Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ward friends & adventures.

I wasn't the best at making ward friends during fall/winter. It was always just kind of easier to get together with law school friends. I mean, I already saw them at least 8 hours a day and we got along so well, what was another couple hours a week more? 

Before I left for Argentina, I was sitting in a ward council where we talked about how a) we hadn't really gone down in numbers and b) we also didn't have a huge turnover rate [if we did, most of the turnover would be staying fall winter]. I've always felt really strongly about taking a step back and looking at who Heavenly Father has placed in your life. I've made it a summer goal to make a huge effort to really get to know the people who are in my ward simply because I know I can learn so much from them. So, I've been planning little adventures/excursions and inviting anyone and everyone, because everyone needs a little adventure in their life! You know? 

This week I went to the Manti pageant and to the Redwood Drive-in in West Valley. I highly recommend both!
^^They were selling delicious wood fired pizza right across the street from the pageant. nom.nom.nom.
^^Marisa, she just so happens to be one of my counselors in the RS presidency and is full of really amazing ideas!
^^ This picture is my favorite!
^^The scene where Christ comes to the Americas. 

The Mormon Miracle Pageant runs every summer. Apparently it's been the same show since 1967! You can kind of tell this by the dialogue and the music from the pageant—it very much sounds like an old disney movie or the train ride that goes around Disneyland. 

^^Amy was the only one smart enough to bring a chair to the Drive-In.
We had originally planned on seeing Inside-Out with Jurassic Park, BUT the website lied and provided false information. So, instead we saw Inside Out with Tomorrowland. Inside Out was amazing; Tomorrowland...meh. 
^^My roommate Jenny and I put my popcorn maker to good use and filled bags upon bags with homemade deliciousness. We were originally going to fill up the brown bags with popcorn, but then I remembered I had cute popcorn bags from that one time I threw a boardwalk party ages ago!
Let me tell you, there's another level of magic added when you watch Disney movies under the stars...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I don't know if I'll get to have another summer in Provo...Not because I have concrete plans or anything, but I might go home or have an internship somewhere else ¿Que se yo? (*said with an Argentine accent. I say this ALL the time now!) Because of this I just want to adventure hard  and see all that this area of Utah has to offer this time of year. The Universe, the school newspaper, put together a centerfold with a giant map of Utah and a list of a plethora of things to do. This centerfold is now hanging up in our kitchen wall, and I'm determined to cross off as much as I can!

On Thursday I FINALLY made it to the Provo Food truck roundup. The roundup is on all year round, but it just feels like a summer thing to do, you know? The hardest part was deciding which truck to eat from. Amy, Katie, and I literally bought the same thing but at different levels of spicy! 

I went to a random charity concert at UVU with Lauren and Alyssa. We got there for the last song of the particular band we were there to see and just kind of watched from afar. Mostly, I was just really impressed by this waterfall!

Afterwards, we went to Bruges Waffles & Frites. I have been dying to go, but just had never had the chance! Lauren and I split the Machine Gun Sandwich (it was featured on Man v. Food!) and an order of frites. Also, can I just randomly pipe in and say that Provo has quite the food scene going on and I am so grateful I live here!

^^The deliciousness that is the Machine Gun Sandwich : a baguette stuffed to the brim with lamb sausages, belgian frites, and the Andalouse sauce^^
I took the above photo to send to Franc, my roommate from Argentina because he's all of a sudden all about Nu Skin.
I just really love these two!

I also FINALLY made it to Bridal Veil Falls. It's just a tiny little hike up Provo Canyon. We got there at 8am and it was perfect, although Matt kept complaining about how "cold" it was. Bridal Veil Falls used to have a tram back in the day that would take you to a restaurant at the top. How dreamy would that have been? I vote they need to bring it back! Jake said his parents went on a date there!

Amanda, Matt, Me, Jake (he's starting law school this year and & because I'm doing a joint-degree, we'll be graduating together) and Kevin. 
My goal is to have so many adventures that a structured school semester will sound good to me, but let's be real...that's probably NOT going to happen.

On Sunday, I visited my family in Salt Lake and joined them for a Father's Day dinner. There were also two birthdays to celebrate. I feel like every time I go to my family's house it is someone's birthday!

Sundays have become my busiest days! After church I had a presidency meeting and as I was walking home with Andrea I decided to invite her to my family dinner. Andrea is originally from Mexico, but has lived in East LA the last couple of years—we're soul sisters! I loved being able to get to know her better on the drive to Salt Lake and I just felt so blessed to have her serving with me. & I SUPER enjoy taking friends to meet my extended family. I just love when the world becomes a little bit smaller, and the people I love get to know each other.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Each Life That Touches Ours for Good.

I'm REALLY excited to be back in Utah. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved-cherished-adored my time in Buenos Aires, but I have heard so many wonderful things about Utah summers and I've never been here for one. To go from winter in Provo to winter in South America just seemed kind of cruel. When I stepped out of the airport I just could feel the magic in the air. When we got to Provo there were people on bikes, a mini boardwalk party going on, and AND I had my first burger in a month (talk about magical!!!).

I was sitting in sacrament meeting today and as a closing song we sang hymn 293 (the namesake of this post). As we were singing the third verse, "when such a friend from us departs, we hold forever in our hearts..." my thoughts were instantly turned to my friend Isa who recently passed away from Lupus. In that moment I just felt so grateful to have known her, so grateful to have been in youth with her. Even though we weren't the best at keeping in contact, I would always read her blog posts and drop a note here and there. We are all so connected; we all have such stronger influences on others than we could possibly know. 

I got really lucky and got to be home for the wedding of a member from my mission. Talk about nostalgia! It was so good to catch up with the Perez family and others and think about our times together in Houston.

Hna Perez and Ashley. Ashley's eyes got big and wide when she saw me! It was the cutest thing. :) Also, somehow we were matching? NBD I just became part of the wedding line.
With Saul. Last time I saw him we had a chance encounter at a random Mexican market in west valley. I sometimes just really love how small the world really is.
After the wedding, I met up with my roommate and a friend and watched a firework show. Nothing says summer quite like a firework show! 

Being back home also means I can actually fulfill my calling obligations. I'm not going to lie, being a newly called Relief Society President and then leaving out of the country for a month can be just a tad bit stressful. I really tried to do as much as I could while I was away like figure out callings on the plane ride or have presidency meetings over Skype or try and workout visiting teaching on a google doc. When I got home this Monday I was bombarded by it all: a meeting with bishop, a meeting with the stake RS president, answering emails, trying to get visiting teaching started. It was a bit of a whirlwind this week; I couldn't get my days straight for the life of me—I just really needed a good weekend.

I mean, but look at them (we had a lot of girls out of town today #summer) are they not just beautiful??! I'm looking forward to serving, learning from, and loving these beautiful sisters.

While I was brainstorming goals for my Relief Society (RS), I thought a lot about service and how we are happier when we serve those around us/learning to love Heavenly Father's children. I thought about the power of the Book of Mormon and how when we read from its pages we are blessed with inspiration. During this period of reflection I thought the best way to combine the two goals would be to do what we did on my mission—read the Book of Mormon together! So, I found printable BOM reading chart bookmarks via Pinterest and then took some time today to have the girls write down their "service goals" on a hot pink post-it note and then challenged them to to have those goals or questions near them as they read the Book of Mormon and then see how the Lord inspired them. 

My thought is to take five minutes at the start of RS every week to just give time to the sisters to share what they learned in their Book of Mormon reading for the week. Great idea, brought to you by President Crawford and MLC (Missionary Leadership Council). 

We ALL have opportunities to bless the lives of others, it's just a matter of learning to listen to the promptings of the spirit and then acting on them!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

People & Memories of Argentina.

I feel like Argentina was a dream, the best kind of dream. 
Since coming home from my mission, my love of travel has evolved into becoming more about the people I meet rather than the places I get to see. While in Buenos Aires, I was asked several times what I would miss the most about Argentina and my answer was always the same—the people. These are some of the faces that I will especially miss along with stories of some of the most precious memories from my trip.

On the way to Mexico City:
I met Aaliyah, age 5, on my flight from Salt Lake to Mexico City. Little Aaliyah talked up a storm and let me play with her hello kitty play set. I was sitting in my seat when Aaliyah and her abuela came to the row. Aaliyah told her abuela she wanted the window seat (where I was sitting) I thought, "eh, why not?" and let her have my seat. Her abuela looked worried, "are you sure? She loves to talk and will probably bother you a lot!" I assured her it would be fine and sat in between them. Talk she did, but I loved it. We talked about everything and became instant friends. We talked about her uncle on a mission in Chicago. "I miss him" she said. I told her I had gone on a mission. "To Chicago?" No, to Texas. "Oh, my uncle is kind of silly and lazy, but you'd like him. You should be his friend!"

At one point she wanted to take a nap, but couldn't get comfortable so I helped her unbuckle her seatbelt, made a makeshift pillow, and let her lay her head on my lap, as I rubbed her back so she could fall asleep. She maybe slobbered a little on my pants, but I didn't mind. :) The flight attendants thought she was my daughter as they handed me a customs form to fill out for us. When we got to Mexico Aaliyah asked, "So, are you going to Mexico?" "No, I'm going to Argentina!" "Where is that?" I showed her on a map. "Oh, well maybe I can see you tomorrow??" :)

Flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires:
I was feeling really sick, really gross from traveling for hours, and overall just exhausted. I was sitting in the airport at 5 am throwing a mini pity party for myself at my gate when I looked up and saw a group of ten missionaries coming down the escalator. As we were boarding the plane I introduced myself to them. They were newbies; Chilean native headed to the Buenos Aires MTC. We had to board a bus to get to our plane and while on the bus one of the elders said, "let's sing a hymn." I got so embarrassed. Here we were stuffed in a bus with tons of people who were probably still groggy because it was 6 in the morning. "Hermana! Canta con nostoros, sing with us!" The missionaries talked amongst themselves trying to decide what song to sing and I thought, "oh, good maybe they won't sing." Wrong. They chose "Llamados a Servir" Called to Serve. When they started singing I joined in and instantly felt bad that I had gotten embarrassed about the thought of singing. The spirit was so sweet in that little bus, it was transformed into a holy place. I was ignited by those missionaries' spirits and felt a sense  of calm and peace that all would be well and that the Lord's hand would guide me on this trip. 

Moments & Faces in BA
Gaby. The way she would answer the phone, "hoola." Our walks to Budhi's every day for lunch.
Los Hunter. The time we drove down a busy street the wrong way, and drove in circles for 10 min trying to get home to my place. It was hiLARRYous. 
Andrea & Alyssa. "¡Tienes Razon, buen punto!" "Me mueroooooo." The time we heard the craziest playlist on the colectivo: "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele, "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus (no joke I heard this song twice in Argentina. TWICE! I hadn't heard this song in years!), and "Pump Up the Jam" by Technotronic. I wish I was making that up.
Marcos. The best portero I could ever have. He always gave me big hugs and kisses. He was like my grandfather in Argentina, always looking out for me, always greeting me with the biggest smile.
^^We look related, no?
Ronald & Susy. The way susy called Ron, "Gordis." On the way down the ascensor to head out to catch my remis to the airport Susy squeezed my hand and said, "you were a born leader. Keep leading." I wanted to cry right there.
Sara. It felt like we were roommates for longer than just a week and a half! We went on adventures together and she was such a good sport and came to church with me.
Francsico. If I would have been the one to leave first, I probably would have cried. the multiple 3 am REAL talk conversations. My dinner date for when the senior missionaries invited me over. Also, what are the chances that he gets contacted by a Nuskin representative while I'm there and that he could possibly (hopefully!) come to visit Utah in October. En serio?
Franc's Crocs. I made SO much fun of him for these things. Shortly after I tried mate for the first time. I got these texts from my primo Ammon.

I instantly thought of Fran's crocs & just laughed. I told him I'd take a picture of his crocs to remember him by and so I did.
My Argentine family♥.

On this trip, people couldn't wrap their minds on the fact that I wasn't Argentine. "but your castellano is perfect????" As if asking for an explanation "I promise I was born in the U.S." Everyone was confused from the kids at institute, to the immigration officers at the airport. I even got asked if I was Peruvian. Asked if it was offensive for me to be called Yankee? 

I won't miss the construction noises from the new apartment building, but I kind of will. I won't miss the uneven streets or dog poop everywhere, but I kind of will. I won't miss the crazy driving on the colectivos and being smushed by all the people, but I kind of will. 

I'll miss the little elevators, the way you had to ring the doorbells to even get in to apartment buildings or stores. 

The Journey Home.
My remis asked if he could borrow a pen. I lent him one of my pilot .38 G2 pens and he commented on how good of a pen it was. I told him he could have it. Just another person I've converted to the .38 world. 

In the Buenos Aires Airport.
I decided to sit by the windows and had my eyes closed and began saying a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the wonderful experience for the blessings of safety and protection when a woman asked to sit by me and said, "Are you flying to the U.S." (In spanish) I said, "Yes." "Are you Mormon?" I was caught off guard. "Yes, how could you tell?" "Por tu forma de hablar. The way you speak." I was so confused. I had literally said one sentence, that I was going to the U.S., but I went with it. Her name was Elena, she was a sweet little elderly woman. She wasn't a member, but she had rented a house that belonged to her mother to missionaries now for 8 years. She sat with me for a while. At the end she said, "congrats on finishing your mission!" I explained that I had finished my mission over a year ago, "Oh, I thought you were going home. You still have that glow." 


The plane ride from Santiago to Mexico City.
I sat by Elizabeth. She had been doing a study abroad in chile and had just gotten her purse stolen the day before. I told her how I had been in BA and prayed every night that nothing would happen to me. "What religion are you? You said the word orar instead of rezar." I told her I was a member. She had seen the other side of heaven and asked, "why do they put one American companion with one brown companion." (a legitimate, but hilarious question) I shared the story of the restoration and testified of how Christ had come to the Americas, "Wow! I never knew that." She had been baptized two years ago in a Christian church, but had gone "inactive." I pulled out my mission scriptures and had her look at the Book of Mormon and read the intro, she kept reading. I could of kicked myself though for not having a copy to give her, NEVER agin! I'll always have one with me now. I told her to ask the missionaries for one, and she said she would. They had stopped by before, but she didn't know anything about them. 

Mexico City Airport. 
Three missionaries going home (one to Colombia, one to Argentina, one to Bolivia) came up to me. "Hola Hermana!" We chatted some and I congratulated them on coming home and asked them for pass along cards. "We knew you had to be a member because we saw you reading the Book of Mormon." Technically it was the bible, but still... :)

Oh Argentina, you were so good to me. Every bit of the trip just felt so wonderful, so right, so guided. Buenos Aires has become sacred ground for me.

& now let me rise to a whole level of cheesiness and say

Don't cry for me Argentina, 
the truth is I never left you
All through my wild days, 
My mad existence
I kept my promise,
don't keep your distance.

Monday, June 8, 2015

When in BA, do as the Porteños do...

The first Sunday after I found out I would be going to Buenos Aires, I was sitting in the Marriott Center at BYU. We were gathered for a special stake conference: Elder Ballard had come along with Elder L. Whitney Clayton. Elder Clayton's wife also spoke and she told a story from their time living in Buenos Aires while serving in the area presidency. Her story went something along the lines of this:

The Clayton family moved to Buenos Aires when there was a time of economic crisis in the country. The family had just arrived and the Clayton children were anxious to explore the city and get ice cream. Sister Clayton gave her boys the equivalent of US $100 in the form of an Argentine bill, because they hadn't had a chance to break down the bill into change. The boys decided they wanted ice cream, so they went to an ice cream place called, 'Freddo.' Much to their dismay, Freddo couldn't break the large bill for them, so they got creative at purchased $100US dollars worth of ice cream. :)

After hearing that story, I decided I needed to go to this 'freddo' place. Turns out, Freddo is a chain and there was one conveniently close by my house. I made it a tradition that every time I went to take my laundry I would treat myself to a little bit of Freddo. 

Freddo, I will miss you! You were the first thing I knew about Argentina and your dulce de leche flavored ice cream was the last thing I ate there. 
^^I know this is a random pizza picture. But, pizza and helado were my two staple foods while in Argentina. On my last day in the office, we had a pizza party! 
^^I convinced Andrea and Alyssa to do the classic porteño thing and use a 2x1 kilo coupon. We had a movie night +  ice cream my last Friday in BA. In each kilo you can fit three flavors, so we decided we'd make a list.
Mantecol, chocolate Amargo, & dulce de leche con almendras!