Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our tentative plans!

Monday is Ulises big test day! He will be taking the GRE exam for entrance into a PhD program in Civil, Marine and Structural Engineering in the states. He is graduating from the Politecnic University of Catalunya this summer and now he is applying to study for a PhD in Universities like California Irvine, Texas A&M, Colorado University in Boulder, BYU in Utah, University of Deleware  and... another one that he hasn't chosen yet. Maybe he will send out applications to a few other places but these few are where he has set his sights. (because  either their programs are great or because there are generous scholarships available to Spanish citizens)

Honestly, It's a bit scary for me to mention it because there is the possibility that we make all these plans to move back to the USA and start a new chapter in our lives only to be rejected and stay in Spain another year or so. But I wanna put it out there so you all know what we are planning on and to give you the opportunity to pray for us if you  need someone to pray for.

I am really proud of Ulises and all the hard work he has been doing. He has had a really good year academically. He is doing well in University trying to get his final project and thesis and final classes completed. Next semester he will student teach a few hours as well! In addition to his responsibilities at school he had been studying for the TOEFL ( English language exam for entrance into US universities) which he rocked, and also has been studying for the GRE which he will take tomorrow.

And he is in the Bishopric at church...

And he teaches early morning seminary 4 days a week....

Not to mention his needy wife that he is so good at taking care of.

I am doing pretty well. I am bringing home the bread while Ulises does.... everything else. I have been given better ($) English teaching jobs this year, and many of them are actually legal. It's an interesting erm...'system' here. Even though I am legal to work, some of my employers pay me under the table for half of my hours because they don't wanna pay my taxes. I can argue with them about it and lose my job, or I can take what they give me. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do in such an environment.

Some nights I teach class until 9:30 at night. I get home around ten, stuff my face with food, sleep for a few hours before I have to catch my morning train at 6:45 am. Not my favorite thing to do. But this year I am working for more money and only work 2 Saturdays a month instead of each Saturday. It makes a big difference in recuperating over the weekend! This year's schedule certainly does have its pros and cons but luckily I can support our family with my one income and Ulises can study and concentrate on these next few important steps. We have always been able to clothe, feed and shelter ourselves and we are so grateful for that!

We also feel blessed to have scraped enough money together to go to Uruguay this Christmas! Ulises dad is already there and his mom will fly down a week or two before we do. They are helping clean and sell their properties there and move the grandparents to Spain where the whole family is. Ulises grandparents are so old and really need help and care as they advance in years. So Ulises and I will go there December 17th - January 9th and help with that process of moving and also enjoy probably one of the only opportunities to go to Uruguay. Ulises hasn't been there in 7 years. He has friends to see and places to visit! AND I GET TO CELEBRATE MY BIRTHDAY ON THE BEACH EATING CANTALOUPE. I don't know if I will ever get that opportunity again!

By the time we return it will be back to the daily grind and also the Grad school acceptance waiting game.

Before we come back to the states *fingers crossed* my sisters Rachel and Liz and my cousins Carynn and husband Scott will come and visit us here in Barcelona. So if you want a  free couch to sleep on and enjoy a free tour by yours truly, Plan your trip here before next summer!

And just because no blog post is complete with out some pictures-- enjoy some of our family Photos from October! Courtesy of Johnny!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The First British Pageant!

I know there are probably many other things I could update you on. But let's skip all that and talk about THE BRITISH PAGEANT!

At the beginning of the year I had a facebook friend, who has been involved in many church productions in Utah and Nauvoo, IL, share a link to a website that explained that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints would be staging its first Pageant outside the USA. The pageant would take place in Preston England and it would share the story of the British converts to the church. I also knew it would have something about some early Martyrs and reformers. Although I didn't know much about the production, I decided to send in my application. It's true that I am an American and Ulises is a Spaniard and we really have no business being in a pageant for Britian, but I felt that I wanted to  at least try applying. I wanted Ulises to experience some of the same joy I had experienced doing pageants for the church back in the states. I participated in Savior of the World, ( At the conference center theater in Salt Lake City) and also dipped my toe in the Nauvoo pageant performances before they were taken over to Nauvoo, IL. And I knew this project would have the potential to be just as life changing. I wanted to share something like this with my husband

In February Ulises and I were told that we were accepted to be participants in the Pageant. Well, I was given the good news and then I told Ulises what I had done and how we had been accepted. I told him WE WILL GO! I have such a great husband. He agreed with no problems! While living here in Europe we could choose to spend our vacation time and money traveling around the south of France, In Italy or in big cities like London ( in fact, when we first told people we were going to England they automatically assumed London). But we chose to not take a relaxing sea front or resort vacation. We chose to roll up our sleeves and go put on a large scale pageant in a small city in the north of England.  Why? Because we knew it would change our hearts and hopefully the hearts of others who would see it.

Best. Decision. Ever
We were there for 10 days. 7 days of rehearsals and 3 days of performances. We had working days that began at 9:00 in the morning and concluded at sometimes 11:00 at night. Other members of the cast and crew were required to pull longer days. The choreographers were running around giving directions to almost 200  amateurs. I think it must have been something like herding cats. The directors were blocking and then changing scenes. The stage was still being painted and the lights were still being timed when we put on our first dress rehearsal in front of an audience. But it was a true miracle! A couple hundred volunteer workers and performers  had successfully put on a large scale pageant!  And with a blink of an eye we performed our last performance and took a plane back home to Barcelona.

It was like a dream!

Its so hard to explain what took place during those 10 days. I kept a personal journal to keep track of my feelings. I recorded how the spirit of the Lord entered my heart strongest when the Missionaries entered the stage during the Finale. I wrote and expressed my absolute gratitude and awe for the many  martyrs and reformers who provided the way for the Bible to be translated into English and who gave their lives for the word of God to be accessible to everyone. I also gained a stronger witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. My journal is full of the names of Modern day pioneers from the British Isles who I grew to love and admire while working along side them. I met Scots and Welsh and many varieties of English people. They were all so lovely. We all became  friends almost instantly and there was a love and a bond between all of the people dedicated to this project. Many times we would describe our community as Zion--one in heart. And most importantly my journal has recorded how my testimony of Jesus Christ has grown. He is our Redeemer. During the final scene the stage is full of the entire cast singing the Hymn  "Redeemer of Israel". We stood there as cast members, shoulder to shoulder, looking into the eyes of the audience while testifying through song that Jesus is our shadow by day and our pillar by night (a reference to the Old Testament, how God led the Children of Israel to the promised land) and that he can and will redeem us. Of all the wonderful things that were portrayed on stage, the most important message we gave to our audience is our knowledge of Jesus Christ role in our lives. I feel so grateful to have been able to share my testimony and let my light shine. I feel so blessed to have added a little oil to my own lamp and be better prepared for difficult times in the future.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is happiness my friends. It teaches what we need to do to get peace in this life. I feel so privileged to have shared this good news in this spectacular way.

Please watch these two videos to understand why the pageant took place. They aren't too long 5-10 minutes in length.

(you can see Uliess and I dancing in this one!)

And enjoy some pictures taken by myself and some friends

Stick pull with our friend Samuel

We found this car while wandering around town. Ulises couldn't be kept away!

These little girls were CRAZY!! playing with the fan one night in the greenroom. We love them!

Neil and Ulises with sweet Rachel

Ulises with Lauren. The cute little tornado.

Part of Downham

I loved the lights on site.

My friend Liesel

Our friend Cameron and his parents took us to beautiful sites nearby

It's Neil!

Old school. Except the color of the yarn is totally not 19th century.

The Preston Temple

Ulises and Niel and me

giving out old fashioned sweets to the kids at the pre-show activities

In the "green room" (tent) out back. I love you Amy

Rehearsals were always fun. And our matching clothes were simply coincidental

This was when we arrived at the liverpool airport. Our excitement cannot be contained!

In the small town of Downam. This site is historically significant to the church in regards to British converts

The Pageant Theater. it held 1800 audience members!

 and then these professional photographs taken by our talented Photographer Marie Barber.
Showcasing the reformers during the Finale

Ulises and I trying to dance

Part of the Scene when the ship goes up. It was a lot of fun

The Preston family. We were grouped with them for the production and we love them so much!

Some of the actors being quite animated. They all did very well

I just thought this was a sweet picture. 

Remember when I said the Coreographer was trying to manage all of us amateurs? Well this is the result of her hard work ( she did, however, say that she had fainted with joy)

Approaching the activities and Pageant Theater


Preston town square dance


You can see me and part of Ulises eyes in this picture. Singing our hearts out!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Year ONE

This Photo was taken about a year ago at our Temple sealing (Marriage). Right before Ulises and I really started our lives together. One year really does go by so quickly.

I had NO idea what I was getting into! 

But I mean that in the best way.
I have learned many important things from my sweet husband in the one year that we have been married. 
First, I didn't realize I married an angel. Now to many of you that might seem feminine but the more I think about Ulises and his spirit and who he is, I see that he is an angel on earth and I am so grateful everyday for that. This world is saturated with men who feel that they must prove themselves through their  physical strength, intelligence, abilities, accomplishments or money. My Ulises spends his time smiling and serving others, being sweet and gentle with children and babies, serving in our church with joy, dedicating himself to his studies, and laughing and enjoying the beauties of life. He is so gentle, kind and giving. He is a true friend to many and a shining example of meekness and kindness. He makes me and my happiness his priority. I am so blessed. Our world could use more men like Ulises.

And for fun, let's list some things that we have learned about each other through this first year of  marriage:
  • Ulises think's I don't know how to brush my teeth. Last time we were at the dentist and he asked them if brushing in circles was ok ( the method I use) because he was sure it was wrong. We were told my method was just fine. 1 point Mary!
  • Ulises leaves the milk out ALL THE TIME. 
  • He hates it when I try and "force" things open or closed. He is constantly reminding me to look and see how something functions or if something is blocking the way. And it's true. sometimes I just want to rip things open without seeing how it works first.
    • which often leads to me using my teeth to open things, which he also hates
  • Ulises likes separate courses, seperated food, and presentation in cooking ( I guess all that time waiting at restraunts is rubbing off on him) I prefer to make casseroles ( I grew up in a mormon community in Utah, that's how we eat!)
  • He is a really good cook.
  • Ulises doesn't trust me with some household chores. We have a new wood floor in our apartment and he doesn't let me mop it cause he is afraid I will damage the wood. This is both good and bad. Good because I don't have to do it! Bad because it takes him forever to get around to it.
  • I talk in my sleep. The first two times it was rather frightening because both times I mentioned knives. Another time I suggested that Ulises could have been eaten by puppies.

So let's look at some pictures, shall we?

June 21st 2013. Our anniversary dinner ( lunch) at a Moroccan Restaurant! It was located in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona and it was very delicious. Ulises phone has other pictures... hmm
This is a wreathe I made for our front door. Our friends Katy and Nathan  have an "I" on their front door to their home and Ulises was always jealous. So I took the first letter of our surname and made this wreathe! You can't believe how many different stores I had to go to to get the materials. And while I was running around town to get the materials half the shops closed for Siesta! SO FRUSTRATING. Give me Hobby Lobby!!

This is the other gift I gave Ulises for our Anniversary along with the wreathe. It's a photo album full of pictures of our first year together. I know we have  a lot of them online but I think I want to PRINT some each year to have something tangible to look at. It's a different experience flipping through an album.

And Ulises got me this lovely charm bracelet! It was a complete surprise and I LOVE it! It is a perfect first anniversary gift because we can add on to it each year. So thoughtful! The first three charms he chose are a graduation cap, our wedding bands, and our motorbike!
This is the cake topper from our Wedding Reception in Spain. Ulises' aunt Claudia made it. It was even better after one year! We will eat our other cake topper next time we visit the states--it is sitting in my sister's freezer in Utah.  I am excited for that one, too!

Ulises prepared a lovely picnic for us once he finished his last University exam! He then took us to the Natural History and Science museum. Having him out of school has made our lives so much happier! I love the extra time he has.

he bought a papaya and we both HATED it.

preparing to eat our picnic
This is BBQ lamb that we had at a family BBQ. last week

And this? Well I just bought a new swimsuit and was excited about it so I wanted to show the blogging world.... heheh

And now just a couple pictures from our wedding one year ago. Time has flown by and I am so happy I married this wonderful sweet boy. You will notice that he had a beard in the wedding pictures and now he is baby faced. He and I both prefer the beard but his current work requires him to shave. Once he can, he will grow that beard back! I look like a cougar now that he is so baby-faced!

 So here's to one more year with this wonderful man! We hope for many happy memories in the next year. But I know this first year will be especially memorable.