Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back in the U.S.A

We have officially been in the United States for 48 hours and have loved every minute of it.  Some of the little things that we have enjoyed so far:
Public drinking fountains
Toilet seat covers, toilet paper provided and even the fact that there is a toilet seat

Being able to drink water from the tap without the worry of getting sick (and in Oregon it tastes great)
Good food that we have missed.  So far we have had Papa John's pizza, Red Robin and Taco Bell and we have a whole list of places we will be visiting.

Dogs as pets.  Some people in Cebu do have dogs, but it is more common to see sad, injured, sick strays.  I love seeing people love their dogs.

Wide open roads with no traffic....and driving above 30mph.

Although I have sworn off aspertame for the past 3 months...while on vacation I have to take advantage of my favorite drink ever!  Do the DEW!

 We have also loved spending time with family, but I can't find my chord to download pictures so I will post about that later.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to live in the Philippines, but being home is fun and we are going to take advantage of every second.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kawasan Falls

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to take some people from work to a place called Kawasan Falls. The drive was 3.5 hours and we were staying less than 24 hours. I wasn't sure it was going to be worth it.  Boy was I wrong. The house we stayed in was gorgeous, with a huge pool and it's own beachfront. Then, we went to the falls and all I could think the entire time was "I am so lucky! How do I get so lucky to see and experience places like this?"

My team enjoying the water and the view.

The Philippines is very Catholic and their religion is very important to them.  I thought this little alter was gorgeous and in such a beautiful setting.  There is nothing like the seeing amazing natural beauty that reminds me more of my Heavenly Father.  While walking next to the river on the way down from the falls the words to "How Great Thou Art" kept running through my mind. 

PM4 enjoying the "massage" of the 3rd level of falls.  This is a GREAT group.  We all have a blast together.  It was a nice change to be in cold, refreshing water too.

Ben (our team mascot) got to come on the excursion as well.  We are so lucky to be sharing these experiences.

The huge, gorgeous house that we stayed in (right on the beach too)
For more pictures go here

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a great Thanksgiving here in Cebu.  We were lucky enough to be invited over to John and Stephanie Lowry's house for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a great day with good food, coversation, fun and football.  John had a great little program where we discussed the first Thanksgiving and the history of this holiday.  We then all went around the table and talked about what we were thankful for.  Each of us had a long list.  We proceeded to eat the yummy turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls and pies of course.  It really was just like a Thanksgiving dinner at home.  After dinner there was a football game and running around and then back to the house for more dessert and just hanging out.  It was a great day and we are so glad we could spend our first Thanksgiving here with good friends like the Lowry's and the Knowltons.

The day after Thanksgiving just made this year even better because we had the chance to get on the computer and skype with my entire family.  All of the kids were together at my parents house and they brought us up on the big screen tv.  We got to be there to pick names for Christmas as well as do a little program with the Johnson family.  My dad had us come up with something we are thankful for that we never thought we would be thankful for.  That was an interesting list and we had some good laughs (I was thankful to not live on the beach anymore).  It was amazing to be there with them even while being so far away.  It was so fun to see all the neices and nephews, the dog and of course all of the adults.  We love our families and missing out on the holidays is hard, but skype makes it a LOT better than it could be. 

This little boy came out to watch the football game with us and brought with him his American flag.  It was fitting considering the day. 

The whole group after eating
Ciara Lowry brought her dog over from the made me miss Archie so I took a lot of pictures of her.

Our own little Filipino Turkey Bowl

Skype with my whole family on their Thanksgiving day.  Gotta love technology.

This year we have so much to be thankful for.  We are so very blessed and we are reminded of that daily.  Thanksgiving definitely made us SO excited to be coming home in just three weeks for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Funny" Things We Have Seen While Driving

I put funny in quotes in case people think I am making fun of the Philippines, cause that is not what I am doing and I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

Yes, this guy is sitting on the back of a bike, facing backwards, holding a box. At least he's wearing a helmet, cause I don't think that's extra safe.

Gotta get the balloons to the party somehow. I have driven with balloons in a car and I know they can get in the way, I can only imagine how it works on a bike.
I was pretty impressed with this dog sitting on top of the truck. I can't imagine there is a lot to grab onto, but he seems fine.

Just taking a break on the way home from work.

Now this is what you call eating on the go.

I have an awesome video I wanted to post here as well! This guy had a dog on the back of his bike, holding on all by himself and then one sitting on the front as well. I am not sure if I should be more impressed with the dogs or the guy for training them. Either way, it was amazing. I cant figure out how to post it, but when I do I will:).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

To My Best Friend (other than Ben)

Happy 30th birthday yesterday to my best friend, Kimberly Harrison Williams (or as I like to call her, Kimmie). As I was laying in bed last night I felt very strongly that I needed to blog about her. I am sure she is going to hate me for doing this, but that's ok. She will get over it. I think we all, myself included, can take more time and really express to the people in our lives how much they really mean to us. I lost my Grandma two months ago, wonderful things were said and written about her after she passed away and I don't doubt that she knew she was loved, but why don't we say all the wonderful things while we are all still here? I talk to Kimmie, we chat and laugh and hang out (well we did before I moved across the world), but I don't know that I have ever had the chance to really tell her what she means to me. For some reason, I felt the need to blog about it, so here goes.

Kimmie and I met in 2000 while both of us were going to BYU. We lived together at the Jolley House where I was even lucky enough to be her actual "room roommate" and get to see all the "interesting" ways she liked to sleep, haha. We had great roomates that we are still best friends today. For our first few years as friends I don't know that we would have considered each other "BEST friends", but through time and experience that was what developed. In 2003 both of us moved to Los Angeles, where she always liked to remind me that she lived on the "cool" side of the hill while I lived in the "valley". I know at first she actually was not that happy that I was moving to L.A at the same time as her. She had been accepted to UCLA to do her MSW (did I mention she is like genius joke) and was planning to move out there long before me and start a new life. But my nephew got sick and I was in a position where I could go out there and help, so I did. Soon after she arrived I think we both realized how very lucky we were to have each other out there. It was the perfect situation. We lived close enough that we could see eachother and spend time together and have someone that really knew us already there, but far enough away that we had separate lives and separate friends. It actually created a much more exciting social life for both of us (definitely for me).

She has seen me through the hardest things of my life, as well as the greatest things in my life. She has been there for me through the death of loved ones, dating, breaking up, heartaches. She was with me when I got the call telling me I had got my "dream job" and she was with me through the ups and downs of that job. She was there through Ben and I dating, getting engaged, me postponing the wedding, getting married, surgeries, infertility, and so on and so forth. She is the person I turn to when I just need to talk or laugh or cry or just need someone to make me feel better.

When Ben and I first got married there was an evening where he and I were hanging out together just watching Arrested Development and eating junkfood (Kimmie and I LOVE eating junk food together and watching great TV shows until ALL hours of the night) and I said to him, "I am having as much fun with you as I do with Kimmie". It was then that I realized how VERY happy I was to be married to him, haha. That may sound crazy to most of you, but he had a very HIGH standard to live up to. Before him, I would have preferred to hang out with no one more than her.

Ben makes fun of me because I literally have something we call "Kimmie withdrawels". When she and I were both living in L.A. I would see her about once a week. If it was longer than that I would start to feel just off, something didn't feel right. I am not sure when I realized that was what was happenening, but at some point I realized that I literally NEEDED Kimmie time for things to feel right and good in my world. After Ben and I moved back to Utah, we talked on the phone a lot and saw each other every few months. If not, the withdrawels would set in. Maybe that is why I felt the need to write this post...maybe they are setting in and this is the only "fix" I have.

I have a perfect example of Kimmie truly being my BEST friend. The week before we were leaving for the Philippines Ben and I were driving down to Provo to get some of our immunizations. On the way down there I was telling him how I was just feeling overly stressed and frustrated and I couldn't figure out why. As we were talking I said to him, "I think I am going to drive to Vegas to see Kimmie tonight"(she had just moved there). I had to work the next day, but I was totally serious. I realized I was having "withdrawels" and I just needed my best friend. We went into the office to get our shots and as we were walking out my phone started to ring. Kimmie was calling. I answered the phone, and before I had the chance to tell her my plan she said "Guess where I am?"......"I am on the road to Utah, coming to see you". I am not sure how to even explain to you the emotions that I felt when I heard that, even now I get teary eyed about it. She said she had just felt like she should come, she talked to Byron (her awesome husband) and he agreed. The Lord knew and let her know that I needed her. I spent the next two days hanging out with her and getting my Kimmie time, since who knows when will be the next chance we get. (I do live in the Philippines plus she is having a baby any day now and won't be in Utah for Christmas).

I hope that all of you are lucky enough to have a Kimmie in your life, because I don't know what I would do without her. Kimmie, since I know you will read this at some point, don't be mad or embarrassed. I had to do it! I love you, you are the very best friend a girl could have. I cannot wait to see you....whenever that may be!

She's gorgeous too, did I already mention that?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just Living Life

I have been trying to think of something to blog about and I just haven't been able to think of anything. I think that means we are actually feeling at home here because I don't feel like everything we see and experience we have is totally blog-worthy. The funny thing is, they probably are but I am just getting used to my surroundings so I don't see things as so different anymore. I am going to do a post soon of just the crazy things that we see in Cebu. I have lots of pictures for that. Today, I just wanted to say how happy I am to really be feeling like we are at home here. It has been a long 10 weeks to get to this point.

I know some people just talk about the good stuff on their blog and I am not really like that. Moving here has been very hard, much harder than I ever expected. Living in Asia has been on my list of things I have to do before I die since I was 16 years old. When we got the opportunity to do so, and we were in a position where we could easily (no kids) we jumped at the chance. But no matter how much I wanted this, it has been very very hard. I sometimes think China wouldn't be AS hard for me because I have a weird obsessive love of China, the Chinese people, the Chinese culture and the Chinese language. I have not yet developed the same love for the Philippines. But, that being said, I am learning to love it. Ben asked me the other day at lunch what I like about the Philippiness so far, and here is part of my list:

1. The beach

2. Movies are very cheap (Ben and I can go to a new movie in a nice theater for like $5 total)

3. I found this wheatgrass drink that is yummy (it's sweetened with honey). I can buy it anywhere and it makes me feel like I am being healthy! The picture is of my healthy Sunday morning breakfast: egg, rice (no comments about it being white, we usually have brown), mango and wheatgrass.

4. My team at work. I am pretty lucky to have these people to work with. They make my life easy. (2 of them are missing from this picture)

5. The chance to work at the Cebu Temple and just the fact that we have a Temple so close.

6. The simple faith and obedience of the members of the church here. The Stake President told us on Sunday that when President Monson was here in Cebu to dedicate the Temple, he reminded the saints to remember those Filipino soldiers who fought and died in WWII. When he mentioned this I thought, "hmm, that's a long time ago, I wonder why he talked about that". The Stake President proceeded to tell us that a member of the stake has now collected over 3000 names of deceased soldiers whose names can now be added to family search and whose Temple work can be done for them. 3000 names! Now that is taking the words of the prophet and running with it.

7. The Shangri La click here to see my whole album dedicated to this place. We work out there, we lay out there, we swim there, we eat there, it is just beautiful! This place keeps me sane.

8. Time to spend with Ben. Right now, we really only have each other. Most married people never have a chance like this and I am grateful.

There are more things I could add, but the point is that I am finding things I like about this experience. When we first got here, I thought I was going to hate it forever. I have never experienced culture shock, not when I lived in China teaching English, not when I served my mission, but I experienced it here and I am finally getting out of it and learning to love where I am.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A New Home

So, it's been 8 weeks that we have been here in Cebu and right about now we are starting to actually feel settled. I think the biggest contributor to that fact is that we have moved into our new apartment. We love being able to sleep, watch t.v., get online at home, skype with family and friends, not having to drive into the office to call people, etc etc etc. It has been great and we are really loving every minute of it. Having somewhere we feel comfortable really has made all the difference. The landlord is very responsive and has already fixed the A/C in the master bedroom and installed a new A/C in the living room. When there are "brownouts", the electricity goes out for an hour or two, the apartment complex has a generator and we get our power back on in just a few minutes. So great! We are having to get used to living in an apartment complex again, with the noises of neighbors close by, but we would take that vs. karaoke any day! Below are some pictures of the house, just so you have a reference for where and how we live. It's a little different than home.

This is our master bedroom at the beach house, the ONLY place we spent any time.

This is the living room/dining room of our new place. We JUST moved, it's messy! And look, we still have a GREAT view!

The new master bedroom. It's empty and quite big, but comfy.

Master Bathroom

The spare bedroom/computer room. Remember, we just moved, it's messy!

The kitchen (notice the number of cupboards...yikes)

A little friend in the kitchen. We get these guys all over the house, but I like them cause they eat bugs:). (I know, I need to clean out my sink)

The spare bathroom and yes, we did pick out the rubber ducky shower curtain:)

We are happy to be settling in and feeling at home. Maybe some of you can visit us soon!

Friday, October 1, 2010


As I mentioned in my last post, Ben's Lolo passed away on September 19th. We are lucky that we live here, close enough to be able to attend his funeral. We were able to represent Ben's dad and his family since they are so far away and unable to attend themselves. It was a great chance for me to meet Ben's cousins and aunts and uncles on both the Crisanto and the Bugar side. I was greeted with welcome arms by everyone and treated so well! I don't know if I ever believed I would really meet his Filipino family, never guessing we would be living in the Philippines, but here we are. We will definitely be visiting them again.

Laguna, the area of the Philippines where his family is from, is up in the Northern part of the Philippines. We flew into Manila on Wednesday morning and were greeted by his Uncle Max, who is Tatay's (dad's) oldest brother. Honestly, the similarities between the two of them was almost startling. He walks, talks, stands, acts just like Ben's dad. It was kind of comforting in a way, made us feel closer to home. Ben's other uncle, Carlo, also flew in just a few hours after us along with 4 of his 6 sons. We then drove the 3.5 hours to Laguna to meet the rest of the family. Ben's Lolo and Lola had 11 children and therefore there were a lot of people to meet. The time we were there was also the viewing at Max's house where people come and pay their respects in the days leading up to the funeral, therefore I met more people that I can even remember. Ben met siblings of his Lolo and his Lola. He met aunts, cousins, friends of the family, etc. It was crazy in a good way. I do have to say though, being there reminded me of my trips to China, driving through the countryside, looking at these homes and wondering "I wonder who lives there, what is their life like?". I never, in a million years, thought I would be part of a family that lived just like that, in a place just like that. What a strange, but amazing sensation. The world is a small place.

Laguna is beautiful. We went between the two towns of Pakil (sp?) where Max lives and the funeral "activities" were taking place and Pangil which is where Ben's mom's family lives. The towns are just a few minutes from each other via trike or jeepney so we got to spend plenty of time with both sides of the family. It is very beautiful there with rice fields, a lake, hills and mountains and just a lot of breezy, fresh air. It was a nice change from the city and truly reminded me a lot of parts of my mission. We spent time with the family, but also got to spend time just walking through the town, taking pictures of the landscape and just relaxing. We spent the nights at the home where Ben was actually born (forgot to take a picture of the room where his mom gave birth to him). They have a great room upstairs with air conditioning and I was so grateful for that. The toilet didn't have running water, so we would have to take a bucket and dump water into the toilet to "flush" it. That was fun:). There was also no hot water, so cold showers it was. The funny thing was, with all the sweating I did over those few days, a cold shower felt great. We did see a few critters inside and outside of the house, but for the most part is was very comfortable and we very much enjoyed our stay.

The funeral took place on Friday morning. It was an interesting experience for me since it was all in Tagalog. I have learned a few words here and there, but 2 hours of straining to hear a word here and there that I understood was difficult. Ben's dad actually "attended" the funeral and even shared a few words through skype. What a long way we have come to have someone in Oregon literally watch live a funeral going on in a small provincial town in the Philippines. I did find out that Ben's grandpa had been a huge part of the growth of the church in that area. The church building where the funeral took place was beautiful, up to date, air conditioned and proof of the strength of the church there. After the funeral we left the church and followed the hearse to the cemetary. The "best" part was that the hearse was blaring top 40 music as it drove up to the church. Filipinos like their loud music. Luckily, Ben's uncles were able to convince them that it wasn't really appropriate for the occasion and they turned it off for the walk to the cemetary. It was very hot and the cemetary is on the top of a huge hill, so by the time we got up to his "plot" I thought I was going to pass out. This poor little white girl is just not used to that. The best part was there were old women there (like in the 80's) practically running up the hill ahead of me. There are definitely perks to the hard lifestyle they live here, they are tough and in great shape! Ben was honored to be able to dedicate the grave, a service that both his dad and his brother Cowdery were able to witness via skype. He did a wonderful job. Part of what we know as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that because of our Savior we will each be resurrected and our spirits will be reunited with our bodies at the resurrection. Because of this, a special part of the funeral and burial process is the dedication of the grave. The purpose of this is to dedicate and consecrate the burial plot as the resting place for the body of the deceased and also to pray that the place may be hallowed and protected until the resurrection. Ben was nervous about this part because in the Philippines you don't necessarily "own" your burial plot, but in a lot of cases you "rent" it so he wasn't sure he really could ask that the place be hallowed and protected. But, when he said his prayer he included everything and afterwards he came over to me and said "He will be protected and his body will be fine". I could tell he felt very strongly when he said those words, that the place would be hollowed and protected that it really would be. If I could explain to you the state of the graves and the cemetary and how they were just not well take care of, stones and rocks overturned, grass growing over everything, people eating their lunch on top of peoples graves, etc I think it was a great comfort to everyone there to feel that comfort that came from his prayer.

On Saturday we left Laguna and drove into Manila. It was a beautiful mountain drive, but the road was way too twisty and turny for me. I am not one to get motion sickness, but I really was so close to being sick by the time we arrived. There was a lot of traffic in Manila and we didn't get to see a lot of the city. But our hotel was close to Manila Bay and most importantly we spent time at the Mall of Asia (haha). It is the BIGGEST mall ever. We even got a lost a couple of times. It was a fun night because we got Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Krispy Kreme and Red Mango and went to see an IMAX movie. We also thoroughly enjoyed the hot shower and flushing toilet in our hotel. We were happy to come home on Sunday but so glad for the experience we had in Laguna and looking forward to our next visit.

I posted all of my pictures on facebook, go check them out here. I really don't want to post more pictures, this post is already VERY long!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just an update

I realized I have only been blogging about once a week. While that is a huge improvement on how often I used to blog, when we are all the way across the world I am thinking once a week is not enough. I will try to do better.

I am trying to keep updated pictures posted to facebook. If you are not my friend, become my friend and you can check them out. It's just easier to post a bunch of pictures on their than on here.

So, what has been going on with us?

We have been doing a lot of apartment hunting. We have decided, after MUCH consideration, that we will be moving into the city. We currently live on Mactan island, which is where my work is, where the Shangri La is, and where the Knowltons are which makes it hard to leave. But, along with the great things on the island comes some not so great things that we won't be sad to leave:

1. There seem to be many more stray dogs running the streets on the island. Anyone who knows me, knows that these little guys break my heart.
2. The city does not allow trikes (pedicabs). These guys cause a lot of traffic and I am ready to be rid of them for a while.
3. KARAOKE right next door at all hours of the day and night
4. Nothing to do (other than the Shangri La). I guess I didn't realize Ben and I like to be out so much, but we drive into the city almost daily to go to the Temple, go to the malls, go to the movies, etc. There is none of that out here.
5. Pretty much no restaurants, I have eaten at McDonalds more than I ever cared to in my life because its the only American restaurant close.

We are excited to move into the city because:
1. We will be within a few minute drive of 3 shoppings malls, movies and the Temple
2. Less dogs, meaning less anxiety for me
3. air-conditioning in the church!
4. No trikes causing extra traffic
5. No karaoke!!!!!

We really are going to be so sad to leave our house and the view. The house we live in is nice, and big, and comfortable (minus the termites). But, the noise that comes along with living on the beach just does not work with our lifestyle. We did have Branigan, Julie and Beau come visit us on Sunday and having them there made our house feel homey! We need to have visitors more often. Plus, chit chatting with them took my mind off of the amazing amount of noise going on.

Branigan, Julie and Beau. This is the view off our back porch.

Looking at our house from the back

Sunday night we also received a call that Ben's Lolo (Grandpa) passed away. We have now lost 2 Grandparents in just 2 weeks and we are just so grateful for the knowledge that we will see them again. We were especially sad to hear about Lolo because we were planning to go up to Laguna (near Manila) to visit him in the next few weeks. Now, we are going in order to attend his funeral. We are sad to have missed seeing him, but so grateful that he was able to come and live with the U.S. Crisantos in Oregon for a few years. I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet and spend some time with this great man. He was truly the patriarch of his family, leading them by his faith and example. I am looking forward to attending his funeral and meeting my Crisanto cousins, aunts and uncles.

Christmas 2008 Crisanto kids with Grandpa (don't mind the quality of the picture. It was a picture taken of a photographer taking a picture)

That's what is going on with us over here in the Phils!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fun in the Philippines

I think once in a while I am going to make a post and show some of the really great things about living in the Philippines. Today, I am going to show you pictures of our "island hopping" adventure. Because the Philippines is made up of thousands of small islands, island hopping is pretty easy to do. We rented a boat for the day that would that took us to 3 of the smaller islands surrounding Cebu. Normally, you go to each island, spend time on the beach, swim, eat, etc. For our adventure, we took off late so by the time we got to the islands it was already low tide and we couldn't pull up to the beach. So, our day was without the beach portion, but we did everything else. We ate, listened to music, layed in the sun, snorkeled, swam and just had a good time. We went with the team that I manage, so it was great to get to know them better and just have fun together. So, fun in the Philippines activity #1 is Island Hopping.