Saturday, June 30, 2012

David - Senior Pictures

Since David graduated this year, I wanted to get some really nice photos taken of him.  While looking at Lisa Foster's blog, she highly recommended a photographer named Mandy Munns of Demand Photography.  Nick's pictures turned out fantastic, so we thought we would give her a try.  Right from the start, Mandy was the consummate professional.  Promptly returning my call, mailing me all of the information and then setting up an appointment at the Salt Lake Library.  David told me he didn't want the usual pictures by a tree or a brick wall.... like everyone else had, so the library seemed like the perfect setting.  Mandy was fantastic, had a lot of great ideas and made it a fun, pleasant experience.  She has a ton of energy and really made David feel relaxed and not awkward like so many photo sessions can end of feeling.  

After the photos were taken, she told us to give her a couple of weeks and then she'd come out to our house to show us the pictures.  She showed up with cookies from The Sweet Tooth Fairy and a slide show of David's pictures on her i pad, set to music.  The pictures were amazing and they actually made me cry watching them!  My son is all grown up and I was looking at photos of a handsome young man!  I loved all of them and it was really hard to narrow them down.  We did, though and I couldn't be more happy with how they turned out.  She also gave us a free 11" x 14" photo since we were referred by the Fosters.  I would highly recommend Demand Photography to anyone - Mandy is awesome!  So happy with all of the pictures!

If you contact Mandy and tell her we referred you, you'll get a free  11" x 14" photo, too.  Give her  a call!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pink Poppy Pendants - A New Adventure

So, Em and I have started our own little business on Etsy!  Etsy is a web site where you can sell things you have created, or materials to create things, or vintage things.  It's a very fun website and we have actually purchased a few things off of the site and have been very happy with the products - we bought a couple of purses from The Netherlands!

So back to our business..... as you all know, Emilee is an amazing artist and watercolor is her favorite.  A few months back, I stopped in at a great little bead store in Murray called Heart Beads and decided I was going to make some beaded charms to add to my collection.  I made quite a few and even made some for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.  I had been toying around with the idea of trying to make the glass soldered charms (because they are so expensive to buy), but just couldn't bring myself to buy all the tools and materials.  Em encouraged me and so we made the leap - bought a soldering iron and all the stuff that you need with it.  I had the idea to have her paint miniature watercolor paintings to put inside of the glass charms.  We ordered glass tiles off the internet and some came with our soldering kit.  We went to the bead store and stocked up on beads and parts to make charms.  Our soldering kit came and we went to work!  It was hard!  Actually, Em persisted and she is actually really good at it now.  I, on the other hand, am not so good at it and have let her do most of the soldering.  I did, however, try my hand at some watercolors and that was fun!  I think it's one of those things where the more you do it, the better you get at it.  I just need more practice. 

Well, they are all posted on Etsy, but we haven't sold any, yet.  Lots of people taking a look, though, so maybe it's only a matter of time.  The Monarch Butterfly charm seems to be getting a lot of traffic and I hope it sells first! My favorite is the poppy pendant that is actually a photo copy of a piece of one of Em's watercolor doodles.  We named our store Pink Poppy Pendants because we both love poppies and are always pointing them out wherever we go. 

The pink poppy pendant - my favorite!

One of Em's favorites - the turquoise feather pendant.

Em's ink doodle pendant.

The initial pendant and charm.

The Monarch pendant. 
We have been having so much fun!  It's been a long time.... too long for me to even remember when the last time was that I had a hobby!  It's extra fun and special to work with my daughter, who is so talented.  I don't know if we'll sell any, but it's worth it just to do something like this with my daughter.  Keeps us out of trouble, too!

Week Twenty Eight - Reunion and Crocodile Legs

A port on the Amazon River.

The Amazon.

Sea of plants.

The city of Belem.
Hello, Family and Friends that I love!
      Glad to hear all is well with everyone at home. This week was pretty good. We didn´t have a baptism but I think we´ll have one this week. Today, we had a little reunion, the last one of President Campos. I think all of the missionaries, with exception of 2 zones of the mission, were there. I did see Elder Shaw, Elder Kaufman, and Elder De la Cruz, but unfortunately Elder Fox and Hoch were not there. But for some reason my companion just wanted to leave when it ended so I didn´t get to talk much. I did talk to Elder De la Cruz, and he´s doing good. He says he can see that I´ve gotten bigger. He also said that he was going to train a new missionary but went home before he even arrived to the mission field, so he´s companions with Elder Harris, who stayed in the same house with me in my first area. Elder De la Cruz showed me some pictures of his. He´s held a parrot and a monkey in his hands, can you say jealous?, and he bought a machete with a special... sheath, i think its called... I can say jealous this time, you don´t have to. So, yeah, he´s got lots of cool experiences already. So yeah, Elder Shaw and Kaufman are still training, and I can only hope things are going well for them, because I didn´t get much of a chance to talk to them.
        And the rest of the week is drawing a blank right now, again. I think I´ll start writing what happens during the day in my planner, all the cool stuff that I should remember and share. So I guess that was my week. Oh, man, there was one day, we were waiting for the bus, I had an apple with me that I finished and I threw the core into some tall grass. My companion talks to me a little about it, says missionaries should be the best example because someone is always watching them, and the next day he throws a banana peel into the grass... It probably shouldn´t but that kind of ticked me off a little... But yeah...
        So in response to your e-mail, I don´t think it was allergies last time, I think I was a little sick from having the fan blow in my face all night. But I´m good now, so don´t worry about sending another package right now. Also, you don´t need to send snacks. I´m fine without them, and I´m not having any problems eating in the houses of members or finding something to eat in our house. The crocodile leg... yes they eat crocodiles, and monkeys too. I might eat a crocodile if its offered but I´ll never eat a monkey. Never, ever. And the man with the crocodile leg said he hunted it. Haha, I was hoping to take a picture of me giving the crocodile arm a hand shake, with the other end out of the picture so it looks like I´m making friends with a crocodile, but I don´t take my camera with me anywhere... :/.... and talk about frustrations with investigators, we´re teaching 2 sisters and during the week they say they´ll go to church this week, Saturday arrives, they say they´ll think about it, Sunday comes and they don´t show  up... grrrr... EM!!! How was your first day at the big girl´s job?! Oh whoah that's cool! Bacana! HAHAHA! teenagers... HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE STEVE!!! Enjoy your new calling Dad, should be an easy one, né? Enjoy your senior trip David.
        Okay, pictures... hmm pictures today are just of that cool place I went to on the day of my companions birthday. 2 views of the river, a sea of plants, and a view of the city.
1)What is the training you talked about in your e mail?  The training you said you hoped you didn't have to do until you had been out a year? Training new missionaries, the ones that just left the MTC. Yeah I don´t want to do that yet.
2)How are you feeling? I´m feeling fantastotimo!
3)How are your shoes holding up?  Do you wear both pairs?  Are your everyday pair wearing out, yet? I only wear the walking pair. They´re good still. My left shoe is wearing down a little faster for some reason. I think I might only drag my left foot. weird.
4)Did you get any packages this past week or your visa card? I did get a package, the one from you. Muito Obrigado!
5)Are a lot of the Brazilian people small?  The people in the pictures you sent looked tiny! Yeah, everyone is pretty small here. I´m pretty much a giant to them.... pretty much... almost.... maybe not, but I am bigger than 99% of the people I meet.
7)Is there anything you are going to need in the next couple of months, so I can mail it now? nothing I can think of right now, but thank you very much.
6)Em wants to know what's with the thumbs up in every picture?  Is it a secret signal that we don't know about? :) It means... I´m happy and I´m otimo and you don´t need to worry about a thing... it also means i´m a little chee-z... *snicker**snicker**snicker**hershey**snicker*
Okay, that´s all for this week. I love you and miss you all. Have a good week, tchau!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week Twenty Seven - Gripado :(

Tom and Elder Reis.

Tom and Elder Reis at a baptism.

Tom's first baptism with the Jonatas family.

Belem City.
Hello My Beloved Family and Friends,
       This week was pretty good, with a few not so good parts. We were going to have a baptism of a boy named Lucas, but his parents changed their mind so he won´t be baptized. His father says Catholics are right because they are one of the oldest churches and most of the other churches just branched from them, which is ridiculo. We tried to explain some things to him but he wouldn´t listen. A few of our investigators said they received an answer from God that this is the true church, but one of them decided not to follow it. She wants to be baptized in the same church as her parents, which is a little frustrating. But we are making progress with other people so all is well.
       Some interesting things this past week: I held a crocodile leg in my hands, at the house of a member. Unfortunately I didn´t have my camera with me. They said they eat it and I might get to try it some time. I also saw about 50 kids have a dance in the middle of the street. That was pretty cool. I learned more about the transfer this past week. Elder De la Cruz, Elder Hoch, Elder Kaufman and Elder Shaw are all training this transfer. Elder Fox and I are the only ones from our district that aren´t training, and I´m hoping that I don´t train until I´ve been here for a year. Training makes me nervous.... I also learned that 16 missionaries will leave during this transfer, which is a lot. The most my companion saw before this is 11. Some other news, I was a little gripado on Friday. I had a super runny nose, as if all the water in my body turned to snot, and by the end of the day the space between my nose and lips felt like it was 2 feet away from the sun. That stung reeeeaaally bad. I think gripado means malaria or dengue or something.... but probably not. I also kind of have a headache right now, so I don´t feel like saying much more.
       Anyways the pictures today: The first is the baptism of Sara with her family and Elder Reis and I, in my first area. Edler Reis baptized her. The second is of Jonatas and his family. He was the first person I baptized. The next one is just Elder Reis and I, and the last is the best view I had of the city.
       So it´s great to hear from you. I´m glad you enjoyed your little vacation to Jackson Hole. Happy Father´s Day, Dad. I hope it was still good without me. Happy B-DAY Rachel. Onze Anos!? Egua!Uau! Para-bens! Be sure to take some good pictures of the hike, Dad and David! Good luck in your Etsy Business Mom and Em!
Do they celebrate Father's Day in Brazil? My companion says yes but he doesn´t know when it is.

Did you get any packages this past week - the one I mailed with your new pants? nothing this past week.:/

Did you get the credit card I mailed? not yet.

Do you and your companion ever knock on doors or do you just go by referrals? we rarely do door approaches. Most of the times they fail,so my companion hates them.

Do you ever just talk to people on the street or on the buses? Most of the people that contact us in the street are crazy so my companion just says hello to eveyone, and I use the time on the bus to rest, so I don´t speak to anyone...
Anyways that was my week. Today I have to give a message during a Family Night meeting thingy, and tomorrow I have to give training during the district meeting. This is going to SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuuck..... Wish me luck. I love you all. Tchau!
Love Elder Williams

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jackson Hole and Yellowstone Getaway

For my 50th, yes I said 50th, birthday this year, Dave wanted to indulge me by taking me somewhere on a trip.  I told him that I love Yellowstone, know that the kids aren't that crazy about going there, and that was where I wanted to go.  I looked on-line and starting the weekend we could go, every place anywhere near the park was booked solid.  I then thought of Jackson Hole, someplace I have never been and have always wanted to go.  I was able to book two nights at The Rustic Inn in Jackson.  I was picturing Jackson Hole being just a hop, skip and a jump from Yellowstone, which it is not!  Yellowstone is at least an hour north of Jackson, but you drive through Grand Teton National Park, which was spectacular, so the drive was extremely scenic.  We spent Saturday afternoon checking out the area in Grand Teton and then had a wonderful dinner at the Rustic Inn in the bar.  We made friends with Shawn, the bar tender (and Katie, Kim and Carl the next night).  The cabins at the Rustic Inn were wonderful, very nice and very new - I would highly recommend it to anyone going to Jackson.  
Dave in front of hot springs in Mammoth.

The falls in the Grand Canyon of theYellowstone.

Baby bison.... cute!

Dave at Mammoth Hot Springs.

The view of the falls from Artist Point.
Sunday morning, we got up pretty early (for me!) and hit the road to Yellowstone.  Once we got to the south entrance of the park, it was snowing!  We traveled through snow showers and made it to Old Faithful, where it still lightly snowed off and on.  I wanted to see the very north loop of the park, since that's the part we missed the last time we were there.  We made it to Mammoth Hot Springs, hiked up the side of the mountain and back down, looking for Minerva Hot Springs, had lunch and then headed back down the east side of the park.  Although it wasn't the best weather, it was quite pleasant and we were glad it wasn't really hot.  We looked and looked for moose, but never did see any.  Saw tons of bison and bison babies, elk and also saw, through binoculars, a wolf eating another animal way far away on the other side of the Yellowstone River.  The park didn't seem overly crowded for the most part and after 11 hours of driving, we headed back to Jackson.  The most spectacular thing we saw was one of the falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist Point- it was breathtaking!  Yellowstone and Grand Teton are so beautiful and amazing - we are so lucky to have these national treasures practically in our backyard.  There were people there from all over the world and it really made me appreciate these two parks.  I can't wait to go back!

Week Twenty Six - Two Elder Williams!

Boooooooommmmm Diiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaah! Hello, minha familia! I´m glad to hear that everyone´s week was good, even if it was a little boring. My week was pretty darn good, maybe even great! and some pretty interesting things happened too. Something interesting, something interesting... hmmm... ah! There´s a bus route here that they decided to cancel, so some people protested by setting a bunch of tires on fire in the middle of the road. That was a pretty cool sight. But I guess the protest worked because the bus is back, hehe. 

I also received letters from the Finlandsons, the Frandsens, G&G Pratt, and Sister Petersen, which is super cool, so thank you very much for those. President Campos gave a little talk at a meeting, which was pretty good from what I understood... if I paid attention. But we have 2 Elder Williams in the Brazil Belém Mission. The other is just Elder Williams because he has more time in the mission field, and I´m Elder R. (eh-he/r in Portuguese)Williams. Anyways, president Campos told me that some of my mail was sent to him, and I think he´s in one of the areas that require a 10 hour boat ride to get there,some some letters will probably be a little late getting to me. We also had 2oooo, count it, 2 baptisms this week! It was the first baptism that I lead, which was cool. After the baptism, I tried to thank everyone for coming by saying "Obrigado por vindo" (Thanks for coming, literally) but I don´t think that makes sense in portuguese so I kinda said it like "Obrigado por.... vindo...." and I whispered it, haha! FUNNY! One baptism was of a woman named Leila, who is a little bit bigger than the baptismal clothing can fit so we had to delay the baptism for an hour while we waited for someone to bring bigger clothes, hehe! And the other of a 16 year old girl named Carla. The baptism of Leila is cool and all, but the baptism of Carla feels like such an accomplishment. Elder Inácio said that he has been teaching her for 3 month with his other companions. So, this week was pretty darn good. We also watched a little of the dedication of the Minaus Temple, which was cool, but the part where everyone waves the white cloth was a little weird to me. Anyways, good week! 

I also learned about the next transfer, which is tomorrow. I will be transferred to Castanheira...oh wait I´m already in Castanheira, never mind. But my companion will be transferred to Castanheira... but he´s already there too... never mind no one is transferred this week. But that was just about the fastest transfer ever, of the 3 transfers that i´ve been in the mission field. And now the bad news.... I forgot the cord that connects my camera to the computer, so no pictures this week. Sorry :/ I do need to send some photo´s to the mission office later today, because I forgot the cord, so I will return to the cyber today, and maybe I can sneak some pictures home super quick. We will see. Again, sorry! :( 

So, in response to your e-mail: Have fun in Jackson Hole Mom and Dad! I´m glad you liked my letters and it made you cry. That will be my intent EVERY TIME! so EXPECT IT!!!... hehe. Interesting stuff about the packages. Don´t worry about the money but the fact that you can´t send beef jerky.... *sniff**sniff* upsets me greatly...hold me? okay now tickle my back... Anyways, enjoy your last summer David, I hope you get the job Em. BOA SORTE!!!! 

What did you do for your service project that made you late in e-mailing us last week? I sanded a wall, and painted it white... 

Do you keep a fan blowing on you all night to keep the bugs away? Yes. I´ve been having difficulty sleeping. I keep the fan blowing by my feet but every night I switch the side of the bed I put my head on while i´m sleeping and my bed sheets get messed up every time. There was one night I had a dream that a spider was in my bed so I stood up and started shaking my bedsheets while standing on one foot. I think I did it twice. HAHA! 

Do you use the bug spray I sent with you? yeah, i had to buy more, but the bugs don´t bother me too much as long as I use the fan. Elder Kaufman gets bugged so much by the mosquitoes, it almost looks like he has leprosy on his hands. 

Have you gotten the last package I sent with the wart medication? no 

How's your toenail? The one that was bothering you a while back? I think it´s okay for now. 

Does everyone in Brazil have TV's like we do here and are movies big there, too? yeah, but they don´t have movie theaters, so they sell a bunch of movies on the street. They are already selling movies that were in the movie theater last month. interesting. 

Anyways that's my e-mail, gotta go now. I love you all, hope you enjoy this week. Stay safe and I will talk to you again next Monday. 

Tchau! Love, Elder Williams!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week Twenty Five - Walk, Walk, Walk, Teach, Teach, Teach....

So excited that Tom finally sent some pictures from outside of the MTC!

*you hear something in the distance, slowly getting louder*
vroom vroom, chugga chugga, vrooooom, vroooooom, honk-honk! eeerrerrrrererrr!
It´s Elder Williams! Woah!
  Sorry my e-mail is so late. I hope everyone had a good week. Mine was pretty good. My allergies weren´t too bad this week. They didn´t bother me during the day but in the morning I´m usually sniffing. I think its because the fan is blowing in my face all night. Anyways, the rest of the week is kind of a blur. We had another baptism, which makes that 3 in a row, so that´s cool, and I think we´ll have another one this week, maybe 2. My mind is just drawing a blank right now. All I do is walk, walk, walk, teach, teach, teach, and walk some more, so I can´t tell if that time that I walked a lot (every day) was this past week or the week before. I did receive the packages from Grandma Pratt and the Hootons, thank you very much for those. The drawing paper from grandma was unexpected, but cool. It´ll probably last the whole 2 years though, with the little amount of free time I have.
   Good News Everyone, I´ve invented... no I didn´t invent anything, but I will be 25% of the way done with my mission next week. We had a service project today, which is why I´m e-mailing so late, with a bunch of the other elders and 2 sisters of my zone, and one of the elders pointed out to me just how fast those 1st 6 months went by. He also said I´m going to have a hard time getting the language down completely if I don´t start talking more, which is challenging because thinking of things to say is not something I`m good at. My mind is either thinking of music or it is blank... also my companion talks a lot, so I don´t have room to say something anyways. But yeah, that was my week.
        My response to your e-mail is coming in 3-2-1.... now!
Thanks for updating me on the money I´m still making. Congratulations Em and David! Schools out for EVER!!! The pictures are great, but kind of make me wish I was there. I hope you didn´t miss me too much at your special events. I know how much better I make everything but I´m in Brazil now, I can´t make it, sorry :/ But I´ll be sure to remember what Bruce Bastian said. Stop pushing me to work for you Dad! lemme do what I want! No, I won´t join the army when I finish my mission! What do you mean why? Ugh! I don´t have time for this *slams door*.... okay then.
Do you have to take pills for Malaria?  Are there mosquitoes where you are at? nope, I have not received any pills against malaria, but mosquitoes are everywhere. My companion has one of those electric tennis rackets, which are fun to use.

Any packages or letters show up this past week? read above

Em wants you to send a picture from the area you are in right now! NO!!!

Have you been taking the vitamins I sent you? YEAH!

Have you eaten mangoes?  Everyone says the mangoes down there are wonderful! I can´t remember, sorry.
        Pictures this week. Me and president and sister Campos. This month is their last. From what I hear, he was an excellent president. Before he arrived the church was growing very slowly hear, but the success of the mission skyrocketed after. The rest are of the house of my first area. I was going to send more but my companion is using my camera right now. He doesn´t have one so when he wants a picture he has to use mine.
Okay, that´s all for this week. I love you all and miss you, can´t wait to talk again. And you were right mom, this week went by really fast. Hopefully they just get faster, and faster, and faster, and faster, and faster, and faster, and faster.... and faster. Okay! Tchau Tchau!
Julio, Tom and Elder Reis, Tom's first companion in the field.

Tom's first kitchen in Belem.

Tom's first apartment in Belem.

Tom's first apartment in Belem with the skinny hallway.

Tom's first desk at his apartment in Belem.

Tom's bedroom at his first apartment in Belem.

Tom and President Campos and Sister Campos.
Love Elder Williams
and faster, and faster, and faster, and faster

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Westminster College Graduation

Wow, what an emotional (and busy) two days we had!  Emilee graduated, with honors, from Westminster College on Saturday, June 2, 2012.  The day started out with a graduation brunch at the beautiful Westminster campus.  The ceremony was held at The Maverick Center.  I had never been to a college graduation before, and I was really impressed!  Emilee graduated with a BS in Aviation Flight Operations and a minor in Airport Management.  She worked so hard to obtain this degree and it was an extremely difficult degree to obtain.  She became a licensed pilot rated up to a multi-engine rating.  She survived extremely hard math, science and physics classes as well as took numerous liberal arts classes that broadened her knowledge and outlook on the world.  She is one of the smartest people I know and we are so proud of her and of all her hard work!  Emilee's goal is to get hired on at Salt Lake International Airport and start a career in airport management.  She did a five month internship there and has an excellent chance of getting hired on in the next couple of months.

Me and Em in front of Converse Hall.
Em and Dave in front of Converse Hall.

Em before graduation.

My happy graduate!
Davey and Emmy!

Em and Richard after the ceremony.

Proud parents!

Grandparents and Emilee.
While sitting through the graduation ceremony yesterday, it really made me realize how important and exciting education is.  I was so impressed with the number of students graduating and of their accomplishments.  They all had worked so hard and you could tell how excited they all were to finally graduate!  The students receiving their masters degrees were older, for the most part, and that really made me want to go back to school and finish what I started so many years ago.  It is exciting to learn and it's too bad we often don't realize that until later in life.  Even Emilee said it made her want to maybe go on and get a masters degree at some point. A college degree is a monumental accomplishment and I am so proud of my daughter for hanging in there and getting to the end!  Way to go Emilee!  We love you!  Thank you for a wonderful day!

2012 Cottonwood High Graduation

David getting ready to walk to receive his diploma.

David wanting to get rid of his cap!

David and Grandma and Grandpa Williams and Grandpa Pratt.

The family.

David and his good baseball friend, Mark Solorio.

David and his good friend Zack.

David and his long time friend Ely Hansgen.

David and his life long best friend Landon Lambert.
He did it!  David graduated on June 1, 2012 with high honors from Cottonwood High School!  David graduated in the top 10% of his class with a Diploma of Merit.  He has worked so hard the past four years and we are extremely proud of him.  This past year has been grueling as he chose to take honors and AP classes instead of taking it easy his senior year.  Because of the caliber of classes he has taken his entire four years, he will be able to receive the Utah Regent's Scholarship, which was implemented when David was a freshman and his class is the first class to be eligible.  His hard work will also pay off in what he has learned and the skills he has developed as he moves on to college.  He is graduating with three college classes completed, two of them college math classes.  David also played baseball for Cottonwood and learned the value of hard work and the reward of team work.  He has made wonderful friends that I hope will last a lifetime.  Because of his participation in baseball, we have also made some wonderful friends that we will cherish forever.  David had an amazing ride through high school, being active in all of the activities that were offered.  He was crowned Home Coming King and made numerous new friends along the way.  I am so looking forward to his adventure for him when he moves away in the Fall and will attend Utah Valley University and will live close to campus.  We will miss him like crazy, but know we can visit him any time!  I know he will continue to accomplish great things and make us proud.  He is an amazing boy and we love him so much!