Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Girl's Camp "Under Construction!"

As a teenager, attending girl's camp was always one of the highlights of my summer. Escaping the blistering heat of the desert valley to spend a week in the beautiful pine trees and cool weather at Camp Lomia would be a highlight for any Arizona girl, but it was only a small part of it.

The incredible leaders at camp helped make memories that will last a life time! These wonderful leaders gave up the comforts of home to spend time in the outdoors camping with young women for a week. They were amazing leaders who taught us skills, shared their testimonies, made us laugh and helped us build character. I will forever be grateful for those leaders and their example of service. They have set the bar high and I think about them often as I am now a leader and have the daunting task of creating that same kind of experience for my girls, that I so fondly remember.

I have to be honest...I wasn't quite as excited to attend camp as a leader, as I was as a kid! But this is my 4th year at camp as a leader and by far, truly, the best year ever!! We had 19 awesome girls attending from our ward and 5 leaders. GB3 girls were the first to flag every morning, awarded the "cleanest kapers" award almost everyday, and sang the loudest at mealtime (hence we were first in line for almost every meal!) We had our own little cheer, ("GB3, Horses of the Sea!") that we would chant after every song that we sang; our own little hand signal (LOVE in sign language) that we would make as we chanted our little cheer; and our newest little beehive from Mongolia taught a few words in Mongolian, so we had our own little language. We definitely had a lot of GB3 pride! Allie got to go as one of my "leaders", and it was not only a blast to have her there, but she was also a huge help with the girls! Her enthusiasm was contagious and the girls loved listening to her "tragic dating stories" everynight! It was wonderful to have 3 of my daughters to share the week with at camp!

Monday, July 28, 2008

BRAZIL! Summer of 2008!

I am just now finishing posting our pictures from our trip to Brazil! I took so many pictures! I tried to only use the very best ones...but I had such a hard deciding which ones to use...I still had to make 5 different slideshows (see below) which probably included way too many pictures...sorry! But it was such an incredible vacation that I wanted to capture every moment!

What a wonderful experience, visiting the place where Tyler served his mission...so many sweet memories meeting the people of Manaus. We spent 5 days in the city of Manaus, seeing the sketchy places Tyler lived as an elder, visiting the dear families that he taught and baptized, and spent three wonderful evenings going to dinner and farewell parties with President and Sister Itinose and their family. It was their last week before they headed home to Sao Paulo. It was so fun to get to know them since we have spent so much time with their daughters, Melina and Mariana, in Utah. Sister Itinose is just like Melina...so much personality and so darling!

There are tender moments that we experienced that are forever etched in my heart as we visited the families that Tyler taught. Some of my favorite moments are when the little boys in their soccer uniforms ran up the steep hill to Tyler, threw their arms around his neck and squealed with joy when they saw him et out of the car. Or the night we spent the evening in the Oliviera families home, sitting together in their little living room, where their baptismal certificates are framed and hang on the wall, as we listened to them tell us in portuguese how Sis. Oliviera was so excited to meet us that she couldn't even go to work that day and how Tyler is one of their sons because he taught them the gospel. Or when one little boy was so excited to meet us that he eagerly pulled out his cell phone and showed us the pictures of Elder Holt, taken when Tyler had taught the family the gospel many months ago! These are just a few of highlights of our time spent with the people Tyler taught. Having a missionary is a such blessing, but returning to see the fruits of his labors was an experience that we will never forget!

Driving around in Manaus was crazy, because it is such a huge city with insane traffic, extremely confusing roads and signs, and people driving like maniacs! It was nuts...but it made for some unbelievable memories of intense driving with Dad at the wheel, Tyler playing "navigator" and the 4 girls squished in the backseat of a little Fiat...it was awesome! All I have to say is that Jeff Gordon has nothing on Dad!

After our time in Manaus, we took a boat ride up the Amazon river and spent 3 days in the rainforest! We loved our tours on the Amazon river, and staying at the Ariau Jungle towers (where Survivor 2 was filmed) was an adventure! One of our favorite activities was crocodille hunting at night..it was awesome! And our guide, "John of the Jungle" and Regiani ("Crocodille Dundie"), our boat driver were amazing!

Then we headed down to the Brazil/Argentina border, to the spectacular Falls at Iguassu! The boat ride down the river to view the falls was wild and unforgettable! We stayed at the Hotel Das Cataratas overlooking the falls and we loved the view of the breathtaking falls from our steps of our hotel.

Our last 3 days were spent in Rio and...Wow! Rio was so beautiful! The views from Sugarloaf mountain were simply spectacular! We stayed at the famous Copacobana beach and it was the perfect way to end the vacation...enjoying the sun and relaxing on the beach with the family!

Brazil is such an amazing country...so diverse and beautiful! After spending 2 wonderful weeks with the family, I once again realized how much I love traveling to foreign countries with our family, exposing them to different cultures and seeing the beautiful world that our Heavenly Father created! It's feels like a little bit of heaven on earth! Oh yeah,... and once again, I realized how much I love to take pictures...lots of them:)!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday with the Crandall's in NYC!

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of being in NYC, along with Brett's parents, Dennis and Laura Crandall, when Brett was called to be Bishop of the Union Square ward. We took the red-eye out Saturday night, changed into our Sunday clothes at the airport and arrived just in time for church. It was a wonderful day spent with Brett and Kimber, and Brett's parents! Needless to say, Kimber and Brett were a little bit shocked and feeling a little overwelmed, but felt the love and support from so many people in their ward, their family and friends. They both shared sweet and tender testimonies at Sacrament meeting. After church, Brett had meetings, but the rest of us went to Brett and Kimber's apartment where Kimber treated us to a delicious dinner. After attending a baptism, back at the church, we found out that all of our flights had been cancelled. We panicked a little (OK...a lot!) because we were supposed to be flying out of Sacramento in the morning to Brazil with Tyler, Allie, Ashley and Brooke! We immediately jumped in a cab, headed to the airport, we called Tyler and Allie, who got on the internet and were able to find flights for us to Vegas. We got in at 1:30 am, spent the night in a sketchy hotel (it was the closest to the airport), and caught the first Southwest flight back to Sacramento in the morning! We had about 2 hours to finish packing and then headed back to the airport with the kids! A little stressful but it was worth it! What a wonderful way to start our 2 week vacation to Brazil! It was great to be able to share the day with all the Crandall's!

Standing outside the church in Manhattan, New York on Sunday, June 22, 2008.

Dennis & Laura Crandall and Mark & Debbie enjoying a beautiful Sunday in New York City with Brett & Kimber!