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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reflecting on the Mrs. International Pageant

As the Mrs. contestants filled the room during our first night together at orientation, I walked around and placed a bookmark on every woman’s spot. On the front was my picture and on the back was a quote that read, “True beauty in a woman is reflected in the soul.” Little did I know that I would discover countless beautiful souls during my week at the Mrs. International Pageant. 

Our group consisted of teachers, business owners, non-profit starters, ministry leaders, international models, and even a meteorologist (just to name a few). We represented two generations of women and several different countries. But even more impressive than our age, race or resumes, we are all women filled with bravery, resilience, and a heart to serve others. I am honored to have been among these as a representative of North Dakota and my platform, National Youth Ministries. 

A quote that I recently adopted as my motto is, “Success does not rest in the outcome, it rests in the obedience.” My personal journey in pageantry is truly one of obedience. After placing 3rd runner up in the Miss Junior Teen Las Vegas pageant almost 10 years ago, I told my mom that pageantry wasn't my thing and I never wanted to do it again. Note to self, never say “never." Ironically, as a newly-wed adult, God gave me a clear calling toward pageantry once again. When God asks something of me, I believe it is necessary to be obedient to His direction. So there I was, at the Mrs. International Pageant, doing the very thing I never thought I’d do. I am so grateful that God replaced my “never” with his beautiful plan. 

Throughout my very busy week in Charleston, West Virginia, I asked God to reveal my specific purpose for being there. “Is it to win the crown?” I asked several times. “Or is it for something else?” Each time, I heard him say, “Just wait and see.” So that's exactly what I did. As I waited, I developed relationships, enjoyed amazing food & fun activities and engaged in many interesting conversations. I even learned how to say “Hello North Dakota” in 6 different languages! I took lots of pictures, prayed with my directors and fellow contestants, smiled at every person I met. I had so much fun! 

Not every moment was perfect, though. I had a minor setback when a mysterious bug bite forced me to miss some of rehearsal to go to the quick care with my entourage of directors and staff. But I learned to laugh at the ridiculousness of my “emergency”. After a steroid shot and a good spray tan, the bug bite was healed and hidden just in time for preliminaries! 

After the preliminary competition on Friday night, my mind shifted from fun-mode into anticipation for the results. As Saturday afternoon approached, I was very emotional. The long, but wonderful week was finally coming to an end and I couldn't believe it was my last day with all these women. Yes, tears were involved. When our last rehearsal ended and we headed backstage to get ready for the final show, I reminded myself to enjoy every moment. 

 After fixing my hair and makeup one last time, I turned on worship music, stepped away from the dressing room and found a quiet corner to pray. “God, why am I here?” I asked again. “Is it to win the crown?” “Or is it for something else?” At that moment, God told me to be happy for every woman who makes the top 15, whether I am one of them or not. He told me to be as happy for my fellow queens as if it were me up there. All of a sudden my mind and heart shifted. I was no longer anxious. I was filled with pure excitement for our top finalists (who hadn’t even been announced yet) and I was already excited for the winner, whomever she was going to be! I immediately got a burst of energy and the desire to get back in the dressing room and get to know some of these women while I still had the chance. 

In that moment, I was living Psalm 28:7

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

As I marched on that stage for opening number, I was truly “bursting” was happiness, thanksgiving and energy. 

When the top 15 were called and I didn’t hear my name, I continued to smile a genuine smile because I knew I had given this competition my very best. I had no regrets, and I learned so much. As I stood on stage clapping for those who made it to the top, I saw why I was there. I was there to share a piece of myself and the light of Christ with these women. I was also there to be inspired by them because many of them have been philanthropists for as long as I have been alive. I was there to learn and grow from this experience. Huge congratulations to our new Mrs. International, Mellissa Pocza! You are a great role model for women everywhere and I am praying that you accomplish amazing things this year. 

I believe God will continue to show me many more reasons as to why he called me into pageantry. I look forward to learning, growing and discovering every reason He allowed me to be Mrs. North Dakota International for such a time as this. 

Angelina Yarbrough
Mrs. North Dakota International 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nationals Recap

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationship we were afraid to have, and decisions we waited too long to make.”              -Anonymous
I am just catching my breath as a return from an opportunity of a lifetime.  Reflecting back on the experience of competing for the title of Miss Teen International, is a little surreal.  In many ways, I can hardly believe that the experience is now in the past. After all the planning and preparation, the week went by so quickly. I guess that is what happens when so much life experience gets packed into the same amazing week. My journey to nationals and my experience there is something I will treasure for a lifetime. 
Although I was disappointed that I did not place, I was very proud of how I competed in West Virginia.  I feel like every decision that I made, reflected who I am as a person.  I hope that I represented North Dakota, My Music Education Platform and myself well.  In the end, I believe the International Pageant crowned a very worthy Miss Teen International.  I was moved by her platform of Literally Literacy and I know she will accomplish great things. Congratulations to Carley Peeters, Miss Teen International!
I loved that we took time out of the week to do something positive in the community of Charleston!  The visits to the library and to the Boys and Girls Club, was time that I will never forget.  My heart was so full as we read to children and donated backpacks and school supplies. It was nice to have a reminder that what we do as state title representatives, is ultimately about service.   
The competition is just part of the process…Although I really enjoyed my time on the stage.  Some of my most memorable time was spent outside of that venue.  I will never forget the friendships that began out of 3:45 hair and make-up sessions. My take-aways here were: The higher the hair, the closer to God is a real thing!  Thank you, Emily, Miss Teen Texas!  The words “This is Tracy” is a pop culture phenomenon that spoken at just the right moment, will always get a laugh! I adore you Tracy, Miss Teen Washington! Finally, the song “It’s Expensive to Be Me” is a musical masterpiece at 4 o’clock in the morning.  To the ladies of room 818, thanks for the memories!   
I will be eternally grateful to my family and friends who supported me through this journey.  Thank you to my amazing North Dakota state directors for believing in me and supporting me in every possible way. I am the luckiest girl I know!
Yours In Harmony, Payton Hausauer Miss Teen North Dakota

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

National’s Sendoff to Sister Queens

What an exciting week for my sister queens!  They are on their way to the National International Pageants! I hope they have a great time meeting new friends that they can stay in touch with their whole lives. I know each one of them will do AWESOME!  These are some of the reasons why I think that:

Angelina – Mrs. ND International:  Angelina is a wonderful sister queen, as well as a friend. I love that she expresses her love for God in her blogs and on her social medial pages. Angelina helps young people like me discover their God-given purpose. Angelina’s message behind her platform “Turning Moments into Movements” includes the thought that “every person has a responsibility to be a positive influence on youth. When people take moments to invest in youth, those can become movements that will impact generations to come.” Angelina has greatly impacted me and countless others across our state.

Siam – Miss ND International:  Siam is such a great role model for girls. And I think it’s cool that we both want to study medicine and use our gifts and talents to help people as our occupations. Like me, Siam also enjoys volunteering for many organizations. I also admire her for spreading the important message of her platform “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.”  She encourages young people to understand that it is okay to ask for help if they are struggling in life. Siam loves making a difference in the lives of others! Hey – just like me! :) Siam is an awesome “sister.” 

Payton – Miss Teen ND International:   Payton is such a fun person to hang around with!  She sings so beautifully and you can really tell that she loves her platform and sharing music with others. Payton believes that “music not only enriches our lives, but it connects us to one another through our human experience.” Before I entered the pageant, I was looking through the 2016 program book, and I saw Payton’s ad. I thought she had such a cool platform. I was happy that she competed again, so we would have a chance to win titles together…and we did!  I’m so thrilled to have such a beautiful “sister” like Payton!

Wiljar – Ambassador ND International:  Like me, Wiljar does not compete at nationals, but if she did, I know she would do great! Wiljar is passionate about working with children and adults is studying at NDSU to be a Family Counselor. Her platform is Volunteering and she encourages everyone to volunteer and help make a difference in their community.  I love that we share a love of volunteering and making a difference! I am so happy she is my “sister” and I’m glad to be sharing this year with her.

Each of these ladies will do so well at Nationals!  I wish them all the best of luck and can’t wait to hear about their experiences when they return back to the great state of North Dakota! I’ll be cheering for all of you this week!!! Love you all!

Alexis Thompson
Junior Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017