Friday, December 16, 2011

Season's Greetings

The Holiday Season is in full swing, welcomed in starting in September here in the Philippines. It will continue to be a part of everyday scenery until January.  And while I'm not quite used to seeing things that early, or for having them up for that long...I do love seeing the city lit up at night, and all the decor everywhere.  This city sure does know how to decorate!
As I said before, we're almost done setting everything up in our home.  But Christmas is up and present.  So here you go:
Our humble little tree:
All 4 1/2 feet of it is special to us and will always be since it was our first tree.  It has somewhat of a theme to it of birds and crosses, with some other ornaments.  Here are some of my faves:
And all lit up.  
We've also gotten a few decorations to adorn our home with in the Philippines.  Some of the best decorations I've ever seen!  Like these cute little trees:
And I even made a few additions myself.  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this door above our entertainment center, but for now I thought it was perfect to add a little holiday cheer to.  Along with some other Philippine purchased Christmas knick-knacks and a very special picture Jordan made for me last year.
Gettin crafty...
And the stockings hung with care:
And a few other little things to add some warmth.
This will be my first Christmas away from home ever.  And even though that's sad, there are things to be grateful for and new things to embrace.  It's exciting being in a new place for Christmas and seeing how different traditions play out.  But the best thing of all is that Christ is still at the center.  And no matter how the scenery changes, the meaning doesn't!  Happy Christmas! 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear Soul Sister

I have absolutely loved being a part of small group on Saturday nights.  Week after week we come together to discuss the previous message, share our praises and requests, and have an all around good time.
Since we were staying out at Greg and LuAnn's when we got here, I started attending small group with her, of which her daughter Jessica is also a part(not pictured).  I know Filipino people are happy, welcoming people in general, but these ladies are beyond that.  I just love them!  At the beginning of the month we had a Christmas party and as you can see the theme was purple!  I have been so touched by each and every one of these ladies.  And they all have stories of God's grace, and healing, and forgiveness that would just blow you away.
But one of the coolest things, was being there the night Ms. Santos (pictured on the bottom left in the pink) got saved.  She just retired from the head of schools, and Greg and LuAnn have been working with her for many years.  In fact, she is the one who asked why they did not have a moral values camp for the teachers, and got them to start those.  What an incredible thing to see seeds planted finally take root!
I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful group of ladies to help me to fit right in here, and find my way.

No matter what country you were born into, or what language you speak, God is able to tie all hearts together.  And mine is definitely knit together with these ladies.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Friend

I don't think I can call you long lost friend at this point yet.  I know time has past, but all for good reason.  You see our stuff came, and then I got lost in putting my home together.  I'm a firm believer that if my house is not in order, than my life is not in order.  So unpacking began!
As soon as we heard word our container full of our stuff had made it to the Philippines, I was so excited!!  And then I had to wait....and wait...and wait.  There's a process it has to go through before you have it in your possession, and that week and a few days felt like an eternity.  I had been patient long enough, I was ready for us to finally have a home!
We heard word that it was going to arrive on the 23rd of November, so we worked hard at our apartment all day to make sure we were ready for everything.  And then we waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 4:30 am on the 24th our container pulled up!  It didn't matter I had been up all day I was pumped!  Within a few hours all of our stuff we sitting in different rooms, just waiting to be put in its proper place.
But it was Thanksgiving and several of our teammates had waited all night with us.  The unpacking was going to have to wait.  We had a celebration to get to!  Jordan and I finished up, and headed back to where we were staying.  I took an hour nap, and then to the kitchen I went.  Christi was so kind to let me use her kitchen.  We were in there all day!
Our first holiday away from home and everyone we know.  But we weren't alone.  We have an awesome team here that we are so blessed to be a part of!  
It was a good day!  And everyday that has followed we have been working diligently to get our home all set up.  I'm so thankful, and have been so blessed to have this place to call home.  Things take a lot longer to get up and running here and there's things to be involved in, but it's almost all done.  And when that day comes I'll give you a proper tour.  But for now I'll leave you with a preview.
Well I gotta get back to it.  


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Motorist

We now have a car!  Look out Manila here we come!
Thanks to some folks who have now become good friends we are proud owners of a Cherry QQ308.  We're so grateful to Richard and Liza for all of their hard work in hunting down the perfect car for us!  It was such a blessing to find something to fit our budget and parking spot at our Condo!  It has some pretty sweet features too!  Like the windows that automatically roll up when you get out and lock the car.  And let's not forget to mention the fact that it's an AMT, which mean Automatic Manual Transmission, which means it's a manumatic.  Yeah I told you it was sweet!
This week has been a big one for us.  We got our car, and tonight our container arrives at our place!  It's so nice to be settling in and making our home here.  And best of all...making friends!  Thanks again Richard and Liza!!
More to come soon!

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dear Record Holder,

This might have been the craziest race I've ever been a part of, but it was totally worth every minute of it!  I was pumped when I saw multiple billboards for races here in Manila, but I knew I had to be a part of this one.
Jessie and Cory (our teammates) had been running as well, so they agreed to sign up for the race with us.  The most exciting thing about this race is that it made it in the Guinness Book of World Records last year with over 116,000 runners.  

This was their first run ever!  And I told them they were rockstars in my book because we had to get up at 2 am to meet them by 3 to then commute to where the race was starting.  Only a crazy runner does something like that!  They've got it in their blood!
We were pumped when we got there.  
Jordan was excited to be there too!  
We were all lined up ready to go at 4am just like the paper had asked us to be.  Just another 45 minutes and we'd be well on our way.  
Don't mind my scary beady eyes.  
We wanted to make sure we weren't too close to the start because we didn't want to get trampled but we were still so far off.  
See the glowing square in the center...yeah that's the starting point.  So we waited and we waited.  And random cheers broke out every now and again.  By 6am the gun finally went off, and we waited and waited.  Finally walking across the starting line 20 minutes later.  
We tried to run as much as we could, but they predicted 150,000 people would be there this year!  Do you know what it's like to dodge in and out of 150,000 people!?  It was crazy!
We ran passed Manila Bay.
This was about halfway through the race.  It never really opened up.  It was incredible.  
Even this little dog was having a good time.
According to my Nike+ we actually ran a 6.67km and it took us 53:33.  Definitely not a race for time, but wow, what an experience.
And for their first race, these guys did awesome!
What a fun day!  We're totally pooped but we were laughin and havin a good time all morning!
I'm loving being in this new city and experiencing all kinds of firsts!  I've never run with so many people and I've got my fingers crossed I'll be a part of the Guinness Book of World Records this year.  


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Fellow Learner,

I am a student again on so many levels.  On the one hand, I feel like I'm relearning everything.  There are some days when it's all so exciting and new, and other days where the little things can feel so overwhelming.  But I am a student literally as well.  One of the many things we're involved with here in Manila is Baptist Bible College Asia.  I've decided the best way to learn what's going on with the college and how the students are taught is to take a class myself.  So I am taking Survey of Basic Life 1 with Mrs. LuAnn Lyons.        
It's been a great class so far and even if it's not necessarily anything new, it's been good to revisit basic principles of Christian living as I find myself in a completely new place.  The biggest part of that is finding my security in God alone:  being assured of who I am in Him as I find my place amongst a whole new people group.  It's also been a great learning experiences to get to hang with this lady and be in a class with her.  LuAnn knows how to run a tight ship and keep her family in line and fully functioning.  I feel so blessed to have someone like her for a mentor as I find my way as a wife, and someday a mom, in a foreign land.    
Within this class there are students who have become my teachers as well.  They are eager to help me learn Tagalog.  Amy (Ah-mee) finds me at every break and goes over the alphabet, numbers and small words, coaching me along and encouraging me to keep learning.  
  I know someday we'll be able to converse in Tagalog, but for now I pray for patience:  as I learn my role, this culture and all that God has in store for me.  It's gonna be a great ride.  


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dear Sweet Tooth,

Everyone knows the best way to ones heart, is through their tummy.  And while our team is all still trying to get to know each other and bond, I thought I would get them to love me early on by doing what I know best...baking cookies!
And boy did it work!  

I've been curious for a while now how grocery shopping and cooking would work here.  I'm so excited to try new things and incorporate them into my repertoire, but I'm also glad to know I can still make things I know.  And these cookies I know.  They've been a staple in our household for quite a long time, and they're my all time favorite sugar cookie recipe!  Now, they're not healthy...but remember I'm trying to get them all to love me first! =)  

*Though I actually did make two different kinds of cookies and the other one was healthy and probably loved almost equally as much.* 

But let's cover this recipe first:

Basic Sugar Cookies
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In large bowl, beat sugar and butter until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into sugar mixture.  Form into two lumps and wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour or overnight.  The longer it sits the better it is.  Preheat oven to 350.  Roll out dough to 1/4-1/8 inch thick.  Using cookie cutters, cut out various shapes.  Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on bottom.  Cool on rack before frosting.

*I always double this recipe for parties and groups.  

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter
1 package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Allow butter and cream cheese to soften to room temperature.  Place all three ingredients in mixing bowl, and beat with mixers until light and fluffy. 

Can't wait to share many more recipes with you!  This is only the start.  You should definitely make these cookies over the holiday season.  Your friends will love you....I promise!