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!

 

 

 

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Posted in Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey – Every day struggles – Perspective

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The ship that washed ashore..This took and saved lives. It crushed others while saving others as they crawled aboard as it was swept across the bay! 

 

November 2014

Over the past few days we had to do some business in Tacloban a larger city a hundred or so miles from where we are staying. It was the largest city hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda or Hyan.  This mammoth storm devastated so many lives. They will “celebrate” the anniversary in a few days’ time.

Over the past few days I got angry. We had so many issues with our telecommunications system here. The phone chewed through the internet and had no ‘load’ left after only a couple of days. I don’t want to go over it all again but just to say two days of phone calls and visits to the office resulted in us having a lot less money and more grey hairs. It made both of us so angry that we both let slip a couple of little words that aren’t full of grace. For Paul that is only the 2nd time in nearly 40 years I have heard him use a word like that..Mine was tame.. Told the girls on him! He was going to call to let them know about mine..but I wouldn’t give him the phone!

ANYWAY! You get the picture that we were a little close to boiling point. I have had to repent since. I was surprised at how angry I was over this small challenge. Then last night as we were finalizing our shopping for the center here in Pagnimitan village, I got caught up in the shopping center along with quite a few other people. We were glued to the huge television screen as they replayed some of the horrors of the Typhoon last year.

The devastation was unimaginable: Bodies lying uncovered or sparsely covered in the streets and under buildings. Demolished cities, towns, villages; Ships washed ashore (still there till now); no food, water or shelter.  Surges that took ships, large trees, buildings, people in its wake some never to be found again. It is hard to comprehend what they endured.

Recently I took a walk with a friend along the beach near the village around change of tide. Her fear was palpable as we watched and heard the waves crashing and the tide turning, rapidly pushing water through the narrow opening that passes by their village. The storm had surged and pushed the sea through their tiny village demolishing everything in its wake. She stopped walking on her way to the nearby “pool” – a coral swimming pool near the edge of the reef.

“Mam. I’m sorry mam. But I can’t go any further.” She couldn’t move any closer to where the waves were large and loud.

Fear is still real to these people with the memory of the roaring wind and water that wreaked havoc on their lives. That is why I repent of my anger over the trivial trials of daily living when so many around this globe face overwhelming circumstances and can still manage a smile. Perspective..you can never lose sight of just what the important issues of life are. Small daily challenges are the little foxes in our lives that try to disturb and destroy. Don’t let them steal your joy and peace. Keep a balanced perspective in life.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious over anything……..anything…… yet every day we allow our anxieties over what are really trivial matters control our thoughts, our mouths, our emotions. It is tiring and ultimately futile.

Don’t be anxious over anything; commit it to God and see Him do miracles and signs and wonders in your life.

I loved talking with my walking buddies the other day. We were walking our 12k walk again. As we walked one relived some of the more humourous stories that came out of the storm. One woman was stripped of her underwear during the surge and wasn’t aware or as was anyone else either, until her husband blabbed it out to everyone as they gathered together after the storm. Or the man who came running to tell of the church collapse that killed 18 people – for the news to be overshadowed by the fact he was standing in front of about 20 people naked and not realizing it.

It has become my saying when I am tempted to slip into first world frustrations – At least I have my underwear!

So stay the course with joy! You still have your underwear!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

Posted in Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey –  Walking Life with Friends

Loved rereading this blog and remembering our walks…Friends forever!

Written in 2014 –

This weekend my Philippines journey continued with a walk of 12k. Well 11.6k according to my pedantic husband.  I walked it with a new found friend.

Next year I want to walk 800km, needless to say I need to train for that, which I have been doing in Australia starting the beginning of this year. When I heard about Josiah’s relapse this year I walked – for about 6 km even though I hadn’t been walking far at that time. I found it helped cope with stress-filled situations. Throughout the year I continued to walk.

I walked by myself on some spectacular walks. I walked with friends and family and even my dog. I took an 85 year old who has a pace-maker on a nature walk that she had never seen in the 50 years she lived at the beach.  (She made it there and back BTW) It was wonderful to share the joy of these experiences with others.

I have loved it. Even though getting up or getting going can be challenging it is always worth the reward of the feeling the effects in my body after exercise and I love observing the beauty of God around me. The challenge was to try and do different walks all the time.

I cancelled my gym subscription as I hate exercising within 4 walls. I secured local walks maps from the council. I have walked Sydney city, suburbs and beaches. There have been hikes on rugged bush tracks and relatively easy walks on cement paths. It has been wonderful. The temperatures have ranged from 2 to late 20’s. There have been some light showers which I don’t mind but I can’t quite come at thunder and lightning.

And then…I came to the Philippines. It’s impossible to get Paul to walk with me. To date I think we have taken one stroll along the beach together. The locals suggested it was not a good thing for me to walk by myself, something I prefer to do.

I found a couple of women who I wore out on their first walk and haven’t seen since – of course due to work and family commitments! The numerous passing typhoons did nothing to encourage walking. I was getting desperate.

Then the Pastor next door spoke to his wife who goes jogging every day. After a couple of weeks she invited me to join her, which means I slow her down. To complement our walking we include some challenges for her and me also. These include the 11.6km walk to Surf Camp a beach, 11.6km away from our village!  Today we tackled Radar Hill whose road almost requires 2-hand drive to climb it.

For me, it has been wonderful having a walking buddy. Every morning at 4.30am I hear a, “Good morning, Mam”. Some mornings I beat her to it and am up. Other mornings I beg God not to let her wake up! And still others I just wish she would go away. The other day I had a headache of epic proportions. It had raged for 2 days and I was feeling it that night. The pain was awful. After Paul massaged my head and neck, sleep came – so did Medi!

“Good morning, Mam.”

“Good grief,” said I from my befuddled mind. I even suggested to Paul I not go but he wouldn’t let me off. So I dressed and started out and the head cleared in the early morning air, validating his, “I told you” so attitude.

Yesterday Medi and I found another walking buddy as we left the village around 5am. We laughed and chatted our way down to Surf Camp. Did I say it was 11.6km away? The longest these girls have walked and they were very proud of themselves. I would have walked back but wasn’t sure they would cope – 🙂 Paul came down and picked us up – much to their delight.

Life lessons I am reminded of:

  1. Some days you feel good – Other days you don’t. You have to suck it up and push through the barriers, setting your mind to achieve your goal. Nothing will be achieved through wishing and wanting.
  2. Make sure you have the correct equipment – I bought great shoes this year and have forgotten the pain of yesteryear’s ill-fitting shoes. Make sure you have correct gear to do the job well. My previous walking partners tried to walk in “slippers”-“flip-flops” or as we Australians call them, “thongs”. No wonder I haven’t seen them since!
  3. Friends keep us motivated and honest. Medi and I challenged ourselves to get to the top of Radar Hill this morning even though each corner revealed another new level of incline. Continue to stretch your limits. Although it pays to have some back up for support if you need it. Don’t be content with comfortable.
  4. Walking works out the stressors of life – I have walked out a lot of anger, sadness and frustration this year. Find practical ways to deal with stress preferably not an addiction.
  5. Enjoy the journey. Our new walking buddy kept stopping to find new plants, and flowers, etc. We talked, we looked, we explored. Our times mightn’t break records but really in life is that all we are about – How we can beat others? I wonder at an amazing seaview, smell the dank rainforest, revel in a breaking dawn. I weep as we walk along and my companions share their stories of survival, loss, and hope. The journey is much more than just reaching the target.
  6. Celebrate the achievement. I so often forget to do this. My grandson Josiah has taught me how important it is to celebrate each milestone you achieve. You have to celebrate those times when you have reached a goal. We did a little whoop yesterday at that beach thankful we made it in the oppressive tropical heat and weren’t collected by any of the numerous cars, trucks, motor bikes or trikes on the narrow cement road! Celebrate then move on and up.

My son-in-law recently said to me about living in the Philippines, “Do you think you will like it? How will you go without your friends?” Too easy – make new ones and of course stay in touch with my old ones..

Keep moving forward with your goals. You can walk to anywhere in the world. You just have to start and keep walking. You can do whatever you believe you can do. You just have to start and keep going.

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Our spectacular sunrise on the way to Surf Camp! 
Posted in Christian living, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Bucket Baths and Bombs

It was fun remembering this time! The “war” of fireworks were fun although possibly a little reckless due to the nature of housing surrounding us including bamboo walls and the Nipa (or thatched roofs).

Recently we had our 39th Wedding Anniversary and decided to take two days over the holidays to visit a nearby resort – hot showers, different food, good signal…or so we thought!

The food was gourmet Italian, with lots of it and no rice! The shower..well let’s just say our bucket bath gives us much more pressure than their cold shower heads and I have a great husband who boils my water for me in the bucket to take the edge off, especially when I am washing my hair. No such joy from a cold shower!

What is a bucket bath  I hear you ask? It is just that – A bucket of water with a small ladle usually, to tip over yourself whilst standing on top of a small toilet in an concreted area for a bathroom.

So the method goes something like this.

  1. Soap up all over.
  2. Once soaped ladle water all over; as quickly as possible if slightly chilly.
  3. Continue process until clean.

Here is where the going gets tough at times though especially married to my pyromaniac husband.

  1. Dodge firecrackers or have a heart stoppage as he sets them off in the small CR (comfort room) while you are bucketing the water over yourself.

He is having a ball with all the fireworks he bought “for the village kids” for Christmas and New Year. So far we have had wars between himself and the carpenters in the bunk house below us; Firing rockets over the tops of the village kids and shooting at them them across the housing.

I have loaded a few of the carpenters and kids up with boxes to retaliate but think it will not be to my advantage as no doubt they will come back to terrorize me as they attack Paul.

You hear it all over the village. “Kuya (Respectful Uncle) Paul!!!!” as we drive, walk or stand on the verandah. Everyone knows it’s him setting little bombs off around the village and town.

But he loves it! The carpenters all cheer each time he bombs their room. He led his little apprentices today with their Picalos and Weeties (the rockets that go Weeee and then explode) showing them how to light them with mosquito coils and send them out through PVC piping!

I am to the point where if I take a bath I try to do it with him in the cubicle next door at the same time, just so I don’t have to experience the shattering of ear drums.

These are some of the happy challenges we face here on our Philippine’s Journey. I really don’t mind doing life with this crazy pyromaniac but just remember if you are anticipating coming for a visit don’t expect most of the creature comforts you may be used to – not here in Pagnimetan anyway..bucket baths and bombs await!

Happy New Year! And enjoy your fireworks wherever you are..

Until next time

Narelle and Paul

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Great Tiramisu but cold showers to celebrate our 39th Anniversary 2 and bit years ago!
Posted in Christian living, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Monkeying Around

In 2014 Paul had been asked to help rebuild a village in the Philippines for Operation Blessing, after one of the largest typhoons on record wiped out many villages and islands. Separated for many months as I stayed to assist our family in Sydney, Australia, I finally joined him in the September of that year.

These are some of the blogs I wrote and posted on another site during that time. I share them again in no particular order.

It’s raining – still! Another tropical storm has caused torrential weather for the past week or so and our tiny room provided gave us little shelter from the wind and rain.The previous nights were hilarious as we woke during the night shifting our small foam mattress and mosquito net around the room, to find a place that was dry and no potentials for drips from the roof or over-spray from the driving rain coming through the walls. Yesterday between wind gusts Paul and one of the boys surrounded two weather walls with tarpaulins. Oh blissful sleep!

I woke this morning dry, with dappled light of our sawali walls beaming little spots of light and was so excited! “The sun!” Grabbing my sarong I raced outside to see grey clouds rolling in from the sea from the north and the sun trying pitifully to shine through the clouds from the south.

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Sawali walls

We took a chance and decided to get out and climb to the top of the hill where the evacuation cave is situated. Paul used to climb near to the top with the boys and help them carry all the chain-sawed coco-lumber, down to the village below. The most he said he could do was five times up and down! He became a bit of a legend as the other guys only managed a couple or so times up and down in a day. It is a long way up and even longer coming down carrying timber on your shoulders. They were some of the challenges they faced here in Pagnimetan as they rebuilt the village.

We set out to walk up the hill, check out our evacuation cave and just get fresh air. Our walk was a bit slippery over the jungle grasses and vines scattered across the coral rock and fallen coconut trees but not too difficult.

To our delight we spotted a couple of troops of monkeys higher up the hill – babies and all. The main issue though was making sure we didn’t step into hidden sink holes or cave openings in our excitement to follow them trying to get a decent photo.

Huddled under our umbrella, perched on large coral rocks, sheltering beside some trees to shield us from driving rain, I felt the ghosts of past “explorers” in these hills.

These areas were navy bases for the Americans during the war and there are still remnants of their building foundations and pathways in the village area. I am sure they would have set out on more than one occasion patrolling in the region and perhaps up this hill for a good lookout position.

We heard and saw a monkey coming down one of the coconut trees and decided to follow him, except he disappeared over the cliff to his family further down. It was worth the detour from our trek up the hill to see the view out over the reefs and toward “my” radar hill. We always look towards this hill from Radar Hill, but this morning we turned the table.

It was a spectacular view but we were a bit concerned with the continuing showers and after exploring a little further up the hill decided not to risk losing our footing and falling into a sink hole so started to trek back down. Paul couldn’t resist and pulled a couple of his Piccolo fire crackers from his pocket throwing them down two sink holes – in the name of exploration of course just to see how deep they were! The smoke billowed out of various hidden openings so guess it did prove a point. Just not sure what!

Back to Operation Blessing base for a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and swamp spinach and a warm coffee..a great start to a couple of days enforced holiday due to the rain and holidays for New Year.

Until next time

Narelle and Paul