August 31, 2012

She Learns...

Ok, I know, this is several days behind...but sometimes, things just don't go as planned here.  HA!  Like for instance, last night we were supposed to be picked up at 5 or 6 to preach an OMSIFY meeting for Section 3.  (OMSIFY= One Million Souls In Five Years)  However, our driver never showed.  So, we had the evening off.  

Today, I am sitting here waiting patiently, yet expectantly for the washer repair people to show up between 10 am and 12 noon.  We shall see.  They have an hour and 15 minutes left to get here or I will be on the phone...  If you learn ANYTHING in life, learn this:  Persistence pays.  HA!  Besides, I do not want to repeat 3+ hrs of handwashing laundry.  Worse case scenario, I will find a drop-off laundry facility and let someone else take a turn sweating.  Hehehe!!

So, what is this mysterious C.R.?  Some of you may have already guessed or have heard of it before.  C.R. stands for Comfort Room or bathroom, or restroom.  Here, it is C.R.  If you ask for the bathroom, they will think you want to take a bath.  The public C.R.s sometimes do not have tissue, so it's a good idea to carry yours around with you.  This is an "old trick" I learned on one of my first missions trip to Russia.  You also might have to pay to use the C.R.  It's usually P10 ($.02 US).  In Russia, I remember it being about $.10 US, but you were paying for toilet paper...not necessarily for the use of the C.R.  Now, SOME of the C.R.s do not look like what you are used to.  Some of them look like this:  
This toilet is roughly 10 inches off the ground.  No lid.  No handle. 

Ella is standing next to the "flush bucket".
The "flush bucket" (my terminology) is used to flush to toilet.  You scoop water out of the flush bucket and dump it into toilet until everything goes down.  Easy, breezy, right?  I took a wild guess when I was first faced with this situation and then in a panic texted Sis. Dibble to ask how to flush.  I am a good guesser and did it right.  :)  Admittedly, I was slightly horrified when I faced my first filipino toilet as I had never seen one so close to the ground and the lack of a seat and flush handle had me a little confused.  But, now I am an old pro.  This girl can be toilet trained!!!

Something we should have in EVERY restaurant in the states?  Wifi and charging stations!!  This is at the local Burger King:  
I've had LOTS of questions regarding the kids.  I feel like they are adjusting very well here.  It is a little overwhelming for Jon, as he is used to a little more freedom and we do not allow him to wander out of our site on his own.  Ella seems oblivious to being in a foreign country.  HAHA!!  They are pretty much show-stoppers everywhere we go.  American kids here are pretty rare.  Ella gets lots of looks and pats, even from strangers.  Normally, she takes it in stride, but sometimes she has reacted more stand-offish.  Their favorite place to go is Toy Kingdom.  I suppose it is the Filipino equivalent of Toys R Us.  

Thursday, we took a little detour in our day to get a souvenir for a friend.  Police patches.  This put us right next door to Camp Crame which is where they house and train the PNP (Philippine National Police).  From what I understand, all the security guards (and there are HUNDREDS) are trained here, as well as traffic enforcers (not so many of those seen....) and other police are all trained here.  Most every store or restaurant, including the malls and some stores inside the malls have a security guard that will open the door and sometimes search your bag or use a wand to search for weapons.  The police carry guns and sometimes rifles.  A little intimidating, but somehow it just makes me feel safer.

So, that's a little recap about what we've been up to.  Anyone want to learn some Tagalog?

I am fairly certain this is the entire list of words I have learned so far.  We have been here 13 days. 

Tagalog (tuh-gawh-log) is the Filipino language, other than English.  There are many other dialects, but Tagalog and English are most common.

Mabuhay (muh-boo-hi) means welcome.  Mabuhay to my Tagalog lesson!

Salamat or Salamat po (suh-lah-mott poh) means Thank you.  The "t" is a soft "t" and you add po to say "thank you very much".

Mas Sarap (mas suh-rahp) means very good or very sweet.  This phrase can be referring to food or if someone does a good job. 

Petso (pay-cho) is my most favorite filipino dish (so far).  It is served with Calamansi (cal-uh-mahn-see) tiny little limes that are very flavorful and with chili seeds and soy sauce make a most excellent "dip"! 

Walang (wah-lahng) means without.  Sis. Dibble told me she was able to use a running app walang 3G, which is good news for me, as I want to start running but don't have wi-fi unless I am in the house.

Kuya (coo-yah) means big brother.  Jon is Ella's kuya and she is learning to call him kuya.  :)

Inday (in-die) means little sister.  Ella is Jon's inday.  Some people refer to the waitress as inday or day (die).  This is a little term to use if want to get a stranger's attention without saying: "Hey you!".  There is a Filipino restaurant at our mall in Milpitas that is called Inday.  Now we know what that means!!

Dodong (doo-dong) means little brother.  The missionaries here, Bro & Sis Flowers have a driver.  His name is Sam, but has been referred to as Dodong his whole life.  So, we all call him Dodong.  He is a great driver and an excellent source of information.  This term is also used to get a stranger's attention (a waiter).   

Yaya (yah-yah) means nanny or babysitter.  Annie (Ahn-knee) is our kid's yaya while we are here in the Philippines.  Normally, the yaya lives with the family, but Annie just comes when we need her.  She is a super sweet gal.  She helps me at the National Children's Hospital also.  

Guapo (gwah-poh) means handsome.  Yes.  Just like Spanish!!  This is used in a masculine tense.

Maganda (mah-gahn-dah) means beautiful.  Sis. Dibble told me a story about a little picnic she took with a family and their little boy.  She laid out a paper towel for them to eat off of, and the little boy had never seen such a thing!  He whispered: "maganda" in awe over this little paper towel.  When they were finished eating, she wrapped his leftovers in a fresh paper towel.  He again whispered "maganda" as he clutched his little lunch to his chest.  How many maganda things do you see very day that you take for granted?  Hmm...

Another super wordy post from me, but I just can't help myself!  I hope you all enjoyed the little Tagalog lesson!  I am having a great time learning the language and trying to be brave and use it whenever possible.  Perhaps in 2 months, I will be able to add a 3rd language to my repertoire!!    

August 28, 2012

Manila on My Mind

It ain't easy being green.  And that is exactly the color I have felt the last 24 hrs.  Not sure if it's something I ate or if I got dehydrated or what, but felt like a horrible (deadly!!!) stomach bug got a hold of me.  But there is no rest for a missionary mamma.  Oh no...gotta keep moving and keep making it happen.  

So, let's recap about the last couple days, shall we?

Saturday, I became a runner.  HAHAHAHAHA!!!  Ok, so I went on my first legit really real run with Sis. Dibble.  She has been running for 3 weeks now using the "Get Running" app for iPhone.  So, we did Week 1, Run 1 together.  Whoa Nelly.  I've been working out 6 days a week for nearly 2 months and running is a totally different type of exercise.  My poor wittle legs!!  But it felt good.  And, I managed to keep pace with her the entire time!  Go me!!!

At noon, we were picked up to take a little tour of the Manila American Cemetery.  Just awesome!!  Sis. Dibble, became the photographer, while Bro. Dibble gave a little tour of the cemetery.  The kids enjoyed being outdoors and Jon had fun trying to find the different states on the graves.  

Clearly, they love each other.  :)
Later, that evening, we had a double date with the Dibbles.  (Say that 5 times fast...)  We had dinner at Chili's, then a massage at Foot Zone.  After, we stopped by Starbucks (just as good as in the states--YES!!!!) then back to the "Ya-ya's" where the kids were.  :)  Anne has fallen in love with my kiddos.  Especially Ella.  She watched the kids for us at her church.  Jon got to experience his first Filipino Youth Service!!  He also made a new friend.  Nathan (Than Than--pronounced "tahn tahn") just had a birthday yesterday.  He is 10.  

We actually stayed up until 11:30 pm on Saturday.  A miracle.  And I figured it would be the best night's sleep yet.  WRONG.  Ugh.  I just cannot sleep through the night yet.

Sunday was our first church service.  We preached for Pastor Sulit.  We had 2 for sure confirmed to receive the Holy Ghost, but the pastor really felt like there were more.  It's hard to get an accurate count, as some people just do not know or understand what they received.  But a might move of God was felt by all.

Ella, once again, was the belle of the ball!  All the kids and some of the adults just flocked to her!  They all wanted photos with her.  Out come all the cell phones and it's instant paparazzi again.  By this time, Ella was exhausted, hot and HUNGRY.  We all were, so after a few photo ops, I took her away to the van.  We had dinner at KFC.  KFC is better in the Philippines.  Or maybe I was just THAT hungry.  LOL!  It was just after noon and we had been up since about 6:30 am.  Long day already!!

That evening, we got to meet Sis Donna Flowers for the first time.  Bless her heart, she had a little accident not long before we arrived and tore a muscle in her leg.  She is doing much better and instantly claimed my kiddos and wanted to be called "Grandy".  I hope we are able to visit with her often over the next several days.  She seems like a sweetheart and I think my kids are going to have a great time getting to know her.  

Monday was spent moving out of our little apartment and into the Dibble's townhouse.  We had an amazing farewell dinner at Banana Leaf and then a little yogurt at the Golden Spoon.  The Dibbles have spoiled us completely rotten and I loved every second of it!!!  They left late Monday evening for Guam, then the states.  We will miss them tremendously, but we will do our best to take very good care of their home while they are away.  Praying they have an awesome visit with their families!  Love me some "Mama Dibbs" and "Dibble".  (Ella, calls Bro. Dibble "Dibble"--seriously too cute!!)

PS:  If you would like a peek at where we are staying for the next several weeks, Sis D blogged about here guest suite here.

Another PS:  I will post another blog later tonight in regards to the mysterious C.R. and a mini vocabulary lesson.  :)  I don't want these posts to be so long and overwhelming that you don't LEARN something.  HA!!  Keep on praying for us!!

August 22, 2012

We lived to tell the tale...

Yesterday was our first "on our own" day here.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous, but realized we are "city folks" after all, so how hard could it be?  HA!!

We woke around 6:50 am.  Really, this is the strangest thing EVER for this family.  We are evangelists for crying out loud--we sleep in until noon (not really--but Ella usually does!).  Anyway, we are all still working through the jet lag and I'm just glad we slept that late.

After a Skype check-in with our home church, and homeschool completed for Jon, we headed down to catch a cab to the Greenhills Shopping Center.  We were on the lookout for cell phones.  There were a gazillion dozen different shops stands to chose from and finally we found a gal that spoke enough English (that us rednecks could understand) and we proceeded to purchase our "Filipino Phones".  We were able to get 2 new Samsung Galaxy Pockets for 9,600 pesos ($228 US).  We will use them while we are here, then sell them back for "less 1,500 pesos", which should make the phones roughly $30 US for ea for 2 months.  Then, we had to buy minutes.  Wow.  This is no easy feat.  We ended up getting unlimited "smart to smart" for 600 pesos ea, plus unlimited "regular" for 30 pesos ea.  About $15 ea US.  

After that, we found our way back to Bacolod Chicken (Ella and I could easily live off petso every single day) and had lunch while we tried to figure out our new phones.

Still wandering around, we found a Krispy Kreme.  Yes, Jon was thrilled and we strolled over to have a little taste of "home".  Which is odd, because most of our Krispy Kremes are shut down.  :(  A treat indeed!!

Then it was time to head back to apartment, as Bro Flowers was going to send a driver to pick us up to take us to the Bible School for a tour.  On our way, I wanted to stop back in Uni-Mart to get some paper towels.  The ONE thing I wish I had thought of while doing some grocery shopping the other day.  After a little wait in a line for a taxi, we were off.  However, we realized we did not know the address of our apartment.  Yikes.  Luckily, we are able to get in touch with the Dibbles and Annie spoke to the driver and we were able to arrive safe and sound.  Whew.  A close one.

After about a 5 min chance to catch our breaths, Bro Flowers had arrived with a driver to take us to the school.  Bro Flowers gave us the grand tour and much to the delight of my husband and son, we were able to meet Bro Wolfram.  When Jon realized who he was, his eyes lit up and he had this huge goofy grin--he was meeting a real life superhero!  Jon was very impressed and I wish so badly I could have captured that moment on camera.  He was in total awe.

The ACTS Bible School kids thought my kids were the bees knees.  :)  They laughed and played with them and took tons of photos.  They were all surprised that Ella was only 2 and one even mentioned:  "She speaks English!"  HA!  I guess it didn't dawn on him that English was her native language.  They thought she was so strong for a 2 year old because she played so heartily with them.  Jon even got in some "hoop time" with some of the boys as well.  He said, they kept passing the ball to me, but I couldn't really shoot it, so I just kept passing it back and they just kept passing it to me.  He thought it was great that they gave him so much attention.  I am fairly certain, that this visit further strengthened his desire to be a missionary.  He has claimed this burden from a very young age and I was thinking this trip might just be a good indicator of whether or not he could handle it.  After seeing all those kids, I think he was hooked.

I have prayed over my kids regarding this trip, for their safety and protection, but most importantly for their burden and desire to do a work for God would be forever implanted in them.  I want them to be soul winners no matter where that may be.  

Here are some photos of our visit to the Bible School.  As you can see, my kids captured the hearts of many new friends.  

After our visit, we were then dropped off at Robinson's Mall, as it was really too early to head home to sleep.  The trick here is to wear yourself as much as possible so you sleep more soundly at night.  We browsed around and then had dinner at Kenny Roger's Roasters.  More chicken and rice for me.  YAY!  After that, we walked back to the apartment and had NO trouble whatsoever locating it and by 9:30, we were all crashed out.

Today, we seem to be continuing the adjustment to the time change.  Trent is off with Bro Dibble to run a few errands and then later this afternoon he will be meeting with the Superintendent of the PI.  Me and the kids are having a "quiet" day in the apartment, which is much needed.  Ella has been fighting her normal nap and driving us all crazy with her hyperactivity.  She is a pretty high strung kid, but this is just not normal.  I can only assume it is the jet lag and excitement of all the new things there is to do/see here.  So far, I feel like the kids have adjusted fairly well to this "strange land".  They are in good spirits and enjoying all that we've seen and done.  I am so thankful that they have been able to adjust.  It's not easy, but they are little champs!  Until next time...keep on praying for us!

Manila Mama!

I owe the blog weight loss before/after photos...but my trip supersedes that for the moment.

I don't know how often I will update this, but wanted to at least start with a few notes regarding the beginning of our little adventure.

Missions Trip Tip #1:  Pack light.  Or at least as light as you can.  I managed to get 2 months worth of clothes (we are gonna be recycling outfits a lot) and medicines in 3 large (29") suitcases.  Trent and I had a medium sized carry on.  Easy breezy trying to maneuver through the airport.  We put Jon on stroller duty and we just zipped along like we were on fire.  YAY!!

We had the most awesome greeting!  The Dibbles met us at the airport and she had her camera and took several photos of our arrival!  I felt like a famous person!!  We then had our first meal in the Philippines at Bacolod Chicken.  We ordered the petso (pay-cho) and rice.  Petso is a skewered chicken breast and wing that has been marinated and grilled. Seriously, so amazing!!!  Sis. Dibble taught us how to make the "sauce" for dipping.  You scrape out chili pepper seeds into a dish, then squeeze this little lime (it's just slightly larger than a marble)--and I can't ever remember the name, but they are fantastic, and then add soy sauce.  Delicious HEAVEN!!  Then, it was off to our apartment to get checked in, then CRASHING!!  Whew, jet lag is NO JOKE.

The next full day was HUGE.  Like colossal huge. Really big.

The Dibbles, AKA our chauffeurs, tour guides, and walking filipino encyclopedias, picked us up to get some groceries.  Sis D is THE BEST at giving you lots of helpful info (what to buy, what not to buy, what brands taste most like home, etc).  I hope with my jet lag, I was able to retain the most important stuff.  HA!  Jon told me later that he likes the grocery store here in Philippines.  :)  Their grocery stores (the one we went to was Uni-Mart) are kinda like a Safeway and Walgreens that got together and merged under one roof.  Everything from cookware, shampoo, fruit, meat, and flip flops all under one roof.  AWESOME.  :)  After the quick grocery trip, we were dropped off at the apartment where Jon finished up some school and I had a nap.  A really wonderful nap.

At 2 pm, we were picked up again (did I mention we had chauffeurs?) and Sis Dibble took Trent and I to the National Children's Hospital.  We were met by Annie (pronounced "Ah-knee").  She is a doll!!  She helps Sis D with translation while she visits the hospitals. We met several children that will forever haunt my mind...but in a good way.  Bless their little hearts!  Some were so skeletal because of the disease and illness that had taken over their body.  I felt like I had my heart broken over and over and over again.  I tried my best to find something beautiful about each child that I could share with the parent or guardian.  One little gal had an usual name "Hannery".  She and I had matching braids in our hair!  I met at least 3 "Princesses".  Yes, their first name was Princess.  I told Ella I got to meet 3 Princesses and she thought that was really cool.  

One little fella, Steven, really captured my heart.  His mother had posted a photo of him with the words:  "The Fighter Steven" above his crib.  I thought this was very cool and that Jon would think it was neat too.  Here is a photo of the photo of Steven, followed by a photo of me and Steven's mother and tita (tee-tah)--aunt.  

After this, we went to Mega Mall to do a little browsing until we were able to meet the Brotts for a farewell dinner at Dad's Buffet (Trent and I had eaten at Dad's over 11 years ago on a previous trip).  The Brotts were leaving that evening to head back to the states.  Wish we had more time with them, they seemed like super sweet people and I'd love the opportunity to get to know them better.

After dinner, Trent and I had our first Filipino Starbucks experience.  They call their frappucinos "coffee jelly".  Annie's favorite is the coffee jelly.  :)

All in all, a very full and perfect first day!

August 7, 2012

The Pain Now, Means STRENGTH Later!

Well, well, well...I do believe I have just surprised and totally fooled myself.  I, Amber Marie Dunn Gilliam have COMPLETED a 30 Day Challenge.  I am still a little in shock.

At first, it was a kind of novelty.  I actually expected to get burned out and give up.  Wow, is it bad that I admitted I just didn't think I had it in me?  I don't trust myself.  But, after Week 3, I was a little surprised I had made it that far.  Then, we went to Campmeeting where there is no real schedule or normal routine, lots of late nights and eating foods that I don't have a lot of control over and so, I was sure I would flop that week.  Nope.  Held in there pretty strong.  YAY ME!!

So, after 30 Days of Beachbody's Brazlian Butt Lift (sorry if the title offends), I came through VICTORIOUS!  And STRONG!  

So, here are my results:

Weight Lost:  5.6 lbs
Bust: Down 3 in
Waist: Down 3 in
Hips: Down 1.75 in
Left/Right Arms: Down 2.5 in (total for both)
Left/Right Legs: Down 2 in (total for both)
Total inches lost:  12.25 inches!!!

All I can say is I am MUCH stronger than I thought I was and I am well on my way to making working out a LIFESTYLE for myself.  In fact, I started another challenge yesterday with my Facebook Weight Loss Group and I've already completed Day 2 of 30.  

Don't say "I can't" until you've tried.  And then, try again.  I thought surely a 35 year old mother of two was too old and too out of shape to get any kind of results, but I am so impressed with what I've done so far and looking forward to adding to those numbers!  Bye Bye Old, Out of Shape Me!!

And on a more spiritual note:  Have you noticed that the things that try you the most (mentally, physically, spiritually) are usually just a catalyst to make you stronger?  Going through tests and trials is NO FUN, but when you come through victorious on the other side--there is a deafening shout of praise and triumph!  


August 1, 2012

She enters BEAST MODE!

Okay, not REALLY "Beast Mode", but I feel SO awesome and PROUD of myself.  (Lots of caps, I know...really excited!!)

Week 4, Day 3:  I'm just about halfway finished with the last week, and despite the obstacles (Campmeeting, fatigue, sick kid), I have been faithful to this challenge.  Admittedly, I am going a little nuts on the diet part right now...but still maintaining my calorie intake (so far!!!)  

I ain't gonna lie to you all...the compliments I'm getting sure make me feel even more "BEAST"!!!  HA!!  (Is that term even still popular with the teenagers?  I am so old--another blog post for sure...)

Things I'm enjoying with this new body I am working to create...

1.  I have GUNS!  For real.  I have some very nice biceps developing.  Don't be shocked if I ask to feel my muscles.  I am super proud of them!  

2.  My face is thinner!  Woot!  I didn't even realize that until a friend pointed it out.  I haven't lost all that much weight, but I guess I'm toning down my face too!  YAY!  

3.  Speaking of face:  My skin.  It's getting clearer!  Sweating may actually be GOOD for you.  Who knew?!

4.  My waist.  I love my new waist.  It feels so teeny tiny.  And in way less than 30 days.  Totally awesome.

This year has been fun because we were able to bring our trailer (our house!) to Campmeeting.  There is NO COMPARISON to staying on the grounds.  Simply a blast!  My son, has been riding bikes and running around until he comes in every night with sore legs and sunburned nose & lips.  I imagine by the end of the week, his legs will be worn down to nubs!!  HAHAHA!!  

Ella was having a great time herself until she got the dreaded allergies.  UGH.  Since Saturday night, it has been a whine-fest and snot party for us.  Boo that.  Thank you, Lord for inventing Advil.  

Last night, Jon gave me some of the greatest news!!  He helped pray a little boy through to the Holy Ghost!  There is an 8 year old little boy named Greg who got a new birthday to celebrate last night!  WOO HOO!!  I am so proud of him!  

I was going to try to post some photos, but I can't seem to get them to download, so you will just have to take my word for it that I'm having a good time!

Oh!  And by next week I will have final stats from my challenge!!!  As well as Before/After photos!