Monday, August 15, 2016

Missionary Week

Robbie and I both work with the youth in our ward and it is basically the
best job in the world
We have awesome kids to work with and great leaders that work together to put fun stuff together. It's a dream! One thing that makes it a lot easier though is all the resources we've found. Truth be told, I get a lot of ideas for our Sunday lessons and Wednesday night activities from other people's blogs. We wanted to do a missionary-based activity and found a great starting idea here and decided to add to it to make a whole week-long Missionary Activity. It went SO well so I figured I'd share the love. 


We passed out these adorbs invitations to the kids the week before the activity to psych them up and get them jazzed (Thank heavens for crafty friends).

Activity #1 - Intro
We opened up on a Wednesday night. We started by talking to the kids about the value of missionary work and how it can change people's hearts, including the missionaries. Then we gave the kids their mission calls. Each kid got a big white envelope with all of the following inside (click links to download files):
  1. Mission call (a one-week mission to one of the following places):
    • Japan, Tokyo Mission (Japanese)
    • Spain, Barcelona Mission (Spanish)
    • Thailand, Bangkok Mission (Thai)
    • Germany, Frankfurt Mission (German)
    • New York, New York North Mission (Spanish)
    • Russia, Moscow Mission (Russian)
    • New Zealand, Auckland Mission (English)
    • Peru, Lima Mission (Spanish)
  2. Map of their mission 
  3. Missionary Planner
  4. 7 days' worth of Scripture Study (with topics and scriptures pulled from Preach My Gospel) 
  5. 7 days' worth of Language Study (if they are speaking a language). Links above.

We handed them all out and took turns having the kids read their call one by one (just the first two paragraphs). They got SO into it! It was awesome. There was clapping and hollering after each call was read. It felt almost like a real mission call! Each of the kids had a companion called to the same mission.

Then they needed some training so our next stop was the Missionary Training Center. We headed to the gym where the kids got their black name tags and then each companionship was put into a district (team). Part 1 of their training was learning practical skills missionaries need. The districts competed against each other in a relay race, covering a lot of the basic skills a missionary needs. Each team member was assigned to a specific task but they couldn't start until they were tagged. The tasks were narrowed down to:
  • Iron a collared shirt
  • Sew on a button
  • Look up a scripture reference and read it out loud
  • Make and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Tie a tie
  • Write out and say the name of the church in their mission language (using the board for reference)
  • Run a lap around the gym (to get in shape for running to catch a bus, of course)



It was chaos but the best kind of chaos. They killed it! And we miraculously didn't have any injuries, so that's a win. Part 2 of their MTC training was getting comfortable sharing their testimonies. We gave each of them a Book of Mormon. The plan was to give them 5-10 minutes to write their testimony on the inside cover of their Book of Mormon. However, we were running out of time so we asked them to take it home and try to write their testimony in it that night. After they finished all their training, we went back to the small room and talked about the 3 big challenges they were given for the following week of their "mission."

Challenge #1 - Try to follow the missionary schedule as closely as you can. 
Their mission call included our version of their missionary schedule (including wake up times, bed times, and suggestions for study times). The bulk of the day was to be spent serving people, spending quality time with friends and family, and sharing the gospel. They were not banned from watching TV, movies, etc. but were asked to try to focus their time on more positive things when possible. We explained that trying out the schedule would be fun, but the most important parts were doing their daily scripture study and sharing the gospel whenever possible. 

Challenge #2 - Give out one pass along card every day and one Book of Mormon for the week.
The goal of this week is to share the gospel. We talked about giving pass along cards to anyone: grocery cashiers, mailmen, fast food workers, neighbors, friends, etc. The Book of Mormon should be the one they wrote their testimony in and might take a little more thought and planning. 

Challenge #3 - Go out teaching with the full-time missionaries at least once during the week
We had sign-ups for the kids to choose a night to go out with the missionaries (coordinated with the missionaries beforehand). 

The full-time missionaries gave a great spiritual thought encouraging the kids to share the gospel. Then we ended the night with one of our leaders who was a teenage convert sharing her conversion story. It was the perfect ending because she emphasized what a crucial role her peers played in helping her learn about and embrace the gospel when she was a teenager. 

At the very end of the night, we had all the kids there take the classic map picture. Then they went on their way! Watch out for Florence's Army of Helaman!

Activity #2 - Follow-Up
Throughout the week we had checked in with the kids and reminded them of their night with the missionaries, etc. We also let them know that we wanted to hear about their experiences the following Wednesday at our activity. 

For the second activity, the kids were asked to dress in missionary attire and wear the name tags that they were given the previous week. After a loud and proud opening song ("Called to Serve"), we opened up the floor and gave them the opportunity to share any experience from the week. They could share anything they wanted (something they learned from their scripture study, vocab they learned in their mission language, an experience giving away a pass along card or Book of Mormon, or anything from their night with the full-time missionaries). We didn't really know how it would go, but it turned out awesome! Some stories were funny, some were serious, but all were meaningful. The kids may not have stuck to the missionary schedule the whole week, but they all made an effort to share the gospel, which was the purpose of the whole activity. We loved sitting and hearing from these hilarious, amazing teens and their experiences and testimonies. 

We ended the night by having two members of the ward share their mission experiences. One sister served in Japan and shared pictures and stories. The kids loved it (especially the two boys that were "called" to Japan). They asked tons of questions and loved hearing her stories. Our second speaker was my sweet. Robbie shared pictures and stories of his mission experiences in Romania. I've got to admit, I was feeling all kinds of nostalgia hearing him talk about Romanian life, food, culture and the hilarious and spiritual experiences that every missionary there gets to experience (for those that don't know, we both served in Romania). Plus, how could I not love getting to see my handsome guy sharing his testimony and sweet memories of his mission? He is just the best. 

At the end of the night, we even gave the kids an actual taste of Romania. Robbie slaved in the kitchen all day and made some delicious sarmale! (authentic Romanian food: meat and rice-filled cabbage rolls). The ones that were brave enough to try it actually ended up loving it!


This activity was so great! We are lucky to work with some incredible leaders that did so much to help the kids get really into it. We loved it and the kids seemed to love doing missionary work. Many had never been out with the missionaries before and talked so much about the experiences they had. This activity was really meaningful for everyone and hopefully one the youth will remember for a long time!

*HUGE thanks to the other leaders and the friends and family that helped us do all the translations.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 11: Everywhere, Bali

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Saying goodbye to the Bali beaches
-More Bali temples
-Kecak fire dance

Robbie here, and this is our LAST day. Kind of unbelievable that it's over already. Today we had to leave our paradise that is Nusa Lembongan. We enjoyed one more sunrise on our own little stretch of beach thanks to our hog--and as you can see it was another beaut.

We took the ferry to a village of the main island named Padang Bai. Here's our captain:

-Ok, not our real captain, but the first mate. 

So Padang Bai is a small fishing and harbor town with beautiful beaches. We had an hour to kill before we hired our driver, so we took a dip. 

-No, that's not a filter, we (mostly me) are still white. 

Lining the main road right off the harbor were over 20 drivers for hire. We felt like famous superstars, you guys. Everyone wanted to be our driver. After soaking up that ego-boost, we chose our driver and we were off. 

Our first stop was to the location of Batman's origin story--bat temple. What is bat temple, you ask? Well feast your eyes on this:

-Yup every square inch of the roof of that cave is plastered in bats

The mouth of this cave let sunlight in, so it was cool to see all the bats crammed together trying to get some sleep in during the day. After peacing out there, we went to an awesome (but kind of pricy) place for our last Balinese meal, Lereng Agung. This place not only was a Balinese buffet, but had the most incredible table-side view.

Unreal food and amazing view. Because it's cloudy you can't tell, but Bali's biggest mountain/volcano is straight ahead. Couldn't ask for more for our last meal in Bali. After rolling out of the buffet we made it to Pura Besakih, Bali's first and most important Hindu temple. It was pretty amazing. 

-The entrance to the main courtyard of the temple

This temple was huge. There were at least 30 buildings/towers in around 7 different courtyards, some of which we couldn't go in because we were not local Hindus. 

Here's the bummer about Pura Besakih--it's such a famous and beautiful temple that it has become a huge tourist spot. That by itself isn't a bad thing, but there were a ton of people trying to make a profit off of this spiritual place. We were swarmed by people trying to sell us trinkets, offerings, and souvenirs. Also, everyone gets pressured into hiring a local guide/guardian even though the ticket should get you into most places in the temple. So, trying to ignore all of that noise and bustle, we did our best to soak it all in. Still, a beautiful place that we will never forget.

Our last activity was to see the Kecak fire dance. This performance blew our minds. It's a dance/chant show that tells the story of the Ramayana. If you ever saw A Little Princess (looking at you Linds), that's a really basic version of the story. For those who haven't, it's an ancient Hindu legend where the guy, Rama, rescues his wife, Sita, from an evil demon who kidnapped her. There are white monkey kings, dragons, golden deer and other awesome characters.  It's a cool story. Two of the coolest parts of this show were one, the music/chanting provided by 50 men sitting in a circle around the stage, and two, the actual Fire dance at the end of the performance. 

This show was over an hour long, and these 50 dudes chanted and sang the entire time! This isn't wussy and soft music. We are talking primal, percussion-like rhythm, booms, and singing. It was so cool to watch. These photos won't do it justice. 

-These chanting dudes would get in different formations, too. So they weren't just chillin. 

Then came the fire dance. First a dude with around 100 coconut husks comes in and drops them in a mound right in the middle of the stage, lights a match and boom, instant bonfire. Then, in walks a twitchy dude that looks like he could snap at any minute and starts dancing in the coconut fire! Not only would he dance barefoot, he would sometimes just sit in the fire (quickly) or EAT the burning coconut and spit it out like fireballs around the stage. What?!? This dude is crazy. But hey, we get to watch his entertaining crazy. We couldn't believe it. Also, we got horrible photos because we were too enthralled to be bothered by the camera. So these will have to do. 

-Us with the fire dancer over the remaining embers. Even this photo made our feet burn.

-And us with the main cast of the Ramayana

Well that wraps it up! I hate to type those words because that means our Bali trip is  ending. We had an amazing time. We got to see and experience so much in this beautiful country, and with the most kind and giving people. 

Whenever we travel we try to experience the culture and emulate the good that we see there. Being more kind and connecting with nature more often are our big take aways from Bali. 

Unforgettable experience. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 10: Nusa Lembongan

Monday, May 30, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Rainstorm/Accidental Spa Trip
-Beach Hunting
-Pool honey time
-Explored the island s'more

Today was a dream, one that startles you awake thinking you're supposed to be somewhere and then you realize THERE IS LITERALLY NOWHERE YOU HAVE TO BE. No one is expecting you or waiting on you. You can do whatever the heck you want!

What I'm getting at here is that we LOVED getting to sleep in and have a lazy morning. We ate brekkie, opened the windows and let the glorious sun shine in...dream stuff, right? Welp, by the time we finally got our booties out the door to go exploring it had become overcast and in the time it took us to sit on our scooter and drive a half a block, a torrential downpour had started. However, there CONVENIENTLY happened to be a another spa just another block down the road. You know what that means....

A quick turn of the handlebars landed us at our second full-body massage in three days. We had to wait out the storm somewhere! It might as well be in the hands of a Balinese magician. 

We emerged an hour later in that confused, disoriented, frizzy-haired state that only comes after total relaxation. And then they gave us chocolate cookies and my focus zoned right back in. I feel like bi-weekly massages should be a thing in real life, not just vacation life. 

Anyhoo, our plan had worked! The sun was shining again and we set off to find the best beach these two islands had to offer. We were in the mood for some swim!

Welp, turns out we went beach hunting on "the best surfing day of the year." Meaning that the waves were monstrous enough to wreck any noob that dared take them on. We personally watched this Asian couple wipe out numerous times in ankle deep water. 

Those looked scary and we are wimps. Bad combo. So, after trying all the beaches we were told might be "swimmable," and then getting really hot and trying to sneak into a few resort pools close by, and then getting publicly shamed and kicked out of said resort pools for not having wristbands, we finally decided what this day needed was just some good ol' fashioned chill time at our own pool. Out of those next blessed 2 hours came the creation of water-couples-yogamnastics. Really wish I had some documentation of how amazing we were at balancing on each other's legs and "crow"-ing off the pool edge into front flips, but alas, those gems exist only in my memory. Suffice it to say, I'm super glad I married this goober. 

After some nice R&R, we hopped back on our hog and tried to suck every last bit of the day out, cruising to every corner of the island we hadn't yet explored. 

Don't pretend like you haven't noticed that I'm wearing this shirt almost every day. It ended up being my coolest one (as in airy, not radical. But it's also radical). Also, laundering multiple shirts is hard. 

Stairway to heaven. Also another site from The Amazing Race. Remember Sheri and Cole and how Cole had to jump off this and was freaking out? We didn't even realize what it was until we were there.

Just another beaut 

Ended the night at Mahana Point for din and crazy wave watching. It's a little cafe built on the edge of a cliff and all the monster waves break right in front of you and even splash all the way up to these tables. So fun! But scootering home across sketchy yellow bridge in the dark, not so fun...

Last thing I just gotta say. Indonesian people are seriously the best. As we waited in line to cross the bridge (because it is too narrow for two directions of scooter traffic), these cute kids about age 12-13 I would guess just started chatting with us. Asking us genuine questions about ourselves and telling us about them and wishing us a safe journey. They initiated the whole conversation and were so sweet and kind-hearted. I mean, I love 12-year olds (I chose to surround myself with 30 of them at a time) but I did not expect that. What is this place?!

Great last full day! Tomorrow we head back to Bali and will take advantage of every second we have until we get on our plane tomorrow night and head back to real life!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 9: Ubud, Bali to Nusa Lembongan

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Church in Kuta
-Tasting Babi Guling 👎
-Ferry to Nusa Lembongan island 
-Exploring Nusa Lembongan scooter-style!👍

Today had some really high highs and some really low lows. (Please see thumbs above). The high was absolutely our new location. We got a tip from our friends the Hathaways that we should visit the small island Nusa Lembongan (off the coast of Bali). BEST ADVICE EVER. 

Do you see this?! It is amazing! But I'm getting ahead of myself here. 

After ELEVEN HOURS of sleep (due to my nasty-awful-can't-breathe-cold) we packed up and said a sad goodbye to Ubud. We really loved this place!

We caught a taksi to Kuta (about an hour away) to catch the only Sacrament Meeting in all of Bali. Of course we got lost and couldn't find it and I still can't believe we asked the one man in Kuta who happened to know where it was. We walked in and got headsets right as they were starting. It was so fun to be with other Balinese Branch members and even got to hear a young girl give her farewell talk, which is crazy awesome considering there are only about 12 members that live there (and no missionaries serving there). There were a bunch of others that were visitors like us, mostly from Australia and New Zealand. So fun! 

Next came the Babi Guling....😳

Ever since we arrived, we have asked Balinese people their favorite food and multiple times have been told Babi Guling. It means "suckling pig." We like pig! Bacon, pork chops, ham, bring it on! Well, we needed lunch so our driver after church said he'd take us to get some good Babi Guling. We went to a little Warung and were served a whole lot of stuff I couldn't identify. The one thing I definitely DID identify was hair. Coming out of pig skin. 

Nope. Nope. Nope. Not happening. I'm all for trying new things and we have eaten strictly Indonesian this entire trip (and really liked it), but there is a line and I draw it here! Plus, I already got my fill of fresh pig skin in Romania. I'm good for the foreseeable ever. Robbie, however, ate one. He said it tasted like a super thick, greasy potato chip. Mmmmmm...

Rob ate most of his plate and I took at least a bite of almost everything (most of which was crazy spicy) and then we paid and jetted, quickly before they could realize my plate was still full. Never again, Babi Guling, never again.

In happier news, we then set off to our new island. We will spend most of our last two days here and there is really no better way I could imagine ending our trip. 

Funny story: we arrived at busy Sanur Beach to catch a ferry boat out to the island but were told that none of them were leaving for another 3 hours or so. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the beach visitors, this mysterious old man came up to us and asked what we needed. We told him and he just looked out toward the beach at all the dozens of boats, pointed at one and said, "You pay me and take that one!" Haha, what? This guy didn't seem to have any authority but gave us a cheaper price and said they were leaving now. So we did it! We jumped on a cargo boat taking a bunch of drywall out to the island and it was cheaper and faster than any other option. Plus, we got to witness a bunch of older Balinese men in speedos laughing as they ran a section of drywall up the beach. 

Since we ended up on some beautiful but random beach (and not an official boat dock), we had no idea where we were or where to go, which made it amazing when we stumbled onto the main road and found ourselves basically right in front of our new hotel, Tigerlilly's. Win win!

This place is amazing! It feels like we are living in a fancy treehouse. And get this, we have an outdoor bathroom!

We can creep on all the swimming peeps from our bungalow window

We make twin beds and mosquito nets suuuuuuuuuuper romantic.

Enjoy a nice breeze and maybe a butterfly during toilet time

So great! We dropped off our stuff and took off to explore! It only costs $5/day to rent a scooter so you better believe we will be scooterin all up in her' over the next two days!

I really think we are the only people on the whole island wearing helmets, but considering how sketch driving here is, we will continue to nerd it up!

Rickety bridge to another smaller island, Nusa Ceningan. Juuuuuuuuust barely wide enough for a scooter. I was hyperventilating, squeezing my eyes shut on the back (after I documented it, of course)

Sweet Balinese woman we saw on the edge of a cliff scooping up seaweed. I think she lived in the tiny shack on that cliff

Teeny scooter road leading down to fancy resorts and amazing views!

Sometimes Rob felt the need for speed on our tiny scooter. That combined with the fact that they drive on the left here makes me pretty surprised that we survived. (Though I do have to give him kudos for driving over huge rocks and potholes like a champ while I just got to squeeze him around the middle and sightsee on the back)

Snuck into a resort on the edge of the island to swim in their infinity pool and watch the sun go down. They caught us and made us buy a drink 😒. Still worth it. 

Gah! This place! Called "The Blue Lagoon." Haha, it's kind of a joke how beautiful everything is.

We ended the night eating fresh fish (caught just barely) at a beach front Warung and downing chocolate milkshakes like it was our job. What an awesome day!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 8: Ubud, Bali

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Volcano hike
-Spa life

Robbie here again! Well today saw us get up in the morning at 2:00... Did you even know there was a 2:00 in the morning? Well it's very real. We woke up, hopped into a van, snacked on some fried banana, shuttled to the base of Mt Batur--the same volcano that we biked around yesterday--but this time we chose to hike up this doozy, while half asleep. 

-This is actually on our way down the volcano, since photos of us hiking up would just be a black rectangle. 

Hiking up this thing in the dark was no easy task. I felt like a nerd because I wore my glasses on this excursion and the more I sweated the foggier my glasses got, so I'd take them off but then I couldn't see a dang thing! There were a couple times where I'd slam right into the back of Angie because I was trying to see where my next step was rather than look up at what was in front of me. 

After 2 hours of hiking in the dark, we finally made it to the summit. We were soaking wet with sweat. And when I say soaking, I mean it. We couldn't find a dry spot on our shirts--I tried wiping off my glasses but I couldn't clean them because it would just leave streaks of sweat on them. Woof.  And now that we were sitting still at the top we instantly got super cold and had to sneakily get our soaking wet shirts off and our jackets on. PLUS, we got to pack in a breakfast with, you guessed it, more banana. We really can't get enough of them so no complaints here. 

-Breakfast at the peak. We also had hard boiled eggs that, legend says, were cooked in the volcano's steam geysers 

Before getting there Angie and I assumed we would be a handful of people hiking up the volcano. Boy were we wrong. 

-Probably 10% of the hikers on Mt Batur. Our guide guessed there were about 500 hikers on a daily basis. 

There were a steady stream of hikers the entire way up the volcano. It was actually kinda neat seeing the string of head lamps zig zag all the way to the top. It made the volcano look like a Christmas tree. 

Anyway, the sun finally rose but due to cloud cover there was no colorful sunrise. That was a small bummer but the views were still breath taking.

We hiked back down and got to our hotel--all before 11 am! We showered and instantly booked a Balinese full body massage at a spa close by. It. Was. Awesome. 

They greeted us with moist towels, cool drinks, a foot scrub and wash, then ushered us into a couples massage room. I am having a hard time describing this experience without it sounding inappropriate. Nothing sketchy went down, but dang, it felt so relaxing and amazing. It was so amazing it made me regret all the times we turned down all the offers for spa treatment we have gotten walking down the street up to this point. We should've cancelled all other activities and just had 10 days of spa. Anyway... It was sweet.  We were in such a state of euphoria that we forgot to take any photos. Hah!  So... I'll just paste this picture of a stray dog sleeping on the sidewalk instead. 

-After our massages we could've easily slept on the sidewalk like this pooch.

Once we got to our hotel Angie's cold (that's been coming on for a few days now) hit full force, so while we were deciding whether we should take it easy or go out for our last night in Ubud, we fell asleep. 

Well we woke up 3 hours later, cursed our comfortable bed, planned the next day and then went to sleep at 8 pm.