Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Upward and Forever Upward

Well, friends, it's the end of the road. Hard to believe it's all over. Soon I'll board a plane for São Paulo. Can I say now when I may come back to the Amazon? No. I'll leave lots of friends here; but I can't forget them. Swimming in the river, exploring the city, visiting the forest: all have left memories. The best, though, are of sharing. I come away with more than I could have brought. Somehow in trying to help a few newfound friends here I have grown and discovered much more than I ever taught.

We were visiting the igapó--a flooded region of the forest --which, during the dry season, separates the Rio Negro from the Solimões when we came upon a tree loosely woven of a dozen wooden stems, now grafted and joined in a timbered web reaching high into the forest crown. I climbed out of the boat onto the trunk and up a short distance. Later one of the young men asked me why. I could only answer that it was a perfect tree, and I loved to climb. I can understand the answer George Leigh Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

Mallory later explained, "[T]here is something in man which responds to the challenge... and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward...." This short time in Brazil has left me with many experiences to inspire and guide me. For now, moving forward takes me away from the tropical forest. Perhaps someday it will bring me back. In any case I'll keep moving; continuing, upward and forever upward.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A man, a monkey, and a penguin

We decided to show you this beauty before our unsightly faces. We are still going exploring every chance we get. Here we had a great time along the beach wall (there isn't a beach because the water level is too high). This may be the last time you here from us because we are heading into the jungle this weekend. We both bought big knives to sword fight with as we journey into the dense terrain. We've been practicing our karate chop moves for any jaguar that comes our way. If we make it out alive we will sell our nature video to the highest bidder.

We took a river boat to a few places around Manaus. While we were out and about we came across a few animals. Don't worry, we didn't play with the monkeys, they are too hyper; the sloths are more our type. The birds are playful, and just take your money when your not look'n (cuidado). We enjoyed our time out on the river. We did have a visitor this past week. No, it wasn't fleas, it was Eric, Sarah's friend. He stopped by and taught us a bit about Manaus--he did serve a mission here. Unfortunately, school work kept us from partying every night while he was here.

Everything else is going well. We have taught a few more workshops and are seeing success. It has been a bit challenging at times, but we are able to work through the challenges, especially the challenge of getting to and from the center.

We heard a great Brazilian joke the other day: There was a man, a monkey, and a penguin. They were in a church one day and

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Hi everyone! How are you doing? We are doing just great. We were recently visited by Tim Sloan and we had a meeting with all of the stake presidents, bishops, ward specialists in the La Paz area. We had a really good turn out. The CRE office had just moved 2 weeks before we got here, so many are unfamiliar with the new location. They also taught mostly non-members before and now they are trying to focus the attention on the members. That is good. So, we hope more people will start coming to the workshops.

We also go to go to see the Tiwanaku ruins with our manager, Enrique Cabezas and Tim Sloan. That was a lot of fun. The Tiwanaku civilization dates from 1,500 bc -1,200 ad. They had a big influence on the area. Only within the past 10 years they have been excavating this site. Sadly, many of the stones from the pyramid and temple were taken to build 4 different Catholic churches. hopefully they are able to reconstruct the site soon.

Afterwards we ate quinoa soup and asado de llama. It was really good!

The pics are of a reed boat (that they use on Lake Titicaca), the Puerta del Sol and the last one is the altiplano. In the backgroud you can see Mount Illimani. We will be traveling to other cities to teach the workshop in July, we are excited about that. Take care.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On an island in the sun...

Hey friends, thought we'd send another update! We are doing really well here in Costa Rica, and we're having all kinds of amazing adventures. A week and a half ago we went to PANAMA to help get PEF established there, and talk about the role of the workshop in applying for it. PEF has only been around here and in Panama for a few months because of legal reasons, so it's a really cool time to be here. Panama was amazing, and we not only had some really cool experiences with the work, but we also saw some beautiful sights, rented bikes to ride down the causeway, a path through the ocean to some islands that was made from the dirt dug out during canal construction, checked out the canal, and chilled by our hotel's roof-top pool. It was amazing. We've been teaching a workshop every week at the center, and we have also taught a couple more in other settings. Last week I was filmed for this local TV show talking with the specialist about the workshop, and different segments will show once a week for a month. So I'm pretty much getting ready to be famous. Good thing I have some big sunglasses. Last weekend we took a trip with some friends to a place called Isla Tortuga, and it was probably the most amazing beach I have ever seen in my life. We all rented a little motor boat, and plowed through the ocean to get to the island, and even saw dolphins up close on the way! I got a sunburn, but it was totally worth it. This weekend, Elder Scott is speaking at our stake conference, so we're really excited about that. Anyway, we hope and pray that you are all having wonderful experiences. We are so grateful to be teaching the workshop, and we are honestly seeing the powerful effect it has on peoples' lives.

Con cariño,

Sarah y Allison

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Finally a word from Nikki and Laura!

hey ya'll, It's great to read your stories and reports! Laura and I are working hard and having fun here in Puebla, it's a great set up! So far we have taught 8 workshops, averaging about 3 a week. It's craziness! We teach one a week in the center, which is an awesome office, one a week in one of the institute buildings (except last week we didn't), and one almost every weekend somewhere outside of Puebla. So far, outside of Puebla, we have taught in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca (where we ate conejo...yum), Oaxaca the ciudad, and in Cholula (right outside of Puebla). The institute workshops are shorter, but the weekend ones are long -with refreshments included :). We definitely get our 20 hours in! We love the people we work with in the center, there is a great spirit there. During our first days here Laura and I went to the Pyramids in Cholula with our friend Emanuel who also volunteers at the center. We got to walk through tunnels so i was happy. tunnels: exciting. We like trying all the new fruits and cooked's just dandy! This last picture is us with one of our favorite new fruits: lynches (o algo asi). The fruit is white and oh-so-sweet inside. Anyhoo, we look forward to some more day trips for sight seeing...which we'll tell ya'll aaaaall about. Lots of love y besos to all! - Nikki

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Love from Lima!

This pic is for everyone who hasn't had the opportunity to see it on Facebook... =) That my friends is cuy al horno = baked guinea pig. It was definitely a cultural experience!

Shoot! It takes WAY too long for these pictures to upload! Anyways, I'll keep writing and hopefully it'll upload by the time that I'm done!

Things have been great here! The system that they have in place works like clockwork! We arrived at midnight on May 15th and the first thing we hear from our director is, "Get some sleep because tomorrow you're going to teach you first workshop. Alone!" Or something like that... Since then we've been teaching a workshop a week. They have the whole year planned out which is something that I didn't expect at all! From what I had envisioned from our trainings, we would be out setting up a base to follow us once we were gone. Every stake has like 20 trainers or whatever!

But there are definitely bonuses to being in an established area of the Church. We went out to Cusco and Machu Picchu already! That was an AMAZING experience! I suggest the trip to everyone! When you go (because I know that ALL of you will go someday) make sure to take a trip to Valle Sagrado. That is a must do too!

Back to Lima. It's been an amazing experience to see the changes in some of these kids. We've been teaching mostly JAS or Jovenes Adultos Solteros. Most of them are applying for the PEF, but a lot of them have already applied the principles to get jobs. In fact, one kid from this past week told us that it worked just like we told him when he directly called the company. He deftly maneuvered past the gatekeeper and spoke directly to the decision-maker. He got the interview (mostly over the phone) and has a job working at a restaurant. It's going to get him further along in his plan and closer to his long term goal of working in restaurants. Very cool stuff! I hope that the future has many more stories like that in store. I'm sure it will.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pura Vida

We've had an amazing first two weeks! We have participated in three workshops, and have another one, along with a trip to Panama with the specialist set up for this coming week. The workshop is amazing...we have really enjoyed teaching it, and really feel the spirit as we do it. We feel like the manager and specialist really have things under control around here, but they are so busy, and it is nice to be able to help them have a little more time on their hands by taking over the teaching. The last few days have been wonderful adventures. On Friday we went on a day trip to a town called Zarcero that is up in the mountains, and has an amazing topiary park. We also went to the beach in Puntarenas, which is a tiny peninsula that is pretty much all beach. It was beautiful. We jumped in on a little game of beach soccer and Allie scored a goal! We were pretty excited about that. It has all been "pura vida" as they say around here. We are in love with the people (in worries!) and with the country. Saturday was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky, which is really uncommon around here (turns out its the rainy season) and we went to the park near our house and went on a series of zip lines that are super high in the eucalyptus trees. It was amazing! We were practicing so we'll be ready when we go do it in the rain forrest. We are happy and healthy and have made lot of friends here already. Today we spoke at a fireside for young adults about self-sufficiency and the importance of getting an education. It was a great experince, and we were so glad to be able to do it. Last week we also got to do a bit of resource development at a bilingual job fair. It was pretty fun for me because I got two on-the-spot interviews. Too bad I wasn't actually looking for a job! We hope that you are all having great experiences, and to hear from you soon!

Sarah and Allison

Monday, May 21, 2007

Going to La Paz via Miami

So, we were delayed in Dallas due to weather so we arrived in Bolivia a day late. We got to spend the day in Miami though. That was fun. We took a bus to Miami Beach, had a romantic walk on the beach. Andrew´s feet hurt though because he was wearing his boots...(we didn´t have any access to our luggage!)

Well, we arrived in La Paz and I was happy that my aunt, uncle, cousin and another friend came to get us. That was cool to see them again. Our apartment is so nice. We have 4 bathrooms. Our place is right in the center of the city. Andrew was excited to see his first protest outside the window. But things aren´t too crazy. Nothing to worry about.

So the first week we observed the workshop, that was...interesting. We´re going to change a few things for sure. Like we aren´t going to talk about what color or animal you should identify yourself with in case you´re asked in an interview. Besides that bit of false doctrine, things were pretty good. (According to the teacher, it´s good to identify yourself with an eagle, because they live to be 60 years old. At 30 years of age, they have the choice to either die or live another 30 years, but if they want to live they have to go far away from other eagles, and they hit their beak and talons against rocks until they fall off, then they grow back, allowing them to live 30 more years... just to be sure, I double checked this on a zoology website, and it´s a myth. I thought it was funny.) Anyways, we begin teaching this week, we´re looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our First Adventure

Today Brian and I went on an adventure. We decided to head on over to the center of Manaus. There we discovered, I think, at least 20 new and different smells we have never smelled before. Some just clung to us all day long. We ended up in a fishing shop and saw a catfish, swordfish (one sword was 4ft long, it was awesome), piranha, and a few new species. Later we entered the colonial era and caught up on some history by visiting some historical sites, and if anybody is wondering if those student isic cards come in handy, they do. We got a 50% discount on our concert tickets for the Amazon Theater. It was great, and with the extra dough we ate out. The côco gelado was perfect on such a warm day.

This first week has been exciting. We taught four missionaries the workshop and they passed; Fwhew. They had us worried; ) It's been a blast. We are looking forward to next week.

Brian and Rich

Ps. Brian wants to know if anybody knows how to put a weeks worth of laundry on 8ft of line.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

¡Frase de gol!

I am resourceful. For example, when the toilet overflowed in our apartment, and we had nothing to soak up the inch-deep water in the bathroom, I found a plastic grocery bag and used the toilet brush to "sweep" the water into it, removing the water one bag-full at a time. As a result, I was able to get the water off the floor, and have the apartment clean, and sanitary once again in less than two hours, which exceeded the rate of evaporation by 1,000%. I am sure that I can use these same skills to confront whatever problems arise in your company.

For details see my blog. We're having a great time (other than our bathroom adventure) and we've already taught/observed a complete workshop with 15 graduates. Looking forward to hearing from all of you!



Oi, Friends! Rich and I arrived in São Paulo Sunday morning in time to wait in some long lines, take a few wild bus rides and make it to sacrament meeting in Rich's first area. We spent some time with the members, who fed us our first Brazilian meal in several years. Just to make us feel at home, Helosie (at right) adopted us as older brothers. Wandering around the streets of Guarulhos at night seemed less inviting, so we went back to the airport for our midnight flight up to the land of a trillion bugs.
In Manaus, we found ourselves comfortably lodged in a twenty-story hotel. From our eighth-floor, air-conditioned pad, we have a beautiful view of the city down to the Rio Negro. The SRE is in the same complex, so we don't need our umbrellas to make it to work despite the regular tropical rainfall.
We spent the first two days watching and participating in classes taught by local volunteers. Irmão Ariel had the air conditioning working so hard even Rich and I walked out with frozen hands. Sure didn't expect that in the Amazon! Today our bishop and specialist pulled us out of class to tell us we would be teaching a class for the missionaries on their way home. The class was to begin in 15 minutes. If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. The class was absolutely wonderful. We relied on the Spirit, and certainly felt divine help.
After concluding the class, performing an evaluation of our teaching, and cleaning up the room, we went to the kitchen for lunch. As we were getting our food, we were informed that the teacher for the afternoon class had not shown up. Would we teach that group, too?
Gird up your loins! There's work to do! That class went not so smoothly, as we had not been able to attend the second day and were not sure exactly what had been taught. But, we learn something from every contact and from every class, no?

Rich and Brian

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

¡Costa Rica!

Hey friends! I hope you have all received your invites to be authors! Let us know how it's going! Allie and I have arrived safely in Costa Rica, and we love it already! We have a great apartment, and today we helped teach the first half of the workshop. Very exciting. There were 19 wonderful participants! I just wanted to drop a quick post, and solicit the same from you! We'll put some pics up soon. Also, feel free to visit my personal blog if you want, at
Con cariño costarricense,

Saturday, May 12, 2007


So, it has definitely only been one day....and I miss you guys already! Thanks for your awesome examples and the friendships we formed this week! Best of luck to all in travel and such! Be safe and make sure to "let your light so shine."


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here goes...

May 10th. University Guest House. Room 220. We are officially trained, and graduation looms before us. In a few days, we'll be flying out all over the world to make a difference, but the last four days have certainly made a difference for us. A few highlights...
  • Renn Patch, assistant to Bishop McMullin, "Employment is one of the best and most important programs that exists in the Church today."
  • Ron Mortensen's kids showing everyone up on the piano.
  • B-ball and dancing during 45 minute long "breaks".
  • That sinking feeling after lunch.
  • Companion piggy-back race across the street.
  • Women's restroom at Bucca di Beppos.
  • Hairy scary ball flying across the room.
  • Cafe Limonada.
  • Catch phrase truth or dare.
  • Reggaeton marketing song.
  • Cody's laugh.
  • Youtube, anyone?
  • Not crossing the line to #2 during dinner.
  • Elder Rudd, "A willing spirit is greater than talent- don't use your talent begrudgingly."

So, ready or not, here goes! Let's keep in touch, and share our talents. :)