Thursday, December 29, 2011

maligayang pasko

Draggin' is the good life.

This is my new favorite game. Joker. So many hours. So much road rash. So much smack talk. Good thing my team is undefeated. 

They are great.

Santa Clause arrived!!!  :)

Notes from Santa!!
So great!
Just a few of my goodies from Santa!

Skyping with my favorite boys on the planet!! Christmas sibling photo!

Skype is such a beautiful thing!!

It's official. They are crazy.
Good oldie goldies- Notice this is the same Santa Clause in both photos...  In case you've never met him, this is the real Santa Clause.

Love this!

Let's not forget the reason for the season!

Neighborhood Party at the Harvell's!

The photo booth was so much fun!

She worked so hard putting together the decorations!

So great!!  :)

My favorite photo booth photo.

I love these ladies!

Brother's Matching. Love 'em both!
Even though this Christmas has looked different that any of my other previous Christmas season's, it was still great. I am so thankful for good friends and good technology. It have enjoyed the break from school, and the traffic on my road isn't bad at all. It's amazing what no school and families traveling to the provinces will do for the traffic here. Class will start back next week, and I am looking forward to seeing classmates again. 

I am so thankful for all of the mail that I've received... 16 letters and counting.  I am eagerly anticipating letters from some of you- since the mail system is a bit slow here. 

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; and whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:11-13

Monday, December 26, 2011

distance makes the heart grow fonder

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. I love this. I am so thankful for this. My heart is so full. 

You know how songs can associate themselves with different times in your life? This is a song that I will always remember as my first Christmas away from home. The third verse of O Holy Night is incredible. I love the version I downloaded... It repeats, “His law is love and His Gospel is peace” at the end- for about two minutes. It was always such a beautiful reminder.

"Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!"

I have been overwhelmed by the love and support of people here in Manila as well as people back home. The Body of Christ- what a beautiful gift from the Lord!  

I spent the twenty-third with the Dowell girls! We had a blast singing, playing guitar… candles and beautiful decorations completed the atmosphere. They taught me how to play Settlers of Catan, and we had this really yummy Australian dessert. We had about seven Filipino ladies over for dinner, and had a blast playing “Manila Madness” together. The next morning after our breakfast and coffee, we tried to hunt down tennis courts on Ateneo’s campus… everything was closed because of the holiday! It was a bummer, but an adventure in itself!

Christmas Eve was great! I got to skype with my family, and I had dinner and spent the night at the Jordan’s house. I got to see the boys open their gifts from Santa! We woke up the next morning, went to Church, and came home to Quiche and gifts. I am so thankful for the gift that is greater than all gifts; Jesus. He is One who brings true joy during this season of celebration. That afternoon, we joined another family for dinner. Monopoly Deal was the game of the night. On the way home, we stopped by the power company that had a beautiful display of lights. It was similar to Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens… only without the cute little jumping frog in the water, the freezing cold ride on the trolley, and the real Santa Clause. 

I received eight cards in the mail today! My guard counted each one in as he gave them to me! I was jumping for joy! Yay! Christmas cards are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Even though it’s the day after Christmas, I’ll still celebrate!  I’ll continue to fill up my photo tree, and my basket.

This makes me smile from ear to ear each time I see it. I am so thankful for you guys!!!

Christmas Eve!
"Happy Birthday Jesus" cake!

New french press! I love it!

Filipino Nativity. Notice the wise men are on caribou.

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." Hebrews 1:1-3

Friday, December 23, 2011

a mighty different Christmas

I just got back from an awesome trip to the beach. Tamaraw Beach on Mindoro. It was such a great trip. I’ve seen the Lord’s creation in a new light. The island was beautiful, and the beaches were different than any I’ve ever seen. I got to meet and get to know some awesome M’s from the Philippines!

Here are a few memorable moments: 

  • We rented motorcycles and rode them one afternoon up into the mountains. We saw everything from chickens (and their baby chicks) crossing the road, incredible views of the ocean, broken roads, Filipino kids “playing pretend” with machine guns, billy goats grazing literally right beside the road, white cows, mangy dogs, roosters, waterfalls, palengke’s, etc. The best part: we paid around 10 dollars to rent them for 3 hours plus about a dollar for gas.
  • We walked/swam to these rocks down from our place. It was so much fun swimming around in the water crashing against the rocks. We got to jump off the rocks too. It was gorgeous!!
  • When we first set out on our snorkeling adventure, we couldn’t find the “good spot”… we spent time swimming around… at one point, I swam down to see what kind of strange animal I saw, and it was a plastic bag moving around. Once we got to the rocks, there was beautiful coral and some awesome electric blue starfish!
  • Singing Christmas carols… and taking 20 minutes to figure out what the “12 days of Christmas” are… we finally caved and went to the lobby to search using the wifi.
  • Perfect place for hammocking!
  • Riding in a packed out car with the Harvell family. I wouldn’t want to be closer to anyone else. 
  • Skyping with my divas and my family... seeing Teeny get to blow out her candles (or watch Marianne beat her to it!), catching up on a few of life's happenings, and enjoying being together via computer!
  • Two Filipino guys came to pick all 7 of us up on two bikes to ride down to the bike store. I’ve never been so close to a Filipino man in my life. Literally smashed between this guy and Grace. I find out later that by putting my arms around his waist to hold on for dear life, it was a sign that we were dating. Anything else?!  Who knew!
  • I loved seeing another side to my new country. It’s amazing how different it is when you are a couple of hours away from the city. Fresh air, beautiful scenery, and a nice break from the city life. 

Great views from the breakfast table.

haha. Just one of the minor problems with the road.

We biked to the waterfall!

These guys were everywhere!
We rode our motorcycles to the top of the mountain. Great view of the ocean!
Tamaraw Beach
Sooo great. The Lord is glorious!
Our ride back to the mainland.

Awesome family!
mmmm mango shakes!

This was awesome. We jumped off these rocks and swam around behind. The water was perfectly clear!

Wouldn't want to be in close quarters with anyone else!

“We wonder why we don’t have faith; the answer is, faith is confidence in the character of God and if we don’t know what kind of God God is, we can’t have faith…What we so desperately need is an elevated concept of God.” A.W. Tozer

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours Is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

Saturday, December 17, 2011

His law is love and His gospel is peace

Yesterday was CRAZY!!!! AHH!! 

Let me just tell you this story. We went to a parade and firework show last night. It was a great cultural experience… but the best and most exciting part was the FIREWORK MALFUNTION!!!! They were flying everywhere. People were pulling out umbrellas to use as shields. And, these weren’t just little bottle rockets, they were big fireworks. Shooting out of something like a cannon. We were standing about 70 yards from launch point. It was insanity. People were screaming, running, and a Dora the Explorer balloon disintegrated. It was Priceless. I will never forget it. Ever. 

One of the groups in the parade looked like the KKK. I wish I had a clear picture of them.

On another very exciting note- I got mail again yesterday! I received six Christmas cards. I was jumping up and down in the lobby! I think the guards love giving me mail. They are always eagerly anticipating my reaction. Yay!!! Christmas cards are one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. I am so blessed. 

My language tutor taught me a word that doesn’t translate this week. It’s something that I never experienced until I got here… It’s a film that appears on your skin from a combination of sweat, pollution, and dust. If you rub your skin, little black filmy type substance will come off in little rolls. It especially appears around your collar, and your ankles. It’s gross. It’s called libag. Nililibag ako dito sa Pilipinas kasi pinipawisan ako parate. 

Anita and I hosted a student party yesterday afternoon. It was awesome. We had “American” food, fun games, and a good time of sharing. It was a great way to start off Christmas break from school.

Unique to the week:
  • When I talked to my family this morning, Trecie was drinking “cancer on the rocks” … aka- Diet Sunkist. Now I’m craving it!
  • My new favorite Tagalog word: kinikilig. It means to have “butterflies” inside.
  • I found a new use for umbrellas here…. 1. Rain    2. Sun    3. Firework Shield
  • The gifts are wrapped and under my tiny little tree. Christmas time is awesome.
  • Wrapping paper is sold in pre-cut pieces here. They are probably pieces that are 24 inches by 18 inches. It’s a unique way to package the paper. I had no idea when I bought a “roll” of wrapping paper, it would be three small pre-cut pieces. Either way… it worked just fine.   
My little Christmas corner.

Oreo game!

Rich trying to get the oreo into his mouth.

New friend, Kate!

This is how the Filipinos do it up. Christmas Lantern Parade.

Tone-Lise, a gym buddy, and exchange student from Norway!

Mid firework attack!!!

Sweet Friends!

“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 2 Timothy 1:13-14  

“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he takes away, and every branch that does produce fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch that withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you may bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11