Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Adieu Saipan

I’m terrible at goodbyes.

Amy, what would I have done without you?!

So I’ll keep this short and tell you how you guys were the BEST part of my every day. Thank you for your friendship and the memories. I’ll never forget the laughter and happiness you brought to my life. Here are a couple pictures of my last week in Saipan.

My Saipan Family

My scuba buddy, Harry! Thanks for coming to the airport to see me off.

The SDA Dental Clinic had a farewell party for me. A favorite patient baked me a yummy Apple Coffee Crumb cake!

My daily sunshine at work! I'll miss Mark and Tammy James. Thank you for throwing me a farewell party at your house! I will also miss Aunt Judy and Uncle Dennis for teaching me how to scuba dive. You introduced a whole new world to me and now I'm ADDICTED!

Ken and Crystal gave me a beautiful lei from Chuk! I have had the time of my life and I'm so glad I got to spend it with them. They were my spiritual mentors in Saipan and have encouraged me to follow my passion and dreams. I'll miss you guys!

My good friends, John Dax and Mai. Always there to listen to me Rant about everything! There's Noah squeezing his cute face in the pic.

Lunch at 360 with Angelo. Thanks for the laughs!

If you have ever read the book Eat Pray Love you’ll understand me when I say that living and working in Saipan was my “India” experience. I came to Saipan on a quest for personal and spiritual growth and left with so much more. This journey changed my life. My heart has awakened and my soul is at ease.

This picture pretty much describes my experience in Saipan: A blast!

My beautiful friends.

And now I’m ready to grab life by its two horns. I hope you will continue to enjoy the ride with me. I’ll keep the same blog address but there will be some changes in the next couple of weeks. I’m still trying to come up with a new title. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Scott and Atsuko Eck baked me this yummy choco brownie cake! Thank you!

What’s Bubbles’ next adventure? Scuba diving and searching for Whale Sharks in Belize this June! Greg found this one just recently in Belize. I hope they come out when I get there. Stay tuned Neh !!!=)

Whale Sharkey! Picture taken by Greg Moretti.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Palau Scrapbook 2008

This year Real Christian Theater's annual trip was to Palau. These are some aerial views of the Rock Islands during my flight into Palau Wednesday morning last week. I flew in early to get in a couple of dives before Real's school and church tour started. The rest of my group were scheduled to come in Wednesday night.

Palau is considered one of the world's natural wonders both above and below the surface of the water. I came here in March 2007 for a week long dive trip with Ken and Crystal Pierson and had a blast. Much of our time was spent underwater. Now I'm not complaining about being underwater at all because I love diving . . . but I didn't get a chance to explore the island at all! During this trip with Real Christian Theater I was hoping to see more of the island, the culture, and it's people. Check out the water! I was itchin' to drop into the deep blue!

A picture of the bridges that led into Koror, Palau's main center where most visitors stay and eat. We were staying at Palau Mission Academy about 30 mins away.

Real Christian Theater is about sharing our belief and love for an amazing God. We perform skits with underlying themes about forgiveness, dependance upon God . . . We strive to not only perform the skits but to actually LIVE what we perform. Sometimes its easier to talk the walk than walk the walk. I'm definitely not perfect. I know that sometimes I struggle alot with what I believe and what I do. But I learned and grew a lot during my stay in Saipan and during this Palau trip.

Sean preached Saturday morning at the Airiri SDA Church. He talked about whether you have a relationship or a religion. I think that sometimes you can get discouraged when you try to keep all the rules and fail. Sometimes when you focus on doing everything right you start to lose sight of what is really important. I've often felt that religion can suck the life out of you if it becomes to legalistic. I think that what God is seeking is my heart not perfection.

Different members from our drama team took over parts in the divine service. Some performed special music, read scripture, or prayed. Miss Veronyka below read and directed the children's story.

A picture of our team with the kids at the SDA Elementary School. They were all so friendly. Some even prayed with us after our skits. They just felt really blessed and it made us feel like God was really speaking through us.

I remember how tired we were starting to get towards the end of our trip. We woke up at 8 am and didn't go to bed till 11 pm every day. School tours can be tiring because you are constantly on the go. One of the highlights of this trip was being able to perform last minute for the local prison. Here's a picture of Joy, Xian Xian, and Tali performing a skit entitled The Big Question. The prisoners were so thankful for our visit. It was a really touching experience to see them on fire for God. This visit to the prison was the perfect way to end our year.

*** Diving in Palau***

Last time I went diving in Palau the weather was perfect! We had sunny skies and the water was like glass. Unfortunately this time around in Palau it was a bit stormy. Actually there was a typhoon just passing over Palau so the water was rough. I have learned from past experiences that just because its gray skies doesn't mean you'll have a bad dive. You just have to make the best of every situation.

The first day I went diving by myself with Sam's tours at Saies Tunnel just west of Ulong Channel. The current was strong and the visibility wasn't too great. When I first dropped into the water at Saies Tunnel I looked down and saw a Manta Ray!! How lucky am I to see that when I first got in. I was so shocked that I was fumbling with my camera to take a picture but by the time I turned on my camera the Manta was gone=( But I saw turtles, sharks, and all kinds of marine life on this dive. The Second dive I went on was at a shipwreck called Chuyo Maru. Plenty marine life and coral that has grown on the wreck! I had such a great first day of diving.

The following day on Thursday Sean, Mai, Jess, and I headed out for a two tank dive with Sam's tours. Unfortunately the weather got worst and the dive boats weren't allowed to go outside the reef because of the strong current conditions. That was bad news because outside the reef are were the great dive sites like Blue Corner, German Channel, Blue hole, and Ulong Channel. We couldn't even go to Jelly Fish lake.

So you can imagine that we were all pretty bummed that we weren't going to see everything that we had heard about. We ended up diving Pincher's cove and the shipwreck Chuyo Maru. We didn't see any turtles or sharks on the second day like they were hoping=( I guess its just another excuse to make a trip out here again because the underwater show at Blue corner is truly amazing. I'll never forget that experience on my last visit. The second day of diving was heaven for me since it was mostly macro diving. I was looking for Nudibranchs and other cool things.

The famed rock island Arch.

A huge clam I found on the beach where they filmed Survivor Palau.

Diving around the shipwreck Chuyo Maru. The tops of the masts are gardens of corals and sponges that attract schools of fish.

Giant Sea Fans

Cotton Candy Corals blooming on the sheer walls that drop. You can't even see the bottom when you are diving!

Tomato Clownfish

Hawksbill Turtle!!!!

Plenty Sharks!

Siaes Tunnel


I have no idea what this is! Anyone know?

Tridacna squamosa (Giant Clam)

Overall the dive wasn't a total disappointment for me. Seeing big things like Manta's, sharks, and turtles are exciting. Sometimes we forget that the small macro stuff is just as fascinating as the big stuff. I have a feeling that I'll be back to conquer Blue Corner and hook into the reef on my next visit! What a great trip and a great way to kick off my year in Micronesia.

Real Christian Theater girls on the bus ride to Koror

Tres amigas: Mai, Me, and Jessica

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

True Island Baby

Sweet Max. I just want to squeeze this little guy every time I see him. My good friends, Mike and Gemma, from Guam came to visit me in Saipan.  We took them on a classic island tour.  Max really loved the Bonzai Cliff view.

You know you are a true island baby when you've got a zorrie tan!=)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

There’s no doubt in my mind that my mom is the greatest influence in my life. Mom and I didn’t always get along while I was growing up. I think I had MCS (middle child syndrome). I was pretty much the troublemaker in the family!

When I think about the Filipinos struggling in Saipan to make a better life for themselves and their families I think about all the sacrifices my mom made. She worked hard and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at Philippine Union College. My dad and her later moved to California to work and build a new life together. Mom was the breadwinner in our family. She worked twelve-hour shifts three – four times to a week and frequently put in overtime whenever she needed to. She worked hard. We weren’t rich or poor. We lived comfortably on one salary. She provided for our basic needs and still managed to surprise us every now and then with little luxuries like new clothes and toys. Till this day I am still amazed how my mom managed to take care of five people, pay for three kids to attend private school, pay the mortgage, and bills on one salary. She taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice.

I also learned about the character of God from mom. Mom is the most spiritual person in my life. The most important thing I knew was that she accepted me the way I was and loved me unconditionally. Though there were times she didn’t always agree with how I lived my life, she still let me make my own decisions. Most of my decisions ended up in a lot of trouble and heartache. But the point is that she stepped back and let me make my own choices in order for me to learn and grow. Also mom was always there for me even when I pissed her off or let her down. She never turned away from me much like God never turns His back on me.

I also learned about the power of prayer from Mom. Ever since I could remember Mom was giving thanks and problems in prayer. When dad had his stroke it was really hard for her to deal with it at first. But as time progressed I saw Mom turn to God even more so instead of away from Him when things went wrong. Most people would blame God for the hardships they go through. She set an example for me to always keep God close and trust Him no matter what hardships may come my way. She reminded me that God was always on my side. It was her support and her encouragement to seek everything in prayer that has made all the difference in my life.

I love you, mom. Happy Mother's Day! I'll see you soon=)