Monday, August 31, 2009

Breath in, breath out

I'm sorry I haven't posted in about a month... I've been busy. Okay, really I've been lazy.

Have I mentioned that living in the time between getting your mission call and leaving on said mission is sort of like living in the twilight zone? I'm not sure if I'm coming or going and everyone around me is moving, starting new things, getting on with their lives. And I'm moving too. I'm just not quite sure where I'm supposed to be going, so mostly I spin around in circles trying to keep track of the ways in which everything else is changing. A good friend wrote a post about the way life changes and she beautifully captured a lot of my feelings right now. My life is about to change pretty drastically and I'll have to learn to adapt, to change myself and my perspective to fit in again. And when I do, it will seem strange to think that I used to go to school, take late night scooter rides with friends, and sit on the grass talking for hours. These are all things I was reminded of tonight. Things I will miss very much.

Provo is starting to come alive again. It's like the city breaths in and out with the flux of students coming in the fall and leaving in the summer. The big breath in is filled with the anticipation and excitement of starting a new school year. All the possibilities that starting fresh presents twirl around in your head as you get dizzy trying to take it all in. Then as the school year winds to a close, Provo finally gets to exhale and enjoy the lazy summer. But the lazy summer is over. And as the air starts to get crisp with the leaves, Provo comes alive. It's sad to think I won't be going to my first class tomorrow morning with my fresh new notebooks and pencils with clean erasers. I won't be going to any football games, tailgate parties, or bonfires. And soon these will all be memories of a distant life that I will hardly be able to believe was once mine.

But soon enough, I won't feel like everything is speeding around me while I spin in circles. Change is the only constant in life and it's a good thing. My life is about to change in ways I can't comprehend and I will have my work cut out for me. This fall, new and exciting things await for me too. I'm taking a deep breath in.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I am having so much fun surrounded by all this Spanish. It´s insane. Unfamiliar words are everywhere and I wish I was able to pluck a few more from the whizzing blur.

Today we loaded the bus at 7 am and drove up the winding dirt road to Salkantay. About half way up, the bus had to stop because of rocks in the road and since it was so steep, we all had to get out and walk up the rest of the hill where the bus could stop and then start again with all of us in it. By the time I had trekked up the 50 yards, I felt like I was going to pass out. I didn´t think I was that out of shape but I guess that´s what 12,000 feet will do to you.

The village of Salkantay is small and primative, although over the past five years things have started to improve. Jaime is a Peruvian and is in charge of a group called Eagle Condor which has been working very hard to improve the lives of natives living in poor villages in Peru. I have been so impressed and inspired by him and the work he is doing. I want to do more, to be more involved and to work hard to finish my degree and learn the things that will help me to be effective in helping these people. I shoveled rocks today. Lots of rocks. And then I sat in a muddy pit where a water line was leaking and shoveled mud. It was hard work, but the ideas and designs that we are working toward are going to make a big difference.

Around noon we couldn´t do anything else without more supplies from Cusco so Jaime and I and a few others went down to see what we could find. What an experience. We found a tiny metal shop with scraps of metal and things everywhere and Jaime was able to explain what we needed. Hopefully tomorrow we´ll be able to get more accomplished.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Off to Peru

(Stunning Machu Pichu)

A lot of people have been asking me what I'm going to be doing in Peru, and Grandma Helen suggested that it would be a good idea to post a blog about my trip before I go. So here it is. The long anticipated itinerary and explanation of my Peru trip (including pictures! Aren't you excited?)

I'm going to Peru with the BYU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. As a class we have been working on a few projects that we hope will improve the living conditions in a few villages in Peru. Here is a brief summary of the projects:

  • Windmill project - The team in charge of this project created a windmill that will take wind power and convert it into electricity through an alternator (low-cost). The energy will be stored in a car battery to be used for lighting and other needs.

  • Solar water purification project - This team made a system to heat water to a certain temperature and keep it there long enough to kill the bacteria. They are using a parabolic mirror to focus sunlight to heat the water.

  • Water heating project - This team designed a once through water heating system. The water goes through a copper coil that is heated by the cooking fire and then goes back out in to a separate hot water tank.

  • Bio-filter toilet project (my team) - This team did testing and modification to a bio-fliter toilet system that was designed by an engineer in Ghana named Kweku Ano. The system breaks down and filters solid waste through layers of soil and porous concrete. The filtered water that comes out is then clean enough to be used for irrigating farm land.

Here are some pictures of last summer's EWB group in Salkantay.

My plane leaves from the Salt Lake City airport at 6:20am and we should be arriving in Lima around 10:35pm. We will be staying in Lima just long enough to rest and catch our next flight to Cusco the next day (Tuesday) at 12:15pm. Wednesday through Saturday we will be staying in Cusco and taking a bus every morning to the village of Salkantay where we will implement all of the projects except for the windmill. In the evenings we will be able to visit Cuzco taking in the sights.

At the end of the week, we will go to church in Cusco and then take a bus/train to Agua Caliente where we will spend the night. Bright and early the next morning we head to Machu Pichu to see the ruins (photo at the top.)
Then on Tuesday, August 11, it's back to Cuzco and Salkantay for one more day to finish up the projects there. On Wednesday we'll head to Puno and Lake Titicaca and we'll be seeing the ruins at Sacsayhuaman. Theses ruins are so amazing. The Incans were able to cut these enormous stones so that they fit perfectly together. No mortar was used to fit these blocks together. They just fit exactly. Amazing.

At Lake Titicaca we will be implementing the Windmill project, so Thursday and Friday will be spent working there. I guess it is very windy during the nights and evenings on Lake Titicaca so it will be the perfect place to build windmills.

Saturday the fifteenth will be spent in Lima and if everything works out we will get to do a session in the Lima temple. How cool will that be? Sunday we will have church in Lima, see a few more sites and then have a closing devotional before heading to the airport to catch a 11:45pm flight home.

I'm excited to experience a part of the world I've never been to before, to get a jump start on my Spanish, and to help the people in Peru in some small way. It will be a rewarding experience to finally see the projects, that we've been working on for so long, built and working to make life a little easier for a few people. See ya'll in two weeks.