Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, energy, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Communication – Non-communication! Dog poop to bowl???

November 2014

From Poop to Bowl!

Ok! I have lived for quite a few years overseas. I have taught on communication. I thought I had learned some lessons on effective communication but still I struggle with communicating effectively.

You think you have the message transposed across the wavelengths. You check and double check. You restate the information or question just to make sure you all understand each other yet somehow those wires just overlap, get tangled, or even get disconnected, creating tension, frustration, aggression and any other word you can find in a Thesaurus that explains anger….just to be sure I have communicated that effectively!

It’s not that you get angry really, you just want to tear your hair out or in Paul’s case tear out what little hair you have left! I think I am just a bit tired and not feeling well this week so it is wearing me out. Paul has been at it for months and his temper has wavered frequently since I arrived – could I be the reason! We have a Jewish girl here we connect with who has grown more grey hairs than a 27 year old would wish to have.

Well what are some keys to effective cross-cultural communication? Don’t know..next blog!

Just kidding..but really I am not sure I have the answers or any answers in fact, but there would have to be a few keys that are universal and do work to some degree.

  1. Feedback – make sure you have understood each other. Just because they say they know English doesn’t necessarily mean they do. Especially Australian accents and idioms. So Paul make sure you keep them to a minimum! Feedback also isn’t parroting. Say it differently in as many ways as you can possibly think so it cannot be misinterpreted and keep it simple.
  2. Patience – Listen to each other. Say it then repeat, then say it again. Wait until you see that light of recognition go on and then check again because it might be the wrong light bulb. Example: While trying to explain what not to put into compost, to the guy making me some signs, the conversation went something like this.

“No dog poop”

“Poop- what is poop”

“You know poo”

“Poo?” Blank look

“Yes a number 2,” Blank look!

Not being a swearer – the s word didn’t help me.

“Yes from your bowel. You know” me signalling which direction it would emanate.

“OH! Bowl!” he says as some light bulb goes off except he reaches for a plastic bowl discarded in the grass…

“No Bowel!” Says I..

Paul over hearing the prolonged conversation has had enough. He scours the yard and finds a dog poop!

“Oh! Poo…..” Finally the light bulb goes on and embarrassment hits as the young guy gets our meaning. Actually he did a great drawing poop on the sign although not sure others will know what it is.

So make sure the light bulb look is the correct light bulb look. So what was the lesson learned – not sure but it keeps us laughing..maybe that is a key..

Until next time

Farewell, goodbye, so long, bye bye,

Blessings Narelle

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Yes that is the picture of the dog poop we ended up with! What do you think?
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 camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, travel, Uncategorized

Night shade allergies!

Just sitting in one of my favourite writing places chatting to a guy sailing up the east coast of the US. He was amazed as I recounted my healing in 2014. I just found this old blog which recounts some of this story. Talking about it always makes me feel like skipping…with joy. 

2014 was an amazing year for me. I know so many people were glad to see the end of it and there were definitely some tragic times of grief and loss but for me personally it was a year of breakthrough. Yesterday I read about a John Mellor healing crusade in Scotland that saw a woman healed of chronic fatigue and long term unexplained issues who have since gone on to run marathons etc. I so feel their joy and excitement and feel the same.

For nearly 6 years my body has been going through major health challenges. I had so many challenging health experiences, mini stroke, thyroid issues, head trauma, shingles, not to mention chronic fatigue. Weight kept piling on due to inactivity and the thyroid issues. This created issues for my legs with swelling, pain in joints and incredible feet pain from plantifasitis. I felt like a broken down machine. Nothing seemed to work. Doctors, naturopath, massage, osteopaths, chiropractors all had moderate success for periods of times but then my body would fail me again. I refused to go down the path of anti-inflammatory pills. I had seen the effect of long term use of anti-inflammatory on my mother and didn’t want to even begin that path.

There were a couple of scary periods where I literally felt so down that permanent sleep seemed a good option. They were scary times for Paul as well because I just couldn’t seem to get myself up out of that place and it was such a foreign place for me. There were “normal” periods but then the depression would hit again as my body let me down again. Prayer was hard, reading harder.

Then 2013 after desperately seeking help from doctors I demanded tests which came back with many markers out of normal range but not enough to “cause concern”. No concern for the doctor maybe, but I hurt. I seemed to have a constant low grade fever and the fatigue was debilitating. It was concerning me. And then..I visited my naturopath with the same results and in the course of conversation she came back with, “Maybe you are intolerant to “nightshade” plants.”

What are they you may ask as did I? Potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant, chilies all belong to that family. Well wouldn’t you know it? All of the above were my favourites except potato and I ate them nearly every meal! Sweet potato doesn’t seem to have the same affect. I thought the loss of the others would be hard. However, the benefits to my body were almost instantaneous. Within days I started to feel better. I began to notice that when I did introduce them back in to my diet I felt the effects, especially potato, literally within minutes. It seems to be more of an allergy than just intolerance. It has become such an issue that when I forgot and added chilies to a homemade cracker mix my lips swelled to “Jolie” proportions within a few hours. After two days of tomato paste included in meals I was eating, I could barely walk up three steps without help.

So now I avoid them all together. I hope that as my body comes back into alignment the allergy will normalize but I will wait to test that for a while yet. I am enjoying the feeling of health.

There is a lot of controversy over nightshades but elimination is really a great way to test the results. Night shade intolerance is controversial among mainstream health professionals, but really in the grand scheme of things you are the one who is most interested in your own health and need to take responsibility for it. To eliminate is really not going to cost you anything and might in fact reveal a lot. This may not be your issue for chronic fatigue and joint pain but it might just be a good place to start.

I now walk at least every other day anywhere from 6-12 km and even do the odd “jalk” (jog walk) in there. This was only the beginning though of my return to health. There was a long way to go. It was an amazing healing process.

As 2015 begins I start this year in amazing health and wellness and love the feeling and freedom it brings. I pray the same for you.

Health and wellness to you in 2015!

Love that now two years later I have walked thousands of kilometers!!!  (add skip right here)

God is sooooo Good..!! 

Blessings until next time. 

Narelle

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Camino De Santiago Walk of 543 miles 820 Kilometers! 

 

Posted in Christian living, grandparenting, health and wellness, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, travel, Uncategorized

Achieving Goals – Change Now!

Again I wrote this in 2015 but still as relevant today two years later!! It doesn’t have to be the New Year to start to change your life!

The way to achieving your goals – START

I saw a great post the other day that basically said , “In 2015 I am going to complete the goals I set in 2014 that I didn’t finish in 2013 that I had set in 2012 etc”

How many of us do that? Set goals and then life gets in the way and bang before you know it the year has flown and nothing has been done to get you toward your goal. We should say we are setting up our good intentions!

One day a few years ago when I was jalking (jog-walking) along the beach I noticed something about focus.

As I headed up the beach I kept my eyes focused on a cliff that overshadows the beach area. Whenever I stayed focus, I could look behind me and see my footprints in the sand were fairly straight. When I strayed in thought and started to wander off , I could look behind and see my foot prints straying all over the place. I was still heading the right direction but I was deviating off course considerably without noticing.

I realized how important focus was to not waste time or energy or direction.

Last year was one of those years. As a couple we had determined a few goals. However, immediately, I became sick in the first few weeks of the year and was flat on my back. I read a book by an old missionary, Praying Hyde. It was inspiring to hear of the amount of prayer this faithful intercessor did: Praying all night, for hours, for days. I was inspired and determined. Things were going to change.

I set myself to focus on prayer, fasting and studying the Word. The days turned to weeks, turned to nearly 2 months. In that time I can honestly say I really didn’t “feel” like I had broken through to any great degree yet within a couple of days I was amazed how quickly God moved. One of those areas was for Paul to get work he loved and opportunities to open up before us.

We shouldn’t have been but we were surprised when literally a day after praying that way the phone rang and he was asked to go to the Philippines to help with the rebuild after Typhoon Yolanda.

He headed off while I planned to go to him after getting a few things sorted in Australia. Then a few weeks after that we received some very challenging news – our grandson Josiah had the leukaemia he had been in remission from, return. It was a blow to us all but our daughter told us to continue to make plans to go thinking they had another 2 years left of chemotherapy. However, a few weeks later it became evident the cancer was not going into remission as well as the doctors liked, enough to say it would never come back.

Bone marrow was really the only option in the natural to follow up on for him to survive – in the natural.

In the spirit we continued to believe that as his name says, Healed by Jehovah. Josiah was an amazing little trooper and literally from March through to October his life and the family’s life revolved around hospitals and doctors. For a 4 year old he was inspirational!

As I reflect on just what goals I set myself during that time of prayer I realize just how much we did achieve what we set out to do despite the challenges and forced change of direction!

Reflecting on goals these are my 5 steps to achieving them in 2015

  • Check your progress.

One of the keys to setting goals is to look behind.  Watch just how far your footprints have deviated off course or stayed on course depending on your focus.

  • Celebrate the victories along the way.

One of my goals was to lose 20 Kilos by Dec 2014. I managed 17. Am I unhappy with that? Of course not but I am still inspired to complete my goal this year and in fact need to add another 5kg on to that amount to achieve my final goal weight.

  • Be realistic.

A building has to have a plan, projections, a budget, a time frame and resources to see it happen. A plan doesn’t happen just by writing it down but that is the start and you need to start. Be realistic in terms of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve. But by the same token – dream big. 

  • Let go.

  If it turns out you didn’t really want to do or become something, be prepared to let it go. Keeping on keeping on for the reason of staying the course is senseless. 

  • Don’t Give Up or In.

 Just as important as step 4 is to keep moving forward despite road blocks and humps. Despite life’s challenges goals can be achieved they just might look a little different or be on a different time line.

The Chinese are calling this the year of the sheep…We proclaim it the year of the Lord’s favour. As you wait on the Lord you will be successful in all you do!  Let’s get started. Blessed in 2015….

Now that I look back over that year I am in such amazement at just what that year produced…more on that later!

 

 

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Achieving my goal to walk every day! Something I struggled hard to achieve after years of inactivity. 
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