Chinese New Year & 2014 via my phone

恭喜发财 Happy Chinese New Year!

I’ve decided to ring in the ‘Year of the Horse’ by doing a recap of 2014, so far – according to my phone.

This is how it happened:
“Hi, I’d like the panini pesto and a bottle of water.”
“What’s your name?”
“Hannah”
“Hannah??”
“Yes, HANNAH” (Just picture Squints from The Sandlot over-enunciating, “FOR-EV-ER”. That’s pretty much how it was)

…a few minutes later, “Hot panini pesto for Hyena”

Meh - close enough...

Meh – close enough…

We were eating at Burger King at the airport in Manila and every table was occupied. There was a guy sitting next to us eating lunch and reading his kindle, when this family of 3 plopped down and joined him without saying a word. I found it humourous to watch him try to become as small as humanly possible in his little corner.

This would never fly in the US. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to even breathe on freeways in America, let alone walk and sell on them.

Drive through store on the freeway...and I'm pretty sure he's giving me the stink eye.

I think he’s giving me the stink eye.

I've been traveling for 15 hours and Manila bus stations are wicked hot.

I call this: ‘I’ve been traveling for 15 hours & Manila bus stations are wicked hot – and Daisy is pensive’.

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It rains a lot in this country. This is the result of two back-to-back typhoons.

You know how McDonalds is unique to each country? Germany – beer; Mexico – jalapeño sauce; England – brown sauce? Well, the Philippines does rice…and ube ice-cream. Ube is a purple yam that is eaten as a snack by itself and in desserts. How else are you going to make your kids eat their veg?

Ube is a purple yam, which is used here for snacks and desserts…even at McDonalds. Ube McDip, anyone?

Ube McDip, anyone?

Not shown is my reaction to waking up at 3 this morning to find a mouse in my bed with me… I’m still a little traumatised.

The Year of the Horse is looking bright so far. How are you ringin’ in the New Year?

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on discovering duck dynasty was not a remake of ducktales

It’s about that time again. Time for a little deactivation date with my Facebook account.

I’d be lying if I said my intentions were entirely noble. I would love to be able to say that I’m deleting my Facebook so that:

-I can spend more time with God.
-I can better love other people.

Although these usually play a role in my thought process, the truth of the matter is:

Social media feeds my hate plant of discontent.

There’s a process to getting to where I am today. A journey, I should say. This is what it was like for me.

Once upon a time, I was part of a wide circle of friends. I had deep relationships. I understood the culture I lived in–mostly. I thrived and I felt independent and secure.

But soon after nestling into my seat on a plane bound for Seoul, I became rid of all earthly things to which I could be identified–college student, massage-therapist, nanny, US resident, driver. I was then transplanted in a new environment, which spoke a language I didn’t know, and given a new set of things with which to identify myself, effective immediately–missionary volunteer, teacher, expatriate.

Once past the honeymoon season of transplantation, which some people skip entirely, you typically go straight into shock season. This usually includes late night conversations, which you might still be jet-lagged for, it all depends on how long your honeymoon stage lasted. These conversations are typically one-sided and go something like this,

“What the *bleep* am I doing here? I suck at ____ (pick your poison). God, You clearly made a mistake.”

After you’re finished telling God how to do His job, albeit you may still have doubts, you roll up your sleeves and decide you’re going to make the best of it; so you get to work. You build relationships, you start to learn language, and most importantly–you learn how to laugh at your mistakes.

Then, you reach the coveted “mountain top” stage of transplantation. You get high – figuratively, of course. It’s exhilarating. This is what you were destined for. Your ministry is booming. People are getting healed, there’s a mad dash of people running to pools of water, wanting to take the plunge…life is going darn-tootin’ well.

The mountain-top days are short-lived when the flaming arrows of doom burn down the sails on your ship, and you, my friend, are stuck in the middle of the ocean. It’s stinking hot and you are not going anywhere anytime soon. Finally, the sun begins to set and you sense relief coming, when out of the blue, a storm breaks. All the while, you’re trying to sew new sails and not sink your ship.

Your ministry might teeter back and forth between the ‘mountain days’ and the ‘storm from hell – boat’s about to sink’ stage, until you finally land in the plateau stage. Life has calmed down considerably, enough to the point of maybe feeling slightly mundane. ‘Lull Land’ is where discontentment really takes root. At least for me.

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All of a sudden, life isn’t exotic enough – when compared with others. You question if it was all worth it. Friends from “home” seem to have moved on without you. You don’t feel needed like you once thought and you now have no clue what anyone is talking about pretty much on a daily basis. I thought Duck Dynasty was something like DuckTales and I was stoked about that possibility – until someone finally let me in on what it was. Disappointment on disappointment! I haven’t heard of most of the movies people are seeing in cinema and I still have no idea what the heck the fox says, and you know what? I don’t really care.

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So I am deleting Facebook. Again. And I will probably keep deleting it every few months as long as it continues to be a source of pain, stress, or as long as it is something I attempt to find security in. It’s not that I don’t love or miss people. I surely do. It’s hard for me to be here when I’m constantly reminded of a former life that isn’t waiting for me.

You should go love on a missionary today. More than likely, they aren’t in a ‘mountain-top’ season right now and holidays in general are pretty hard on those living overseas!

holiday melancholia & choosing joy

Christmas hurts.

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, there’s a steady influx of holiday-related posts; baby’s first Christmas, new traditions, old traditions, fancy meals and dresses, a time to reminisce, and families long apart – together again. I never knew something to make my heart feel such joy and sorrow at the same time.

It’s my second Christmas away from home, yet the ache I feel far surpasses last time.

My parents are moving to America.

This is the last Christmas in my childhood home – and I’m not there for it.

I’m losing something that I didn’t know I needed to say goodbye to.

It’s not that I’m sad about missing Christmas day, or even the Christmas season; it has and always will be about the people. Christmas is the one time of year I get to fly home to ‘my country’ and be with ‘my people’. People who have scolded me, watched me grow from a wee tot into who I am today, in complete support of me in any endeavor I pursue. The people who were my adoptive aunties, uncles, and grandparents; people who most influenced my life.They know what part I play in my family dynamics, they saw me through my awkward, embarrassing years, they know my talents and weaknesses, they care to know what I’m learning, and they constantly tell me how proud they are of me… they cherish me unconditionally.

I’m far from home this year, experiencing the holiday season in a different continent than I have before. It’s been so fun to see how a different culture does Christmas and get to spend this season with an adoptive family, but we’ve been so busy that it wasn’t until I checked a calendar this morning that I even realised today was Christmas Eve.

I found myself swallowing a lump in my throat I didn’t even know was there.

I’m grieving a season in my life I know to be ending very soon. Not a literal season, but a season of international terminals in order to go home on holiday; of sleeping in my own bed – not the guest bedroom in a strange house in a new state; of using different currencies on break; of being with the people I consider to be my family, who value me; to see my childhood friends – grown TCKs who are scattered all over and whom I’d never see any other time.

We don’t get a lot of say in the direction God takes our lives, but mine is going somewhere I hoped it wouldn’t… and damn it, it hurts.

Life. Goes. On.

I think God, in His divine Love, knew this would be a hard pill for me to swallow, so He orchestrated a way for me to go home one last time before the move. In October, I strongly felt that I needed to go home after I return from Asia; as my place to rest and figure out my life. I moved to the Philippines directly after graduating college and I haven’t had the mental capacity since then to plan out a blueprint of my next year. I found an affordable flight that would give me 6 weeks with my family before I’d move back to California. It was a month later that it became clear my family would be moving to Michigan in June, in order for my parents to take on a new role in ministry.

In other words, God had planned out for me to go home before we knew the move would happen. Are you kidding?? It’s humbling to know that unbeknownst to me, God loves me so much that He’d prepare in advance a way for me to get the closure I need.

That being said…

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Knowing my Creator and recognizing His plan to be the best, I hereby choose to not wallow in self-pity over the upcoming changes in my life; but instead to face them head on with my eyes mostly open. I might scrunch my face a little, because I do that sometimes…but I will rely on my Saviour, taking it just one day at a time.

So for today, at least — I am choosing joy.

music to keep you warm

Although there is no shortage of warm weather where I live this holiday season, I know the climate to be quite ghastly this year for the majority of my readers – and I thought, what better way to combat the wintry blues than with some marvelous winter tunes?

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the days are cold; have a warm heart.

Christmas in Southeast Asia began in July and has built in a crescendo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for listening to Christmas ditties year-round, it’s just been going on for so long in public, that I feel I’m committing an injustice if I play the same same tunes at home. For that reason, I’ve decided to steer mostly clear of traditional holiday tunes and instead share with you what I enjoy listening to on gloomy days.

{If for whatever reason it doesn’t work to view it on there, here is the set list}

  • Emmylou – First Aid Kit
  • Living in Colour – Frightened Rabbit
  • Lucky – Kat Edmonson
  • It Never Entered My Mind – Miles Davis
  • Winter Song – The Head & the Heart
  • I Put a Spell on You – Nina Simone
  • Live Forever – Drew Holcomb
  • White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
  • Moon River – André Rieu
  • O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Winter Birds – Ray LaMontagne
  • Let’s Be Still – The Head & the Heart
  • Ghosts That We Knew – Mumford & Sons
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Ingrid Michaelson
  • La Vie en Rose – Louis Armstrong
  • Pillow Talk – Wild Child
  • Fairytale of New York – Walk Off The Earth (pardon their butchering of the pronunciation of Galway)
  • Pretty Face – Sóley
  • High Hopes – Kodaline
  • What Are You Doing – Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Cheers!

Missionary Kid Envy

We spent a few hours this afternoon swimming in a spring located on a former SIL center about 10 km from our house. Not far for a quick escape on a hot day (yes, hot day on December 5th). As we were driving down the little dirt road that led to the property, visions of my childhood on our SIL center in Oaxaca creeped into mind. Then I found myself imagining what life would have been like had my parents chosen to be missionaries here, in Asia Pacific, rather than Latin America. After visiting this property, I’m telling you what — we, the missionary kids of Oaxaca, Mexico got GYPPED.

It was the most perfect MK stomping ground I’ve ever seen in my life. Orchards of fruit trees for the climbing, tall swing sets, rolling meadows of green goodness, and a clear, refreshing, and deep spring on the same property; complete with a diving board. All they were lacking was a rope swing! I am irrefutably jealous of the missionary kids who got to call this heavenly place home.

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This was my attempt at drowning the Moffit kids. I told them to stop moving so I could take a picture, but every time they’d stop moving, they’d sink. Muahaha.

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Neo’s new favourite face to make.

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Yes. This definitely ended how you'd think it would.

This definitely ended how you’d think it would. It hurts me to look at it very long.

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This picture pretty much encompasses the MK life. I love everything about it. All 4 kids passed out in the boot of the truck after swimming all afternoon.

life lately according to my lens

I love the Philippines. Everything is so bright and colourful. Here are some pictures from this past week of festivities: Grandma’s visit from Oregon, a trip to the local monastery, and evening jaunts around town…

These beauties are made specially to decorate for Christmas.

These beauties are made specially to decorate for Christmas.

Teamwork!

How many people does it take to get a lantern into the sky?

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My favorite kind of restaurant: the silent ones.

Someone's ready for some grub. Just look at that sweet boy's face!

Someone’s ready for some grub. Just look at that sweet boy’s face!

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Even the meat here is bright.

Snuggles with mom. No, there aren't any seatbelt laws in this country.

Snuggles with mom. No, there aren’t any seatbelt laws in this country.

Halo-Halo

This yummy dessert is called Halo-Halo. Inside you’ll find anything from fresh fruit to corn, beans, ube ice cream, and fish eyes. Anything goes here!

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Cute little hipster man at the market.

The weather's been a little strange lately; makes for beautiful sunsets!

The weather’s been a little strange lately; makes for beautiful sunsets!

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We were a little too rambunctious to stay long at the monastery, but it was beautiful up there!

Soon I Will Rest…Earned It I Have

Our home just accommodated 27 people for 3 days. 

On Wednesday last week, we had a family of 5 come stay with us, so that pushed our usual number up to 12. Then on Thursday, to kick off the long-weekend of partying, we celebrated a belated-Halloween and invited another family of 4 over to party with the 12 of us. I know you’re all dying to know what I went as. I won’t hold you in suspense.

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Mr. Smee from Peter Pan!

This past Saturday, the Moffits threw a huge birthday bash for the 18-year-old living with us. For the party, we ordered enough food to feed a small planet, then invited everyone we could think of. Remember how the Philippines had a huge typhoon doomed to hit on Friday? Although it didn’t hit our island, the likelihood of it raining still on Saturday was uncomfortably high. We were scheduled to have somewhere around 100 people come to party on Saturday morning and there was a heck-of-a no way that that many people were going to fit inside our home if it were to rain during the party.

Lo and behold, early Saturday morning: blue skies. Hallelujah! Ready to party…

But they'll usually have cake as well. Basically, just a lot of food in general.

Some pig!

I was given the job of photographer for the party. I’m not even kidding, it was probably 100˚F + incredibly high, post-typhoon humidity, then factoring in an estimated 90ish sweaty bodies hacking away at a pig and little old me, maneuvering my way through the crowds, snapping away — I was a hot, sweaty mess! But here you go, one of the few pictures with me in it:

Stopped taking pictures so I could be in one with the birthday girl.

With the birthday girl!

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Too cool for school.

Friends from church

Friends from church

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I love this one, it’s so bright and cheery!

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This photo was at his request. I believe that is a pig foot?

As I wangled a route through the masses, sweat no longer just dripping, but cascading from my body, I found my way upstairs to discover these kids conked out on mats in our school room; which had been renovated into sleeping quarters for 15 of our guests from out of town.

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Poor kids from the mountains aren’t used to our “sea-level” humidity.

This is our master chef who prepared the cornucopia of delicious food, minus a pig. His precious one-year-old, Zoe, stole the show and won the hearts of everyone at the party. Every time I spotted her, she’d have a little crowd following her, snapping away.

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And lastly, these are the beauties I get to live with while I’m here.

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Voila. I’m in 2 party pictures!

Gradually today, all of our guests made it to public transportation to wheel themselves home again and we found ourselves just a ‘small family of 7 Moffits’ once again. I kind of feel like I need to talk to a shrink. I’m going through people-withdrawal and I’m finding myself trying to use words like wangled and cornucopia as frequently as possible. Not only that, but I sound like Yoda when forming sentences, “When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmmm?” Never a good sign.

What do you mean there’s not a waiting list to use the toilet? All the utensils and glasses are already clean and I no longer have to wash one each time I need to use it? Is anyone else hearing crickets?

Sleep now we will. Earned it we have, yes?