Thursday, October 22, 2015

Surprise! An Update!

Surprise!!!  Don't fall over from a heart attack!  I actually am updating my blog!!  I have been on a new educational adventure for the past year or so.  I am in a program to get my Educational Technology Endorsement!  I have been taking classes to enhance my teaching with technology.  In April of this year, I will finish! I received a class set of Chromebooks a few weeks ago and my students love them!  We were surprised our first night of class this year in August with this gift!  Here is a photo of my colleague and I finding out about our Chromebook gift!

YEA! Chromebooks rule!

Here we are as of June 2015!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paulino and Sara

     Let me introduce you to our nephew Paulino and niece Sara.  They are currently attending college in Maputo, Mozambique.  Paulino attends one of the best universities in Maputo, Eduardo Mondlane University.  It is extremely difficult to get admitted your freshman year.  We were so amazed and proud of Paulino to be one of the few freshman granted admittance.  One has to take entrance exams and score really well to even be considered admittance.  They only have one admittance date per year.  They also limit how many students will be admitted making it very difficult to get in.

      Paulino wants to be a lawyer.  He is working and studying so hard to accomplish this goal.  He lives about 30-40 miles away from the university.  So, he gets up early to catch the bus from the village which takes him into the city.  He then has to make several transfers before finally arriving at school.  He is determined to "clep" out of some classes so he can get through school quicker and avoid the year end exams.

Here are Paulino and Sara wearing some new clothes Marcos brought with him last time he went.

Below, is Paulino on his way to school.
 Sara is one year older than Paulino and she is attending a community college in Maputo.  She is also a freshman.  We promised her and Paulino that once they passed their finals to get their highschool diploma, we would help them go to college.  Sara wants to become a nurse.  She was unable to get into Eduardo Mondlane.  She wants to try again next year.  In the meantime, she is taking her studies seriously so she can make a future for herself.  She too must take several buses in order to reach her school.  We are so proud of both Paulino and Sara for striving to improve their lives through education.  Education is the only way out of poverty for these kids.  They will have such a bright future because of the education they are working so hard to attain.  
This is Sara (left) with one of her friends

     We just learned last week about the need for a computer for both of them.  Paulino is not able to get into the lab because it is reserved for 3rd and 4th year law students.  Sara has been photocopying materials because she has no computer access.   I have some amazing family members who are helping us with their tuition and we are now going to ask if anyone else would like to help us get them a computer and some money for bus fare.  I wish I was made of money and could do it all on my own.  Tuition is what we planned on in our budget and having this extra need makes it difficult for us to come up with the additional money.  So, if you would like to send a donation of any amount, you can email  me at or send me a message on Facebook and I will let you know where to send it and who to make the check out to.  I will also do a follow-up post with pictures of them and their computers once we have enough.  Thanks so much for being such great people and please be thankful for the wonderful country in which you live!
This is Marcos' brother Bernardo with his wife Celeste and Paulino, Sara, and Catarina and her little girl.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My how time goes so quickly these days!  Just a quick post to let you know what I have been up to besides all the wife and motherly daily duties...I have completed my Masters Degree!  I am thrilled about accomplishing this lofty goal! 

Thanks to my amazing and supportive family!  I could not have done this without their encouragement, support, and flexibility!

 This is what happens when your 3 year old decides she wants to take the picture!

Now, to all those who want to do something but haven't...don't wait, go and do it today!

Friday, February 17, 2012

For the LOVE!

The month of February is one of our favorites! I enjoy celebrating our love for each other! This is our second year using our cute little personalized mailboxes for "love notes" for each other. We also love Valentine's Day! Getting creative making v-day boxes is oh, so fun! Here are some highlights from our Love month so far!

We started out with a Family Home Evening on Love reading scriptures and talking about how we can show love to others. We played a game with my lip pillows. We said, "I love Mama because she is a good cook" and then we would throw the pillow to that person and they would take a turn and say something they loved about another family member and so on for as long as they wanted or until it became too silly! Briel said she loved Papa because he slept in his own bed!

In another FHE lesson, we made each person a love wreath with cut out construction paper hearts. On the hearts we wrote why we loved that person. Each person collected their hearts and glued them onto their cut-out paper plate wreath form, added some ribbon, and hung them in their rooms!

Briel assembling her wreath...somehow she managed to strip off all her clothes before we were finished with our project!

Her finished product.

Zaquel hamming it up with his wreath.

Isabel with her wreath.

Isabel with her i-pod valentine box. Get the info to make your own at Family Fun.

She made a mini version for her classmates with conversation heart in a box and Reeses peanut butter cups for the ear buds. Apparently, they were a hit!

Zaquel and I made his own version of the "super hero" valentines floating around blogland. I liked his because we actually used the real logos of the super heroes. Here is a free printable version.
Briel wanted a picture too...when she starts school she will have her own valentines...or so that is what she tell us! ;)

We also love giving valentines to our friends. Here is one Zaquel gave to his friend Collin. It says, "You are the best friend to Collin from Zaquel. He went and did this on his own with no help from me! I just think it is so adorable! You have to know that Collin is 15 and has babysat for us many, many times! He is so great to include Zaquel in whatever he is doing! He goes out of his way to say "Hi" to him and make him feel important! We love you Collin!

Hope you are having a great love month!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


One of our 2011 highlights was Marcos going home. He went in March and was there for two weeks. This meant me being home with three kids by myself for 14 days! I know many, many women do this daily and I am so glad I don't have to! Kudos to these mommies and I hope their families appreciate what they do for them!

This trip was long overdue. It was in 2000 after we graduated college that both of us went to Mozambique. The kids have grown-up, streets are cleaner and paved, and the country is still just as gorgeous as ever! Marcos' main idea was to find him mom and reunite with her. The last time he had seen her was in 1993. So we were hopeful if he went back to where he was born, he might find her there.
After a very long flight (22 hours), not including a few hours of layover, Marcos was greeted in South Africa by his younger brother Micas who our son was named after. Micas' African name is Zakeo and Marcos came up with Zaquel after his brother. His flight didn't leave until morning and so they had all night to catch up!
Here is Belinha, Micas, Marcos, Bernardo, and Lorenco. Five of the seven siblings. The pictures of the other two will come later. Love this photo so much!

Here are some of our nieces and nephews. They were so happy to see Tio Marcos but they all wanted to see Tia Mandee more! Last time, I scared Melita because of my white skin and camera. She cried every time I came around! I am sure she doesn't remember, she is the tall one with the red flower on her shirt. She was just a baby then!

One of Marcos' brothers had this well built on his land so they could have access to water. Before it was built, they had to walk to the nearest water hole and carry it by hand, actually on their head, with buckets back home. They did this everyday. Sometimes 3 or 4 times! We are so blessed to have clean water!

Here is Rita, Marcos' older sister. She had come from a distant province to see her long lost brother!
This is Marcos' younger sister Belinha. Marcos really wanted to see her also. She has AIDS because of an unfaithful husband and she had been very sick last year. If you recall, she became a member of the LDS church in 2010. This was such a blessing to her!
More cute nieces sporting new clothes! Marcos had brought 3 huge suitcases full of clothes and shoes for everyone. We got their sizes ahead of time and were able to save and gather clothes for them prior to his trip. Shoes are quite a luxury there and it was so fun for them to each get their own pair!
This is the stove meals are cooked on every day. Marcos took a picture of the kettle because it is the same one used when he was a boy. He was flooded with memories when he saw it!
Marcos and Micas making a little peanut flour for dinner. He had forgotten how hard it was!

Marcos needed to rest, so our niece Sara, took over.

The Indian Ocean. It is so beautiful and serene. This picture does it no justice! Maybe it's because it was taken while Marcos was on a bus! LOL!

After a brief family reunion of sorts, Marcos and his older brother Bernardo, headed out to their birthplace. Vilanculos, Mozambique. Here his family still owes several acres of land. This is where they thought their mom was.

This was expected to be a lengthy trip. It took a day and a half to get there. You could only go so far by bus then a local cab took them as far as they could. Then they were on their own by foot, in the dark, in the African Jungle. I had talked with Marcos everyday until they were traveling. There was no reception because there were no cell phone towers because they were really in the jungle! That is why they didn't know if their mom was still there because there is no way of communication that far away in such a remote place.
Bernardo and the local "cabbies".

Marcos on foot to see the rest of his family. The rugged terrain is why they had to go on foot, no roads in the jungle!

At dusk, a family saw them walking by and offered them a meal. This was it. Marcos said it was mafura (some kind of fruit). The locals find most of their food from the trees and bushes. There are so many different fruits there.

Marcos was able to reserve some of the clothing he brought for his family that lived in Chichocane, Vilanculos. Bernardo carried it on his head while they walked. They are really amazing! It's all about the balance and "feeling it on your head" I am told. It is still hard!

Marcos here with what appears to be a very, very wet shirt on. He tells me this is all from sweat! It was the dry season when he was there. Super hot and humid makes your shirt do this!

They made it! Yea! Here is where he was born and raised!

They have found home at last and the coconut trees!

The long lost brothers! Marcos with the Eldest brother George. You can see the scars on his face quite plainly here. Mozambique had a brutal civil war that lasted over 15 years. The rebels were everywhere shooting people and animals. George was caught in a battle and his scars are from the machete of the rebels. Marcos and his family all thought he was dead. When Marcos learned of this supposed death, he did his baptismal temple work. Then a months later, a letter arrived and it was his family telling him George was alive! Marcos was shocked to hear this and was concerned about the work he had done. His bishop told him not to worry it would be null and void. However, George had done a huge lifestyle change and stopped drinking and smoking. Marcos attributes this to his work being done! ;)

George and his oldest son.

Climbing for coconuts. Marcos has so many fond memories of climbing up similar trees when he was growing up! There is nothing like the taste of fresh coconut milk!

It was time to reconnect.

Marcos with one of his Uncles. One of the last brothers.

Taking time to remember Sebastiao, Marcos' father who passed away when he was about 14 years old.

His fathers grave after all these years and the horrible war, is still here. It was a solemn moment for them. Marcos and his brothers are planning to erect a more appealing and permanent monument for their father in the near future.

The homeland. Marcos remembers how this used to be abundant farm land which he and his family worked. Lots of people worked for his family when they farmed and many would come to seek help from his father. Now, after war, the landscape has changed. The house he lived in is no longer there. It is just "different" he said.

Another of Marcos' living uncles. The one on the right was mentioned earlier. The one on the left, was so excited to see him! We had made these photo books of our family to give to his family. He took one to the farm and presented it to his uncles. They couldn't have been more delighted to see what he had been up to the past 20 or so years!

One of the Uncles enjoying the book. He wanted to give Marcos something in return so he made him a fishing basket from palm leaves. We have it here in our home today and treasure it!

His uncle making the basket. Notice how green the leaves are? By the time Marcos got it home, they had turned light brown. They did not break however, they are quite pliable. Very ingenious!

More of Marcos' cousins. The girl you see here farms peanuts on their family land. She keeps very busy with the harvesting and planting. An interesting side note about her. Marcos found out during the war she was captured by the rebel forces and used as a spy and gopher of sorts. When they sent her for food and water one day she ran as fast as she could, never looking back and barely escaped them. I would love to go and meet and interview her! What stories she would tell!

Just look at her peanut crop! Amazing!

Here is what Marcos misses the most about home. CASHEWS! The nut hangs off the bottom of the fruit which is on the tree. Marcos says the fruit is delicious and the cashews are picked and cooked and enjoyed! He brought some fresh back for us and they were delectable! I do not like cashews usually, but these were too good not to try! Needless to say, they did not last long. Our kids loved them too! Marcos also loves to talk about how he was born under the cashew nut tree!
Cooked cashews ready to be shelled and eaten.

Ever wonder where the game Mancala came from? AFRICA! This game was played by adults and children alike for fun. Instead of colored stones, they use small shells and leaves.

The family of George and his son.

Marcos was disappointed to find out from his uncles that his mother was not living with them on their land any longer. After she returned to Vilanculos from Maputo (she was living in the city Maputo for a few years with one of Marcos' other brothers after his mission), one of her brother-in-laws wanted to marry her as was the custom for widows. She, however, did not want to marry him! So, she left! His uncles believe she moved to another village across the river named Kawane. If they wanted to go to this village, it would have taken 3 days on foot to reach it. Marcos did not have that time and the doctors told him to stay out of the water because of the diseases etc. So, he hopes his brothers can travel there and locate her so next time, he WILL get to see her! It is just very difficult to communicate with virtually no way of communication, no phones or mail etc. etc.

This is a cool picture of one of the houses in the village of his family. You have to duck when you go in or your head will be bumped!

A local villager in front of her home. Marcos said he felt bad for her because when it rained, it went straight through her roof. She had no one to help her fix it so it wouldn't leak during the rainy season.

Some boys who came for a visit toting a solar panel. They hooked it up to an old boom box and danced away! When the clouds covered the sun, the music was briefly stopped. Then as the clouds passed, the music began again!

A young nephew named Sebastiao, was so bright! Marcos visited with him and discovered his abilities. The sad part of this is that school out in the middle of no where only goes to the 5th grade. He will not be able to complete an elementary level education or excel at any higher education. He has to pay a registration fee and provide all the materials and books needed for each grade. This is very difficult for these people who don't make any money. People need to appreciate our education system in the US! It might not be perfect, but the opportunities exist for everyone! He is wearing one of his only two pair of shorts! The other pair is put away for special occasions. Love what you have because it's a lot compared to some!

Another example of how they use their "heads" in Africa. This woman walked 6 miles one way to get this water. She cannot use the river for obvious reasons.

After a few days of reconnecting with family, friends and his land, Marcos had to go back to Maputo for a few more days before his flight left. He and his brother were getting turned around so these cute girls showed them how to get to the place where a bus or cab would pick them up.

Aren't they adorable? Thank-you for helping out the lost men! The girl on the right is carrying water in a container made from hallowed out fruit. See, more ingenuity! Using what they have!

More local children sending them off. Behind them is a vacant market. Long ago, someone built it and actually sold things there.

More locals watching Marcos and Bernardo go back to Maputo. This lady is carrying sticks to make her house with.

When he returned to Maputo, Marcos was greeted by our nephew Zephanias. He was our guide around Maputo while we were there in 2000. He is married now with 3 girls. He works and lives in South Africa currently.

Marcos in front a mosaic display in the local market.

His brother Lourenco's home in Maputo. This is where we stayed back in 2000 as well as where Marcos stayed this trip. He has added on a few rooms since our first trip and is in the process of adding on an indoor bathroom. Most people have the stick shacks until they can save enough money to build a brick one like this. His brother is fortunate enough to work for the electricity company and he is one of two houses that has electricity in the whole village. A small black and white TV graces the dresser in the living room in their house. Lots of village children come to watch shows or news each night.

This is his brother Lourenco's first house. He has since built the one mentioned above and gave this to one of his former maids and her family.

Here is our sister-in-law Zaida (Micas) in front of her house with her daughter Melita and Celeste Lorenco's daughter. Celeste was about 3 years old when we were there! She has grown-up so much! She is now entering the 10th grade.

This darling little girl was a newborn in 2000! I held her skinny body several times throughout our first trip. She even peed on me more than once. They had a small cloth for a diaper and it was soaked through! She too has grown-up considerably! The saying is if a baby girl pees on you, your first baby will be a girl...well, it could be a coincidence or a true tale! Isabel is most definitely a girl!

Here are more of our nieces. This is how they carry their babies. A capulana is tied around the baby and person carrying it. This is how Marcos carried his younger brother and sister around when he was younger. It is part of their culture that the older siblings look after the younger ones. This is a perfect example of this! My kids think that the baby looks like Briel. I do see some resemblance in this photo...they are family you know!

Marcos with nephew Paulino and niece Celeste. Marcos was able to attend church there and brought Paulino with him. We were delighted to hear that a few months later, Paulino began meeting with the missionaries and was baptized in the summer of 2011.

Marcos with sister Rita and a nephew and nieces. The family had a celebration the night before Marcos left to return to the US. Everyone seemed to want one last picture with him!

Bernardo,Lourenco, and Marcos and yes, they have cell phones in Africa!

Sister-in-laws Zaida and Rosita. Rosita was pregnant with her 5th child. She had a boy in May of 2011.

More nieces and nephews. So cute!

Here is Paulino on his way to school looking so handsome in his uniform!

In front of the church property.
The church building. They are even equipped with air conditioning which is very needed! The church has come so far since it's presence beginning in 2000. We met in an old run down office building. The stench was horrible because of the ill-equipped plumbing and the heat was almost unbearable. They still own the property and will most likely renovate it when the funds are available.

Catarina doing the evening dishes.

Bernardo's wife, Celeste, daughter Sara, and granddaughter. (Marcos has forgotten her name.) Belinha is standing behind them on her home from church with her books.

Lourenco's family

Micas' family
Bernardo's family minus Zephanias.

Siblings Bernardo, Belinha, Micas, and Lourenco.

Marcos departing at the Maputo airport.

Marcos loved this statue at the airport. Lourenco is in front of it here.

Marcos was able to bring some fun souvenirs home including masks, jewelry, capulunas, lencos (handkerchiefs for wrapping the head) wall hangings, a piano and a drum.

Here is Isabel with her African shirt playing the drum.

Zaquel enjoying the piano.

We are so glad things went well on this trip despite not finding his mom. We know how blessed we are to live in the United States of America. May we all be grateful for EVERYTHING we have. Especially, the little things!

Kudos go to Marcos for taking all these amazing pictures! I warned him to take a ton since I wouldn't be there to do it! I even got him a new memory card to hold them! He did well! Please don't use any of these pictures without permission. Thanks so much!

If you are friends with me on FB you can go to my profile page and view some great videos. If not, here are the links on You Tube