Dec
03

Philippines Pictures – Part 2

This is the seventh, and last, post in a series.  If you haven’t read the others yet, please do so using the links below before continuing.  Things might make more sense that way!  Thanks so much for reading!

Part One – You Should Go

Part Two – It’s Okay

Part Three – Thursday

Part Four – God Is Spoiling Us

Part Five – Together

Part Six – Philippines Pictures – Part 1

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I love this picture of my Mom, my Aunt, and me – all together in one image, in one place.
My Aunt and Uncle left the States about twenty years ago and moved to the Philippines to become missionaries.  Now they hold church in the downstairs part of their home and have weekly and monthly outreaches to different parts of the community. My Aunt was such a huge influence in my spiritual life when I was growing up.  Our families lived together until I was about nine years old, so Aunts and Uncles were more like another set of parents and cousins were more like siblings.  Going through the process of being called by the Lord to the field ourselves, her encouragement and words of wisdom from being there already, from persevering and learning to follow the Lord in faith, was so valuable.

This was the first time I got to see the work they are doing and meet the people in their church.  I got to lead worship for the two Sunday morning services we were there.  During the trip, anytime we were on the road or away from home, my Aunt and Uncle made a point to gather everyone each night and open the word together.  My Aunt had me lead worship as well.

When I was growing up, everyone in our family sang.  My grandfather used to say that we should, whether we think we had a good voice or not, because that’s all we’ll be doing when we get to Heaven.  I feel like that strong heritage of worship and music was foundational for me, and for my sisters and cousins.  Being together in the Philippines, worshiping the Lord, hearing the familiar harmonies, that time is something I’ll always be grateful for.

I’m so thankful too, for the precious people in their church.  Getting to be with them, I learned just how fervently they prayed for our visas and for us to be able to come on the trip.  One conversation I’ll never forget, a couple in the church who are very close to my Aunt and Uncle, hung out with us quite a bit while we were there.  The man, Kuya Jimmy (kuya means “big brother” and is term of familiarity and respect) told me towards the end of the trip, that when he first saw the boys and I, he had goosebumps.  He said that they’d been praying weekly for us and that when he saw us, it was a great answer to prayer, not mine, but theirs!  What an incredible, humbling blessing!


Later in the trip, we got to go to a different area with another beautiful beach.  Pictures mean so much I think, because they are tangible (digital) evidence of an experience, like a little portal that takes you back to a moment.  These boys wading in the ocean at sunset, on the other side of the world – we were there!


And this boy, with his very serious eyebrows, and beautiful eyes!  And all the watermelon he could fit in his tiny mouth!


More non-seat belted van pictures :) Can you tell they were tired?


I love this beautiful little face!


My parents, they worked so hard to make this trip happen!  Happy birthday Mom!


We’ve lived on an island for two years now, and for two years the boys have asked me to swim in the ocean with them.  And my answer for the most part has been, “Um…no thanks.  It’s freezing!”  But I had no excuse in the Philippines – the water was like bath water!  I actually really swam there, and we were all very happy!  We were on the beach the entire day here – swimming, eating barbecue in a little hut, then back out into the water!


A somewhat sad attempt at an all cousin picture :)


Lola snuggles


My Aunt taking the babies for a walk.  Time is so precious.


Getting to experience some very elaborate buffets in the city!  My Dad looks so happy and Asian here!


Shabu Shabu


We got to visit this really cool museum to celebrate a different aunt’s birthday while we were there!  All the walls are covered with these incredible murals that you’re supposed to interact with.  You leave your shoes at the front desk and walk the entire building in your socks or bare feet!  Missed Branden a little extra on that day.


Ethan and his love of cats!


This optical illusion set up was the coolest!


Getting pampered!  I definitely left the Philippines with my hair a glowing fuchsia color!


Sweet friends – so blessed


Two and a half weeks went by so quickly


Such amazing travelers


The flights home had their own share of craziness, if you can believe it!  But we eventually made our way back home to Branden.  And to the chilly climate of the northern hemisphere.  I have to admit, that part of me that wakes up when I’m with family, takes a little while to go back to sleep.  It’s bittersweet for sure, but always reminds me that I’m not truly home yet, not in Ireland or the States, or anywhere on this beautiful planet.  One day, goodbyes will be a thing of the past, and our hearts will finally be able to settle.  Until then, we keep on traveling.


Well Guys, you made it – end of the series!  Now I promised an announcement, so here it be…

In the not so distant future, we’ll be on a plane again.  We’ll be taking a furlough in the spring, for most of February and March!  The plan is to visit family outside of Colorado for the first part of our trip, and then be in Denver for a few weeks in March.  So, USA – one of the places we love and call home – we’ll see you in a few months!

Dec
02

Philippines Pictures – Part 1

This is the sixth part in a series of posts.  If you haven’t read the first five yet, you can do so by clicking on the links below.  Thanks for following the story!

Part One – You Should Go

Part Two – It’s Okay

Part Three – Thursday

Part Four – God Is Spoiling Us

Part Five – Together

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I know that up until this point, the posts in this series have been pretty sparse picture wise.  And I’ll just apologize in advance for the photo dump situation that’s about to happen here!  Looking back at these images, my heart is just so full!  I still kind of can’t believe we got to go and be there, in the Philippines, with my family!  I’m so grateful our boys got to be there, experiencing the food and culture, the language, life in a beautiful, warm, third world country.  It really is one thing to hear and learn about a place, being told about it by others.  It’s something completely different to go there yourself.

And I’m thankful for technology.  When we were mad packing, trying to get to the airport, I picked up my “big” camera.  Batteries were dead.  Extra batteries were also dead.  I didn’t have time to charge anything and made a decision in the moment that my phone camera would have to suffice.  Not the greatest quality, but it ended up being really handy and easy to have in whatever situation we were in.

I’ve thought about how to share these pictures with you, and basically decided to just post little explanations as I go!  Hope this gives you a glimpse into our two weeks+ there…

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So the day after we landed was a Sunday.  After church and running a few errands, we all packed up, piled into a couple vans and drove for about thirteen hours to a house my parents had rented on a beach.  We stayed there about four days.  I’m showing you this picture first because I think it looks nice and calm and tropical.  While we were there, we got to go see some sights and eat amazing food (like a whole pig roasted and then served on fresh banana leaves with fruit in its mouth!).


What we didn’t plan on was the relatively minor but still present typhoon that hit the area the day after we arrived!  Of course we still had to go down to the beach :)


I really love this picture of my Mom and me.  It’s very similar to a super windy selfie we took when my parents came to visit us in Ireland last year.  Maybe we’ll take super windy selfies in every country we visit together!


The boys look really Filipino to me here!  When we went to buy replacement clothing (while we waited for our luggage to be found), I really only bought them shorts and t-shirts and flip flops, because that’s all they needed the entire time we were there!  This is literally what they looked like for the entire trip :)


Attempted group selfie.  My favorite is Ethan :)


I’m definitely a portrait person, so unfortunately I don’t do a great job of taking pictures of scenery or really much else other than people.  Also, my phone camera definitely doesn’t do this justice.


This is the front porch of the house we stayed in.  That gorgeous little princess is my niece Lydia.  She basically looks Puerto Rican, right?!  If you can believe it, she’s even more beautiful in real life, even with the chocolate on her face.

Also, when I say “we” stayed there, I mean more than twenty of us in the three bedrooms.  Filipinos don’t mind being close!  There were two bathrooms, but bathrooms in the Philippines are pretty different from ones we have in the States or in Ireland.  There is no hot water coming into the house.  Sometimes the toilets flush, but many times you have to flush them manually with a bucket of water, and you don’t flush toilet paper.

To bathe, you fill a large bucket with water that comes from a spigot in the wall.  If you want the water to be warm, you boil a kettle.  Then you use a smaller bucket with a handle, which we call a “tabo,” to scoop up the water and pour it over yourself.  The entire bathroom is one big wet room with a drain in the floor.

I’m so grateful my kids (and I!) got to experience that, learning to do things in a different way, seeing that different parts of the world are not as theirs is, and that there is much to be thankful for.


OH, THE FOOD!!


We spent quite a lot of time with a family from the church my Uncle and Aunt pastor.  They have three boys, two of them about the same age as ours.  Fast friends, here watching the typhoon over the beach in the distance!


And here, enjoying the fact that you don’t have to wear seat belts in the Philippines!


This picture is proof of two things:
1.  Boys under the age of 13 DO NOT know how to look at a camera and smile.  Literally, their faces malfunction if you are trying to take a picture!
2.  My uncle (far right in the hat and shades) can still pull off the “I’m so cool” pose!

We got to experience so many cool things while we were there.  For a long time, the boys have wanted to open a fresh coconut and drink from it.  Well, you see that seventy year old woman in the picture below?  She has this stand on the side of the road where she has hundreds of coconuts and opens them for you with a giant machete on a tree stump.  6 coconuts for less than $2.  She literally hacks away at the tough green exterior until she gets to the center, sticks a straw into it, and hands it to you to drink.  Once all the water is gone, she cuts it in half, makes a spoon out of part of the shell, and gives it back to you to eat the meat.  Authentic experiences we’ll never forget!


We got to visit the house my Dad’s mother grew up in.  There were a few different times while we were there, when we got to drive through different areas each of my parents grew up in.  Lots of things have changed, but there were certain stores and buildings that had stayed the same.  Listening to them tell stories about those places, about walking those streets on their way to school or going to the market, seeing where they grew up, was a treasure.


My Dad with his youngest grandson, my handsome nephew Liam.  He’s sweet and funny and clung to my Dad for so much of this trip.  Which of course made my Dad the happiest!


Ethan got a real taste for one of my favorite Filipino desserts, a treat called Halo Halo, which means “mix mix.”  It’s shaved ice and sweetened milk, with a variety of toppings mixed in.  We ate it every chance we got!


Okay, if you made it to the end of this post – congratulations!  If you’re up for it, there is one more post in the series, also full of pictures!  And at the end of it, there’s a special announcement.  Hope to see you here tomorrow!

Dec
01

Together

This is the fifth part in a blog series.  If you haven’t read the other posts, please do so at the links below before continuing on.  It’ll be a lot less confusing, I promise!

Part One – You Should Go

Part Two – It’s Okay

Part Three – Thursday

Part Four -God Is Spoiling Us

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The airline losing our luggage seemed almost comical at this point.  In the moment, I panicked slightly.  The boys and I had just landed in Manila after a whirlwind trip and over 36 hours of traveling.  We weren’t supposed to be able to go on this trip because of our visas being up in the air.  Then, all of a sudden, four hours before we were meant to get on the plane, immigration called us and our visas got sorted!  A delay on our first flight caused us to miss our connections.  After an unexpected night in London and a couple of new flights, we had finally made it to the Philippines, but now we had a two and a half week trip in front of us and didn’t have any clothes or toiletries!

My priority at that point was to contact my Aunt.  My Uncle was somewhere in the airport waiting for us.  In a couple hours, we would be surprising my parents and sisters with even being in the Philippines!  I filled out the necessary paperwork with the ladies at the luggage counter.  They would try to locate our bags and promised to get them to us as soon as possible, which in the end was nearly a week later!  One of the ladies allowed me to use her cell phone to call my Aunt at the house.

“Auntie, we’re here at the airport, but they’ve lost our luggage!”

“That’s okay, we can go to the shop.”  She was calm, and I could hear my Mom talking to someone in the background.   They didn’t seem to suspect anything.  My Uncle was at the airport and had been waiting for us.   We just needed to walk outside to meet him.

The boys and I picked up our backpacks and made our way out of the baggage area.  There was my Uncle.  I apologized for the long wait.

“It’s okay.  I could actually see you the whole time.  I thought, ‘There’s two boys with a short lady.  That must be them!'”  Thanks Uncle!

We got in the van and started the two hour drive back to their place.

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There’s something that seems to happen, at least to me, when I’m away from my family for a long time.  Like part of me goes to sleep.  Life goes on in the day to day, being a wife and mom, doing ministry and enjoying the community we have in Cork, but part of me isn’t really part of that.  Then, when I’m with my sisters and parents again, that part wakes up.  There’s an ease, and a joy, and it feels like home, even if you’re not at home.

Walking into my Aunt and Uncle’s house, surprising my family, was incredible.  The boys walked in first, which elicited some genuinely surprised and excited yelling!  When I walked in, my sister Robin ran full force and nearly knocked me to the ground!  Next was my younger sister, Priscilla.  Hugging and crying and smiling and laughing!  I looked over to see my Mom, standing with her hands on the table she’d been sitting at.

“I’m not surprised,” she said, emotions in her voice.  “I knew you’d be coming.  I didn’t know how, but I knew you’d be coming.”

I walked over and hugged her.  We were there, together.


This isn’t the end of the story!  I have SO MANY pictures to share!  So please come back tomorrow :)

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