Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Merik's Blessing

On Sunday baby Merik was blessed by Rick.
He was blessed to have good health as he grows, to be a strength to his mother, and to be filled with patience as is already in him.  He was also blessed that he will seek after righteousness throughout his life.  

Merik is such a pleasant baby who hardly ever cries.  He is 5 months now and is getting pretty chubby.  He has such a sweet temperament and we love him very much!

2018 Temples

Rick and I made the goal for 2018 to visit ten new temples.  We have counted forty two that we have visited since we have been married but we want to up that number to at least fifty this year.  This should be relatively easy seeing how many of them are within a days drive from our home:)

Here is a list of all of the temples we have visited.

1.  St. George, UT
2.  Manti, UT
3.  Draper. UT
4.  Oquirrh Mountain, UT
5.  Vernal, UT
6.  Mt. Timpanogos, UT
7.  Provo, UT
8. Provo City Center, UT
9.  Bountiful, UT
10.  Salt Lake City, UT
11.  Jordan River, UT
12.  Ogden, UT
13.  Brigham City, UT
14.  Logan, UT
15.  Idaho Falls, ID
16.  Rexburg, ID
17.  Portland, OR
18.  Los Angeles, CA
19.  Newport Beach, CA
20.  San Diego,  CA
21.  Boston, MA
22.  Nauvoo, IL
23.  Winter Quarters, NB
24.  Nashville, TN
25.  Orlando, FL
26.  Palmyra, NY
27.  Washington DC
28.  Mesa, AZ
29.  Laie, Hawaii
30.  Kona, Hawaii
31.  Las Vegas, NV
32.  Cardston, Alberta Canada
33.  Calgary, Alberta Canada
34.   Mexico City,  Mexico
 35.  San Jose, Costa Rica
 36.  Asuncion, Paraguay
37.  Copenhagen, Denmark
38.  Frieberg, Germany
39.  Bern, Switzerland
40.  Hamilton, New Zealand
41.  Suva, Fiji
42.  Papeete, Tahiti

The temples we would like to visit this year are:
Payson, UT
Cedar City, UT
Monticello, UT
Twin Falls, ID
Boise, ID
Meridian, ID 
Spokane, WA
Seattle, WA
Hartford, CT
Manhatten, NY
Star Valley, WY
Nova Scotia, Canada (maybe??)

We decided last week that we would make the visit to the Payson Temple on Friday......so we did!
Payson is just an hour and a half drive from our home and I had seen it once on a drive we were making to Vegas,  just off the freeway.  As we drove up last Friday I was amazed at it's beauty!  But truly, that did not compare to the feelings I had as I went INSIDE.  I was overwhelmed with the beauty of this temple.  There was a lot of stained glass and natural light which I love:)  
As I entered the endowment room I had an overwhelming feeling of "coming home".  It truly was a special experience throughout the two hours we were there!

The Celestial Room was magnificent!  I cannot think of a more fitting word than that.  Magnificent.   It was incredible.  I did not want to leave because of the feelings of peace and love that I had while there.  Temples are the most sacred places that we can be while on this earth.  It is a place where families can be sealed (or bound) together forever.  

I love the temple!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

FIJI (Part One)

It is time to post about our trip to FIJI!!
We've been home over a week now and I have been procrastinating getting our Fiji posts written.  I don't know if my procrastination has been the getting back to reality or the winter blues but, today is the day!!

Let me begin by saying......Fiji was AMAZING!
Besides the gorgeous landscape and super friendly people, we had the freedom to move around as we pleased and no time limit to what we wanted to do.  

We stayed at the Marriott property on Momi Bay which is about 45 minutes from Nadi where the airport is.  After picking up our bags and getting our rental vehicle we made the trip to Momi Bay without much incident.  We arrived at the Marriott after dark and immedietly after helping us with our bags the receptionist gave us a cool towel to wipe our brow and a nice drink of fresh juice.  

Then as we were checking in we found that they were upgrading us to the best room that they offer.  What!  We get to have a cabana or (bure as they are called in fijian) over the water!!  Saweet!

Truly, our room was one of the nicest rooms we have ever stayed in.  A very spacious room with a huge bed looking out onto the bay.  A sliding glass wall door that completely opened up to give us that amazing view plus a beautiful deck with a table and a huge chaise lounge for two.  Off of our deck were steps leading into the water for snorkeling and swimming.  And the bathroom......it was like a spa bathroom!  Huge two headed shower, nice free standing tub, huge toilet room and a bar with two sinks, one for each of us!  It was sooo wonderful!!  Seriously,  dream accommodations!

Included in our stay was an amazing breakfast buffet.  Although, it was more like a brunch buffet.  What breakfast buffet offers, asian food, a carving station, dim sum, and a salad bar???
If we went away hungry it wasn't their fault!

Here's a shot of Momi Bay.

Some pictures of our beautiful Bure.  Oh yeah, did I mention upon our arrival we were given a complementary fruit plate plus island made cassava chips.......:)

After arriving Saturday night we got a little room service for a light snack to go along with our fruit plate.  The next morning was Sunday and we knew exactly where the church was because we had passed it on the way to the Marriott.  Rick had found out online that it was English speaking so we were pretty pumped.  As it turned out it was a Fijian speaking ward so we got to enjoy Sacrament Meeting in Fijian.  I loved the Spirit felt there......and the singing....it was beautiful.  There was no piano or keyboard music so it was all sung acapella.  I cannot believe how well these people can harmonize.  Seriously, it sounded just like in the movie, "The Other Side of Heaven" when the people are singing "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again".  We sang different hymns but the sound was the same.  I loved that!  What a special experience!

After the sacrament we were able to talk a bit with the family that sat behind us.  (Many people spoke English to us)  We asked if one of their YM aged sons could direct us to the English speaking ward to enjoy the other meetings in English.  They were happy to oblige.  I love attending different wards and branches throughout the world.  Jesus Christ's church is the same in Fiji, America, New Zealand, or Africa.  

It is a beautiful thing!

 I sat by a sister in Relief Society who was just coming back to church after about a year.  I'm glad I got to meet her and talk with her.  Her name is Evelyn.  As we were leaving I saw her walking down the road in a rainstorm.  I asked Rick to pull over to see if we could give her a ride.  She actually lives in a town about 20 minutes from Nadi so we had the opportunity to drive her to her home.  We had a nice conversation as we drove.  Because the rain was falling and she lives next to a mountain we got to see some amazing waterfalls.  The rain was coming down pretty hard so there was a lot of water.

These pictures are not clear because it was raining so hard but what a beautiful sight to behold!!

Me and my new friend Evelyn. (below)
She makes shell necklaces and gave three to me to bring home.  
I gave one to Scout and one to Haivyn. 
They love them!   The last one I am keeping for myself although Henry likes to wear it around:)

The next day after our wonderful buffet breakfast we enjoyed the pool.  Just relaxing and reading:)
We got a little rain (actually it rained at least once a day or more while we were there) but that didn't keep us from enjoying the pool!

In the afternoon we drove into Nadi to do a little souvenir shopping.  We walked into our first store and this fellow gave us the Sevu Sevu welcome ceremony which made me a little uncomfortable.  The ceremony is given in the small villages to welcome guests.  We sat on a mat indian style and he told us about the ceremony.  It included clapping of hands and him preparing a drink made from ground herbs.  Rick told him we could not drink it and he was ok with that.  He did all of the drinking for us.  Anyway,  it was kind of different.  You know, because we were in a shop and all.

We did a little shopping on the main Nadi street.  I was looking for a gold pearl pendant necklace to take home.  Rick really thought I should get one but I decided that even though I love my Tahitian black pearls purchased a few years ago in Tahiti, that I was fine not to bring any home from Fiji.  Rick was able to find his customary ball cap for his collection but I couldn't find any bells anywhere for my collection:(.  I ended up bring home a small water globe instead.

We also drove over to Denarau which had a few small shops and restaurants as well.  We enjoyed some fresh coconut snack as well as a wonderful dinner in the area.

The next day we got up early for the three hour drive to Suva.  The Marriott was really kind to us by bringing us a to-go breakfast since we were going to miss the buffet.  They brought us lots of fresh fruit and pastries.  There was more than we could eat!  The drive to Suva and back was really beautiful!  Rick said he believes it's one of the most beautiful drives he has taken!  I heartily agree.  The landscape is just so green and lush!

We were able to make it to Suva to get to the ten o'clock session at the temple.  It was wonderful!

After the temple we were able to meet up with Elder Jonah Bartley who just had arrived in Fiji not even a week before.  Elder Bartley is from our very own ward in Grantsville.  His mission president gave us permission to see him.  We were able to meet up with him after his district meeting.  The other missionaries in the district were just hanging around so we offered to buy them all lunch.  

We had such a good time visiting with the elders and sisters and especially Jonah.  We bought two gigantic pizzas, fries, and fifteen pieces of chicken.  It all got eaten!! :)

             They are a good group of missionaries!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful drive back to Momi Bay.  I loved all of the colorful homes.

I had to get a picture of these kids selling fish on the side of the road.  While we didn't buy any fish (oh man, they smelled so bad!) I gave them a coin for letting me take their picture!

We arrived home to have dinner in The Lagoon Restaurant on the Marriott property.
It was a really good day!

Fiji (Part 2)

So here we are on day three of our Fiji trip.

The view from the buffet breakfast.

On Wednesday morning we got to go out on a snorkel tour.  Here we are leaving the Bay heading towards the sandbar.  There is a huge sandbar surrounding Fiji so there are hardly any waves close to shore, only calm water.  

There is a spot close to the sandbar that a pod of dolphins likes to play in.  We were lucky to be able to spend fifteen or so minutes watching the dolphins swim around.  They came right up and under our boat even.  They are spinner dolphins but they did not jump out of the water for us.  We had a lot of fun taking video of them swimming around us and playing.

There are a lot of islands that make up Fiji.  Three hundred and thirty three from what I've read.  We got to pass a few of them on our boat ride out to the reef.  Our guide pointed out the island where the movie Castaway was filmed:)  This is not it......

We anchored off close to this island and did our snorkeling.

We were supposed to have two stops along the way but the water close to the sandbar was murky because of the recent rain so our guide took us closer to the outer reef.  The water was clearer there and we got some good snorkeling in.  There were a lot of tropical fish and some gorgeous colorful coral.  My favorite was a big purple broccoli shaped one!  I had never seen one of those before.   I love the blue and purple corals.  A little different than the corals in the carribean.  

At one point I spotted a green moray eel out in the open.  It caught me by surprise and I screamed.  I think I scared him too because he quickly got back into its hiding place poking his head out to check me out.  I hollered to Rick who was a little ways away, and he was able to see its head and a little of its body as well:)

My guy,  he LOVES the water!

This paddle board was on our small boat to help us get back into the boat after snorkeling.  Rick thought he would take advantage of it while we were hanging out.  He tried to stand but wasn't too successful:)

After snorkeling, our guide took us out to the sandbar to get some pictures and to play in the water for a few minutes.  This section of the sandbar is mostly covered during high tide.  It was low tide at this point so we were able to stop.  I wish we had had more time here.  It was just a small sandbar but the water was so warm and wonderful!  This log is not generally there but had washed up in the high tide.

This snorkel trip was a highlight of our Fiji stop.  We love to see the ocean wildlife!

That night we got gussied up for a night at Robinson Crusoe Island.

We drove thirty minutes to get to the boat landing (in the middle of nowhere it felt like).  It was pouring rain and I was wondering if the tour was even going to happen.  The rain died off, and as the time got close for us to board the boat three busses drove up full of people.  We all crammed onto the small boat and headed off for the half hour ride to Robinson Crusoe Island.

I wanted to experience a little of Fijian culture before we had to leave the island.
Here we are being greeted as we come off of the boat.

Another Sevu Sevu ceremony.  This was less weird because we were instructed on what would take place.  Many people joined in to drink the specially made drink.

Here is our food being made in a pit cooker.

After the food was taken out of the pit to be set out. the boys gave us a "walking on hot coals" demonstration.  They were really hot rocks and they really walked across them.

A picture of our traditional dinner.  Here was chicken, beef, rice, gravy, sweet and regular potatoes and vegetables.  While the food was not much to write home about.....

....the entertainment was quite fun.  We had a good hour and a half of Polynesian dancing.  The music was VERY loud and was more modern than I thought it would be but the dancing was really fun with both the men and the women.

Lastly, was the fire dancing and that was pretty spectacular.

Before we left the fire dancers put on quite a show down on the beach.

It was a late night and we were both happy to get back and into our nice comfy bed!

The next day was our traveling day but our plane was not leaving until 9:30 that night.  We asked for a late checkout and the Marriott staff let us stay until five o'clock.  That was so nice of them.  We were able to enjoy The. Whole. Day. there at the resort.  After our last wonderful breakfast we spent time swimming in the ocean and at the pool.  We ordered nachos and two drinks (a pina colada for him and a strawberry daiquiri for me)  Just the snack to get us into the evening:)

After our fun day hanging out at the wonderful Marriott Resort we packed up our bags and off to the airport we went.  We had a ten hour red eye to LA and then a two hour flight home.  It's funny how the international dateline works.  When we arrived home it was two hours earlier of the same day that we left:)

Fun times!  What a wonderful vacation we had this year to New Zealand and Fiji!
Lots of memories made!