Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BYU Lu'au 2014: Legends of Polynesia

When I was in high school, one of my close friends from my stake, Niva Tuala, told me about this program called SOAR. The summer after my junior year of high school I came to Provo for a week and did an ACT prep course with BYU's Multicultural Student Services. (I loved the experience so much that my mom and I tell everyone we can about it! This summer we got someone from our stake to come!) & Once I got in to BYU, I was even more blessed to get a full tuition scholarship through them. There were conditions of course, like participating in their cultural celebrations. Since Freshman year of undergrad, I've been hooked. It's no longer required for me, but I can't seem to let go.

Dancing in the Lu'au brings me waaaaay back to my days in Long Beach 7th ward surrounded by my big family of loving, caring, and supportive Polynesians. LB7th ward was the village that helped raise me. We would put on Lu'aus every now and then, and dancing here at BYU brings me back to those happy days, especially since because of my busy schedule this year I don't have the time to be a Living Legend (let's not talk about it). 
^^The entire section. Right when we were about to take this picture, a special needs girl came up and started talking excitedly to us. We invited her to be in the picture with us.
^^Brittany! So small world. Brittany was born & raised in Bellflower AKA where my family moved to, and her cousins the Suaavas were in the same ward as me growing up. Actually, the Suaavas were the family that dropped my family off at the airport when I was moving to Provo to attend BYU back in 2008.
^^Hna Toleafoa!!! We were MTC roommates. She served in Louisiana and when I was in Lake Charles, I always had this dream that I'd be at the border of my mission and she'd wave to me from the border of hers. :)
^^Right when I captured this moment, my heart started yearning BIG time for my LB7th family.  They don't know how much they mean to me!
^^mini Living Legends reunion. I love these people!
^^California born & bred. Brittany, Me, Tianalei!
JoJo, my favorite Tongan at BYU. We've been close friends since freshman year! I hadn't seen her since her farewell at the Poly ward almost 3 years ago! Love her to pieces. 

Lu'au solidified in my heart that I MUST visit LB7th when I go home for Christmas this year. 'Tis the season to visit family right? 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy Halloween.

Last Halloween, I was in Baytown. It was a mission-wide apartment deep cleaning day. It was a Thursday which meant we had hour of power (where we knocked on doors for an hour by the home of a member), but because It was Halloween we were told we had to be indoors before dark. I think we got a total of 2 working hours in. It was rainy & very un-festive. (actually I think we may have made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast thanks to a trader Joes mix my mom had sent.)  To make the day somewhat holiday-like, Hna St. John and I decided to officially start listening to Christmas music. 

Considering that was my last Halloween, I was VERY excited for All Hallow's Eve this year.
So much so that I helped decorate the section of carrels right by me...
I made tombstones for everyone who died in my Torts case book.

& after class on Friday, I drove down to Salt Lake for a family Halloween party. 
Family Halloween parties are so much better than any Halloween college party I've ever been to. Maybe it's the Mormon in me, but there's something truly magical about celebrating Halloween with young ones. Seeing my little cousins excitement about the spooky foods that had been prepared, watching them act like the characters they had dressed up, and observing them anticipating the candy they were about to get while trick-or-treating just made me smile. 
My primitas were mesmerized by the spooky cauldrons filled with punch.
We're a very cultural-friendly family, and had no less than 4 saris at our Halloween party. I'm convinced that I need to make a trip to little India when I'm home for Christmas to buy myself one!
My Tía was Frida Kahlo (minus the eyebrows)
Even Chico had a Halloween costume! You can't really tell, but he was definitely Darth Vader. It suits him really well actually. Sometimes he can be kind of evil & moody.
We had Katniss, Sleeping Beauty, Indian Princess #1, Ironman, Indian princess #2, Indian princess #3, Little red Riding Hood, Zoro, Cleopatra, and another princess.
It was also David's birthday so we sang the traditional birthday medley: (happy birthday, feliz cumpleaños a ti, las mañanitas, & queremos pastel)
Julia was getting really annoyed with me trying to take her picture.
The COOLEST house we saw while trick-or-treating!

I'm a big fan of dressing up as Disney Characters with my roommates. So, we bring you the characters of Bambi.
Thumper, Bambi, & Flower.
'Tis the season to be twitterpated!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Soy Chicana. vol 2.

Sometimes I'm Mexican, in a "yeah, my family's from Mexico and my last name is Flores" kind of way. Then there's other times (like this week) where it's like, "YEAH!!! I'M MEXICAN! VIVA LA RAZA! SI SE PUEDE! ESTE ES MI GENTE!!!! YOU MEAN, MexiCAN!" kind of way.

The second statement is more like the times when my cultural identity consumes me, when I just want to blast merengue in my car and let all of Provo know that I'm proud to be Latina.

 There are times that I think, "sure, I guess my culture is a big deal to me...?"
& then I look at my dresser and think
seriously, Lauren
who are you trying to kid?
Your culture is everything to you!
& it is, it influences every part of my life.

like my Pinterest boards:

or the blanket I'm covering myself with as I blog:
This week was particularly a "let's be super Mexican week."

Monday: I finally got around to listening to Latino USA, a podcast I had stumbled upon in my NPR app and had been meaning to listen to. Every week a new podcast is released with one main topic covered in so many different facets. Case in point: This week's episode was about Islands with stories ranging from the Island of Hispañola, to organic produce in Cuba, and (my personal favorite) Latinos in Hawaii! (random fact, latinos are the fastest growing population in Hawaii!) Bad idea on my part, because now I'm obsessed! Obsessed beyond measure. I listen to the podcast in the car, at the gym, walking around campus. Who needs music when you can listen to Latino USA? (kidding. kind of)

Tuesday: I got an email bright and early in the morning from a law professor inviting me to a luncheon with the Utah County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A luncheon with successful latinos and those who love the cause? Sign me up! There's nothing quite like motivational immigrant fueled stories to help me feel like I'm on cloud nine for the day. & the enchiladas, beans, and rice served at the luncheon also won my tummy over.

Friday: I got a text from Andrew, a friend from the mission, asking if I'd go with him to The Museum of Mormon Mexican History. We went, & I definitely ran into my extended family in the museum. ¡Tipico! & then went out for Mexican food at this little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant and reminisced for hours about the areas we served in, the people we loved, the ridiculous times had on the mission, and life lived in general.

Saturday:
Went and saw this movie
with my Primo, his wife, and Raquel (my law school prima). If you haven't seen it GO NOW! (Or tomorrow since, technically it's the Sabbath today) It was SO good. I died of laughter and it filled me with even more orgullo for my culture! I especially died of laughter at a line in the movie that says, "everyone knows that México is the center of the universe!' true. statement.

Raquel & I definitely blasted the Oro Solido Pandora radio station in my car on the drive back to Provo. & especially cranked it up when this song came on.  check out those moves in the music video tho...I need to learn them) Sorry to the freshman living in Helaman Halls who had to deal with the latin music drifting their way & to the couple driving in the SUV who saw our stationary merengue moves while waiting for the red light... Actually, not sorry about that last part.

Sunday:I wore my huipil (or at least the top part of it to church today) and as I was walking home with Tiana (roommate) a guy who I didn't know at the time, shouted at me "YOU HAVE A wih-pil!" I was confused because I had no idea what he was talking about, and then I put it through my Spanish ear filters and thought, "Lauren, you idiot! He's talking about your huipil (pronounced wee-peel)!" I went up to the guy, who introduced himself as a Ryan and asked, "did you serve in Guatemala?" of course he did. classic. He was kind of really excited about my dress, and now having served a mission I can totally relate.

& finally that brings me to the last thing, my car. Carlos the corolla.
Carlos is muy orgulloso de ser Mexicano too.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"homecoming" weekend.

So, technically it was homecoming weekend, 
but I've been so detached this year from all things BYU sports because of Law School, that it kind of didn't phase me.

But, I still had a "homecoming weekend" of sorts.
.
.
.
This is Jennifer Rogers.
My last companion.
She came home from T.H.E. mission this last Wednesday
& I cried my eyes out when I hugged her for the first time in 6 months. 
I got to the airport just a little bit early (as in I beat everyone in Jenny's family!) and kind of just waited for a bit by the vending machines. & then I saw President and Sister Crawford and ran over excitedly to hug them. They were dressed just as they would have been on the mission and it just made it all feel so right.

We then played the waiting game. First came E. Jones & E. Hooker, then Sis Barton, Sis Hunt, Sis Utley, and SIS ROGERS! It was such a normal sight to see them dressed as they were when I had last seen them all. It was like T.H.E mission realm had carried over to terminal 2 of the Salt Lake airport. I was so happy.

I couldn't help but cry as I saw all these little reunions taking place. The tears just sort of willed themselves into my eyes. I kind of just observed Jenny's mom as she saw Jenny come down the escalator—the look of love on her face warmed my heart, it was so priceless! I had seen all these missionaries just 7 months ago, but for their families, i'm sure felt like a lifetime.

When it finally came time for Jenny to give me a hug, I just lost it! I don't know if I can adequately describe all the emotions I was feeling in that moment it was one part, "I've missed talking to you!", one part "I love you so much," one part "we did this!" The rest was a mix of an unspoken understanding of all the memories we had together and the realization of just how special they all were. 

I did NOT want to leave that airport, 
but seeing as how I had class the next morning, I kind of had to.

On my drive home I was reminded of the verses in Alma 17 when Alma is reunited with the sons of Mosiah after their missions, "Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth."
I put a little homecoming gift if you will together for Jenny: pens, a journal that challenges you to do good deeds daily (perfect for a RM!), nail polish in a color we weren't allowed to wear on the mission, a relaxing candle (coming home is stressful), and a chocolate bar (we used to buy these chocolate bars anytime we would go to Tony's our favorite pizza place in LC!)
Jenny's mom made the cutest Texas shaped cookies, with Hearts over Houston.

Jenny rode in my car on the way to her house post homecoming talk and we definitely turned up the Lower Lights' "Calling You!" all the way up for our 3 minute car drive, it felt like nothing had changed—although, there was no Sis Johnson sitting in the back! :'( 

I'm beginning to think that these homecoming celebrations are going to be my new favorite things!