Friday, October 6, 2017

Thanksgiving Early Blog

Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving just one day out of the year, we should celebrate it every day!  Because there is always something to be thankful for!
Since you are reading my blog right now, you have to be reading it on some kind of device. You are able to read it, so you probably have the ability to learn letters and sounds. You are living and breathing air. You are reading, breathing, understanding, thinking, living…there are 5 things to be thankful for already! :) I’m sure we could find a million more things that we are thankful for if we just take a few minutes to think and reflect.
Here are some of the things that I am thankful for:
1.     My Family - - They are the absolute BEST!
2.     Friends - - They support me in all I do.
3.     God - - Why wouldn’t you be thankful for Him? His grace is amazing!
4.     CiCi (My Cat) - - She always cheers me up.
5.     My House - - Some people don’t have one, and I’m so grateful I do.
6.     Food - - So many go hungry in our world.
7.     Water - - So many have unclean or no water to drink.
8.     My Title - - I’m so proud of my accomplishments and being recognized for them is pretty special. I’m honored to represent my state and young girls my age.
9.     My Sister Queens - - They are all amazing girls, making a difference in our world!
10. Dance lessons and Dance Coaches - - I enjoy them SO much!
11. School - - I attend a Christian school. I’m so grateful I get to hear about God’s amazing love for me every single day.
12.  A Bookshelf (Full of Books!)  - - Books are my favorite thing EVER!
13.  Electronics - - Where would our world be without them?
14.  My Toys - - I’m lucky to have so many fun things that encourage me to be creative, learn and grow.
15. My Art Desk - - I love being able to create art and express myself.
16.  Travel - - I enjoy traveling and seeing and experiencing new things.
17.  My Health - - I’m so blessed to have a healthy body. I thank God every day.
18.  The Ability to Learn New Things - - Each day I learn something new and exciting – what a gift!
19.  The Opportunity to Give Back - - Helping to make other’s lives just a little bit better…now that’s something to be thankful for!
My list could go on and on…there are so many things to be thankful for.    I hope you can take a few minutes and come up with your own “thankful” list.
Remember to try to do something kind for others. It will make a difference in your life as well as theirs. They will have a thankful heart for all you do, and your heart will be extremely happy as well.
Happy early “Thanks”giving!
Alexis Thompson
Junior Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The 16th Grade

How is it already the middle of September? I find myself wondering how I am already in my senior year of college, although I still have a couple more years before I earn my bachelors of science in nursing. Hey, great things take time right?!
            My education has always been so important to me. The education system has furthered my knowledge with math, science, and history meanwhile instilling lifelong qualities of discipline, responsibility, and determination. Education is a privilege and not a right, and being able to realize that from an early age has been my motivation to further my own education. There is no better feeling than acing an exam that I have spent countless hours, or even days preparing for.
            While school is just picking up into full swing I have already hit some milestones of my college career. Earlier this month I received my white coat into nursing school. Not only does a white coat look cool, but it gives students a sense of honor and accomplishment, and a sense of being welcomed into this prestigious and rewarding profession. I also received one of the highest grades on a test since enter college! (ONLY ONE WRONG THE ENTIRE EXAM!!!)  In high school I found that my studies came natural to me and I never had to study. I walked into college with this mentality and did it hit right up side the head. Now, I never received awful grades but “bad” grades were anything but an A for me. I have learned effective studying habits for college exams and to put my best foot forward.
            This upcoming semester and spring semester will be full of hands on experience with nursing school. I am beginning to practice as a student nurse and will be doing clinical rotations. I am in the big leagues now. I truly believe nursing is the profession for me, and I hope to succeed as an RN, BSN. Looking back on my decision to switch my major from microbiology to nursing has never once been a regret and I do not think it will ever be. I believe God has a plan, and his plan was to make me a super duper senior at NDSU. :) Kidding.
 God put a calling on my heart for the nursing profession and the only thing I could do was listen and it’s been a blessing ever since.

Forever and Always,

Siam Simpfenderfer
Miss North Dakota International 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interviewing my dad!

Here is an interview with Dr. Peter Ojuro. He is a DO, a gastroenterologist by day and a superhero dad all year round.
Wiljar:                 Did you ever win an award?
Dad:    Yes, when I was in primary school. I won an award for our school choir. We won the    award to represent our school in the provisional competition.
Wiljar:                 What was your first job and how did it go?
Dad:    I worked at a supermarket and it went very well. My coworkers where always pleasant and helping people was the best part of the job.
Wiljar:        What’s your favorite Color?
Dad:    Green! I like green because it represents life. Green also reminds me of home, Kenya.
Wiljar:                 Favorite Sport?
Dad:    Soccer!  I’ve played since I was a small child and I still play even now.
Wiljar:                 What do you enjoy doing religiously?
Dad:    I enjoy eating healthy meals religiously. It’s good for the mind and body.
Wiljar:                 How many siblings did you grow up with?
Dad:    It was a full house! I grew up with 8 siblings, and I was the 6th child. It was a wonderful age range for me. I had older siblings that could cook and younger siblings I could play with. We were like a unit that worked very well together.
Wiljar:                 What was the last book you read?
Dad:    The last book I read was “The power of a Praying husband”. I chose to read this because it teaches you the foundation of a strong family and how to continue being a good father and husband.
Wiljar:                 Favorite number and why?
Dad:    My favorite number is two! It represents parody and fairness, that is why it’s my favorite number.  
Wiljar:                 Favorite music genre?
Dad:    I love Rhumba music, which is African music. I also enjoy listening to it after work, and long trips.
Wiljar:                 Favorite artist?
Dad:    My favorite artists are Koffi and Franco.

When coming up with the questions to ask my dad I wanted to keep it simple yet fun! I wanted to do this for some time but thought what could I possibly ask? It came together better than I had expected and in the process, I really got to see my dad in a light that I normally never see him in. I grew up seeing my dad as a superhero and I still do. Who knew superheroes have time to themselves to listen to music or enjoy a game a golf! We were a full house growing up, my siblings and me.  I guess in this interview I realized just how much more I appreciated my dad for all the things he did for us growing up. While still being able to be himself in the process. This interview could never sum up who my dad is! However, I will say that he is the most humorist, humble, fun, and hardworking person you’ll ever meet. 

Carpe Diem, North Dakota International Ambassador 2017, Wiljar Ojuro

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things…. Going Back to School

1.     New school supplies are my favorite! I get excited about binders, notebooks and all the cute new supplies.
2.     A new schedule, a new beginning is an exciting part of going back to school.
3.     Seeing long lost friends and acquaintances who I have not seen in a while
4.     Theatre auditions for the school musical and the play are tomorrow!  I cannot wait to see how it all comes together!
5.     Fall events like Homecoming and bon fires with friends are a few of my favorite things! Dressing up for school spirit week is so much fun too.
6.     I love decorating my locker.  This year I used little magnets to hang pictures of friends who are close as well as friends who are far away.
7.     New clothes are awesome!  I enjoy picking outfits for each day of the week.  I even made hangers that have the days of the week to help me stay organized.
8.     Getting to know new teachers and meeting new friends in different classes
9.     Trips to Starbucks…. The smell of fall in a cup aka the pumpkin spice latte
10.  After school theatre rehearsals and the teamwork that comes with working on a production
11.  Figuring out which clubs and committees are the best fit
12.  Pep rallies and opportunities to sing the National Anthem
13.  Meaningful discussions and plans for college
14.  Finishing up with summer reading for Advanced Placement English
15.  Being a senior, knowing that this is the last year of high school and wanting to make it awesome
16.  The challenge of something new and the comfort of the old
17.  I love a schedule that gives me enough time to go home for lunch
18.  School yearbooks from last year are the best because it is great to remember and reminisce about the previous year and all the memories.
19.  The possibilities that a new year brings always make me feel excited.  I love the cycle of the school year and the change of seasons the year brings.
20.  The carpe diem attitude that comes with being a senior and knowing that this is your last year to do something amazing in high school.

Yours in Harmony, Payton Hausauer Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back to School

FINALLY! It’s time to go back to school! I’ve been waiting for this day since the last day of school this past May! Here are some photos of my first day. I was super excited to be in my new classroom. My brother…not as much!  :) 
It feels great to be back! I just started 4th grade and it’s pretty cool so far. I have a wonderful teacher and AMAZING friends. Today, we started working from our new books and I know I’m going to learn a lot this year.
My favorite subjects in school are reading, math, science and English. Spelling is also a subject I enjoy. As you can probably tell, I LOVE school and I love to learn. It is so important to take your school work seriously. I know that, because someday I want to become a doctor and I know you have to study really hard in order to succeed in that career. I’m thinking about attending college at Harvard – I’ve heard it’s a pretty great school!
A new school year is a great time to start new habits. I want to encourage you  all to try to make a new habit of volunteering and helping others. Volunteering is very important to me and has enriched my life in so many ways.  

I know someone who really does have a habit of helping others. This dear friend of mine donated a bunch of things for me to give to others, as well as gave me a $50 donation for me to use however I see fit.
It took me a while to figure out how to best use the donation, but I have decided to use some of it for an upcoming service project that my friends and I are going to do at my 10th birthday party.

My friends and I will be creating “Blessing Bags” which will be donated to Welcome House – a homeless shelter in my community serving homeless families. These bags will specifically be for the children that are staying there. Many times, these children come to Welcome House with no belongings to call their own. These bags will be filled with items such as hygiene products like toothbrushes and toothpaste, toys, school supplies, and books.  I have partnered with my local library and they are generously donating books to be included in the bags as well.
My friends and I are blessed with so much…this is just our little way of giving to other children who could use a little blessing! Thanks to my special friend, Ginny, who has such a kind and caring heart and is helping to make these “Blessing Bags” a reality!

     I hope you all had a great start to the new school year, just like I have! Remember to try to do something kind for others. It will make a difference in your life as well as theirs! 
Alexis Thompson
Junior Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

I Challenge You to be Present

How many times do you find yourself wishing for the weekend, or find yourself unable to wait for a certain upcoming event including birthdays, holidays, or just a special occasion? Don’t get me wrong, I get so excited for upcoming events and almost can’t focus on my daily tasks. I get so caught up in the whirlwind of emotions and of exciting life milestones that it is sometimes easy to forget our daily blessings. 

This school year I have challenged myself to be present, and truly cherish every moment given to us because in a blink of an eye it could all be taken away. I frequently found myself wishing time away always excited for the next big event until one day I realized this is my one chance on this wonderful and wicked world. We are truly cheating ourselves out of precious moments we may never be able to hold on to again if we aren’t present in the moment. By being present in the moment we are more conscience of our surroundings, our neighbors, and ourselves. We may create deeper relationships with our peers because we are interested in what is going on at the moment instead of plans for the upcoming weekend. These moments are crucial because someone we may encounter during class, work, or even at the grocery store may need our attention which instead might be focused on our dinner plans with a pal. Those moments we wish away maybe moments that others cling to and look forward to because these moments might be the highlight of their day.

Not only may being present impact others it has a positive impact on your own mental health. Being present is simply being engaged physically, emotionally, and mentally in what is going on and what you are doing right now. The more present you are, the more your body relaxes and has more energy, and improves concentration. We are able to truly take advantage of the life we were given.

 I challenge you to be present in your day to day life and cherish your daily blessings which may come as simple encounters with colleagues, smiles at strangers, or a note left from a loved one. Live this wild, wicked, and wonderful life to the fullest by being present.

Siam Simpfenderfer
Miss North Dakota International 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Journey Continues...

In order for something new to begin, something else must come to an end.
I am filled with anticipation as I type this letter to you, but my feelings are also bittersweet because I am saying goodbye. Earlier this year, my husband was given a ministry opportunity to serve as a youth pastor in St. Louis, Missouri. After much prayer and consideration, we believe this is something God is calling us to do. I am beyond thrilled for my husband’s new job and I am ready to serve alongside him as we continue to dedicate our lives to investing in the next generation. I am excited for this new adventure, but closing a chapter is never easy.

To me, life only feels right when I am completely obedient to God. 
Through faith and obedience Jake and I have been on a beautiful journey that brought us from Nevada to North Dakota, and now, to Missouri. Transition isn't always easy, but it is often necessary for our lives. As we transition, my heart is full of gratitude for the time I had in North Dakota. I was fully embraced by a church family who loved me like their own. My dreams were supported by friends, pastors and mentors who filled me with strength, confidence and the belief that I can do all things through Christ. As Mrs. North Dakota International, I have amazing directors and fellow queens who have changed my life for the better. This experience has shaped me in ways that will last wherever I go. 

I believe with my whole heart that God will not only bless what I am walking in to, but He will also abundantly bless the things I am walking out of. God has his hand on everything I am saying goodbye to, including my journey with the North Dakota International Pageants. The best is yet to come! God has a wonderful plan for this organization and it is my prayer that the ND International Pageants will continue to be blessed greatly! 

I would like to thank my directors Meg and Janelle for supporting every season of my journey. They dedicated their time, energy and so much love to ensure that I have a wonderful year. When I shared with them about the move, they had nothing but positive things to say about it. Thank you to my North Dakota sister queens for being unapologetically YOU in the community and in our friendship. No matter where I go, our sisterhood is forever. I truly believe that. Thank you to my church, my community, friends and sponsors who have given a piece of themselves to my journey. I couldn't have done this without all of you. 

It's not about how much time we have, it's about what we do with the time we are given. My time as Mrs. North Dakota International has been absolutely wonderful. It's been full of growth and opportunities to serve my community. It was everything God destined for it to be, and for that I am truly blessed. Goodbyes are never easy, but the future is in the hands of a God who has a beautiful plan for all of us. North Dakota has a special place in my heart that will never be replaced. No matter where I go, it will always be wonderful part of who I am, the royalty and all.

Forever your Mrs. North Dakota International 2017
Angelina Yarbrough 
Turning Moments into Movements

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mr. North Dakota International 2017 (husband edition!)

My stomach felt like three giant knots tied into one as I stood backstage watching my wife on the live feed of a small flat screen tv. I stood there with the other husbands waiting eagerly and wondering which one of us would be stepping out on stage shortly to crown his beautiful bride. The moment seemed to linger on forever until the MC finally said, “And your Mrs. North Dakota International 2017 is…” 
I'm just thankful nobody was in close enough proximity as I buckled over then released an upward double fist pump into the air in celebration!

Introverted or not, I become pretty expressive when the woman I'm completely in love with succeeds in life. It’s as if something is just leaping on the inside of me! This was the beginning of a great year for Angelina as she took her first walk as Mrs. North Dakota International 2017. 

To be quite honest, when my wife approached me three years prior about entering the world of pageantry, I was a little skeptical. This was an area foreign to me, especially growing up with three nature-loving brothers and no sisters. Since that time though, I've said yes to the journey and learned some things along the way that have reshaped my perspective. Here are a few of them:

Pageantry doesn't make women great, it gives those already great a platform. 
Of course you need to compete in the area of fitness and have your wave down, but I've discovered it's much more than that. The on-stage competitiveness of pageantry is such a small part in comparison to the community service. I loved seeing Angelina take every opportunity to use her crown to be a light, an encouragement and a strength to those around her. “You get out of your year what you put into it” her directors would say. I have been one proud husband to see my wife using her platform to challenge and serve young people across our state in a variety of ways.

Pageantry provides opportunities for continual growth and perseverance. 
When Angelina spoke to students at a district youth event, I remember sitting and listening to her words flow from one thought to the next with such impact and wisdom. It was as if I was hearing it for the first time. This year I watched my wife reach new levels in her public communication. Each opportunity displayed her progress as she learned new ways to prepare and deliver messages. Communication is an art. There isn't a one size fits all for delivery style and it was an incredible moment as she spoke with confidence in the unique style God has given her.

Pageantry requires a great deal of mental prep
Interview questions range far and wide from easy answers to brain busters. However, both have one thing in common: three seconds. This is roughly the amount of time you have to internally construct a credible, worthwhile response before delivering an answer. I was nothing short of amazed to hear Angelina tackle the tough questions. Angelina taught me interview prep is less about studying individual questions and more about studying the person in the mirror. Who am I? What makes me tick? What is my stance on current political, social, and economic issues? Why do I believe what I believe? I’ve watched confidence blossom in my wife this year as she has developed a greater level of depth, faith, and intelligence. 

Pageantry in our life has set the stage to be able serve in a great deal of ways. It has been busy with schedules, events, and dresses and meeting new people and making great connections, and traveling- most times in the spotlight. Sure, there have been stressful moments as we approached the national pageant, but the journey has been worth it! To see the growth and success of my wife on stage, and even more so off stage… To see little kids light up when she walks into a room and watch her treat them as if they are the only one in the room… To see the inner fulfillment in Angelina and her connection to the community…these have been the best parts of this experience. My privilege as a husband has been getting a front row seat to it all while watching my wife transform into the woman she has always been destined to become. And I am convinced this is just the beginning!

Jacob Yarbrough

Husband of Mrs. North Dakota International 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

It's Fall Already!

                  “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” This quote is by Henry James. I remember as though it had been just yesterday when I was leaving for New York for the summer. While spending time with my family I traveled with my siblings. Leaving me to wonder where does the time go when we get older. This summer I drove to New Jersey for my little brothers’ game. He was attending his soccer tournament that he had been training of which he had been training for weeks.
 I often reminisce on the times I used to watch him play.  Christian playing soccer as a toddler, was always so quick on his feet.  I called him twinkle toes. This summer was the summer I realized that I must be willing to trust others. Even if they are 17 and just recently received their driving license. My brother Christopher, the recent High School graduate is now driving. I handed him the car keys while in New Jersey and had to trust him. I didn’t end up regretting it thankfully in the end. It was by doing this I saw him in a much mature light. Thinking just how time really does go by quickly.
This summer I was saying goodbye to my adolescent home that helped me thrive into adulthood. Helping my family pack up boxes into a 26ft moving truck. Shortly after driving it from New York to Georgia. Yes, that is correct I drove this truck by myself! Accompanying me was my Mum and my brother Christopher. This type of trip was rather interesting for two reasons. The first, I couldn’t believe the looks I would get when climbing out of the truck when stopping for fuel. Second, being in such close quarters will force you to eventually get over small stresses in your life.
Though summer has now ended, I am back at school and ready to work harder than ever! Working three jobs and taking 14 credits this semester. I know this semester will be quite a journey, but I will make the most of it. Working as a Phlebotomist is a job and skill that I enjoy very much despite the risks. An office assistant at the Trio office at NDSU, where I will be working on new projects that will help me gain new experiences. Lastly, working at the Memorial Union Art Gallery. A job that is sure to continue to have me in awe with such beautiful masterpieces. With more volunteering work coming up, I am looking forward to meeting new faces, learning new things and enjoying life.
With fall creeping, just around the corner. I feel that it is important in this blog to share that life can be enjoyable, no matter the season. No matter if you’re with family, friends or even by yourself. One can still find enjoyable moments no matter the season. “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Quoted by Albert Camus.
Carpe Diem, North Dakota International Ambassador 2017, Wiljar Ojuro

Friday, August 25, 2017

What Nationals Was Like for Me

It’s been awhile! I have been busy representing our amazing state at a NATIONAL pageant. Charleston, my heart and mind will always be full of love and memories that will last a life time. Nationals came and gone in a blink of an eye, and there are no true words to describe this experience. 

I have tried many times in the last several weeks to find the right words to describe the week. From the amazing women that participate in the International Pageant System to the community of Charleston, and the acts of volunteerism we did I am forever branded with the experience of a lifetime.

Starting my week of nationals several days early my directors, Janelle and Meg, loaded up into a mini van and started my journey to share my passion at an International level. God bless Janelle’s heart for driving the entire way! We made a pit stop at the most beautiful hotel in Chicago where we were treated like true royalty, nothing short of spectacular. We made stops in every state from North Dakota to West Virginia to step our two feet on to a new states ground to get the full experience.
Not even 5 minutes into arriving to Charleston I felt the hospitality. From red carpets, roses, and a full on police escort Charleston, West Virginia showed us what it meant to truly to be treated like queens. 

During my days during pageant week we did several activities around town. We participated in yoga on the river along with paddle boarding, spent time with the girl scouts, had lunch at the boys and girls ranch, and had breakfast at the ballet. These day outings were full of adventure and really pushed our limits, because a true queen must be ready for anything. But what made these long days truly memorable were the women I got to soak this experience in with. I became close with ladies from Australia, China, Montana, and New Jersey. These ladies have a heart and soul and a passion for their platform. It was so inspiring to hear everyone’s “why’s” I know that even though 47 girls walked away without a crown they’ll still continue to pursue their goals and dreams for their platforms.

Through this experience I planted seeds for lifelong relationships as well as deepened relationships with my teen and directors. Whom I am both forever grateful for. My favorite memories will have roots to this special week with once in a lifetime opportunities. I’d like to congratulate Kelsey Craft, our new Miss International 2017, who I know will do amazing things and will represent us with grace and poise. But lastly I would like to thank my friends, family, directors, and support system I truly could not have done it without everyone. The words of encouragement were fuel for my engine, knowing I was out there representing you all made it easier to take a risk and pursue my dreams.

Yours truly,

Siam Simpfenderfer
Miss North Dakota International 2017