Friday, August 21, 2009

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I was talking with a friend the other day who mentioned that in light of the recent recession two out of the four security guards at her work are going to be laid off soon. This concerned her for several reasons, the main one being that she works at a home for troubled youth and, as you can imagine, she oftentimes encounters some umm...fishy problems where the help of a robust security guard comes in quite handy. However, now she and the staff will be working for eight hours, out of the 24-hour day, where no security guard will be available. They will be left to their own defenses which, no offense Mels, will most likely consist of the classic scream-and-point and, in desperate times, hair pulling. Probably not the most...effective way to subdue a springy, wayward youth.

Anyway, this news concerned me and made me feel for my friend. I mean, I work at the Utah County Health Department and although it's not really that risky I still frequently encounter my own "troubled youth" and drug rehabilitates. Once two of my smoker kids almost got into a fight when I was eight months pregnant and I pulled them apart using my massive belly. Just think if I hadn't had that belly I would have called the security guard who, while readily watching TV, would have jumped at my helpless call for aid. So at some level I understand my friends's just nice to have someone THERE, to protect you from evil and defend your honor. And that's when it came to me...not only the perfect solution to my friends problems, but also for anyone who is feeling a little scared, for those who would like a little extra security in such a troubled world. I flashed a mental image of the group that would be up for the task, they stand for vigilance and fight against the evils of our world. That's right! These able-bodied folk fight for truth and freedom from snively, rebellious tweens. So...who can I be thinking of? Well, isn't it obvious? I am referring to the stalwart members of the Sword and Quill club. I truly believe that here, my friends, lie the keys to solving our local and possibly, national, problems of security!

Many people have seen these hearty lads practicing outside the Wilkinson Center on BYU campus adorned in their traditional garb--vinyl pants, bed-sheet-cloaks accented with bits of pillow cases and towel. Sometimes the lady folk can be seen at the gatherings playing a lute and strumming the guitar, but the main event are the fearsome warriors--the men, not unlike William Wallace--who spend their valuable time practicing the art of combat for times such as this. I mean, they really are the prefect solution, and here are a few more reasons why.

One, words like "budget cuts" have no effect on them. They don't fight for the money, they fight for the honor of the Queen and will defend Scotland at all costs. Getting paid for this duty is a mockery of their very souls.

Two, they are well-equipped with finely crafted daggers made from old press board and glue. Not to mention their grand plastic swords and duct taped reinforced light sabers.I dare you...

Three, these people have been trained in the art of hand-to-hand combat for the last 800 years, I would say that is more than enough time to be sufficiently skilled.

Four, their keen whit and ability to scent out any potential problems can only be magnified by their fluency in Elvish. AND if, heaven forbid, something were to happen to their lance or cross bow, they could always cast a confundus charm with their wand.

Five, although they are more fighter than lover, they can still negotiate peace with a swig of ginger ale and a hey-nonny-no after a merry turn in traditional dance.

Yes! It makes so much sense to me and it's a wonder no one has thought of this before now. I can see the scenario so perfectly. My friend, Mel, walking the long corridor of a stenchy detention center hall when all of a sudden, a troubled youth comes ambling his 15-year old body directly at her flashlight. She hold up her hands awaiting the struggle when suddenly, "Ah-ha!" The teen is peacefully struck down with the Vulcon death grip as our hero leans against the wall and re-adjusts his cross bow. "Thought you might need some help," sweat dripping from his beard as he brushes the hair his from his eyes. "Fancy some pork at the local Discoteca?"
"Sure..." Mel bats her eyes and strides off in the sunset, arm in arm with our modern day warrior.

So, what do you think? All in favor say "AYE"!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Siapan, oh how I miss thee...

Okay, we have been home now for about a week and I am so very relieved to be home. But now that I am back into my normal routines I find myself day dreaming of the beautiful paradise I can hardly believe I was just visiting...and I can't help but wish I could take a little break from dishes to wander down to the beach.

I know...I's indulgent. We certainly had a LONG stay there and, truly, I know how friggin' lucky we were to have such an opportunity. Really, no reason to feel bad, but nonetheless I sheepishly still miss that place and long to feel the salty breeze and warm sun as I laze about the sandy beach. *Sigh*

Anyway, so to keep things a little fresher in my mind, I decided to post the rest of our pictures that depict our whole Saipan experience.

Botanical gardens:
The resort we stayed at had beautiful trails where visitors could tour around admiring the native plants and fruit trees. This was one of my favorite things, it was beyond beautiful.

Me attempting to eat a Blimbine (I think that's what it was called). When I actually tried it, it was the worst sour taste I have EVER experienced...think expired milk and un-ripe lime. GROSS!

I think this was called a "Mountain Apple", it didn't taste bad...if you ever need something to keep you regular though...

Mike holding a star fruit. There was a whole little grove of these. Very cool!

Making news friends and going on adventures
One of the best things about this vacation was the ward there. We were there for two Sundays and it just felt like we belonged. Everyone more than welcomed us with open arms. I mean even though we were just visitors we were invited to all the activities and even a baptism. The baptism was wonderful and I got to become friends with the woman, Christina, who is not much older than myself and we had a lot in common. It was sincerely a touching experience to be a part of that special moment in her life.

We also met a really great couple in a situation very similar to ours. Their names are Jari and Chantelle (pronounced Yadi and Shantaya). They have two little children, their oldest being a few months older than Andrew. Jari is from Finland and he met Chantelle while at BYU-Hawaii, Chantella is a Saipan native so after they got married, they came back and that's when we met them. We became quite good friends and were able to do a lot of things together. One of the funnest things was when we went on a hike to a place called Forbidden Island and when we rented scooters to get a better look at the historical sights and other scenery. We wouldn't have been able to experience these fantastic things if we hadn't had their help and knowledge...So, thanks Jari and Chantelle for such a fantastic aspect of this vacation...who knew we would end up making such great friends?!?

This is from our hike to forbidden island. After you go through the actual hike you end up here, at a beautiful little swim hole completely full of tropical fish.

Here is Mike doing some free diving in the swim hole.

Mike jumped in...

Steve flipped in...

My brother, Steve, on the left and then our new friends Jari and Chantelle.

After we swam in the pool, we went exploring a nearby cave which was seriously a little scary but SOOOO cool. Here is Chantelle at the mouth, right before we went in.

Mike and Steve walking in

Once we were in the cave, we got to climb through this little hole to get out and see some more views.

One of those views

The next few photos were taken on our hike back to the car. SIGH, isn't spectacular?! Too bad pictures just don't do it complete justice.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving:
Mike did the scuba diving and I did the snorkeling. It was amazing to see all the fish we saw, it's almost like and alien planet when you get to see everything that lives just below the surface of salt water.

Andrew and I decided to go for a ride on a water bike.

The tide got really low because of the eclipse...this is about 25 feet out into the ocean and we are STANDING. The water barely made it up to my ankles.

The next few pictures show some of the fish we saw, shells (usually occupied by a crustaceaus friends)and some wreckage. The wreckage pictures are of tanks and landing crafts that were sunk during WWII.

Beach Combing:

This is a favorite pastime of mine. We spent a lot of time on our beach by the resort but we also took several trips around the island to check out some others. My two favorites were called Tank Beach and Hidden Beach.

These first few pictures were taken at Tank Beach. It was sort of sad because a lot of garbage washes up here, BUT it was still fantastic!! And what makes it okay is that a TON of shells wash up with the garbage so it's fun to find pretty sea shells.

Sometimes you have to be careful because the shells are occupied. We found little fellas like this EVERYWHERE!

Mommy and Andrew loved the beach by our resort. Mainly because it is encircled by a reef so there are no dangerous waves or an unertow. It was Andrews most favorite thing ever to simply dig all day in the sand and then splach in the water.

The rest of these pictures are from Hidden Beach. When my brother Alan came over in February he and my dad found it. It was really remarkable, it had some black sand and white sand. The thing that I liked best about this was that it was surrounded by those really craggy volcanic rocks.

This next picture explains why it's called hidden beach. First you have to find the trail that takes you there then you have to walk through a bunch of jungle to reach it. When we got close we could see it peeking through the leaves.

Here my dad is getting splashed by a wave while walking along those craggy rocks!

The People

The dynamic there was so fascinating! I know I mentioned a little about this stuff in my previous post, but the natives there are so relaxed (sometimes a little too relaxed) but were some of the kindest, most generous folk I think I will ever meet.

I mean, first there is Russ, the man behind the curtain in this fairy tale. He is the one who got my dad to go over in the first place and who allowed us all to be flown over. Then, as I mentioned, the ward members...but I really grew to LOVE the workers and other tenants of the resort. Because this was their slow season and we stayed for so long, we got to know most everyone who lived or worked there. They were mainly either Chummaro, Japanese or Phillipino and the cultural diversity was thrilling to me. I wish all of them the best and hope to see them again some day!

My dad and Russ, Russ is on the Right.

Seeing my dad in action
My dear dad was the reason we were all able to go and have a vacation. BUT he was there to work, so it was a lot of fun to go down and see him do star shows and fix telescopes and create presentations, etc. One of the coolest things was that we got to be there during an eclipse (not a full one, but close enough) and it was great having my dad right on hand to let us know what was happening and showing everyone views through the telescope. I pretty much think my dad walks on water (see the picture right below)! Thanks Dad for that once in a lifetime experience!

Yep, that's my dad in the distance, walking on water... :-)

I know this doesn't look like much but if you look closely you will see all the little shadows on the ground are in the shape of a crescent moon. This is also due to the eclipse...see, because the moon is blocking the sun, the sun can only cast rays with the part that isn't covered (since this wasn't a full eclipse) the result is that small shadows looked like little crescent moons.

This was during the eclipse. The picture on the screen shows what it looked like in space, my dad was able to hook up the image of the telescope to the screen so everyone could see.

Spending Time With the Moody Family
I was a good time just having the option to sit around and do nothing but play games. Although not everyone was there the whole time, we did have a week where we all overlapped, it was a lot of fun! Some of our favorite memories: when Mike took my dad to forbidden island, playing lots of rook, snorkeling, and watching weird Al videos. :-)

This was always a goal of actually SEE Japan! Both my dad and brother, Steve, served their missions there and I have heard so many great things about this place. Well, as luck would have it on our flight back to the states, we had a 7 hour layover in Narita (right outside of Tokyo)and we decided to go see it while we waited for our flight. We had a plan that we thought was foolproof...see, my brother Steve had already left Saipan and was staying in Japan for a few weeks with a friend of his. Well, turns out they would be near Narita when we had our layover so he said he would meet us at the airport and take us on a little tour. PERFECT, because, let's be honest...the whole different language thing freaked me out so Steve was the perfect answer! Well, when we got there we ended up waiting for about two hours and Steve never showed! Yes, we were worried, but Steve and I made an agreement before hand that if either of us were two hours late then we should assume something came up and to stop waiting.So, maybe it was the fact that we were already super sleep deprived and feeling a little loopy, but Mike and I decided to figure it out on our own and we went to see Narita. When we left the airport I got super nervous but we still managed to catch a train. It was nerve wracking...but THANKFULLY a lot of people there speak some English so with a lot of hand gesturing and pointing to signs we made it safely onto a train, walked around the city and saw a beautiful Buddhist temple (in the distance) and even ate some Japanese food from a bakery. We were quite proud of ourselves when we did all that and made it safely back to the airport.

But I still wondered what happened to Steve.

Well...just as we were walking into the re-entry gates we see Steve standing around talking frantically to a worker. I called out his name and he came rushing over. Apparently he had gotten his days mixed up (totally understandable considering all the times zones we had been traveling through) and he thought he still had a day before we came in. He realized his mistake about an hour after we landed and frantically got a train to Narita to try and find us. He had been at the airport for about 20 minutes when we ran into him. So...I was sad we didn't get to spend more time with him but in the end it all worked out! :-)

A couple things though: 1) We didn't take any pictures because our camera was broken--this was a huge TRAGEDY because who knows if I'll ever go back to Japan so sorry I have nothing to show for it! 2) We did get to see a "movie star" while we waited in the airport.

When we walked out to the lobby we saw a horde of little Japanese tweens scrunched together, and roped off, in the area where we walk out from the terminals into the waiting lobby. They held signs saying things like, "please sign me" we noticed that a lot of them were holding Harry Potter pictures (including the cast).Well, after about an hour we heard all this screaming and so we frantically looked up to see this bright blond head bopping along...turns out Malfoy came to Japan and the girls were SOOOO, OMG, excited!!! He ended up walking right past Mike which was fun. So...that I guess is our Japan experienced all wrapped up. GOOD TIMES!

All in all, this truly was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience and we are very grateful to have had it. If anyone ever needs a good vacation, golly...get on over to Saipan, it's worth it! :-)