Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas on Saipan

Christmas Eve was when the fun started. Usually on Christmas Eve we do the whole build up with nativity, Christmas stories in the BoM and Bible, Christmas books, Twas the Night Before Christmas, new PJs, Christmas carols and hymns, etc. But this year we decided to get the kids kittens (remember the shrew problem ;)) Jacob picked them up on his way home from work (just worked til noon) and we spent the afternoon playing with them, then in the evening we went to get dinner (Taco Bell) and went to a Christmas Mass for a little while. It was in Chamorro, so we couldn't understand, but you could still feel the spirit as they celebrated Christ's birth. We only lasted 20 minutes (kids) and then went to meet up with friends for Dodgeball. ---sidenote: whenever someone invites me to play dodgeball I ALWAYS think in my mind that it is kickball! And I LOVE LOVE kickball, so I'm always all pumped to play kickball and then it's dodgeball and I get a little alarmed because I am horrible at throwing and great at getting hit in the face and I haven't had time to mentally prepare! I DO like dodgeball, I just don't love it like I love kickball, and I need to mentally prepare for the onslaught of painful balls being thrown at me--- Anyway it was tons of fun, I got a nice bruise on my leg, did not get a single person out, but also did not get hit in the face! Success! It was great. Then we went to a friends house and decorated Christmas cookies and just enjoyed life and hung out. It was way fun. We didn't get home until after 10, so we just did a quick nativity thing and Twas the Night Before Christmas, and put stockings out.

2 of my cookies- Peace on Earth.. ha! yeah, I think I'm funny ;)

post signatureOur Christmas was pretty relaxed. We just did the normal stockings, presents thing, haha :) We like to keep things simple and low key, and this is the first year where we even had the financial option to do a little more, but we did not :) It's just something that works for us. We had breakfast of poptarts and oranges (Did I mention we like to keep things simple? lol) We played around for awhile, then everyone took naps. After naps we played with our new stuff a bit, Jacob and I read, the kids watched Frosty the Snowman, and we did our nativity and BoM and Bible story stuff, and I made cinnamon bread for dinner. Dinner was knock-off Kneader's french toast. If you live in Mormonville, check out Kneader's.. holy yum. My fav is their chicken caesar salad, and their turkey pesto panini. While the bread was baking, we went down to the beach for a walk. It was amazing. It was so beautiful out, and I feel a lot of gratitude living here. Looking at everyone's pictures makes me miss home and family and snow and mountains, but we are blessed to be here. Our time here is a gift. After our beach walk we went home and had dinner, then went down to the beach for a fire and s'mores. The marshmallows were forgotten, and there was too much chocolate, but it was so perfect. The moon shining brightly on the water. I felt so alive and so at peace. The kids were playing and searching for creatures. One of our friends brought his ukulele and it created the perfect atmosphere. It felt so surreal and I never want to forget that night. Everyone was relaxed and happy. My senses were so alive and the ocean breeze on my skin and in my hair, and the sand in my toes and the fire crackling, and the laughter of easy conversation. It was magical (friends tell me I'm in the honeymoon stage here, ha!)
We had to cut Everett's hair :( Jase cut the sides and it looked AWFUL. I cried. These are before.

Our beautiful walk.
I tried to capture my magical Christmas fire on the beach moment... without success. :)

The day after Christmas was a day spent in the water! (My favorite) We went down to Sugar Dock with some friends and their kayak. Sugar Dock is a "pretty" beach with nice sand calm water and pretty lagoon colors. We took turns on the kayak, and took the kids over to jump off the dock. I'm so proud of both my kids! It's hard to jump from high heights, but they did it! After Sugar Dock we had lunch and naps. 



















After naps we went to Bird Island for some snorkeling and beach combing. Bird Island is a fairly rocky beach with a  lot to explore underwater.



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saipan

Well we have been here for 2 1/2 months already! On one hand it feels like we have been here forever, on the other it feels like we have been here only a few days.
Saipan is a lot of things. It is paradise. But it is also a third world country. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We are so blessed to be here. One of my favorite things here is to sit in our living room and read with the windows and doors open and feel the ocean breeze on my skin, and listen to the waves crash, and watch the birds fly. It's incredible. We are adjusting. It is a difficult adjustment for most people, and we are included in the "most". It is so hard to describe it here. All of the Americans here seems to agree with that. There aren't many of us. The island is mostly locals (Chamorro), natives from nearby islands, and Filipinos. I know most of you are probably thinking "You live on a tropical island! What is there to adjust to?!" It's not the tropical island part.. That is the blessing that helps us get through everything else. It is truly a different world, in a third world country. Working internet, reliable cell service, hair appointments, and house decorations are all luxuries of the past. We actually don't even HAVE internet at our house, because it isn't available. And the cell data is "3G", but speed wise, is 2G at best. We have shrews that come into our house, and the ONLY thing we can do about it is get a cat.. so we are getting a kitten for Christmas. Shrews/rats/mice in the house... that is a first world "problem" and is just life here.  And geckos? We welcome them in and sometimes catch them and bring them inside to eat the bugs. haha :) And grocery shopping can be very frustrating. You go to the store to get ingredients, only to find that they are out. And it could be months until a new shipment of it comes in. Groceries are extremely expensive. $8/gal for shelf stable boxed milk. Milk that needs to be kept cold is $12/gal or more. I don't want this to sound like complaining, because I am Not complaining. I'm just trying to describe it here. Decorating your house? Definitely a first world thing. It isn't a thing here, and one I am getting used to. I like having things on my walls. Though really, they are completely unnecessary. And maybe that is what it boils down to. Unnecessary things like nice vehicles, new clothes and working internet aren't actually a necessity, and therefore not a part of life here. There are some great things about it that go hand in hand with that though! Consumerism and materialism are pretty non-existent, and "Keeping up with the Joneses?" well, there isn't anything to keep up with! We are enjoying that part of life and living here makes it clear how blessed we are, even here with so little. Most people have less than us. We have neighbors whose houses and all of their belongings blew away in the typhoon (western pacific name for hurricane) a few months ago. It is humbling to see.  The people here are so good and kind and put family above career. You don't see people here working 60+ hours/wk to get ahead. You see people taking off early to spend time with family. They know that family is more important than things. And another of my favorite things: I RARELY see people hunched over electronic devices. I'm sure that is mostly because people can't afford them here, but it's so refreshing to see people constantly engaged with each other, with their full attention, not constantly checking their phones. I love it. So there it is. Life in Saipan in a nutshell. It's amazing and frustrating and beautiful and we will do a lot of learning and growing here. We have a lot to learn from these beautiful and humble and people!
View from Capitol Hill of the lagoon side of the island.
Above picture is our view from our balcony- Lau Lau Bay
Pau Pau Beach, on the lagoon side of the island. We LOVE having the lagoon-- no waves, so the much less dangerous for the kids to play in!
 
Jacob and I on Managaha (a little island in the lagoon) Saipan is in the background
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The view from the apartment the hospital put us in for a month. You can see Managaha in the lagoon there :)

Rainbow at Ladder Beach

                           Morning sunrise from my bed.

This one I took when we went to Lau Lau Beach, Jacob took the kids to collect shells and I laid down and read.

pride, charity, and body image.

I've been thinking a lot lately. Mostly since the Ezra Taft Benson lesson on pride back in....September? (Had it again here on Saipan in November) In that lesson it says (quote by President Benson) "The proud stand more in fear of men's judgement than of God's judgement. 'What will men think of me?' Weighs heavier than 'What will God think of me?'" It also talks about comparison and how putting yourself above others and basically all forms of comparing yourself to others are prideful. I have spent a LOT of time thinking about pride since then (as I discovered I am EXTREMELY prideful, haha) Not comparing myself to others is something I have been working on for a Long Long time. It is difficult for me, but I have noticed as I have gotten better about it, I am happier with myself, and happier in general. Something that has helped me stop comparing is trying to see others as God sees them, and to focus on the good in people and to love them for who they are. So as I have lessened my comparing, my charity for others has improved. Crazy how that works! :) (also, if you want some real food for thought about charity, check out all of 1 Cor. 13, in particular verse 13. crazy cool.) I have been focusing more on pleasing God than man, and I try to ask myself what my motive is for doing something. There are many things we do that are "good", but what is our motive? For example- do you keep your body healthy to obey the word of wisdom, or to get the praise of men for having a "hot body". I used to be a combination of the two, and I still am to a very small degree, but trying to improve :)
Yesterday I received a compliment about how amazing my body is, especially for having 3 kids. (her words- NOT mine! ha) I mostly felt awkward. There are so many things that I want to be and are so much more important than being thin. And I know some will say 'oh you can say that, because you are slim' but it's not true. I weighed 115 (at 5'7") and had major body issues. You can love your body at any size. Anyway- 3 years ago, that compliment would have made my whole week. But yesterday I realized that I didn't really care that much what my body looks like or what other people think about it. That being said- I believe my body is beautiful. Not in a worldly way, but in an "I am a woman and have a beautiful body that God gave me and that does amazing things" way. This is hard to explain, but I strongly believe Heavenly Father wants us to take good care of our bodies and treat them properly and keep them healthy. I also believe he doesn't care about their size or shape (assuming we are living the word of wisdom and keeping them healthy!!). I have cellulite all over and some stretch marks on my inner thighs... and I sag in places that I never did prior to having kids.. But I don't really care. Isn't that completely normal? Doesn't pretty much everyone that's had a kid and/or is over 30 have all that (minus a very small percentage)? Who decided it's "ugly" or "bad"? It's all a lie! It's perfectly normal and it isn't "ugly" at all. I am still beautiful. I guarantee Heavenly Father doesn't think it's ugly, and I also guarantee it saddens Him when we listen to the lies, created by Satan, and deem ourselves "ugly" or "not enough". Just live a healthy life and your body IS enough! We are all enough! I have ways that I need to improve in the health department, I am not perfect (ahem.. total sugar addict..sigh.) but I AM enough. And it doesn't matter where someone else is in their journey. And not because you are probably further along in some things than they are (not cool when people say that, that is still comparing!) but because we are all human and we are all progressing. Sometimes slowly, and sometimes quickly. It's a beautiful life, and I don't see any sense wasting it on things that will never bring happiness. That's the thing about comparing- it will NEVER bring happiness. Doing things to please men- will NOT bring happiness. Knowing Heavenly Father loves you, and loving and caring for His children- that brings happiness.

I'm hoping to sit down and start writing about our Saipan adventure soon! It's a crazy place here, but very difficult to describe! We are adjusting. :)

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