i am from… celebrating heritage

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Sololá, Guatemala – circa ’93

I am from a brew of freshly roasted coffee.
From the smell of tea tree oil and the jasmine outside.
Cilantro home-grown and limón freshly squeezed.
From a triangular dining room table that seats fifteen people.
A house worn in with well-loved nooks and too many books.
I am from jacaranda trees in bloom and a rainy season that brings everything to life.

I am from failing at pictures, because we’re a small village.
From sleeping in the mountains to watch shooting stars.
From belly laughs, midnight feasts, and happy half-birthdays.
Odious matching dresses with my mom and sister (only kidding – they were lovely).
From mom’s pancakes every Saturday morning.
I am from grammar fiends and a shared love for music and literature.

I wasn't lying about the matching dresses.

I wasn’t lying about the dresses. That is produce on my dress, people. Produce. I know you’re jealous.

I am from fields upon fields in Illinois and Ohio.
From sweet tea and pulled pork in the deep sultry South.
From English truffles and pudding; and maybe a duke.
From volcanoes and cold in luscious Guatemala.
From heaven on earth in southern México.
I am from anywhere and everywhere in between…

I am from tacos al pastor, mole negro, and fresh conchas from the panadería.
From competitive game-players; a life without screens.
From seeing the world from a very young age.
From outrageous road trip traditions; people who enjoy traveling together.
From music to sports; and books too, of course.
I am from a childhood of scraped up knees and playing ‘lost kids’.

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I am from seventeen years spent in Latin America.
Fresh sushi in California to the snows of Colorado.
From the tropics of Asia to no home at all.
From awaiting my flight to the next far off place.
From an adopted family wherever I bed.
I am from life on the move and ecstatic reunions.

I am from regrets and mistakes made endlessly.
From exceedingly broken to truly redeemed.
From days I can’t face the world, to learning to trust.
From a family that supports and encourages when life gets hard.
From friends that become family when mine is far off.
I am from a Father who Loves unconditionally.

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(Inspiration for this post came from She Loves Magazine.)

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.

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.

¡Viva La Independencia!

I live in a country where people will find any excuse to have a party. I hate it. It’s not in my nature at all. However, I am finding myself a lot more inspired to find reasons to celebrate life! Because it is Mexican Independence Day, I’m planning a full-on ‘grito’ celebration for these Asian-raised children who may never get a chance to experience the real thing — unless I get my say in the matter of them coming to visit me in Oaxaca. So I am going to go out on a wire to celebrate my home country, though I am far away, with a few alterations:

  1. We do not have local beauty queens to sing the national anthem horribly off-key, (although we all know I qualify – puh-lease).
  2. We do not have enough people to make a parade worthwhile, no cowboys to ride into town on their horses, and definitely no impressive fireworks.
  3. Although it can be easily arranged, I have chosen to veto the tradition of smashing flour-filled eggs on each others’ heads. You’re welcome, Belinda. That alteration is dedicated to you.

This year, my family will be celebrating Mexican Independence Day from 5 different countries. I don’t know how much each of the family members outside of Mexico will be able to celebrate, but I (family rep for Southeast Asia) have planned a cultural immersion evening; latino music and a Oaxacan feast with all the food we would typically have on the night of the Grito. Horchata, tacos, churros, and platanos fritos (fried plantains)! It will be my first attempt at trying to make all these dishes from scratch and so far away from all the ingredients I need. With all the Asian twists I’ll have to give it, it’s not promised to be very authentic, but it will at least temporarily satisfy my cravings.

How can you not love how festive they are for special days!

How can you not love how festive they are!

Most MKs have difficulty answering the question, “Where are you from?” For me, that question is easy. No matter how long I’ve lived outside of Oaxaca, I have always considered it to be my home. Although I will confess, some days I don’t feel like divulging my entire story to a stranger when they’re just trying to be polite, so I’ve come up with a short answer: “About an hour north of LA”. The difficulty lies in when they ask further questions about my schooling and family, then I have to fess up that I only lived in Simi Valley for 2 years. When people hear I grew up south of the border and notice my skin colour, I just know I’m not going to get out of that conversation for a good 15 minutes; and truthfully, sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it.

Do you ever wish your life were more boring so people would be less intrigued??

I sometimes feel like I’m alone in that sentiment…

I miss my Oaxaca sunsets with all my heart.

Although I’ve seen my fair share of the world, nothing holds my heart like this place.

En todo el mundo no puedes encontrar a una gente mas patriótico ni mas amable que los Méxicanos, y me siento orgullosa de ser considerado uno de ellos. Extraño celebrar este día tan especial con los que amo mas en todo el mundo. ¡Un día regresaré y celebraremos el Día de Independencia juntos otra vez! ¡¡¡¡Viva México cabrones!!!!

100 Days Of Summer

Today I celebrate 100 days of living in Asia.

Although I have many more days left here, I decided I would do a little recap to catch you up, through pictures, to where I am today!

JUNE:

  • I turned 22 very shortly after “getting off the boat” and we all went out to dinner to celebrate!
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Obviously still a little jet lagged…

  • Immediately taught 2 weeks of K, 5th, and 7th, then we took off for a few days of R&R in Davao.
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I loved my morning quiet time view (especially when compared with dry Southern Cal!)

Neo and I spent most of our days by the hotel pool.

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The last time I’d gone swimming with this kid he was still in diapers!

One of our last days in Davao we went to the croc park. We got to feed ostriches, tigers, and crocodiles.

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Each time the ostrich would peck at my hand, seeds would spray back all over me and I would squeal; sure gave the guys working in the park a laugh.

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So right here, I was weeping on the inside and making small whimpering noises. A tiny little fence was all that separated my body from a tiger’s mouth. And no, this is not the same as a Thai monastery tiger you can hand feed and snuggle with, this was the Jurassic Park of tigers. I’ve seen the movies; I know how this story ends.

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The guy in charge of the tigers was like 12; not very reassuring for me wanting to live through the experience. Needless to say, I survived…and I think I’m a tougher cat because of it. Check that off my bucket list.

On our way out of the park, we stopped in the gift shop to rehydrate and it’s a good thing we did. These signs were worth it!

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Apparently this is an actual game?

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Sorry, that is not a good enough reason to have a croc in your “residence”!

  • Our last day in Davao was also Philippine Independence Day!
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We love the Republic of the Philippines!

JULY:

  • Our home country’s independence day was here before we knew it.
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We celebrated by sending off red, white, and blue Chinese floating lanterns.

  • July also brought conference with all the other New Tribes missionaries on our island. It was a wonderful time getting to know all the other missionaries and hang out with their MKs too!
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I loved being able to help out with childcare with these lovely ladies. I also got to lead worship for a couple of the sessions.

AUGUST:

  • For Belinda’s “25th” birthday, we went to Duka Bay for the weekend. It was exactly what each of us needed. A little R&R, sunshine, waves, and a break from the view of our school room.

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    The perfect end to our school year and celebration of B’s life! We all returned with jellyfish and coral reef owies, but oh, so worth it!

  • I’m just going to brag a little about myself… I successfully made angel food cake without a mixer. Difficult to do for an amateur baker! Not every cake mixing will make you break a sweat!
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This was the end result of my birthday labour of love. So classy with a match as the candle.

SEPTEMBER:

  • My precious little niece, Rosalie Lyn, made her dramatic entrance into the world on September 3rd! I love starting a new month with new life!

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    As you can tell, we are all pretty smitten of our new little one! The (immediate) Loker family count is now up to 14!

  • We even celebrated little Rosie’s BIRTH-day all the way in the Philippines! She is already loved by so many people!

    Any excuse to party, am I right?

    Any excuse to party, am I right?

  • A first this month for me: making my very own homemade doughnuts without any of the needed tools; quite successfully too!

    As if this wasn't a challenge enough, the electricity went out as I started frying them.

    As if this wasn’t a challenge in and of itself, the electricity went out as I started frying them and I had to work by flashlight. Oh, Philippines – what you do to me…

  • This last weekend we went for a walk around the tree park to take some family pictures and topped it off with a picnic in the park!
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I love me some Moffits!

  • And here are the people I spend the majority of my time with:

    ...lucky them! :) just kidding.

    …lucky them! 😉 just kidding.

  • I am so happy I could be a part of the Moffit family for the past 100 days! Here’s to the next…however many I have left!

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Birthdays & Rewards In Heaven

I’m not meaning to brag or anything, but my dad is pretty rad. He’s a stud.  He tans like no one’s business…without even trying. He’s an all-star athlete who’s in way better shape than me, and I’m apparently “in my prime”. Whatever that means. He’s been robbed at gun-point on numerous occasions, yet always stays level headed. He’s a pro at crossing borders, flying with 7 kids in tow, and mapping out our furloughs to the T. He’s extremely organised and has great people skills. He’s an expert at business and missions and I think he might actually be part robot. He has all 9 immediate members of my family’s social security numbers memorized, {I can hardly remember all their names}. If he’s called you more than once, he probably has your telephone number memorized, (not to sound creepy or anything). He remembers everyone’s names, even if he’s only met you once, and given enough time talking with a stranger in an airport, he can usually find that they have a mutual friend.

I don’t know how he does it.

Today he turns 60 and I’m sad I can’t be there. A downside to cross-cultural ministry is having a family of 15 going on 27 people and knowing that you’re pretty much guaranteed to miss every birthday, holiday, and get-together. It’s worth it, though. One event missed = one crown in Heaven, right? I’m pretty sure that’s somewhere in the Bible;)

As you can see, I am the first girl, and obviously the cutest of my siblings. Then another 3 meddlesome Mexicans were born and I went from being the favourite, to being the middle-kiddle and forgotten—sometimes. I get away with blaming quite a bit of my weirdness on this, so no complaints.

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We were such a cute little Guatemalan family!

I love that my dad didn’t necessarily always treat me different just because I’m a girl. It probably helped that I had 3 older brothers, so I just got to tag along on all the cool things they got to do. I was still able to go on village trips, help mix cement for building projects with teams, and hang out with the ‘big kids’. One time, my dad, my brother Mike (on the far right), and I drove our van up to the Texas border to sell it, we then turned around and spent 48+ hours traveling by bus to come home again. I was maybe 7 at the time? I have NO idea how my dad kept a 7 and 9 year old entertained on a bus for 2 straight days, but kudos to him…and my mom of course. We were obviously pros at traveling.

My first “real” village trip was with my dad and oldest brother, Chris. It was the kind where you stay with a family and spend the night, or several nights. I was 4 at the time.

I was born for missions. Just look at my outfit!

Another time when I was little, I was sick on furlough with a raging fever and I fell asleep on the couch while my dad watched a baseball game. He woke me up to ask me how I was feeling and I told him I was still feeling pretty sick. Then he asked if I was too sick to go out and get some ice cream with him. Well, I guess I’m not really that sick…so we drove to Honey Hut and got a cone.

Ice cream fixes all wounds.

Although I may forget your name and have trouble remembering my own SSN, I do take after my dad in some ways: I favor my dad in his studly looks (minus the natural tan & brawny muscles, obviously). We have a shared love for the ocean, running, humidity, coffee, and cinnamon ice cream. I have also inherited his same humour. Sorry, world…

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I love you, Dad! Happy birthday!