Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Not your typical day before Thanksgiving.

8 years ago, we were moving out of our house in Mechanicsburg to start our journey with Cure International. Much like the picture above, we were headed into waters that were unknown to us. Ever since, Thanksgiving has been a bit unconventional. But has always been a precious time with people we love.

No typical dressing of the turkey and preps before the gathering of loved ones. Seems like every year, there is something new. Here is our first year celebration abroad. We have so many many fond memories. I must admit that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For so many reasons, I just love the fact that it is a day set aside to be thankful. Life is so rich and celebration is so important. The famous Howarth NOODLES have been present most years! 

Our years in the field have been some of the toughest yet most rewarding. Nigerien  & Filipino Thanksgiving have afforded us with fellowship with not only other Americans but including others along the way. Swiss, French, Canadian, Filipino to name a few.

This year, L's sister and husband are here visiting. So wonderful to have family here to celebrate with! That is the HARDEST thing for me. Missing reunions with people I have not seen in a while. We are so thankful for family who encourage us even if it means that we live so far away. We love you all very much! 

It is the eve of Thanksgiving. Traditionally that meant a lot of hustle and bustle preparing for the classic turkey dinner.  It meant shopping, traveling and looking forward to a few days off. Hmmm, excited for charity clinic tomorrow. No day off here. I always send my Mom this.....the funniest video ever! Miss you Mom!

Part of the journey is embracing each day and t he people we are privileged to know, near and far. No school off tomorrow and the boys traveled to my parents house to celebrate with them. Did I mention how thankful I am for family?

Today was something quite different. A scuba/snorkeling trip, pearl milk tea and an amazing Thai message! New experiences for J & K! So fun to see the Philippines fresh and new through their eyes and excitement. Truly a day off ending with quite a bit of reflection for me. 

Our day on the water was so breezy and relaxing. The snorkeling was amazing. The coral beautiful and the fish so colorful. I LOVED following a small group of banner fish.

They are some of my favorite. There were six darting around and hiding from me when they had a chance. I even saw 2 sea snakes. Usually that is occasion to FREAK OUT.

I totally kept my composure and watched then slide in and out of the coral. We really enjoyed each other's company and loved having B join us even though it was a school day. Senior SKIP day for her!

So strange to wonder what next year will bring?? Cooler air and Fall smells in the air. We will return to the US to a completely different situation than we left. New place? New job? An empty nest. We love this journey and it will not end when we leave the Philippines. Another challenge and adjustment, but God has not failed us yet. I must say, it will be nice to be closer to family, but the traditions that we have created will be missed as well. Here is our first celebration here in the Philippines. 

Each year our group seems to change and it is quite fun. I loved reminiscing through these photos but could not capture it all. There have been many meals shared and many laughs. I love this picture.....I am sure tomorrow will be just as fun if not more!

So tomorrow, it is a reservation for 18 at Vikings. 13 Americans, 2 Canadians, 2 Filipinos, and a Brit! Yep, unconventional as it may be, we are thrilled with the people that God surrounds us with. It will be fun to have family and friends around the table tomorrow evening. That is something quite wonderful...Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wonder Woman has a backache

Image result for wonder woman cleaning

Man, yesterday I felt like Wonder Woman. I whipped through all my house cleaning and managed to even launder the curtains, sheets, rugs and complete the ironing.  Quite a productive day, complete with a very yummy healthy meal! But maybe, I did too much? When I recount the day, I probably should have paced myself. Lots of extra scrubbing, mopping and deep cleaning. After my shower, I was still trying to cool down, I discovered that our air conditioner was dripping. Saved that for L. 

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L needed my help to address the drip in the AC unit. This meant taking it out of the wall which was over our heads. WOW, that bugger is heavy and I had already put in a grueling day of physical labor. I felt like Wonder Woman earlier in the day but in the evening I was tired and did not feel very wonderful anymore. BUT, I am still quite the baby and have not acclimated to the hot humid weather. So, I mustered my strength and found myself pinned against the wall on the AC's decent. It's ok. It's all good. Apparently L did that on purpose because he thought I might drop it. So even he was questioning my super human strength and definitely my wonderfulness. 

Image result for sludge monster

We safely get the unit to the floor and ICK, SLUDGE!! Problem located! We cleared the way so that the condensation could exit the unit through the proper hole, but that meant that the water that was currently in the tray now had a place to go....all over the floor. Yes, my clean floor...then if that was not bad enough, I was expected to help hoist the unit back to it's resting place. Another chance to flex my muscles?  Ugh.

Image result for clawfoot bathtub

I had a flashback to when L and I were first married and found a cool claw foot bath tub on the porch of an old farmhouse with a "for sale" sign...YEAH, right!! You know how heavy those are?? But we really wanted it and the price could not be beat. Well, I was in my 20's then and yes, I managed to help lift it. Back to last night...I am not in my 20's anymore, but I did it! BUT the rest of the water...out the hole and on to me. ICK again. 

Image result for tiny brown frog

Now time to clean the mess up.  I had a small freak out when a tiny frog decided to come out from it's hiding place in the rim of the bucket. I can't have a frog loose in my knight in shining armor heard the ruckus and came and scooped him up. What a fiasco. 

Image result for knight in shining armor

My reflections lead me to feelings of thankfulness. For L, for a problem solved, a clean house, for muscles and even for the frog returned to it's rightful spot OUTSIDE. I am thankful a productive work day and thankful that today, Wonder Woman can nurse her sore body a bit. A different schedule with a chat home with Mom & Dad, a fun hospital visit and lunch with a dear friend. That is something quite wonderful.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Things above

Man, I must admit that I am really struggling today. It is not even 7:30AM and I am trying to hold back the tears. The problem? Not quite sure? Just everyday frustrations. Yesterday was a fun and marvelous day. Not for any certain 1 thing but a bunch of little things.  I  spent the afternoon with the 1st graders of FIA (I just love them) at BS, we meditated and talked about Colossians 3. Talked a lot about setting our minds on things above. Today, time to put it into practice and  I am already fixated on the things at street level, so much that I am feeling like I should not go out today. Ever have those times? Like an impending sandstorm (which I found fascinating)?

My kids have teased me for years about my fascination about taking pictures of the sky. I just LOVE clouds. Fluffy white, wispy, stormy. I may have to pick a few photos and share them? Oh my get ready, I sifted through my favorites and there are 70! Skies above most of  the places I've been...N. America, New Zealand, Africa, Europe and of course the Philippines (some of the most fantastic clouds EVER)! I got to thinking about it and I think I love the sky for it's freshness, ever changing state, just so whimsical and fun. Even stormy skies appeal to me and throw in some lightening and well, WOW! So moving forward, it is not yesterday anymore, it is over. It is TODAY. Today I will set my mind on things above. I will focus on the things  that are true, lovely and righteous.

I love  the scriptures like Psalm 104:3 "He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind" and about the  return of Jesus in Rev 1:7 "Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen

Maybe the love of clouds and the sky is a great reminder for me to set my mind on things above and live with a grateful heart. Life is so rich with all of it's skies. 

Today it is rainy, which I usually love. But for some reason it is making me a bit sad. Gloomy day, reflecting my mood. A chance to set my mind on things above...mind over matter, right?  Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sun is still back there even if the clouds are hiding it. Today I am thankful for so many things like clouds, moms, bible studies, the Philippines, Niger, PA and yes, even tears/ raindrops that come early in the morning. All of these things are something quite wonderful!

Saturday, November 4, 2017


I have been thinking a lot lately....about things known & unknown. About plans, my future. In less than a year's time, my life is going to change drastically. Yes, I have already had two huge moves, I have attempted to learn two new languages, figure out multiple cultures, I have sent two children off to college & have had long separations. I have had so much change in my life. You might think I would be prepared or at least at peace about what is to come? But I am feeling more anxious about this change than the others or maybe my memory is just failing me? Maybe, I just can't imagine life not being the same as it is today?

Boy, I guess I like predictability more than I thought? I like a plan, to KNOW what is going on. I like the familiar. I was pleading with God the other day, just to give me a glimpse. And he gently reminded me to focus on what I KNOW.  He is good. He is faithful. He loves me. He knows my future & has a plan. These may sound cliche, but they are real & deep truths. He has never failed me. Has he always given me what I want or what I am asking for? NOPE. But his plans have exceeded my plans & have put me on a path that did not look like any plan that my mind could dream up. Am I blessed? YES, beyond measure. Life is extremely good.

I am not sure what I am even trying to say? I go between feeling complete enthusiasm & exhilaration of what might be coming & fear of the same things. It can even change day to day. Really, I am not as confused as it might appear. I just know that right now, there is so much I do NOT know but there is also so much that I DO! Most days, I would tell you that I embrace change & even like it. Thank you for letting me try to work it out here, writing about it. I have been wrestling with this entry for a couple of weeks now.

A friend invited me to one of those FB challenges of black & white pictures, I have really enjoyed it. I have been surprised how much I like it. Why? I like the change of perspective. Black & white changes the picture enough that you are focusing on different things; lines, textures, shading. Maybe it seems to make the shot more crisp & clear. Hmmm, that is how I want my future plans...but, do I? Check out some of my  black & white shots.

I got to thinking about a world lacking color is missing great things too. There is so much life in color. So many choices, variations. I am thankful for a God that gives us our free will & gives us choices. I am learning so much about trusting & true security in the Lord. Learning to let go of expectations & freeing myself be creative & to dream a bit. Learning what I tell many of our patients at the hospital..."It is going to be alright, but there may be some pain or even a good bit of pain." It is the truth, there is pain in life no matter how you slice it. These next months will be full of all types of emotion & there will be pain. But I need to follow my own advice, I will be okay.

Both perspectives are great, I am learning to enjoy the balance of the knowns & unknowns. I have many many moments to live before I need to know the next steps & plans in life. So now, I will focus on the many truths that I know. I am fully alive, living in a world full of color & choices. I am  loved by a God who is the same yesterday, today & forever. It is so amazing that a God who is so constant weaves each path, plan & life so uniquely. That is something truly wonderful.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Alarm Clocks & Parades

So, what if your alarm clock IS a parade?  When the parade first passed the house at 5AM this morning, it was a bit too dark for a picture. Short parade, but what it lacked in numbers it made up in volume!

I was thrilled to see that they continued till just before 6AM. Since we are on a pretty main street, we heard it a few times. Why the early morning wake up call? It is Fiesta Weekend here in Ladislawa Garden Village. I am missing my 25th year Reunion at Messiah College this weekend, so I am up for a celebration. This fit the bill! Since I was up, I saw a FB post from my friend Pam. She encouraged me to get over to the clubhouse to participate in the Fun Run.

After the run, I caught up with the exuberant noise making culprits... actually, I quite like the drumming! Love this picture, they are so full of life!

What a fun celebratory atmosphere! Thanksgiving for fellowship, food & fun!

So, all before 8AM, I have my exercise in & enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

So much to be thankful for. Starting the day with a spring in my step! It is something wonderful to be awake and alive. Wanna hear what I woke up to? Click here.
ENJOY! Saying is more fun in the Philippines!

Friday, October 13, 2017


It is October the 14th. Yesterday I was snorkeling in the pristine waters off of Tulikud Island, Philippines. 

Hmmmm? Something is just not quite right. Oh yeah, the weather is supposed to be changing as are the colors of the leaves. FALL....the closest I get to Fall here is the red tips on the leaves of the three bushes in front of our home, walks on the path with Freckie that always have leaves to crunch & some pumpkin spice Chai tea that my awesome friend Mars gifted me. 

It is weird. There are so many things I love here, but I must be a creature of habit? I am really feeling it this year. 8 years (wait, a couple of years ago, I traveled home alone to enjoy fall with Mom & Dad, a sweet surprise) of living abroad and not being in Pennsylvania for the Fall... It is one of my favorite times of the year, crisp air, gorgeous foliage, fresh apples, bonfires & the moon on a chilly night.

credits: Faith Matthews. Joe Pond, VT

This is not a complaint or a "woe is me" post, just some reflections. Just realizing why I might feel a bit off these last few days maybe even weeks? Actually today, the sky is not typical. It could pass as a fall sky? This picture was taken at 1;30 PM. We usually have beautiful blue skies with the most amazing clouds evah! But today, I will take this cloudy gray sky & pretend that it is Fall.

I think my feelings are more intense as I have two boys in university talking about all of the changes they are experiencing. Funny, but they are missing bits of living abroad. They are cold. Ha ha. I guess all of our experiences really make us who we are. We are Pennsylvanians born & raised with a bit of NJ, some Niger & a whole lotta Philippines.  I am sure this time next year I will be longing for kinilaw, flip flops, mangoes & the white sand of Tulikud Island!

I must sound confused? Fall or no Fall....something inside me is saying it should be here but that is not the reality. Atleast Pennsylvania Fall. Not sure what that means, but today and right now I guess it means extra pumpkin spice Chai, early walks with the hope to catch a cool breeze, time with my sweet Freckie 

& maybe crank the air con and put on my favorite green sweat shirt for a bit? Also, I LOVE seeing posts on Instagram & FB of all my Fall-loving friends are enjoying. I have no problem enjoying Fall vicariously through you! Thanks, in advance!! Well, tomorrow it will be back to eternal summer...flip flops, shorts, beautiful blue skies with fluffy clouds & wonderful ripe fresh tropical fruit. It is my reality. Fall is truly wonderful, but I do have to say that I am quite happy being here in the Philippines right now sipping my pumpkin spice Chai. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bird Watching

Ahhh, this morning, I struck out bright and early to head on my 1st Bird Watch with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines-Davao. It was wonderful to be in the forest and the group collectively spotted 40 different species....4 being raptors: Brahminy Kite, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Chinese Goshawk & a few people even had the treat of seeing a Peregrine Falcon! 

Philippine Serpent Eagle

There were a few types of King Fisher (one of my favorites, I was able to photograph one and only observed the collared kingfisher through the scope), plenty of sunbirds,  flower peckers, drongo cuckoos, get the idea. I will not list them all and I am not sure I could even identify them?? Makes me want to study! Of course, I enjoy the very colorful birds and I was not disappointed. 

Brown Breasted King fisher

One of the varieties of Sunbirds we saw, sorry can't remember the specific type.

Olive Backed Sunbird

My only regret of the day was not having a super high tech lens to take extra close ups to study now. Other surprises were a Sailfin Lizard, a skink and plenty of Flying Foxes! 

Sailfin lizard

Check out the Sailfin lizard's tail. 


Flying Fox

I was refreshed by the beauty around me and the excellence of the people leading, such a wealth of knowledge!  My brain is on overload, they were able to identify so many birds. The groups leader, Pete Simpson is kind and well equipped. It was fun to watch his excitement as well. He brought along scopes, recorded bird calls and his group was well coordinated with binoculars to share.  I saw some of the BIGGEST camera lenses ever!!  If you live in Davao, this is an enriching activity, well worth the time.  Oh, did I mention the lilies?? Maybe they are worth their own blog?? Stunning....

I think that birds are some quite wonderful!  But, I have to admit, I love finding and photographing other treasures as well. Like this guy.....

  • He looked feathered...check out his feet!