Monday, June 11, 2007
Last Monday my friends and I made our THIRD attempt to get tickets to the famous Les Miserables (the longest running musical). Everyone and their dog has seen this musical and my friends were determined to get me to the show since I had never seen it before. We arrived at the ticket office at 5:45 p.m. before the show was to begin at 7:30 p.m. If you come an hour before the show you can get very discounted tickets if the show is not already sold out! So this was our third time trying to get discounted tickets since we had been in London. The first time we attempted the show ended up selling out and the second time we tried it happened to be an English Holiday which mean there would be no discounted tickets sold for a week! So we were really hoping to get tickets this time! When we arrived the ticketers told us that they would not be selling tickets until 6:30p.m. and that the show would probably be sold out by then . . . we were so upset because we didn't want to be rejected three times. So we waited in the box office taking pictures of each other being sad and we continued to talk about how badly we wanted the tickets. I think the ticketers eventually got really sick of our sad faces waiting in the box office because at 6:00 p.m. he called us over and told us he had tickets for us at a student price. These tickets ended up being in the fourth row! It was such luck!!! The show was absolutely amazing! It was the best musical I have ever seen in my life! At the end of the show the whole audience is balling their eyes out!
Last Wednesday our program took a coach up to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a few days to tour Shakespeare's birthplace and see two beautiful productions done by the Royal Shakespeare Company. On our way to Stratford we stopped by Warrick Castle which is a famous old castle that has been turned into this medival theme park where we got to see little shows of archery and mideval birds. The castle was gorgeous and huge! It was so fun to climb up to the top of one of the towers and look down on all the little people!
We all stayed in Bed and Breakfast's that were so cute but really difficult when being accomadating to a girl's grooming! Whitney and my blow dryer did not work in the plugs for some reason which kept us from getting to do our hair for two days! It was horrible! On top of that, the shower had to be turned on by a power switch and I either had the choice of showering in ice cold water or boiling hot water. There was no median. During my whole shower I would turn the dial back and forth from cold to hot and finally by the time I was finished with my shower the water became a perfect temperature . . . which was useless by that time!
On our way back from Stratford we stopped in Oxford for a couple hours to tour the town and the university. It was a beautiful town with a lot of history! Oxford University was amazing! The campus looks like a castle in itself! Connected to the University is Christ's Church which is a very old castle like building that has the famous "great hall" where Harry Potter was filmed! Unfortunately we could not go inside Christ's Church because it was the day of naming the new Bishop. If only we had been there the day before!
This week will go by fast since it is filled with studying for finals and taking finals! Luckily I have home to look forward to at the end of the week and I absolutely cannot wait! Most people up here want to stay in Europe and travel but I cannot help how much I miss my family and Matthew!
Friday, June 1, 2007
Well after a weekend in Paris there isn't anything more exciting to tell about my time up here in Europe!
The week started out cold and rainy which was scary since there were two out-door shows we had to see this weekend. Luckily, it has miraculously become sunny and warm! Which means markets and parks for us all day long! Yesterday we went to the Borough market to get the best fruit and chocolate covered nuts and dried fruit! So amazing! Two nights ago we went on the Jack-the-Ripper tour and we were given a two hour walk with lots of history and neat buildings in Whitechapel (a very poor area of London). The tour was a little spooky since we went to all the sights of the murders from Jack-the-Ripper but the history behind the infamous man was very fun!
My good friend Tara who goes to school in Scotland has finally joined us in our fun for the last two weeks of London. She shows us around and since she works at an amazing pizza restauraunt we can all go get food there for 20% off! Which is so helpful when you are a poor student!
Today we went to a theatre to get cheap tickets to the World's Longest Running Show: Mousetrap! I am really excited to see it! Our tickets are in the back row but that's what you get when you ask for the cheapest seats in the house! After we got tickets for tonights show we walked over to Oxford Circus which is like 5th Avenue in New York! It was packed with people and was a little too chaotic for me! I ended up getting one very cute shirt for the hot summer which was exciting because students at the department stores there get 10% off! Yay! The H&M is so amazing! They have 3 H&Ms on the same street!!!! And they are all 3 stories high! haha! Then there is this London shop (very similar to H&M but better) called The Top Shop where they have every bit of clothing you can think of at really good prices! They even have a nail salon in the store! It was really fun to see the store but there were so many people there that I was constantly losing my friend Whitney which was so scary because the store is huge!!!!! I felt like a little child losing my mother in Nordstrom! (Which happened once or twice with my mom).
Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day because we will be celebrating our friend Brittlyn's 20th birthday! We will start out the day by going early to the famous Portabello market where I am going to get souveniers for everyone!! Then we will be going to the very famous Orangery where they serve tea (herbal, they pronounce the 'H' here) and cake at Kensington Palace! Then we will end the day with the best ice cream and a performance of The Merchant of Venice at the famous Globe Theatre! It is going to be a day full of very famous things!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Benjie started blaring Prison Break this morning in our room so that was what I woke up to. . haha. . .He is addicted! I got really cold last night which was fine by me. I slept closer to the aircon which made a big difference! Felt good. . . What didn't feel good is the red color going on in the facial area and on the back and shoulders. Everytime I move I remember just how long it has been since my chest has seen the sun! I spent a little too much time in the sun on Mindoro (only like 3 hours) and now I am feeling it. . .The worst is trying to put my shirt on. I grunt and really struggle to get it on. .it is a blessing when it finally gets on though! hehe. We tried to play tennis this morning. I was up 3-1 on Benjie but he came up on me and killed me. . . I was not having a good day. I have this really big sore on my toe and it looks like I have this big infection on it. ..I think it is just a blister that developed and popped on my beach run yesterday.
Tonight we went back to Divisoria to buy some things. We looked forever for neckties . . .I am glad we finally found some though. I was really pleased with what I got though! I think everyone back at home will like what I got them too. . .
After a quick Halo-Halo (mix-mix) at ChowKing we were on our way back. There were soooo many people! I just laughed when I looked at all the people! It is amazing! We got on a jeepney, then the train. When we got off the train to get on an FX (like an SUV converted into a 11 person transport vehicle) it was raining like crazy. Thunder lightning and everything made me quickly remember how hard it can rain here! I haven't seen rain like that for so long! Well. . .I haven't seen rain like that since I left the Philippines! It was amazing. The roads the whole way home were flooded and the FX couldn't drive down the road in front of Benjie's house as the water was up to my calves on the sidewalk! We had to get off on the other side of the block and trudge through the flood and rain to get home.
I am having such a great time here! I have a lot to do this week. A lot of things that I wanted to do are getting cancelled and postponed for another visit to the Pearl of the West.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Bonjour! I spent the past four days in Paris being the ultimate tourist with a map in one hand and a museum pass in the other. If I were to give a synopsis of my whole weekend it would take pages and pages of this blog so here is the condensed version:
As soon as we arrived we checked into our hotel which was the cheapest hotel you could find in Paris but it did the job. Then we raced over to see the Arc De Triumph which is a huge arc right in the middle of the city and there we bought our 4 day museum pass that allowed us to get into every museum and site in Paris (except for the Eiffel Tower). These four days were filled with non-stop walking and my feet still hurt!!! We were able to go to the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa, the Venus statue and Napoleon's Apartments . . . along with many other things there. It was amazing! On our way to the Louvre we found a bakery (one of MANY) and got a croissent for breakfast. It was by far the best croissent I had ever had in my life and Whitney and I were hooked! Everyday we ate at least 3 croissents which were in all different flavors! My favorite was the chocolate almond one! Amazing! Whitney and I also fell in love with their crepes and ice cream!!! We definitely ate our way through Paris but we needed the "nutrience" since we were walking everywhere!!!
We of course went to the top of the Eiffel tower which was quite a feet for me since I am afraid of heights! There are three levels on the Eiffel tower and as we slowly creeped up to the top on the elevator my heart was falling into my stomach and I was holding onto Whitney for dear life! Once we were at the top I let go of the fear and had a great time! Someone was proposed to up there right beside us which was really cute but made me miss Matthew that much more!
On Friday we took a trip to Versailles where the huge palace and gardens are . . . it was unbelievable! The Palace itself was as big as BYU campus! It was so fun to see Marie Antoinette's apartments! We then walked out to the gardens which really is not a garden . . . it is more like a back yard the size of Disneyland! It was gorgeous!!! We had so many things we wanted to see in the gardens and the walks were torturous up and down stone steps under a 95 degree sun scourching us! We were sweating like crazy from the heat! At one point we decided to rent a row boat that was available on the lake in the garden (when I say lake, I mean a perfectly squared "cross-like" deep pool the size of Jackson lake!). It was insane! Since it was only Whitney, Peter, and I and Whitney and I are girls . . . Peter rowed the boat. Poor guy: he rowed this boat in terrible heat on a lake and he was dripping sweat!! While he was doing this Whitney was reading a book at one end while I was being the back seat driver telling Peter where to go! Haha it was pretty fun! The best part of the lake were the adorable baby swans we were able to get really close to!
On our last day we spent the morning at Notre Dame. Our museum pass allowed us to ender the staircase section which was appoximately 700 stairs leading up to the very top of The Notre Dame! It was a tough hike but so worth it! Right when we got to the top it reached noon and all the bells went off which was very surprising and exciting!
By the end of our trip both Whitney and I were more than ready to return to London. Although Paris is gorgeous it is dirty and very difficult to get around due to the lack of English! We were worn out by the end of the weekend and had enough of museums, walking walking walking, and French! However, we do wish we could bring the bakeries with us!
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Anyways. . the wedding was good. . .it was different but good. There were only 3 bachelors there and whoever caught the envelope with a green ribbon thrown by the groom, they put the garter on the bride's maid. I was so glad I didn't get that!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I am having a great time here. I love the people more than ever! I think about Chelsea and my family often. I don't like to think about Chelsea though because I miss her and I usually just get frustrated because she is gone and there is nothing that I can do about it. I keep wishing she was here and I am hoping to come here with her next year. . .she would die if she saw the stores that we went to. I couldn't buy anything for me because I kept thinking about what Chelsea would like. .I hope she likes what I got her!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Here is Benjie's house where he makes me anything I want to eat. . . It feels like I am at a nice restaurant. So much for losing weight while I am here.
We played tennis again tonight. We have been playing about everynight. . . I lost 5-5 6-2. Benjie is a great player. . . That and that I am not very good. . .
I have been really amazed with the shirts here. . they are amazing. . today I saw one that said "if you think I am cute now, wait till you see me naked" haha. They are so funny. I sometimes don't know if they even know what they mean. . .
Hard to believe I only have less than two weeks left. . .I am just trying to make the most of it!
Friday, May 18, 2007
Yesterday was filled with lots of excitement and began bright early in the morning . . . we left for the coach station at 6:45 a.m. for our 7:45 bus ride to Bath. For those of you who do not know what Bath is, it is a city three hours outside of London that is filled with history. Their reason for calling the city Bath is due to the Roman Baths placed there centuries ago! These Baths were known to be holy water and people used to travel from all over the world to reach these baths and be healed. The water in these baths come from hot water springs so they naturally feel like a very warm pool! The Roman Baths are like a resort and although a lot of the area has deteriorated it is still in pretty good shape and has so much history in it! It was amazing!
While in Bath we could not skip seeing the famous Jane Austen museum. This museum is placed two doors down from where she lived in Bath. It was very interesting to learn about her life and I bought a copy of 'Pride and Prejudice!' An amazing novel!
We also saw the famous Assembly hall where all the balls were held (just like in Jane Austen's novel) and we looked around in the costume museum where there were many old dresses from Jane Austen's time period.
To top off the day beautifully we went to an amazing ice cream shop that 24 unique flavors. I instantly fell in love with the Creme Brulee flavor and the (very different) cookies n' cream flavor! So I had two scoops in a cone! It was wonderful!
There was plenty more that happened in Bath but this is the short version of our journey. All in all just being in Bath was rewarding. The architecture is amazing! Everything is very old and so historical! The roads were all in cobble stone which definitely did a job on my little feet! By the time we got back to our flat at 10:00 p.m. I was dead but I had to desperately do some laundry so I ended up staying up until 2 am at the laundromat with my friends watching Pride and Prejudice!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I found myself yesterday in a place that I have been many times. . .President and Sister Labrum invited me over yesterday to chat with them. It was great to see them again! They look the same and we had a great time chatting. They had great food prepared as usual and Benj and I definitely got our fill! We talked with the Labrums and it was fun catching up with them. President said some nice things about me which was nice to hear. . . I was amazed at how well he and Sister Labrum can remember the missionaries. We looked at a really cool book they put together with pictures and letters from all the past missionaries and shared any news we had. It was fun because in the beginning of the book was all the missionaries that have been home the longest. As I went through the book there started to be less and less wedding announcements. After my batch there weren't any! It sounds like their next six weeks are going to be crazy. I hope I get to see them before I go! They are great people!
Things here aren't going quite as I had planned. . . I am really having fun out here and doing good but not quite like I had imagined. I love it here and the place and the people are everything I hoped they would be. . . I think I just put too many expectations on my work with Mabuhay Deseret. It has been difficult finding donors for the foundation and all my attempts to get names and addresses of past patients has been less than successful. I have created a new tactic now though and will be going forward with that starting tomorrow.
Another thing that did not go as planned was my cell phone. I was thinking about getting here and getting an awesome cell phone. You know, the kind where when I pulled it out people would be like . .. awesome! However, that was wrong of me and I have repented. The Lord has humbled me and blessed me with a free phone! Not quite what I was thinking. . . I think people do think it is awesome though. . .Awesome as in like "hey, what kid did you steal that from" haha
I didn't get any pictures with President or at the temple yesterday when we did a session. . . nor did I get pictures today at Divisoria. Divisoria was like little China with so many things to buy. I know where I will be before I go home! Benjie and I joked that if Chelsea was there she would "mahihilo" or would get dizzy from all the things to buy! I bought a couple things that I think Chelsea would like . . .I wanted to buy the whole place for her! I need to get everyone's size so I can buy you some stuff. . .
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Yesterday I had the opportunity to travel over to Trafalgar Square where the famous National Museum is. It was amazing! My friends and I went in the museum and were able to see hundreds of paintings and many were created by Picasso, Monet, Da Vinci, and Van Gogh!!! It was incredible!! Seeing these famous paintings in a photo do not do the real thing justice! After the museum my friends and I decided we would attempt to climb a corner of this large statue . . . at this corner there was a lion. I was at first a little afraid of climbing up because it was so high up and my legs are so short which makes it difficult to climb a flat wall; however, after my friends Brittlyn and Whitney got up I couldnot resist! It looked like so much fun! I finally climbed up and then my friend Becca followed my lead (she too has short legs) and it was hilarious to watch her climb up. She warned me that she had no body strength but I did not believe her until we had to have a random lady push her up the wall. On top of it, the lady pushing her up did not even speak english which made the situation that much more funny! It was the hardest I have ever laughed since I have gotten to London!
We ended the day yesterday with seeing a play called "Landscape with Weapon." It was one the best shows I have ever seen in my life (and believe me, I have seen a lot). It was performed at the National Theatre which is the best theatre in London! The show was composed of an ensemble of 4 actors all of which have been in numerous movies. The main character was the actor Tom Hollander and he played Mr. Collins in "Pride and Prejudice" and played Cutler Beckett in all three "Pirates of the Carribean!" He is an amazing actor!!! The other three actors have been in movies such as "Notting Hill" and "The Holiday."
Tonight I will be traveling for two hours over to the church building to teach the Young Women's (which consists of three girls) how to play the piano. It was very difficult to convince them to come to young mutual but I think I convinced them when I told them I would make cookies.
Well this is turning out to be a little too long and I am sure nobody has the patience or time to read more . . . hehe Love you all!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Today was my first day at the office. . .well, my first real day. I did about 7 hours of which I am really proud. I spent a lot of time doing cold calls which was not the most enjoying thing in the world. All I got the whole time was the same thing. The phone system is so much different here. I guess as a missionary that is just something that I didn't ever get exposure to. I was calling big companies like KFC, McDonalds and others and I was getting funky ring tones and it was hard to even get a number that worked! I got a lot of fax numbers and emails to send a proposal letter to. We will see if I can get any answers from that. ..I guess I will just have to call them in another week and try the whole cycle again. I am really excited about it though. . . I think there is a lot of promise.
After that we headed to the new Craniomaxial Facial Center for Mabuhay. It was really far away but I was surprised at how nice it is. Very well done! They have moved these patients to a four-story building where they let doctors put their office in the bottom in exchange for free surgeries. It only cost 9 million to build! It was a really nice place I will have to get some pictures. . .
I am amazed at how great this place is. I still love the people so much! They are the greatest people on the earth! I have never felt dangered here and am having a great time! It is different to not be totally absorbed and constantly talking to everyone but I am getting used to it. I feel like everyone treats me better here when I am not a missionary. . . it is really wierd.
We played chess this afternoon and I got killed. I think there have been 4 grand masters that have come from here. . .Benjie might be the next Grand Master to come from the Philippines! We played tennis tonight and it was nice to not almost pass out from heat stroke! I played really well. . . Not quite good enough to beat Benj but it is coming back. . .
Monday, May 14, 2007
We came back and cleaned and Benj made some great lunch and we were off for the church so Benj could count tithing money. I went in a room, cranked the AC and did some work.
I accomplished another thing tonight that I always wanted to do. I went to the movies! Let me just tell you. . .besides all the other reasons I have to live here permanently, this would single handedly be the reason for me to come back! It was amazing! First of all, we paid about 4 dollars for both of us to see the movie. That is half of what I would pay back home for just me! We walked in the theater and it was immaculate! Cleaner than any theater I have ever been in before. The seats were extremely comfortable. The theater was empty! It had air con and the sound was very good! It was amazing! However, the movie was saw was another issue. It was good. .. .a bit violent in my opinion but good. It is called The Condemned. I didn't know what the rating was. They had R-13 by the movie. . .I asked what the rating was if it was R or PG13 . . .she just said that you have to be older than 13 to go in. . . I'm not sure if they even have real ratings here!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mother's day was great! I got to go back to my first area. It was a branch then but is huge now! It was how I remembered it. . not a whole lot had changed. Except there are so many kids now! It seemed like everyone Benjie would tell me about when I got here had a kid! It is kind of sad because the majority that I saw were out of wedlock. . . I sat by a member that we would always visit, Jemmylin. I told her that I missed her sizzling plate cooking and she got my number and invited me over. That is a good thing . . except that doesn't help them from all calling me fat! You wouldn't believe it! It seems like everyone tells me how fat I have gotten. I don't think this would be the best place for a self concious person to go if you didn't understand the culture. Actually, after watching some television shows and talking to some people, chubby is in! I should be a star here then!
After church there was a lot of confusion but finally we got a taxi and headed to Makati to pick up my teacher and to go to eat lunch with the Manila mission President. His daughter was in our Tagalog class as she served a "mini-mission" last year. Well, she is back with another friend to do another. They are just serving for 4 months. It was good to see them and to be with a family for Mother's day. It kept me from missing my Mother (and mother-to-be in August) so much. The house was amazing and had Air Con!! We ate a nice American meal and then headed to the other room and had some musical numbers! They even made me sing! It was a good time!
It has been confirmed to me once again how small this world is! Benjie has an office here in his home (good for me as I get free DSL and calls to California!). He is working for a guy that came back to start a business here and got married. Come to find out Ryan Robertson's brother Ian went to school with my friends Nathan and Michael. It has been cool meeting him and his wife. I even got to witness the blessing of their first child, Bethany. What a small world!
After lunch someone came to pick up Nanay (my teacher) and we went to Greenbelt to eat. It is amazing to me how amazing the Philippines is when you are not a missionary. . .I don't mean that to sound like I didn't like the mission but it seems like maybe our mission isn't as financially sound and thus as interesting to visit as Manila is. The food was amazing and I finally got to try Sweet rice and mangoes. It was really good. . .it may just be that the mangoes here are out of this world though! I have eaten at least 2 mangoes everyday that I have been here!
Well. . .this is getting long. I feel very blessed to be here. I am grateful for my Mother and for the freedom that we enjoy in the US. I am so blessed to be here with people that are so loving and understanding! Filipinos are amazing! I love this place!
Although the pain of being so far away from my fiance is torturous I am still having the time of life up here in London! Everything is just amazing! I feel like I have seen so much yet I am not even half way through my list of things to do and see up here! The past two days have been the best out of the whole Study Abroad! On Friday I went with my girlfriends to Buckingham Palace where we saw the famous "Changing of the Guards." After that incredible event my friends and I made our way over to Candem Town where there is the famous market full of more clothes than ever imagineable! And on top of it they are dirt cheap! And you can talk down the prices! I ended up getting two beautiful dresses! Nearby the market there stood a French Crepe stand and my friend Whitney and I could not resist getting one to split since they smelled like heaven! We got a crepe filled with fattening Nutella and Bananas! It was delicious! We cannot wait to go back there and get another one . . . We ended our day with a trip to Notting Hill for window shopping and a detour to the Borough Market . . . this market was amazing! It had stands from all different nationalities making their specialty foods! Whitney and I could not resist the home made french truffles! It was just like the movie Chocolat!
Well that is all for now . . .
I am experiencing so much in such a small amount of time but at the end of the day what I look forward to most is being married to Matthew this August . . .
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Well. . .I just started this blog as a kind of gift to you . . . to us!
I love you so much and I am excited for our lives coming together. I thought this would be cool to keep track of our lives and for other people to see what we are up to. I hope you like it and feel free to make changes and post as much as you would like!
And you probably though I didn't email you tonight. . . hehe! Have a great day and I will try to wake up early to talk to you!
I posted on this already and you can read what my day was all about. . I love you!
The ride was enjoyable. I got the normal stares that any white person would get here and got to talk to a few people. They are always so surprised when I start speaking Tagalog to them! I love it! We got to Pampanga and after riding a Jeepney and a tricycle for another 45 minutes or so we made it! We got some coconut drinks. . .two each and had a great day! Benjie's adopted family spent the whole day playing Tongits and gambling. We had food and I got to visit with the family. I never got to ride a carabou (water buffalo) and milk it! We are going to drink the milk in the morning. . .I was worried when Benjie said they took the milk inside to get rid of the dumi. . .Dumi here has two meanings you see. . .Dirt or Fecal matter. I am still not sure which one he was talking about! hehe
After a long day we finally got back after sitting in traffic forever! It seems like the traffic is worse than I remember. I think this is because the increase in the economy here and because of all the people traveling this weekend with elections coming up. . .The political campaigns here are funny. They take popular songs and turn them into songs about them. Vans drive around playing the songs and they make entertaining commercials. There are flyers everywhere and campaign commercials on constantly! I think it is great!
More to follow. . .