** i apologize for the formatting – i type it out in word and then save it on a USB and then upload it to the computer. quite the process – but you gotta do what you gotta do…and therefore, i am in the process of learning what works/what doesn’t. gotta love transition! enjoy!
The time is…5:30am. Yes, I have been tossing and turning, awake since 4:30am, due to the fact that the ROOSTERS have been doing their little wake up calls – but NOT so little wake up calls. I have since found a pattern…one rooster goes, then the other one in the far off distance goes, and then the DOGS start barking! And then, of course, all of the jeepneys and cars start coming, and then with that, are the people that are talking and goin’ doing their thing. I guess it helps that I can’t really understand some of the people as they talk because they are speaking some Filipino dialect other than Tagalog (so, my mind does not even attempt to eavesdrop), but the point is…is that it is 5:30am, and I am so awake right now. Uh oh. The roosters have not stopped – and so, the pattern continues! Oy vey.
It is Sunday morning, and we arrived here Friday afternoon. Let me fill you in on everything since my departure from LAX on Wednesday afternoon at 1:40pm via Asiana Airlines.
Get on the plane at LAX and to my joy – there was no one assigned to the seat between me and the other girl to the left of that seat…which meant, MORE ROOM!! Woohoo! I was sooo happy, to the girl two seats away, I was like, woohoo! There’s no one that is assigned here! I’m so happy! The Korean girl next to me (we had a stopover in Seoul) was like, yeah, it seems like it. Then she put in her headphones. Haha, oh well, not much of a chatty cathy, but I was very excited about this extra space I had just acquired. After 12 hours on the plane, I think I slept for 10 of those hours, waking up only to eat. HAHA, pretty amazing – I think I was exhausted from all of the days prior, leading up to departure day. After that, we had a stopover in Seoul (we, being me and Sr. Bernadette – we met up at LAX at the gate!), got to watch the sunset from the airport, then boarded the plane for a 4 hour plane ride to Manila.
We got to Manila, and guess what…on the plane…no one next to me again! So wonderful! It was either Jesus or Mother Cabrini who decided to come on the ride with me, and definitely demand that space. Anyway, we got to Manila, and as we were walking, this man was holding up a sign saying, “Crystal Catalan.” I later learned this was my aunt’s friend who works at the airport with her and he put us in a special line to get through to immigration faster. Woohoo! He helped us get our luggage, I saw my aunt, we zipped through customs like you wouldn’t believe, and then my aunt took us to St. Pius Center where we spent the night…I slept for about 3 hours that night, after dealing with trying to get in touch with Victory Liner – the bus service that was going to take us to Baguio in the morning.
The problem was that, there was no message left at the front desk at the Center, and so we were like, uhhh we’re just gonna have to deal with this in the morning – but there was supposed to be a message saying that our reservations are all set for the bus. But you know what, it was late, and so we were like, let’s just deal with this later! So woke up around 5ish, dawdled, took a cold shower – prayed the whole time ALOUD, cause I was FREEZING, and then got to church at 7am at St. Maria Goretti Parish. Loved it! THEN! I had my first breakfast on my own…I had longanisa (sweet sausage), egg, and rice – my absolute favorite meal ever. I was still hungry (cause their portions are super small), I had to go back and get another longanisa and a hot dog. Super healthy. I know.
It was cool because Sr. Bernadette made it to mass, but I ate by myself and 10 other Filipinos enjoying their breakfast too. We got in touch with Victory Liner (woohoo!) and our reservations were indeed all set. Yes! I called my Aunt, who then called her driver and my uncle to pick us up and take us to Victory Liner – that way, we would not have to take a taxi. Then…we went to Jollibee, and I got to introduce this fabulous place to Sr. Bernadette! Yesss! I love the YUM burgers!
Then, we boarded the Victory Liner…and 6 hours later, with two RANDOM ewan mcgregor movies playing on the bus (The Island and I Love You, Philip Morris – yes, BOTH very awkward movies that I do NOT recommend), we made it to Baguio! And so I brought my two suitcases, my bag and my backpack…and here I was!
Our community is called Casa Cabrini – I was greeted by some of the young women that live here (college women) and they helped me with my baggage! By help, I mean, literally took the suitcases out of my hand, and placed them in my room – as heavy as they were, up the stairs and everything! So hospitable! Meanwhile, I was on the phone with Sr. R and chatting it up with Sr. T. We had dinner together, and then we had prayer. In a sense, I feel like I am back in Maher or Missions B, in a residence hall. Not that I’m an RA at all, but it brought me back to those two faith-filled community years at USD, except this time, every night we have our “prayer night,” instead of our weekly RLC. I live with Sr. Bernadette and 5 other young women – the commitment in living here, is that there is prayer at night, and of course dinner, but due to our schedules, we understand that that may not be every night.
So yes, exactly – this is like living in community at Columbus in NY, but instead of being with 4 or 5 sisters at prayer, there’s Sr. Bernadette, and the rest, 20-something year old women. It’s pretty awesome – they want to learn more English, so they try to speak English as much as possible, and well me, I want to learn more Tagalog, so I try to bust it out whenever I can!
My bed is comfy, I finally moved everything in, and in its place – I have so much empty space in my closets, it’s crazy! I look outside, and I can see the ROOSTER in clear view (the one that wakes me up at 4:30 every morning – well, it’s only been like 2 nights, so I’ll try not to be so dramatic), and then there’s apartments…and they’re already blasting music.
The home has enough rooms for everyone that lives here, and it’s very home-y. there are also at least two glass sailboats in the community – I like them because they definitely serve as a constant reminder of Mother Cabrini’s dedication and faithful commitment to mission.
MY FIRST FULL DAY
Woke up, walked around the barangay (neighborhood) with one of the girls here…learned that strawberries are ALL around (though they’re super tiny), and there are definitely trees and plants everywhere! Never thought I would live in such a tropical place, but boom, here we go! Oh, ew, just saw a man peeing outside. Yeah, that happens a lot too.
Anyway, we walked around, and then had breakfast – I made a hotdog sandwich. Cheese, cut up hotdog and bread. HAHA…helped her think of some icebreaker games for her mathematics club meeting she had later that afternoon, unpacked my room, went on a walk with Sr. Bernadette, and then made my first meal….fried rice and egg. HAHA…I think I was really craving garlic or something, cause I was busting out the garlic in the pan with the rice, like no other and accidentally put too much soy sauce. Oops. The egg was pretty unfortunate too, but I think I’ll get better. THEN…I took a 3 hour nap. That was NOT supposed to happen. Saw that all the girls were home, ate dinner, and then Sr. Bernadette surprised the girls with gifts that she brought back with her! It was so cute to see how excited they got! There is definitely a difference with 20-something year olds in the PI vs. in the States. They made a huge game over here about how to decide who gets what gift, and then when they got their gifts, they kept jumping up and down. It was so exciting to watch! I wish I had it on film…maybe next time!
Then, Sr. Bernadette’s house gift was SKIP-BO – the card game. We ended up playing two rounds as a community, and then we called it a night at like 9:45pm. Well, one of the girls really wanted to win, and well, I did too, and so we played just both of us together, and sure enough, she won. I was ok with that. haha!
And now…it is a new day. Welcome…to my life, for now – until I begin my site placement! Exciting!
I still can’t believe I live in the Philippines now – it still doesn’t seem real. Except when I was taking a shower with a bucket, and I was like, soooo I live in the Philippines. There are definitely not as many bugs as there are in Manila, so I am very thankful for that – though I have like 3 bites, that’s not bad. Before my computer was working, I had to be creative and so I was listening to my ipod and put it on shuffle cause I was hurtin’ to hear some music – and what song, out of my 2800 songs came on? Listen To Your Heart…YUP. That’s the song that pretty much helped ignite this whole missionary situation in my life, and so, what a great reminder!
I am really trying out this whole “just be” thing – even moreso, now that I am in a culture/country that exercises this DAILY. I thought I got pretty good at that last year, at times, but now, I have no choice. And so, I must be…when I close my eyes and just listen, I think of the “theater of the oppressed” exercises we did at MISO training – one, that specifically was based on hearing and listening, alone. There are SO many noises here, wow. All a part of my experience – there’s a lot going on, even at 6 in the morning. And of course, I am wide awake.
One of the funniest thing that happened yesterday is…Sr. Bernadette’s favorite food is ice cream. ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. Absolute favorite.
Anyway, I come downstairs, and she’s like, Crystal, so I wanted to get some ice cream, and well, open the freezer, and take out the case. So I was holding the ice cream container, and she’s like, well, put it down first. So I did, and I opened it, expecting, obviously to find ice cream, and what was in it? Frozen dead fish! I screamed so loud, and granted, it was one of those things where you had to be there – but when you are ANTICIPATING, EXPECTING to find ice cream, and instead you get greeted with like 10 sets of dead fish eyes staring at you, tail and all, it was quite the shock! Hilarious.
The girls left this as part of the “Welcome Note” on my table in my room – along with a leaf (symbolizing my growth here in Baguio) and a candle (so that I can be a light to everyone here!) – how great that we sang, “This Little Light of Mine” at my goodbye party/celebration on Sunday!
If missions languish, it is because the whole life of godliness is feeble. The command to go everywhere and preach to everybody is not obeyed until the will is lost by self-surrender on the will of God. Living, praying, giving and going will always be found together. ~ Arthur T. Pierson