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?

Music To Travel Asia By

Every few months I like to make a playlist of whatever tunes I’m currently listening to at the time. It’s a good way to document my life through the years and see how my collection has expanded and become more eclectic over time. Each playlist is like a time capsule into my younger self. The mystery still remains as to why I chose to put an embarrassing amount of Jesse McCartney, Ozzy Osbourne, and Queen in my junior high mixes. {not actually embarrassing}

I am enclosing my Asia playlist in case you get the urge to do a little spontaneous traveling; or if you would just like some recommendations to listen to from home. I know there’s some way to add a playlist to your blog so you can listen to it from here, but I’m not a smart enough cat for that. Do with them what you may. In random order, here are some of my present favourites:

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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Oh, The Noise, Noise, Noise…

Stepping out of the airport in a jet-lag induced haze, I was bombarded. Everything was so different from what I knew and the humidity was so thick I felt like I was drowning. So many noises, so many smells! Maneuvering more luggage than I had hands for, I somehow made it on the right bus. Or I was about 75% sure it was the right one, anyway. I walked down the narrow aisle of the bus and couldn’t help but eye the red velour walls, yellow polyester curtains with giant tassels, and a lucky maneki-neko cat* figurine sitting at the front with its paw beckoning at each turn of the bus. So much beauty for the eye to behold… As I began to wonder why American bus systems haven’t yet adopted the ambiance of Asian buses, the guy walking down to collect the coins yelled something I couldn’t understand, and immediately everyone standing in the aisles found a lap to sit on. I tried to suppress a laugh; it came out as a snort instead.

I’m sure my experience conjures up memories of your first trip to a developing country. It’s pretty standard, from what I understand. It’s funny how quickly life overseas becomes normal and you actually come to expect the very things that once overwhelmed you.

Case in point:

Last week on my night to make dinner, I was preparing to make orange chicken and fortune cookies (by scratch, mind you) when I realized I didn’t have any oranges. Living in the-land-of-never-being-able-to-find-all-the-ingredients-needed, I’ve become queen at substitution. However, there’s no substituting orange in orange chicken; at least I wasn’t about to try to attempt it. Off to the store I went. I jumped into a motorela** and went to the store, which is approx. 2 km from our house, bought 4 oranges, hopped back on a ‘rela’ and came home. The trip took me an hour and fifteen minutes. When I walked in and glanced at the clock, I was shocked — at how quickly I had returned from my errand!

How did this become normal?

More recently, yesterday at 8 am to be precise, the day kicked off with a little kindergarten, 5th, and 7th grade math. After working on math for a few minutes in silence, Kuya Boy, (yes, that’s really his name) the guy working on the bathroom cabinet, turned on some manly machine – a chainsaw perhaps – right outside the schoolroom window. Whatever it was, it was loud. That’s fine. We can work with that. Then, “Iron Man” (I have yet to learn his real name) turns on a weed-eater, again, right outside the window. All right, testing my patience here. When I didn’t think the kids could possibly get more distracted, a parade walked by outside our house with live music and drums. A parade. At 8 in the morning. Only in the Philippines. Oh, the noise, noise, noise, noise! Sorry, I couldn’t resist getting a little Seuss-ical on you.

Yet somehow even then, I didn’t think much of the absurdity in the situation until all was quiet, and I realized I had been yelling the lesson to be heard over all the commotion.

*For those of you needing a visual image of my bus trip, this is a lucky maneki-neko cat. You clearly have not been in Asia or eaten bad Chinese food in the US if you have not seen one of these bad boys! You probably just didn’t know they were called that. Spread the word. 

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**These are motorelas. They’re like a cross between Thai tuk-tuks, Mexican cucarachas…and I’m pretty sure a combination of any other motorised transportation you’ll find in another country. Motorcycle in the front, party in the back! It’s more fun in the Philippines.

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For now, my maneki-neko cat and I are signing off. (Admit it, it’s fun to say!)

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!

You’re Calling From Where??

Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes calling via Skype to America, which is a 15-hour time difference, to talk to a delightful Canadian man named Jay, (who I’m not entirely convinced wasn’t an angel) to start a new car insurance policy. Phew. What a sentence. It’s a long, boring story behind my car drama. Basically, he had to run through my old policy information to transfer it into a new account. It began like it always does:

“You learned how to drive in Mexico in 2005, you joined AAA in 2009 in Southern California, you then switched to a year-long Colorado policy in 2010, then back to Southern California, and I see here you’re calling from…wait, WHERE are you calling from exactly??”

“The Philippines.”

After an awkward silence, either due to a poor connection or Canadian-Jay still trying to figure me out, I sheepishly added, “I move around a lot…”

That is what got me thinking about the life of a TCK (Third-Culture Kid) and inspired this post. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, if you don’t already know this about me…

I love making pros and cons lists.

Now you know. When I think of growing up as a missionary kid (or TCK, if you prefer) in Latin America, one main pro and one con come to mind. There are plenty of blogs and books out there that address both of them, but I wanted to throw out my two centavos, or cents, or whatever you want to call them. The con is this:

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Now we all know someone who has moved overseas, whether for long-term or short-term work: missionary or humanitarian, military, volunteer, retirement…etc. If you haven’t, then you probably will at some point in your adult life…unless you’ve never left your basement. (My mom doesn’t take a fancy to my offending people from rural Alabama, which was whom I was going to reference here. Oops. I guess I referenced them anyway.) But for TCKs, having all your friends move overseas, well, that kind of comes with the job description.

In my 22 years of opinion-having, the main downside to being a TCK is the fact that you don’t live in close proximity to the same friend for more than a few years (or months, or yes, even days sometimes). I don’t even have my family relocating as a reason for this. We were the minority in the missionary community, in that I lived in the same house from the time I was 3 until I graduated from high school (my parents are still living in the same house today!). It was everyone else that did the moving around.

I was devastated the first time a little friend moved far away and I knew I would never see him again. (If any of you have run into a 22 year old named Toby in Germany, who used to catch tadpoles with me in Mexico, and loved legos more than he loved me…tell him his girlfriend from when he was 3 would like him to call.) Despite friends moving away being a frequent occurrence, I remained overly optimistic and continued to make new friends like any little kid would do, until they too, relocated to another country or continent for good. Subconsciously, I began to distance myself from potential friends. I would befriend the new kid in town, but there was always a barrier preventing us from getting too close, so it would hurt less when they, too, moved away. I had learned early on in life that missionary kids just don’t stick around very long. And that’s all I have to say about that. But not really…

Now for my pro:

Friend Map

Wait a minute, you might think. “Your pro looks like your con!” The truth is, it’s pretty awesome to have friends all over (once you get past the fact that you hardly ever get to see any of them). I could pretty much go to any country and through the online missionary community, namely my parents’ network, and I’d be able to find somewhere to stay. In fact, once upon a time in Seattle, I had nowhere to stay and I called up my mom at 3 pm and within 20 minutes she gave me a name and an address for somewhere I could sleep that night.

This picture is a screen shot of an app called “My Friend Map” generated from Facebook and the “current cities” people have in their bio, so it’s definitely not up-to-date with reality. Who updates their current cities? Ain’t nobody got time for that. I love being connected with so many cultures through my friends and the technology that allows me to keep up with them — regardless where they are on the map. Now if only they had invented this app (or our town had internet) when I was 3. Maybe then things would have worked out long term and lest we forget, long distance, with Toby: the 3-year-old German, tadpole-catching, former boyfriend of mine. What a title…

I can’t relate to most TCKs stories about how they had lived in 15 countries by the time they graduated from high school, because I didn’t move frequently growing up. I did travel a lot every summer, and I’ve been able to see my fair share of the world. I was very fortunate to be able to have the same home to come back to at the end of it. However, since graduating high school, I seem to be making up for that fact with all the moving around I do now! During my college years, I lived in 12 “permanent” addresses, but that is another story for another time.

Conversations like the one I had with Jay are nothing out of the norm for me now. I always feel like I need to explain myself…like I’ve done something wrong. Or I feel like I need to give my entire life history to any customer service representative or immigration officer that asks me a question about where I’m from. “Then when I was 6 weeks old, we moved back to Guatemala…”

They never should have asked!