Friday, June 10, 2011


Early morning Tuesday, May 31, 2011....the sun is just barely peeking up over the Costa Rican hills and we are pulling into the Liberia airport. It seems very surreal that our year here is over. My head is spinning with so many different emotions. I am filled with anticipation and excitement to be reunited with our families again, but my heart is aching as I think about the many friends here we are leaving behind. I know that each of my kids and Lane are feeling the same as well. It is a very melancholy feeling, and the pouring rain is only adding to our emotion., but is brings me back to the first title of this blog...smiles and rain. Very fitting.

It was a very tender thing to witness Jose saying goodbye to his "best brother"....that is what he always calls him. He had on his "Terminator"t-shirt that he only saves for special occasions....and he said, "the machine is crying!" was very tearful.

Neida and Jose spent the night with us and helped us get all our luggage to the airport, since we needed two cars. They also stood watch over our bags while we were getting checked in. We love them so much. They stood at the window as we passed through to the boarding area...waving and blowing kisses at us. My heart was in my throat. I was thinking back to the first time we met them and how we felt a connection with them right away. That connection grew into a beautiful friendship that will last forever. Stepping onto the plane was difficult. I did a lot of pondering during the flight. My heart was filled with gratitude for all that our family experienced this past year. I am so thankful that we followed our hearts and took the opportunity to do this. It was a year of challenges and growth, eye opening experiences, facing fears, new people to love, service opportunities, learning, patience, quiet time, laughter and tears. I wouldn't trade any of it. As the plane lifted up over the hills and the ocean came into view, it was hard to hold back my tears. I never would have dreamed that this little country would hold such a special place in my heart. We flew over Nicaragua and could see the volcanoes rising up out of Ometepe Island where our journey began....I thought of our little island family there and my tears continued. I feel so blessed to have friendships with people in so many places. They have enriched my life so much. Knowing that the plane would be landing soon in my own beautiful country, I began to get very excited. After all, the most important people in my life are there. My family.

Well....we finally arrived on the other end and were happy to see our car once again. Lora and Emma were especially excited about this as you can see. It felt strangely familiar.

We have now been back for 10 days and it has been so wonderful. I have never thought Utah looked more beautiful and our families as well. So far, we have had a family wedding, graduation party, birthday party, and baby blessing. It has been busy with so many good things and I have enjoyed every minute. Seeing my kids together with their cousins again has been so fun. They are in heaven.

This will be the last post. That seems sad and yet fulfilling at the same time. I am so thankful that I have kept this blog so that my children and Lane and I will never forget the details of our year. I hope to print it into a book so that we will have it as a keepsake forever. Even if someday it is lost, I know that all of it is stamped into our hearts and has become a part of us. Seeing the beautiful Salt Lake temple again had more meaning than ever. I am so thankful for my knowledge and testimony of eternal family and eternal relationships.
So I will say goodbye to this blog and remind all who have been reading it, including always


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Santa Cruz Branch

As the time is getting closer and closer for us to leave, the thing we are going to miss the very most is our little Santa Cruz Branch of the church here. We have truly grown to love these people like family and this coming Sunday is going to be very heartbreaking as we have to say goodbye to them. This is just a few of them as we were getting seated for a baptism on Sunday morning.

Hermana Pina has been one of our dearest friends, along with her husband Jose. They are like family to us. She has helped us more than anyone with our Spanish.

Maggie and Estaban are the cutest latin couple ever and we love them so much. She is the RS President and he is the EQ President. Powerhouse couple!

Had to get a picture of Lane hard at work in the Branch Pres. office. This is one of our awesome full time missionaries, Elder Daniel Whitlock. (thought his mom would like this)

This is our Young Women's group.....yep, only 3 of them! Lora just graduated into YW last month. These other 2 girls adore her.

Here is Lora with her 2 best Primary friends before she left them and went into YW.

Lane and his "Best Brother" ...Jose Pina. They are in the Branch Presidency together.

Our cute branch President's mother. She is just an angel.

Here is the best picture I could get of all my primary kids. They have a hard time posing for a picture. I love them all so much. I just want to bring them all home with me.

This is one of our little guys that comes each week with no parents...he and his little cousins walk about 2 miles to the church. They showed up eating leaves last week cause they are often hungry. They know they will get a snack after primary so that is probably the main reason they come I am sure, but we try to teach them some good things before they get that snack!
This coming Sunday will be our last week and I know it is going to be a tough one so just in case I don't get any more pis this week, I wanted to post these.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Happy Girl

I have been looking at my baby lately and realizing that she is not a baby anymore...look at this beautiful girl. She has grown up so much this year. The best thing about Emma is she is so easy to please....she usually has a smile on her face and if not, all you need to do is give her some watermelon, the beach and a friend!

This girl could eat watermelon all day.....and strawberries, but there is no shortage of watermelon here in CR so she gets her fill quite regularly.

Looks like she is just pondering about how delicious this actually is

The other thing that brings her lots of joy here is her best friend Luc! These 2 look more like twins huh? Luc and his family are from Canada and are living here for 6 months. They have become like family to us and we will miss them dearly when we leave. Luc and Emma have so much fun at the beach together. They wear themselves out boogie boarding, swimming away from the sting rays, laughing, playing in the sand, and collecting shells.

Aren't they cute? Good thing they are only 7 and 8. Emma misses Grace terribly still, but Luc has been a good shoe in for a best friend here....once she came to grips with the fact that he is a boy and it is perfectly ok to have a "boy friend" at her age...
I hope that when we move back to the states, the simple things will still make this girl smile.

Thursday, May 12, 2011



I think about it a lot here. Not in the same way I did before...not at all. Before, it was always, what time do I need to be there? what time does so and so need to be picked up? What time do I need to get up to be where I need to be?
Time is just different here. It feels like a gift. It is not that I have more time here...I still have the same 24 hours in a day that I always had before. It's just that I have the opportunity here to use my time more wisely and fill my days with things that will build me instead of keeping me so busy that I don't have time to think about developing my own self .
As I look at the little countdown chart in Emma's room (that is how we measure the days here) and realize that we only have 19 more days .....time is becoming even more precious to me now.
I have prayed every morning and night since coming here that I would be able to use this time to do good things.
Often we put our kids in "Time Out" when they were little. I have learned that it is not just to be used as a is a reward. Everyone needs it now and then. I feel like this has been a big "Time Out"for me here. I am going to miss it more than I even can imagine right now.
I will miss my quiet mornings to read and study things that strengthen me. My long walks along the beach by myself or with a child that needs time with me. Time to sit with Lane on a cliff overlooking the ocean and just talk about our goals and dreams for the future. Time to laugh and play in huge waves with my kids. Time to read to them in the hammock. Time to help Abram with Math for hours and actually enjoy doing it because I really have nothing else to do. Time to spend hours visiting teaching because that is how long it takes here. Time to think about how I want to spend my time today...
As I write this, I realize that I do not have to miss these things, because I don't have to give them up. I just have to make time for them when we get back to our real life. I will still have the same 24 hours in a day that I have here. I still have the agency as to how I use my time. It will take a little more work on my part, but I know that I can still fit all these good things in my life. There will be many more things pulling on me and demanding a piece of my time, but I have the choice. We all have the choice.
I happen to love quotes and one of my favorite from a General Conference past is this:
"We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become."
Richard G. Scott

This last year has largely been about "becoming" for me and I only hope that I can take what I have learned and bring it back with me to a world that is much more demanding, yet full of so many wonderful things as well. I feel renewed and strengthened. I feel so much love for my children and for Lane. We have been a team. We have been so together, it is crazy sometimes how together we have actually been. We have made memories here that we could never recreate anywhere else.
I feel so blessed to have had this TIME. One thing I have learned is how quickly time passes. This has taught me to appreciate the wonderful moments and to be patient during the not so good moments, because both of those moments will pass quickly.
It is the moments that make up our lives. I am grateful for all the moments in this past year.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Surprise! Happy Mother's Day.

Hello, this is Mariah. I've been trying to think of something kinda creative to do for my momma who's hundreds of miles away, I decided that hijacking her blog and giving her some much needed credit would be sufficient. {One of the advantages of knowing her password and username...}

Since my mom has been keeping this blog as sort of a journal of my family's time in Costa Rica, I thought it would be nice to have someone besides herself do a little of the talking... besides, she is the main woman behind this past year of adventures, the one who has kept everything and everyone going smoothly, and the heart of our family. I think that right there is enough to deserve a few words of praise... I know the rest of my family would agree.
Some words that come to mind when I think of my Mom are sensitive, nurturing, serving, and above all, loving. I've watched her throughout my life as she reaches out to others, finds the good in them, finds out what they might be in need of, and loves and serves them selflessly. I can't count all the times I have heard her say, "I just love that person." And she really does. I have watched her find so much joy out of giving little acts of service, whether it be a smile, a thoughtful note, a little gift, or just a hug... she is someone that people feel comfortable and loved around. I think I can speak for my siblings when I say we have benefited from her example more than anyone; I couldn't be more grateful for that.

This past year has brought tons of change and adventure to my family. I have watched my mom in awe as she juggled everything that has been thrown at her in a way that has kept everything running smoothly and as "normal" as possible for our family of seven. From being stretched very thin in branch callings and responsibilities, finding ways to provide delicious meals without much of the food and conveniences we are used to, to helping the younger kids adjust to a new country and culture {while trying to figure it out herself}, and always being there for any of us that needed a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, she truly has been an example of selflessness and service.

In my 4 months of Costa Rica, I was continually astounded at how strong and diligent my mom has been. I have seen many lives that have been deeply touched by her willingness and faithfulness, as she goes about doing what needs to be done with an attitude of joy and love. She is continually striving to be better, and she relies on her faith in our loving Heavenly Father for her strength. Of course my mom isn't perfect, but it is the fact that she is always trying to do better that makes her the amazing woman that she is.

I could keep going and going, but I've probably embarrassed her enough. My mom has taught me so much and has been the ultimate example to me my entire life. From her I have learned that "a disciplined person is a happy person," that "the most important thing you can put on in the morning, is a smile," and the power of positive thoughts. Even more importantly though, I have learned from her example. From this I have learned that the most important thing we can do in this life is to love others, that when we put our trust in our Savior, we can have complete joy, that we cannot comprehend how much our Heavenly Father loves us and how much he wants us to succeed.

Happy Mother's Day mom. Thank you for always striving to be the best you can be, and for being my best friend in the process. You will be very missed by the Santa Cruz branch, but the selfish side of me cannot WAIT to have you so much closer! I love you.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

RS Activity

This past Wednesday evening the RS held an activity where I was to teach the sisters how to make cookies. I have become the "cookie lady" in the branch. I didn't realize that I was introducing them to something new the first time I brought homemade cookies to a branch activity. After all, in the states, we have to have cookies for every church activity, right?
This is the whole group of us that night. It was small but I was thankful for that as this little kitchen was very tiny. We held it at the home of our branch president, where he lives with his mother. She is the little short lady in the white skirt and she is just an angel. Lora also got to come and then we have Kaitlin Gray here visiting us so she was there too...I was thankful to have the extra help.

We made 2 different kinds: No Bake Cookies and Choc Chip. Here are 2 sisters scooping out the No Bake Cookies to cool on a plate.

They were all smiles while stirring up the cookies. It was fun to see their joy. This sister in the black shirt is a very recent convert as of about a month ago and she just glows. Then the branch President's cute mom and Magaly who is a very dear friend of ours that we just absolutely love. She is the RS President.

OK well before you laugh at these cookies...let me explain: Sis. Lopez is so thrilled to even have an oven in her little dirt floor kitchen, but it is very tiny and my cookie sheet would not fit all the way in, unless we shut the oven door hard which made the cookie sheet raise up on one end; therefore the cookies slid a little downhill while baking and they turned out looking like this. I call them choc chip sliders! They still tasted good.

Alex joined us at the end when only one of his young men showed up for mutual, they decided to walk over and have their refreshments with us. Of course, all the sisters are always happy to see him....they love him.
This was quite a unique experience making cookies in such a humble little kitchen. The sisters each brought an ingredient to donate and then I brought all the bowls, spoons, pans, etc....Her kitchen is so simple, it was mind boggling for me to imagine cooking every meal here for her family of 7, 5 of which still live at home. They get by with so very little yet Sis. Lopez is just the happiest little lady you ever saw.
I have been to hundreds of RS activities in my life, but this one was extra special. I love these sweet sisters so much and I hope that with my cookies, I am able to make their lives just a little bit sweeter as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Memorable 23rd Anniversary

This is what Lane and I saw tonight as we were escorted down the stairs by our 2 youngest girls

Lora and Emma had us wait upstairs after I had gotten dinner prepared to a point where they felt secure in taking over. They put Lane and I in separate rooms and had us put on the clothes that THEY had picked out for us. Since Lane is still recovering from surgery, he wasn't quite up to putting on a white shirt, but he was a good sport and put on the tie. A nice look with the pj shorts huh?
These little girls had been waiting for this moment all day...lots of whispering and laughing behind closed doors and sneaking little things up to their room that they needed for the BIG event....
Lane and I probably would have been content to let this day pass without much fan fare since he is not feeling his best and a nice dinner out was just not in the cards for him. Thankfully our little girls were not about to let that happen and they made sure that this was an anniversary that we will never forget. They were darling little waitresses and waited to eat dinner themselves until we were finished with our "date", even though it was well past 8pm when they finally got all this ready.
Lora even did all the dishes by herself and this was no easy mess to clean up...lots of big pots and pans. She felt so good about herself after and they are both going to bed tonight with big smiles on their faces.
THIS kind of thing is what makes Lane and I love celebrating each passing year more and more. I am so thankful to be married to the person that is the best person for ME. And these 5 wonderful people that we have been blessed with....there are not enough words to describe how I love them.
This certainly will be an anniversary that won't be forgotten. NO big tab to pay at the end of this was priceless.