Summer Travels

What a summer it has been! I have so much to tell you, so I’ll start with the biggest thing: I went to Manila! I work with a company that has offices in several places in the world, and most of my department happens to be in Manila in the Philippines. Over the last year and a half that I’ve worked in this department I’ve been emailing, messaging, and calling my team, but there is nothing quite like meeting someone in person. I feel so lucky to have been able to travel for work. I never thought I would be a jet-setting world traveler, but I suppose I’ve had a taste of that now.

My trip was 2 weeks long in the beginning of June. I packed 2 knitting projects and some spinning for good measure, but I barely touched my projects at all while I was away. Let’s dive right in with all the pictures!

The flight from the US to Manila is no joke. I had 3 flights, the longest of which was 14 hours. The total travel time including layovers was about 24 hours, so by the time I landed I was beyond exhausted. But my day wasn’t over yet. I knew if I went to sleep immediately my internal clock would be messed up all week, so I pulled myself together and went into the office long enough to say hi to everyone.


The next few days were a blur of work and meeting new people. I ate a lot of good food every single day. If you are ever hungry in Manila, that is totally your fault because the food there is awesome!! Or as they say in Tagalog, “Masarap!”

The Philippines is on the other side of the world from the US, so our night is their day. In order to work smoothly with the US offices, the Manila office is most active at night. Working night shift long term would be a big change, but it was quite convenient not to have to change my day to day schedule. Over the weekend we had a team building activity planned during the day, so we had to switch over to day shift. This was difficult, to say the least, but it enabled me to go out and see a little of Manila.

We went all over: The Manila Hotel where the President of the Philippines holds special events, the oldest church in Manila, the National musums… And friends, I found YARN!

We got food (of course), and rode a Calesa, which is a kind of horse-drawn buggy.

The next day was our team building. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Pro tip: Filipinos love Karaoke, so if you’re traveling over there brush up on your singing!

The next day (Monday, if you’re keeping track) was time to transition back to night shift. But, this was my best option to go shopping while I was in Manila. A few of my friends took me to the mall to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I tried something called Kwek-kwek, which is hard-boiled quail eggs that are then battered and fried. Delicious, and very fatty.

The 2nd week was similar to the first, and before I knew it the time had come to leave for the airport. But wait, the team couldn’t let me live without a party!

I had such a wonderful time getting to meet my team and form personal friendships with them. I can’t wait to go back and see my friends again!

My Vacation Part 2: the Williamsburg Winery and Historic Jamestown

Last week my husband and I went on vacation. We split our trip up into several stages so we could see and do more things (read part 1 here).

We stayed at the Williamsburg Winery for the 2nd stage of our journey. My husband had picked out the Wales Room for us, and oh, was it beautiful! We were greeted by beautiful paintings and tapestries and a suit of armor!

Once we were settled in we drove to Historic Jamestown to see what we could see. We went to the Jamestown Settlement to look through the museum and walk through the recreated settlement. The amount of time and money spent to bring this incredible project to life boggles the mind!

We saw the recreated boats that the settlers used, explored the fort, and walked through the Indian village. Always on the prowl for fibery goodness, I learned from the reenactors about twining, which is how the Native Americans in this area made yarn.

Back at the hotel we had the most wonderful dinner and slept in the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever experienced.

Come back to hear about the last part of our vacation tomorrow: Colonial Williamsburg!

In the mean time, please enjoy this most beautiful brick wall.


Adventures in Europe: Part Two

Last week I began sharing my journey a year ago through Europe with a mission team. Read about it here.


May 29

We met with other missionaries in Vienna this morning. They gave their testimonies. We were challenged from Acts 17 about our focus in life. In Acts 17 Paul has been kicked out of several towns and is alone in Athens. When he is alone and depressed his default was to care about peoples’ souls. We must never forget the souls around us, and Christ must be the center of our lives.

After that we went into the center of Vienna to do some sightseeing. Our guide walked us through several historical sites in the city. After a picnic lunch in front of a castle-became-museum we had a few options: look through the aforementioned museums, tour the Vienna Opera House, or go buy CDs. Needless to say, I toured the Opera House with Michael (a fellow team member). It is a beautiful building. Much of it was destroyed in a bombing toward the end of WWII, but they rebuilt it around its surviving components. We also looked through the opera house museum and I got to tell Michael about operas and singers.

We went back to the church for dinner and fellowship with the youth group. We had fun playing games, and then had our Wednesday night service. A man from the church gave his testimony of salvation. He had grown up a Muslim, but was told about the true God – a God of love and mercy and not of judgment, not a God who must be appeased.

God’s plans are different than our own; and they are better than ours. We just have trouble believing that.


May 30

Hungary. We are in Pecs (pronounced “paych”) at the Potters’ church. Soon after arriving we went into the town to sing at bus stops and invite people to our concert tomorrow. We walked by a beautiful Jewish synagogue. Before WWII there were thousands of Jews in Pecs. Now there are less than 100. The town square is beautiful with old building and statues, but soon after we got there it began to downpour.

Back at the church we ate the most delicious rice meal and then our hosts came to get us. Esther and I stayed with a single lady named Eva. She is working on her doctoral dissertation in chemistry and teaching chemistry on the university level in German. She quickly set about making us feel at home in her apartment. She made us this very yummy berry tea and asked if we wanted internet. Praise God for internet! We don’t get it often.


May 31

Today was our day to go into the city and be tourists. The missionary pastor brought us back to the town square from yesterday and told us cool stuff about it. Then we were set loose to do some shopping. Several of us girls bought scarves and postcards and such. Thankfully we were able to use Euros. None of us had Hungarian currency. The currency is very inflated here. 200 Hungarian Forints are worth about 7 Euros. They sold the most beautiful porcelain, though. I wish I could have bought some to take home with me.

The countryside is so beautiful here. As a child I thought of “Eastern” Europe as a dark and dreary place where no one smiled or laughed. It was perpetually cold and people scurried from building to building in order not to be seen by the police. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people her have been free for many years. They walk around living life just like we do in America. And the scenery is just beautiful. I keep wondering how these people could have left their homelands for a place they had never seen before.

There are poppies growing everywhere in Europe. I feel that America has just as much natural beauty as Europe, but in Europe it is crammed together a lot more – gem upon gem. And there is so much variety here!

Tonight our service went well. Our Hungarian was a little sketchy, but I think people understood the songs anyway. We had about 10 visitors. When we got back to Eva’s house she had made us broccoli soup. She also taught us the Hungarian word for ‘moose’ – ‘Saruwash!’


June 1 – Saturday

Happy June! We had a very long drive. We had to deal with a border crossing into Romania and a time change, and between them all we were late to our meeting. We finally got there about half an hour late. Our meeting was in a gazebo in a park, so I didn’t feel so bad about being late. Afterwards we went to the church and were appointed to our houses. It’s so funny! All the host families here seem determined to marry us all off! If it wasn’t funny it might almost be a little scary. Abby and I went with the sweetest family. The dad was away for a few months working in another country, so we didn’t see him, but the mom was named Eva, and the daughters were Adelina and Andrea. They filled the table with food even though we told them we were only a little hungry, and then they taught us several Romanian words:

Pahar – cup

Prejitor – dessert

Roshu – red

Rose – pink

Mauve – purple

Marro – brown

Negro – black

Alb – white

Albastro – blue

Galban – yellow

Eu ami par krets – I have curly hair

They had rocks sitting around their living room. I initially assumed it was quartz, but they told us it was salt! Apparently there is a salt cave nearby. They gave us some of their salt rocks. Praise the Lord for providing a way to remember Romania as we will not have a chance to go shopping.


June 2

Sunday Morning with the Romanian church. Micah gave his testimony, how he originally was from Romania, but his mom gave him up for adoption because she did not have the means to support him. He was adopted by an American family when he was four years old. Now he has come back to Romania, even if only for a short time. It was very moving and many people cried. The pastor invited the young people to come to the front and pray for Micah and also a girl who was going to America soon. The way it all happened and the fact that it was all in Romanian, it almost seemed like they were betrothing him to her!

In the afternoon Adelina took us walking in the park. She got us ice cream. All over Europe we’ve seen people eating ice cream, many more than in the States. Now I understand why. This was supremely wonderful. I got macadamia and kiwi. Yum!

After the park we kept walking till we came to a historical village. It was exquisite! The buildings had been restored or rebuilt in a log cabin style with thatched roof. We were able to go inside many of buildings, even to touch things! This would never be possible in America, and yet we see it all over here. The chapel was beautiful. I wish I had known were going there so I could have brought my camera.

In the evening the team was at another Romanian church across town. We ate dinner there and then headed back to our host families. Adelina shared pictures of her childhood and family with us. Each place we go it gets harder to say goodbye.


June 3

Goodbye Romania, Hello Slovakia. We had another long drive, and arrived around 4. Our sponsors are staying with missionaries while the rest of us are in a hostel across the street. As much as I enjoy being in host homes, it is nice to be in a hostel and not worry about finding conversation topics and keeping your suitcase in some sense of array.

The further East we go the more beautiful the country gets. Quite the opposite from what I expected. Picture rolling meadows, mountains in the distance, enough sunshine to make it cheerful, with enough of cloud cover to give it a beautiful softness. We passed the most picturesque castle you could wish for. And, of course, beautiful bright red poppies to break up the sea of long green grass.

Singing in Slovakian is…challenging to say the least. These poor people sat through a service of us butchering their language and then encored us. There were a lot more people there than were expected. Even a few gypsies!

I have returned!!

Ok, so I need to start looking up more “I’m back” quotes. Because with my track record, I’m going to need them. But I have an excuse for not posting, I really do!! This entire past week I’ve not been at home or at school. I was with my choir in the North “on tour” as we call it. We were traveling through the north giving concerts at churches and Christian schools (remember, I go to a Christian college). It was great fun! We spent several hours a day driving around on a university bus. A good friend of mine used the extra down time to introduce me to the show “Dr. Who.” I had never heard of it before this trip, but it is vastly entertaining. Plus, it’s a BBC production, so I get to hear people speaking in British accents, which has in turn, helped my own impersonations of the British.

In other news, NaNoWriMo has officially started!! I’m so excited!! I started writing my novel Tuesday morning, and I’m currently at 3,916 words. So, back to the writing!!

Back to … School??

Well, I have to start packing. My room is a mess, with clothes everywhere, and several suitcases littering the floor. Yes, it’s that time of year again: back to school. It’s strange how every year summer seems to fly by. They (whoever ‘they’ are) tell us that it’s 4 months long, but I think thy sneak in and steal about half of it away. My little sisters have already started classes at their school, so the house is quiet in the mornings (more or less). My brother and I go to college far, far away from home (We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto), and within the next few days we will have driven over 2,000 miles. My mom’s more than a bit worried.

Why is it that the moment I need to start packing I have in incredible urge to do something else? Happens every time, it seems. I should be packing right now. But my dear readers are so important that I am willing to give up the time that I could be spending packing to write this blog post. 😉 I love you all! Have a great day.