January 04, 2012

Looking Back at 2011

2011 was a wonderful year, a year of memories and changes; some changes we planned for, other changes we didn’t. We left Washington D.C. and the United States all together to embark on a new journey. Over the course of the year, we drove thousands and thousands of miles and flew even more than that visiting family and exploring new places in 13 states, 3 countries countless cities.
We have walked the clean architecturally surrounded streets of New York, Hong Kong and San Francisco, seen ancient walled cities from thousands of years ago, we have wandered the narrow back alleys of the inner city, and roamed through poor villages in the country. We have made new friends and were blessed to spend time with old friends. We visited friends in their homes. Some homes with sleek glass walls, high ceilings, and magazine worthy swimming pools; others are more humble dwellings built of scrap materials and crammed in between several other similar homes beside muddy streams; or the tarp homes on the street and on the old trash pile; or small bamboo huts out in the rice fields. We have truly witnessed what the phrases “to be poor” or “have a hard life” mean. But we have also seen the happiness that comes from simple aspects of life—being with family, having a healthy body, dancing to music, and worshiping our Heavenly Father.
We have prayed nightly in gratitude for all of our blessings we receive daily and asked for special heavenly care for family members and friends as they have faced challenges throughout the year.
We have laughed. We have cried. We accomplished some of our goals and others… well, they will be on next year’s list too. We uplifted while giving service, and were humbled to receive acts of service as well.
We end this adventurous year with thankful hearts for all that we have and look forward to what 2012 brings.

Here is a break down by month:

We celebrated the New Year Eve 2011 with our friends Chris and Jenn in New York City’s Time Square along with hundreds of thousands of other people. It was fun to say that we did it. From now on it will be a talking point as we watch the Ball drop year after year. Then a short weekend trip to the Harry Potter Theme Park in Orlando. Recognized the 2 year anniversary of Alli’s passing.

Valentines party with neighbors Kristen and Chad and friends. Harry Potter party—complete with wands and a Goblet of Fire challenge—with our 10 year old primary class.

Visit from Sam and Brooke, friends from Hawaii. A trip to Utah to visit Hiva’s siblings and go to the temple for Dustin’s brother Trevor. Dustin passes his Tagalog test after 5 months of study. Another visit from friends from Hawaii, Camp and Hailey and their son, Reid. Another trip to New York City.

A trip to Hawaii to visit Lady Hiva’s parents and siblings. Lady Hiva graduated from BYU-HAWAII completing one of her life’s goals. Hawaiian Luau party for our primary class. Adoption papers are finalized and approved with LDS adoptions, now we just wait until a birth mother chooses us to be the parents of her baby.

Lady Hiva went back to Hawaii for her brother Paula’s wedding. Kade and Val come visit for a week. Sold our car, Ojisan, and leave Washington, D.C. Stop in San Francisco for a weekend with Dustin’s parents. A week in Hong Kong touring our first city in Asia and finally arriving in Manila, our new home.

Explore Manila and a trip to remote island resort in Palawan Philippines.

More exploring of Manila and surrounding area, including a visit to Batangas snorkeling and enjoying the beauty of nature.

A visit to Hidden Valley Springs, Corregidor island and still learning about the Philippines. Hiva starts working. Celebrated our 3 year anniversary.

Survived the typhoon and flood that threatened Manila. Finally found a beautiful, white sand beach with crystal blue water and no trash in Zambales. Give away shoes to children that live at Tondo.

Halloween in a haunted house in Baguio city. Visit to Sagada mummy caves and hanging coffins. A visit to Villa Escudero. 

A visit from Secretary Hillary Clinton, Dustin is able to go to Malacanan Palace and see her meet with President Aquino. Veteran’s Day celebration at American Cemetery in Manila. Thanksgiving at home, traditional style. 2 year anniversary of Vaitafe joining our family, also the 2 year anniversary of Vaitafe’s and Trevor’s passing.

Christmas in a whirlwind. Several Christmas parties and plenty of fun visiting with friends. Experiencing all the hype that the Christmas season brings to the Philippines. Give away shoes to underprivileged children on Christmas Eve. Christmas dinner with friends then another dinner with the missionaries.  


  1. I had no idea you were waiting for a baby to adopt! Hiva never mentioned adoption back when she still hung out with me. Good luck! I have friends in DC just now going through the process (they're still in the paperwork phase) and it's an exciting journey! Hope 2012 is the year that comes through for you two!

  2. I am excited for you guys, I hope everything works out with the adoption. 2012 will bring good things, I can feel it. Don't you love the Philippines? What a crazy, but awesome place. We send our love and hope you had a wonderful holiday.

  3. Love Love Love your Blog! You're pictures are so beautiful! Chad spent some time checking out your Blog yesterday and as he showed me a few pictures I had to check it out today. We decided after viewing your beautiful pictures from the Philippines we just might have to put that on our high bid list the next time it comes around. You either have an amazing camera or amazing photography skills? Or is it both?

  4. Love you guys! Miss u both!


  5. what a wonderful adventure you have lived. I love your blog. I love you both so very much. how i wish i had a money tree so I could come see you and share your experiences. i love hiva's picture in blue around her, looks like a magazine picture.

  6. Dustin, I came across your blog researching FSO careers. I would very much appreciate getting in touch with you to learn which career path you chose (management, political, etc) and hearing your pros/cons. johnpulsipher at gmail dot com