September 2016

September 1, 2016: Dumaguete, Philippines

September 1 provided us with a beautiful morning. I woke up with a little Tage on one side of me and Jake on the other side. A run was on the docket this morning, so out I went. It was very hot this morning and I dripped sweat for several minutes after the run was over. I did have a running mishap that cut my run short. I had been doing a run weaving in and out of paved paths behind our home here. One of the roads has a wooden board blocking the path; you need to hop over it to get past it. My toe caught the edge of the wood and before I knew it I was sliding across with cement. My first concern was if I had put a hole in my only workout pants. Thankfully the pants were spared. My hands were scuffed up and burning. The dirt broke through a few small spots on one hand. The back of my phone caught the brunt of the impact on the other hand. The phone survived other than some new scrapes on the back case. I headed home to wash up, cutting my run 15 minutes shorter than I had planned.

Living in this tiny of a house with five of us is already getting on my nerves. I am clearly not a tiny house subscriber. I don’t need a huge mansion or anything extravagant, that would be wasteful. I would like an average sized home with nice furnishings that all serve a purpose and are useful. That won’t be for a while and I’m going to try not to think about the American home that I dream of, too much. I can make little notes of things I would like or would not like in my home.

The brown out ended about half an hour after it started. Averi was thrilled it ended. Tage was thoroughly enjoying the brown out and can’t wait for the next one. Claire didn’t seem to mind so much, either. We can now get the little ones in bed and I can escape to Avonlea. I don’t want to make it sound like I can’t stand it here. I am excited and grateful for this experience and know that it will do us the good that we need. Giving ourselves an adjustment period is helpful, but at some point we need to embrace each aspect of our situation. That being said, I do love “Anne of Green Gables” and am thrilled when I get immersed in such beautiful language.The vivid writing makes me feel as if I were actually there. I can picture Avonlea in my mind’s eye and want to discover a like place for myself.

September 3, 2016: Dumaguete, Philippines

She took us to the Priests’ house to use the restroom. The house had a large, open kitchen. The ground was cement, but had a long narrow broken up piece of concrete running through the center of it. The restrooms were off the back of the kitchen. The kind lady took us to the house because these restrooms more cleaner than the outside CR’s. If these were cleaner, I would not even step food in the outside restrooms. I could hardly imagine living the way they do. The toilets were filthy, the ground was covered in mud, the stench was that of a port-o-potty and you had to use a bucket to flush. Let me just put this operation into your minds. Do your business, no TP, then use the spigot to fill a bucket to clean yourself (I still can’t figure out how that works and don’t plan on trying it), the use the bucket to flush the toilet. I cannot figure that any of those buckets are sanitary. By the looks of the buckets, they have never been cleaned. There is probably no price I could be paid that would make touching those buckets worth it. I kept thinking, I could not live this way, I could not live this way. It is heartbreaking that they do live this way and it is normal. I’ve been to campsites that have bathrooms cleaner than these. Clearly I have a bathroom complex.

September 4, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

Sundays tend to make me feel more homesick than other days. When you are in church with people who believe the same as you, it is hard not to take you back to the place that makes you feel most comfortable. All of our experiences up to this point have been in America. Reflecting during sacrament takes you back to the States, to your old life, to how you think things should be. I wouldn’t say I doubt the decision to come on this adventure; it is missing a small piece of home. I am actually more glad that we came on this trip everyday. It is my prayer that we can learn to speak kindly to each other, that we can learn to appreciate other things in life, that the children will be more grateful. Mostly I hope that we will be united as a family and stick together and be close friends with one another.

The question that I’ve concerned myself with today is about how quickly we will fall back into a privileged, instant gratification, and entitled state of being. My guess is that we will thoroughly enjoy the luxuries America has to offer. The state of our family unity and our attitudes about “things” in life will stay as long as we remember what we have learned. I hope that we will be a family full of gratitude, full of love for others, willing to be helpful, not so attached to items in our life, and will not be idle people. I hope the children are always adventurous and willing to get outside the home.

September 5, 2016; Siquijor, Philippines

No resting from chores in this place. Siquijor provided an excellent outing. We learned that you have to be flexible and even if your plans don’t work out the first time, it could possibly be for the better. That was our case in this instance.

September 6, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

I finally had the best sleep I’ve had in this residence yet. It was absolutely lovely to sleep past the barking dogs and the rising sun this morning. It felt glorious to get enough rest and not wake 17 times a night tossing and turning.

I will be honest in this journal, as I have up to this point, and say what I really feel about doing laundry by hand. The first time was a fun learning and trying experience. The second time I looked forward to it and quickly grew bored of it. Now we are approaching the third time and I am having a hard time mustering the will to get it done. The sound of it is terribly boring and monotonous. We need to wash towels and sheets. Those seems so daunting because of how you have to wash them and their size. It has got to take an hour for one bed sheet. I cannot fathom doing four beds worth of sheets. We did buy more laundry bars of soap, so I guess I have committed to doing laundry by hand at least 4 more times.

It is mentally exhausting being a parent. I am constantly thinking up new things, or being inspired with new thoughts. What I need to be is consistent. These habits I’m trying to form as a parent is the way the children will know what to expect from me.

The Jeepney ride home was the worst ride I’ve had here, yet. The driver packed people into the back and front of the jeep like sardines in a tin can. I was right behind the driver’s seat and on no padding. My bum was terribly sore and tired. There was a harsh heat coming through the floorboards of the vehicle that burned mine and Jake’s feet. I was waiting for the blissful sound of people tapping their coins on the metal runners overhead. That meant I could scoot down a bit and have even a tiny bit more space to sit. It didn’t happen for quite some time, but eventually I was able to get a little more comfortable.

September 7, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

The Public Market smelled horrible today. It is almost unbearable some of the smells that are in this country. I don’t mean to be rude, but I had to cover my nose with my shirt some of the time. It is absolutely nauseating when you have fresh fish, dried fish, hanging meat out in the heat, smoking venders, and just the smell of fruits and vegetables being out in the heat all day. It is a powerful stench.

There is a sense of relief to me that we have made it half way through our journey in the Philippines. We have seen a lot, experienced a lot, and figured out what we need to work on as a family. I hope our family goes back to the States a much better family. I hope I am a better person, mom, wife, and every other roll I have in my life.

September 8, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

Today we had more laundry to do and even more than yesterday. My cuticles are bleeding from scrubbing the clothes, my hands feel like sandpaper because the soap is so abrasive, and my arms are sore from holding up the heavy, sopping wet clothes to scrub and wring them out. I do not like washing clothes by hand. We have two more bars of soap and two more week left in this location, so we will at least be doing a couple more loads of laundry. We will be on the hunt for a laundromat that can wash the towels and sheets and the rest of our clothes.

I love passing by these country towns to see the locals living situations. They live incredibly primitively. Some cook by fire in their yards, everyone washes clothes by hand, electricity is in some of the dwelling, but not all. Almost all of them have a motorcycle for transportation. Every single one of the homes had clothes hanging out to dry. (I can’t figure out how they dry in the country when it rains a lot.) The roofs are thatched with leaves and the walls are made of weaved leaves as well. Bamboo make up the corners of the home. Dirt is their flooring. A lot of the homes have several smaller buildings as part of their home used for different purposes. I do not think I will ever be tired of looking at the homes here and trying to get a glimpse of how they survive.

September 9, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

I love the history we are all learning together. I believe they have learned more history in 2 weeks than they have in 5 years of schooling, for Averi. We are discussing the end of the Roman Empire and moving on into the Middle Ages. A lot of what we are learning we should be able to relate to the locations we will see during this year. I hope it will feel relevant to them.

The children got along well today. There were hardly any disagreements. Jake and I are still being consistent with asking them to try again if they talk rudely or in a nasty tone of voice. I tell them we will return to the States when being kind to one another is a habit. They get so mad when I tell them that. Claire and Averi want to go home terribly. Averi, I think is beginning to like it. Claire likes it most of the time until she has a bad moment, then she says she just wants to go home.

September 10, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

While we were out the rains poured down. It was really, really raining and lightening. The sound of the rain on the roof was very noisy. We all had our raincoats and we made good use of them. When we left the restaurant we were a little nervous it was going to be a while before we found a tricycle to take us home. Thankfully it only took a couple of minutes and we were on our way. Isn’t it funny how just a couple of days ago I mentioned that for rainy season it hasn’t been rainy. Well, the heavens have opened and the rains are falling.

September 11, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

Tage was on a whole new level of intensity today. He was disagreeable and defiant. As soon as I make up my mind to be on the children like glue about talking kind, speaking softly, being respectful, Tage really ups my game.

I did much better with the homesickness today. I have so many goals in this life and I want to accomplish them all. Sometimes I feel paralyzed.

September 12, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

As I reflect on the day before bed, there are always a number of things that I wish had gone better. Things I wish I had said or didn’t say. Things I wish I had done or not done. It is vitally important to me to always show love, concern, care, kindness, and patience to my family. I will get there and together we will be more united.

September 13, 2016: Dumaguete, Philippines

The lush greenery that grows wild here and the broken up concrete do look like something out of the Jungle Book. As you move along the path, which is basically all the same-climbing over walks and crossing the river or following the river-you come to an area where you need to turn the corner. Right around the corner you will see Casaroro in all its majestic glory. It is the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. It appeared to be 300 feet tall and the water was gushing over the edge of the cliff in a long slender motion. It was gorgeous and loud. The green plants, white water, gray rocks, and brown dirt are beautiful. You feel as if you are a million miles from the pollution and noise of the motorcycles.

We finally got to ride on the World War II jeep! Their horns are funny, original, little clown horns. I do not know how they keep these jeeps running. It is amazing what they can do and make use out of here. The jeeps will fit about 30 people. We are like sardines in a tin can. People on both sides of the jeep and sitting down the middle on little stools. It is something else! I am glad for the experience.

September 14, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

At 5:20am I awoke and found Jake was already up and downstairs. Jake was leaning against the kitchen counter looking at his phone, how I often find him. He said in a calm voice, “Someone took my laptop.” I looked around a little bit, but he said, no-someone came in and took it. He noticed the lock in the terrace floor looked tampered with. We went up the stairs leading to the terrace. Looking over the banister I saw the sunscreen that was in my backpack. That’s when I crumbled. Sobbing, I went to my knees. One of my worst fears came to real life: getting broken into while we are home. It happened and we are all still safe, so in that regard, we are watched over and blessed.

I love my family so much. I am grateful for this opportunity to travel to other parts of the world. I am grateful for kind neighbors who are watching out for us and our well-being. I am grateful for Lizah who is an outstanding host. There is so much to be grateful for in life. Life is good and life is going to get even better. It is our reaction to adversity that makes the difference. In this adversity, I choose to be grateful. Because I do have everything that means the world to me.

September 15, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

Have you ever noticed in life that just because you had one big bad thing happen to you, the bad luck streak doesn’t necessarily end?

We then moved on to something I was looking forward to today-vacuuming. Jake found a vacuum under the sink and I was thrilled to be able to clean up the rug under the table. I plugged it in and went to work. Soon, I smelled something burning. I turned the vacuum off. Jake read the side of the vacuum- 120V only. Dang it!! I think I fried the vacuum because it won’t turn on anymore, even after being plugged into the converter. My heart has sunk once again. How could I be so careless yet again?

As soon as they went out the door I decided to get some dishes done so the ants wouldn’t find anything in the sink. As I was washing dishes, a bowl dropped to the floor and broke! I couldn’t believe it. I’m sure my eyes popped out of my head and my jaw hit the floor. Can I have that bad of luck that I break two items that are not my own in one day? Once again my heart sunk. Sure, I can replace the bowl easy enough. It won’t match and I feel bad about that. Am I being careless or am I being tested. Maybe its a bit of both. I don’t know what the chances are of my breaking two things in one day. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that. It is not my week, apparently.

September 19, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

Looking for a backpack brought up all sorts of emotions for me. Sadness over having to purchase a new one, violated that someone took the first one, homesickness in that I didn’t know where to look, and anger that someone would be so cruel to come into our house and take our valuables. After searching for about an hour for the perfect backpack within a good price range, we were able to leave the store feeling satisfied with the purchase. I have used it and it is actually more comfortable in the straps while wearing it. There are about 4 more pockets than my previous one had. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. It has great style, too. Sort of European. The side handle on it will be helpful when I am carrying my luggage backpack around on my back. Focus on the positives. I told that backpack it is coming to the USA with me!

That is, until 3am when Tage had to use the restroom. I took him down and then I had a hard time falling asleep and about 15 minutes later, Claire woke up with a bad dream. After comforting her I was able to start falling asleep. I was sleeping soundly for a few minutes and Tage started crying. He had a stomach ache. I put him in bed with me and soon he said he needed a drink. We came downstairs, but he was really not feeling well and ended up throwing up. I had a mess to clean up which took a long time with one small dishcloth and napkins. I then had to hand wash the dishcloth. Everything took a long time I never ended up going back to sleep. Tage was able to fall asleep; he was sleeping in bed with Jake. I came downstairs to attempt to do some work. The internet wasn’t working great so nothing got done. Around 7am, Jake came down and asked if I was ever going to sleep. He wasn’t quite aware of everything that went on last night and he needed his sleep. I figured I could probably take a nap in the afternoon.

September 20, 2016; Dumaguete, Philippines

My feelings about leaving today are a little excitement at getting out of here and seeing a new place, a little sad that Jake’s computer will be left in the hands of a criminal, and a bit of anxiety about the exhaustion of traveling. I’m tired. I’m emotionally drained. It is taxing to travel as we have. I told Jake if every month is like this one, I’m going back to the states looking 100 years old. It is definitely a lot of work to do what we are doing. Perhaps it is because of where we are as well. Washing clothes and dishes by hand, cooking on a propane cooktop, the amount of time it takes to get anywhere here, the heat and humidity; it is all very draining. I think we will get used to it. I also have hope that not every month will be as eventful and exhausting as this one. We will be moving around quite a lot the next two weeks and then we will be settling down for a month. I think that will be good for us to move around a bit. Who knows, this type of lifestyle sure keeps you on your toes, so maybe it won’t be as great as I think it will. It takes time to get used to this lifestyle.

September 21, 2016; Oslob, Philippines

The pump boat took us to a snorkeling area and we got our masks on, life jackets on, and jumped into the blue water. It is so comfortable swimming in warmer ocean water. Snorkeling together as a family is one of my favorite times as a family we’ve ever had. All three children were face down in the ocean watching all the beautiful little fish swim around the ocean floor. This was the best snorkeling excursion I’ve ever been on. I was actually relaxed in the water for one with all the sea life around me. Maybe I’m turning a corner, maybe it’s all the prayers to help me be calm and enjoy the ride. It was a great family bonding activity. All of the children were sad when we had to leave the snorkeling area. They all talked about the different shapes and colors of fish they saw. The coral underneath the water was amazing. Large dome-shaped masses of different coral structures dotted the ocean floor. Inside the network of coral little fish were eating, hiding, and playing. Large schools of fish were swimming around that we got to witness. The water was incredible clear so you could see for a ways out. The whole experience was so cool. It was only our little family out on the ocean at that time. It was our own piece of memory making and that was really cool.

September 22, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Poor Claire last night had a bad ear ache. Kept me up or in a light sleep for hours. I feel so bad for her because I know how bad earaches hurt. I hope that as we go through the day it will subside, especially when we are on the airplane. That could be very painful for her. Thankfully she was able to get back into a deep sleep.

As the morning progressed Tage woke up throwing up. Things were not looking good for a full day of travel. Tage hasn’t eaten much of anything for a couple of days, so I don’t know what he is throwing up. It breaks my heart. It is awful to feel helpless. He was miserable. All we could do was pray. We witnessed a two miracles yesterday. Tage, only minutes after the prayer was up and teasing Claire. He felt well the whole day we traveled. Truly a miracle. When it came time to board the airplane Claire did not once mention her ears hurting. Another miracle after the pain she was in during the night. I am blessed.

September 23, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Dealing with frustrations when we are all together is a very difficult skill to acquire. It takes a lot of self-control to diffuse the situation. Coming on this adventure has definitely magnified some of my weaknesses. It has made me more aware of my tone of voice and the things I say. It has made me aware of entitlement and complaining too much. I, like everyone, have a lot to work on. I will do my best to work on these feelings, habits, and traits. I hope that when we get back to the States that I will keep up with the good habits and continue to be aware of my tone of voice and the things I say. Developing complete self-control is what I aspire to.

September 25, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Today was a great day. Everyone felt great and I slept the entire night last night! First night in about two weeks. How grateful my body is to sleep that long. Maybe I can get a two night streak in. One can only hope. I did not have homesickness today! I am so, so grateful for that.

September 27, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Cooking is a bit different as the hot plates are outside, but we make it work. I have never been more ready to end “camping” than I am now. I am burned out of it. We are excited to wash our clothes in Singapore with the washer and dryer in the unit. The last place we had our clothes washed did not do a great job. All of our clothes smell like mildew. It is so disappointing to put on “clean” clothes and smell so bad.

September 28, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

One of the things I have most enjoyed about being out here together is that we get a lot of time with one another. Previous to us coming out here I wanted a big enough house that we all had our own space to retreat to when we needed a cooling off. We are really figuring out how to deal with our emotions and learning a lot about self-control. Living in close quarters does not give you a lot of breathing room, so we are forced into it. It is a good lesson that will be of benefit for the rest of our days.

September 30, 2016; Puerto Princesa, Philippines

As we leave the Philippines tomorrow I am wanting to reflect on what has occurred over the last six weeks. When we first arrived here the emotion was overwhelming with both anxiety and excitement. There were brief moments of “what have I done?” floating through my head. Overall I know this is what we are supposed to be doing. The internet gave us problems, the robbery set us back in terms of getting the business going, the long duration of time we are in the Philippines has worn on most of us. We have overcome all of these challenges. I would say there are times I could have handled the inconveniences of the Philippines better, but I’d venture to say that this is part of why we are out here. Probably a good deal for my growth and development of character and good habits; for us all, too, but maybe in different ways.