So it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Sorry for neglecting it, but I’ve been out of the country. And while I did have internet access, updating a blog on my iPhone is a heck of a lot of work. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I decided to share some of my experiences on tour. Some of these are personal, but I want to use this blog as a sort of missionary blog as well as posting about my life. I’ll share some of my experiences in each country and pictures of tour as well. I hope you enjoy them.
We kicked off our three week tour in the most beautiful Guatemala. The flight there was a rough one (red eye and sitting next to a fat, stinky old man). Even while sitting in the airplane or even after landing and driving around Guatemala City, it didn’t feel like real life that we were there. I remember one of my first thoughts after entering the country was “So many brown people!” After being in Utah for 11 months, not constantly seeing blonde, white people was pretty nice. I also remember loving seeing the old women in traditional clothing. And also, looking out the window to the most beautiful green I have ever seen. I loved it. I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight, but I do think it exists for me in places. I definitely had love at first sight in Guatemala.
One of the most beautiful places that we visited was Lake Atitlan. Talk about blue. Even though it was a cloudy day, it was absolutely gorgeous. The water was so perfect and blue. It reminded me of Crater Lake. We also got to walk around the market that day and do a little shopping. I didn’t do much, but it was cool to see all that it had to offer. There are a ton of homeless dogs in Central America. I wanted to scoop them all up in my arms and take them back to America with me. Real talk. One thing that I’ll always remember about all of the markets, not just the one’s at Lake Atitlan, is that those women and even the children can hustle the heck out of you. Say no as many times as you want, they’ll keep trying! They’re super persistent and not afraid to do what they need to try and get a sale out of you. I remember Malcolm told us that as tourists we basically walk around with a giant dollar sign floating above our heads… I now completely understand what he meant by that. One thing that I distinctly remember about Lake Atitlan was that we left our president behind there. Yup, you read that right. We left the president of Living Legends behind and drove away without him. The story goes that he was with Brandon and Truman and he ran to the bathroom real quick before we were about to load the bus. As he was walking back, he saw the bus driving away and ran after it, but was too late. You’d think that Brandon and Truman would have told us that he was gone, but instead they told us that we was on the van and that we could leave. Luckily, when the van went back, they were able to find him! But it was kind of crazy and frightening.
One of my favorite experiences of all of tour was our visit to the Quetzaltenango Temple. It was seriously too beautiful on the outside. It’s a fairly new one, but still. It was up on this hill and you could see so much of Quetzaltenango from the grounds. I was so excited to go in. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the temple, so I was excited to go inside again. And not just that, but to go inside in Guatemala, with some of the people who have influenced my testimony so much over this past year. When we went in, they explained a little bit of the history of the temple and the people to us. I was fascinated, but I could not wait to actually see the inside. What a beautiful temple. Seriously. We really only got to see the baptismal font, but it was the most beautiful temple I’ve ever been in, in my whole life. Here is a direct quote from my journal that I kept over tour, “When we went inside of the baptismal font we gathered around the font and just stood there. And then it got silent. I started crying because the spirit was so strong. You could literally feel everyone’s testimony of the church and of the temple.” It’s kind of hard to explain the feeling I had inside the temple, but it was one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The Quetzaltenango Temple was so beautiful. If I could, I would get married in that temple! Real talk.
Another experience that we had was at this school Fundal. All of the proceeds from our show in Quetzaltenango were going to that school. It was a school for the deaf and blind. We got to visit the school and help the kids there with their everyday activities. Then we did an activity where we experienced what it would be like to be deaf and blind and tried to communicate messages to others. It was terribly difficult. Then, the lady told us about how the school was started. This lady’s parents started the school because they adopted a deaf and blind son. The child’s name was Alex. His parents died when he was a baby and he was left under the care of his older sister. His older sister abandoned him in a bathroom and he was given to the orphanage. So the girls mom was about 30 and was wanting another child. An orphanage called her and asked her to be a godmother to an orphan. So she and some of her friends went to the orphanage to become godmothers to some kids. While she was talking to what was like the “boss,” one of the workers asked if he should bring in Alex. The boss said no because Alex would not be able to comprehend what was going on. Upon overhearing this, she demanded to meet the child and that Alex be included in this too. It was love at first sight for her. As soon as she saw him being helped down the stairs and just laughing and enjoying his life, she wanted to be his godmother. He needed surgery that would help his hearing a little bit and she decided to take care of him for a little while after his surgery. Eventually, she ended up adopting him. When the time came for Alex to start school, there was no school that he could attend because of his disabilities. So, they started the school. After she shared that story with us, we performed and sang for them. I was already pretty emotional from singing, but then the little kids gave us gifts that they made from hand and personally handed them to us. I lost it. Everyone lost it. I was so humbled by these little kids. And it just made me reflect. Those little children put every ounce of effort they could muster to make the little notebooks for us. And not just that, but everyone who was helping with the tour was giving all their effort for us to be there. They give so much just for us. There was not a dry eye in the room. I know that those kids have disabilities, but they were so perfect to me. They are truly the angels of this earth. And they changed my life more than they will ever understand.
One of my toughest days of tour was also one of the best. It was the day that my best friend was getting her mission call. We had an outreach that morning and I saw the missionaries and was reminded that Stacey was getting her call and that soon she would be a missionary too. I started crying because I just wanted to be in Provo. I wanted to be there myself. And to tell her that I was proud of her. And hug her. And never let go. That’s all I wanted to do. Luckily, we got so busy that day that I totally forgot about it. But as we were getting ready for that show, someone asked me about it and I instantly was upset. I tried so hard to not get emotional that just as we would start the show, she would be opening her call. I got ready as quick as I could and then tried to find a private, but not too sketchy place, to cry and pray. I knew that I was pitying myself and that she understood why I couldn’t be there even over skype, but I was still pretty distraught. I prayed that she would know that I was there in spirit and that I loved her so much and have never been more proud of her. Despite my prayers and my efforts, I could not stop crying. During opener, I was waiting in the wings to go on and trying to pull myself together to go on stage. I looked up and Keoki smiled at me. I know it was just a smile and nothing but that, but it was just what I needed. It was that little nudge, that little tender mercy, that guardian angel that Christ had sent to me to let me know that I was needed there in Central America. That Stacey knows. That while I wanted to be in Provo, I was needed for Christ’s work in Central America. I ended up getting to Skype Stacey later and found out she was serving in the Philippine’s. So proud. That was such a crazy spiritual night.
Our last night in Guatemala we had a fireside. It was such an amazing fireside. It was held at the first church building site in all of Guatemala. There were about 1,000 people there. In the middle of one of the talks, I was looking out into the audience and made eye contact with this girl. Talk about the light of Christ. She was absolutely amazing. I could feel the love of the Lord that she had and my heart burst with love for her. And we hadn’t even talked yet. It took everything in me to not sing just to that girl. As soon as the final “Amen” was spoken of the prayer, I bolted to meet her. I hugged her for a good minute and kept telling her that I loved her. Luckily, she spoke english and so I was able to get to know her and relate my love to her. She is eighteen years old and is called to serve in Chile! So happy for her! After I said goodbye to her, I ran into Birda, Kenna, and Mriah. They were all looking for this girl too! That’s how you know that she was like a beacon of light in the room. After we got on the bus, we were told that we were going to sing at a funeral. Antonio, one of the main men who helped set up our tour in Guatemala, his Bishops daughter had passed away that moerning and he wanted us to sing at her funeral. She was about 24 and died of bone cancer. She loved to sing and dance was looking forward to our show, but she wasn’t able to make it to our show. I felt like there was no better way for us to honor her than to sing at her funeral. We sang Humble Prayer and Child of God. Not a dry eye in the room. I kept thinking that I knew the pain the family was feeling because my grandpa had died from cancer. And how happy I was for her. That she was finally released from the hell that cancer is. I knew that she loved us singing there and that she was in that room with us. She was finally in heaven in a perfectly healthy body and with her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It was a surreal experience.
Guatemala was by far my favorite country we visited. It changed my life forever. The people of Guatemala were so giving to us all the time. And so loving. They were full of so much joy and seriously had the light of Christ emitting from them at all times. I was amazed at the spirit that they held and that they were so strong in their testimonies. They kept thanking us for all that we had done for them, but they have no idea. They did so much more for us and changed our lives so much more than I think we changed theirs. I would visit Guatemala any day and would relive my experiences there, the good and the bad, over again 1239840 times over.