Monday, July 7, 2014

June Visiting Teaching {The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Advocate}

This month the visiting teaching message focuses on how Jesus Christ is our advocate with the father.  It is a beautiful message about how, because the Savior paid for our sins with the Atonement, all of our sins can be erased through repentance. 

With the Savior as our advocate, We can turn our lives around.

P1210198With that thought in mind, I made a fun pinwheel with the message printed inside, and a tag with that statement on it.  To make some to share with your sisters, you will need a sheet of cute cardstock. It can be double-sided, but needs to be able to have a side that can be printed on, {white or a light pattern} so that you can read the text.

P1210165You will also need some kind of stick to attach the pinwheel to.  I used 16x1/4” dowels for mine, {but I’ve seen people use paper straws, or regular straws} and a pin or brad or upholstery tack.

P1210174 To begin, print the message and then cut the bottom off so that you have an exact square.  Then fold the page diagonally and unfold.  Cut along your folds until you are about an inch away from the middle.

P1210175 Use a small hole punch, or pin to poke holes in every other corner.

P1210178Take your pin, and stick it through all four holes, and then push the pin through the center of the paper at the middle of the X where you folded previously.  Affix the pin into the stick and secure it {we used a small hammer to make sure the pin stayed put}.

P1210187P1210195P1210197So easy and fun! 

You can print the message here.

You can print the tag here.

Happy Visiting Teaching!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peru Part 2: Machu Picchu!

To get to Machu Picchu, you must go to Aguas Calientes.  To get to Aguas Calientes, you must either take a train, or hike in, as there are no cars per se in town {aside from the busses that you can take up the mountain to Machu Picchu}. 

20140407_062224 We arrived in Aguas Calientes and were greeted by a hotel representative who guided us on foot through the town to our hotel.  We then grabbed some dinner {at an amazing restaurant that had some of the best food we had in Peru, called Yanantin Grill—btw, the crinkle fries were really that big.  The Peruvians love their veggies super-sized}

20140406_203529and a few snacks and then headed to bed because we wanted to get an early start the next morning.

20140407_061228We had heard that it was best to be on the first bus of the day so that we could see the sun rise over Machu Picchu.  We had also heard that it was a good idea to take our own lunch up since, there is only one restaurant up at the top and it was pricey.  So the night before our climb, we stopped at a few shops looking for grocery items so that we could make some sandwiches or something.  We came away with 2 $6 boxes of stale granola bars and some fruit.  This is what I chose.  I can’t remember what it was called, but it kind of tasted a pear, only not as sweet.

20140406_213708 The next morning as we were waiting in line for the buses, there were a couple of shops open right by the line.  They had entire sandwiches for around $5 a piece, and if we did it again, we would just pick up a sandwich on the way.

The bus ride took about 20 minutes and as we wound up the steep switchbacks, we passed quite a few brave people who had hiked from Aguas Calientes.  Originally, that had been my plan, but I’m glad we took the bus, since we did a ton of hiking once we got to Machu Picchu, and there’s no way that we could have done both in the same day. 20140407_064822_Richtone(HDR) Guys.  Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list for many years, and it did not disappoint.  It. was. amazing.

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There are two peaks on either side of the ruins at Machu Picchu.  One is called Huayna Picchu, and the other is Montana.  Only limited amounts of people can visit the peaks each day, and we climbed Montana.  After seeing the sun rise over the ruins, we headed up the mountain, so that we could avoid the hottest part of the day.  Montana is quite the climb, and as mentioned in my previous post, has a bajillion stone steps.  The steps go all of the way up the mountain.

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It took us about an hour and a half to two hours to near the top, and was pretty steep.  It was beautiful, though and had amazing views of the ruins. This photo included because it kind of shows you how steep the mountain is, but also because it has the Urubamba River in it.  And Urubamba {ooo-roo-bam-ba} is fun to say.  Urubamba.  Urubamba.  See?  Machu Picchu is off to your left.

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There were also really cool irridescent butterflies that would kind of flop-fly down the trail above us.

20140407_100156 After climbing Montana, we had a quick lunch and then took a tour of the ruins {included in the tour pass that we purchased at the airport} and then were free to explore on our own.

20140407_12530420140407_12580720140407_10560120140407_132200Opinions vary but nobody really knows what Machu Picchu was used for.  Our tour guide told us that it might have been a place for the wealthy, and that in those times, it wasn’t money that made people wealthy, it was knowledge.  So maybe as a type of university.  Others have speculated that it was a retreat for royalty, or that it was used for religious ceremonies coordinating with solstices and equinoxes.  Nobody really knows.

20140407_134736Check out that staircase.  And there’s the Urubamba again.  Urubamba.  Urubamba.

20140407_13564720140407_141037 Visiting Machu Picchu was an amazing experience, and so, so neat. 

When we were finished, we headed back down to Aguas Calientes and did some shopping at the market there, learned to play the bamboo flute from a street vendor, and had some Peruvian pizza for dinner, before taking the train back to Cusco for the night.20140407_16403720140407_17125320140407_175352Although, if we went again, there are a few things we would do differently, we loved seeing Machu Picchu, and are so glad we went.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Peru Part 1: Cusco, The Sacred Valley, and Ollantaytambo

Our recent trip to Peru included a couple of days in Cusco, and the surrounding areas. The reason for the visit to Peru was to see Machu Picchu, but to get to Machu Picchu, you must go through Cusco.

20140408_074426 20140408_074409 Getting to Cusco from Utah is no easy task.  Our flight left Salt Lake City in the evening, arriving in Los Angeles later that night, where we took a red eye to Ft. Lauderdale.  Our flight into Lima didn’t leave until later in the evening so we spent the day in the Ft. Lauderdale area and then left early evening for Lima.  We arrived in Lima just before midnight, and then spent the night curled up on the tile in a corner next to some payphones and an outlet where we could charge our phones. 

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Our flight from Lima to Cusco left around 6 in the morning, and we finally arrived in Cusco around 10:00, where we were greeted with several exhuberant tour guides and cups of coca tea to help us acclimatize {the altitude in Cusco is 11,200 feet}.

20140405_095711 We had done a little bit of research about tour guides in Cusco and decided that that was the route we wanted to go.  As we fly standby, and sometimes don’t make it onto the flights that we want, we were wary about booking hotels, train tickets, tickets to Machu Picchu, etc.  So when we arrived we tracked down Alejandra with Yananti Adventures, which was right by baggage claim.  Alejandra was great.  She helped us find a hotel, transportation and purchase all of our tickets and tours.  They were also more reasonably priced than some of the other tour groups we spoke to.

20140405_13444620140406_085434  After arranging all of the nitty gritty details, we headed to the hotel to check in.  We stayed at a hotel called Tierra Del Inca, which was walking distance to the main square, but still quiet and safe.  It was third-world-country-clean, and they offered a basic Peruvian breakfast, and all of the coca tea that we could drink.  In hindsight, we may have booked a different hotel in advance, and paid a little more for accomodations.  But it was fine, since we didn’t spend any time there except to sleep.

20140405_12564820140405_13064720140405_130832 We spent the rest of the day touring Cusco, which is a beautiful city.  There are some great ruins nearby, and the head to the Incan trail, which leads to Machu Picchu.  We also did a tour of Qurikancha, the Convent of Santo Domingo. 

20140405_155708 20140405_16362020140405_17531920140405_165424 When we travel, we do love to try local cuisine, however the water situation in Peru is iffy, so you have to be careful.  Our tour included one Peruvian meal which we had as we visited the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo the next day.  There was a lot of fruit, potatoes and meat and they had a great ceviche.  Oh.  And they had chocolate flan.  It was a.maz.ing.  Speaking of Peruvian food, most of the breakfasts we had offered a type of Rice Puff cereal with “milk” {think runny yogurt} honeydew melon and rolls with sliced meat.   A delicacy in Peru is guinea pig, which may or may not have been included in the traditional meal that we had.  We couldn’t tell.

Also, the corn in Peru is HUGE.20140406_14152520140405_180701One thing we weren’t prepared for was all of the stairs in Peru.  Everywhere we went we climbed ancient stone steps to the tops of the ruins, and back down again.  There were no handrails most places, and certainly no elevators.  So. many. stairs.

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Also, we did fall victim to a bit of altitude sickness, which was surprising to me as Utah has quite a few mountains that we frequent.  The altitude sickness we was a painful chest-crushing pressure, but can be even more severe I’ve heard.  The locals swear by the coca tea as a remedy, which I avoided in the beginning, as it tastes awful, but after 24 hours of feeling like I was dying, and after watching a woman in the lobby put sugar in hers, I decided to give it another try.  Better with the sugar, but still not great.  We then found some coca candies, and they were a little better, so we stuck to those.

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So our first day in Peru was spent near Cusco, and then the second day we visited the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo in the morning.  In the afternoon, we boarded the Inca Rail, which would take us to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. 

Continued…

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