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!


  1. What an eventful 2012! :) A blessed 2013 to you, Dustin and Hiva!

    Dust, I literally just finished White Lilies in Autumn and thought it's a wonderful way to ring in the new year. Anyway, kitakits sa office in 2013!

  2. What an adventurous year you've had wow!