Tuesday, August 26, 2008


London Packing List
From the BYU Study Abroad Student Handbook:
  • 3-5 pairs of pants
  • 6-8 shirts
  • 1-2 casual skirts
  • 1 nice dress
  • a one piece bathing suit
  • pajamas
  • jacket
  • 1-2 pairs of comfortable shoes
  • comfortable dress shoes
  • towel

Now let me show you my dilemma:

and . . .

Now do you see my problem? Let's just say I have a few more shoes than I'm supposed to and . . . if you can't tell by the piles of pants and the large stack of hangers in the second picture, a couple more clothes than is recommended. But hey!!! I can't help it! I want to go over to London and LIVE there for three and a half months, not be a long-term-tourist. SIX TO EIGHT SHIRTS! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I think I would die. I get easily bored with my closet-full of clothes after a while.

Well, last night mom helped me sort through my things and I did end up leaving two pairs of pants home and a few shirts. Not an easy thing that. Since I'm an expert packer I've gotten all my stuff in my one suitcase and carry-on . . . now it's time to weigh it and I'm just crossing my fingers that it's not overweight or there will be trouble.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Fun

I've been slacking on the blogging front this summer so I thought I'd give a few highlights in pictures . . .

On the 24th of July our family went to see the new Batman movie and we were surprised when The Joker showed up at our 24th of July celebrations!!!

We celebrated the great holiday with lots of fireworks! Here is one reflected in the Brown's pool.

Avery and I have been long anticipating the new book, Breaking Dawn, from Stephenie Meyer. We have had copies reserved since the beginning of February. So on August 1 we woke up early and headed down to Barnes and Noble to get our wristbands so we could get our books at midnight. When Nate and I went to get our wristband for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we were disappointed to find that we were about the 100th person in line, and it was only 7 am! So Avery and I went a little earlier . . . arriving at the bookstore at 6 am. Well . . . we were first in line (as you can see in the picture above). Carloads of people began arriving around 6:30.

Here is Avery modeling our wristband, which we were very proud of. Notice the A1 . . . that means we would be the first to get our books at midnight!!!
Here is Avery holding the sign . . . signifying that we were first in line. Sadly, my camera died just after this picture so we didn't get to document the rest of the night. We got quite a few dirty looks from others in the store. At 12:01 am on August 2 we got our books and hurried home to read. The parking lot was full of people and they screamed and screamed when they saw us walk out with our books . . . good times! Avery and I read the first chapter together before going to bed. But I couldn't sleep, so I read through the night and quickly finished . . . Avery wasn't too happy with me. I read it with her again though, which was a lot of fun!

I couldn't help but put this picture in. At my cousin Brit's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, I convinced my grandma to pose with this moose!!! She is the greatest.
As my mom mentioned on her blog we recently went up to Rexburg, Idaho for a tour of my grandpa's history. It was a lot of fun . . . something many of the grand kids weren't convinced of before going. Since my mom did such a great job at explaining I suggest you visit the family blog (http://ohtobeskiing.blogspot.com/) and read about it . . . that way I don't have to repeat everything on my blog!!!
The family hiking up the highest sand dune. I was impressed by grandma and grandpa . . . they weren't tired at all and it wasn't the easiest walk!!!

The Tetons from the Idaho side with miles of farmland between.

The Tetons from the Wyoming side . . . one of my favorite sights in the whole world.

After eating lunch at Leeks Marina we enjoyed some ice cream on the beach . . . Stockton seemed to enjoy it more than most.

Of course we couldn't drive through Grand Teton National Park without stopping at our favorite swimming hole, the water was so refreshing! I just wish we had the boat so I could get a good ski in . . . look at the water, it was perfect for skiing, nearly glass!!!

Avery posing on our log.

The girls at the base of the Grand.

Grandma and Grandpa . . . they were good sports for coming on our not-quite-short detour.

It's been a great summer . . . and I'm sad for it to end. But on the other hand, I'm excited to start and new adventure! Next stop . . . London!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Concern for the One

My birthday just happened to fall on a Sunday this year and, to celebrate the happy day, my ward asked me to speak. Well . . . they didn't really know it was my birthday and I definitely wasn't going to be telling anyone, so I agreed. I was asked to speak on my experiences in Ghana which I was excited to share with those who hadn't heard yet. It was a lot of fun, not to mention very emotional, to go through all of my journal entries and pictures looking for ideas. After some preparation I came up with a little overview to share and I thought that I would share it with you:

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ghana, a country in West Africa, to do some service in a school and orphanage called Sankofa, located in a small village. When our group arrived we asked the director how we could help the most during the time we were there. He then asked us to take the children struggling with English and teach them as much as we could. The school also had a spare hour which we could use to teach anything we wanted. We quickly decided that we wanted the children to have a creative outlet so we turned to art and different activities. I remember one of our first days at Sankofa. We were working with class 1, which is roughly equivalent to 1st grade. After passing out crayons and paper we asked the children to draw a number of things. The last item which we asked them to draw was what they wanted to be in the future. This was a concept none of the children were familiar with. The director explained to us that if these children became anything other than subsistence farmers, their parents would tell them what they would be. We began explaining to these children, through a translator, that they could be anything they wanted to be if they stayed in school and worked hard. We gave them some options of things they could draw, a footballer, a driver, a shopkeeper, a doctor, etc. and the children began drawing the things that we had listed, not really comprehending yet, most of them decided that they would play football for the national team. But I remember watching one child sit and think. All of the sudden the light bulb came on over his head and he began drawing very quickly. I wandered over to this small child and asked him about his picture. He pointed proudly at his drawing and said “airplane.” Surprised I asked him if he would be a pilot when he grew up and he nodded his head excitedly. Only once did we see an airplane fly over this small village.

In his latest conference talk, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke on “Concern for the One.” He stated: “Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one.” While in Ghana, my testimony on the importance of the one was greatly strengthened. As a developing country Ghana is still working out many problems with its education system, many schools continue to work with mediocre text books, or none at all, teachers can be anyone who is hired for the job, many of whom did not complete school themselves. With 40% of Ghana’s population under the age of 15, it is an even greater struggle to keep children in school.

Teaching in the Ghanaian school system is based on memorization. Most of the children we worked with could recite their ABCs and some could even write them out, but they had difficulty in identifying individual letters. The words they could read were only the ones which they had been taught and memorized. So we worked with the children on letter recognition and phonics. Given a little one on one attention these struggling students began doing very well. By the end of the three weeks we were there teaching most could recognize individual letters and some could even sound out words they were not familiar with. All of the children loved learning especially if they were recognized individually for something done right. They would do anything for a simple high five, or “well done,” or a sticker at the end of class. It was so amazing to see the difference in these children when they realized that they could do well and they were loved as individuals.

The Lord shows His concern for the One in many different ways. While in Ghana I was blessed to stay with an LDS host family and my host father told me a little about the Church’s history in Ghana. In the late 1960s several individuals learned about the Church and wanted to be baptized. They wrote to the leaders of the Church and asked for The Book of Mormon as well as missionaries to come and teach them. The Church happily sent copies of the Book of Mormon; however, the Church wrote back and told them it was not yet their time to have the missionaries but soon they would have the opportunity to join the Church. In the meantime these individuals set up different congregations throughout Ghana and began teaching from and studying the Book of Mormon. They worked to have the Church recognized by the Ghanaian government so that when the time did come no additional work would have to be done. In 1969, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was finally recognized by the government. It wasn’t until 1978, when President Kimball received the revelation which extended the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church that missionaries were sent to Ghana. Our host father took us to many of the sites from the early days of the Church in Cape Coast. The tiny home which the first followers met in, the building they expanded to when more people joined the congregation and the first meeting house in Cape Coast. We were also able to visit the Accra, Ghana temple and feel the Spirit there. The people of Ghana and Africa are so grateful for a house of the Lord so close to home. Our host parents were baptized soon after the missionaries arrived and our host father expressed his gratitude that Lord showed love to him personally by giving him 9 years to accept the gospel so that he could be baptized when the missionaries arrived.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us all individually. I am so grateful to Him for the opportunity to travel to Ghana and serve the people there. I will never forget the blessings and knowledge I gained from my experince in Ghana.