2013 in review | 13 memories

My main moments from the past year (at least ones with pictures) are from various trips I took. Pretty typical for a third culture kid. 2013 was a good year for me. I was able to see and experience so much life and growth: I graduated from college, visited a state I’d never been to before, went to Europe for the first time, and I moved to the Philippines! Here are 13 of my favorite moments:

The first few days of January were spent finishing off my sister’s and my UK trip! English tea & pudding, balderdash, falling down the stairs daily, intense jet lag, trying to stay awake (& warm), and laughing with these cool cats late into the night:

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

After returning from Liverpool, I spent one jet lagged day in California before flying home-home to Oaxaca to spend the rest of my holiday with the family. I was able to check this off my bucket list — well, I had to first add it to my bucket list, but then I checked it off…

While home and still recovering from jet lag, my youngest sister, Debbie, and I got to spend a couple days at our favourite beach in the entire world: Puerto Escondido. Do you see my jetlagged eyes?? I shouldn’t be allowed in public.

Ah, to be warm again!

In the midst of school (trying to graduate in May) & work, I got to be reunited with one of my favourite people ever – my partner from massage school! She came to LA, so I had an excuse to do the touristy things I hadn’t even done yet myself: the Griffith Observatory and the L.A. Zoo!

How I love her and her sweet son!

How I love her and her sweet son!

My friend Karina and I went on a spontaneous road trip to Seattle right before finals. It was one of the worst ideas I’ve had, but actually the best decision. I got to see my childhood bestie in Cannon Beach, which has been a lifelong dream to visit!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

From Cannon Beach, we drove across the most epic state line ever, making Washington my 41st state visited. I didn’t want to leave!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Soon after the Northwest trip…Donna and I got our friend, Nicole, married off!

Nothin' like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Nothin’ like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Then I graduated from Eternity Bible College!

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After graduating, I flew home to Oaxaca to spend a week with my family before moving to the Philippines!

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These two deserve a gold medal in the friendship department! They put up with so much of me last year and they’re really the best of people. Have I mentioned I get to see them in a couple weeks?? I’m beyond excited!

And here are the people I spent the majority of the year with! We trekked all over Mindanao and even to Luzon together in 2013, we make good travel & living buddies;)

These were moments I knew would make the best Facebook statuses. Livin’ the life!

I ran my first 5k in November! I placed 8th for women and won an award for being the only white female racing. Check that off my bucket list — after adding it first;)

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Although it was hard to keep it at 13 memories, 2,013 seemed a little extravagant…

Until next time!

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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!!!!