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Maddie on a Two Wheeler

Maddie has been wheeling around for several months now on her bike with training wheels. On Saturday we decided it was time to try it without the training wheels. She took right off and never looked back. At four and a half years old, only Jake did it younger... Feeling a little old as my last child pedals off without training wheels. Do you think she had enough coaches telling her what to do?


Brett Arrives in Phoenix!

Brett made it safely to Phoenix. In addition to all of us--that we know he was dying to see--Aisling surprised him. See if you can figure out who he was more excited to see...


Romania Week 2

Sorry it's been awhile! I have had one crazy week and a half. It's hard to keep up on things because there is always so much going on. I have been to the hospital a couple of times, which was an amazing experience. The little girls that I played with were so sweet. One of the other girls went back a couple of days later and both of the girls that we had been with were gone. That really shocked me because I just assumed that they would be there for me to play with again. I'm not exactly sure where they went, but I'm assuming it was to an orphanage. I was kind of heartbroken but I understand that it's part of the process and that it's something I'm going to have to deal with. The second time I went I also worked with a little boy who looked about a month or two old. He was all bundled up in about 3 different sets of clothes. His name was Andrei and he was a very good little baby. He didn't cry once. Jocelyn and I were with him in his room and there was also two other mothers with their children and a girl who looked about our age on the other bed. She left and came back in and kind of gave us a weird look. We were worried that she might actually be the mom so we put the baby down and Jocelyn asked the moms if Andrei was her son. They looked at us and laughed and told us that he didn't have a mom. When the girl came in the moms told her what we asked because they all started laughing and looking at us. It was a little awkward because we didn't really know what they were saying but we knew they were talking about us. Better safe than sorry though, right? So every time we go into the rooms we change the diapers of the little ones with the diapers that we bring for them. We usually just hold them and play with them. I brought some toys with me and I love giving them away because the little kids love them. It is so much fun to see their faces light up over the littlest thing. Thanks Jeremy and Madison for helping me pack the toys! The ones at the hospital love the pin wheels! We haven't been able to get into the orphanage yet. There is a whole system that we have to go through to get approved to work in the orphanage. I had to turn in a resume and money to get it through. We were hoping that we would be able to get in this week, but so far we aren't. It's really frustrating to come here expecting to do something and then not being able to do it. We have had so much time to explore and do homework, which is great, but I can't wait to start a schedule and start working with the children.
Since we weren't able to get into the orphanage last week we decided to take a little trip to Brasov. Brasov is in the mountains of Transylvania and to get there we had to take a 9 hour train ride! We wanted to take a night train but they didn't have any going to Brasov so we settled for a day one. The train ride was pretty cool. It was my first adventure on a train for that long and I was so excited to see what it would be like. We took a taxi to the train station and then loaded onto the train. The train ride was so much fun and the countryside was beautiful! Romania is so pretty and I already have such a love for this foreign place. It's definitely where I am supposed to be. We arrived in Brasov around 8 and got into the hostel that night (my first time). It was different, but we had one room for all of us so I felt like I was getting eased into the whole sharing a room thing. We were busy for 2 full days touring old Brasov and the three castles that we visited. Some old man on the street told us in French that he thought we were very pretty. It was kind of sweet and made us all laugh. We got some great ice cream in the square and found our own way around the city. It's very empowering to figure out where you want to go and then to get there. The funniest thing was that Brasov had a Hollywood sign on the mountain, except of course it said Brasov. Definitely a tourist city. The second day in Brasov we went on a tour of three different castles. There were eight BYU girls, 2 Romanians (a brother and sister named Vasille and Elena) and two French girls both named Claire. Vasille and Elena were very helpful the whole trip. We climbed onto this bus/taxi and headed to the first castle. The ride was a bit bumpy (okay a lot bumpy) and I definitely saw my life flash before my eyes. But I'm still alive! It was it's own little adventure. Vasille and Elena spoke both Romanian and English and so translated whatever the driver said. It was really cool to get to know them and what there lives were like. We stopped for lunch and all 12 of us sat down together and ate great food and had great conversation. The castles were beautiful and all of them sat on hills overlooking a valley. It was a lot greener in the mountains too because of all the evergreens. So pretty! The first one was Peles, which belonged to the first king of Romania, the second one was Bran castle (also known as Dracula's castle), and the third one was Rasnov, it was more like a fortress. If you want to see pictures go to thefrees.com (thanks dad!). We made it back to the hostel a little later then planned, but our train didn't leave until 11pm so we had time to kill. In that time Vasille and Elena taught us how to make mamaliga (corn mush—surprisingly very good) and really really good scrambled eggs. It was a true Romanian dinner with true Romanians. The train back to Iasi was a night train and so we slept most of the way. When we got to Iasi all of us were still sleeping and the conductor guy had to come and tell us to get off. We were all in a hurry to get our stuff and get off and hoping that the train wouldn't start moving again. Overall the trip was awesome. I think it was good for me too because it made Iasi seem a little more like home.
I can't believe I have only been in Iasi for two weeks now. It feels like so much longer than that….and yet time is flying at the same time. It's weird how that works. The branch here is so great! I love every single activity (and there are a lot) and every single person. The branch president is absolutely amazing and the people are so warm and welcoming. Again, it's weird that I have only known them for 2 weeks, I feel so close to them. I received my calling last week to be a Sunday school teacher! Kind of overwhelming and definitely humbling. It's Sunday school for the adults and that kind of scared me too. To make it even better I am teaching marriage and family relations ☺. Haha, I definitely don't have any experience, but I have great parents as examples! I got set apart on Saturday night and it was truly a special experience. The missionaries and the branch president were there and having their hands on my head and feeling the power of the priesthood was very comforting. Blessings are great and I'm thankful it's the same anywhere you go. I taught for the first time yesterday and I think it went pretty well. I had a missionary translate for me. Let me tell ya, it's a lot easier to teach in your own language. I felt like I was repeating myself and I'm not sure if I got through to them. There was also only one person in the class who was married, which made it a little weird. But hey, for those of us who aren't married it's good to know what we should be striving for right? I'm just glad it's over and at least now I know what to expect next time. The members were great though, they participated a lot and I was so thankful for that.
So good news! We just found out that we got into the orphanage and that we are going to see it tomorrow! I am very excited! I can't wait to see what it will be like and to see the children. We still have to decide where we want to be placed which might be hard, but I'll go wherever the Lord wants me to be. Working with any of the kids will be a blessing. I better get some rest….big day tomorrow!

I love you all.
Xoxox
Cu drag,
Jess


Brasov, Day 2 Including Dracula's Castle!

Here are more pictures from Jess in and around Brasov. Also additional pictures got added to the slideshow from day 1, so if you checked them when they first went up, you may want to check them again.

Pictures from Brasov Romania

Jess is on a bit of a field trip doing some sightseeing--going to dracula's castle before she is done. Here is the first set of pictures. Click on the arrow to watch.

1/12/08 Romania

So I am online again...our new apartment has wireless!! It's a free one, and I had a feeling to check it tonight and I have it!! I am so excited!! This will make my life so much easier!
We have had a branch activity like every night this week starting on Wed. Wed and Thursday are Outreach. Friday we had a branch activity especially for us so that the branch could get to know us. It was so much fun. I really already love these people. They are so sincere in everything they do. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and the branch president said all he wants to do is to make the church bigger and take care of his little branch. Both of his children are mostly inactive and his wife lives in Greece working. She is a member too. What a hard life though and yet he wants to give all he has to the Lord. A guy that just recently got baptized said some of the same things. And you can tell they really mean it. Saturday (tonight) we went to meet with the branch prez so that he could give us our callings. I have been called to teach once a month in the sunday school!!!!!!!!!! Ah, scary right? I know it's the calling for me though. He asked me if I liked teaching from the scriptures and I said yes, and at that point I knew I was going to be called to teach. He said he had thought a lot about me and that this was the calling for me. The church is so amazing! I can't wait to go to church and to feel the same spirit I do at home. There are two sets of missionaries in Iasi. There is a senior missionary couple but they are going home on tuesday which is sad because I already really like them!! Well i love you and I'm glad your day was good!


First Pictures From Romania

First Pictures From Romania

Here are the first pictures from Jess in Iasi, Romania. Click on the arrrow for a slideshow. If it moves too fast, click on the pause button at the bottom for each picture. Sorry, new technology from Google. Haven't been able to turn off the auto replay.

Romania - January 8, 2008

Hi friends and family,
I have arrived safely in Romania! After a long and restless journey to Vienna, we took an hour and a half plane ride to the city of Iasi, Romania. What a shock. After waiting since April to come I am finally here and experiencing what I have learned about for the last 4 months. Crazy! Even thought the airport was an international airport, it was tiny. The plane just pulled up to the front of the airport and dropped us off. We had to walk down a ramp in the snow to get to the room where they checked our passports. After waiting in a line for a couple of minutes I was officially allowed to be in Romania. I had two huge bags that arrived with the plane and it was a joke trying to get them outside and past everyone else that was in the airport. It was snowing a little bit when we arrived and we had to wait outside until there were enough taxis to take 5 girls and their luggage to our apartment. Lets just say people were definitely staring :) Iasi is a pretty big city and not exactly what I was expecting. It's great though to finally be here. It's definitely different. My apartment consists of 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrroms, a front entry way, a kitchen, and a living room. It's kind of small but there is enough space for all of us to fit until they get a second apartment for us. The people here in Iasi look suprisingly well off which kind of shocked me because I was expecting them to look like they were stuggling or poor. I feel very out of place in my sweats and sweatshirts :) At least I'm warm!! The bread here is absolutely amazing and even the though the milk is kept on the shelfs in little carton containers I love it! I hope you are all well and I love you all! Thanks for all you do for me1

love jess


Jess in Romania - January 7, 2009

So I made i! The plane ride to Vienna was long but bearable, I can't believe I am finally here :) I sat next to an old lady who I assume was from Vienna, I couldn't understand what she was saying. She stole my seat though so I got stuck on the aisle. Nu buna especially since I wanted/needed to sleep. As you know they made me check my green bag which I was kind of upset about. I didn't want that thing to leave my sight. I love that bag! Anyway they took it and me and Katie both put our bags by the front door of the plane to be put below. We arrived in Vienna and we were all so tired and giggly. People were definitely staring at us. We weren't exactly following what we learned for the last four months. We weren't blending in, we were kind of loud because we were laughing, and we were so excited because it was the first time any of us had been in Europe (and now i'm living here, crazy). It was so much fun though and it felt good to laugh. We took a bus out to the runway to get on this tiny plane that only had 14 rows. Really though it was only 13 rows but they skipped the 13. funny. We arrived in Iasi!! It was snowing and there were lots of trees and the Iasi international airport is kind of a sad sight. Half of it is outside and it only consists of one room where our passports were checked. There was some sort of security guard asking us all weird questions. He asked me how many dollars I had and I told him 40 and he looked at me like I was lying. He asked another girl if she had 2 million dollars. Weird. We finally got out of the smoke infested room and went to get our luggage. I then learned that my green bag was missing. I wanted to cry. Katies bag came in but mine wasn't there. I reported it and it is supposed to come tomorrow, hopefully!! I hope it wasn't stolen. I wanted to be the first one out there to get my bag, but I had to wait in line to get my passport checked so I wasn't. I was the last. I am really hoping it wasn't stolen. Pray that I will get it. We took kind of a scary taxi ride throught snowy weather and slushy roads and a hill to get to our apartment. The house are very colorful and there are people everywhere. It almost reminds me of New York except that it is dirtier, not as big, and not as nice. It has some pretty run down buildings. Everyone I have seen is dressed surprisingly well. It's weird to see that because I thought that the people were struggling and poor. There are some nice cars as well. We went to the alimantara (supermarket), bought phone cards, and bought some bread. I am now at the internet cafe. It is pretty cold here but not as bad as i thought it would be. I hope my green bag comes because it had both sets of boots in it. Oh and it was a pain to get my baggage to the curb into a taxi and then up the street to my new apartment and then up the elevator which is really only big enough to comfortably fit 4 people. maybe. It has definitely been an adventure and so far a good one. I just hope my bag comes! I love you all and can't wait to here from you :) I'll probably be calling in a little bit so this will be a repeat.
xoxo
jess


First photos from Denmark!

First photos from Denmark!

Here are some pictures and a few movies Mike sent to us today. Yea! He also has some youtube videos of the fireworks on New Years in Copenhagen. He said "My amazingly great companion who knows everything about computers has a YouTube account and offered to upload some of the movies from New Years for you. So here are the links...if you would like...you could put your favorite on the family website...I don't know how to do that! "

Pictures
Movie 1
Movie 2
Movie 3
Movie 4


Wii response...

I had to share this video of the kids opening up the Wii on Christmas morning. Wow is all I can say! Talk about a hit.


Free4All's First Production!

With the help of Grandma and Grandpa Jamison we built a marionette theater and about 12 marionettes for Christmas. Here is the first production. Script was by Becca...watch the movie and you can see all the credits at the end. They did great!


Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii Wii

Ok, so for Christmas Santa only gave our family one gift, (now realize that mom and dad gave plenty, this is just from Santa) and that one gift contained a Wii!!! The best part of it was that we hadn't even asked for it, i mean sure we had voiced that we would like to have it, but that was a long time ago, and low and behold, we got it!!! We all now have our very own "Mii" characters and that includes my mom and dad! The whole family plays, but mostly the younger boys take over with all their friends. Dad is of course the master of all, he seems to know all the techniques that you need to do in order to win, and he wins all the time!!! (except in Boxing.....Ü) Daniel is the master Bowler because he has gone "pro", Andrew is pretty good at tennis,(i secretly think that it is because he is a lefty, but that is just me), Josh is pretty much good at every thing because he can laugh about it Ü, Melinda is great at all the mini games, and of course, Dad and Jopes are just Pro's all around with out even trying, mom,....well....of the few times that she has played it with me...she pretty much kick my trash at every mini game we played, and Adam, Adam loves to do bowling and this cow racing game, both of which he can beat me at too!!! Well, i thought that i would just inform you all on what is going on 24/7 at our house!! luv ya all!
Bec


Lauren's 12 Days of Christmas

We (Elizabeth, Mandy, Brandon, Marilee, Richard, Jordan, Jen, Audrey, Savannah) watched Lauren perform at the Scera Theater for her singing group, the Headliners. She did a great job, much better than my cellphone could capture. Anyway, enjoy within the limits of hand-held technology. :-)

Here is some cell-phone-video of the concert.

-Richard

click to see slideshow->

A Two-Edged Sword and the TSA

A Two-Edged Sword and the TSA

In Hebrews 4:12 it says that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” For at least a moment this week it appeared that the US Government agreed that the word of God could be a dangerous weapon.

Over the past several months I’ve gotten pretty good at getting through airport security. My first trip I lost my toothpaste because it was too big. I’m a quick learner. Thirty flights later I had maintained a perfect record of not hearing the dreaded words-- need a bag check! So I was surprised on Monday when the attendant with the blue surgical gloves pulled my roll-along off the conveyor and asked me to follow her.

“Please don’t reach over and take anything out of your bag,” she warned me as she began to unzip one of the pockets. “Is there anything sharp or dangerous in your bag?” she inquired, gingerly pulling open the first pocket. Nothing there but one pair of white running socks (and yes mom they were clean though they won’t be on the trip home). “Nope,” I replied and looked at my watch still wondering what had caught their attention.

By now a second TSA attendant had joined the hunt. In the next outer pocket they found a ballpoint pen without a cap. There was that one movie where a girl jabbed her kidnapper with a pen on the plane. Apparently these two hadn’t seen that movie because they skipped right over the pen.

As they flipped back the cover of the main compartment I was glad that I had packed my more private attire on the bottom of the bag this time. Clearly visible were my plaid pajama bottoms, a BYU t-shirt and my journal and scriptures that I had tossed in after using them the night before.

The attendant quickly found the suspicious item. Pointing at the scriptures, though being careful not to touch them, she asked, “What’s this?”

At this point I have to apologize to my missionary nephews, I know that I should have said, “In every dispensation God has called prophets. This book contains the writings of those prophets. It includes the writings of prophets that lived anciently here on the American continent. We call that portion The Book of Mormon. Would it be okay if I had two young men bring a copy of the book to your home to teach you more about it?”

Alas, all that came out was, “Those are my scriptures.” The attendant picked it up, unsnapped the cover and flipped through a few pages. The second attendant whispered, “It’s a bible!” The first attendant nodded professionally and placed the scriptures back in my bag with the rest of my decidedly unexciting stuff.

“You can go,” she said and waived me on with a weapon “sharper than any two-edged sword.”