B.A. in Marriage

Today is our 4th anniversary. If we were in university, we would have earned a B.A. in marriage by now! Some think it’s more of a science than an art, but I stand firm that love and marriage is always changing just like art. Over the years we’ve learned many things that keep our relationship new and yet consistent all at the same time. We have learned how to be independent and yet dependent on one another. Together we have grown closer to each other and our life vision has become more clear. We have rooted for one another, supported one another on tough days, and we have loved one another through it all. Marriage is not just about happiness, but about becoming a whole person.

 

A beautiful moment captured by Zach Hodgson

 

Marriage is about discovering anew your partner everyday. It is about loving and serving your partner, who also happens to be a fallible human like yourself. It is about humility and grace and being drawn to the One who created us all. Marriage is about choosing to love and be loved in your most ugly moments. Marriage is also about having FUN together! Even if you have different interests, having shared fun time together is so important.

 

We spent our 4th anniversary at Disneyland!

 

Here’s to a wonderful new year of marriage and an epic new year of life together. Bring it on, 2015!!

 

Happy New Year from Team Jander!

 

Nuestro Departamento

Due to safety reasons, we were never able to publish photos of our apartment while we were living on-site. For your viewing pleasure, I have put up some photos so you can see what our apartment looked like as Peace Corps Volunteers in Mexico. We lived simply, but we were safe and had a host family that took great care of us. This apartment is located in San Pedro Cholula, which is unrelated to the popular hot sauce. We lived on the second floor and to our surprise, never had any problems with scorpions or snakes or any other unwanted creatures that are common to the Peace Corps experience.

 

You have to understand, life was simple and cheap. Our apartment in numbers… rent was $155 USD/month; internet with router was $25 USD/month; gas was $20 USD every other month; electricity was $4 USD every other month.

 

Our garden patio – chives, lettuce, tomatoes, and our compost!

 

Our economy bathroom – shower, sink, toilet all right there!

 

Part 1 of our kitchen – limited space, limited pots and pans.

 

Part 2 of our kitchen – Note our mini fridge!

 

The living room where friends and family have spent many hours together!

 

The view from our bedroom door. I love our little apartment!

 

Since we’re still not settled in our new life, this still feels like my home. It breaks my heart to see our home and to know that we willingly chose to leave this life. It is easy, however, to idealize the things you’ve lost in life. Mexico will always be a part of my life and our story. I am forever grateful for our experiences there and the many memories we had in this apartment.

 

¡Feliz Navidad! 

Chelsea Beth

Lugares Hermosos: Las Montañas

Nevado de Toluca is a national park in the state of Mexico with incredible views…

Above the treeline vegetation…

 

… and cloudy ridges…

 

… don’t forget the famous crater lake!

 

Next in this series is the infamous National Park Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl

…incredible views of an active volcano, Popocatépetl…

 

… breathtaking sunrises at 14,000 feet…

 

… and first sun glimpses of Iztaccíhuatl…

 

… turn a corner and see this spewing volcano…

 

… Excellent day hike with great company…

 

… Does it ever get old?! I think not!

 

We are completely enamored with these volcanoes… remember all those photos we shared with you from our porch?! Let’s just call it love!

 

Adventure is out there!

Chelsea

 

¡Gracias por su Apoyo!

When we decided to join the Peace Corps, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. We each separately had our experiences living and visiting abroad, and the concept of becoming expats for two years was exhilarating. Throughout the journey of the Peace Corps process, we started telling friends and family little by little. We didn’t exactly know when or where we were going, but we were going somewhere at sometime! Our closest friends and family were always there to cross their fingers or send up a prayer when we had a deadline or interview come up. We went public with our news when we were already packing and preparing for Mexico. The decision to wait was due to our job situations at the time. Our last day in the United States, I blogged about ways to support us regardless of the distance. Let me just say…

Y’all have been so good to us!!!!

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We had been getting so many letters and they were just getting piled in a corner. I had to create a makeshift cork board so we could appreciate the love everyday. I cannot even express the gratitude for all of the letters, packages, e-mails, skype calls, and post cards we have received during our time abroad. Thank you so much for taking the extra time to maintain a relationship with us regardless of the thousands of miles.

 

For the next year, here are some ways you can support us:

1. Come visit, seriously. Now is the time to plan a trip down south!

2. Continue to read our blog – and head over to Neal’s new GIS blog: Lost Axis GIS

3. Send us favorite recipes; they can be new favorites, old favorites, family favorites.

4. Share any book/music/pop culture recommendations you might have (…this includes youtube videos!)

5. Please continue to send us glorious, lovely letters, e-mails, packages, ect.

 

Lots of love from down south,

Chels

Estoy Aquí

In our neighborhood, we have plenty of street dogs who are hungry and without a home. It makes me so sad to see these pups discarded to the street after they’ve past the cute puppy phase. After seeing this, we’re trying to treat the street dogs in our neighborhood with more love. How could you not be moved to action after this adorable film?! What is something (or someone) unseen in your world? Will you choose to see it? Give it a try and let us know how that changes you.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” — Rev. John Watson

Con amor,

CB

La Vida es Corta

Unfortunately, Neal and I have had 3 grandparents pass away in the short time we have been living here in Mexico. Each of them have been great role models and taught us so much about life. It is most challenging, however, to see our parents lose their parents. All of this makes me realize that life is so short. We really have to use the time we have, starting right now. You have 24 hours every day to pursue your dreams. Quit being a weekend warrior and start utilizing every. single. moment. What’s holding you back?

Oh and it might have been awhile since you’ve read the great Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go, but you should probably read it again. You’d be amazed at how much you might learn from a “children’s book.”

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Make it a great week, amigos!

Chelsea

Conoce a Carla Morrison

If you haven’t heard of Carla Morrison, give me the pleasure to introduce you to this rockin’ Mexican artist. Born in Baja California, her career really started to kick off 2009 upon release of he her self-titled EP album. She now lives in LA, California and is touring the world at 26 years old. Although her music is technically categorized as pop, I appreciate the tranquil tunes in a slower Spanish that I can actually understand. She’s got a good Ingrid Michaelson vibe going on. Anyway, I hope you enjoy her music as much as we do! Disfrute bien.

 

 

Since you’re now a huge fan, I have included a link where you can download her music. I mean seriously, how can you say no to those tunes?

 

Besitos,

Chelsea

 

PS – Because Chelsea is such a strange name here, people call me Yessie. If I want people to get my name right, I have to say como el equipo de Inglaterra (like the English soccer team) whenever I introduce myself. The light goes on in their brains and they immediately know how to pronounce my name. Then I tell them that I own the team and it’s named after me. They believe me; I tell them it’s a chiste. We all laugh; they get my name right and I make a new friend. Win-win!

Paquete de Texas con Amor

We wanted to give a public shout out to our awesome family – the Cunningham’s – for sending this really, really wonderful care package. As you can see, we miss healthy snacks and I miss pampering. Sounds silly, but most snacks here are filled with either sugar, salt, or spicy spice – or a combination of all three. Now add the complication of gluten-free to the whole mix and you get one starving, grumpy chica. I am never, ever caught without at least one type of snack in my bag. I normally carry a few options, just in case. Plus, we don’t eat lunch here till 3 o’clock in the afternoon. This hungry girl has got to snack!

 

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And for the pampering… well when you think about getting ready for a trip to Mexico, as a woman you probably want to get a pedicure since you’re going to be wearing your super fashionable sandals. Unfortunately, pedicure services are impossible to find as there seems to be some kind of anti-feet thing here. So when a girl can’t get her toes done, a facial is next on the list right?! (Males, if you’re still reading this paragraph you have a blessing to just skip to the end.) Too bad facials are also impossible to find, as well as massages. So what’s a girl to do?! That’s right… have her cousin ship down a DIY pampering kit. Oh wait, I guess the package did officially come from my not-even-two-year-old second cousin, Levi. He’s a talented kid, what can I say! See below for more examples of talent:

 

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Thank you, Cunningham’s for an awesome, delicious, thoughtful surprise! We feel so loved!

 

Muchos Abrazos,

Chelsea Elizabeth