There is no better way to start a month than with a birthday. 8 Years ago Linz gave birth to our first child. Kennedy Joy Torres. I look at her and can't believe that she is 8 years old. I remember her when she was 3 and would dress up as repunzel for hours on end. When she would go to Disney and stare wide eyed at the princesses. I guess that is the curse and blessing of being a parent is that they keep growing up.
We took her to a local park and dressed her up and were able to take some amazing photos of her. When Kennedy turned 8 she decided she wanted to be baptized. She chose to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was a wonderful decision made on her own. The white dress is a symbol of the decision she is making and the person that she is. Her heart is pure and she is full of goodness. By being baptized she become pure and clean in spirit by finding access to God's grace
Kennedy has been blessed with some wonderful friends in her life. She has many other friends not pictured that have influenced her greatly. We are grateful that she has good friends that are helping her along the path of discipleship.
I also wanted to take a picture of Kennedy holding a Japanese Book of Mormon. In memory of our stay in Japan and that Kennedy made the decision to be baptized here. I think it is an awesome story that forever she will be able to say that she was baptized in Okinawa Japan. I hope that she has some memory of this time.
Grandma Torres made her a quilt. On it has many symbols that mean a lot to Kennedy. A Choose The Right shield and date of her baptism. A moon and a tiny star baby, in memory of my great grandmother and the song she used to sing that has been passed down to Kennedy. Then two favorite scriptures. Kennedy now sleeps with this blanket on her bed and will keep it forever.
The same day as Kennedy's baptism we had her birthday party for her. We had asked for months before if she wanted a birthday party and what kind of party she wanted. Almost without hesitation she wanted a Harry Potter birthday party.
We recently finished reading the entire series of HP. She as loved reading them and spending time with Dad while reading them. Now that she knows all of the Harry Potter secretes she wanted to share her excitement with all of her friends.
Some of the things we did were Sorting hat, Herbology, Spell books and wands, Potions, run from the three headed dog and find the flying keys. Kennedy loved every moment. The Kids seemed to enjoy potions the best. They all got to leave to two vials of their very own concoction of potion.
Forest Adventure Park
Linz and I spent a day date going to the Forest Adventure Park. It is an zip line obstacle course. We went on a day when there we almost no one there. It was a ton of fun. We were both super sweaty by the time we finished up. One thing that keeps our marriage going is having fun adventures together!
Forest adventure Park Video Footage
One thing that we have been wanting to do for a while is to go to down town Naha and visit the Owl and Animal Cafe is Naha. Their facebook page can be found here . We should up with 6 kids and they got us all in and the 4 older kids were able to all hold an owl and have it sit on their lap. We went into this small darkened room and they had probably 15 various owls sitting there. We were able to pet all of them and get up close and personal.
They also had another room where you can hold various exotic animals. The kids had a fun time holding them and pretending that they were their babies. Kennedy in particular loved all of the animals.
Kennedy has been working hard all year in her dance class. It is put on by a girl who works on base and travel been the different military bases and puts on dance classes for the girls. She gets paid for it, but it is still a lot of work and does it out of pure love for the girls and for dance. I am not a dance type of guy, at all! But Kennedy was awesome. She takes things very seriously. When I asked her what her favorite thing about dance was this year she said: "Just hanging out with all of my friends. It always makes me feel happy and feel better when I go."
It reminded me of when I was a part of team and the lasting friendships I made. I literally will never forget the guys I played basketball and football with. What a great lesson to learn.
I really was proud of Kennedy. Of all of the extra curricular things that she has tried, she seems to like dance the most. She will dance in her room by herself. Or put on the greatest showman music and dance. We love her for working so hard!
With only so much time left in Okinawa we are trying to maximize all of the weekends we have left. For memorial day weekend we wanted had big plans. We wanted to go up to Maeda Flatts, which has some amazing snorkeling, amazing beaches and amazing caves.
We met up with some of our best friends we are also leaving in July. It is going to be so sad to depart from all of these good people. We have met some simply amazingly kind, good and gracious people. We could not have been more blessed than to know these people.
Hayden had a great time playing in the sand and looking for and catching hundreds of hermit crabs. He loves to torture them and drag them and trow them and bury them.
McKay had two friends that he played with, he swam, and explored the caves and snorkeled. Kennedy snorkeled and played with the boys. She also got out on the kayak with mom.
Each time we leave a beach and drive back home, Linz and I look at each other and don't say anything because we don't want to say "this is the last time we are going to come here." But we both know that it is.
We spent the rest of our Memorial weekend up at Okuma Beach Resort. It is a Japanese resort located right next to a military resort. So we go the best of both worlds. We swam and played in the ocean, played on the beach, ate yummy food, played mini golf and rode go carts! We all had an amazing time!
Here are some photos of where we stayed. We really wished we could have stayed longer for more nights. But we only had the one night. We had a great time none the less.
I went out for a morning sunrise photo session at one of my all time favorite places in Okinawa at Cape Hedo. I have an amazing shot taken there almost 2.5 years ago. But this time the conditions were very different. I woke up at it was foggy and kind of moody. I had to get some photos to capture the conditions. There are so many possibilities of amazing photos in this location I think if i went back 10 times I'd come back with 10 very different and amazing photos.
But this photo is currently sitting as my desktop background because I liked it so much. It is very different than most photos I take. I usually am a super bright and vivid colors with an amazing sun. This photo has no sun and has very simple colors. But I love it.
Our official time in Okinawa is less than 40 days now. We are very sad to be leaving. Our life is going to be chaos for the next two months. Our lives have been touched by so many people. We are coming back different people. I don't think that you can live in a foreign country for three years and have it not change you.
Of all the things changes that have happened, I just hope that we are a little more kind, a little more patient. I hope we find joy in our journey and not in arriving at the destination. I hope that we forgive sooner, serve sooner and love deeper.
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