Posted in Christian living, cross cultural living, health and wellness, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Cruising the World!

Cruising can be a nightmare or amazing! Here are some thoughts and tips we have discovered in our very short experience.

I have always had an aversion to the thought of cruising. The only one I was interested in was not far from my home in Far North Queensland in Australia. That was because it was a lovely area but also because you were mostly close to land something I liked!

My aversions were a few:

  1. I don’t  like the ocean and get sea sick easily.
  2. You lose sight of land and those waves can be fearsome.
  3. You are with a couple of thousand other people on a tin tub in the middle of ocean and can not get away from them!
  4. Germs and food poisoning stories abound.
  5. Way too much food and I didn’t want to watch people or myself make gluttons of ourself!
  6. Way too many excesses all up with too many imbibing too much alcohol.

So all up it was not what I considered a nice holiday. However, one ferry ride we took across from Finland to Sweden was such a wonderful experience that I thought it might not be too bad to go on a more defined cruise.

We were offered a two for one deal and after Paul said he really wanted to go and visit Alaska we headed off for our 40th Wedding Anniversary with three thousand other people.

We opted to spend a bit of time in Canada before the cruise and loved the amazing country.

The cruise was for 10 days so we were indeed locked up with a lot of people but it didn’t feel to constricted. We opted to do a lot of walking in the ports rather than pay loads of money on tours organized by the cruise liner. We have since discovered that there are definitely options out there rather than join up with the masses.

Things we have learned on our very limited cruise experiences:

  1. Unless you are cruising an area that has spectacular views, don’t pay extra for a balcony – You are hardly in your room and when you are it is usually to sleep or nap so dark is good! And preferably not close to a lift!
  2. Higher isn’t necessarily the best! The sway is considerably more in the event of bad weather.
  3. Washy washy! Washing hands is imperative to avoid nasties. Health issues in such close quarters are really important as is what you eat and drink on land at the various ports. Take care!
  4. Be alert! Travel always requires that we remain aware of our surroundings. There are some not so pleasant people out there and situations, so be smart.
  5. Get off the ship and shop around! There are better tours that can be found at the docs and even outside the port fences! Get a group together and negotiate a fair price for your drivers as well as yourselves. We appreciated our small intimate group and our ability to negotiate our time and sightseeing, instead of being dictated to along with 70 other people.
  6. Get away from the tours to support local artisans and retailers. Bartering isn’t fun for me but if I feel they are giving me a fair deal I will buy. If I feel I am being ripped off I walk away!
  7. Have fun and get to know other guests. There are some amazing people out there to meet. Don’t just sit with your friends and family.
  8. Don’t be the rude, whinging tourist! Treat your cruise staff with respect and patience. Treat the locals with respect as well. They are trying to make a living in some pretty hard circumstances. RESPECT!
  9. Take phone numbers of your tour guides. It can come in handy. Paul left his phone in the taxi we hired and we were able to contact him and connect to get it back – and gave him a nice tip for being honest and driving back to us!
  10. Have fun! This a great time to relax, enjoy new sights as well as be pampered!

So just a few thoughts as we embark on our third cruise – This time to Italy and the Adriatic Sea – Just a little excited about it! This is my dream cruise!

Back soon

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

 

Advertisements

Walking the Camino – How to Prepare

The Camino de Santiago is an 800 km or 500 mile walk through France and Spain. It is a pilgrimage walk that has been around for thousands of years that has many trails originating around Europe. It was said that you could step outside your door and begin the pilgrimage from anywhere in Europe. During the time of occupation by the Ottomans in Jerusalem the Way of St James became a safer pilgrimage and acceptable in the eyes of the church for pilgrimage absolution.

St James was supposedly buried there after having floated there from Jerusalem on a ruder-less boat. I don’t know about that. There are many beliefs surrounding the pilgrimage that many believe or don’t believe but there is one binding factor with nearly all pilgrims who we encountered or spoke to had one thing in common: the sense of being called to walk The Way!

Many including myself when they find out about the Camino Way have a strong sense that not only would they like to do the long walk but there is a strong feeling of “having” to do the walk.

For me it started after I watched the movie, “The Way”, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring his father Martin Sheen.  It is the story of a father who completes the trek after his son dies on the Way getting caught in bad weather: something that is a common occurrence as seen by the memorial headstones dotted along the pathways.

Once I saw the film I knew I had to do it. But at the time I was pretty much chair bound with illness and pain. However, within a couple of years I set the date to make the journey.

It was 2 years down the track, the year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and Paul turned 60. Also, it would give me time to gain my health back, while starting to train for the walk.

319
In training in the Philippines. Early hours of the morning because past sun rise, the heat was too much.

One of the first thing I did was buy a pair of comfy training shoes. They were light, a size larger then I needed (to help with blisters), and didn’t confine my feet and cause pain. The first pair of shoes that didn’t cause me pain!

I walked in rain, in the cold, the heat, the day, the dark, by myself, and with others. The time rolled by as the miles did.

So here are some of the preparations myself and Paul underwent to prepare for the Camino.

  1. Set a date – Setting a date  brings the goal into focus and plans will begin to take shape.
  2. Train – Set up a training program and stick to it. I tried to do at least 6-8 kilometers a day more on others in any kind of weather, wet, cold, hot, everything except for thunderstorms – They were a no go!  I would also recommend stretches to build strength. The one I didn’t do enough of was to door more hill climbs.
  3. Carry a pack – The more I started to walk I would add weights to a pack to increase my ability to carry a pack. I even used coral rock in the Philippines to get used to the added weight.
  4. Study – Increase your knowledge of the paths you will follow. Understanding the terrain and what is ahead in terms of weather, and accommodation. Also understanding how diet and water affects walking.
  5. Purchase the correct equipment –

       –  Pack – We changed Paul’s pack right at the end. It has to have a waist band to                 take the weight and not pull on the shoulders.

–  Rainwear  – A good rain coat is important. We will probably go with the Atalaa next time. Our ponchos were ok but not great. They needed to be longer although they were light weight – always a consideration. The Atalaa people seemed to just cruise by unscathed by the weather on themselves or their packs.

Footwear – Of course it goes without saying – correct footwear is a must. I was told to go a size bigger and it worked. Two pairs of socks fill the gaps. Duct tape is a must. Prevents blistering!

Underwear. We opted mainly for bamboo socks and jocks. I would hope for a better fitting pair next time that dried quicker. Also undergarments that wick moisture away from your body too.

 – Poles – this is not last for any reason but they definitely were our definite bring along. Some did walk without them – good luck to them. I would never think of it! They were invaluable. Spring loaded were good but not particularly necessary. We didn’t go very expensive due to financial constraints and it really didn’t seem to make a difference, except the tips do wear out after 40 days of pounding. They can be purchased along the way.

6. Stay the course – There may be  road blocks or at least detours so persevere. Keep focused. Don’t give up!

 

 

 

Posted in cross cultural living, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Panama Canal

Years ago I bought Paul a DVD collection on the 7 greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century. One of those recognized was the Panama Canal. It was an inspiring story of persistence, ingenuity, and ultimate sacrifice.

Now living in the United States we had a cruise to use and decided on a cruise through the Panama Canal visiting Central America on the way. For Paul it was an amazing life dream to go through it and I have to say I was also a little excited to witness the spectacle.

I won’t go in to the history of the Canal but as I said it was a story of persistence, intrigue, ultimate sacrifice of many who gave their lives not only in the building and landslides etc but also from yellow fever. Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer, eventually led the way in creating a healthy environment which helped stem the tide of deaths from this mosquito borne disease.

We stood on the deck and watched the sun rise around 5.30 am along with a few gathering observers. Taking the best position we could we watched as the ship sailed skillfully into the harbour amid the rolling tropical mountains on either side.

There are now 2 canals the latest one built to accommodate wider, larger vessels including aircraft carriers. The cost to traverse the canal is phenomenal to the ship owners, and requires years for advance bookings!

I have always found locks confusing but we had a wonderful narrator and position to watch as we waited and then were led up into the first lock by the “mules”, little electric carts that act as guides pulling their cables like cotton connections, relative to the size of the monoliths passing through.

The bravest most daring thing we saw all day though was two men in the smallest of row boats collecting the lines from the ship to hook up to the mules. We all held our breaths as we watched them disappear out of view under the decks only to reappear victorious rowing for their lives as the bow of the ship surged passed,  her lines now connected to the mules. We could only wonder why in this day and age a safer method could not be developed! I wanted to know how much they got paid!

All day we stood transfixed with the ever growing numbers on the bow, only stopping finally to have food and drink, (and toilet break) around lunch time and get some extra sun protection from the now tropical sun bearing down on any exposed skin.

The most profound section for me was where the landslides occurred, persisting to this day . The area swallowed thousands of lives as they carved their way through mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Ghosts seem to wave from the hillsides as we glided through. These men and their families suffered yet persevered. I considered the leaders who led and succeeded, or failed along the incredible journey for the sake of posterity: an inspiration to aspire to.

It wasn’t just a day of watching but also of reflection on how any task no matter the size requires all of the above criteria – ingenuity, persistence, and sacrifice.

Paul finally had his fill of our crossing about 6 pm that night as we watched and waited for the city lights of Panama City to light up the surrounding hills, showing us the modern life built on the blood, sweat and tears of many before them.

We left the deck, in awe of the dedication of those before and those now who continue to build and work for the generations to come. 20171024_08430120171024_084333

20171024_084351
Heading in to the first loch. The row boat getting ready to head out.

20171024_08450320171024_084510

20171024_084514
Heading towards the lines of the ship
20171024_084522
The Row boat has disappeared!

20171024_084533

20171024_084606
They’re out! The cheers and claps went up!

IMG_312820171024_084622

20171024_084629
The Panama Champions hooked the lines so that the “mules” can guide the ship into the lochs.

20171024_084727

Until next time!

Blessings Narelle

Posted in cross cultural living, health and wellness, travel, Uncategorized

Silence of the Blog!

Travels, bomb cyclone, new store – VOIAJER, bees, gardening – Wow! No wonder I have not written a blog since September last year! Life really got the better of me in lots of ways – mostly good ways!

In June/July last year Naomi our youngest daughter wanted to open a store selling her cereal box jewellery and other fair trade products in her store called “VOIAJER”  the phonetic spelling of the word “VOYAGER”.

For around 8-9 years Naomi and I and some others have been selling the beautiful jewellery crafted by her “Kado”  girls, keeping them employed, building houses and looking after around 100 children through the profits.

Last year was time to develop it further. She now has a shop front where we are enabling support of more groups through sales and profits. It is very exciting but not without its challenges.

Between setting up the store, travelling back to Australia for business and family and cruising through the Panama Canal, then a very hectic Christmas time for VOIAJER; writing took a firm back seat! But now I am back on track and will be posting more regularly as winter keeps my life stationary.

We started our year with an incredibly cold “bomb cyclone” which caused blizzard conditions! We were snowed in for a few days but welcomed the rest! We didn’t even go out for our “bread and milk” – the crazy things people buy when they think they will be unable to get to the store for a few days!

Kids loved the snow days but are a bit bummed because now they have to make those days up – going to school on some public holidays!

These are some of our fun pictures from the bomb cyclone! Even the Chesapeake bay froze! So it was a refreshing,  freezing, fun-filled few days!

So the year began slowly for us and we didn’t set goals or even wonder what the new year held. Eventually we did and I will start sharing some of those to encourage others to consider and plan their year – considering we are nearly into February already!

So the Silence of the Blog is broken and I am back!!!!

See you again soon!

Blessings Narelle

 

 

Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, grandparenting, Life, Marriage, Parenthood

Love is – Not Arrogant or Rude

20170112_153645Arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

Arrogant synonyms: haughtyconceitedhubristicself-importantopinionated, egotistic, full of oneself, superioroverbearingpompoushigh-handed, swaggering, boastfulbumptious, blustering, patronizing, condescendingdisdainfulcontemptuousimperiousproudvainimmodestloftylordlysnobbishsnobbyoverweeningsupercilioussmugpretentiousaffectedscornfulmocking, sneering, scoffing; informalhoity-toity, high and mighty, uppitysnootystuck-uptoffee-nosedfancy-pantssnotty, jumped up, too big for one’s boots, big-headed

Rude: offensively impolite or bad-mannered. “she had been rude to her boss”

Ill-mannered, bad mannered,  impolite,  discourteous,  impertinent,  insolent,  impudent,  cheeky,audaciouspresumptuousuncivildisrespectfulunmannerlyill-bred,  churlish,  crasscurtbrusquebluntungraciousgracelessbrashunpleasantdisagreeableoff-handshortsharpoffensiveinsultingderogatorydisparagingabusivetactlessundiplomaticuncomplimentaryuncharitableunchivalrousungallantungentlemanlyunladylikearchaic malapertcontumeliousrare underbred, mannerless

Love is not arrogant or rude. Hm..On looking at these I wonder at the times I have placed myself above others, with feelings of being of more importance. I also look at the synonyms of rude and see, sharp, short, offhand, unpleasant, disagreeable and see my myself in the mirror of His Word.

I know we are not condemned but the Word is a mirror and as I study the reflection of myself in it, I see the areas I still lack in walking in love!

Love is not arrogant, proud or rude. I am quick to judge others when they are rude to me, slight me, are disparaging, tactless etc, but judge my own self with a far less stringent measure, knowing I don’t intentionally aim to hurt others, yet think they do to me! I need to keep watch over my own self, my feelings and attitudes. It is no easy task and as I study this passage so easily quoted yet so hard to live, I am reminded that it is only by Grace are we able to walk this walk and live in that place of love. Love Him and others.

It is ok to love those who are friendly and loving toward us but when others turn their backs on us, treat us with contempt or hatred, are rude, arrogant, kill, maim, or torture us, how do we responded?

Do we respond in kind? One of my challenging scriptures (of which there are many) is the one that says we don’t trade insult for insult or evil for evil, but overcome evil with good! This is no small feat and again, it can only be done by His love outworking in us. We set the frame work of putting off those things of malice, bitterness, hatred, and putting on His clothing of humility and love.

Oh!!! This so easily flows off the keyboard or out of the mouth but to live this life…well like us all, I struggle to put off those things. Sometimes we continue to pick at the wound received, reciting, rehearsing the hurt, reliving the pain, and wonder why it starts to bleed again! Best to cover it with the soothing oil of love, and bandage it with His Grace and Mercy. Oh again so easily said, but such a challenge to do!

Anyway this is the mirror I stand in front of tonight as I think of Him and how He loved me even when I cursed His name and turned my eyes to the world, constantly looking for love, affirmation and security. His is the only love I can trust in fully and I must walk in that knowledge that I am so loved by Him and stand above reproach in the eyes of my God. So are you!

 

 

Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, Life, Parenthood, Philippines, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?!!

Again this post was written in 2014 after a nice trip up to Manila having a hot shower and sleeping on a comfortable bed (actually a bed and not a piece of foam on the floor) as well as putting on some glad rags for an amazing evening of celebration of the work accomplished in East Samar.

2014 reflections continue….

This week we had the privilege to meet some amazing world changers. The Alverez Foundation set up Pinoy Relief as their disaster relief foundation.  They have affected change using their influence to raise dollars towards amazing projects including, rebuilding schools, homes, and boats to re-establish the fishing fleets lost to the typhoon.

Appl.D.App was there cheering the family foundation on. Who is Appl.D.App I hear you over 50’s ask? Oh…Oh…(hand raised) I know……A singer from the Black Eyed Peas! You know the ones who sing, “Tonight’s going to be a good night!” I have to admit I didn’t have a clue. I know the song and had heard of Black Eyed Peas but didn’t know who Appl.D.App was. But what a nice guy! His story is amazing. He is a Filipino boy who was sponsored by an American and grew up to see his dreams fulfilled.  It’s a great story and he is now giving back to his homeland through promotions and support.

He was just one of the rich and famous at the “Thank You Gala” we attended on behalf of Pinoy Relief and Operation Blessing. So many influential people and for the two of us from the land down under it could have been just a little intimidating!

Paul and I arrived early (actually the first to arrive) which we didn’t mind. We had met the Alverez family the day before as they came for a tour of the work their support had made possible in the Guiuan area. We met the sons and daughter and other family members from New York- A world away from our “place.”  They were lovely people and keen to make a difference in their worlds.

As we sat on the open roof top of the building, only knowing a few people, everyone rocked up and we were feeling a lot like fish out of water – Then we looked up..

We saw the moon and the stars and the reality hit both of us at the same time! We may not be famous or have worldly wealthy but our Daddy made the heavens and earth that we are all sitting under and on: He measures the UNIVERSE in the palm of His hand!

Is 40:12 asks the question, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, marked off the heavens with a (nine-inch) span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance..?”

Whose my Daddy? The one who does that! How big is He? He marks off the heavens with His hand width. That’s pretty cool!

God really doesn’t have a problem with people being rich. His problem is when they forget who enabled them to get wealth and also warns us not to be consumed with riches. He instructs those with wealth to use it well and not wastefully. But we must all realize how infinitesimal in the scheme of the universe we all are!

Our God is big but also cares for the smallest sparrow that dies and knows the numbers of hairs on our head or lack thereof in some cases.  How can we ever feel intimidated by anyone in this world knowing who we belong to?

Today look up see the sun, see the moon, see the stars, smell the air, watch the waves, and know that Your Daddy is the one who made all that and you are His Heir!

Until next time

Look up and remember He’s your Daddy!

Blessings Narelle

A fun video for a fun night – Appl.D.App working the disco for the night!

 

 

 

Posted in Christian living, cross cultural living, Life, Love, Uncategorized

ANZAC DAY – Memories of Philippines Arena

Today in Australia is ANZAC day. The Day when Australia and New Zealand remember those who fell in wars around the world.

I am re-posting this blog I wrote in the Philippines when we were working not far from where he actually landed, returning after a major defeat!

Philippines Journey – MacArthur landing October 20th 1944

I said, to the people of the Philippines whence I came, I shall return. Tonight, I repeat those words: I shall return!” This famous saying of General Douglas MacArthur spoken in South Australia after fleeing the Philippines in 1942, rang out to comfort the people of the Philippines whom he loved and spoke courage into a flailing war arena.

General MacArthur was an amazing leader on so many levels. I had been watching the movie with Gregory Peck playing the famous character just prior to going to the Philippines. I was interested to learn about this man and his role in bringing victory to the Pacific. I was surprised when I learned that famous quote was spoken in Australia and our troops played a significant role in the emancipation and defense of the Pacific region.

Surprisingly “Red Beach” named for the blood shed there, was also the place where MacArthur and his entourage came ashore at Tacloban not far from where we are currently living. This week there were great celebrations held here to commemorate this landing.

A few weeks ago while they were preparing the pool for the celebrations we were able to stand right next to the statue of the great general.  I was very disappointed when on Monday while we were in Tacloban we were unable to get to the beach to see the President and dignitaries etc, pay respects to that day of victory.

However, I am inspired by his speech and his love he had for the people of the Philippines:

People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

I see similarities to the walk of a believer and follower of Jesus.

Firstly we are assured of His return. What some initially perceived as defeat on the cross was in fact the world’s greatest victory: Triumphing over death and bringing eternal life. He will return to win the final victory over the forces of evil here on earth. His blood shed for us has given us so much: salvation, healing in every area of our lives, eternal life, and an abundant life here on earth.

Secondly we have the certainty that daily we have victory over those areas of our lives that we all struggle with. Sin is a battle that rages on every side of us but we know that our victor overcame it and we are seated with Him in heavenly places. We are and can live in freedom with great joy and peace!

Today as I read the history of this great place I am reminded that earthly wars still rage around the world but we have a promise that we have a foundation of indestructible strength and live in liberty given through that precious blood shed for the world. Be assured – He Shall Return.

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

Upload May 14 011
General MacArthur Stepping Ashore at Tacloban