Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hello All!

 Just as a heads up, my Preparation day (P-Day) is on Wednesday. I can read and respond to emails on this day, but I can receive and write letters daily! If you don't know about you can go there, type in my name and the Provo MTC and you can type letters to me, which get here on the same exact day (if written before 11:00 AM), or if not the same day, the day after. It's so much quicker and cheaper (free) than email or postage, but I love hand-written letters too! I'll be in the MTC for eight more weeks, my estimated departure date is May 19th, so anytime before then send mail to my Provo MTC address (on my blog!)

Where do I start! I only have an hour to write so I'll try to sum up things to the best of my ability!

First of all, I made it through my first week! It's been busy and hard but TOTALLY worth it! I have seen the blessings already in my life, and have heard from my family about their blessings, from me being here and making the decision to serve a mission. I know that we are all blessed, and that the Lord has been good to us!
I arrived early at the MTC because of the long drive my parents had to embark on after dropping me off. We were greeted at the front door and I had help getting my luggage in. It was a quick goodbye and then I officially walked into the MTC. We took my bags to a room and they got me my name-tag (I felt so official, when I put that on!). After we dropped off my bags and picked up all the necessary items up I went into a room that had a bunch of early arrival missionaries. We talked and got to know each other (where we're from, where are we going, etc). I was the only one going to Hungary. I guess the Hungary Budapest mission is not a common mission, so that's kind of cool. Eventually we were taken to the cafeteria to eat lunch. The MTC cafeteria food is not as bad as everyone makes it sound, at least not yet. It might get old after the third or fourth week, but we'll see. I often eat salad and soup. In fact, that's all I ate for the first couple of days. It's good though!
After lunch we got received a host missionary who helped us take our bags to our room and helped us get situated. Afterwards, I went straight to class. I was one of the first people there, being an early arrival missionary. One of my teachers, Brother Grossen, greeted me as I walked into class. The only problem: I didn't understand a WORD he was saying! Everything he said was in Hungarian. I thought maybe as newbies that they would at least speak English to us on the first day! Nope! I was totally wrong. In fact, since I've been here, we've maybe heard ten English words out of our teachers mouths combined (and we and three teachers). Anywho, long story short. It ended up being a long game of Charades between Grossen and I. Note to all of you, if we're ever playing chardes together, don't pick me as a partner! I'm not very good, but Grossen was patient and eventually I understood what he was trying to get out of me (name, where I'm fron and # of people in my family). After I told him about myself he took me to the computer lab and had me do some orientation on the computer, it wasn't bad. After I was done, I went back to my class and other missionaries started to come in.
We have two Hungarian districts (groups of people going to Hungary, that came in at the same time). My district has eight people in it, four boys and four girls, and the other Hungarian district that came in at the same time as us has ten people in it. So we have a total of eighteen people going to Hungary, who arrived at the same time. Although in our zone (which is multiple districts--our branch, as well) we have four different languages: Hungarian, Finnish, Albanian, and Estonian. Supposedly, all four languages are kind of similar thats why we're in the same zone. We don't have class or anything together, but we do go to church together and eat together. It's kind of hard to explain districts and zones over email, but just know that I'm with super friendly people who are also learning a foreign language.
Some of you might wonder who my companion is. I'm not going to elaborate on her too much (although I could) simply because I only have an hour to write (AH!). Her name is Sister Hawks. She is from Kaysville, Utah. She comes from a family of seven-- five kids and her mom and dad. She is super nice and patient! I feel like her Hungarian is coming along quicker than mine, so I often ask her questions. She is very smart and knowledgeable about secular and non secular subjects. I absolutely love her!
Hawks Nover (Sister Hawks) and I have calculated that each day we spend about ten hours in class. That was a brick in the face to me, seeing how I haven't been in school, let alone in a class room for over eleven months (BOO! I MISS BYU!) It was very hard to adjust the first couple of days, but now it doesn't seem to hard. Our teachers, Brother Grossen and Beaumont, and Sister Hardy, who all served in Hungary at one time or another,  have been absolutely awesome. They make the ten hours fun, yet productive. I have been very blessed to have such great teachers! Just to let you know how much we've learned already, Hawks Nover and I have already taught four lessons, teaching the fifth one tonight, all in HUNGARIAN! OH YA! I can testify to you, that the gift of tongues is real! There is no way I could learn Hungarian by myself, it's only through the help of the Lord that I have been able to read, speak, and interpret Hungarian so quickly.
So guess what? The second day we were here the Hungarian Ambassador (equivalent to the President of the United States) came to OUR class to visit US! It wasn't a casual visit, to say the least. He had body guards and we were expected to be on our best behavior for him! We had to practice, yes practice, doing everything before he came!  In order to be the ambassador you have to be able to speak English, so he spoke English to us and Hungarian to our teachers. He asked us why we served missions, etc! He was extremely nice! We ended up taking a picture with him and what he said afterward cracked me up! He said "If you ever get imprisoned when you go over to Hungary, show the officers this picture and tell them to let you go." It was so funny! I love when people with authority can still have a sense of humor and joke around!
In the picture, I'm stand on a step and all the men in the front row are still taller than me (Asian Problems)!
The MTC is very organized and they expect all missionaries to be the same I have a very strict schedule. Not strict, but structured. It goes a little like this
6:30- Wake up
7:15- Breakfast
7:45-11:35 - Class
11:35 - Lunch
12:15-4:00  Class
4:10- 5:10 Gym (YAY EXERCISE!)
5:10 Dinner
5:40-9:30 Class
9:30- Personal study
10:15 -Get ready for bed
10:30- Lights out

Repeat. Yep, there it is. Besides on Sunday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the schedule is the same!
On Sundays and Tuesdays we have devotional, and let me tell you the Devotionals here are AWESOME!

Yesterday we had an evening Devotional. Stanley G. Ellish (from the seventy) spoke to us I just want to share a quote he used real fast

It's by CS LEWIS

" If you put first things first, second things will come. If you put second things first, you lose both first and second things."

I can especially apply this in my life.
In short, Here at the MTC, sometimes I get caught up with the Language (second things) and I neglect to study the gospel (first things). By NO means do I want to lose both my gospel knowledge and my Hungarian! Try to apply that quote in your life! Tell me what you think

 Every PDAY we get to go to the temple in the Morning. Today, Hawks Nover and I went to the Provo Temple. I had the most spiritual experience in my life. I have never felt the spirit so stronger...EVER! I love the temple. It truly is the House of the Lord and you can feel the spirit if you seek it. I know its hard to get to the temple for people in Rapid City, but I encourage you to do it as much as possible and continue to pray for a temple. One will come! I have faith that it will!

In closing, I'll be the first to admit that the mission is hard, and I'm not even out in the field yet! Letters of encouragement are ALWAYS appreciated by missionaries. I'll also be the first to admit that I've cried more these past seven days than I ever have in my life (ask my parents: I don't cry, ever). I would love to hear from you, and also, can you include your addresses! I didn't get any addresses before I left! While I'm in the MTC we get speedy postage and I want to take advantage of that! Please write or email, and I promise I'll do the same! I just need addresses! You can communicate with me through my parents too. I'm sure they'd be fine with that!

God be with you, 'til we speak again!!

I love you all!
Nover Whitaker

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pre-mission post: Viszlát most

Viszlát most is "goodbye for now" in Hungarian.

For those of you who are curious as to what I will be doing when I get back (September 19th, 2015), Menards has graciously offered for my rehire in September. I will work there until January, and then I will go back to BYU to pursue my Physical Therapist dream.
A huge thank you for all my family and friends who have supported me and my decision to go serve the Lord. I will always treasure the friendships I have made and hope to talk to you when I get back.

Pre-mission post: A few special photos

This post will be short and sweet, but I was looking through old, and not so old, photos last night and found a couple that touched my heart as I prepare to go on my mission.

This is a photo of me at the Denver Temple--the day I got sealed to my parents for time and all eternity.

I love this photo for a couple different reasons. First of all, I love how I'm looking up at the temple. I can literally hear what might have been going through my mind as I looked up at this gorgeous edifice "I love to see the temple, I'll go inside one day". I have been inside many times since then and it is my favorite place on earth. Not necessarily just the Denver Temple, but all temples. There are currently 142 operating temples. Fourteen under construction and fourteen announced. They are all grand and even though I probably won't make it to all of them in my life, but they are all beautiful houses of the Lord.
Secondly, I love my family so much and it brings me great peace and happiness to know that I can be with my family forever. One of my favorite primary songs is, "Family's Can Be Together Forever". There's nothing more I truly want to be with surrounded by the people I love, even after this life, but in the life hereafter.

There was a little cover picture on our ward's bulletin a couple Sundays ago and it was defining a missionary. 

I love this, and hope to bring many people into the gospel so that they can be with their families for eternity.

This photo is of me at my baptism almost twelve years ago. I know, I don't look too excited, but I remember the feelings I had that day. They were absolutely wonderful and there is no way I could do them justice by typing them up, but the spirit I felt will stick with me forever. 

I can't wait to be able to teach the people of Hungary and baptize them so they can feel the same feelings I felt on my special day. 

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures that I've taken of some of the temples

The Salt Lake Temple from The Roof restaurant

The Salt Lake Temple from Temple Grounds

The Manti Temple--BYU (2012-2013) 47th Ward Temple Trip

 The Provo Temple during Dusk- I don't know why it's purple, but it looks pretty neat!
The Provo Temple at night.

Like I said, I love temples, and hope to visit a bunch of them while we're out in Utah! 

Pre-mission post: "If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done."

Oh boy! I can't believe the day is here...well the actual day is four days away, but we're leaving tomorrow.

Have you ever felt like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything you want to get done accomplished? Well, that's how I've felt this every day, this entire week! I have been swamped with breakfast, lunch, and dinner dates with friends, on top of trying to pack, what will be my life for eighteen months. It's been crazy!
Here are just  a few pointers to future missionaries out there:


Yeah, that book right up there is helpful. I mistakenly thought that skimming it would suffice, it wasn't until lately (like two days ago lately) that I actually read the words on the pages and found out that I wouldn't be so unprepared if I had just read it in the beginning. Don't just skim it, because it has really important information in it that you should know about. 

So the "really important information," mentioned above, is fifty percent medical (in my opinion). Luckily, I was not born with any disabilities or diseases nor have I developed any in my life. I do not need glasses, or contacts, prescription medicine, or anything along those lines. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for the healthy body he has blessed me with. I do encourage anybody who is in need of anything similar to the items above to get them in and taken care of as soon as possible.

As a missionary, a physical needs to be performed, along with a dental check up and possible extraction of wisdom teeth. Well, I am lucky enough to know a few doctors, that were more than willing to help me out. President Hinkson performed my physical and he made it as quick and easy as possible. Just a little fun fact: President Hinkson's son-in-law served in the same mission as I am going to. President VanDam extracted all four of my wisdom teeth (that was not painful until I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic--that's another story). And Brother Taylor did all my dentist work, which was surprisingly a lot.
Getting all of that out of the way was a relief in itself, and I made the foolish assumption that, that was it and that I was completely done with all the doctors visits. Let me stress something real quickly, if you wait to get anything done at the last minute (which I don't advise waiting for the last minute to do anything) make sure it's not your shots!
Get those done ASAP, because some of them are a series and they have to be spaced out between a set amount of days.

As much as we all dread going to the doctor, in the long run it will be worth it, especially if you'll be gone for eighteen months where you don't know what medical care will be available.

 Leave yourself at least five hours to shop for luggage

Okay, so my mom and I decided to go shopping for luggage last Saturday. I didn't think that it would take that long, I made the assumption that it would take about an hour or two. I knew, roughly, what brand and color I wanted and thought to myself, "this will be a piece of cake." Not so much. To make a long story short, we shopped at a couple of stores, at a local strip mall, that were recommended by other missonary-parents, but didn't find anything. We then went to the mall and hit up places like JC Penny's, Herbergers, and Sears. Of course, all three of those stores are at total opposite sides of the mall (it is safe to say we got an adequate amount of exercise in that day). JC Penny's luggage selection is very limited. I didn't look very hard, I did what I do best (skimmed the selection) and quickly made my way out of there. Meanwhile, my mom was at Herbergers so I met her there. I didn't find anything that struck my fancy so we decided to check Sears. Well Sears had a very vast selection of luggage. There was a Samsonite set that I fell in love with. The color and design were perfect and Samsonite was one of the brands that I was particularly looking for. The only problem was that the carry on for this set, exceeded the dimensional inches allowed (forty-two) on the plane. I was super bummed!
Just for those who haven't had to pack for a mission, we are allowed two checked bags, which are not supposed to exceed sixty-two dimensional inches and has to be under fifty pounds, and we're also allowed a carry on which is not supposed to exceed forty-two dimensional inches. Those numbers may vary depending on which mission you go to, but seeing how I'm flying internationally, the rules are enforced. Anyways, I had to pass up the Samsonite set, because I need a good-sized carry on. After more looking we found a Swiss Army set. I love Swiss Army. I got a Swiss Army backpack my freshman year of high school and used it all the way up to my freshman year of college, and will continue to use it when I go back to college. The thing is so durable and it holds so much, putting little to no strain on my back. So I couldn't say no to this Swiss Army set. Although, there was one problem: They didn't have the twenty-five inch (medium) bag in stock. They told me they could order one in, but that it wouldn't get here until March sixteenth, the day I'm leaving. I was devastated, but had an idea. There are other places around town that sell luggage, obviously, so would if I get the big bag and the little bag here and then try to find the medium bag somewhere around town. I thought that was good logic. My mom and I drove all around town to try to find the medium bag, but to no avail. Finally, we went back to sears and told them to order in the medium bag, luckily they were able to expedite (speed up- none of the Sears employees knew what this word meant--I thought it was kind of humorous) the shipping, and it got here within a matter of days.
TaDa! Here it is, and it only took five hours to get all three of bags picked out/ordered!

Like I said, I made the long story "short," so it might not have seemed like all of that took five hours, but it did and by the time it was all done and over with, I vowed that I will never shop for luggage again, or if I do, I'm going to start a month in advance.

Now that I've got my luggage I can start packing!
I found a very nice packing list, posted on Facebook, that helped me immensely while I was trying to remember everything I needed. Thank you Bryce Capener!
The final result is:
An almost-empty closet! There are just a few athletic shirts in there and the dresses that my mom has to do modifications on, but other than that I managed to stuff a majority of my wardrobe into three suitcases. 

Of course, last but not least-- pray and reading your scriptures.

For this is where the real strength comes from. Read your scriptures, for they were written for us in these days of turmoil. Guidance, answers, and blessings can come by simply opening up the scriptures and diligently studying them.  I have seen this is my own life more than a number of times.  I can say from experience that since I've gotten my call, I have been tempted like no other time in my life. Satan wants to do everything in his power to stop me from being able to go on my mission. I have felt this these last five months and sometimes it seems like his power is unbearable, but in times of need I've knelt down and prayed to my Father in Heaven and asked for strength to overcome temptation. I have prayed for comfort as I'm about to leave my family for eighteen months and I've prayed for the power of the Holy Ghost to help me accomplish want He wants me to do on my mission. I can honestly say there is no feeling more gratifying than talking to your Heavenly Father. He knows each and every one of us on a personal basis and wants us to talk to Him about anything and everything. 
I could go on and on about preparing for a mission. A mission is not an easy thing. There are hardships and trials, just like in every day life, but with faith in the Lord you can do all things. 

 “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. … The Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” 2 Nephi 2: 11,16. 
And so it is with faith. It can be enticing to choose doubt and disbelief over faith, but if you have faith you can overcome anything.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pre-mission post: Little trips before the big trip!

Before actually heading to the MTC in Provo, I got to take a few little trips.

The First Adventure:

I got to drive down to Gering, Nebraska with my dad. I always love going down there to visit. It's where I grew up and driving through that town brings back a flood of memories...good memories. While I didn't get to visit everybody, I did get to catch up with a few friends, who I haven't talked to in a while. Most importantly, I got to visit my grandma. Ninety-one years old and still kicking, she's one of the most headstrong and independent ladies I know. I really admire her for that. Every time we go and visit her, we have a great time. We play games, talk about memories and sometimes just stare into space, but just spending time with each other means the world to both of us. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures while I was down there, but I have the memories in my head and I can replay those as many times as I want. I love you, Grandma Whitaker and can't wait until I get to see you again!

The Second Adventure:

Sometimes do you ever feel like you need to get away and go somewhere? A spontaneous trip, you could call it. Well, personally, I have those feelings more often than not, and I have the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. The Black Hills. Now, I'm very familiar with the different routes that are woven throughout the hills. I love looking at the multitudinous pine trees that seem to never end, the continually flowing rivers, and you can't forget the unreserved wildlife! The scenery is spectacular and if you know where to go and the time of day, you can see views that are absolutely breath-taking  I have seen plenty of views like this throughout my time, but this time I decided to go a different route. A route that I had never been, but a place that seems to stun everybody who seems to set foot there. The Badlands. Yep, I hopped into my truck, which is not used to going seventy mph for extended periods of time (but I had no problem, and headed east! One thing about me: I love driving alone. Especially when I have things to think about. There is something about driving that helps me do some in-depth thinking. That was exactly what I needed too. Anyways, I got there and  wow, was I blown away by the scenery there! If you have not been to this part of South Dakota, I recommend that you drop everything right now and go there (not really!). Seriously, I had some expectations for the Badlands and to say that they exceeded them would be an understatement and would not even give them the credit that they deserve. They're beautiful!
I'll post some pictures, but let me tell you that they don't do justice for what the eye can really see.
Wow, my very first picture post! I did it, guys!
Anyways, this is a panorama that I took with my phone. I'm kind of new to this panorama photography so I'm sorry if I totally butchered it, and totally disgraced the purpose of a panorama!
This is the road that leads you into the park (don't worry, I was parked in a designated area when I took this). Now that I look at it, the panorama totally made the road distorted! Sorry, I'll get a hang of this eventually...and then by the time I do, I'll be off on my mission!

Out in the Badlands there are multiple trails that you can hike. Some are short and some are long, but I would not suggest going out to the Badlands to hike by yourself (not that I did that...). Anyways, I thought that the little craters in the rocks were really cool looking, so I tried to be a photographer for a minute and take a picture to show these. My mom especially liked this picture. Remember kids, don't hike alone...and take water (GO H2O)!

These two are my favorite pictures that I took that day. I think they show the variation you can see in the Badlands.

All in all, the trip was very rewarding. I got to see the beautiful scenery, while being alone. I kid and sometimes call myself an introvert, but anybody who really knows me would just laugh if I told them that (It's happened already). In all seriousness though, the peace and quiet that I experienced while being at this beautiful park was calming and overall it helped me ponder on things in my life. Sometimes that's just needed when things seem to be hectic, you know?
I highly would recommend this national park to anybody!

The Third Adventure:

The coldest place on earth. Not really, but it felt like it! Bismarck, North Dakota is where the cold is at. Actually, I think it's safe to say it's just all-around cold in North Dakota. My mom and dad and I drove up to Bismarck, it made for a long day, but it was so worth it. I got to go to the Bismarck temple. It was one of the most special and significant days in my life, thus far. Before I went in, we took a few pictures and then after we came out, we took a few more. Now that I think of it, my parents and I were never in the same picture. Actually, all the pictures were of me! Oh the joys of being the future missionary (trust me, there's a lot). We did manage getting a decent picture, that I ultimately decided to use as my missionary picture for my plaque.
I was pretty content with this picture, which says a lot because I'm like every other girl in this world. I have to take a million pictures until I'm partially satisfied with one of them.
After the temple we went to one of my favorite restaurants: Cracker Barrel. Here's a silly selfie with my mom.
It was an awesome trip! It was definitely worth the will ALWAYS be worth the ten hour drive. Until we get a temple in Rapid City, which we will soon get!

The Fourth Adventure:

I FOUND THE SUN! It's in Phoenix, Arizona! After living in an Ice Age, back home. It was so nice to feel the warmth of the Arizona air as I stepped off the ten o'clock at night! But hey, let's back up for just a few minutes.
First off, let me say that flying on airplanes is SO COOL. I haven't been on an airplane in forever. The last time I was on an airplane, I pooped in my diaper. TMI? Sorry. You get the picture though, it's been a long time! Not to mention that this was the first time that I had flown by myself. I felt like a little kid again, when my mom and dad finally let me cross the street alone, except for this time they were letting me cross a couple streets! My loving dad dropped me off, curb-side, and said bye-bye (with maybe a hug and a kiss in between there). I stood in the line, waiting to get my hard-copy boarding pass checked.
The first thing I noticed was that there was a group of vociferous passengers standing in line behind me and in front of me. They were all friends. Little did they know that Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen had a baby, who eventually all the passengers would know about, because they were talking to each other throughout the line that winded back and forth. Of course they all arrived at different times so they were sporadically spaced in-between all the apathetic passengers (ME!). I was thoroughly annoyed and it hadn't even been twenty minutes into my trip.
I finally got out of that high school reunion (what it seemed to be) and went upstairs. I had no clue what to do after that, so yes, I called my mommy and had to ask what to do. Oddly enough she told me to go through security. What? Airlines have harsh security and want to make sure their passengers are safe? What is this craziness? Long story short: My butt pockets on my jeans set off the security alarm so I had to be uncomfortably frisked and all that nonsense went on. Oh, and my poor laptop got manhandled. I can't wait to go through that again on the way back.
After I got done with security, I sat down at my designated gate, put my laptop back in it's safe haven (my messenger bag, which I haven't used at all during this trip...oops). Shortly after, I met the cutest little girl. Her mother and her were on the way to Phoenix to visit family. I love little kids (did those words just come out of my mouth?) They're so curious and innocent. Anyways, I talked to her and then heeded the words of my mother. "Go to the bathroom before you board." Apparently she still thought there was a chance that I would poop in my diaper again (sorry, I just had to say that). As I got up to go to the restroom, the little girl said, "Are you coming back, because the plane is leaving soon." Those words made my heart melt, here is this little girl who doesn't know me at all, that wanted to make sure I didn't miss the flight. After I went to the restroom I went over to the cafe and grabbed an apple and a bottle of water. As I was checking out this white-haired old guy bumped me, I turned around to say excuse me, but then realized who it was. It was a regular from Menards! Yes, I worked at Menards for ten months, so I got to know a lot of people. We would always give each other a hard time and that extended past the exit doors of Menards. It was really great to see a familiar face! "Now boarding zone 6, passengers with seats in row 30-25," rang over the intercom. "Oh! That is me! Let me just get my boarding pass...uh, where is my boarding pass." Yep, I'm a responsible adult  who can't even keep track of her boarding pass! I was flipping out to say the least! I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to backtrack to everywhere I had been in the past hour. As I was frantically running around, a big hefty man stopped me. I recognized him...oh yeah! He was one of the loud rowdy ones who couldn't stop talking in the check-in line, and now he stopped me to chat? What he said next shocked me: "Where were you at our workout today?" Then it hit me, I actually knew him before he was the "rowdy one..." he works out at the gym I go to! I said a quick hello to him and then started to panic again. Let's just consolidate sentences into one: Praise smart phones. Yes, I got on the flight with my phone. Yay!
What better seat to be in, than the middle right...not if you're claustrophobic (which I'm not). I had the privilege to have that most-desired middle seat. Who did I sit by? Another one of the "rowdy ones." Yes, he knew the guy that goes to the gym I do, and they were the primary source of ringing that happened in my head while standing in line. Although as I got to talking to this guy, I became a very big fan of his overall personality. He ended up being the owner of the Yamaha business in Rapid City. The guy was hilarious! A few minutes into the flight and we were poking and prodding (literally) each other like we had been friends prior to the flight. On my other side was another old guy, but he ended up being very friendly, and he knew the Yamaha dealer's mom, so I got to hear a lot of back-story on that. Overall, the flight was awesome and people (the gym guy and the Yamaha guy) made sure that I was taken care of after getting off the plane. Thanks, guys!

Now, I'm pretty much just going to blog through pictures, because 1. I took a lot, and 2. I'm tired of typing.
 God's Country!

The view from my aunt and uncle's driveway. The sky is so clear and there is no wind! It's a miracle. 
Let me just say, that I have gotten my running in since I've been here. It's just too nice not to! Plus, their town is on a grid system, so its virtually impossible to get lost (actually it's very possible). 

New Dress!
How do you like my mirror selfie....with my Nike crew socks. Hot, right? Anyways, I got another outfit at JCPenny's while shopping at the Superstition Mall. Cute? Yay? Nay? I'm open to opinions.

The Iowa Cafe!

While I was down here, I met some family (I think?). The middle one is my grandma and beside her is her nephew and his girlfriend. They came down to visit some of her family, and also stopped by to see his aunt (my grandma). They were from Iowa and wanted some old fashioned Iowa grub, so we went to the only logically place in Phoenix: The Iowa Cafe. It was really good, even though I got judged for ordering an egg-white omelet, instead of the grease-saturated bacon or cardiac burger. What can I say, I like to take care of my body by feeding it healthy food (my on and off logic).


The Duttons!

After we had dinner, my family took me to a concert. The Duttons. This is an LDS singing group, originally from Bronson Missouri, but they come to the Mesa area in the winter to entertain the people of Arizona. They are much more than just a singing group. They can do it all. There was comedy, singing, dancing, and a vast display of musical talent, like you've never seen before. They were simply amazing, and their skill blew me out of the water (if I were in water to begin with). If you ever hear of the Duttons being in your town, GO! GO GO GO! You won't regret it!

Rabbit Rescue!

My aunt, that happens to be a lover of rabbits, is part of an organization called Rabbit Rescue. Basically, it's a foster care for rabbits of all kind! It's really a great program. Every weekend they bring a couple bunnies from the "bunny barn," to the Rabbit Rescue building for potential adopters to view and play with the bunnies. I went with her this past weekend and met this cutie. He's a lionhead bunny. Did you know that breed even exists? I didn't. I seriously fell in love with him. I would post the picture of me holding him, but it's not so good of either of us. Just thought you needed some cuteness in your day (: Oh and if you're looking to adopt a bunny, I know where to go, but hey, it's easier said than done. They look for responsible bunny owners, who won't neglect the adoptee. There is a questionnaire involved, but if you truly love your pet and take care of it, there shouldn't be anything to worry about. 

The Renaissance Festival!
 Jousting Match

London Broil. My personal Favorite- Louey
The pirate and the half-shirtless girl
The Tortuga Twins...although there were three of them so doesn't that make them the Tortuga Triplets? They didn't even look anything alike!

The Renaissance fair was like nothing I've ever been to. It was like what I would imagine a Dungeons and Dragons club meeting would look like. Everybody was in costumes, some were appropriate, some not so much. There was mid-evil food (not the healthiest, but oh well). The whole festival was really cool. Go, if you ever get a chance.

Jerome, the city on the side of the hill!
 This was a picture I took at a rest stop we stopped at on our way to Jerome. Again, I attempted to take a good panorama. Is this one better?

My Aunt, Me, My Grandma
We made it to Jerome! The view was spectacular and this my favorite picture taken during my whole vacation.

Remember how I said I like to feed my body healthy food and how it was my "on and off logic," yeah well that logic was definitely off when this piece of cake was placed in front of me. The restaurant we went to was called The Haunted Hamburger. Supposedly it was haunted...I wasn't sold. I don't believe in ghosts unless I see them for myself...which I never want to do...EVER.

Along with the Haunted Hamburger is this old Hotel, The Jerome Grand Hotel which is supposedly haunted as well. My aunt is modeling while her critical photographer (my uncle) is snapping a couple shots of her.  You can actually go on a tour at night where they take EMF meters and track paranormal activity. So that's cool, if you believe in that stuff.

In a failed attempt to walk off some of the chocolate cake calories we made our way to the Jerome Grand Hotel's gift shop. I found this cool wolf shirt and knew I had to have it! No questions! I bought this along with a postcard. Little did I know it glowed in the dark, until I went to turn out my light that night and there was something glowing on my stomach! Cool beans!

Hiking in Tempe!

My awesome uncle took my cousin and I on a couple of hikes to see the whole Phoenix Valley. On this particular hike, you could see a whole 360 of the whole valley. It was really neat

More cool pictures on the same hike.

Hole in the Rock Hike

Somehow we're supposed to make it up to that hole...

We made it, and the view was pretty spectacular! I love the palm trees! Oh, and we were very close the the Phoenix Zoo!

Well that's about it! I go to the airport early tomorrow morning to catch my flight back to Rapid City! If you actually read all of this, you're a saint. After this blog post, I might post one more pre-mission one before I leave, unless I don't get my LAST MINUTE packing done. Oh...and I'm speaking in church on Sunday so I should probably work on my talk. I need to go to bed though so I can catch my early flight home!
A huge thank you to my family, who were generous and accommodating hosts. I love you and can't wait to see you when I get back!
Peace,'s been real.  See you soon Rapid City


First of all, I want to apologize for how sad this blog's layout is. I have never posted a blog in my entire life. I didn't know that it would be so challenging, especially with my "extensive background with technology." I sure found out quickly that I may know things about computers, but I know absolutely nothing about blogs! So with that, I will attempt to write my first post.