Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matt gets engaged to Brittany Smith on New Years Eve in Quito

We couldn’t have asked for a bigger bang than we had on New Year’s Eve…literally. Because it’s a possibility that Brian won’t be able to come home for a wedding, Matt decided to propose to Brittany Smith in Ecuador so that we could be a part of it. We assured him that he could pull off something epic in Ecuador especially knowing of Matt’s creativity and determination. Brittany was clueless of the pending proposal so when Matt asked her out onto the balcony right before Midnight on New Year’s Eve, she had no idea that we were busily preparing an extravaganza inside.

He shared with her 100 promises he would keep as her husband while we positioned a six member Mariachi band, gathered eight dozen long stemmed roses into three beautiful bouquets, and taped a congratulations banner on the wall. Since she was looking into the horizon, she didn’t suspect the activity on the other side of the sliding door, nor of the camera filming the entire event. Right at Midnight, when fireworks began exploding (like glittering bombs) into the Quito sky, he dropped to one knee and pulled out an exquisite ring. They both began to cry and as soon as they hugged each other, we slid the glass door open to a rousing Mariachi serenade with trumpets, guitars, singers, large hats, costumes, etc. It truly was like something you would see in a Disney love story.

To say it was overwhelming is an appropriate description, but then came the three big bouquets from Brian, Annie and then me. It was at that point that I think she saw the nearly life sized congratulations banner on the wall. Yes, you could say it was epic and most definitely a magical way to begin the New Year. We were so grateful to be a part of it and most especially to get to know Brittany.

What we most love about Brittany Smith from Newbury Park, CA is that she truly loves and appreciates Matt for his many wonderful qualities. She makes him feel so good about himself and encourages him to be his best. They are super fun and funny together and had us laughing the entire week we were together. Brittany shared her goals and dreams and they are right in line with Matt’s. We are thrilled with their engagement and excited to see where they go and what they do with their lives together. If their start is any indication, they will be big travelers and their marriage will be exciting!

They will be married in the San Diego Temple on April 11th, have a reception in Thousand Oaks that evening, and then another reception in Sandy on Saturday, April 19th. Brian is going to talk to authorities this week to plead permission to at least attend the wedding…so our fingers are crossed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Annies 14th Birthday

 Annie's 14th SURPRISE birthday party that REALLY was a SURPRISE!!!
Friday we pulled off a genuine surprise party for Annie. She was sooooo upset when she came home from school because all of the girls were going to see a movie and they didn’t invite her. What she didn’t know is that I told them to tell her they were doing something so that she couldn’t create her own party…Anyway, she was sad, discouraged, lonely, angry, etc. and I was at the computer, acting oblivious, but actually smiling that she didn’t know what was going to be happening. 

Finally later that night, she said, she wanted to leave the apartment, which happened to be just at the time when all of her 11 friends were gathered downstairs in the party room. I texted them to stand outside the elevator door to surprise her when it opened. Truly, it couldn’t have been more perfect. The elevator door opened and they screamed, "SURPRISE!!!!" She looked like she would faint. Then they pulled her into a massive group hug. I don’t think I have seen her that happy and surprised in a long time! It was fabulous. They brought their swim suits and went in the Jacuzzi and sauna, ate and listened to music, etc. It ended up being great!

Annie's birthday surprises!

That night I waited outside of our apartment while one Dad drove around for two hours trying to find our building. Thus, when he finally came, I really did collapse at 1:00 a.m. knowing that we had to prepare for a two hour leadership training later that afternoon. Brian and his 1st counselor, Bilo Montoya, were responsible for priesthood leadership training and Bilo's wife, Alexandra and I were responsible for training the women (prim., YW and RS). We were running on adrenalin for sure, and had miracles of guidance and inspiration because everything came together beautifully.

We drove to Ibarra, four hours from Quito, to the District which has a record, I think, for being a district. It just isn’t growing. The previous District President got offended and went inactive before we came. A true miracle is that Brian organized a meeting between him and those who offended him and they all gathered together to work out their issues. As a result, he was at the District Conference which was fabulous!
Annie wasn't too happy to spend her 14th birthday at a hotel babysitting the Montoya's daughter, but we attempted to help her feel better with a banana split later that evening!

We celebrate both Annie and Hermana Alexandra Montoya's birthdays on November 23rd

Some of the beautiful scenery we see on our travels back and forth to the District Conference

Family pics...

The view from the entrance of our hotel room at Club del Sol
After a VERY long drive, we are happy to sit and have something to eat, especially because it's Pescado cocado...mmmmmmmmmmm.  Delish! 

The Pina colada is not much more expensive than the bottled water!

Annie eats her favorite pepper steak

The view from the restaurant.

While President speaks at the two afternoon and evening sessions, I stay with Annie and we actually go swimming in the ocean.   It was delightful, and a fun Mom/Daughter activity!

Notice the cow in the back of the truck!

I love how they use even the unfinished upper floorsto hang clothes out to dry.

The mangoes are delicious and most plentiful!

These are the common modes of transportation in the coast!

Everything is cocada at the coast!

Choose what part of the pig you'd like to eat!

Notice how this guy sits on his motorcycle on the back of the truck!

This mango tree was heavily laden with abundant fruit!

This taxi had a scripture from John written on the back window

Look closely and see many people sitting in the back of the truck with several trees

When it's hot, no problem, you just pull up your shirt and let it all hang  out!