Friday, November 9, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
It's something to think about: what have I missed because I've hesitated? Well I submit that we just don't hesitate. We should jump at opportunities to open our mouths, experience new adventures and learn new things. I'm in if you're in!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Speaking of being a big girl.... I bought a car. Yep, a 2000 silver Honda CRV. It was a great deal and in great condition. So now I'm a car owner. No more depending on everyone else, riding the metro everywhere, struggling to carry my groceries home, etc. It's a great feeling.
My job is going well also. I am starting to pick up more and more responsibility and learning a lot. I am healthy and happy. So what else can you ask for? I hope all of you are doing well also. I will add pictures of my house and car soon.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
It is sad to say but my time in the Philippines has ended. I arrived in the States just a few days ago. I am still working on trying to catch up on my sleep and adjust to life. There is much to do in order to find a job and a place to live. I had a great time in the Philippines; I experienced and learned so much there. I hope to never forget those lessons and amazing memories I shared there. Thanks to all who made it possible and for all of those that made it fun while I was there.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
We arrived at 3:00 in the morning to Bangkok. We had hired someone associated with our hotel to pick us up so we didn’t have to worry about anything at that hour. Well he pulls over on a street in the middle of Bangkok and says I can’t go any farther, but your hotel is that way. Ahh! So we walked aimlessly through dark alleys and past drunk people up and down the streets until we finally found our hotel. I kept thinking to myself, “what I am I doing?” It certainly was scary at the time, but funny now that I think about it. We stayed in a hotel on Khao San Road which is known as Backpacker Road. There are tons of foreigners that stay on that road when in Bangkok. It was amazing to me how many people were still out and about at 3:00 in the morning. We took a few hours of sleep and then headed off for some adventures. We took a two hour train ride out to Ayuthaya which is the ancient capital city of Thailand. Our train ride was fun. The man next to Jeanette kept talking to her and laughing, thinking she knew what he was saying. We were all cracking up because we had no idea what he was saying to her in Thai. Ayuthaya is really beautiful. There are old Buddhist Temples and Chedi’s (pointy pillar-like structures) all over. It was really neat to see the worn down architecture and the different representations of Buddha. We even got to ride elephants. Yep! We road huge elephants through the ancient capital city of Thailand, no big deal. Just kidding, it was a big deal, it was so cool. Unfortunately they have turned everything into tourist sites, so it’s not as exotic as it sounds, but still pretty cool. Then we ate a great Thai meal on a floating restaurant on the river before returning back to Bangkok. So in Thailand a popular mode of transportation is the Tuk Tuk. They are basically three wheelers that have been converted into little truck-like things. They target tourists around and of course tourists love them because they are cheap and fun. The catch is the tuk tuk driver will take you wherever you want to go, if you will go to a store and look around so they get a gas voucher. The local gem stores, clothing factories, and handicraft shops offer Tuk Tuk drivers vouchers if they bring tourists in to their stores. It’s a clever strategy, but kind of funny. That’s not the only funny things about Tuk Tuks, they tend to drive out of control. They drive so fast, dodging cars, and driving on the opposite side of the road when there is too much traffic. It’s really fun/funny! Every time we road one during our stay in Bangkok I just cracked up the whole time. Well our Tuk Tuk driver this night was by far the best. He paid no attention to the traffic signals, other cars, etc. Every time we were stopped and the light changed he popped a wheelie because he was taking off so fast. Oh man, it was too funny! You gotta love the Tuk Tuks. Day 2:
We woke up early and headed out of Bangkok to the famous floating market. There is the cutest little town with water canals instead of roads. On several of the canals there is what is called the floating market. Boats with various food items, clothing, etc travel up and down the canal selling their items to other boats passing by. It is really neat to see all the vendors passing up and down the canal. I had the most amazing coconut pancakes off one of the boats, oh man they were good. Later that day we went to the weekend market in Bangkok. It was so cool to see all the different vendors with the Thai souvenirs and beautiful handicrafts. This market is enormous, it is said that if you were to walk 8 hours a day for two months straight you would still not make it through the entire market. Yeah, it’s that big! I bought lots of cool Thai silk pillow cases and other fun stuff. I may have gone a little overboard on the purchases, but oh well.
That night we went to dinner and did lots of people watching. It really is so interesting watching all the people interact with each other and the hustle and bustle of the food and clothing vendors lining the streets. I also bought my first personally tailored, handmade suit. Yep, I’ve officially grown up! You can get business suits made really cheap in Thailand and since I will be looking for a job, I decided it to take advantage of it. I really struggled deciding though, I guess I just wasn’t ready to make such a grown up purchase, but I did, and it’s a beautiful suit.
This day was one of our Temple days. There are over 440 Buddhist temples in Bangkok. All of which are decorated with such beautiful, extravagant details. It really is indescribable how ornate these buildings are. It was a Buddhist holiday and so there were many people at the various temples worshiping. I’m not sure of the symbolism of all of it, but people were praying at the feet of Buddha, lighting candles and incense, laying flowers and leis on various statues and figures, placing coins in special buckets, and donating items to the monks.
We saw the Standing Buddha (which is huge), the Lucky Buddha (which was one of my favorites, this is where many people go to get married) and then we went to the Marble Temple which houses the Black Buddha. There were about 30 different representations and poses of the Black Buddha surrounding this temple.
Then we went to the Golden Mountain. It too is a place of worship, built in the shape of a mountain that overlooks the city of Bangkok. We spent the evening at the night Bazaar in the city. I can’t even adequately explain the good food of Thailand available. I was in complete heaven smelling and tasting everything, especially the Kiwi shakes. This bazaar seemed to be more of a trendy market, there were local designers and artists selling the most beautiful clothing and art work. I may have spent a little too much here too.
We started off our day going to the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson was an American that helped to revive the silk industry in Thailand years ago. He is famous for his work in Thailand and all over the world now. His home was a beautiful traditional Thai home with amazing Asian art throughout.
We then went to the Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. The Wat Phra Kaew is the largest and most ornate temple we saw by far. There were several different buildings and statues throughout the grounds of the temple. Inside the temple there is the famous Emerald Buddha; which isn’t really made of Emerald, but of Jade. Anyway this where many important religious ceremonies and events occur. It is also the temple where the King and his family go for worship. The Grand Palace is on the same grounds and was the residence of the royal family. One thing I really loved about Thailand is how proud the people seem to be of their country and especially their king.
The last temple we saw was the Wat Pho which houses the Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is absolutely huge and made of gold. You can’t really comprehend how beautiful these temples and various Buddhas are until you see them in person. Every inch of the temple walls were covered in gorgeous murals. As we were walking around the grounds we saw many of the monks heading for the temples. You see this night marks the end of the Buddhist holiday and the monks head into the temples to stay for three months of fasting and meditation. They do not leave the temples and only eat once a day for three months. It was very humbling to see these dedicated men seeking enlightenment head into the temples.
That concludes my amazing trip to Thailand. I saw so many different things while I was there, all of which I cannot describe in this blog. The colors, the feelings, and the smells cannot possibly be captured.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
1. Hearing the giggles of men and women alike.
2. The mangoes.
3. The beautiful beaches.
4. The kindness of the people. Often if we are looking for something or lost, instead of just telling
us where to go, they walk us there themselves. Everyone says hello and are very hospitable.
5. The prices of everything. You are able to purchase things very cheap here, it's great.
6. Of course I am going to miss my friend Kate. It has been so good to be able to spend time
with her, be taught about Filipino culture by her, and reminisce on old times. I have met so
many other great people here also, all of which I am grateful for and will miss.
7. I will miss having someone to clean our apartment, make our beds, and do our laundry. Yes,
our apartment provides those amenities. It has been fabulous.
8. I will miss the locals on the street that say hello to us every morning as we go to work.
9. The hard work ethic of so many Filipinos that I have met will be something that I will always admire and miss having that reminder around me.
10. I will miss the smiles of the people. There smiles are so beautiful and seem so genuine and unrestrained. No matter where we go or how difficult the lives of these people are, they are always smiling. They always have time to find the good things in life and laugh aboutthe other stuff. I hope their example sticks with me forever.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
- Mango Shakes- there is not much better than fresh mangoes blended into an icy delight.
- Pancit- Its a small noodle dish with lots of veggies, soy sauce and pepper. It's just really good and a very popular Filipino dish. I learned how to make it too; this way I can treat myself whenever I want.
- Pan de Coco- It's a roll with lots of coconut milk and coconut inside. The style is very similar to a cinnamon roll. I can't even tell you how good these are! I had to limit myself to one per week otherwise I would go crazy and eat them constantly.
- Calamansi- it's a citrus fruit. It kind of tastes like a mix of limes and tangerines. It is so good! They use it in everything and I couldn't be happier about it. I use it on Pancit, in drinks, on pancakes, on rice, etc. They also make calamansi juice and calamansi soda which I am a big fan of also.
- Philippine Peanut Butter- the peanut butter here is scrumptious. It is homemade and just really good. I don't know how else to describe it.
- Garlic Rice- Yes, they cook rice and then mix it with chucks of garlic. I love it!
- Squid- I have always been a seafood fan, but the squid here is better than I have tried anywhere else. It's not too tough or too bland. They even make squid balls out of the meat, I like those too.
- Sinigang- is a really good soup. They usually put lots of vegetables and fish in it. It has a very citrus-like broth to it. You should try it.
- Pork Adobo- adobo is one of the first things I think of when I think Filipino food. It is made with every kind of meat and at almost every restaurant. Different people make it different ways, but the adobo is basically a type of sauce. I think it has soy sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, and lots of different spices.
- Siopao Asada- is a light rice bread-like thing filled with sweet pork and a delicious sauce.
I think that's it, those are my favorite Filipino foods. I'm sure going to miss them. I'll be honest though, I can't wait to have a good salad and Chevy's chips and salsa from the States.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Then we weasel our way on to the insanely crowded train. I'm serious these trains are crowded! It only takes us 20-30 minutes to get to work. The walk from the train to our office is interesting. As soon as I get off the train I trade my handheld fan for my handkerchief. The handkerchief has several purposes: to whip the sweat off my face as we walk, to protect me from the toxic fumes coming from the cars, and to block the awful smell of the local market. We travel past a market where they sell meats, clothes, fresh produce, charcoal, etc. It's interesting to watch the people and see what they are selling; but the smell of it.....whew!
I am working with the Park Avenue Initiative team at CFSI. It consists of Ruth, Arar, and then several volunteers from the community. I spend most of my day on the computer. I have done research on the issues of Pasay City and particularly out of school children and youth. You see, poverty, prostitution, trafficking, child labor, and the drug industry are prominent in this area and so many of the children do not attend school. We work to provide services that allow these children to get out of the streets and into school. We do this by providing a variety of services like livelihood assistance, educational scholarships, policy advocacy, training of local leaders, recreational activities, psychosocial care, etc. So I have been working with the team to redesign the program and to strategically plan the next 3-10 years of the program. Day to day its not the most exciting work, but the purpose of the work is amazing. I'm grateful to be able to make a small contribution.
One things I love about this organization is that everyone is friends with each other. At lunch we all sit in the conference room and eat together. I love it! Then around 6pm our work day is over and we head home. We usually make a little dinner, I shower, read, and then go to bed by 10. I love going to bed so early. And I love being able to read all of the time.
So that's a typical day. Of course there are always funny things that happen or things we see that make it interesting. Like the other day as I was walking down the street an older woman yelled at me "Hey sexy" in her raspy little voice. I couldn't help but laugh out loud immediately. Or another time we saw a family of five on one motorcycle. Or sometimes we will see little naked children just playing catch in the street. My least favorite is seeing grown adults going to the bathroom right in front of everyone on the sidewalk. The streets are lined with street vendors selling food to passers. You see everything: roasted nuts, coconut juice, squid balls, half developed duck eggs, and a plethora of menthol candies.
I hope this provided a little visual into my daily life. It really is a great life.
Of course there are a million more things that I have learned that are good and not so good about myself. Luckily in life we get experiences like these to reflect and learn. I'm so grateful I get to keep learning and keep improving. I've got lots of it to do!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We flew into Cebu after work on Friday. There were threats of bad rains from a Typhoon in Japan so our flight was delayed forever. We finally arrived though and stayed at a darling little surfer-type hotel. Jeanette and I had our own beds and we thought we were in heaven.
We woke up, ate a gigantic traditional Filipino breakfast, and jumped on the ferry to Bohol. Bohol is a nearby island with lots of tourist attractions. After arriving from a long ferry ride we took the craziest bus ride i have ever taken. We were crammed into this bus with a million other people and the bus driver was out of control. Seriously he was driving so fast and a lot of it was off-road. I felt like we were pre-running for a Baja race, but in a bus full of people and luggage. I couldn't stop laughing, even though I should have been terrified for my life.
We finally arrived safely to the Chocolate Hills. There are over a thousand small hills that look like mounds of chocolate. However, they were more like mint chocolate hills this time of year. It was still absolutely beautiful. We hired some motorcycles and some guides and road around to see the scenery. It was really cool to see the people out working in their rice fields and farms along the way. We even convinced one farmer to let us ride his Caribou (cow). Good times.
That night we stayed at the Chocolate Hills Resort up on a hill with a great view of the area. The next morning our guides with motorcycles picked us up and took us on a whirlwind tour. We visited the Butterfly Conservation Center, the local underground caves, the logos river, and the Tarzier monkeys. These monkeys are the smallest monkeys in the world. You can see, they are small enough to hold in your hand.
That night we headed back to Cebu.
We spent the day visiting the local markets and walking around the beautiful city. Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippine, next to Manila. We visited a Buddhist Temple, it wasn't the temple we thought we were visiting, but it was still beautiful. We got to the airport that night and saw a postcard of the Taoist Temple we thought we went to, it was definitely a differently temple! Oh well. We also visited the Santo Nino Church and the Magellan's Cross. Cebu is home to the earliest Christians in the Philippines. Magellan was a Spaniard that travelled and spread Christianity among the Philippines. He erected this cross after the conversion of 800 (I think) new Christians.
At last our crazy weekend came to an end. We saw lots of things and met lots of interesting people. I think my favorite thing is just driving around and looking at everything. It's entirely different from anything I've ever experienced in my small little world. It's too difficult to describe everything I saw and felt in this small little blog. There are additional pictures under "My Pictures" though.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Oh, I forgot to tell you about our adventure a few days previous. It was raining really hard and we had to go to the store, so we decided we would just get a cab. Well every other person in Metro Manila had the same thought and there were no cabs available. We stood in the pouring rain for some time waiting for a cab and just when we were about to give up............ a man with a horse and buggy showed up to save the day. Yes, in Metro Manila with something million people and traffic worse than New York City, we took a horse and buggy to the grocery store!
I'm sure there will be more fun stories to tell like these from our adventures in the rain. So stay tuned.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
First, is from the book, To Draw Closer to God by Henry B. Eyring. This book has many great reminders of how we can improve our relationships with God and our ability to be directed by Him. I have often struggled with feeling like I can be everything that I want to be and accomplish everything I desire. It just seems to be overwhelming sometimes. In the end of this book there was a much needed reminder for me. It says, “All of that will come naturally, in time, from the covenants you make and keep as you follow him. And in the process you will experience a mighty change of heart. You may not have seen that mighty change in yourself yet. But it will come as you continue to follow him. You can trust that he will qualify you…..”
Another great book I read was, A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier. This book was a gut wrenching story of a young boy who was forced from his family and home, eventually forced into war as a soldier. If you have not read this book, you must. It is unbelievable the things that occurred in this young mans life, and even more unbelievable, who this young man has become. This book opened my mind to several different lessons. Where much is given, much is required. In this situation, this boy was given lots, lots of horrible, life changing, gut wrenching, inhuman experiences that no one should ever have to deal with. He used all that was given to him and has tried to make a difference in the world. We must give what we can. We must share the experiences we have had and the things we have learned with one another. How else are we going to figure out life if we don’t have tales of great triumph and tales of great sorrow. I have much to be grateful for and much to give others.
Another book I read was, Scars That Can Heal by David Louis. This book was given to me by the author at the 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect that I attended with my internship this last spring. He knew of my interest in child welfare and wanted me to read this book and share it with others. This book is four hundred pages of this young mans’ experiences in the child welfare system. He was abandoned by his mother, forced in and out of various abusive foster homes and group homes. This book reminded me of how grateful I should be to have been raised by such wonderful parents. My parents have raised me with love and taught me correct principles and values that have greatly influenced my life. This book also reminded me of the work I must do. I set out to be a social worker to change the world, to change the child welfare system and make it better for thousands of children. And that’s what I’m going to do!
So there you go, there are some of the great reads I’ve read this summer. Love you all.
Our work knew it was a special day for us and so they bought a cake for all of us to celebrate together. The butter cake was not quite the same as watermelon, potato salad, and BBQ, but it certainly did make us happy.
Monday, July 2, 2007
The next day we just spent relaxing on the gorgeous beaches and watching other people be followed by the people selling their goodies. It was a great weekend.
Friday started out really rough for me. I seemed to be frustrated by many things and found lots to complain about. But sure enough, God knew I needed a little lesson. As I walked around these Barangays He was able to gently show me that I needed to change my perspective. It's amazing to me how God (or whatever higher power or force you believe in) knows exactly what we need and then shows us. Gently or powerfully, He shows us.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
The view as we walked into the village is unbelievable. There are miles of rice terraces, covering the sides of several mountains. The terraces are large too, the step looking things look small, but they are at least 6 feet high. These terraces were built hundreds of years ago by these people's ancestors. The terraces have been passed on from generation to generation.
Later that afternoon we thought it would be fun to hike to a nearby waterfall. Remember how I said our last hike was the steepest/craziest I'd ever been on? Yeah, change that, this one definitely wins. We hike up the side of a mountain, through the rice terraces, and then down the other side of a mountain. In many parts the trail is steps, these aren't your ordinary steps, most of them came higher than my knee, and they were one after another. The waterfall was beautiful though! We even went for a swim in the cool water. I floated on my back and looked up at the rushing water and the mountains on every side, and was just in awe.
That night we had fun just hanging out. There were the four of us, our friend from work, and the 5 french students. We ate some local food, made jokes, learned native songs, and STUFF. Our hotel was located just opposite the rice terraces and so we had the most amazing view.
The next morning we headed back to Banaue. It was pretty funny, all of us were so sore from our hikes the day before that we were dying as we hiked out of the village. Oh man! I'm still feeling the pain now. We spent the afternoon visiting other terraces and spending lots of money of souvenirs. Wood carving is very popular there. The men sit in the open shops of the street carving while the women sit outside staining the wood. That's it! That's our amazing trip! Of course there are a million more details, but I can't possibly share everything.