Saturday, November 21, 2009

I am Thankful For . . .

Life is good ain't it? 'Tis the season to be grateful. Let's all express our gratitude, whether it be in a letter, a phone call, an email, or prayer. Bonnie D. Parkin said, “Gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it.”

Life can be super tough. I know many of us are going through hard times with this economy and other life situations. One of the most important times to show our gratitude, and also the hardest time—is during our trials. Trials are hard, especially when you are in the midst of them. It’s easier to look back and say you were grateful for the experience and learned a lot. But we need to be thankful DURING the trial and realize it’s only for our good; try to be grateful for the opportunity to grow. The Lord said, “Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.” And in Doctrine and Covenants 78:18-19 it says, “And he who receiveth ALL THINGS with thankfulness shall be made glorious.”

To be grateful during tribulation means to have a broken heart and contrite spirit, to be humble; to realize things you cannot change, willingness to turn everything over to the Lord—even when we do not understand. David O. McKay said, “We find in the bitter chill of adversity the real test of our gratitude…which…goes beneath the surface of life, whether sad or joyous.”

I hope we can all use this time of year to express our gratitude to our parents, friends, neighbors, leader, teachers, and especially to our God. Because life is beautiful isn't it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cape Town

We had a GREAT time in Cape Town, despite the record-breaking horrible weather the one week we were there. We were so excited for this trip because Ben hasn't had a day off for about 5 months and also because it's just such a cool place. It's always on the Top 10 lists of places to visit. We left Thursday afternoon and stopped halfway for the night in Colesberg at this awesome campsite:

We continued on our way and arrived in Cape Town around 1pm. The weather was a little overcast, but not raining so we headed to Boulder Beach in Simon's Bay to see the penguins. On the way we saw this restaurant. I wanted to stop, but Ben said no:

The little penguinos! They are so cute.

It was molting season, hence the funny feathers:

Little buddies:

After the penguins, we drove down to the very tip of Africa, to Cape Point. We hiked to the top to the lighthouses and out to the edge. It was incredibly windy, but so cool.

Where should we go next?

Baboons are crazy. They are so funny to watch.

We had some fun on the beach:

Saturday morning, I got THE FLU!! And it was raining and crappy. We had quite the bad luck. We had no idea that the rain would persist every single day of our trip...and we'd never get to break out our swim suits. I was feeling okay enough to go to the City Center and see some of the historical sites. Here is the Castle of Good Hope:

And the court house:

And an awesome bedazzled car:

The rest of the day, I was throwing up and achy....which wasn't fun. But the weather was so crappy that at least it wasn't sunny when I was sick. Sunday morning we went to church at the Mowbray ward, the very first chapel built in South Africa in 1917! It was pretty cool. Then quickly back to bed to recover.

Monday was supposed to be Table Mountain day, but it was always covered in dark clouds and raining, so we pushed it off, praying we'd get one good day to hike it. So instead, we headed to Hermanus (1.5 hours away) to hopefully see some whales. It's always been my dream to see one and I didn't think we'd see any...with our luck.

WRONG! We saw like 50 whales!

These are Southern Right Whales and they come to the South African coast from Sept-November to breed and then they take their babies back to Antartica. There were lots of babies and this one was ALBINO! It's the only one they've ever seen!

There were lots of fun restaurants right on the beach and we were able to have some good food while watching all of this breaching! It was amazing. And it was good weather here.

I love their tails.

We went down to these rocks and 6-7 whales came right up to us and were rolling around and doing funny things. We were so close!

It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Dream come true! When we went back to Cape Town, we decided to go up to Table Mountain and try to hike it. There were still clouds but the weather was only supposed to get worse. We decided to hike it and talked to some of the people coming down that said it was totally worth it and you could catch glimpsed through the clouds now and then.

It was the hardest hike! I still didn't feel 100% and it was straight up the mountain. It rained harder and harder as we got closer and the wind got so bad we had to get down and brace ourselves so it wouldn't blow us off the cliffs. When we were only 20 minutes from the top, lots of people were suddenly coming down and told us that the mountain was closed because the weather was too bad. And the cable car that we were planning on riding down was closed too. BUMMER. We had to turn around and walk all the way back down.

A cool pic of Table Mountain without any clouds. (from

Here was the view before the weather became crazy. Cape Town is known for having 4 seasons in one day. We'd wake up to blue skies and it would stay for about 20 minutes before it was dark as night and raining like crazy. I definitely prefer Jo'burg's weather.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we pretty much just chilled and relaxed. Ben studied hard for the GMAT (which he's planning on taking when we get back). The weather was just too poopy to do anything, we couldn't skydive or swim or anything. We were pretty disappointed...but still had a great time just being together. We did take some cards and hang on the beach a couple of times, but it only lasted about an hour before the weather got too bad again.

We left Cape Town on Friday morning to drive the Garden Route on the way home. We were hoping to leave the bad weather, but we seriously just took it with us everywhere we went. Even today being back in Joburg, it's overcast when it had been sunny previously. The Garden Route was really pretty, but it was hard to really enjoy the beaches with it raining. We stopped in Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Buffalo Bay, Knysna, and Plettensberg. We did a hike in Plettensberg to see these cute seals, there were 4,500 of them!

We stayed the night at a fun backpackers place called Starling Village where we got to play ping pong and turn down cocktails all night! We had skydiving set up for the next day, Saturday, and when we woke up it was the bluest skies of the whole trip. We were so excited, so we called but they said it was TOO WINDY!! Ah. We were so frustrated by this point. We decided to hang around and hope that the wind would settle down. It finally did around 1pm and they called and said "Let's do it!"

I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be. Bungee jumping was definitely scarier. I certainly had the butterflies and had many thoughts of "what if I die" .... but we LOVED it and are so happy we did it. Here's the beautiful view from above:

I didn't get super scared until the second he opened the door right next to me and I had to get my legs out on that But we went out so fast and were falling, it all went by in a blur. It was sooooo awesome. And when he pulled that chute, it was like heaven. We stayed up in the air forever because of the wind and it was just so quiet and peaceful with stunning views of the coast and ocean.

We got the DVD's which are so funny, but way too long to post on here. I'll figure out how to cut them down shorter and post them sometime. After that, we just drove the long 14 hours home and didn't get back till 4am. Overall, we had a great time and loved the last 2 weeks of being together. Ben's back to work now on a tough new case, but all is well. We're excited for my cousin Jared and his wife Tiff to come visit in 2 weeks!! And also--we are officially the new volunteer lion caretakers at the Rhino Lion Nature Reserve!! We are so excited. Our names have been on the list since we got here, so we can't wait to spend most our weekends there playing with the cubs (and feeding them meat and cleaning their cages and stuff). Pretty dang cool huh?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November the 4th of July!

So it's a special day to celebrate! We know this picture is a bit out-dated, but it's the only one we have on hand here in Africa :) It's fun to see how young everyone was back then and to see how small little Jonny boy was - this was obviously before he started his affair with the gym.

I don't know if anyone else has a birthday quite this special, I mean who else was born on November the 4th of July?!? When Peg was little she was so used to the "4th" being associated with "The 4th of July" that she always referred to her birthday as "November the 4th of July." Cute! This was when she was a little bert (as Ben and Jon would say when they were little).

Aunt Peg, we want you to know how much we love and appreciate you. You are a great person and someone that has always been there for Ben. He really appreciates your love, support, and friendship throughout his life. Plus, he says we need to be just like you in celebrating our age doing wild and crazy things as we get older. Keep it up! We wish we could be there to eat some cake, play some crazy games, and partay, but just know that when we get back, we'll be celebrating by a good game of COW RACING!

We love you and hope you have a great birthday!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Africa's Hardest Triathlon

Yeppers, my amazing husband finished what is known as "Africa's Hardest Triathlon" this morning at Sun City and man did he ROCK IT!!! It is an international race, so triathletes from all over the world competed. The winner was an actual Olympian and he was seriously from outer space. He SMOKED everyone, even second place was a good 5 minutes behind him.

First I'll start with the day before his race. We stayed the night in a campsite in Pilanesberg near Sun City because the race started at 7am and Sun City is 2 1/2 hours away. We spent half the day driving around the park before camping out. We had our best giraffe experience. There were 20 giraffes that came to say hi and ate around us for a while. Pretty cool.

The bugs on the road were actually the highlight today. It must be bug season because they were all on the road. It was pretty gross. Here's our friend Mr. Dung:

Ok back to the triathlon:

All I know is that I couldn't have done this race. THE COURSE WAS SO HARD. I seriously would have had a heart attack.

Olympic Triathlon:
1.5km swim (1 mile)
40km bike (25 miles)
10km run (6.2 miles)

Here he is stretching before the swim:

He seriously is the best person to race with because he's always joking and making people laugh around him. They are lucky guys:

The swim was nice, it was SUPER clean water (lucky) and it was in such a beautiful place. Ben really enjoyed the swim (except that his nose clip slipped off because of the sunscreen he'd put on and he doesn't do as well without it).

That's him in the green cap on the left and the guy taking a breath on the right:


Telling us about how hard it was to swim without his nose clip:

The bike was SO hilly and it had this half-mile stretch that was almost vertical it was so steep (and he had to do it twice because he had to do 2 laps of 20km). But Ben said it was his favorite part of the race, like me.

Last stretch of the bike, the major hill:

Getting ready for the run:

The run was uphill for the first half hour, and by uphill, I mean UPHILL. Ben said he felt like he was going to pass out. His ankle really started to hurt, but he made friends in each leg and they helped push each other to the finish.

I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!! Seriously, he did so well considering it was his first, his sprained ankle, only having trained for 9 weeks, the toughness of the course, and the fact that South Africans are obsessed with triathlons (each person we've met doing them has done 10-50 of them) and everyone couldn't believe we were only doing one.

Aren't we so hard core!!?!? And we're good at beating our goals. Ben's was to beat 3 hours and 30 minutes and he got 3:23:48! (The winner, Olympian Sander Berk, got 2:05:30, just to give you an idea of how big this race was).

He is so handsome. This is when he jumped in the pool to relax and cool off:

He practically needs a wheelchair and will be out of commission for a couple days. Good thing he has the next 2 weeks off!! I'm SOO happy! This next week he is taking "Study Leave" and will be busy studying the GMAT all day, but he'll be home at least and that will be nice. And then Friday we leave for CAPE TOWN!!! We seriously can't wait. It's a much needed long vacation that will be so much fun. Can't. Wait.