Saturday, November 26, 2011

a season of appreciation

My first thanksgiving away from my family was hard. I wish so badly that I could have been running out the door to Nandy’s house just in time for lunch. Petal to the metal on the gator with Boss running ahead chasing the smell of turkey and dressing. Family and friends awaiting hugs and kisses, cool weather, Psalm 100, cousins, gator rides, shooting guns in the pasture, eating good homemade food, text messages from friends and family near and far away, smiles all around, too many people in the kitchen, 4-wheeler rides, football playing in the background, checking the papers for the black Friday sales, preparing to go pick out the perfect Christmas tree, music playing constantly on the surround sound, magnolia lake circle leaves, iron bowl talk, the familiar smells, the familiar laughs, the familiar faces. 

I am thankful for my incredible family. I am thankful that we are always able to have fun. I am thankful that we laugh together. I am thankful that they keep me on my toes. I am thankful that we all go with the flow. I am thankful that the boys always make me workout harder than I want to. I am thankful that my daddy loves me and will grow an entire watermelon patch for me. I am thankful that my mama will eat burnt toast when no one else will. I am glad that there is wisteria only one season out of the year. I am thankful that Nandy lives a 4-wheeler ride away. I am thankful for an Aunt that treats me like her own. I am thankful for an Uncle who always looks out for us, and accepts crazy Christmas gifts with a good laugh. I am thankful for friends to love. I am thankful for four incredible years at Auburn. I am thankful for my divas. I am thankful for friends all over the world. I am thankful for your prayers. I am thankful for this life, and the one to come. I am thankful for people from Saudi Arabia that bring a smile to my face. I am thankful for the nations. I am thankful for my “gospel posse” in Auburn. I am thankful for opportunities.  I am thankful for positive influences and encouraging people in my life. I am thankful that I have a lifetime full of memories that can bring a smile to my face at any moment. I am thankful that there will always be fresh air to go home to. I am thankful for the Body of Christ. I am thankful that I have an eternal perspective.

I am thankful for the internet… even when family time is at the mercy of a weak connection. I am thankful for my Manila Family. I am thankful for family dinners at the Jordan's house. I am thankful for my new friends here. I am thankful for Ning, my language tutor. I am thankful for home cooking. I am thankful for quality time. I am thankful for the grass and trees on Ateneo’s campus. I am thankful for the gym that is about to officially open next door to my apartment… one of the perks to living in a big city. 

And, most importantly I am thankful for my salvation. I am thankful that I am a daughter of the Most High. I am thankful that I have a peace that surpasses all understanding. I am thankful that I am an heir to the throne. I am thankful for the Word. I am thankful that He is my sustainer. I am thankful that I am redeemed.  I am thankful that I have a beautiful inheritance.

I am thankful that He is worth it. 

The cookies Anita and I baked for Thanksgiving!

Sweet Sara!

Our Thanksgiving Feast.

The ladies at Thanksgiving.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100

“Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the best is yet to come

Language school is still progressing. I am learning more and more each day! One of the most memorable parts of this week’s language training was learning “Ng-a,” “Ng-o,” and “Ng-u.” Ning was telling me where to put my tongue and how to position my lips… Let’s just say that it’s not a position we put our tongue in for any English words. I had to look in the mirror multiple times to see if the placement was correct. Ning and I just laughed. It was a sight to see, for sure. 

One of the girls at school this week commented that I didn’t have an accent when I spoke Tagalog. Yippie!! That was great news! I am getting to know more students in my class, which is awesome. I even met a girl that lives across the street from me (but only during the school week)! I had lunch with her today. She likes to take photos, and has a sweet heart. I can’t wait to get to know her more.  I got to talk to my teacher for a while after class this week. She is a lady of vision for sure. She’s always busy and plays a big part in fighting for human rights here in Southeast Asia. 

I met a girl named Jessie this week. She’s from Chicago, twenty-three years old, likeminded, speaks perfect English, and a white girl in the Philippines! We had a great time getting to know each other. She has given me some “tricks of the trade” to living in this big city. She travels a lot doing research for an organization here. She may only be here one or two weeks out of the month, but I’m looking forward to getting to know her more! Meeting her was definitely a blessing! This past weekend, she introduced me to one of her friends, who actually teaches at Micah and Hannah’s school. She is so great. We all went to Eastwood, a really nice area of town. We enjoyed playing on the bungee trampoline, enjoying time together, and watching a movie in the air conn.

Unique to the week:
  • I can order my water refill through a text message. I give the money to the guard, and they deliver it by the time I’m home! It’s actually something that is very effective here! Yay!
  • If you want to be pen pals, e-mail or facebook me and we can swap addresses!
  • Christmas decorations are going up everywhere! It’s crazy!!
  • I just got an internet service installed today! Hopefully it will be video skype capable! Haha.
  • Ning and I took a trip to the grocery store during our Tagalog lesson. We walked around pointing to different things and learning new vocabulary words.
  • Anita and I are getting ready for a big Thanksgiving Celebration at her house. We baked four batches of cookies tonight. We also got to share the good news on campus this week. We are meeting to follow up with some of them tomorrow. 
Students in the grocery store playing music as a fundraiser.

I've seen this guy a couple of times around town. This dog is pretty amazing. He just balances on the back of the seat.
Jessie, me and Crystal.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Freedom. I am learning more and more each day what this word means. I am becoming more and more thankful for the things that I have taken for granted my entire life. What a privilege it is to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Sometimes I feel like having a “blue passport” is the last thing I want in my possession… but in reality, what a blessing! Why was I born in America? It’s a question I have pondered more than once since I stepped off the airplane on the other side of the world. Why was I privileged with an education, a college education at that! Why was I born in a place that has freedom of religion? Why was I chosen to have my eyes open to the glorious gospel and to be an heir to the throne? 

I believe that it is all a part of the Lord’s plan; His plan to prosper me and not to harm me… His plan to give me a hope and a future. My mom always says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” I think that I am realizing that I need to pray about what is “required” of me in light of the glorious truth that has been revealed. 

Not only am I grateful for the freedom this world has to offer, but I am filled with gratitude towards our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has given us the ultimate freedom. The freedom to know the God of the universe and obey Him. It is freedom that is not defined by the things we see as we look around, but the things we see as we look to the Almighty One.
Sunday was the international day of prayer for the persecuted church. There are so many people around the world that suffer. They suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally. They face spiritual battles. They hold onto the gospel, even if it’s the last thing they have to their name. For more information, click here.

I’m convinced that there’s not much you can do that will be more humbling than moving to a place where you know less people than the fingers on your hand. The journey to language learning, culture adaptation, and getting to know people is hard. 

Only Jesus is worth it. 

Unique to the week: 

  • I got to have lunch with Aerieal and her Mom on Sunday! It was great to see her again, and meet her beautiful Mom!
  • I found a place to put up my hammock on Ateneo’s campus! I was running by, and it looked like the trees were perfectly positioned, and there was grass… and FRESH air! Praise Him! So thankful for that discovery!
  • I paid all of my bills. Not online, like in the states. I paid my water bill on the roof of my building in the office. I paid my electricity bill at a Buyat (I’m not sure if that’s spelled right!) center. The one I went to was in a bank. They are all over town… for example, grocery stores, mail and more vendors, banks, and convenience stores.
  • This past weekend, I went to see Hannah in her school’s play. She did a great job! I had fun talking in Tagalog to Vernie and Ate.
  • I got a letter from Anna! I was so excited! What a great surprise!!
  • I finished my two papers and presentations, and class was canceled. It may have been because it looked like a monsoon outside… I have no clue, but I’m not complaining.
  • Suzie was up in Manila for a visit, and we had a great time Monday and Tuesday being together. She is always so encouraging. 
  • Anita's house is now being decorated for Christmas. I don't know if I've ever seen so many decorations and lights in one house! :)
  • New favorite Tagalog phrase:  “Ako hay mahina at siya a malakas.” Translated, “I am weak and He is strong.”
Batang Lalake ng Vernie. (Not sure of the spelling, but this is Vernie's little boy!)

Suzie and her boys at the play.

After Hannah's play. She did great!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” 2 Peter 2:19-21

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, lead astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

“And Jesus answered them, Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:21-22

“Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” Matthew 21:8-9

Thursday, November 10, 2011

permission granted

 This week has been mighty productive. The best news: I got the approval from immigration that I can stay! Below is a humorous photo from the outside of the immigration building. Need a notary? Anyone? The guys under the blue umbrella can help you out!

Notary, anyone?

Language learning continues! Pray that I would be diligent in studying and learning so that I can be an effective speaker here. Below is a photo of one of my lessons this week. Ning would call out different colors and clothes or body parts and I would draw them. Here is the final product. Class is becoming more interactive and I am able to concentrate much better. I am beginning to speak very small sentences… count all victories, right?

Oh... language learning!

School is getting better! I think the workload is going to be a bit hefty, seeing as though I have two five page papers with a class report that lasts about ten minutes on Tuesday. On the bright side, I have partners for each of the projects! I am looking forward to meeting with them on Saturday to work on our reports. Here is a glimpse of the view of my walk to and from school. 

It makes you begin to think you're not breathing smog... and then you listen, and hear the cars roar.

Right outside my window, and on my way to school.
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’”  Matthew 15:15-17

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:18-22