Monday, July 18, 2011

Giving service

I mentioned before the service project that we performed at the Cardin Children's Home. It was specifically for the youth and YSA, and also the mission presidency and their wives who flew in for the weekend from San Juan, and there were a few others thrown in, including Brennan. It is funny how a day of hard manual labor, given in the spirit of service with no payment or compensation (except the sack lunches we provided everyone), can be so rewarding and unify individuals. During the six hours we spent at the location, there were many people throughout the community of St. Kitt's who stopped by to take pictures and talk to us and marvel at the fact that there were so many people present, willingly giving up their day, and ESPECIALLY so many teenagers and young single adults. They were actually quite shocked at that. But I just thought, "Of course we're here willingly to serve, and not one of these youth has a hangover (today or any day)- it's the "Mormon Helping Hands!"

This is one of the little boys who lives at the home.

Ha ha- I think Ricky was really scared for a minute there. I'm sorry that his face is shaded because you should have seen it.

A fashion show for the Young Women.

Besides the mice, rats, cockroaches, lizards, and other creepy crawly creatures that we came across, was this HUGE centipede. They are very common here and give a painful bite, which can also make you very sick. We haven't had any personal experiences with these things, but we know plenty of people who have- including quite a few friends who have been woken up in the night while being bitten by one. These guys are REALLY fast and are hard to catch. But the crowd gathered to see this one that Bro. DeCosta was determined to kill so that it wouldn't harm the children.

This is part of the centipede after it was cut in half. It still moves around for a while even though it is dead. Disgusting.

Bro. Decosta wanted to "educate" us all on the parts of the centipede. Can you see the little black pincher's that it uses to bite and administer venom to it's victim? Again, we had to hold it down because it was crawling all over the place.

A rewarding day of service and fellowship.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What we've been up to- Brennan's edition

We are in Colorado now and will spend the next month in the mountains, 5000 feet higher than we are used to- building a fort, hiking, riding 4-wheelers, fishing, playing at parks, eating lots of good (and $cheap$) food, and spending time with friends and family.

Last week was Brennan's annual week of sailing school. He LOVES it and was able to sail all by himself for most of the week this time. The kid's spend time snorkeling and learning new things about boating and oceanic ecosystems, and then spend a few hours each day practicing on 3 different boats- an ocean kayak, a mini-catamaran, and a mini-sailboat.

Brennan tagged along with me to a church service project for the youth, YSA, and ten visitors from the Puerto Rico Mission Presidency. We spent half a day clearing out an area at the Children's Home in St. Kitt's that they can use to plant a garden and grow their own produce.

Pictures of Brennan from the school catamaran trip.

Brennan would like to have the look of his island friend's, Justin and Mandella, but I told him he just doesn't have the hair to pull it off.

In June, Adrian, Brennan, and I set out on an adventure that would take us out all night for 3 nights straight, sleeping in the sand on the beach, walking a 2-mile stretch of beach in the dark when it was our turn to monitor, and getting rained on. We went out with a group of sea turtle researchers with the hopes of getting to witness a leatherback turtle come up to shore to lay her eggs. After two nights of no luck, a turtle came up on the third night, and we got to be a part of the process. The turtles spend about 1 1/2 hours digging a hole about 3 feet deep with their back flippers. Then she lays around 100 eggs, which Adrian was in "the back" with a mesh bag and caught all the eggs so they could be relocated to a safer area. Brennan and a friend who came along got to sort and count the eggs and move them to the new hole. Then the turtle (who doesn't know her eggs were even moved) covers the hole back up and "disguises" the area by moving in circles and throwing sand for about a 15 square foot area. The researchers tag and measure and take blood samples of the turtle before she crawls back out to sea. They are very large and the females can get up to 12oo lbs. It was amazing to witness was an experience that we won't forget.

Finally, Brennan won first place in the school science fair for his project on what material catches fire the quickest using only a magnifying glass to pinpoint heat from the sun. The dryer lint caught on fire the fastest- in only 11 seconds! So Brennan's conclusion was that if you are camping or putting together a 48-hour kit, include not only matches but a magnifying glass as well. Brennan had a great time catching things on fire out on the balcony and burning holes through bottles.

(No ants were harmed in the fulfilling of this science project).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What we've been up to- Payton's edition

Here is Payton on the previously mentioned catamaran trip, and her good friend, Bella, who has been her school companion for the past 2 years. Unfortunately, she will be leaving in August to go back to the States, but her family will be in Fort Collins for her mom to finish her vet. schooling, so we should be able to see them when we make trips to Colorado.

This is Payton's class from the last school year, consisting of 1st and 2nd graders.

Payton is really going to miss her favorite teacher, Mrs. Em, from the famous town of Brenham, Texas- the home of the "Bluebell Factory." She has been with Payton's class for the past two years.

Payton's contribution to the Prep. School Science Fair.

Payton also celebrated her 7th birthday in May.

I happened to be in Miami, but Daddy took care of a birthday party with a few friends. They ate pizza and cake, projected a movie on a large screen, and played dress up. You wouldn't know he grew up in a household of boys.