Friday, April 25, 2014


Construction projects. Am I the only one that gets the biggest kick out of them? This last Christmas break my sister and I were able to build console tables with our dad. I was definitely a lot of work, but there is something so satisfying about taking a pile of lumber, cutting it to size, nailing it together, and watching it take shape right before your eyes. That and the memories mean so much more when you really invest yourself. 

Well Friday we had just that experience. After a rather interesting conversation at breakfast we got in to Beth's truck and made our way to San Juanico. Part of Beth letting us use the car the day before included us promising to help build her friend Armi's house. It would be good for us to try it anyways so that we knew what we'd be getting the volunteers into. 

The area was really neat, and quite unlike anything I had ever seen in the Philippines before. It seemed as if it had been nothing more than a field before the typhoon, but it was now it was home to a brand new subdivision for those who had been displaced by the typhoon. I'd seen a lot of houses going in here and there, but never so many in an area that didn't have them already. 

We did everything from cutting and placing 2x2's for the walls to putting in the floor up on the second level. By the time we were finished that evening the walls were framed and two of them were even finished. We bent more nails and had more slivers than I can count, but I laughed harder that day than I have while watching Chinese pranks on YouTube. Maybe we were beginning to suffer delirium from heat stroke but it really was so much fun!

After that Beth and Armi took us to see the San Juanico bridge. Let me tell you one thing I love about Beth. If there is a picture moment she will pull the car right over and make us all take pictures. On the bridge, after the bridge, or at the Samar sign. She had us stopped at them all, and heaven knows I almost laughed so hard I cried at each and every one of them :) 

Our next stop was a municipality called Basey. Beth had just started doing micro loans for some of the people here in the Philippines and one of them happened to be over in Basey. While Beth was working things out there Arturo and I made some new friends. Right next to their homes was a section of concrete littered with tents and rubble. Something about that area spoke loud and clear to both Arturo and I. We knew at that point that we wanted to set up some projects there. 

Just as the sun was setting we saw a Catholic Church up on the hill above us. The side of me that loves to explore kicked in at that moment, so the four of us headed up the stairs to see what was up there. What we weren't expecting to find was a big group of kids and a volleyball. It wasn't long before I had thrown off my backpack and we were all playing volleyball. There was only about 20 minutes of sunlight left, but we loved every second of it. 

Next it was mango shakes at a hole in the wall restaurant, naked children running through the streets and a circle of new friends, raw fish and all. Basey was good to us indeed. 

By the time we wrapped everything up it was completely dark. One of Beth's least favorite things is driving in the dark. Up until that point we hadn't really had to do it (except to the time we needed get Arturo's antibiotic, but that was right down the street). That hour long drive home was absolutely beautiful! The sky in that part of the Philippines is so unpolluted by light. Stars shine brighter. There were fireflies everywhere. At first there were just one or two here and there. Later on we passed tree after tree after tree full of them. I had never seen anything like it! It was absolutely incredible. Everything about that day was. The house building, the laughter, the sights, the kids. 

It wasn't until we got back to the church that my stomach completely sank. My backpack. It was right where I left it. On the grass up by the church. My debit card, credit card, drivers license, Philippine pesos, US dollars, the two phones we had just bought, passports; they were all inside. OUR passports. Not just mine, but Arturo's too. Had it just been mine i wouldn't have worried so much. It would take 6 weeks max to get a new one, and I was already planning on being here long past that. Arturo on the other hand was scheduled to fly out a whole lot earlier than that. I was sick. Absolutely sick. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Beth's oils or the antibiotics we bought without a prescription (from a pharmacy of course). We may never know what really made Arturo better overnight, but whatever it was made the top of my list! And Arturo's. And Suzanne's. And Beth's. And everyone else at the church. There was never anything in any of my medical training about Tonsilitis, but I'll tell you what, after watching it take it's toll those last few days I don't EVER want to have it.

Thursday was the first day we were really able to go out in the city to meet with potential partners. It was a day full of one thing leading to another which I absolutely loved. Being able to look back at the path something takes to get from start to finish has always been something I've enjoined. In life or in projects. It doesn't matter to me. 

The Department of Health. The Department of Education. The Department of Social Welfare and Development. At each and every single one we were able to meet with the department head. Being able to listen to some of the problems Tacloban has  faced in the past, as well as the problems that came as a result of Yolanda was such an enlightening experience.  I'm beyond thrilled to see what the groups that cycle through this summer will be able to do with it all!

I don't know if you've caught on at all throughout the last week or so of blog posts, but I'm all about the little moments in a day. Today I saw things that would break any heart. Like driving through town and seeing a building still completely filled with debre. Or the house you come across while walking down the street that has been smashed by a gigantic tree, but still people are living inside. Or when the department head tells you to go check in to the Department of Education just down the hill, and the way it is described is "the big building on the corner without a roof." Or the time you spend at  walking through a market five looking for an ATM that works because even though the bank has one Yolanda left it as nothing more than a box, like it did with so many other everyday items. 


But still there are the moments that just keep you laughing. Like the moment when a Mexican and an American decided to get behind the wheel in the Philippines for the very first time. Or the time you are told by a three-year old that everyone in the church is a "artista" or celebrity except for you and her.

What I love the most though are the moments that make you feel nostalgic. The moments when you find yourself doing your favorite things without even planning them to happen. Things like stopping at a corner stand to buy mini pineapples for a quick merienda, or walking the street talking about how a motivated person really can make a difference. Or how about when you decided to park the car for a moment just so you can walk through a little market where the kids stop to talk and at the end is a beautiful view of the ocean around you and the nearby islands that call it home. Or when you all of a sudden just decide to explore because you know what, life doesn't need to be hurried; it just needs to be lived. Those are some of my 
favorite moments. All of those things are the reason I do what I do. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and even in to Wednesday. Those were the days that Arturo spent sick in bed. All I have to say is that I am oh so very grateful that I have never had Tonsillitis. You know how sometimes being sick isn't so terrible because the illness isn't really that bad, and you may even get to catch up on some much needed rest? Yeah, nothing about that monster of an illness seemed like it was bringing him that kind of relief. He's not a sissy either, and it completely did him in. Here we were in a foreign country that is still in major recovery mode, living under one giant roof with people we'd only met a day and a half ago, and he was so so so so sick. 

Those few days were full of Beth teaching the ways of the oil pull, kalamansi juice shots, noodles, a failed attempt to the doctor, a lot of ibuprofin and finally some perscriptionless antibiotics. Who ever knew there were so many ways to treat the same thing? 

While Arturo was busy trying to fight the Tonsilitis I was at least able to get some logistical things taken care of. Beth and I went downtown one day so that I could get some things that we would need for the next couple weeks, as well as the rest of the summer. Tuesday Arturo and I even made it out of the church in an attempt to get him to the doctor. We didn't think about the fact that maybe the hospital would still be closed from typhoon damage. That led us to an hour or so at Robinsons where we got him some food he could eat, and something a little more comfortable to sleep on. Even that was a little to much though. 

By Wednesday he was beginning to feel better. Not much, but it was something. While we were sitting in the cultural hall eating lunch President Aban came up to us and began telling us about a program the church just set up for the Tacloban Mission. In a nutshell it is an excellerated way for church members in this mission to use the skills they have, and through theis program gain an education of sorts that will make them more marketable in the vocational world. They are given a loan and a stipend for the three months it takes to complete, and after that all they have to pay back is 15% of the loan. We decided to head I. To the chapel where they were holding a huge meeting about it, and afterwards talked to the program managers for quite a while. It was full with good stuff and got us super excited about the possibilities here. 

It wasn't an easy couple of days, and it definitely wasn't expected but like I mentioned before it helped me to appreciate the amazing people surrounding me! Everyone here was so kind, so friendly, and so caring. Having each of them around truly was the biggest blessing!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


The first time I came to the Philippines was almost exactly two years ago and ever since I have wanted nothing more for my birthday than to be able to spend it here. It's not that I wanted some big Filipino celebration. In fact my grand plan was to not let anyone here find out until after it had happened. That way they didn't feel like they had to do anything for me. That was the plan. 

Then we went to the Black Saturday Celebration. I was talking to Beth and my new friend Mhayty when all of a sudden he asked when my birthday was...uh..."Tomorrow" I muttered under my breath. I couldn't lie. 

Beth got so excited, "Oh my gosh, I am so glad you told me! We have to have a party" she said. 

"No really, it's ok" I replied. Then we moved on to talking about the celebration and I didn't hear much more about it. Maybe they"d forget. 

Then Saturday night rolled along. One of my church mates added me on Facebook. I don't know why I didn't think about it, but I accepted him right then and there, not thinking about Facebook being the big discloser of birthdays. Within moments I had a message from Ian. 

"Is today really your birthday?" He asked. 

That's the moment I knew my plan had failed. The celebrations began a few hours later at dinner. 

I don't know that many Americans have ever spent much time actually living under the same roof as 13 other Filipinos, but it is the best!! It was "Happy Birthday" at the dinner table. It was "Happy Birthday" in the halls. 
The next morning, on my actual birthday, I had forgotten that it was even my birthday until I went in to the cultural hall to get some water. 

"Happy Birthday" shouted Lani! Only to follow it with the Happy Birthday Song from Sesame Street, "You're a little bit older, a little bit wiser." I heard that song for days and I loved every second of it :)

I love that every once in a while I get to spend my birthday remembering the Resurection of he Savior and how his work on this earth makes it possible for me to receive the greatest gift I could ever receive. I know that I will be able to live with all the people I have come to know and love throughout my life forever because of His selfless sacrifice, and I am so grateful for that knowledge.  

After breakfast we walked to the other side of the church and sat down in the Chapel. It's not uncommon for visitors to be introduced in church. What I wasn't expecting was a birthday wish over the pulpit. But there it was. The sister who gave the first talk, whom I had never spoken to before, wished me a happy birthday right then and there. How she even knew it was my birthday is completely beyond me! Did it make me super uncomfortable? Maybe. Was it really sweet of her? It sure was. 

The remainder of the three-hour block was all the same way. Full of birthday wishes from people I'd never talked to. People here are so kind. I am constantly in awe at their ability to look outside themselves as they love and serve those around them. I hope throughout my time here I will be able to learn from their example, and be able to love not just those close to me, but those people who I barely know too. 

After church that day we stayed at the church. Unfortunately that was also the day Arturo began to get sick. We weren't sure at the time but the Tonsilitis monster had made its way in with a vengeance. Arturo would say I was bored out of my mind, but other than feeling completely helpless in getting him to from sick to better I really didn't mind at all! It gave me a chance to really spend some time with the others living here. Bishop and Lani. Juvy, Imel and their girls. Ian, Dallin, Clark and Christene. Albert, Gilbert, and David. I'll talk more about them tomorrow, but I loved the time I got to spend with them! These little girls especially. 

With an ube cake and a room full of friends to end the day, I'll have to say it was perfect! The birthday I finally got to spend in the Philippines was at last a reality :) 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

CaRaBao, CaR RiDeS, aND CHiLDReN

Holy Week. I'd never been in the Philippines the week before Easter, so that wasn't ever a thought that crossed my mind. It all starts on Maundy Thursday. Stores either shut their doors or drastically reduce their hours from then until Black Saturday, with Good Friday falling in between.

As we were driving down that street on the coastline I talked about yesterday I remember seeing a group of five young boys walking down some stairs towards the water. Two of them had on dark red hats that looked like something the ancient roman solidiers would wear. In between those two boys was where the other three boys were. It wasn't until we got closer that I realized what was going on. Two of the boys had whips in their hands and right in front of them was a boy with a cardboard cross on his back. That was the first, but certainly not the last time we would see something like that. Good Friday was in full swing. 

The next morning began Black Saturday. Bright and early Beth got a text inviting us to a Holy Week Celebration in a place called Carigara about an hour away from where we were staying. One of our goals in coming to set up the program was to get a better understanding oh the people, their needs and the culture, so Arturo, Beth and I jumped in her truck and began the drive. 

When we first got into Carigara we pulled in to a church parking lot to meet up with the people that had invited us. We piled five more people into the back of the little red truck and made our way through about ten barangays (the native term for something equivalent to a village). With each barangays we passed through we picked up more and more people. Everyone was on their way. It almost felt like a parade with everyone lining the streets and making going in the same direction.  Only this was a parade that anyone and everyone could join, and believe me they did; bands included. I love about the culture here :)

Over the next couple hours we would see native dances, listen to a local singer, get trambled by people trying to catch a better look at the horse fights, watch as people got chased by carabao, and stare in shock at the cock fight. There were police everywhere trying to keep people from getting to close to the animals, but it never worked. It was absolute chaos, but that's just the way things are around here. The culture is it's own and it is such an exciting thing to experience. Although the cock fight was a little too intense for my liking, being able to see life through the eyes of a local is one of my absolute favorite parts about traveling! 

We were just about to head back to the little red truck when some of the missionaries that also happened to be at the celebration asked us if they could catch a ride back to the church with us. In true Filipino fasion we told them to pile in. There were ten of us in the back of that truck on the way down the hill. Five of them were missionaries, and three of the five missionaries were American. All of them were all here when Typhoon Yolanda hit. The stories they had were almost unbelievable. Three days without food or water. Some of their homes flooded with over 4 feet of water. In the church we had stopped at the day before 500 people had climbed up into the ceiling and straddled 2x4's for 5-6 hours to avoid the contaminated water below. 

Before the typhoon there were abot 240 missionaries in the entire mission. Afterward about 80 of them went home on temporary leave until they could find a place for them, but not many of them came back to Tacloban. Elder Baird was one of the missionaries that went home for a short amount of time, but he was able to come back to Tacloban and happened to be one of the missionaries riding in the back of the truck. He said that while he was home he was able to write his entire account on a website ( and as of now it is the most detailed account of that day written by a missionary. For the last six months I have been hearing stories about what it was like over here when Yolanda hit. But to be here where I am looking the destruction in the face, and listening to the stories of the people that were here first hand puts things in to a whole new perspective. 

After grabbing a bite to eat with the missionaries the three of us made our way northwest to Capoocan to visit a barangay called Talisay. The whole drive was right along the Carigara Bay and the entire thing was dotted with coconut trees. The view was breathtaking!

Being in Talisay has been one of my favorite things so far on this trip. There is something about those rural barangays that I just fall in love with every time. The main reason for us going to Talisay was to check out some projects that had been done there earlier in the year. Several homes had been constructed, and they even put up a tiny church right there in the Barangay. In that area there aren't quite enough priesthood leaders to make a branch so what the church had them do was organize a "Group." "Group Leaders" where then called to lead the group and just like that it is a fully functioning portion of the church. 

As we were looking at the different construction projects there was this group of four little kids that began to follow us. Up until that point I hadn't been able to use much Tagalog. I wasn't even sure if they spoke it wife Waray Waray is the native language in this area. So at one point I turned towards them, got down on their level and said "Nakakintindi ka ba ng Tagalog?" (Or in English: Do you understand Tagalog?). All of a sudden they looked at me, grinned and said "Oo!" I went on to ask them their names and how old they were. From that point on they went everywhere we did. 

Rumel, Ashley, Sammy & Wednesday
  Once we finished looking at the various projects in the upper half of the barangay they wanted to take us down to he lower portion to take a look from tag the ocean from the shoreline. With the Group Leaders as our guides and fifteen mini followers we took the quick walk to the shore. I will never ever get sick of the view from the coast looking out over the ocean.  

There was only one more thing on our itinerary before we would head back to Tacloban. We wanted to continue up the path we had driven in on to see what other barangays were there. This time we didn't have the group leaders, but our trail of followers was with us every step of the way. 

Do you know what I love about these kids. I can barely speak their language, but in such a short amount of time I am able to get to know them and their personalities so well. Like the boy who carried his little toy car, rolling it down every hill we can across. Or the boy who made sure everyone felt loved by him. Then there were the girls who loved it when I would say something in Tagalog so that they couple tell me what I said in English, and the little boy who carries his bamboo boat everywhere like Linus and his blanket. It was only after a lot of coaxing that he let Arturo carry it for him. There was also the boy who ran up ahead of us, plopped down on the ground, posed, and begged us to take a picture. Before we knew it everyone else was there too.  Some of the kids were shy, but when one child would begin to sing even them would join in. I live for those little moments, when all of a sudden it's not a disaster zone, but a place where life is so simple and so full of joy. That's the reason why I keep coming back to this place that I love, and I am thankful everyday for those little moments. 

Friday, April 18, 2014


Flying out of Manila to the other parts of the Philippines is something I have always loved. It's island after island after island. In the air right around Metro Manila it looks so monochromatic. But as you venture farther south all of sudden there is so much contrast. The blues, greens, and whites are so vibrant. We were extra lucky that afternoon too. It  was just a little rainy, yet the sun was still shining so there were rainbows everywhere. It was absolutely beautiful! 

Seeing Tacloban for the first time is something I've thought about since back in November. The destruction here is still very real. Buildings and homes were completely destroyed. Some are missing complete walls, roofs and/or windows. Some are missing all together. But the regrowth is also very real. Homes are going up, debre is being cleared, and the trees that are still standing have their leaves back. Amongst all the destruction there is so much beauty. Beauty and so much hope. 

After leaving the plane we made our way to baggage claim. This section of the airport was nothing more than a couple of walls and almost 3/4 of a roof. It looked as if there may have been big glass windows there before, but they were now completely open. The only thing inside the walls that told you that you were inside an airport is what used to be the baggage belt. It no longer worked, but everyone gathered around it as our baggage was unloaded on to it anyways. 

At the airport we were picked up by Beth. She's the lady I mentioned in my last post. While traveling Asia with some friends she heard about Typhoon Yolanda and decided to cut her trip short and make her way to Tacloban. She didn't have any ties here, just a desire to help. So she jumped on a plane and has been working here with different organizations on numerous projects ever since. She even decided to get herself a Filipino drivers license and a little red truck, both of which have been heaven sent!

On our way to where we'd be staying we stopped at a fruit stand and a church next door. The churches here have been housing people for the last 6 months. Although they are nowhere near as full as they we initially, they are still home to some who are still without a home. That church we stopped at specifically was just emptied and they have not began reconstruction on the parts of it that still needed repairs. 

We drove along the coastline that night on our way to where we'd be staying. I didn't pull out my camera because I wanted to just take everything in, but the mental images I was able to capture will stay with me forever. Remnants of life before the typhoon were everywhere. They say before Yolanda you couldn't really see the water because there where so many homes built right up to it, but not the view of the ocean is very clear.  It was worse there than any area I've seen since. 

We spent the rest of that evening getting to know the thirteen other people we would be living with for the next couple of weeks. I'll talk about them a lot more in my next post, but staying with them has been such a neat experience! I love being able to hear their stories, and to joke around with them each day around the dinner table. They have the biggest hearts and each day we are here I find myself more and more grateful for the people who so kindly welcomed a couple of strangers :)


For those of you who are just reading my blog, and don't see anything on FB or insta, have no fear.  I made to the Philippines! It's been full of excitment and adventure, but it's been so much more than just that. I was talking to my American friend Beth on Saturday as we were driving home from one of our stops that day. The story of how she ended up in the Philippines is nothing short of a miracle which I'll tell at some point but for now just know that she came out here to Tacloban with absolutely nobody and that she had never once been to the Philippines. One other important factor... She's been here since December, and she's just going to stay until she feels like here work over here is done. 

As we were talking she said "You know what has been really neat about this experience? I have learned more about trusting in The Lord while I've been here than I have in a really long time." It's hard to explain, but I knew exactly what she meant. Traveling puts you in a whole different category of vulnerable, especially if you are going at it alone. Even more so when you have no sure knowledge of what you are going to do, or what your exact purpose is once you get there. That is what I love. The vulnerability that makes me trust in the man who knows better than I do. 

What I also love is that He gives me experiences, not just to learn from, but to help me remember the lessons I've learned. Like the time in the Manila airport when I had just finished at customs, and I realized that Arturo wasn't going to be able to get to he place I was supposed to meet him at. I walked to an area close to where we were supposed to meet that he could actually get to.  Neither one of us had Filipino phones. There was no WI-FI. Just thousands and thousands of people and the only way to find eachother was just by looking. Ever tried playing real life "Where's Waldo" in a giant foreign city? It gets your heart racing just a little bit...haha. It took a lot of time, some prayers, and Arturo on top of a bench for us to find eachother, but we finally found eachother! I can't even begin to explain how relieving that moment was for both of us! Haha :) (PS. Big thanks to the person who tried to help me find Arturo and the to the guy who did help Arturo find me. Maraming maraming salamat!!)

Then there are the times when you are given the chance to use the advice of others to keep yourself safe. Such as don't wander the streets of a big foreign city alone. That night we stayed in this blessed part of Manila that Arturo likes to refer to has the "Pink Light Disctrict." We wandered the street a little that night, had dimsum (a bunch of little Chinese dishes. You order as many as you want and just have at it) across from our hostel. Nothing to crazy. Luckily the night I was there the area didn't seem all that "pink lightish". 

Then there are he experiences that help you realize people really aren't that bad. Staying in a hostel is something that I'd always wanted to do. I even  considered it when I was planning out my layovers. In the end I decided I didn't want my first hostel experience to be something I did alone, but apparently this trip it was still going to happen. 

The hostel we stayed at was actually a lot nicer than I was expecting. There were six beds in my room, but only half of them we full. One of my roommates was asleep right up until the time we checked out at noon. The other was a Filipino girl that came in the next morning. She was just barely younger than me. We were able to chat a little bit before she fell asleep, but not long. I've always heard that the best part about hostels is the people you meet. Breakfast the next morning, and this guy Vincent proved to me that it was true. People really do have such neat stories. 

Finally there are the experiences that teach you that the people around are full of information. Before I left I the states I had called Arturo about some packing questions. There was one thing I wanted to buy more of before I left, but he told me to get them when we got to the Philippines. I had thought about that for other things, but not for what I was going to buy this time. So I held off.  After breakfast at the hostel we decided to take a taxi down to the Manila Temple. Arturo had never been to the Philippines before, and since we only had a few hours before we had to be at the airport we decided to go look around the temple grounds. The Distribution Center was right there too, and happened to be the place I needed to go, so it was perfect! 

After snapping some pictures, doing some shopping and a few scoops of Filipino ice cream we made our way back to the hostel for check out. 

The time spent in Manila was good, but the places I love about the Philippines are far from the big cities. Over the next couple hours we would make our way to the place I was most excited for.

 Next stop: 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Hawaii is an absolute dream! The sun, the heat, the water, the beach, the palm trees. If you know me at all you know how much I LOVE those things :) I'd be lying if I said that I didn't plan my flights with every intention of some extended time here. Heck, I was gonna have to come through here anyway, so why not make a day of it? 

Before I left Utah one of my friends was able to line up a place for me to stay while I was here which I am SO grateful for! Jackie and her adorable little girl came and picked me up at the airport and took my to explore a place called Ford Island. It has some really neat history to it. One of the buildings there used to be the old barracks during WWII. Right after Pearl Harbor was attacked they took some of the wounded there and used it as a hospital. There are several spots on he island where you can actually see the USS Arizona Memorial up close without having to take the ferry out. You can't get on it from there, but it was still really neat to see. 

Right around that same area are several other memorials that have to do with the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  I've always loved studying that part of history, so being able to see some of the lesser known memorials was a really neat experience!

The USS Oklahoma & Battleship Missouri Memorials

After looking at the memorials it started to rain a little bit, but it was actually really refreshing. It was still warm out though, and the rain was just light so the kids and I opted to played some ball in it :) 

Once Kirk got home we all piled in to the family car. Jackie thought it would be fun to pick up some sandwiches and go have a picnic on the beach while we watched the sunset, so we did just that. We played tag. We dug holes. We ran in the water. We played tic tac toe in the sand. It was something so simple, but that is the kind of stuff I love the most. Just a night on the beach with another family I didn't know before. Just another night where I felt completely at home. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I won't lie, up until around 5 'o' clock yesterday night the tought of traveling alone made me kind of nervous. I knew I could do it but that didn't make it any less nerve racking. But do you know what? This has been on of the best experiences! It's been full of tender mercies, like randomly running into James Beadle, a friend from my home ward growing up at the airport. Or realizing I was on the wrong train before I got to the point where I would have to back track. There was also the part where the person sitting next to me on my flight to Honolulu was a Filipino. Instant connection. 

I have met some of the nicest people too! Like Terry, the lady who was on her way to Oakland to visit her grandson. She was traveling alone too so we stuck together. Both she and this cute couple we met before our flight to Oakland we're quick to offer me a ride to the home I was staying at. We later realized that it wasn't in the same direction, so I told them I would be fine taking the BART, but the offer was there and it meant a lot. 

Then there was Guy and Sue. On Sunday I was talking to my friend Monica and I told her about my initial plan to just spend 19 hours in the airport. By Sunday night she had arranged for me to stay with Guy and Sue. They were kind enough to let me, this girl they've never met, just stay in their home. Not only that buthey fed me, helped me find my way around and made sure I was comfortable. I've never felt more at home in a strangers house. 

As far as wandering Oakland goes, I really didn't, unless you count going out on the BART. I'm just gonna say that should count for something even if it's something small...haha. I got in to town with just enough time to eat dinner with Guy and Sue, cheesecake included. Shortly after Sue asked if I wanted to watch some CSI with them. Definitely said yes and definitely fell asleep during in the middle of it. 

There really are so many good people out there! I love that I've got to spend so much time with complete strangers. It's made me want to be that way; a pay it forward type thing. Is there a definite learning curve to traveling solo? Yes. But it's worth every bit of it!

Monday, April 14, 2014


GRaTiTuDe. That is what I think of when I think of the last month and a half. GRATITUDE for the experience I gained working with Philippine Improvement Group and Revive. GRATITUDE for the doors that were opened because of it. GRATITUDE for a friend who did for me what I wouldn't have done for myself. GRATITUDE for the person who was a friend when I felt like I had no one. GRATITUDE for a calling that was given to me because Heavenly Father knew I would need it. GRATITUDE for a Bishop and the council he gives. GRATITUDE for friends who have always been there for me no matter how blind I may be at times. GRATITUDE for incredible coworkers who have showed me more love than I ever deserved. GRATITUDE for the chance I had, and will continue to have, to set and make goals for myself. GRATITUDE for roadtrips with a longtime friend. GRATITUDE for get togethers with friends who I don't get to see very often. GRATITUDE for a ward that has brought me so many irreplaceable friends. GRATITUDE for a mom who pushes me when I don't want to, but need to be pushed. GRATITUDE for my extended family and the horrendous version of "Happy Birthday" they sing whenever they can. GRATITUDE for brothers who make the greatest roommates. GRATITUDE for HELP International, the friends I have there and the vision and ability they have to do good.  GRATITUDE for an amazing group of people that I get to spend my entire summer with. GRATITUDE for all the people who are constantly bringing a smile to my face. GRATITUDE for the strangers who have so graciously welcomed me in to their homes. GRATITUDE for the people who arranged for that to happen. GRATITUDE for Terry, the kind lady who I met at the airport and the time we spent laughing. GRATITUDE for the offer Terry and the other cute couple at the airport gave me and for their kindness. GRATITUDE for a familiar face as I stepped in to the unknown. GRATITUDE for a bed to sleep in, food to eat, the people that made it possible  and their patience as I learned the BART system.

In today's world it is so easy to get discouraged by all the horrible things we see going on in the world around us. But today all I can do is smile and hope that one day I will be able to pay all these people back for their kindness. Just know that each and every one of you have been a shining example in my life and I it is somethng that be defects my life each and every day. 

As for the trip, I'll start documenting the details of it tomorrow, but for now I couldn't move on with out saying "THANK YOU" to all throws who have for me to where I am today :)