exactly 2 years ago TODAY...
something happened that changed my life.
c o m p l e t e l y.
and for the better.
i would relive it in a heartbeat.
october 22, 2008

some of you might recognize those doors and the signs above them.

or more recognizable...


mom and dad dropped me off.
we did the long road trip out to provo from atlanta 4 days before.
it gave me time to collect all my school stuff i'd left in "storage" at friends' homes
and say my goodbyes to all the ones i left at byu.
i was already set apart...so it was a little different.

my last "meal" that day before entering the mtc...
a provo delicacy.
if you've never had one...
i'm sorry.
best doggies ever!
connie and jared both worked there...
i ate PLENTY. 
it was my last wish...

mom, me, erika, connie


Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission.
October 22, 2008 - May 13, 2010

literally the BEST time of my life.

"My mission meant everything to me and I want it to mean that to you."
-Jeffrey R Holland-

10.20.2010 Colombia Report Part II

One night Sebastian (like a brother to Kevin) drove us up to a mountain to see Pereira at night.
unfortunately my camera didn't quite capture the beauty of it.

 this is the group that went with us that night.
Jhony, Leslie, me, kev, Kelly, and Sebastian.

i absolutely LOVED when we went one day for a tour via MOTORCYCLE!
that's the mode of transportation for most in Pereira.
that or bus.
it reminded me of my summers in Mexico at my grandparents
we used to play on the four wheelers and motorcycles around town and in the apple/peach orchards.
6 of us went.
3 motos...2 on each.
on our way home we got poured on...freezing cold.
still...i loved ever second of it.

i attempted taking a video...
if you get motion sick, don't watch it. haha. sorry.
not really in the city, but just some parts of town.

As far as food.
i did eat and eat and eat.
i gained 5 pounds, not too bad, could be worse right?
Kevin's mom kept me well fed 
and in between, kevin and his cousins had me trying things from stands on the streets.
i felt like i was back on the mish sometimes...
we would visit family and friends of his and EVERY house offered food
often even a whole meal.
i was stuffed.

 ...some of my favorites. even though i loved it all.

there is still more to say and share about my trip...i'll save that for a later day though.

We No Speak Americano

Ok...so after all the planning and waiting and anticipation...i went and came back and it's 
O V E R!
now for the report:
getting there i was so anxious i couldn't function. 
3 hours of sleep the night before and 4 long flights ahead of me, yet i couldn't sleep a wink all day on the plane.
Atlanta to South Carolina to Miami to Cartagena, Colombia and FINALLY
to Pereira.
ONLY, with my luck, by the time we got to Pereira, it had been raining so hard they closed the airport and flew us to Bogota where we waited on the weather to improve.
I made friends with the adorable family next to me who let me borrow their cell to call Kevin and explain why I wasn't at his airport. They told me all about all the things to do in Pereira, asked about me and Kevin and how we met and it was great because of course the mish came up and I took the opportunity to talk about the church. 
They're catholics...but not active.
They'd seen the stake center in Pereira, so I invited them to General Conference the coming weekend! 
Anyway...before we parted, the husband gave me a really neat woven wood bracelet with the colombian flag colors. 
I love making new friends :)
ANYWAY...I made it to Kevin by 10pm instead of 6pm. 
Long day.
But worth it.

 i feel like i've known Kevin for years.
everything was just perfect.
there are some things your heart just knows.
and yes...
it's L O V E
 weather was...usually overcast. 
it drizzles a lot.
but sunny times in the afternoon too.
evenings and nights cool...though there they think it's freezing. hardly.
i walked the famous VILLADUCTO bridge...
modeled after the one in san fran, ca.

 In Colombia every street  is full of life...always music...
I'm pretty positive I heard this song everyday while I was in Colombia.
Many great memories are linked to it now.
So I thought I'd share...
If you haven't heard it already...aqui esta...

One night Kevin, his cousin Leslie, and I went to go visit Leslie's boyfriend at his work...
he's a DJ at a club. Club Karma.
Only the club was too full and wouldn't let us in, so we walked to the corner and Leslie treated me to the yummiest thing EVER.
 "Arepa Rellena"
Literally meaning "Filled Arepa"
An arepa is kind of like a really thick corn tortilla. 
In this case they sliced it open and it worked like a pita bread pocket.
It was stuffed with melted cheese, chicken, pork, cabbage on top, a slice of crispy bacon...and a mini hard boiled egg on top.
They have sauces that you can put on top too.
Kevin said it's kind of like their hamburger. Only to me...ten times better.
a small vid of it...

Here is Leslie (basically Kevin's sister, they've grown up in the same house since birth) and her boyfriend Harold.
They've been together 4 years. 
I just love them!
and miss them already.

We did make it into the club while he was DJing on another night.
I tried to take a video of him.
It was way dark though.


this is Lady Tatiana Contreras Lopez.
Kevin's lil sister.
she's 20.
DON'T call her Lady, she hates it.
It's Tatiana. Or Tati.
she's tall and skinny and studying to be a teacher.
lots of boys like her, 
but she doesn't like any of them because she's grown up with them like brothers.
she laughs at a lot of things, which makes me laugh.
she's also had long long hair like this her whole life.
she's funny...when we all got Raspoa (shaved ice with flavors and sweetened condensed milk and other toppings)...
she just asked for shaved ice with a ton of lime juice all over it.
that is Tati.
love her!

the rest of us that day:
Juan Pablo, Tati, me, Kevin, Les, Harold

here is me and kevin and his mom.
she is incredible.
she turned 50 this year.
she was a convert to the church in her 20's.
been 100% active ever since.
thanks to her, all 3 of her kids have grown up strong members.
and her two sons served missions.
her children are her life.
(kevin-23, ivan-21, tatiana-20)
so many hugs and kisses everyday even though her kids are older...
i love the love in their family!
i admire her because she's such a strong woman having raised a family as a single mom.
kevin's dad left them when he was 4, i believe, and is now somewhere in Chile.
no one knows.
Even though she suffers from a heart condition which slows her down, 
she never stops.
She treated me as her daughter while i was there.
all she has, she gives for others.
and she's HILARIOUS.
she strikes up a conversation with anyone anywhere 
and can always bring a smile to their face.
ha...some of the things she says!
she also always brings the church into the conversation somehow.
a very admirable woman.
Often kevin would have to leave for classes at the U or for other errands...
Me and his mom would have time together and had many lovely conversations.
she truly is a wonderful and admirable woman.

with the fam...
tati, mami, kevin, me, ivan...
(granted the fam is bigger, they live with their grandma, aunt, 
and three cousins which are considered siblings too)
Ivan also served a mish in Puerto Rico.
Him and Kevin left and came home the same days.
Only Ivan served in the West mission and Kevin was in the East mish.
he's 21.
he is THE nicest guy I've ever met.
and so selfless.
and ALWAYS with a BIG smile.
except here...haha...seems he's not so photogenic.
neither is kevin though :)
fotos don't do them justice.
Ivan works visiting medical patients and also studies at the U.
he helped take care of my bronchitis while i was there
and always washed my dishes.
He would also always practice his english with me.
He has a super cute girlfriend Natalia...I hope they get married.
oh love.

***i have more...but for some reason i can't access my videos right now, so sit tight and wait for Colombia Report Part II :) COMING SOON***

other news:
I got a call yesterday from "Vicky with the National Fraud Recovery Department".
She proceeded to ask me if i had authorized a $400 check
which i hadn't.
So she said she'd cancel it.
then she tried telling me she needed to "update" their system 
and wanted my new bank account number. 
After 3 strikes of people emptying my bank account with
fraudulent checks
and changing my account completely...
they think they are going to get me again by asking for it over the phone??
these dirty little rats!
 After our interesting conversation i tried calling her back...
go figure...it's not a working number.
what kind of world do we live in!
Dear "National Fraud Recovery Department":
and you will never again steal my money.