September 6, 2012

In a Nutshell

So it's been 3 months since I really posted anything other than about our Guatemala trip. I feel like I should catch everyone up on all of our happenings. All of the things that could get a post of their own, will get a bullet point. Oh well. We can't be perfect all the time.

- 2 weeks after getting back from Guatemala I found out I was pregnant with baby #2. I'm now 15 weeks. (As you can tell I'm not big into the whole fancy announcement thing)
-I found out at girls camp because I started gagging when brushing my teeth.
-Shay is COMPLETELY potty trained. Including night training. We only had one big accident. Unfortunately it was all over a bench at church... We haven't had an accident since.
-Shay turned 3!! We did not have a party for her because this Mama was not doing well.
-Jon has a new job at Netflix. He put his two weeks notice in at Duff and Phelps in July . We spent a week and a half with family in Utah between jobs. He is loving his new job! And he's home around 6:30 each night, so we actually get to eat dinner as a family.
-We are moving to a 3 bedroom house in Santa Clara. That means I will have a washer and dryer and a yard!!! We're moving in 2 weeks.
-It also means we're leaving our ward. Something we aren't super excited about. But we're staying at this ward through October since I'm the member of the primary presidency who is writing the primary program.

Well I think that is us in a nutshell right now. Now I can maybe update this blog as everything happens.

September 5, 2012

Tikal... This is it folks.

Oh Tikal. We had a fabulous time there. We had to wake up around 4 am to make our flight to these beautiful ruins.
Breathtaking, eh? Don't worry this is one of the worst pictures. The night before we were talking to Jon's Mom and she found out I had been stung by a scorpion. She told me to wear 2 pairs of garments for extra protection. I chose to wear none. Judge not, lest you be judged people.
This is the plane we flew out there in. Propellers, people. Propellers.
 Oh and don't forget not to feed the crocodiles while you are there.
Doesn't it seem like my life was in imminent danger a lot while we were there? It probably was. But we made it back safe and sound for all of you to read about.

There isn't a whole lot to tell about the day. Pictures are worth a thousand words. I think we hiked 3 of the temples and we basically walked around for 6 hours.

 How do like this panoramic view? We were (for the millionth time that trip) quite literally in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town was an hour away.

 A lot of the ruins haven't been uncovered. There were so many times you would be walking around and realize you were walking on ruins that were still covered. Or that the grassy hill wasn't actually a hill. It was a Mayan structure of some sort.

We had a really knowledgeable guide. I wish I could say I remember anything he told us. I really don't.

I think Jon has been waiting for 3 months for me to post this picture.
Why yes. That is a tarantula in his hands. No I didn't hold it. But I was really brave and took a good picture of it.

Don't we look so outdoorsy? And quite disheveled by this point of the day? 
 There he is folks! Flying through the jungle! The pictures of me have been purposely omitted out of vanity. Just take my word for it. I did it. It scared me half to death at first but I was actually a little better at it than Jon. (Don't tell him I told you) There was a time when I was adventurous. While we were there, whenever we would meet people they were always surprised at two things. 1. that we were so young and married (and had been married for 4 years) and 2. That we had a 3 year old at home. We look young. What can I say. Did I mention I'll be pushing 30 this year? Yikes!

We had a fun 9 day getaway and it was a great thing for our marriage. We have a happy marriage, but there were so many times when I just looked at Jon and thought, "Oh yeah, this is why I fell in love with this guy." I highly recommend going. Scorpion sting, and all. At this point it seems like it happened a lifetime ago. What  a beautiful little slice of paradise.

July 23, 2012

Guatemala Continued-- The Coast

So I realize it's been almost 2 months since we got back from Guatemala. I have a really good reason for being so delayed... I promise... Anyway I've forgotten a lot, so this will be pretty short.

We drove down the very windy road all the way from Xela to Malacatan. Driving in Guatemala is a different experience. It is one of the most mentally draining things I've ever done. You will be driving down a 2 lane highway, through the mountains, dodging buses and trucks that are trying to pass someone in your lane, also dodging the people on the side of the road and sometimes walking or standing in the middle of the road selling goods, dodging potholes and speed bumps that are BLACK and of varying sizes that you can't see until you are right about to go over them ( A slight miracle our rental car came back in one piece, no?) and then you throw in rain like this:

That is what it looked like with the wipers on high. We were sure we would be involved in a serious accident and possibly not come back alive on many occasions. It didn't help that we had experiences like the scorpion and Jon's allergies.

We arrived though and stayed in a decent little hotel. It was honestly the nicest one around. What would be considered a dive in the States was our nicest hotel in the area. The real kicker for the hotel was that it had air conditioning. A huge plus when you are in a place that is near a 100 degrees and 100% humidity. We had a good time. Visited some of the families that Jon knew on his mission. The other nice thing about our hotel was that it had a little restaurant on site. It was one of the few places that Jon and I ate where we didn't end up with a serious case of what the missionaries down there refer to as boo. So we stayed there both nights because of the air conditioning and the great, sanitary cook. (TMI?)

We arrived in the evening that first day and ate dinner, found a little store where we bought a whole bunch of candy (Most of which is sitting in my cupboard as we speak) and laid low for the night. We had just come from the temple that morning. Jon gave me a car tour of Malacatan and we found the LDS chapel. It was one of the largest buildings in the city, so pretty hard to miss!

The next day we drove down to the beach, it was about a 45 minute drive. It was HOT, HOT, HOT, I have never been somewhere so hot in my life. It was a black sand beach so the water looked grey but when you got in the water it was so warm.

Look at us, aren't we hot:
I'm actually a little shocked we didn't get roasted there. It was melt your face off hot. (How many times can I say hot in one blog post? Don't worry more to come. There is just no way to adequately describe how hot it is, other than to say hot. If we were talking I would be saying hot with an emphasis.)

Here are some pictures of the beach. It was kind of dumpy, very third world, but beautiful in it's own way.

We ran into some missionaries there, walking the road, looking hot and miserable. We offered them a ride and they took us up on it. We were actually seeing if they had keys to a church building so we could use a sanitary toilet. Those are hard to come by when you are out in the middle of no where! So they helped us out and then had us drive them around for a bit. I don't know that they had anywhere to go really, but they were so grateful for our air conditioned car in the middle of day in Tecun Uman (sp?) You should just be impressed I've been able to spell everything else correctly so far! Actually one of the missionaries was stung by a scorpion while we were with them. I'm pretty sure the scorpions were all out to get me that trip. Needless to say I was a little freaked out.

We headed to Coatepeque after the beach and visited some of Jon's favorite people he taught there. We were glad we did, because their family is facing some serious trials right now and I think it meant a lot to them to see Elder Laudie and have someone care about what they were going through.

This is Lucy and her Dog. She sat on my foot and wouldn't let me leave when we tried to go. She also would switch between Jon and I having us scratch her ears. She loved to be loved! She was a great guard dog too. Every time someone came by the place she was on full alert until they were safely past and she knew her home was safe.
This is her daughter Wendy and some of her family. We were able to visit with them for awhile as well. Wendy met her husband, who was a member of the church, after Jon had baptized her. They are the upper class in this town and were living a happy life until he was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis is a little bleak, but they are hopeful he will pull through.

Back in Malacatan we went through an outside market looking for goods to bring home and walked away with some clay serving dishes that I had seen and fallen in love with at one of the restaurants we ate at. Perfect for serving salsa and guacamole in a stylish way. I love them. We also walked away with a lot of other cool  souvenirs including a mask that Shayla refers to as the monster mask. She loves to put it on and roar at me. It was an interesting experience and I love so many of the souvenirs that we looked at. One thing I didn't love so much was dodging men carrying large slabs of raw meat on their backs. It was different than it is in the U.S. It was also blasted hot under the tents and Jon and I had to just get used to being sweaty the whole time we were there!

This was our only ride in a tuk-tuk during our trip. a little cab that is attached to a motorcycle looking thing. It was an experience!
Again we are so hot... I know I said this would be short. I lied. Oh well. I'm sure you're dying to hear about Tikal! After this we found our rental car (We took it to a mechanic to have him glue a plastic piece back on... darn speed bumps. I guess we almost made it back with it in one piece.) and drove back to the capital, Guatemala City, so that we could catch a plane the next day to Tikal. Oh the adventures!

June 14, 2012

Mommy Wow!!

I obviously do not have time to write the long novel blogposts about our time in Guatemala right now. Don't worry those are coming. They are really so that Jon and I remember everything... But I interrupt those posts to tell you Shayla is a big girl. And I quite possibly have the easiest child in the world.

Tonight Shayla disappeared telling me she needed to go to the bathroom. Not thinking anything of it I continued to NOT pay attention to my child as I tried to get a million things done today. The next thing I knew she walked out with out a diaper or her pants on and said "Mommy! I went peepee in the potty!"

Sure enough she had taken the initiative to potty train herself and had gone in her little potty. We'll see how the next few days go... I leave for girls camp on Monday... timing is not ideal....

She was rewarded by getting to wear her cinderella panties. She is currently proudly sporting them around with only a shirt on. Ah to be almost 3 in the summer. What a girl!

June 6, 2012

Xela (Pronounced Shayla- now you know where we got her name!)

You'll be happy to hear our trip got better after we left the lake. We headed out from Lake Atitlan early Wednesday morning. In fact we didn't bother showering or eating breakfast. Not that we could have if we wanted to... The power was still off. So that meant no running water. From the little casa we headed to one of the other little villages, Santa Catarina, on an errand from Jon's Mom to pick up some corte fabric from that region. We found a place to park the car and walked through their market place. We picked up a few things here and there and enjoyed about an hour walking around their market. As we tried to pull out of our parking spot a police man blocked our way and told us that we needed to pay him 5 Quetzales for parking in that spot. Jon told him to get out of town and that he was just trying to charge us because we were gringos. I was a little afraid at this point that he would throw us in a Guatemalan prison and that no one would hear from us again. But he smiled, agreed, and let us go on our way. Jon felt he had won a huge victory and drove away feeling like the king of the world.

We arrived in Xela and found a hotel to stay in. Hotel 6. Not to be confused with the American chain Motel 6. But probably named after it... Guatemalan's love everything American. Showered and started exploring some of Jon's old area's. He was surprised to see a Wal-mart, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy's and a few other American establishments that had made their way into this town since he had last been there. We ate at the S ubway and then traveled into Totonicapan. A little village up in the mountains where Jon spent some of his time. We toured most of this part of his mission in car and found old apartments he had lived in.

We did get out of the car to explore the town square in Xela, and took some pictures of the old Catholic church there. The architecture here is amazing and all of the details are so fascinating.  I loved seeing all of the ancient buildings. Guatemala is a very dirty, but absolutely breath-taking place.

That night we went to see the temple at night:

These are the stain glassed windows with the mayan design. Very fitting for this temple.

I love seeing temples at night so I asked Jon if we could go look at it. On Thursday morning we headed back to the temple to do an endowment session.

The temple is even more spectacular in the daylight. The endowment room is painted with scenes from Guatemala. You see the lush jungle and even a depiction of Lake Atitlan and a Quetzal bird. While we were in there Jon ran into quite a few people he had known on his mission. So as I sat in the endowment room with my very limited Spanish it was a huge home coming for Jon. It was fun to see. When we arrived we were surprised to find out that they don't rent out temple clothing but they offered to let us borrow some. I had to go into the women's dressing room with women who spoke only Spanish and try to let them know what size I needed all my clothing in. Jon was a little worried I wouldn't make it out of there. So was I. But I struggled through with hand gestures and a little Spanish here and there. And of course a kind smile to make up where my language ability lacked. I was pretty proud of myself when a woman asked why I was in Guatemala and I explained (in Spanish nonetheless) that Jon had served his mission in Xela 6 years ago.

Many of the people in the temple with us had been in there since it had opened and were planning on being in there for a few more hours. Jon was sad (I was oblivious) because everyone from our session was on their way to do sealings but we had to check out of our hotel so we had to hurry off right after the session.

We had been sent with a mission to try and locate a missionary in one of Jon's old areas. - side note- while in the temple Jon learned that his first area(the area where this missionary was now serving), where they hadn't had a lot of success was now booming. There were 4 pairs of missionaries in one ward and they were going to have to split a ward that eight years ago had been struggling with attendance.-- We tried to find the missionary, and on our way out of town gave up and left some goodies from home for him in the mission office.

As we were driving away and through Esperanza, who should we run into? But the missionary we had been looking for! We had almost gone through the center of town looking for him one last time, but had decided since we no longer had the goodies to continue on our way. So it was on a side street, on our way out of town that we ran into him.

 As we pulled up he called Jon, Ben. (Jon's 16 year old brother) Which really threw Jon. He's used to being mistaken for Jim and Mike. But being mistaken for Ben was a first. He was able to chat with the missionary about the area and found out that one of the girls Jon had baptized right before he left wasn't really attending church anymore. So we changed our plans again to drop by her house and see how she was doing. It wasn't a come to Jesus visit. But Jon was hoping that seeing him would reignite the testimony that he knew this young lady had. We left Elder Wimmer with a few tastes of home we had stashed away in our backpack and headed to see this girl. She was really surprised to see Ex-Elder Laudie sitting on her couch and we had a great visit with them. What a tender mercy we had running into Elder Wimmer. I truly felt like we were being led by the spirit and that we were where we needed to be at the right time and the right place.

More to come on the trip. I still have to blog about the coast and Tikal (My favorite day of the whole trip)

May 30, 2012

Atitlan Adventures

Wow. We are so glad that leg of the trip is over. We were very excited for the little casa we had rented but circumstances not in our control turned a luxurious romantic getaway into a little piece of hell in the middle of heaven on earth. It wasn't all bad, but every time we went back to our casa tragedy struck. As I mentioned before as I was finishing up my last post a bat was swooping in at my head, which was a little disconcerting but more amusing than anything else. We decided to turn in for the night and did what we thought was a thorough inspection of the room and bed to make sure there weren't any unwanted visitors. Then the power went out so we sat in bed chatting for a bit about our plans for the next day. As we were lying there I could feel something next to my right ear. Thinking it was a flying bug I swatted it and half a second later jumped up shrieking at the top of my lungs.

This "friend" decided he wanted to bunk with us and when I tried to swat him away he stung me.
Creepy, eh? I told Jon I thought a scorpion had stung me and he told me I was maybe a little crazy. As I mentioned before the power was out so we couldn't turn on any lights. So I stood in the room paralyzed with fear, grasping my finger which was throbbing, while Jon searched through the bed to find the culprit with the light of his laptop. He found a small spider and thought maybe I had been bit by that? But I assured him it was something much larger. Soon we found him and Jon yelled, "Oh crap. You WERE stung by a scorpion." 

So we sprayed him generously with bug spray and woke up the landlords pleading for flashlights. We did a much more extensive search of the bed and I slept with one eye open the rest of the night. We were out in a remote village that you can only reach by boat and the last one leaves at 7:30 pm so there was no going anywhere. Luckily scorpions in that area aren't poisonous to humans, they just hurt for a few days. 

We woke up in the morning and headed out to visit some of the little villages on the lake. We took a public bus to San Pedro and this time the water was calm and beautiful and I wasn't fearing for my life because of the choppiness of the water. We walked around San Pedro for awhile and took some of these photos.
A church turned hospital

A picture of the town park and church

How granola do I look? It just got worse...

That is one good looking man next to a statue of Jesus

Jon wanted me to pretend like I was getting baptized here too. I thought it might be a little sacrilegious.

 After San Pedro we hopped in the back of a truck to go to the next town called San Juan. While we were there we picked up two cute paintings. It was a very enjoyable exchange and his wife gave us some homemade bracelets as a thank you for buying the paintings. I'm thinking of redecorating my kitchen in a central america theme.  
A school band was playing as we walked by

Here we are in the little restaurant where we ate lunch

We ate lunch at a little restaurant. When we walked in, no one was in there. Within moments of ordering, though, it was full of locals coming to eat lunch. It was delicious! You can't go wrong at a local hangout. We had homemade corn tortillas and guacamole. I had the grilled chicken and Jon had grilled steak. We played a "game" with the locals. Every time we looked at them they would just giggle like crazy. 

After we were done with lunch there were some rain clouds looming and we were a little afraid of being stranded in the jungle during a large storm so we headed back to our casa. As soon as we were there Jon started having allergies like crazy so we hiked up to Santa Cruz, the little village a few miles away from where we were staying, and found a little pharmacy and got some antihistamine for Jon. We also went into a little house and bought homemade tortillas from a woman for our dinner which we made back at the house. 

This was our little out door cooking area. It's also where I was attacked by a large moth and the bat...

When we were in Santa Cruz Jon's allergies were almost gone, but as soon as we got back to the casa it flared right back up. Soon he was having a little trouble breathing and he was wheezing, but just our luck we were stranded in a remote part of Guatemala and it was past when all the boats leave and the power went out again. Luckily we had kept the flashlights from the night before. So we watched a movie and got ready for bed and counted the hours before we could leave and be  done with this leg of our journey. When we woke up the water still wasn't back on so we left sans shower. Washed our faces and teeth from purified water in a jug and headed to Xela. (Pronounced Shayla) Now we are here and showered and there will be more to come on this adventure. 

May 28, 2012

"Buenas" from Guatemala

That's right. This blogpost is coming from Guate! You can follow all of our travels here.

The plane ride was uneventful. Other then the fact that we didn't really get to sleep at all on Saturday night. Not too abnormal an amount of turbulance. When we arrived in Houston we went in the United lounge and I found a corner, put on my eyemask and some ear plugs and sacked out for an hour. The plane ride to Guatemala we both fell asleep for a good portion of it. We were awake for the last 45 minutes or so. I woke up just in time to get a diet coke from the stewardess. Good timing if you ask me!

We drove to Antigua from Guatemala City and promptly got lost looking for our hotel. It's a little hard to find your way around here. Luckily we weren't in a huge hurry and so we just bumped along the cobblestone roads looking for Casa Madeleine on Calle del Espiritu Santo. Needle in a haystack my friends. We did find it though and it was this quaint little house that only had 6 rooms in it. We were the only guests and the staff treated us like royalty.
Our balcony in our room, a good view of downtown Antigua

Me in downtown Antigua, tourist much?

There were lots of ruins like this in the downtown and surrounding areas. Everywhere you look there is something super interesting to look at

The arch leading into a monastery. Yes there are this many people EVERYWHERE.

Our room. super messy, super small, but oh so charming.

We wandered around downtown Antigua for a few hours, and bought plenty of local goods. In fact there was one painting we really wanted to buy from this one guy. But it turned into a battle of wills and he wouldn't come down to our price. We had already over payed for 2 smaller paintings, so we felt we had to stay strong on the smaller price for the large painting. He never went down and we walked away. I'm praying we can find another painting we like as much because Jon regrets the decision a little. Shayla will be thoroughly spoiled with Guatemalan dresses and jewelry and toys by the time we get home. Then we found a little taco restaurant to eat at. The tacos here are much different then the tacos you get in America. They were on soft homemade corn tortillas with your choice of meat on it and then you could top it with pico or a salsa of your choice. So yummy. As we  headed back to the hotel we stopped at a little ice cream shop and walked home eating ice cream cones, and crashed. We went to bed at 8 and woke up 12 hours later. I guess we were pretty beat after our red eye! In the little market place there was a lot to see and a street performer who was done up like a clown with a white face and black makeup. He was riding a uni-cycle (quite the feat on cobblestone) and juggling. And making fun of people in the crowd for tips. 

It was a fun little stop and when we woke up in the morning we had breakfast at our hotel. It was delicious and there was a woman in the kitchen making the food for us. They also brought out orange juice for us. But the orange juice there is extremely sweet, there was almost no tang to it all. It was different and exotic. I guess that is what the oranges down here taste like. It was fresh squeezed and the most delicious orange juice I've ever tasted. 

Once we were ready and all packed up we headed down the road to go to Lake Atitlan. We are currently staying in a little casa. The only way to get here is by boat. When we arrived it started pouring rain and there were a few times as we sped across the choppy lake on a small little boat that I feared for my life. We caught air a few times and the waves were splashing in at us. Our only protection was a metal roof above our heads and some tarps attached to the side of the boat. The driver was getting soaked and would bend down while driving to bail water out of the bottom of the boat. 

This is the view from our little patio. You can see the path right down to the lake and the dock. 

And this is the casa. The kitchen is outside so tonight I cooked us dinner outside with just a small roof over my head. Such a different experience. 
We hiked into the nearest small town called Santa Cruz La Laguna and bought some tortillas for our dinner tonight. We had to cross a little creek (A fairly large creek honestly). Jon made it safely across. But I knew that with my lack of physical prowess it was a disaster waiting to happen. Sure enough I fell in. On the way back I just walked through it. I figured I would get less wet that way. Then we walked across this little make shift boardwalk that you think you will fall through any minute (Luckily that didn't happen) and up a steep hill to Santa Cruz. Earlier that day we had done all our shopping in a little outdoor market. It was a different experience and I'm sure I broke some cultural rule (Jon: Yes, you did) by walking back into a shop and starting to pick up some of the stuff we wanted. The people here are so helpful. I keep asking Jon if we should tip people and he just shrugs and says, I don't think so. Although a little boy did ask us for a thousand dollars on our way back home tonight. I guess we are Americano's and look wealthy? Haha! Jon told him no and to go home. 

Everywhere we go we walk and walk and walk. And our appetites are suppressed due to travel and your typical Central America tummy trouble. So I'm thinking this could be the best weight loss plan we've ever had. 

I miss Shay like crazy and woke up stressing out because I couldn't remember what I fed Shay yesterday and it stressed me out that I hadn't taken very good care of her. Then I remembered she was in good hands and that it wasn't currently my responsibility (Thanks Laura and Andy). What a trip! More to come... I'll update as long as we have internet access. 

Here are some flowers in the garden right outside our casa:

The view to the right of our casa. Yes I took this in our front yard.

And our own personal banana tree. They're green, but if they were yellow we would be picking our very own bananas. 

As I write this in our little patio a bat has come to visit me. I'm not in Kansas anymore Toto.