January 24, 2013

Wait, There Is Still WINTER!?!

It has been continually cold the last few days here in Washington, DC. But I guess that does not take much to be cold after being in 95 degree, 90% humidity weather in Manila. The other day at church I was teaching Sunday School for the 14 and 15 year olds and there were several of them that said they wanted it to snow. I am not sure I agreed with that, I kind of like the non-snowy weather.  

Well, today it was snowing when we woke up! COLD!! It is still WINTER. I have forgotten there was even winter in places. We have not been in snow for almost 3 years when we were in Washington, DC so it was fun to have some snow again.

It was a light powder snow, much like the snows of Utah. After I shoveled the walks, I decided to go running. Running when it is fresh snow brings a different perspective. I run the same route everyday and today I noticed things that I had not noticed before. There was also a “hush” in the forest. I was tempted a few time to just stop and walk instead of running (ok, maybe that is because I was winded, but who knows, right? LOL) 

This snow was my type of snow, it is now evening and the majority of it is melted already! It was pretty in the morning and now it is gone! YAY! The best of both worlds.

January 22, 2013

Our Boss’s Welcome Party-Take 2~!

President Obama was re-elected for a second term, as we all know. That means we know who will be our boss for the next four years. So the changes may not be as dramatic. Although we will have some change with our proposed direct boss changing with the resigning of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Lady Hiva and I went down to the National Mall to see the festivity preparations. It is an exciting time to be here for the Inauguration. In Manila one of my Filipino friends have asked if I would go back for the event and at the tiem we had not planned on being here, so I said “No” lo and behold, here we are! It was the day before the Inauguration and there was a flurry of people getting port-a-potties installed, camera crews together, banners and flags hanging up, and plenty of volunteers ready.

AND it was COLD! After being in Manila’s hot balmy weather of the last two years, it is a shock to the system to be here in the cold weather. It was fun to see all of the preparations. There is a sense of pride in the Country to think this is a witness of the success of our political process and the turnover of power to our elected leader.

HOWEVER, as exciting as it was to see the flags flying and the camera booths ready, it was too cold for us want to be there with the crowds the next day. We watched our President taking the Oath of Office from the warmth of our couch. But it was still fun to see. Lady Hiva’s favorite part was Beyonce’s National Anthem.

January 11, 2013

“Welcome to the United States of America…”

“Welcome to the United States of America…” I was surprised how happy I was to hear those words. For more than one reason. First, it meant we were home. (well, not Hawaii, but at least closer) No matter how much we loved the Philippines and we are SO going to miss all the people there, this is still home. And second, Lady Hiva was able to make it without a problem. YAY! Our only problem was when we were sent to "Secondary Screening" at the Port of Entry--LOL! Thankfully, the guy at Secondary did not seem to have a problem with the fact that we live in the Philippines like his buddy we talked to first did. Can you imagine being deported from your own country! HAHAHA!

Gramy and Grandpa picked us—and ALL our luggage—up in DC and became our permanent chauffeur’s for the next few days. They are such great sports, especially when both of them were not feeling well earlier in the week.

Settling in has been an adventure. DC is a city both Lady and I love. We are staying in an area that is really familiar to us. But it is still different to be here after living in a foreign country for an extended period. Little things that we may have taken for granted before are noticed and appreciated. For example, beautiful flower and shrub gardens—even in the winter they are well kept and devoid of trash. Or Clean air. It is amazing to go running in the morning and not feel suffocated.

Speaking of running, that is quite a change from Manila. IT IS SO COLD HERE! We had to go to Marshall’s our first day here so I could buy me some running pants. Hawaii and Manila don NOT require running pants. To be out running when I can see my breath and wearing a stocking cap and gloves brings back memories of my mission. (Although, thankfully DC does not get near as cold as the -20f winters of New England). I have enjoyed watching the sunrise over the Reflecting pond between the monuments. Such a peaceful time to be out. In fact, it is so peaceful that every morning it is just me a few other runners and a whole bunch of geese crazy enough to enjoy it!

See...just me, the sunrise and the geese...

Lady has been doing well. THANK YOU ALL FOR ALL THE PRAYERS! It has made a HUGE difference. We had to laugh that it is weird it is going so well. Lady commented that she hopes they do an ultrasound soon (other pregnancies we had them once a week) just so we know everything is ok. But at the end of the day we are both just happy that she is feeling ok and the doctors say the baby is healthy too.

We had made a list for ourselves and each day we try to accomplish something on that list. The first was to get cell phones. It is amazing to once again be able to just CALL family and not have to calculate time difference first or see if we have enough internet connection to have a clear call. Haha. Next, we need a car.

Boeing is being sold. Sad, we know. He has been a faithful car for us. I listed him for sale when we left. I will not need him when I go back and there is not use having him just sit in the garage for months. Luckily, several people were willing to give us an offer so we hope he is with a new family in the next few days. We spent several days on the internet scouring deals and looking at cars. Then on Wednesday, Grandpa Harrison again offered to be our chauffeur while we test drove cars. Beginning the day our plan was just to LOOK and see what our options are…not to buy yet. Well after driving several used vehicles we found a KIA Sportage that is brand new for a little bit more and great warrantee. We debated over a Denny’s lunch (we forgot how much you can get for a small amount of money) and decided to go back and get the vehicle. The first car that either Lady or I have purchased brand new; we drove it off the lot with 3 miles on it!

SO meet the newest member of our family—after much discussion Lady named her Mongoose. She said the front headlights and the sloping body makes it look like a Mongoose head. I was favoring Nika or Slate or Stormy , but I was told those names are unoriginal and cliché! LOL so Mongoose it is! (Kind of funny actually when it comes to naming kids it is the opposite, Lady is the one that likes the plane jane names that EVERYONE has and I am the one that likes to have a name that is the baby’s own name, not shared with someone else)
Meet Mongoose...

As you can see things have been going well. We are still up at 0300H everyday and SO tired by 2000H, but it is great to be here and know that Lady is getting the help that she needs.

January 06, 2013

If You We're Still Here, This Is What I Would Say

Dear Trevor  and Moana,

There are moments when I miss you both so much. This is one of those moments. I am sitting in the dark on a plane with tears that don't seem to have an end. 

I am thankful for the Gospel and the knowledge that one day I will have a chance to give each of you a hug and be able to tell you you all the things that I wish I would have told you when you were here. 

Moana, I am so glad that last thing I said to you was that I love you and that I cannot wait to see you again. And I truly do. I wish I would have said it more often. Trevor, I remember talking with you in the phone after Vaitafe died but I as hard as I try, I cannot remember what we talked about. I wish you could call me again. I still have your number in my cell phone. I used to call sometimes just to hear your voice with the false hope that one day you would actually answer again and I could tell you how much you mean to me. 

For some reason, human weakness I guess, we are never able to see our Divine Potential. We don't understand how talented or beautiful we are. None of us are perfect, we are full of flaws to tackle. My flaws are different then your flaws; my struggles are not the same as yours either.  We may not be perfect but neither are we worthless. We focus so much on our imperfections we gain a myopic and distorted view of our self worth and we cannot see our talents or value  any more.

Sadly, both of you struggled with your demons and thought you were alone. There is nothing  farther than the truth. The greatest beauty of life and having unique challenges is that we get the opportunity to remind each other, in those dark hours, that we are special. My heart breaks to think of the pain both of you must have been carrying with you everyday that lead you to make the choice you did. 

I wish I would have been more sensitive and reached out. I wish you would have asked for help. I know you had forgotten all the good about yourself and started to believe we would be better off without you. Your decision was wrong. We are all here. We would have all helped. 

I know I cannot tell you this until I see you again in Heaven, but these are some  of the thoughts I would have shared with you if we did have the chance to talk. My hope is that someone else may need to hear these words. 

First, and most important is that I LOVE YOU! It is something I am never afraid to say to anyone. No matter how "un macho" it seems. If you cannot see your own Divine Worth, then I will share what I see in you until you can see it yourself.

Look around you, none of us is perfect. We all need someone to hold our hands and strengthen our feeble knees at one time or another. I am so blessed to have people who have done that for me, you two included, in the moments when I needed it. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are a CHILD OF GOD. There is help, sometimes you need to ask. You hide it so well we don't see your hidden sorrows and open wounds, so letting us in helps.

It is ok to cry. Haha, I cry all the time. Like right now, the guy next to me must be wondering what is wrong with me. Sadness and anger are all part of the growing and healing process. Let it out. Then move on. Let us be the shoulder to cry on and help you along the way. 

Forgive yourself. Stop dwelling the past. If the past is dark, do what you need to do to correct it, then learn from it and move forward. It won't happen over night so don't get down on yourself if you relapse. Pick yourself up, and take the next step. 

As I said before, my struggles and demons are different from the ones you had. Yet they are just as real. One thing that always helps me is the faith that there is an end. No trial lasts forever. Just like the rising sun, the light always chases away the darkness (corny metaphor I know, but it is true)

Lastly, and most of all...remember that you mean something to all of us. We love you. We love the memories we have of you. You always have and always will be someone special in our lives. 

So, I am missing you. And I just wanted you to know that I love you.


January 05, 2013


For all those who do not know, Lady Hiva and I are once again embracing the rollercoaster of pregnancy! Ironically, we found out that Lady Hiva was pregnant the exact same day we received the news that the adoption agency placed us on the list.

This is the sixth pregnancy for Lady, she does not handle pregnancy well and she is declared High Risk. (If you want more details on past pregnancies you can read the book: WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN) Because of her High Risk status and us being in a developing country, work is sending her back to the States. It was touch and go there for a few weeks while we worked through the bureaucracy and paperwork; Which was even more complicated because of time changes and two big holidays! But we were able to work it out.

Both Lady and I are so thankful for all of our colleagues and management that are supportive and doing everything they can to help us in the hopes of  a positive outcome! We too hope that it will work out. But we also have the reality check that the last 5 babies have not made it, so we keep our prayers close to the heart.

Lady Hiva is doing all she can, along with great medical staff, to help this along. She quit her job a few weeks ago and has been home on semi-bed rest the past week. We ended up telling people about Lady being pregnant well before you traditionally do because we had to get the process started to go back to the States and it would have been awkward if we just up and left!

So we are off to Washington DC. Lady Hiva is 10 weeks today. We  will keep everyone updated as we go, but right now, so far so good thanks to all the prayers from friends and family of ALL faiths. Once again we start a journey and we are reminded how blessed we are and how many people are standing at our back with support.

January 04, 2013

FINALLY, My Hard Work Paid Off: I Naturalized !

Yes, you heard me right, I am now a naturalized Pinoy! HAHAHA. Recto Street Naturalized anyway! It was my last day in the Fraud Unit. I have had the opportunity to work with ALL four of the units in the Consular Section during my time in Manila and I find myself not wanting to leave each of them when the time comes. Today was no different. I have made some really GREAT friends along the way.

Today WAS different because not only was I given a surprise goodbye party last week, but I was given two more today! (NIV had a surprise party for me too, but they had it on a day that I was out doing an investigation in the Province so I was not even there! HAHA).  Last week was Pizza with the staff when I thought we were leaving on 2 JAN.
 But I was able to work throughout this week so we had another party in the morning. SUGAR RUSH PARTY to the MAX! Plenty of laughs to go around. 
Us doing the "Ric J"! We have to tease one of the guys on the team because whenever we take a photo we are all paying attention but him.
Then when 4pm rolled around and we were all getting ready to leave they again gathered around my desk and I was given my Naturalization party. Complete with one of the Local Staff swearing me in as a joke using the exact words that I use at the window with applicants  “Did you read this? Is it true? Do you have questions?” He even used the Tagalog grammar I use (which may or may not be correct but they are too nice to correct me and the applicant is too nervous to care) We all had a great time with that.

Then they presented me with a Naturalization certificate and a flag (that was taped to a chopstick!) Just a background, one of the things we see in Manila often are fake documents and they usually come from and infamous street called Recto where you can purchase ANY kind of fake document (kind of scary I know) So them giving me a fake Naturalization certificate was hilarious. They even gave me full head of dark brown Filipino hair!

I was excited because not only did it have a memory attached, but it showed that they really thought I was part of their group. And it is a group I am proud to be part of. All the local staff here in Manila have been so kind and loving to Lady Hiva and I. It will be hard for us to leave.

They also gave me personalized notes from all of them which Lady Hiva and I read together when we got back. These fellow co-workers are true friends. We got a kick out of some of them…one of them said, “Dust, I learned a lot from you, I did get scared when you were angry, but I learned a lot!” Oh, boy. My poor staff. Lady promptly said, “SEE! I told you that you scare people!” Oops. That is not what I intend to do.

So many memories over the past few years here in Manila. As I said before we have made some GREAT friends. I am proud to say that I worked alongside all of them day by day. Thank goodness for Facebook and other technological advances so we can still stay in touch after we all depart our separate ways!