Friday, June 29, 2012

Not Africa...

So with all the updating TJ's been doing on the blog, I've been slacking a lot. I haven't had a ton to update about anyway, but I still should have.

So first, here's a picture from Mother's day (I know, WAY back). The day before mothers day, my sister Jennie and I went to the Oakland temple with my Mom, and then went out to eat. It was so much fun! The oakland temple was so beautiful and had an amazing view of San Francisco.

These next pictures are just random one's of Steven and Tate (the little boy who lives above us). They are seriously best friends. Steven talks about him all the time! We can't even mention Tate's name anymore without Steven freaking out, asking to play with him. And it the cutest thing when he sees him coming down the sidewalk - he runs towards him, squealing and saying "Tate" over and over again. They even hugged "too hard" the other day, and fell down. It's pretty ridiculous, but I love it. And we love his parents, too, so it works out perfectly :)

These pictures are from Father's Day. That day was spent trying on TJ's helmet,
dancing to some music (though of course I couldn't get the video to upload), and hanging out and throwing a football in the park. I would say that's a good day :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This post is dedicated to the animals that we saw. The first set of pictures is from the Lion Park and the last set is from Kruger National Park. Again, these were taken by our photographer, not me.

The Lion Park

Me siting on a lion cub.
I believe these are white lions.
African Wild Dogs. These are some of the nastiest animals... Really mean.
This little giraffe was only 2 days old when the picture was taken.
OK, this was actually taken at the Johannesburg zoo. I just thought it was a funny picture.
 Kruger National Park
Can't remember what this is. 20 points to the first person who tells me. Hint: not an impala, I'm pretty sure...
This is a Kudu. It's my favorite of the antelope species.
They're so majestic. 
This is the most I ever saw of a hippo...
Most of the wildlife we saw was way off in the distance, like this guy. 
This is a giraffe.
The tour guide I was with told me that the warthog was the most beautiful of all the animals. He was dead serious.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Southern Africa Outreaches

When we went to Africa, we took along with us a photographer who's soul purpose in going was to take pictures of everything we did. He recently sent out an email to us that contained links to all of his pictures. I kid you not when I say that there were over 10,000 pictures of everything we did. I myself am in very few of those pictures, probably because I tried my best to avoid the camera whenever possible, and so searching through all of the pictures to try to find some of me was quite a difficult task. But I managed to find a few with me in them, as well as some great pictures of other things we did that I thought some of you might enjoy looking at. My plan now is to do a series of posts, so I can break up all the pictures into topics. Todays post is dedicated to the outreaches we did.

As I mentioned in my last post, our outreaches were mostly centered around getting to know the kids, playing with them, making them happy, and doing a little performance for them. These first few pictures were from when we went to the Sparrows Rainbow Village hospice for children and adults with HIV and AIDS. There were about 10 adults that lived there, but over 200 children that were there. Everyone there had HIV or AIDS, but most of the children were also orphaned because their parents  died of the disease. Before we went in, the guide we were with told us to not think of it as a sad and depressing experience, as most of us would have, but to see it as a really positive and uplifting opportunity for these kids. When the hospice started years ago, they had a death every few months or so. Now, with everything they've been doing to help the kids, they haven't had a death in 5 years. Out of all the orphanages we went to, the kids at this one were by far the most grateful, loving, and full of hope that we met.
A group of us playing what time is it, Mr. Fox?
Playing Chinese freeze tag
The performers singing some songs for all the kids at the end.
Saying "goodbye" to my new friends. Her name was Mbali, which means flower in Zulu.

We went for a day to Gaborone, Botswana. While there we visited the SOS children's orphanage. The kids there were by far the most crazy, rambunctious, and energetic we had met. 
2 against 1. They put up a good fight...
Trying to bring me down.
Watching the performers sing and dance with Sizani and her brother Sizwe.
Wandile came to join us.

One of our outreaches was actually an exchange with a local performing group in Pretoria. We taught them some songs and dance, and then we split up and got to work one on one with them to learn some great African songs and dances. I was able to get Sipho, their lead drummer, to sit down with me and help me with my djembe playing. It has always been a dream of mine to get a djembe lesson with a legit African djembe player. 
Perfecting my "slap" technique.
Working on my "open tones."

Each of us had brought a children's book with us that we were told would be donated to an elementary school and that we would get to read to a them.
Getting off the bus. They really made us feel like rock stars.
We all broke up into groups to read books to the kids.
My friend spencer and I got the best book of all... The Lion King! I read the narrations while Spencer did all the voices. We had a blast.

We visited the Children of Fire, a home for children who had suffered severe burns and didn't have money for the medical attention they needed. The lady who founded the Children of Fire has been able to get all of them the help they needed by convincing the doctors to help them free of charge. The sad thing is that about 2/3 of all the kids that have gone through the home were burned on purpose by their parents.
The boy on my knee is Charlie. He isn't burned, but is blind. He went to the same school as the Children of Fire.

These next few pictures are of a nursing home we went to. We talked with them and then sang songs with them. We sang a couple of African songs that we knew but mostly sang some of the hymns from our fireside. Although none of them were LDS, they all tried singing along with us. As we were leaving, one of the nurses, also not a member, stopped us and told us how she couldn't believe how the people there were affected by us singing with them. She said she saw some of them singing along with us that she never knew could even speak english! There was even one case where she saw a man singing with us who, in the whole time she had worked there, never knew he could even talk. It was a great lesson in the power of music and how it's the universal language.
Singing "Thula Sizwe" with Themba.

And here are a couple of random pictures.
Talking to some girls at a Youth Conference we put on.
One of the high schools we went to. I really felt like I blended in there. Can you even spot me?