12.28.2011

Did I ever tell you ...

About my all-expenses paid vacay?

My all-expenses paid vacay to Sioux City, Iowa!

Okay, so not exactly anyone's ideal location for a vacay. And okay, it wasn't technically a vacay. Buuut, it still was all-expenses paid!

I rang in the 2008 New Year while riding on a Greyhound bus.


This is Emily Kunic and I on the bus, when Linze whipped out the beef jerky. I think it is clear how I feel about beef jerky. :)

We were heading to Sioux City for the Iowa caucus. We would be spending the week prior to the caucus  campaigning for Mitt Romney.

"We" were 55 college students and graduates primarily from the school down south and some Utah Staters. :) With some being defined as Emily and I.


We sure were excited as our journey began.

That spark of excitement simmered quite substantially, however, when the Greyhound began to malfunction. As in, it began going 10 miles per hour. While on the freeway. In Wyoming or Nebraska.

I am  not even sure which.

In attempts to get the bus to go faster than 10mph, we pulled over to one of those truck stops that fix trucks {and I guess buses too!} at any hour of the day.

There was a dirty little cafe for us to wait in.

Because of the late/early hour and the number of patrons we were bringing in from our bus, they didn't have enough servers for us. So, we served ourselves.

Chance Basinger & Daren Humphries
I don't recall how much time we spent in the dirty cafe. I do recall I drank hot chocolate. It was the sorriest cup of hot chocolate I had ever had in my life. But I was just grateful to have somewhere warm to stay while the bus got fixed.

And when it did, we were back on the road. But because of delays, the 16-hour trip turned into a 22-hour trip. The 22-hour trip in which I learned I could not sleep vertically. And since we were already arriving late, instead of getting some shut-eye upon arrival, we were put right to work!

While one of the biggest responsibilities our team had while in Sioux City was making phone calls, I wasn't put on the phones right away. Thank goodness! There were no scripts for the calls we were to make! My first job was keeping track of all the phone calls we made.

P.s. This is me doing this job and this is also me on my 42-hour stint of being awake.


Sigh. Look at that demented pinky. While I only had this assignment twice during the entire week, since I was the first one to have it, it was referred to as "Mindy's job" the entire time we were there. :)

But no one could escape making phone calls.


Linze Struiskma and Emily Kunic
Teams from every campaign make countless phone calls throughout the week leading up to the caucus. On Mitt's team we call to encourage them to first and foremost: attend the caucus. We also tried to get an idea of who they were voting for and answer any questions they had about Mitt Romney. Lastly, we offered transportation to anyone who had no one of getting to the caucus, regardless of who they were voting for. 

I cannot even fathom what it would be like to live in Iowa right before the caucus. One man I spoke to said I was the 17th person to call that week about the caucus! I really think I would have my phone disconnected the week prior just to keep my sanity! I think overall, we made over 38,000 calls that week.

Another thing we did felt a lot like tracking {even though I have never served a mission, I think this is as close as I will get to it}. We would bundle ourselves up ...


And go door-to-door {by foot}, encouraging people to attend the caucus. And put in a good word for Mitt, of course. :)

Did I mention temperatures got as low as -14*?

Because they did.

And, did I mention - Iowa doesn't believe in the grid/block system so much. We had to ask for directions. A lot. Such as, "Where is Jones' Street?"

"Just east of Jackson Street."

"Uhm, where is Jackson Street?"

"Just east of Nebraska Street."

I just have three letters for you: G-O-O!!!!

In one section of the town, the streets went in the following order: 35th, 36th, 38th, THEN 37th and 39th.


It was such a monumental moment in my life to find 37th street that I had to document it. :)

Did I mention it was -14* outside?

Oh, I did?

Did I mention on occasion we would find refuge in Chili's? after being outside for hours on end?


I get cold just looking at this photograph, knowing how cold we were that day! I had never been so cold in my entire life!

For several hours leading up to the caucus we were to hold up signs on street corners reminding people to attend and, if you haven't caught on by now, as well as encouraging them to vote for the Mittster! :)

I thought our signs turned out super cute.


C'mon. It glitters. Could you ask for anything more?

And when I thought it wasn't possible to be colder than I was while tracking for hours ...



It did. When we stood on those darn street corners.

P.s. While on the corner I had sister missionaries pull over in their car and ask me if I had ever heard of a man named Joseph Smith. When I informed them I had, they were super excited. Their excitement depleted when I informed them I was from Utah ... and already a member. :)

As it was time for the caucus to actually start, we were able to attend!

Standing room only.


As the caucus began, they asked us to stand and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. I cannot recall the last time I had the opportunity to say the pledge, probably in middle school when 25 14-year-olds would just ramble it off without thinking about what it meant.

At the caucus, hundreds stood and in unison, with more conviction than I have ever heard while saying the pledge, we all spoke, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 

There are no words to describe that experience

After a little speech here and there, the voters were released to vote. And back to our posts we went.


 As if seeing this semi-dumpy sign would be the last-minute decision-maker for anyone. ;)

Mitt won the district we were in by over 30%.

Success, I would most definitely say.

P.s. While in Iowa we stayed with families who offered their homes to us.

We were blessed to stay with Derek and Sam Memmott and their two little boys {and a baby who was in bed}.



Their kindness and generosity was second to none. They not only welcomed us into their home, gave us a place to sleep, let us use their shower, fed us, but they would also stay up with us into the early morning hours discussing the campaign as well as our lives back home. I will never forget the love they offered us.

After all was said and done, we got back onto that horrible, awful Greyhound and made the journey home to Utah!


I loved this experience more than I have words to convey. As attention is already being brought to Iowa for the caucus next week, I cannot help but long to be there. 

Iowa changed me. It made me more aware of our country. It made me determined to play a more active role in who runs our country. It made me more grateful for our country and the freedoms that we have. 

As the election year rolls around, I encourage you to also take a more active role. GET OUT AND VOTE. But that isn't even enough. Study the candidates. KNOW what they stand for - know what YOU stand for

In our country's history I do not believe there has ever been a more critical time for your voice to be heard. Are you happy with how things are going? If not, do something to change it.

You may be just one voice, but history is replete of times where just one voice changed the world.

P.s. I heart Mitt.

A lot. :)

That's all.

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