Travel has made me more aware of me.  I learn more about myself while on the road than anywhere else.  It’s given me the, “I can make it happen” attitude.

Costa Rica Here We Come

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Costa Rica Here We Come

“Why Costa Rica and why for 2 months?” 

“How are you making this possible?”

“You don’t have to work?”

“What’s the cost of living down there?”

These are the questions I have been getting from many of my friends who are curious as to why we decided as a family to move away for 2 months this summer.

The summer of 2009 we found ourselves in the same situation we are now.  We were in between housing and so we took advantage of the opportunity and stored our belongings and packed our car with what we needed for 3 months and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. to be by my family for a period of time. 

We had lived in California since 2001, when we got married. This was a great window of opportunity so we acted on it.  It was such a fun, spontaneous adventure that we wanted to make sure it happened again.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when we finally decided again that the timing was right to now take the family abroad and leave the U.S. to give our children the experience of living in another culture and lifestyle for more than just a few days.

We are finally out of the baby stage and diapers!  Its an exciting, new time period for our family.  Our oldest, Reeghan, will be 12 and our youngest, Stratton, will be 4.  Our children are old enough to have an experience like this that they will always remember. For some of you, I’m sure you can think of a time in your childhood that had an impact on you.  I want to create an experience for them that they will look back and easily identify this experience as one that shaped their lives.

Trust me, this will not be their only experience, but the first of many.  We have plans for each summer to do a similar “family adventure”.  Maybe one day we will settle down somewhere, but for now we are enjoying the journey.  Why not?

I have no fears about this. Last year when we set the goal to do this, Trent had originally suggested we go to Mexico because that is where he lived for 2 years as he served as a missionary for our church (long story, but because of his mission, we met, married and have our beautiful little family). 

When we would tell others, often their first reaction was, “Aren’t you scared and nervous to take your family down there?”

Ask me a few years ago and I would have had second thoughts, but now I don’t think twice about it because I’ve decided I don’t want to live in FEAR. 

Just like the trip I just got home from in Uganda, Africa.  I got the same question.  Sure bad things are out there and yes we need to be aware and take precautions to ensure we aren’t intentionally putting ourselves at risk, but if I think only about the fear and the bad things, then I will likely not do anything out of fear of what “could” happen.

What if we all looked at life through LOVE?  Love for others, love to serve and to lend a helping hand, love to share who we are and our families.  That’s what I want.  I want to live out of LOVE and not fear.  So to answer that question, “No I am not scared!” 

I have finally come to a point in my life where I’ve decided I don’t want to sit back and watch from the sideline.  I want to participate and I want to create experiences for my family that will change them as well as me.

Our plan is to be out of our current home May 20th and then head up to Park City to a rental home for a month to play there.  Then, on June 19th we get on a plane and head to San Jose, Costa Rica until August 20th.

The first week is all we have mapped out right now.  We are planning on getting some dental work done down there the first week in San Jose.  Trust me I have looked and researched about “dental tourism” and it’s always interested me to just get everything done within a few days instead of stretching it out.  So I look forward to that experience.

Then after that I’ve had a few connections and asked questions about locations, activities, summer camps, Spanish lessons, service opportunities, etc.  So the plan is to have a “home base” to keep our carry on luggage that each of us will be packing and then use our backpacks to go for a weekend here and there to other parts of the country and surrounding countries. 

I have a passion to serve and have done a few humanitarian trips (last one to Africa was with a group of ladies and a couple years ago, just Trent and I helped with Hurricane Sandy clean up). I’m always looking for opportunities to travel and serve, but this will be the first time that we will be doing a humanitarian trip as a family.  There will be many more to come!

Last but not least… work and money. Many people have asked how we can afford to just up and leave and how we will work. Luckily, the cost of living is pretty inexpensive down in Costa Rica and because we are between homes, we only have to pay for storage, not a home in the States and a home in Costa Rica at the same time. Trent and his brother own a business that provides Software as a Services (SaaS) and he can work from anywhere. In fact, Trent’s brother/business partner lives in another state. Their office is in Utah and most of the team works from there, but they also have a couple employees who work from home in California. Another thing that made Costa Rica an easy choice is that during the summer months Costa Rica is on the same time as Utah. As long as Trent has internet he can work. Being on the same time zone makes it even easier to collaborate with his team in Utah.

Essentially, our flights to and from Costa Rica will be the only increase to our normal budget for the 2 months we are away. The cost of housing is less, but the difference in what we save we will be spending on family activities and bus fare for traveling around Costa Rica.

Uganda Last Day

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Uganda Last Day

I dreaded this day to come.  I have really enjoyed waking up each morning to see these women and learn more about them.  I left the house earlier to be able to be with them longer.  I’ve loved walking up to the workshop each morning and making the greeting call!

Over the last few days I noticed I had become more of a physical touch person as I’ve connected with these women.  I’m sure part of it is their culture but I don’t want to think that. I am choosing to think that physical touch comes natural to them therefore it made it natural to me.

I realized as I’ve analyzed my experience that once again I went into this experience with love and confidence and not fear. It was that love and open heart that allowed me to be raw and real and present with these women and touch and soothe their minds.

I wanted this day to last longer but we had to polish up the library to get it presentable to the community and so I had to step away from what I was feeling and put it on hold. I then came back and videoed two of the women and asked what gift I had given them.  Monica and Sherfia both expressed the gift of awareness to love themselves and to be more confident.

I was able to bring a few kitchen gadgets to help ease their preparation in the kitchen. I gathered tongs, vegetable peeler, and paring knives.  I presented it to them on this last day and you’d think they won a car or something.  Repeatedly they said over and over again, “thank you Sarah”  They were so appreciative just as they were with the skirts we gave them the first day.  I had to explain step by step how to use these tools because they had never seen one.

We also got Luta to share his talent of dancing with us.  We had learned throughout the week the Ugandan traditional dance move.  Which was basically shaking our hips a lot.  We wore the traditional attire and had straw and fur that excentuated our hip area to help us look like we were doing it right.  It was so fun to see the women’s reaction when they saw all of us “muzungu’s” come out and perform for them.

As we made preparations for the library grand opening the Musana women wanted to sing a song so they all gathered in the back area and started practicing.  I came around the corner and saw this beautiful scene of all the women circled around each other looking and singing to each other.  The sisterhood that they share is quite impeccable.

They lean on each other in the good times as well as the bad.  When Florenece was sick in the hospital they each took turns taking her meals.  Because hospitals here you have to take care of your own needs.  Or when Rosettes husband died she went right to her sisters at work for strength and support.

They are a Relief Society already. Building each other up and bearing one another’s burdens.  So as they sang together I just broke down in tears and Ruth couldn’t join them so I sat next to her and held her and just cried like a baby.

These women believe that I will go back home and never think of them again.  But little do they know that I have plans to remember their stories and I’m going to share them and hang their picture up next to my mirror to be reminded of my sacred time I spent with them.  I was made better because I was in their lives.  Even though it was for a very short time.

I choose to create whenever I make connections with people that I want to know that their life was made better because I was in it.  But this trip it was definitely the opposite.  Sure I hope they learned a few things from me but this experience has changed me.  It’s these experiences you wish you could bottle up and open the lid every one in a while and just take it in when you are bombarded with life.

I began to say my goodbyes and I was overwhelmed that they all gave me advice.  It was supposed to be the other way around.

I was a mess.  A crying mess.  We gathered in the car to depot and they began to sing us a song and I lost it even more!  I just kept staring at their smiles and sweet tender faces while my eyes were puffy, red and wet with tears and just smiled back and waved.  When I closed the door I just buried my head in my lap.  I was so overcome with emotion and had numerous flashbacks of the last week.  As we pulled away I just stared out the window and took it all in.  I saw life with new eyes.  I began to see that my service there was selfishly for me.  I was in a place to receive it. I wanted this moment to last to just feel and to process my experience.

Uganda Day Seven

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Started off the morning with a mirror exercise that I do each morning called, “Love Yourself From The Inside Out“(click to download) so I shared it with the women!  So powerful!

I gave each of them a handheld mirror and you think they had won the lottery!  They shouted with such excitement and energy it was incredible!

I began to share with them that this will help them realize and think about themselves and what they are good at. We give and give to others but we fail to take care of ourself first so that we have the energy to give to others.

Some women said after it was over that they never knew that they were to love themselves first!!!!  Wait what??  It was a new concept and they were so appreciative of this very simple exercise

It was great to hear what they are good at.  Some said being compassionate, eating, loving others and then they spoke gratitude.

Gratitude for their health, a job, their families.

Then toped it off with a goal that they want to accomplish that day.  Some said make 70 bumbo beads, be a hard worker, smile at someone new, etc.

This experience once again solidified why I chose to do this for myself each morning too.  To take the time each day to express love to myself.  To practice sharing with myself what I am good at and what I am grateful for.  It has built my confidence in myself and I know it can be with anyone who tries it.

The remainder of the day was prepping the library with indexing the books, putting down flooring, and polishing up the artwork on the wall.  We are getting closer!

Uganda Day Six

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Musana got some new tables for the workspaces so my job today was to clear out space for them and rearrange the new tables.  I will help the women to be more efficient in their work by having the tables against the walls and will also make it more personal for them.
When we go make house visits we have been taking pictures of them outside their homes with their families and will print them off a picture to have at their workspace.
Along with those workspaces we organized the supply room.  Talk about supplies.  They have so many beads!!  It was a disasterous mess.  I found a lot of really unique pieces and I’m excited to bring some jewelry home with me.  I just love organizing and each of the women came in and were in shock of how neat and clean it was.  Hopefully it says that way.
I took a break and showed a few TRX moves and that was just hilarious.  They are so funny because they don’t take exercise seriously.
After our workaday we got the privilege once again to go visit 3 of the artisans in their homes.  My partner was Janet and we went with Susan, Rosette, and Immaculate.
We started off with immaculate in her home and she has 4 children.  We walked in and her home was a big room with the curtain to divide.  Most of the homes are this way.
She shared about how her mom taught her hard work and wants that for her children and then feared that she wouldn’t have food for her children.  Which that seemed to be the same theme throughout all the women.
Once again we talked about the men and how they don’t take care of their families and just leave them to fend for themselves.  I just can’t fathom that.  But on the other end these women are just as shocked hearing about how men in America are more vigilant in their homes and families.  We shared our own personal experiences with our husbands too.
We then came to Rosettes home.  A very humble home.  No couches.  We sat on mats.  Her 18yr old son was there and joined in on our conversation.  Our conversation started heavy.  Just 3 weeks prior her husband died.
Her stepmother taught her hard work but through pain.  However she would teach her children to believe in God, be hard working and go to school because she didn’t.  She wants them to know that she is the mother and the father now and to respect others.
Then she asked us advice on how to be a single mother now.  Janet was a single mother so she talked about support men and women. Then she talked about showing love to her children and to share stories about their father and stay close to God.
I asked her 18yr old son to share to his mother how she has taught him.  His response was about her lifestyle and to believe in God.
Hard working, provided us with an education and he has a belief that his father is looking down on them now.
What makes Rosette happy is seeing her children happy and going to school, gospel music, and to see them succeed.
Rosette asked us what happens in America after the husband died.  Because in her situation she was blamed for her husbands death and in their culture the husbands family takes all the wealth.  So she is left with nothing.
Susan is quite the leader of the pack.  She’s like the mother hen.  She is a born again Christian and the first day I met her she had quite the list of questions.  And tonight didn’t change. She talked more about her husband not being around and she never knew when he was going to come home.
She asked for advice about how to support herself so that she could leave him.  Out of all the artisans she has the nicest house.  Bigger and more spacious.  So she doesn’t want to lose that security.
As I walked home my heart was heavy.  I heard and witnessed conversations while I’ve been here that have blown my mind to think that they live like this. I am in awe over and over again of the strength that these women carry.  It’s a different type of strength then what I carry.
The Ugandan strength is resilience and endurance.  The trials they face seem to carry them through and they deal with their situations longer than I do.  Especially I wouldn’t have the patience to allow a man to use me like that like they do.
How can I approach my day with such strength and resilience?
Despite their trials they are such a happy people because they sing, dance and pray.
They are also surrounded by their children and look at motherhood as a stewardship to lead, guide and train them to be something that they weren’t.
I was so emotional tonight I couldn’t contain it it just flowed freely because I didn’t want to hold it in.  Janet and I felt the spirit in each home we went to it felt like we were on a mini mission.  We got to pray, sing “I am a child of God” and share our knowledge about our loved ones who pass on with the women.  We talked about the fathers role in a family.  It was such a spiritual experience.
Physical strength when defined in America is is far different than the African’s.

Uganda Day Five

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Uganda Day Five
Our class today was on creating a meal plan.  So I asked each of them to draw out 3 sections for growth, protection and energy.  Then I asked them to put down on item in growth and energy and then 2 in protection.
Most of these women have never done such a thing before.  I was able to provide them with another way to approach food.  Because they would typically add 2 items of energy foods on their plates because its cheaper.  But because of our lesson the previous day about the different fruits and vegetables and the benefits to each one if they eat it they have begun to see that paying a little bit more money for those foods would benefit them in the long term and not just short term.
We got to go back to the Canon School and teach the children these same topics but of course catered to their needs.
Leslie went on to teach the teachers of that school how to be better effective teachers.  She began with a simple yet powerful model of beginning by sharing about themselves to open up communication and not have full control of the classroom.  Allow them an opportunity to make contributions too to help in their learning environment. We all learn through stories and sharing.
You can’t teach with words alone. You need to experience it. How does it increase my understanding of what it is?  She then passed out root beer barrels which is a candy.  She asked them, “What doest that taste like?  Describe it?  Are you helping your students understand how to taste root beer?”
When you share a message its:
7% words
30% voice
55% body language
I learned alot from that class not just those teachers.  I am in awe of the women I am here experiencing this trip with.  They all have so much to contribute and I feel so honored to work along side them.
Our power went out tonight twice. It was quite the experience as well as the water stopped working. We’ve had quite the African experience.


Uganda Day Four

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

First thing this morning was we got to experience shopping at the market.  We shopped for fruits and vegetables to share for our first nutrition class.  It was quite the site to see fresh fish being filleted on the concrete getting their guts pulled out.

The previous night Leslie received a question from one of the artisans which lead to a way to make nutrition real to them.  She asked, “how do you take care of your skin?” And Leslie replied, “I eat my fruits and vegetables”. Then she had a big aha moment to improve our class.  We decided to share the benefits of the vegetables that they use.

As I sat back and observed Leslie give the first class I realized just how simple these women live and the knowledge they don’t have in regards to nutrition.  We shared the food groups pie chart and for them which I think is brilliant they understand that fruits and vegetables are for protection, proteins are for growth, and carbs are for energy.

As she shared I could just see their eyes and faces and they were just in awe of the simpleness of our message.  It was super basic but yet powerful because later that night one of the artisans came by to lock up the shop and she was carrying her market bag and I asked her what she bought and she said, “Sarah, I bought my greens to improve my immune system”. It worked!  Now the test will be to stick to it.  The final class I will teach them is about habits that will help them use more vegetables.

I then taught the second class and shared what I teach and how I help women move better. I talked about using the TRX straps to build muscles to make you healthier and so you don’t have any pain.

We ended the day prepping the library space for paint.

Ugandan Easter Sunday

Posted by on Apr 4, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Ugandan Easter Sunday

We began our Easter Sunday walking around to other churches in Lugazi.  We stopped by the Catholic church and listened outside their door.  Love the music and atmosphere here of these Christian churches. Then worked our way to Pastor Francis at the Cannon School. We met him the previous night and he invited us to come to his service.  He began with a song and my favorite line was “Their are mountains to climb. For us we shall see an open door”

His message was about conversion that leads to a turning point that changes you to have a new appreciation for your life. Then you end up exchanging it for something better.

The question he asked us is “What is the gift I can give to Christ today?”  I strive each and everyday to be a better version of myself but then I just want to become God’s version of me.

He shared Luke 19:1-6 where Zachaus made a commitment to Jesus to climb the tree. He dropped his reputation and wanted to please God not man.  So he was blessed by Jesus by repenting of his corrupt life.

If we fear public opinion we will miss the visitation of the Lord.  We are to risk everything we can to become the best version of ourselves and to become God.  When we get out of our comfort zone we may see God.

We then walked over to our church building and their meet some wonderful saints.  It is a small branch of about 58 baptized members. Most of the primary children come on their own without anyone. These children will be the future of this branch I’m sure of it if they continue to come. The children love to come and they love primary and they love to learn about Jesus and to just feel good.  The spirit welcomes them even if they come by themselves.

It was fast and testimony meeting so I felt prompted to get up and share my testimony with them.  I talked about how God loves his children no matter where they are in the world and its good for each of us to step outside ourselves and recognize that the world is a much bigger place and we have alot of give.  We are all born with many talents and gifts but we can’t hide them.  Its our duty to share and bring happiness to people.

We then went to Sunday School class and this 21 year old young man gave the lesson.  It was so incredible and the spirit was so strong I didn’t want to leave after he was done.  He spoke with such ease and confidence and without any notes.  He talked about serving in the family. Especially the husbands because it creates love with your wife.  Come to find out he has only been a member of the church for 2 years.  I was even more impressed and noticed the branch president coming up to him after his lesson and giving him feedback on his lesson and then a few pointers.  This branch president is preparing him for his mission which he said he will go on in one year.

In Relief Society is was just the President and Sandra and I.  Very small intimate lesson but yet another powerful lesson.  I have come to understand that the lessons we teach in church don’t have to be this glorious presentation.  The church doctrine is meant to be simple and let us each deliver it that way.  I truly felt that from these saints here.  Simplicity was key in their messages.  We discussed

“Act Well Thy Part” by Elder Quietin Cook

1.  Avoid acting out of character – remain the same inside and outside the church
2. Act in accordance to your true belief – plan of salvation I am a child of God
3. Set appropriate goals – be content in what you have
4. Build your country and community – FHE w friends

As I reflect on this Easter Sunday I can’t help but feel an incredible amount of appreciation to my Savior despite the mess ups I make and where I fall short. He helps pick me back up again through his atoning sacrifice.

These African people are teaching me every minute I am with them about LOVE and how to just be happy. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Love and Fear cannot exist together. Many people asked me before I left if I was scared to go to Africa. I replied that if I think of fear and it exists in my mind I wouldn’t have the ability to love or serve. I would be on edge all the time. So choose Love, choose to see the goodness around you and choose to be happy and think positively and focus on what matters most.

That evening we had the privilege of going into some of the artisans homes.  Melissa and I paired up and went with 3 other women, Monica, Florence and Allen.  As we walked more in the streets of Lugazi I just became more humbled by what I was witnessing.  We approached Monica’s house.  She is very similar to me in with the ages of her 4 children and I began to create a very close personal relationship with her over the next few days.

We walked in and almost all of the homes we went into was basically one room with a drape that pulled across the middle of it to separate the family room from their bed.  No power or running water.  Each couch was covered with some sort of sheet or piece of fabric with a special lace.

We sat down with each one of these women in their homes and asked them the same few questions about being a women in Uganda and being a mother.  It was special to witness their answers and to also hear their concerns for themselves and their children.

Uganda Day Two

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

Uganda Day Two

As I woke up from the first night in Uganda in my mosquito net I just looked outside and couldn’t believe that I was actually there.  I just sat and prayed and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to get myself to this place.

The day started with meeting some of the artisans at the workshop.  As I approached them for the first time I surely got a warm welcome and I felt so loved by these women.  Leslie and I were the only ones there until the other 3 would arrive the next day.  So I began to put myself to work.  I worked along side with Ruth making barkcloth bags and she taught me what to do and I quickly learned. Had a few mess ups but overall I was congratulated on my hard work each time.

As we sat and worked the women asked me about my family.  I shared with them my pictures and talked about each of them.  Then they asked me how I celebrate Easter because it was the next day.  I told them about our church service and how we celebrate Jesus resurrection.

I then shared how some Americans do an Easter egg hunt and fill plastic eggs with candy.  They thought that was fun because candy is such a novelty here.  The instant thing I remember seeing in these beautiful people is their smile and their teeth.   They have such white teeth and I finally put two and two together and realized that they don’t eat junk like candy and lots of sugar!  Boy do we have a problem in America.

Later that afternoon we walked to the church building for a branch activity with the saints in that area of the world.  We watched the movie, “Meet the Mormon’s”  As I sat and looked around while I watched I couldn’t help but feel such a closeness to these people.  I had only been in Uganda for a couple of hours and I felt their love for me.

I got to hold a baby girl and I just didn’t want to let her go!  She was just perfection to me and I just made sure she was enveloped in my love for her.  This was the first big thought of adopting from Africa.  I never considered it but now that I see their situations I felt an overwhelming love that I could give to a child not from my own blood line.  Who knows what will happen later on but adoption would be great!

Uganda Day One

Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 in Traveler | 0 comments

My adventure begins at 4:30am. My bags are packed to the max as I’ve used my scale at home to measure it. I’ve got the TRX bands, jump rope, resistance bands and timer packed to engage these women in exercise to move their body in movements they have never done before.

I have paper plates so that they can learn about proper nutrition and use all the food groups which protein is growth, carbs are energy and fruits and vegetables are protection.  I love the terms used because with each type of item you put into your mouth you are either eating it for growth, energy or protection.

I packed crayons to have the women draw out the different foods that would be allowed in each group and divide it up on the plate visually. I have paper so they can either draw or write out meal plans and then I’ll share how they can take one meal and repeat it each week say on Monday morning for breakfast to ensure that they know that one meal a week is balanced and healthy.

I also brought for each of them a kitchen item to have.  A vegetable peeler, tongs, or paring knives.

Lastly I packed books for the community library that we are designing and setting up within the artisans workshop for their use as well as the community.  So just a variety of chapter books, picture books and simple reads.

My 2 pieces of luggage are set to embark on an experience of a lifetime.  One that will be remembered because this is my first trip away from the North American continent but also my first service and volunteer mission.

My friend, Leslie Kawai, told me about this opportunity of serving the women and children in Lugazi, Uganda with a company called Musana.  I instantly I knew this trip was finally my time to go.  I’ve always wanted to do a humanitarian something for quite sometime.  The stars aligned and I was able to commit to coming and oh how I am ever so grateful I followed my prompting to come.

We arrived at the SLC airport to begin our long 36 hour journey but had a few stops on the way. The first was LA and we had a 6 hour layover there. I suggested we leave the airport and find a cute brunch place by the beach. I yelped it and found Cafe Milan in Playa del Rey.

On our drive over with our taxi our driver was from Bangladesh and is Musilm and began our conversation with what brought him to the US.  He was picked from a lottery to come over and start a new life here.  Out of the billions of people they only allow 5,000 applicants and he was picked. So very small odds and he is so grateful.

He shared about his religion and we asked if he practiced it at all and he said “I’m trying”.  Well in mind those words have created a new meaning for me. You either do or you don’t. So Leslie began to share with him about Mormonism and what we believe and bore a sweet and simple testimony of the Book of Mormon and gave our taxi driver a small copy of it.

I was in awe of how simple and easy it was for her to share.  She said that when she travels she brings a copy and prays that someone in her path will come along that she knows God has prepared for her.  She’s such a beautiful example of Christlike love and compassion for all and wants people to know where her happiness and joy lie and that’s living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cafe Milan is just this small cafe located in a row of businesses and is quite rather small.  We walked in and a group of older people were gathered around with their coffee, newspapers and having a great conversation.  I immediately thought that they must be “the regulars” and they sure were.

One of them happened to be our new friend, Howard, and boy we were grateful we walked into his path and opened our mouth to have a conversation.  He is a former NASA space engineer and he shared:

“Take your happiness with you and when making decisions never do something to embarrass your mother.”  He then went on to talk about how braggers brag about themselves and the humble already know about themselves so they don’t need to project it to others.  He strives to meet his motto in life which is for every person you meet is to be better off for knowing him.

We asked where he studied and learned all this and he said “on the farm with my dad”. Rarely do you meet someone where you start taking notes because what they say is so thought provoking.

Howard needs to write a book!  His little nuggets of wisdom were just what I needed to hear.  I told him to and he just laughed it off but I said to him if I could write a book so can you. I then gave him a copy of my book, “MindStrength for Women” and he was just in awe and I shared how it came to be and that we all have a message to share so why not write it out.

He invited us to park our bags at his condo around the corner and showed us around his neighborhood and walked us to the beach.  It felt so good to put our feet in the sand and to hear the waves crashing. It makes me miss what I had in my backyard all those years.

We concluded and called for a taxi and left Howard but he blessed our lives in that short three hour period that day and will cherish his words of advice.

We got to the LA airport and I wanted to move my body so Sandra and I did lunges down the walking escalator, speed waked and did head stands. It was just so fun to just be me in front of all these people and we got a lot of smiles and laughs. It was the opposite reaction of what I’ve always thought all these years.

We sat next to Mark on our flight from LA to Amsterdam. He happened to see my headstand and asked if I did yoga.  So that conversation led into my book and I gave him a copy of it too.

We had plenty of time to have a conversation and we did. We talked for about 3 hours about work, family, travel and then the difference between Catholics and Mormons.  What a powerful, spiritual fun conversation we had with him.  He was so respectful and genuinely interested in who we were.

Leslie and I shared our love for the gospel principles and how simple our lives are and how much family is the center of all of that that’s brings us happiness and joy.  It was a beautiful experience and once again God prepare Mark to sit next to us.  I know God’s hand is in this work.  I came willing and able to share because I decided I wanted to have a missionary experience before I left to Africa. Yes I am more confident in who I am and my message and the lessons I have learned so that made the choice easier for me.

What an awesome kind man he was to us. We got his address so we could send him a copy of the Book of Mormon but also next time we think to travel to Europe he said he would help us. So I’m going to take him up on his offer one day.

I just realized how God wants us all to connect with one another and to not just live day to day consumed in our own selfish path.  Take the time to look up from your phone or your worries because someone has it harder than you do.  I have learned that the more confident in who I am the easier it is to open my mouth and not worry what the other person thinks of me.

I too am so grateful for having Leslie in my life. What a powerful woman, mother and friend she is.  Each time I am around her I am in awe of the takeaways I walk away with.  Her testimony is magnificent and strong, her voice and the way she connects is so sweet and comforting.  I feel so blessed to have sat by her for hours learning from her.

She talked about motherhood and that’s one area I have been weak and I chose it to be weak.  She shared how each day with her children is a gift because she is a single mother and the times she has with them is cherished time.  I take motherhood for granted.

It’s was just the amount of information that I needed to hear and took a few takeaways to create a few more habits and practices into my life.

From Amsterdam to Entebee we noticed that we were following this cute family since SLC so we finally talked to them. Come to find out the wife is the daughter to the current Kambalya Uganda mission president. They are on spring break so they were taking their kids over to have the expedience as well as do some work there.

I overhead a few others on the plane also going to Africa to do some sort of work.  Some health, building schools, one guys was making a film.  Such unique opportunities to serve these African people.

Our last connection we made was with Mary and Wilina.  I could tell right away that I was really going to like them both!  Spunky personalities with good hearts. They asked why we were going to Africa and then they shared because they teach nutrition to remote villages. I shared that i was going to teach them about exercise and their eyes lit up.

I told them about kettle bells and they were so into it so I gave them both my book before takeoff and this particular flight was only 30 min long and as we exited the plane they had read some of it.  They just had such appreciation for my Christianity and belief in God and it was refreshing to them.  They both said that they could tell that I was  good Christian women when I first started talking. I can’t wait to keep in contact with the two of them.

Some Ugandans were on the plane and as we landed they began to sing!  It was so unique and such a special welcome into a land rich in happiness despite their circumstances.

This whole travel day has been exceptional.  It’s allowed me to see myself as a servant of the lord.  I would consider this experience like a mini mission for me so far and it’s only the first day into this,

We were picked up at the airport by Melissa and Fred.  Fred is a bishop of a ward just outside Kampalya.  His wife Tina is the manager at Musana and is due to have her 4th baby any day now while we are here so that will be exciting to see a fresh new baby sent from heaven.

As he was telling this in our 2 hour drive from the airport to Lugazi I couldn’t help but think of the privilege this new baby will have to be sent to a faithful LDS couple in Uganda. Then I thought about my life and the blessing to be born in the covenant in the United States. I am just overwhelmed.  My life is oh so good and I have so much to be grateful for and appreciate the goodness of God in my life.

Fred told us about his conversion story in 2002 and he’s only missed 2 Sunday’s at church since.  He served his mission in South Africa and married Tina in the temple down there.  I could tell that this couple were powerful together and can’t wait to meet Tina. We gave him a few pieces of candy and he talked about on his mission his American companions would receive packages from home and it would be candy and he said his favorite was chocolate covered cinnamon bears, root beer candy and beef jerky. Then Sandra and I laughed and said that we brought all those with us!

Just to think of the luxuries we have in America that Africans here don’t have.  My mind and perspective has deepened and I know it will continue to do so.

My day today was just EPIC and it’s just getting started.