Sunday, April 28, 2013

Internationals in the Mix

"If you can't travel the world, bring the world to you"
That was my mom's philosophy and the reason we always had international exchange students and other visitors in our home growing up. We hosted a girl from Italy, 3 boys from Spain, a doctor from China, to name a few.   I can only imagine the dull and tranquil life we might have had if my mom had not spiced things up with "set an extra 10 plates for Thanksgiving dinner. I found some Bosnian refugees!"  

I can say that next to music lessons, hosting internationals was the best educational experience my parents gave me. Because we invited people to our house, they invited us to theirs.  The summer after my Junior year of High school, my mom and I spent an awesome summer in Spain. My Spanish classes proved useful. I really learned Spanish, which helped later with job and school opportunities. My point is, it was a life changing experience that really shaped who I am.

So I've been could I give my kids the same opportunity? 

I don't exactly live in an international hub. But recently I happened to reconnect (yes, Facebook has benefits) with an old friend from Study Abroad days who of all things is now an International Coordinator. That means she works hard to make exchange students' dreams come true by finding families to host them for a school year in America. Would I too want to join her non-profit foundation, making lifetime friends from all over the world???!  Heck yeah! Sign me up pronto!

That is how it all started. As an International Coordinator,  I now spend a lot of time sharing my passion for hosting international exchange students!  It is quite the roller coaster of thrills from the joy of hearing the word "YES, we would love to host a student" and matching them up with the cutest kid ever from  to the lows of finding out that family couldn't pass the background criminal history check (Yep, true story) and then starting all over again! Best job ever. 

I think of it as giving birth to a teenager. It's about as much work, but when you do find the perfect family and the perfect student? The joy makes it all worth it. 

These teens are top notch kids. 
Take Alessandro from Italy, for example. This kid is a great soccer player and would love to cook Italian food for your family. Want to host him and make his dreams come true? Give me a call! I can totally arrange that. 

The next time you see me I may just be hangin' with my muchachas doing quintessential American activities like sipping Root Beer at the local greasy spoon or picking out a dress for Prom. Just making some dreams come true. That's my new job. 

Auf Wiedersehen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Conference Gleanings

Last weekend was the hundred and somethingeth General Conference which we relish as a good time for spiritual and literal feasting and a few projects.

Can you match each family member with which special treat they chose for the event? 
answers below

Project #1:  Food Insurance for Six

Project  #2:  Assembly Required.  Raising a new generation of trampoline lovers.
 Most exciting of all was this:  Kate's 6th Grade Basketball Traveling Team placed 3rd in the Region. Aren't they cool?!

In and around and between all that we listened to the Good Word.  The literate ones in the family wrote down a few tidbits according to age.

A:  Jesus is real * You need to get baptized * You can be healed *  Healing comes when you move away from darkness. 

B: "True things from Conference":  You should be kind and honest * God is our loving forgiving father * Jesus rose from the dead * Jesus began teaching by inviting * Jesus taught if ye love me Keep My Commandments * Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself * The lamb of God redeemed us by his blood*  Jesus is Jehovah. 

K: No force can stop the work of God * Be an instrument * Take away your guilty feeling * Pray for others * Share gospel * Forgive people * Give to poor and needy * give generously to needy * Fast offerings help the hungry * 300,000 hours of service were given to help people during Hurricane Sandy

Oh yes, there was nail decorating (courtesy of Jamberry Nails) 

My own conference gleanings: 

Faith is a real power    Few things are more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother  Procreative and Priesthood power are shared by men and women. 
 Cedar City is getting a temple!  Peace = abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment. The Gospel is peace.  14, 722, 000 members of the church.  The Gospel teaches us  what we must  KNOW, DO, and BE.   As we draw near to God, He draws near to us.  Missionaries are in 189/224 countries in the world. Pray to open areas not available.  Sharing faith online is a part of our daily lives   Everyone has the power to increase a child's confidence and faith with the words they speak and write.  Marriage is humility, repentance, respect, transparency, love.  Be fiercely loyal.  Obedience to the law is liberty.  Next to life itself free agency is God's greatest gift.   Be not afraid, only believe.   To contend you need two people and I will not be one of them.  Humbly and quietly trust in the Lord--He will help us in every challenge.  Go about doing good--helping, defending truth, alleviating suffering. 

treat answers: BD--beef jerky, ME--Flipz, K--orange sticks, B--Andes mints, A--Goldfish, C--Animal cookies

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Life is cruising by in a fast car and probably 50 things have happened since our trip.  But, the best use of the number 50 is...

Number of years Brandon's parents have been married.
We celebrated with them big time!
Picture from their mission to Massachusetts 
A celebratory program included a fun variety of tributes to the parents from feel-good slide shows to hilarious puppet shows. Our contribution was our version of a song Brandon heard his mom sing growing up "16 tons."  Brandon personalized it with some original verses, the kids snapped, and I plucked out the bass rhythm.

If there's one thing Brandon's parents have taught me it is that FAMILY IS NUMBER ONE.  Every phone call, every timely birthday gift, every holiday,  baby blessing and baptism is evidence that to them, family is first.  I feel like God was really watching out for me when he put me with the C. family.    And after the wonderful program commemorating their 50 years together I feel extra grateful to be part of this great family.

 Added to the celebrating were Easter Egg Hunts--5 of them to be exact.  The fields around the homestead glittered with plastic eggs and treats but only briefly. In no time everything was picked up, gathered, and consumed. Happiness.

Back at home we had our own Easter celebration.   What a joyful holiday.  I couldn't help reflect on all the blessings I enjoy. Because Jesus lived and died for me I will be able to live with my family forever, I will get to be with my mom and dad again, I can forgive and be forgiven, I can return to live with Heavenly Father in a perfect body that never gets irritable or exhausted!!   Easter is undercelebrated don't you think?

Brandon and I were in charge of the Easter Sunday Program at church. We based it on the "Living Christ" Testimony of the Apostles and Prophet. We had encouraged the youth weeks prior to memorize it and divided them into parts. In between we had musical numbers by the children, youth, and choir. The whole program was Christ-centered and, as always,  turned out better than we practiced. 

Later in the evening we were going to attend the Easter Convenio where different faiths from our community present a program about Christ through word and music. After attending weeks of rehearsals and meetings, and just 30 minutes prior to the program, Brandon started to not feel so good.  He ended up home with a stomach bug. We all stayed home and watched Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I think explains the Resurrection more vividly than I ever could. Luckily that stomach illness was confined just to him.  

More Easter yum.

Throw in the volleyball games, violin lessons, school programs, and orchestra rehearsals, book club, and yep, we probably made it to 50 things!