Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 110: Juntos por Siempre

Lazy Sundays like today have become days that I actually really enjoy. Being able to go to my ward in the morning, come home to my sisters still in their pajamas, and sit and read a good chunk of the Book of Mormon in Spanish, is what I would call a very relaxing day and an opportunity to ponder... A lot.

Lately, I have not been able to get a certain hymn out of my head. It has significance to current situations but I just didn't know why it was this particular song. Well today I figured out how to get it out (not that I don't like hymns in my head, I'm just making room for a new one to obsess about). I often get these feelings like I need to write. Mostly when that happens, I wrote songs. Today in church, I wrote some of a new arrangement to the hymn "Families Can be Together Forever". The actual music is still in the works but I can at least provide the lyrics:

I have a family here on earth
They are so good to me
I want to share my life with them
For all eternity

Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father's plan
I always want to be
With my own family
And The Lord has shown me how I can
The Lord has shown me how I can

I have a family (I have a family)
Not always close to me (always close to me)
I know that heaven holds for us (heaven holds for us)
A grand eternity

Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father's plan
We're always going to be
With our own family
And The Lord has shown us how we can
The Lord has shown us how we can

The lyrics aren't changed much, but I added a little verse. You really can't mess too much with already perfect lyrics. So far, I like it... Kinda. I don't really love my work till its done.

So I've reflected a lot on the concept of eternal families. It's a very unique concept to my religion. A promise that you and your family will be together in heaven is very reassuring in a world that would try to make me think otherwise. Life will throw curveballs at you, and some of those balls may even hit and bruise you. In the end, it doesn't really matter all too much when all that really mattered is in heaven with you.

Being away from family is a little difficult for me at the moment, but I know I'm not really that far away because I'm always there in spirit. My prayers go out to them in their moment of trial and uncertainty. My family reminds me of a scripture in 1 John 4:18.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear..."
Fearless people are not the people who aren't afraid of anything. They are the people who love and know the right things, and therefore have nothing to fear. I have many fearless family members who have shown their courage. I hope I can have a family of my own that loves as fearlessly as they do.

Here's to families that stick together. Cause we're stuck together no matter what. ;)

I love (and miss) my family like crazy.

Ps: the pic is to show my feast after the fast... Nothing like a good book and a signature Miller grilled cheese sandwich on a lazy Sunday like this. Mom, your sandwiches are still superior tasting, but I tried. ;)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 108: Pan y Mi Villano Favorito

Guess what? IT'S FRIDAY!
No this is not actually me, but I totally wish it was. Anyways. 

Today was a great morning cause we got to go and make... 


Ok, so that's not as exciting as it sounds, but honestly, you've heard me rant about the bread here being so good, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I was excited to make it. 

From Left to Right: Alfredo, (Can't remember), Martin
Originally, we tried to go to one of the higher end stores that are more industrialized. They said no to letting us watch though. Boo, you. That's ok though cause we ended up going to our usual little family owned shop. They were nice enough to show us how it's done.

There is a giant mixer hidden in that left hand corner where they mix their ingredients. Yeast, flour, sugar, some other ingredient that I can't remember.... but all in all, simple ingredients. The secret actually isn't in the dough though. 

It's in the oven. El horno leyna (I think that's how you spell leyna).  This kind of oven mostly looks like a pizza oven to me, and is only used in the small family owned businesses. That's why they taste so much better. They let the dough rise for 2 hours, then stick it in the horno for 15 minutes. It was pretty hot. I could feel the heat from where I was standing with my camera. 

After their quick explanation, he handed us a chunk of dough. This is when things got fun. We rolled the dough on the huge cutting board, put some butter on the pan and on top of the bread, and then squished the top layer on that, either in chocolate or vanilla. Of course, I chose chocolate. After squishing the dough, we took this metal thing that has the conch design on it and pressed that into the dough. Woo, done!

 Totally looks professional right? Yeah. Now all we had to do was wait and come back later. 

Fast forward to 2 in the afternoon. 

We went back and were so excited to see our beautiful creations!
And they tasted wonderful! I don't always like conchs but when they're fresh baked, they're pretty darn good. 

After this yummy bread, we decided to watch a well loved movie. Despicable Me! I love this movie a lot. It's got some of my favorite quotes in there. 


"Let's go destroy another game!"

"Aww, my catipillar didn't turn into a butterfly!"
"That's a cheeto."

"He punched my shark!"
"(insert anything the minions do or say)"

It's a great movie to brighten anyone's day. Feeling sad? Go watch this movie. Or Megamind. Or any Disney movie ever. Go ahead. Do it. You'll feel better, I promise. 

So far, a pretty good Friday if I do say so myself. :)

Just lovin' life like crazy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 103: Weekend Overview Part 2

We wake up in anticipation for the day. Get ready, eat breakfast, ride the elevator with the cool buttons that made me feel like a secret agent, the whole deal in order to be ready at the time that the host family we were traveling with said that they would be leaving. At 8, we knocked on the room next to us to see if they were ready. Nope. 30 more minutes... Nope. 30 more minutes after that... Yes! Let's go!

We get going and start the adventure. It begins at the train, which was really a Max, which made me a little homesick. 

No worries though. Ok, worries considering that Mexico City is pretty dangerous, especially for a group of obvious white girls, even when we had a Mexican family to be our guide. We kept a tight hold on all our things and were very careful to stick together. Safety First! While waiting for our train, I actually said a little prayer. Let us be safe. 

We got to the Zocalo without incident (yay!) and were astonished to see the Zocalo of all Zocalos. 
 The pictures don't even quite capture the enormity of the place. It was huge! It was kind of like a Mexican version of New York, New York. 

This picture needs a little explaining I suppose. There are always people who are asking us if we speak English and if they can interview us or take a picture with us. This just happened to be a group of teenage boys who wanted a picture. I figured I'd get a picture too, wishing that I had done this from the start! I'd have many, many more pictures if I had done that. Oh well. 

We looked inside the church...
Honestly, the pictures don't capture the sheer grandness of this church. It was kind of like the one in Puebla or Taxco. Huge and filled with gold covered everything. 

And we were even offered to take mass. The lady was kind of shocked when we said, "No gracias." But she understood when we said that we were LDS. So we didn't stay in the church very long. I kind of wanted to see it though. See how other churches worship. 

Next stop was just around the corner in the Templo Mayor. These were the underground ruins just sitting right in the middle of the city. How cool is that? Actually, I thought the wall was the prettiest thing in that area. Such a cool mural! I love murals, and there are so many of them in Mexico, it's awesome!
There was this cool well that people would throw coins in to try to get it in the hole. I.... totally missed it by a long shot. 

Next to the ruins, there was this huge museum filled with tons of artifacts. Commence photo sequence. 

There were also these lovely guys all over the place. I wanted a picture with one, but we didn't take the time to stop...

At this time, it was around lunchtime, so we searched for street vendors. However, they are much more elusive than in other cities that we've been in. Finally, we found a place that sold... well I honestly don't know what they were called. Basically it was a huge flat crunchy corn tortilla (like the size of a plate) with beans, cactus, cheese, and of course, salsa rojo. I decided to be brave and try the spicy food. My verdict: even after 3 months in a place where everything is spicy, I still don't like spicy food. But gosh darnit, I paid 20 pesos for it and I was going to eat the whole thing! Best part... I couldn't. My mouth was on fire and my stomach was beginning to complain too. Yep. Still don't like spicy food. 

Now, I don't have a whole lot of pictures from the next part of our adventure. Amanda got one though! I should have taken some but it was probably best I didn't take out my nice camera. I'll do my best to describe what transpired next. 

We went shopping in the biggest mercado I've ever seen in my life. The one in San Cristobol de las Casas was pretty big but paled in comparison to this section of the city with streets dedicated to their own theme. One street filled with toys, another just for handbags, another for clothes, another for scarfs and shoes, Christmas decorations, random things, everything! It didn't look like it would end! We would turn corners to find another even bigger section of the mercado. And it was FILLED with people. There were people everywhere! I was glad we had Kaylie's host family there with us because I would've actually been really scared of it all. I still was pretty overwhelmed at the whole thing. 

To get to one side of the mercado, we had to pass through this ally filled with a bunch of guys. These guys were harmless and just threw out the usual cat calls. Kissing noises, "chicas guapas", etc, etc. Then I heard it. From a guy behind me I heard him say, "I love you!" Quick as  a flash, I turned, pointed, and answered, "And I love you too random citizen!" I felt accomplished that I finally got to use my Megamind quote. 

I also learned a pretty funny joke from one of the market vendors. 

"What does carro mean in spanish?"
"Uh.. car?"
"Ok, and what does hombre mean?"
"So Carman is a transformer?"

hehehe yay dumb jokes. 

After a little while in the mercado, it was time to head back to the max. Here's where my story hits a sour spot.

To get to the stairs down to the Train, we had to pass through another ally behind the little tents, this one ended up being less friendly. We were in our tight line, Kaylie's host family in the front with the five of us behind them. Me and Kaylie were at the front of the white girls, following closely behind Mario, her host dad. All of the sudden, I see Mario with his hands up in the air, and four guys surrounding him, searching his pockets. They get what they wanted and leave, one of them with a gun in his hand. Too shocked to actually do anything, I froze, waited for them to pass, then walked very quickly with the rest of the family down into the train station, praying that no one else would target us. For the first time in my life, I'd witnessed a gun being used for evil. And it honestly made me so scared, I cried a little. I've seen guns before, even fired off a shotgun, but this incident shattered my trust in people again. I realize now that I have been extremely fortunate to have never had an incident like that here in Mexico until Mexico City. It was definatly an eye opener. My prayer earlier in the day was answered, seeing as no one got hurt, and even more surprising, us white girls were not targeted. Very grateful for prayer, I can tell you that much. 

We get on the train and try to forget the situation ever happened. Looking out the window, I was very excited that we were going home tonight... or so I thought. 

They told us that we were going to stay for one more night. D: To add salt to the wound, they suggested we go see Breaking Dawn: Part 2. :P So they dragged me into seeing it. The only truly awesome thing about the movies was that I got to share a jumbo box of Acarmelitas with Amanda, who also wasn't too thrilled to be seeing the movie. She turned out to be the perfect movie buddy as we laughed at the horrible acting, Kraft Singles cheesy lines, and the oh so charming Kirsten Stuart. At least the popcorn was amazing!

We all squished into a little living room for the night. After this whole day, sleep came quite easily to me. And so ends our second day in the crazy Mexico City. 

Love my crazy, awful, beautiful life like crazy!

Day 102: Weekend Overview Part 1

This weekend, there were 5 of the teachers that decided to go to Mexico City. I was a little leery of the idea at first but they convinced me to go. The huge reason for going? The temple. Remember that post I made where I mentioned the story of my brother being the awesome example and at great lengths going to the temple? Well, it was making me feel like if I didn't make the same effort, I'd kick myself later. So I went to Mexico City.

Our trip started out just fine. A little late getting out but fine. We were about to squish into a pickup truck. All five American girls, two children, their parents, and their grandma. As five of us squished into the extended cab part, the mom says, "Oh we're not all going to fit?" hahahaha No. So we ended up taking two cars. Which was fine and definatly more roomy.

Driving along, we got to see the active volcano located in Puebla. We were informed of the legend that goes with it too! Apparently, there were two volcanoes in love. One of the volcanoes was the daughter of the King. He didn't want them to be together so he killed her. There is a volcano that appears to be "kneeling" representing the man who lost his love. Sad story. But interesting.

It was getting late and we were starting to worry if the temple would be open or not. If it wasn't, I would've been kinda devastated. However, it was thankfully open! We were able to do a session of baptisms, enjoying the spirit in the temple. I actually had a little flashback while waiting for my turn. I remembered the day that Chandler, Brady, and I all went to the temple. It was Brady's first time. I remember watching him and thinking how awesome it was that we were all there as siblings. In that moment, as in many little moments of my life, I was very thankful for my brothers. I always am, there are just moments where I remember it.
Sometimes life will throw you strange curves and it can in turn throw you off balance. At the beginning of this trip, I felt like that a little. Going to the temple though is more peaceful than any yoga, relaxation, anything that I've ever experienced. They say that to get out of your problems, you need to get out of yourself and serve other people. It definatly works wonders. I'm thankful for Temples all over the world. I'm convinced they are all put in places where they are most needed. Good thing that there are still more being built cause I think every city deserves their own little piece of heaven on earth. I'm glad I followed my brother's example and got myself up there. Thanks Chanoodles. ;)

After a terribly uncomfortable taxi ride (never try to fit 5 people for more than a 5 minute drive) we went to our hotel. 

At this point, we all realized that we were famished. It was time to scavenge for food. We didn't get very far though because it was actually really chilly outside! So we settled for Burger King. 

Lucky for us, we were able to have a pretty good laugh while eating pretty mediocre food. We found Messi, a famous soccer player here, and Cassie found a new man in her life. Way to aim high girl!

After our meal, we headed back up, grabbing some popcorn on the way, to watch a movie. We ended up watching:

An entertaining version of Romeo and Juliet. 

I have to laugh inside at this story. Honestly, I couldn't fall in love with someone in a day, marry them the next, and then kill myself over them a few days later. Nope. It seems... a tad overly dramatic. Which is what the story is. 

However, I do think Mercutio is the one character that I could get worked up about their death. He's an intriguing character. 

And that was our adventure on Saturday. 
Love the temple like crazy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 100: Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 100, seriously?? That's nuts to me. I've said it before, I'll say it again, time flies so stinkin fast!

Well, today is Thanksgiving as well as the 100th day that I've spent in Mexico. Perfect timing, verdad? 

As with every Thanksgiving, there is good food that is shared with friends and family. My immediate family is not actually here with me, but in spirit. I've also got good friends that I've made down here to keep the holiday spirit alive. 

Along with friends and good food, I am able to reflect of the things that I'm thankful for. 

I'm thankful for Beaches. It's a place where joy and peace come together for me. I can surf, play, be with family, as well as reflect quietly and peacefully. Maybe I'm am a little obsessed, but there's always something in everyone's life that they obsess about. 

I'm thankful for music. Music can express your feelings when simple words just don't work. It can lift you up, let your old feelings go, and bring back good memories.Concerts go up there not really because of the people I get to see perform, but the people I spend them with. Family, friends. They're what make the experiences fun and memorable. 

I'm thankful for books. Books like Harry Potter, Redwall, Secrets of Droon, Series of Unfortunate Events, The Time Machine, random books suggested by friends, books in general. The feeling of getting sucked into a book is one of my favorite feelings. My future house will most definatly have a library. 

I'm thankful for my education. Not everyone gets the opportunity to go to college due to different circumstances. Lucky for me, so far I've been able to get my Associates, and keep going onto a Bachelors. I may even keep going to a Masters... maybe a Doctorate... Dr. Miller sounds pretty good right? I would totally have people address me as Dr. all the time. Nevertheless, I'm thankful that I even have the option of achieving these things in my lifetime.

I'm thankful for Mexico. The experience, the culture, my host family, my kids, my friends, all of it. It's been the adventure of a lifetime, and I've loved it all like crazy! 
I'm thankful that I got brothers. 
A family that plays together, stays together.

I'm even thankful for crazy extended family.

I'm thankful for shared interests.

Like food.

And making funny faces. 
My Mamma! 
Me and Dad, doing what we do best together. 

I'm thankful for lots of things, but my family is always something I will be most thankful for. It's hard to be away from them during this holiday season, but I definatly haven't stopped thinking of them. I love my family like crazy. 

This, and many more things I'm thankful for. I love it all like crazy!