Tuesday, December 27, 2011


After 3 and a half-months of being in Baghdad, I finally got to come home for my 2nd R&R.  I got into Chicago and missed my connection (due to the airline being two and a half hours late out of Amman, Jordan) so I had to stay overnight in Chicago because there were no more flights to AZ that night.  I stayed in Arizona for a couple of days and then went up to Oregon to visit Vonda and her family.

 And I happened to be there on Vonda's birthday.  Us sisters have got into a tradition of taking each other to lunch on our birthdays (or having a tea party).  So I took Vonda out to lunch!  We had nachos (they were really good) and it was nice to spend the day with her on her birthday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

RSO Soccer

So I know I've not been so good about keeping my blog up-to-date.  Its been busy and we are limited in our picture taking, for valid reasons.  However, since working here I've become good friends with some of the Diplomatic Security agents (who man the Regional Security Office [RSO]).  And a couple of them play soccer.  So...since I make friends with people from other embassies I've arranged some soccer matches between the two.  I have permission to take limited photos, so when the Dutch players were here I took photos.  This photo was taken by Arie, who is one of the FSN-I (Foreign Service National Investigator), who is from the Netherlands (Dutch).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's official!

On Friday I received an official offer for my next post.  I'm going to Wellington, New Zealand!!!! WOW, can I just say, Wow!  I'm SO excited!  I've NEVER been to this part of the world and for the next 3 years, I get to explore New Zealand and Australia.  Plus go to perhaps Thailand and other locations.  I didn't think that I'd get this posting.  There were quite a few other bidders on it, but the fact that I volunteered for Iraq, plus a good "corridor reputation" meant that I was the lucky one chosen!  I am supposed to report to post in August 2012, which means that I will probably be in Iraq until the middle of July.  But that's ok!  Knowing where I'm going next is a relief.  There won't be any training, just home leave before departing for post.  Everything happens for a reason, and I'm looking forward to my next adventures in the South Pacific! :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Me and my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This was the PPE that I used since I came to Iraq.  I had to get new when I came back from my regional rest break.  Glad I never really needed it's protective powers! :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween in the IZ

On Halloween night, a few of us girls walked over to Union 3 to see the underground part of one of the palaces.  We were told it was a torture chamber/holding cells.  I'm not sure if this was told to us to make us scared or what.  But it was pretty clear to me after a short bit that it was definitely a bomb shelter.  They may have kept prisoners there as well, but if necessary, they'd be able to survive a nuclear attack. 
The reason I realized this is because it's very similar to the Soviet bunker I visited while in Latvia!  So now I've been in a Soviet and an Iraqi bunker...wonder what kind of bunker I'll get to visit next! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

DJ Brew

Since coming to Baghdad I've discovered another talent...being a DJ! :)
People said I did a good job and everybody danced and had a good.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Regional rest breaks...

As many of you know, I elected regional restbreaks to take advantage of travel while I'm in the region. My first was Jordan, and I'm on my next one. I went first to Turkey and now I'm in Dubai, UAE. Here is my first picture from Dubai


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Living and learning

There are times in our lives that we make choices that impact our future.  Where to go to school?  What job to take?  Should I move?  Then there are smaller choices that seem insignificant:  What should I wear today?  Should I talk to that person?  Should I do this or that with my free time.
All of these decisions, whether great or small, impact where our path will lead.  Sometimes these decisions allow us to forget who we really are, what we know, and what we'll accept.  There are those who don't have to make bad decisions to know that they won't be happy with the repercussions.  But there are times when we make choices that end up leading us down a path that we can't get off of, or is very difficult to come back from.  These are the times that determine which fork we are going to take.  The easy road, or the hard road.  Many choose the easy road and end up continuing in misery.  Those who decide to take the hard road, end up growing and learning, becoming stronger.
Then there are the times when all we can do, is stop in the middle of the road, fall to our knees and ask our Heavenly Father to step in and lift us up.  Help bridge the gap that we as mortals cannot cross.  When you've reached such a point, the going is slow, painful, and many times you feel as if you can't go on...that you don't know if you are strong enough to overcome the pain and misery.  These are the times that the Lord intercedes by sending a friend...or letting you hear a song with a special meaning...or the prayers of loved ones helps buoy you up...
You may be on your knees for hours, or hundreds of times throughout the day.  The amazing thing is that the Lord will always hear you, and send these little things to help you along.  If you pray to Him a hundred times a day, he will always listen.  That is when you need to take a minute to allow Him to speak to you, and answer your prayers.  He always will answer your prayers.  Perhaps not in the way that you think, or as fast as you may want, but He will never fail you. 
It is not always easy to remember who we are.  Satan bombards us every day, from many different angles.  Sometimes we are strong enough to disregard what he tells us.  But there are times, when we are at our weakest, that he is able to make us doubt our self-worth.  It is these times when we need to pray louder and more fervently to the Lord for help. 
We are children of a Heavenly Father that loves us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He wants us to return and live with him.  There is no greater supporter than our Savior Jesus Christ.  If we turn to Him, He will guide us back to our Father in Heaven.  Do not settle for less than the best.  Do not allow the temptations to distract you from the goal of returning to our Heavenly Father.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ allows us to return to our Father and Mother in Heaven.  The love and support of the Savior, family, friends, prayers said on our behalf, help fill our weaknesses and make them into strengths. 
I am grateful for an amazing family, and wonderful friends.  I'm grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ and all that He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then on the cross at Calvary.  I am grateful for the Church and the priesthood, blessings of strength, and wonderful examples.
When we look back, we realize that sometimes, in order to learn something, we have to go through the most difficult time of our life, but we are not alone.  Remember that no matter where you are, you are never alone.  You can always reach out to Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and He will guide you safely home.  What comfort that gives me.
With Love,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My trip to Jordan

I got to take my first regional rest break (RRB) to Jordan.  I spent a week getting a chance to tour around and see some amazing things and a friend came with me so I wasn't alone. Here I am waiting for our taxi who was my friend's uncle.

Eating my first traditional Jordanian meal.  It was yummy.  Shwarma is meat cooked by open flame, really yummy.  Then you eat it with fresh bread and hummis. It was good, but messy!
The Dead Sea is below sea level and extremely salty.

First we went to Dead Sea and spent the night.  Wow, it's indescribable the feeling of floating in the water.

Then we went down to Aqaba but I didn't snorkle, we just got in the water.

Afterward we drove to Petra and stayed the night.  We got up early and went to see the Treasury, which you'll recognize from Indiana Jones... ;)

Then we drove to Wadi Rum which is a large desert.

We stayed overnight in a Bedouin tent. And this is the camp leader. He was really funny.
After Wadi Rum, we headed back towards Amman and on the way we stopped by the Jordan River.  Even though it wasn't really clean, it was amazing to put my feet in the river where Christ showed us by example one of the first steps we have to take to return to our Father in Heaven.
And on the other side of the Jordan River was Israel.  So even though I haven't been to Israel, I have seen it.  One day soon, I will be on the other side because I am going to visit Israel before I leave.
While my friend visited his family, I spent the next couple of days in and around Amman.  This is Jerash.  It is a very large Roman ruin, the largest I've ever seen.  This row of columns is pretty famous.
Then I went to a castle ruin.  It was like many other castle ruins.
This was a wonderful trip.  This was a fun picture to take.  I always like taking these funny pictures where ever I go.  I actually have more, and perhaps will do a "Jordan part 2".
I really enjoy traveling and am grateful to have gone and walked some of the path that the Lord has walked.  And being in another country makes me very grateful for everything I have.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Girls night out at Dojo's

Last night a group of 14 girls went to Dojo's one of the restaurants in the Green Zone in Baghdad.  We went partly because it was Robin's last night and partly just to be the "girls" a much needed thing being completely surrounded by men!
Then after we went to the Dutch Embassy for a party.  I got to meet some Brits, a Pole, an Australian, and an Iraqi!  It was a lot of fun. Then we went to a black-light party at Baghdaddy's.  It was a wonderful and fun night, Robin was really glad that I arranged it for her...
Well, I didn't arrange the Dutch party or the black-light party, but she was glad we all went!  This is Robin.  She is based in New York and we are already planning a "reunion" party of all the girls that have come really close to while here.  Thank goodness for good friends! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dinner with the Marines!

My friend Nick, who is a Marine, is getting ready to depart post.  And so before he left, I made dinner for him and the other Marines.

Here I am with Michelle, one of the Marines.  I'm making the sauce for the mac and cheese and she is helping me make the meatballs.
This is Nick, my good friend.
Here are the Marines digging into dinner.  And below are all the ones who weren't working that got to eat with me.  We had a great time. They even said that I could come back and cook again! :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Italian Embassy Party

There isn't much that we are allowed to do, but one thing that we do get to do, is go to other embassy parties.  The Italian Embassy has had quite a few parties that I have gone to and I finally remembered to bring my camera.

This is my friend Lily.  I'm grateful that I met her because she has been a real friend.
This is Sean, one of the TDY DS Agents.  He's also been a great friend and I'm glad I've met him.

It is outside and they serve pizza from a brick oven and they play music.  I'm dancing all the time and Sean finally gave in and danced, so I took a picture as evidence!
I'm glad I went, it's nice to get out and do something different to help pass the time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dinner parties at my apartment in Iraq

 I love to cook and so I've learned how to improvise and still be able to cook even though I can't always get what I want.  And I invite my friends over to enjoy with me! :)

My friend Eddie.
 Some of my friends from my training class and some I made while here in Baghdad.
Hasmik and I.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pool Party in Baghdad, Iraq

Even though I'm in a war zone, we are lucky enough to have an out-door pool.  So for Memorial Day weekend a couple friends had a pool party and BBQ.  We had a good time and the weather and food were awesome!
 Anup, Sona and I
 Me, Malene & Sona
 Val, me and Todd
Kristi, Sona and I

Monday, May 16, 2011


I know it's been a really long time since I posted anything.  I've been in Iraq for almost four months now.  I haven't been taking any photos or updating the blog because there are a lot of things I can't take pictures of or things that I can't talk about.  Let's just say, I'm alive and doing well.  LOL.
It's been a very interesting time here.  I've made friends and had some experiences that I could've done without, but such is life.  I've gotten sick here a couple of times, once from a bug-bite and most recently a viral sore throat.  The weather is mostly nice here, as many of you know, I enjoy the heat, and it's been nice and warm here.  The one sad thing is that with all the friends I've made, most of them leave this summer, so I will have to start all over again... :(  Good thing I make friends easy! Lol.
I've also gotten to dance here, which has been fun, I even ended up DJ-ing one night...let me tell you, I DO NOT aspire to be a DJ!  LOL.  It was fun but an experience I hope to NOT repeat.  I'm trying to stay busy and the work is interesting and good.  I work with great people and that makes all the difference in the world.  I appreciate everyone's prayers for me...please keep them coming! :)  Love you all and miss you tons!