December 31, 2012

2012: Year in Review

Lady Hiva and I sat down to review our goals from 2012 and to set some more goals for 2013. There are some big goals that we accomplished and some that…well they need to be on next year’s list too. We always have goals for each of us personally and some goals for us as a family.

Fulfilling our goals led us on some amazing experiences. We made it to the ancient ruins of Siem Riep, Cambodia, ate Pho and explored the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, met family at beaches in Hawaii and Florida, took cooking lessons, rode elephants, and pet tigers in Thailand,  was impressed with the cleanliness and order of Japan, Trick-or-Treated with Lady’s family in Utah and had Thanksgiving with mine, and walked through thousands years of history in Beijing.

We participated in several service projects, made new friends, and loved the life around us. Dustin’s book was published, we were added to the Adoptions list again with LDS Adoptions, and read thousands and of pages of delicious books! There were moments when we were full of laughter, times when we were hugging family, full of tears, and we made memories all along the journey.

We realize that we have been completely blessed and have so much to be thankful for.

 We experienced our first New Years Eve in Manila. It sounded like a ward going on outside. Dustin worked with several colleagues to do a magazine drive for a local sustainable living group that helps women provide for their families. We were also able to attend the Sealings of several families for all Eternity in the Manila Philippines Temple.

 Our trip to Thailand! The first trip we have taken out of the Philippines since arriving. It was so great to taste the delicious food and see all of the beautiful colors that overwhelm your senses. We were able to take a cooking class from a world class teacher. Bangkok was a city of wonder. We loved the food, the culture and completely enjoyed bathing with the elephants, petting tigers and feeding wild monkeys.

We were able to get to know our Embassy Family better by competing in the Mission Games! And we celebrated Lady Hiva’s birthday on the much celebrated beaches of Boracay.

Dustin does his first Tagalog video speaking Tagalog and it was posted to Youtube. We went with several friends from the Embassy to tour Cambodia and Vietnam. It was so much fun touring ancient ruins in the day and walking the night markets and to haggle for gifts the rest of the day.  Once again, we loved the food and the sites—both historical and new.

After months of planning, we took a HUGE group of youth to Youth Camp and were so impressed with their courage and energy. They always want to do the right thing.
We took a group of volunteers out to Smokey Mountain to give the children pedicures and clean up their baseball field. The long awaited trip for R&R back to the States. We spent a week in Hawaii with Lady Hiva’s family and then another week with Dust’s family in Florida. Both places we left not quite ready, but memories were forged that will remain with us forever.

July, by far, was the hardest of the year. On our way home from Florida we found out that Lady’s brother, Moana, had committed suicide. He was close to both of us and we turned around and went back to Hawaii to be with the family. It was a sad time.

The year did not disappoint us with a BIG storm. Last year the storm had come in September, this year it was August. We spent a good two weeks under water. Crazy times. Dustin’s book came out on e-book versions.

WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN was officially released September 1. Several people had pre-ordered it and read it already. It was fun to hear what others thought about the book. We went on a trip to Beijing and Shanghai China! It was simply amazing! The history in the country is awe-inspiring. We walked the great wall and lingered in the corridors of the Forbidden City.

 Dustin does several more radio and television interviews in Tagalog. People now will recognize him wherever we go…that is an interesting experience. Lady Hiva wanted to have a Halloween with her family in Utah, so we went. It was fun to make cookies, play games and Trick-or-Treat with the family. We then spent a few days with Dustin’s family including Thanksgiving dinner. We left so grateful for our families.

Dustin spoke as a Hometown Diplomat in several schools in Utah. He also did a book signing. We went on a long horse ride with Beau-D and Madre. That was an experience of a life time—bruises and torn clothes included.

We found out that we were put back up on the Adoptions list at LDS adoptions. This time we are listed as a Hawaii family! We attended party after party after party…just as the Philippines does every year. We gave Toys-for-Tots away with the Marines, Sewing Machines away to a group of women, and had a party with girls from a rescue home.
As you can see, it was a VERY busy year. Plenty of adventures. And 2013 is shaping up to be really promising too!

December 29, 2012

Christmas Day, YAY!!

The last few months we have been busy with preparations for CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS! There were plenty of parties and plenty of fun.

Lady Hiva and I had a few more parties to attend as the final days counted down to the big DAY. One of them was to spend time with the Youth at Church. It was great to have some time enjoying their energy and excitement about life. We also went to a party with some of the Stake Leaders and their spouses. These are the times that we remember we celebrate this time of year because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve day—thanks to my boss President Obama—we had the day off! Lady Hiva and I went to Greenhills (which was surprisingly quiet for the day before Christmas) to buy a Nativity set for us and Heather that was made in the Philippines so we have it when we leave. Then that evening we went with some work friends to eat Christmas Eve dinner and then to Mass with them. It was fun to be around children again and feel their joy in the Season. It was funny to see that same joy led most of the parents and their younger children out into courtyard at some point during the Service. (I have to admit the beautiful glass windows showed the fountain, the sun and the fun the kids were having…I may have joined them if I did not think it would be rude to leave in the middle of the sermon)

Christmas Day was finally here! Lady Hiva and I watched a few videos about Christ on before we opened the gifts we purchased for each other. We have so much to be thankful for this year. We truly have been blessed. To keep ourselves within a budget…not spending a whole bunch just because we can…we decided to set our limit for $100USD each. It was fun to see what we could buy within that limit. I was excited to see what Lady Hiva thought about the gifts I purchased for her. I had a “Date Night” Christmas theme for the gifts…each gift was an idea of something that we could do on a date together.

I was also excited to open my gifts. During the Holidays we have a couple rules for each other: 1- Dust cannot shake, hold, or touch gifts. This is due to my ability to guess what is in the box (a hereditary skill from Normy) and as a result “ruin Christmas” 2- Lady Hiva is NOT allowed to purchase things for herself during the Holiday Season. Every year she thinks she needs something and buys it and it turns out that I too have noticed she needed it and already have it wrapped under the tree 3- We each choose a credit card to use and an Amazon account to use and we cannot check each other’s until after Christmas.

I was SO good this year. I did not touch the boxes, even when I vacuumed. I also did not check the credit card that Lady was purchasing things on (which is a miracle itself because I am usually obsessed with paying off things and constantly doing numbers in my head—Lady says I need help! HAHA) HOWEVER, despite me being good I still found out about a gift by accident. Lady and Madre and Kell had worked together to get me an Ipad to surprise me. Really cool…I know. But a few days after Thanksgiving I was on the phone with Best Buy trying to get a receipt for another computer we had purchased earlier in the year and the girl, who was trying to be really helpful, however she said, “The only thing I see this year is an Ipad that you purchased 23 NOV…” What? “I only see your Ipad” Oh, ok…. LADY HIVA is going to kill me! LOL ! I finally told her about it a few weeks later,  just so we have no secrets…It was fun to open it and we were able to watch Heather's family and Leni's family open their gifts via Facetime! Technology is amazing!

We helped cook some food to feed the Marines dinner and then we went to have a get together at the neighbor’s home with several friends. It was so much fun to be together not at work or planning something else—we were just enjoying each other.

It was a wonderful season. Again, Lady Hiva and I have so much to be thankful for…