going to be easy, but if this past year has taught me anything it is that these are the times when I really get to learn, and I am so grateful that a loving Heavenly Father that knows what I am capable of. I'm still the same me. I'm still loving school. I'm still loving work. I'm still loving my internship. I have great friends, and and incredible family. What more could I possibly ask for? :)

PS. I apologize in advance if this blog all of a sudden has a million recipes on it.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE CURLY-HAIRED MAN IN THE CENTER

This curly-haired man, 
front and center; 
that is 
MY DAD.


I owe so much of who I am today to him. Growing up my dad gave me the type of childhood that I hope to give my children one day. He was always outside with us, playing night games or helping us figure out how to build a treehouse. I have no doubt that my love of exploring new things came from the many times he took us kids down the street to explore all the new homes that were going in. It's been years since I've done any of those things with my dad, but the appreciation I have for my dad now worth more to me now than most anything else. In no particular order here are some of the:

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY DAD

1. He is my partner in all things "Hunger Games." 


This one all started the end of 2010. If you want to know the story head over here, but the condensed version is that I got really in to reading "The Hunger Games" about two years before the movie came out; so much that it made my dad want to start reading it. One thing you need to know about my dad is that he absolutely HATES going to the movies. He'd much rather wait for the movie to come to Redbox and watch it from home. Never ever has my dad suggested going to the movies. He also works early, which means he is usually in bed early. So when my dad came up to me and told me he wanted to go to the midnight showing when the first one came out I was ecstatic. We did it for the first one. We did it for the second one, and you'd better believe we'll be seeing the next two.  

2. He puts other's wants in front of his own.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen my dad set aside his dislike of something because it meant a lot to someone in my family. That kind of selfless support is something that has shaped me a lot in the way that I am with my friends and family. He taught me that in relationships, whether it be with family or someone you're close to, that at times you are going to have to do things out of love even if it's not something all that exciting to you. He taught me to put people before wants. 

 

3. If I get caught in a pickle he will drop everything to help me.
I am notorious for locking my keys in my car. My car is also notorious for having things go wrong everyone in a while. I just moved a bunch of rather large furniture into my apartment. My dad has been there with my keys, some tools,  or as an extra set of hands every single time. I even called him on Tuesday after I got off work (it was late) and the first thing my dad said was "What's wrong?" Nothing was wrong, but I know that if something had been, then he would have been at my front door in a heartbeat to help me. 

4. He is a problem solver.
A couple months ago as I was moving in to my old apartment my roommates and I could not figure out how to get one of the couches downstairs. The doorframe we had to squeeze it through seemed smaller than the couch in every direction we could think of. I finally decided to call my dad, hoping that by taking off the screen door in the basement that we could take it in that way. My dad showed up, and realized that taking the door off wasn't an option, but just by looking at the couch he realized that if we opened up the recliner and turned it in a specific direction that we could shorten one of the lengths, making it possible to take it down the stairs. All he has to do is look at something and he's got it figured out. 

5. He is a handyman.
For as long as I can remember my dad has been able to fix just about anything. Or if he sees something he likes he can figure out not just how to build it, but how to build it better. Plumbing, electrical, installing flooring, framing, putting up sheetrock, painting and texturing. Rarely have I seen my parents pay anyone to do any kind of remodeling. My dad has always know exactly what to do, and if he doesn't then he'll look it up and find the answers until he does.  

6. His love of the outdoors.  
My dad has always been a mountain biker, a backpacker, a hiker, a camper and a fisher. He would always take us on rides up in the mountains growing up, or when we would have ward activities up the canyons we would go wander off on some trail. I always loved when he would come home and we'd get to hear stories from his fifty-mile hikes and winter camping with the scouts. 


7. The things he teaches me. 
My dad is constantly teaching me new things. Last christmas break he let my sister and I in to his world and taught us about woodworking. This summer I needed to know what knots would work the best for putting up a temporary shelter and he taught me exactly what I needed to do from thousands of miles away. The lessons that have meant the most to me though have been about different aspects of the gospel. He's taught me how to strengthen my faith when I've needed it the most.


8. Nobody worries about me more than he does. 
With all the time Taylor and I have spent abroad the last couple years, I am positive that we have unintentionally caused my dad quite a few sleepless nights. He is always so good about letting us do the things we love, even if it means we are in places he's never been to. When I got sick my dad was the person who checked up on me the most, and when Taylor came home early I remember my dad pacing around the airport as we waited for him, just wanting to see that Taylor was ok. My dad is the most caring people I know, especially when it comes to his kids. 


9. The advice he gives. 
School, friends, church, work, life. For the most part I am able to handle the ups and downs of it all pretty well. It takes a lot to really shake me, but every once in a while it happens and my dad always knows just what to say. One of the moments I look back on quite a bit was right after Kaesi got married. It was just my dad, Kaesi and I out on the back porch and my dad gave my sister some marriage advice that was so sincere and so from the heart. I will never ever forget that or the many other times that my dad has been there to guide me along.

10. His example. 
In all things church related my dad has been a huge example to me. He's taught me how to persevere when I don't feel like I'm getting answers, or when I struggle to read the scriptures. He's taught me what it means to magnify a calling, and how to really care for the people around me. He has showed me what it means to honor the priesthood and to always go the extra mile. He's showed me how to be simply by being himself. 


Friday, October 10, 2014

THE ELK AND THE SCALPEL

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around me can probably tell you that I love being spontaneous. There is something about going in to something with no plan, being able to hope for the best, working your way through the unexpected, and being able to so something you never could have planned that is just so exhilarating.  

I can tell you right now that the last thing I thought I would be doing tonight was learning how to skin an elk's head with five little girls, 2 younger boys, and two of my closest friends. 


Cole has been a rancher for life. I have risen horses. Kelly grew up around with farms and such all around her, but I'm pretty positive she has never had to skin any animals head. Yet here we were in Cole's backyard, his nieces and nephews all around. They had all just finished hauling hay when Kelly and I got there. Then, out of nowhere this happened (WARNING: If you have a weak stomach I   would probably skip the video).

video


I have to admit, that after taking anatomy I found the whole thing to be extremely fascinating. Do I ever want to skin and elk's head on my own? Yeah, not really. Next time Cole skins one do I even want to be there? If his nieces and nephews are there I will happily sit back and watch their commentary for hours. The things they had to say had Kell and I in hysterics the entire time. 

Had you told me when I woke up yesterday morning that I would end my day like that, I would have looked at you in complete shock. "Seriously?" As gross and gruesome as it was though, I really did love it. I loved being able to watch Cole do something he is passionate about. I loved learning all about elk. I loved being able to hang out with his incredible family. I loved spending time talking to Mama Ras, and just catching up with my friends. I loved the conversations Kell and I had in the car, and I love that I can add something new to my list of firsts. Life throws some rather unique opportunities at you sometimes. My advice: Take them :)


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Chatterbox in the Convent

The first half of my senior year in high school I decided to take a CNA class. Up until that point all I ever wanted to be was a nurse, so I figured I might as well take that first step and get some experience under my belt. By January 2007 I had my CNA certification. Although I didn't end up going on to be a nurse, working with my CNA has been such an incredible opportunity. I've been able to work in an Alzheimer's unit, as a Health Counselor, in long-term care, short-term care. The area I have spent the most time in has been transitional rehabilitation; in other words, post-surgical rehab.

I'd be lying if I said that the work was always easy, and that I have loved every second of it, but for the most part I really have been able to enjoy it. Working in transitional rehab has given me the chance to meet so many different people in a wide variety of ages. We've had people as young as 26, and as old as 103. Sometimes they stay for three days, and sometimes they stay for 3 months. That's where the love of my job comes in. For most of these people they have never had to be completely dependent on someone else's care. As a CNA I get to know people on a level that most people will never come in to contact with in the workplace. The fact that they are living in this new place, away from home stirs up a lot of uncommon emotions in these people, and sometimes all they need is someone to talk too. Their stories are so different from one another, and having the opportunity to listen to their backgrounds, and the lessons they've learned throughout all of their different experiences has been so neat for me. That is why I love doing what I do.

For instance, earlier this week I was in talking to a lady that has been with us a couple of times after different surgeries. The first time it was her right knee, the next her back, and this time her left knee. I  was working there when she had her first knee done, but not for her back. She came back a few weeks ago after having her second knee done and remembered exactly who I was. There is nothing work related that I love more than having return patients. It's bittersweet because you hate to have to see them go through another surgery, but the connection that comes when the patient comes back for a second time is like running in to a best friend that you haven't seen in years. That is exactly how it was with this lady.

For the sake of this story we will call her Maria, and Maria loves to talk. We talk about Africa. We talk about the Philippines. We talk about the adorable little lady down that hall that everyone loves. Well this time as I was getting her all settled in to bed she wanted to know about my relationship status. The next thing I know we are talking about the time Maria, a very devoted Catholic, decided to join the convent. Understand that this lady and her chatterbox ways also happens to be a little rebellious at times, hence the reason we are calling her Maria. My mind immediately went to "The Sound of Music."


I love learning about other peoples beliefs, and the way other cultures and religions do things. For instance, did you know that the Roman Catholic convents worldwide house over 800,000 nuns and sisters? Did you know that the two are different? Or that the clothing they wear is called a "habit"? Did you know that before they have taken their vows they wear white and after they wear black, unless they are Missionaries of Charity, then they wear blue. I also learned, although this could have just been in Maria's specific convent, that while there they are only allowed to talk during two specific time frames a day and that they are usually no longer than an hour. I learned that when leaving the convent you are not allowed to tell any of the other women that you are leaving. No goodbyes, you just simply have to disappear. I learned that they attend  college at a typical collage with everyday people. I learned that there is so much more to their devotion than I ever realized.

Maria went on to tell me all sorts of things about her life outside of the convent; how she met her husband and what their life was like together. Those are the moments that make me love what I do; the moments that I get to hear the stories of others. Am I going to be a CNA forever? No. But it is something that I will cherish each day that I am.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The "Otherness" in the People

The day I was to have my blog topic picked I texted some of my closest friends one question.
"If you could pick the subject for my blog, what are a couple of things that you would reading about from my perspective?"
The responses I got back were so descriptive of me, and I loved being able to see just how well people knew me. Some people wanted to hear about traveling and the outdoors. Others wanted to hear about service and humanitarian work. I had friends who simply wanted to hear about my job, or what life was like outside of the United States. There were two responses that really stuck out to me though.
"You are good at understanding "otherness" in people. You see people as they are and, whether or not you share a lot in common, you always try to understand them. It doesn't mean you have to embrace contrary ideas; it just means you seek to gain greater understanding. A blog about oneself is sort of interesting. A blog that generously observes others might be even better." 
"You soak in people's individuality and when you write about them those characters come to life and the audience connects with them. I think your blog could be just day to day life and ironic interactions with people that display the diversity and uniqueness of people in a way that makes others appreciate differences." 
The responses these two men gave were both exactly what I wanted to write about and incredible compliments. I remember loving the idea from the very beginning, but somehow in the mix of everything I'd forgotten. The story aspect was still there, but the "otherness" and diversity factors  were replaced with good deeds instead. Now, I don't know if I am allowed to do this part way through the semester, but I am going to do it anyways. I'm going to change my blog to the idea I fell in love with originally. I'm going to make this a blog about differences and my everyday interactions with people.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Man at the Door

Am I the only one that feels like some people are just blessed with the natural ability to go out of their way for other people? It's like they don't even have to think about helping others, yet they are constantly doing it. That is the kind of person I want to be. Now, I don't know this next man that I am going to tell you about; not in the slightest. I have only ever observed him in passing and it was only one time, but as I caught a glimpse of what it was he was doing I was convinced that he fell in to this exact category of selflessness.

It was a Friday, which meant I had a nice two-hour break in between classes. More often than not a break from class meant homework in the library, which was true for this particular day too. My next class was going to start in 15 minutes, so I packed up my things, logged off one of the many university computers and began to walk to my next class. It wasn't long before I had neared the outdoor stairs I would have to take to get to the building I needed to be in. That's when I noticed someone standing at an open door by right next to the staircase. 

People were leaving the building one after another, and at the door was a man holding it open for every single one of them. I myself probably watched 20 people exit through the door he had in his hand before the rush of people disappeared. At that point I just thought he would let the door slip from his hands so that he could get to where he needed to be. I was wrong. Even with no one coming through the door, he stood there and waiting, with the door still in his hands, for the next group of people that he couldn't even see yet. 


I don't know how long he held the door like that, or how many people went through. It was something so simple and even though I didn't actually go through the door I want to thank him for the example he was to me.  Like I said, I don't know who this man is but surely someone in this world of Facebook knows him. The picture doesn't give much to work with and I know that chances of finding him are slim, but how neat would it be if we could find him, even if it is just to say "thank you."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Disconnect in the Mountains

Do you know what I love about the mountains? Being able to actually get away. There is no cell phone service, no Wi-Fi, no homework.  Sometimes you know the trail, and other times you have no idea what to expect. Sometimes there are other people along the way, and sometimes you are in complete solitude. It's adventurous. It's peaceful. It's a time to reflect and to learn all at the same time. 

This past weekend I went backpacking up in Idaho on a trail I'd heard about for the first time just two weeks ago. We all knew what the plan was; it was to get to the lower lake where we could set up camp. We were able to do just that, but it required something of us to get there. This backpacking trip got me thinking a lot about the journey. It had me thinking about the goals we set, the focus we keep along the way there, and how we have to push ourselves to do more when we've accomplished what we set out to do. 

Anyone who has hiked before knows that hiking on a trail is typically a lot more work than walking down the sidewalk. There is something about the journey along a trail and accomplishing something in the end that makes you push yourself a little harder than you would otherwise. Hiking a trail can mean mean mud. It can mean carrying a lot of weight. It can mean steep elevation gain. But it also doesn't matter. When you allow yourself to forget those things and take in everything around you then you will find ways around the mud, and you will make it up the steep trails. And guess what? It won't even seem that difficult. 


Lower Palisades Lake was situated right in between two mountains. It had a creek running into it on one side and one running out on the other. It was surrounded by trees, home to a few moose, and contained the perfect spot to set up camp in an area overlooking the whole thing. We spent that night enjoying everything about that place. We explored as we gathered firewood and water. We made a fire and shared stories until the stars freckled the sky. We accomplished what we had set out to do and nobody was going to object to making that home for the next couple days. 

 

The next day was the day we were going to leave camp at the lower lake and hike three more miles to Upper Palisades Lake. That portion of the hike seemed to be more strenuous that the portion from the day before, but the upper lake was beyond worth it. The lake was almost a Caribbean blue in parts, and it had a trail that ran all along it's northeastern side. It had beaches, in some parts and rocks to climb around on in others. It had fish and crystal clear water. It was incredible. 




Why do I tell you all of this? Because there is a lot to be learned from the everyday if we just take time to think about it. The journey to the destination, the time spent at the destination and pushing ourselves to go further into something we never would have pushed ourselves to do before is something that has helped me a lot this year. That's probably why it keeps popping up in my life so much. So set a goal, enjoy the journey, and don't stop once you've accomplished what you set out to do. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Idahoan in Tacloban

THE PEOPLE

I want you to meet someone that I absolutely adore. This woman right here, her name is Beth Moore and she is one of the most hardworking, passionate people I have ever met.


I will tell you more about her and her story in just a second, but before I can do that I need to introduce one other person.


The guy in the foreground talking to Beth, that is Arturo. He is the Executive Director of an organization called HELP International, but he is more than that. He is an incredible person and a mentor that has taught me so much about life and other people in both word and example. 

THE STORY

Last April Arturo and I flew out to Tacloban, Philippines to prepare the country for HELP International's Crisis Team that would be arriving about a month later. Arturo had never been to the Philippines before, and although I had been to the Philippines before, Tacloban was never one of the places I'd ventured to. We knew what we needed to accomplish and that we could do it, but what we didn't know was a single soul or what to expect when we did arrive. 
And then we met Beth. She was heaven sent, and this is her story. Last December Beth had spent some time on a cruise in Asia. When that was done her plan was to go to Cambodia, but she had one rather large problem. She was having trouble getting her visa. After a few failed attempts to get it sorted out she decided that maybe that wasn't where she was supposed to go.  

Just a month before Cambodia fell through Super Typhoon Yolanda had devastated the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. The devastation was unlike anything else, and people and organizations from all over the world went out to help. Beth decided that Tacloban was where she wanted to be. She wanted to help.



Why do I tell you this? Because what Beth did for the people of Tacloban in the six months she was there helped to restore hope in so many people. She built houses for people who no longer had them, gave loans to businessmen and woman who had lost their only source of income. She helped people move, hauled supplies, and treated so many people as her closest friends. When Arturo and I landed in Tacloban she picked up two complete strangers from the airport and gave them a place to stay. She  introduced us to people that became some of my closest friends there. She showed us around, set us up with partners, and let us borrow her little red truck to get things set up the way we needed to. She had the two of us in a constant state of laughter. She was a giant part in making my experience in Tacloban what it was. Talking to her always made me smile when things were rough, and what I love the most is that if she could find a way to do something for someone she would, always. Never ever did she did Beth ask for any thing in return.


After Beth left she still continued to help the people in Tacloban. She let our team borrow her truck so that we projects would be easier to get to and from with all of our supplies. When we left she gave it to another family to use so that they could help the people around them. She continued to give loans to people so that they could get back on their feet, and has kept in close contact with the people who adore her as a friend who had helped them in a time of desperate need. Back home she runs a machine rental business, is mother to four boys, and constantly has her home filled with people who want to spend time with her.  She is an absolute joy to be around, and I look forward to anytime I get to spend time with her. 

One lesson I learned from Beth:
If one person really wants to, they can make a huge difference in the world around them. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Purpose in the Blog

LIFE: It's the people we interact with, the situations we find ourselves in, and the lessons we learn. It's deciding to see the little things, seeking to understand others, and giving the benefit of the doubt. It's how we spend our time, the attitude we have, and the meaning we give to all of these things. 
I can't say which specific experience lead me to this topic for my blog, because truth be told there isn't just one story. I'll open up about a lot of these stories over time, but for now just know that it wasn't a single event. I want this to be a place where I can write about people. A place where I can write about experiences. A place where I can write about the everyday things that make my life enjoyable. I want this to be a place I can write about what inspires me, and hopefully inspire others along the way. 
THE GOAL: To write about life. To find people trying to do good regardless of their situation. 
Life is  not always easy. Life is not always pleasant, but there are people all around us trying to do good. There are things to remind us of the good things to come. There are things that inspire us to be a little better today than we were yesterday, and things that push us to do more than we think possible. Those are the things I want to find.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Twist in the Road

Coming home early from the Philippines was definitely the last thing I thought I would do when I decided to go to Tacloban last March. Arriving in the Philippines before most of my friends even started taking finals and coming home the day school started seemed like the perfect plan. Maybe it was FOMO or maybe it was just the thought of being there from the day HELP landed in country until the day HELP left. Either way I would finally get to spend the entirety of my summer in the Philippines; something I'd wanted to do since the day I first stepped in to the country.

There were days when it was harder than I ever imagined it would be. Days when projects would fall through, or supplies wouldn't show up. Days when all I wanted was some food straight from mom's kitchen. Days filled with phone calls to the consulate that left me wondering if I would ever get my passport back, and days when all I wanted was to do was sit on a couch in our living room or lay on the grass after a day of work. 

There were so many things I could have focused on, that had I chosen to do so, would have eaten at me until I decided to go home early all on my own. But in those moments I would think about the friends I had made there, the needs they had, the lives they lived, and the happiness and hospitality that the were always willing to give. You would think that simply living in a place where poverty is so prevalent would be enough of a reminder, but for some reason it was still so easy to forget that although their way of life worked for them there were things that could be done to better the lives they are living. The friends I made there are what would bring me back to reality. They are what helped me keep focus. And they are the reason that Heavenly Father knew the only way to get me home early was to completely knock me off my feet. Although being there was one of the most challenging things I've done, he knew that there was no way I was going to leave those people behind. Not unless he did something drastic. 

Each day I am home it becomes more and more clear. I needed to be in the HELP office. I needed to be set up an internship for the next year. I needed to go back to Aspen. I needed to move in to an apartment with roommates I already knew and love. I needed to spend time with my family after being away for so long so that I could better appreciate them. I needed to be at my cousins wedding. I needed to be home for Taylor's sake. There was no possible way for me to accomplish all of those things from abroad. Most of it I didn't even realize was an issue until I was here. 

Since being home I have been able to see so many friends and family, some of which I haven't seen in years. It's amazing to me how timing works out. Leaving Tacloban was the last thing I wanted to do, but it was exactly what I needed to do. I know that one day I'll go back, and I am so excited for the day that chance reappears. For now though, I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows the bigger picture. I am grateful that he has the knowledge and ability to intervene when I'm being stubborn, and I am grateful for the opportunities and people he has places in my life. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

THe CR PRoJeCT

Yolanda. She changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in just a few hours. Each and every person here has their own story, and although a lot of people have been left in similar situations I still come across a completely unique story on almost a daily basis. Like 44 children who, although attending school, have no place to use the bathroom; meaning that they use the two-foot wide area between school buildings or they wait through a full day of school until they can get home. It is those kids that we decided to visit today in hopes that within the next couple weeks we would be able to get a CR (Comfort Room) together for them. 



After dedicating our morning to a few other projects Stephen, Amber, Kulia, Bekah and I made our way to Barugohay Norte Elementary School in Carigara. Let me just say that one of the most heart warming things you will ever hear is a classroom full of Filipino elementary students say in unison "HELLO VISITORS" as you walk passed. It never ever gets old. Your first instinct after that is  to turn around to say "hello" or "thank you" in return, but what you may not realize is that the second you do the classroom full of students will scream with joy, jump from one foot to another, and then throw their hands over their mouths in excitement. I only offer this advice on the matter: do it anyways. Not only will it make you day, but it will make theirs too.


When we first got there we were greeted by Veronica, the teacher for those 44 students. She is the one that originally contacted us about the project, and also happened to be one of the people I was able to spend my very first full day here in Tacloban with. After a few introductions we made our way to her classroom to see what kind of work was in store for us. Over the next 30 minutes Amber and Mhytay entertained all 44 children while Veronica explained to the rest of us what it was that they need. She showed us the area they would need to place the CR in and gave us a general idea of the supplies we would need. She then took us elsewhere to show us a different CR that we could model the new one after. She even asked if it would be ok for the parents to be involved in various part of the project. It couldn't have been any more perfect. 

After getting all the information from here that we needed a few of us went in to talk to the principal. We wanted to make sure that he approved of the CR before we got to far in to it,  and also ask if there were any other projects the needed a hand with. I personally never heard about other projects, but I did find a few I wouldn't mind doing if they will allow it. I can't think of a single child who would object to few more playground items or a mural on this wall. One thing is for sure though, as long as the office approves it these kids will have a CR :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

THe CHiCKeN CooP PRoJeCT

About a week and a half after getting here Beth, Arturo and I decided to go to Tanauan. Beth was going down regardless of whether Arturo and I came because she needed to meet with some members there, but when she invited us to go we jumped at the opportunity. Beth told us that she would be at the church for about an hour and a half, and that we were welcome to take the truck around, so that's exactly what we did. While she met with her friends Arturo and I took the Lil' Red around  Tanauan to scout out some possible projects. 

I was blown away by what I saw and all the work there was to do in Tanauan. Up until that point the only places we'd really seen were Tacloban and the more inland areas. Those areas still had a lot of work to do, but most of the relief efforts were already focused on Tacloban City, and the more inland areas didn't get hit quite as bad as the coastal regions. Tanauan is one of those cities on the coastal region. There were a few tents donated by various NGO's but for the most part there was so much work to be done.  

It wasn't too long before we needed to get back to the church in Tanauan to pick up Beth. Before  making our way back to the Burgos Chapel there were a few other stops she wanted to make; one being Magay. There was a person there that she wanted us to meet. That person was Gil Bermiso, barangay captain of Magay. 


Gil is one of the most loved barangay captains I've met here. As we walked around Magay the kids would come running out of their houses to say hello to him. In talking to him it was easy to see why. Since then I've met with a number of barangay officials and almost always the main concen is some building that they've lost. They usually buildings that will benefit a whole community, such as a health center, so the cause is not a bad one in the slightest. The concern Gil showed for the individual people in his barangay was a really neat thing to see. He spent time in their homes, walking from place to place talking to people along the way. Because of that he was able to know that shelter, self-sufficiency, and livelihood were what his people needed, and he was willing to address it. 

We talked about a lot of different projects with him that day. The chicken coop project was one of them. Typhoon Yolanda took the livelihood of many and the chicken coop project would help some people get that back. 

While I was I Cebu last week working on my passport Shaley was back in Tacloban doing all kinds of research. She found out how much food we would need and pricing. She figured out what supplies we would need and then designed a chicken coop with the proper spacing needed. In the days following my return home she was able to meet with Gil to propose our plan to him.

Our plan was this: To get five people who had previous experience raising and selling chickens for meat, then to have them provide their own chicken coop. There were a couple reasons for this. 1) It would show us that they were committed and  2) It would help avoid jealousy within the community because this is something these people had to put something of their own in too. From there we would provide the farmers with 40 chicks as well as the food and medicine they would need to raise them. After that those five farmers would be able to buy more chicks and supplies to begin the next batch and it would just cycle from there. 

When Shaley and Stephen met with Gil to tell him the plan he was ecstatic. He was able to help us find five farmers by the end of that week and told then that we would be back on June 27th to check out their finished coops. 

That deadline was today. Chris, Stephen, Shaley and I were able to go down to Magay to see how the coops were doing. We didn't find five finished coops, but the two that were finished looked so good. 




We spent the rest of the morning talking with each of the farmers, learning their families and talking about how they had gone about raising chickens in the past. What we hadn't taken in to account was that majority of the days leading up to the 27th were filled with rain. Filipinos are some of the most hardworking people I've met, but when it rains they hide. There are cultural reasons that they so it, but because of it we had to extend the deadline. 


For the two farmers that were finished Shaley and Stephen were able to bring chicks and supplies too that night. When the arrived in Magay to drop the supplies off the farmers that hadn't finished were busily working on their coops; some of them were almost finished. We told the farmers that we would be back on Sunday to make sure they had finished, and that if they did we would bring them chicks and supplies on Tuesday.

A chicken farm might be something so small, but to those five people it could be the difference between employed and unemployed. It could be the thing that helps them pay for a child's education or it could be a meal on the table that they weren't able to have before. It is just one small thing that will help the people of Magay on their path towards self-reliance.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

THE TEAM - WAVE ONE

TEAM:
A group of people working together to accomplish one common goal. 


In our case the goal is to help the people of Leyte and Samar get back on their feet after being struck by one of the worst typhoons ever recorded. Typically a HELP team is made up of college students from various backgrounds, a lot of which are seeking internship credit. Every once in a while you get the students who are just looking for a chance to look out side themselves for a summer. Our team has all of that, but it also has a dynamic that isn't as common within HELP. Almost all of the people who are on our team have served their missions here giving us a connection to this place that isn't found in most teams. 

HELP Philippines Crisis Team 2014

STEPHEN ANDERSON
Stephen stepped foot in to the Philippines for the third time on April 27th. He was born and raised in Utah but left in 2010 when he was called to the Philippines Tacloban Mission. For the next two years he spent his days teaching and serving the people here. A month after the typhoon struck the Philippines Stephen was able to come back with his dad and a group called Charity Vision. They were only here for two weeks, but the amount they were able to accomplish was great. It was shortly after his arrival home that he was asked to be a country director for the HELP Philippines Crisis Team, and by so doing signed up for an entire summer here in Tacloban.

CHRIS GALLAGHER
Chris' story is a lot like Stephen's. He is also from Utah and also left in 2009 to serve in the Philippines Tacloban Mission. While Stephen was in Tacloban with his dad, Chris was busy planning Run4Philippines with his brother Jaron. It was never in his plan to go back to Tacloban. All he was trying to do was raise some money for the people he grew to love. But when HELP caught word of it all, they approached Chris with the opportunity to return to Tacloban. On May 5th Chris arrived in Tacloban as a HELP Country Director, ready to help and determined to make a difference.

KULIA PICKARD
Kulia is about as Hawaiian as they come. He was born there, raised there and will continue to live there after he finishes his time in the Philippines. He spent his mission serving the Filipino people in Bocolod, but that hasn't stopped him from giving his all to the people of Tacloban.

ADAM CONTE
Adam needs to be a motivational speaker. He was only here for ten days but he has the ability to captivate and inspire any audience. Adam is a half Native American, half Filipino from Arizona that spends his days in Hawaii. He was able to spend his mission days getting to know his culture in the Philippines Naga Mission. On thing is for sure; he definitely has the heart of a Filipino. 

REGINA FARNSWORTH
Regina was a lot like Adam in the sense that she couldn't stay for very long.We all would have loved for her to stay longer, and begged her to do so. One thing is for sure, she made the most of every second she had here. She was also raised in Utah, and later served her mission here in Tacloban. She loves to dance and the youth here loved every bit of choreography she taught them. 

SHALEY HURLESS
 Shaley is the last of the four to serve her mission here in Tacloban. She returned home just a couple months before the typhoon hit and jumped at the opportunity to come back to and help the people that she had spent all that time with. Shaley is always willling to help, and if she says she'll get something done you can count on it. No body is more excited than I am that she will be here all summer.

BECCA POELMAN
Becca is another Utah local, and although she'd never been to a third world country before she loved it right from the start. The excitement she had for the Philippines was so fresh and exciting and really helped us all to remember what it was like coming to the Philippines for the first time. The kids here absolutely adore her and her passion to help others through their struggles is so genuine.

SEAN GEORGE
Sean came to the Philippines for the first time when he served his mission in Cebu. He is  a Utah local who is always willing to help out on a project, and does so without ever complaining. He has a sense of humor you have to love and a real talent for bringing smiles to the faces of all those around him. 

DEEJAY PASIKALA
DeeJay is our Hawaii-born, Utah-residing, Cebuano speaking friend. What is not to love about DeeJay is the real question. His love of people and ability to teach has been such an asset to our team. He can have you in a deep conversation about life one second and rolling in laughter the next. We only wish he'd decide to stay longer.

Can I say that we have the best HELP team there is? I don't know the other teams so that wouldn't really be fair. What I can say that I am so grateful for the team that I am on. I have loved seeing each of our strengths in action as we do our best to help the Filipino people. There is no doubt in my mind that we are all here for a reason and I cannot wait to see what else we will be able to accomplish.