April Stuff

19 Apr

April kind of got away from me! Between teaching, painting my bathroom, training for the marathon relay, dentist/doctor appointments, mom stuff, and well, candy crush, the minutes in the day fill up quickly!

First things first, Caleb got glasses!

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Along the same lines, Bella and Mackenzie are both hopping on the braces train! Pictures will be sure to follow!

This is Deacon on his way to church….or a magazine cover.

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Mackenzie’s track season just got over. Since we don’t actually have a track at Faith, it’s a little more casual than the other sports. She only practiced once a week or so, so she didn’t see much improvement from last year. But she did tie the middle school record for high jump!

 

These two love going to the salon. Shampoo, cut, style – p250 ($5)!

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Caleb’s class led chapel last week! They were so cute. Oops, Caleb forgot to wear his chapel shirt! It turned out OK because he was Pharoah, and it seems like Pharoah wouldn’t have worn a “In Christ, we do hard things” shirt, right?

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The big highlight of the month was a girls night to The Lion King! For our Christmas presents, we all asked for tickets to the musical and we finally got to go a couple of nights ago!

It was down at the super fancy part of Manila. Honestly, if someone flew in, went straight to the hotel, and only hung out in this area, they would totally miss the spirit of Manila- both good and bad! We get plenty of it, so we were more than excited to get dolled up for a fancy evening!

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We shared the pre-show specialty at the hotel cafe. It was a few trays full of dainty, two-bite sandwiches etc, scones,  and desserts.

 

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The show was incredible! There was so much talent, from the cast, to the orchestra, to the costume designers, to the choreography, to the percussion guys. Rafiki was especially talented. Every note out of her mouth was perfect! Zazu might have been my favorite.

I had a great time with my girls!

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Boracay Stuff

30 Mar

We just returned from our happy place! We spent 5 days on the island of Boracay, enjoying perfect weather, delicious food, and the best part is that we were with friends! Our friends own a residence down there and they invited us to join them for the week. Needless to say, we were all giddy on the flight!

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On a unique sidenote, one of our friends was flying the plane! Not only did he deliver us to the island with a great flight, he had the flight attendants hook us up with free food and presents for the kids! I, of course, chose Korean noodles and Coke Light.

After a 45 min flight, we took a van to the jetty port for a 15 min boat ride to Boracay.

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Probably the most unique and fun part of the vacation was that my friend is good friends with the manager of the 5-stariest resort on the island, and he let us go hang out there everyday! It was so much fun. They are all about the little things that make your day. Whilst sunbathing, a man will come by with an Evian spray bottle and mist our face while his buddy hands you cucumbers for your eyes and orange slices for your cheeks! On top of that, they are constantly handing us free food!

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Meanwhile, the kids are in the hot tub with their own snacks and lemonade!

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Eating with my toes in the sand….it’s been a favorite since my childhood!

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The first morning, after the Jayhawk win, we headed down the island for my favorite breakfast, The Sunny-Side Cafe. Why they haven’t started a branch in Manila, I’ll never know. This is brioche french toast with mango and chantilly cream with a flat white.

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We had two other family friends staying on the island as well, so we all went in on a boat together and sailed to a nearby island for some cliff-jumping!

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All of us except Sim and Josh jumped from the various heights ranging from 3M to 10M

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This is me going off the 10m highdive.  I screamed the whole way down! The next day, my neck and jaw muscles were sore, so I’m guessing I clenched my jaw pretty hard too!

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I only went twice, but the kids just kept jumping and jumping and jumping! They were so tired that night!

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Even Caleb was good for a 3 M jump!

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Thankfully, we ate at a favorite Indian restaurant where you sit on pillows on the floor, so Sim slept right through dinner!

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The highlight of the next day was the authentic Italian restaurant found way off the beach on some back roads. It’s run by this nice Italian man who makes his own ravioli, all from Italian supplies. It really was fantastic!

 

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What is quickly becoming an amazing tradition is the sunset paraw ride!

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After that last gorgeous sunset, I realized that we hadn’t taken any family photos yet! So the next day, while we waited for our Jonah’s shakes, we snapped a quick photo. We don’t match, we’re squinting and flashing gang signs (Sim), but it’s a great background, no?

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Then it was time for the boat ride back!  Don’t let the smiles fool you, we were not into leaving!

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….especially Sim.

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After the boat ride, the van ride, the plane ride, and the car ride, he burst into tears when he saw our condo. He wanted to stay at the beach!

…and I don’t blame him!

End of the Quarter Stuff

24 Mar

I just realized that I took mostly videos of any exciting events from school and I uploaded them prior to pulling stills of the videos, so…..a photo is worth a thousand words, so get comfy as I proceed to type out 16,000 words.

Or not.

The highlight of the last week of school was the elementary track and field day. All of the kids do all of the events, so I followed them around while they jumped, ran, and threw. The elementary was divided into three groups and guess what? I had one child in each stage, so I was there all day! At the same time, Mackenzie was in the speech tournament for middle school, so I ducked out to catch her performance. All of these steps and it killed me that my Fitbit died!

All of the kids did great in their different events! Deacon and Bella were among the fastest in the sprinting events, even winning some, Caleb rocked the hurdles and throwing events, and Mackenzie made the finals of her speech tournament!

The worst part of the week was that as a high school teacher, I had to teach a couple extra days while the kids were already on break! That was a new and not-at-all-exciting experience for me! Josh made it all better though, by taking me out for a super date night. I’ve been wanting to go to Sip & Gogh for years, but never had any takers.

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So focused!

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Here we are with our finished products! It was so fun. I’d go back every week if I could! Josh, not so much. In fact, he ducked out to get a snack while I was so intently brushing every last leaf and branch.

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For our first day of break, we went to Splash Island with some friends. Aside from the insane traffic to get there and back, it was perfect! We all had Metrodeals that gave us a $5 entry, and the weather was gorgeous, so it made for a really fun day.

I (graciously, not at all selfishly) offered to guard all the stuff in the bahay kubo while everyone else hit the slides and splash pad.

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This is the only pic I have of the fun stuff.

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Sim didn’t make it through the day before falling asleep. I love when the kids play so hard that they fall asleep wherever they are.

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Me, I could nap like that e’erday!

Women’s Retreat Stuff

13 Mar

Last weekend, I joined a bunch of missionary women for a weekend retreat. It was a blast, with lots of laughing, relaxing, eating, and of course, crying! It became normal to tear up every 10 minutes on average! In fact, I came home pretty exhausted from all of the emotion, but uplifted, challenged, and encouraged.

The first morning, our regular workout group met at 6am. It was a gorgeous morning!

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So gorgeous, in fact, that a couple was having a sunrise WEDDING while we were exercising! Needless to say, we tried to keep the grunting and squealing to a minimum!

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These girls are the best! I’ve loved working out with them this year! Three of them are leaving next year, and that bums me out big time!

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Those are all the pics I have from the weekend (sigh). But maybe that’s for the best, because I know there were oh-so-many Zumba pic opportunities that I could’ve taken. I did Zumba for the first time and I loved it. 37 is a good age for a gal like me to try Zumba. I’m at the blissful age where I don’t really care what anyone thinks, so I just went out there and did my thing, missing steps and inventing new moves, etc!

In a number of ways that weekend, the Lord pointed me in the direction of teaching PE full-time next year! This is a huge, scary step for me, but God’s given me a lot of peace about it and constantly reminds me that He’s gonna be right there with me, showing kids how to hold a bow and arrow, throw a football, or do a deadlift. (Shoot, can I just teach volleyball for half the year and basketball for the other half?)

ACSC stuff

27 Feb

Mackenzie just came back from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Because of this-and-that circumstances, she was invited to join the varsity girls team for the ACSC tournament in Chiang Mai, Thailand! The invitation literally came two weeks before the tournament, and for one of those weeks, she was gone to Outdoor Ed. So she had exactly one week to learn the offenses, defenses, press, press break, etc. Thankfully, she’s a smart kid and had it down pretty quickly. On top of that, she got my motherly advice of, “Make your shots and grab every rebound.” Ease to the pease.

Two days after Josh left to go to Taiwan with the boys team for the same tournament, Mackenzie and I woke up at 3am to take her to school and meet up with the team. That was super fun.

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It was hard for me to go back to sleep because that’s when the crazy side of my mind decided  to say, “So, you do realize that you just sent your 13-year-old basically on her own to another country?” The sane side of my mind kept chiming in, “Don’t worry, she has a bunch of adults and an entire team of girls looking out for her, and she’s a responsible kid.” But you know the crazy side of the mind, always hopped up on Red Bull, dancing Gangnam-style, and using her rock concert voice for everything. Anyway, they made it through ticketing, immigration, and bag check without any issues and were off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and on to Thailand by 6:00am!

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We got to watch their games online, which I learned to love, but at first, I hated! I hated that she couldn’t hear me cheering or offering the well-intentioned-but-undoubtedly-annoying-and-uncessary advice that I tend to shout out from the stands during games. Yes, I’m totally that parent, but at least I admit it, right?!

As with all the ACSC tournaments, there is a ministry time, so Mackenzie got to share a little bit of her testimony.

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They started off pretty weak, but ended up 3rd in the tournament. 1st was untouchable, 2nd was a very long shot, and 3rd was the best realistic finish that we could hope for, so we’re all thrilled with their outcome.

Mackenzie started off looking like a deer in the headlights. It was a lot faster-paced than she was used to, so it seemed like she was a split second behind on everything. But with each game, she adapted more and more and never stopped improving. She earned so much playing time and even had really critical baskets and rebounds that set us up to win. There was a moment in one game where we were down two points and she was shooting free throws with about 15 seconds on the clock. Josh and I were frantically texting back and forth on whether she could handle the pressure. She sank the first one, but missed the second. (Thankfully, we still won!)

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Mackenzie wasn’t the tallest one there. That girl on her left is a 6’3″ freshman, so she and Mackenzie can look forward to a few more years of defending each other!

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The major shocker for everyone I’m sure was that Mackenzie made the All-Tournament team!!! I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. When we had our first meal together, I wrapped up by saying, “Alright all-star, time to do the dishes again!”

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Meanwhile, back here, I’m realizing that it won’t be long before this growing boy will go off to his tournaments too! This was his second helping of parmesan chicken, pasta, and salad. He must be in a growth spurt, because he is eating constantly!

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Josh and his team arrived home early Sunday morning. They took 4th in their tournament and were plagued by lots of injuries, so that’s no fun. Josh arrived home tired and happy!

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Mackenzie and team left Thailand on Sunday morning, but had an 8-hour layover in KL! Ugh, I know from my many overseas tournaments that once the games are finished, you just want to get home quickly, so this would be miserable for me! On top of that, their flight was delayed an hour or so, so that meant even more waiting!

Josh has a friend who is a pilot for Air Asia, so when they boarded, all of the girls were given free hats and free meals, so that was a fun surprise for them! Kenzie finally arrived home at 4am on her first day back to school! We let her sleep and skip her first couple of classes. When I arrived home from teaching my class, I saw Sim sporting the gifts that she brought him.

So cute. Thai pants are the best and cost like $2!

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We’re all so thankful that she got this opportunity! She learned so much and benefited so much in all walks of life.

 

Phone Dump Stuff

22 Feb

Josh was supposed to be one of the varsity boys coaches this season, but they needed a JV coach, so he stepped in and took that over. Then the varsity girls coaches were both traveling at the same time, so he stepped in and covered their program for a while. But now he’s back to the varsity boys team and they are doing great at the ACSC tourney in Taiwan right now!

Before they left, they won their division championship!

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After the championship, we tried a new place that claimed to be the first or the best xiao long bao (soup dumpling) makers, I don’t really remember. What I do remember is that they were more expensive and fine, but not great. As always, the kids loved watching the dumpling makers.

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They did have a unique option—a super xiao long bao! It took up the entire basket and was served with a straw to suck the soup out. It looked great, tasted not great.

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I snapped this one the next day on the way to church. These two are definitely at a best friend stage. They play together every day after school!

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Our school expanded our gym this year, which is great because we have an extra volleyball court now! However, the old gym used to have a stage where our kids used to play the entire game, day, or tournament! When they took out the stage, our kids didn’t know what to do! Last week, the high jump mats were set up, and our “stage” was back!

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I wake up at 5am for a 5:30-6:30 workout. It’s tough to wake up, but this sunrise shot makes it a little more worthwhile. I love it here.

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Chinese New Year was last week. I went to get my haircut. I looked down at my phone and when I looked up again, this guy was in  my reflection! Freaked me out!

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Another church shot. This little guy is in between Caleb and Sim’s age, so he’s friends with both of them. I promise they were both looking at me, and when I counted down, as I got to 3, they both looked away!

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I think we have another lefty. I love the way he holds his crayons!

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We tried out an ice cream place on Sunday. They have like 101 flavors and some of them were WEIRD. I think this must have been the adult section–beer & chicharon (pork rinds), cornography, and black sexyme! Caleb wanted strawberry and I almost got him a strawberry wine flavor!

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Mackenzie’s game in Thailand is about to start. They are 0-2, so we’re praying for a better showing today!

 

Outdoor Ed Stuff

20 Feb

For the last month plus plus, most of my time, energy, and prayers were committed to Outdoor Ed! Every year, the middle school goes to an area of the Philippines for education, ministry, and fun! Thankfully, the Philippines has WWII history (so they go to Corregidor one year), it’s in the Ring of Fire (so they visit Taal volcano another year), and they have a jungle/beach, so that’s where we went this year.

I was part of the kitchen crew, so we spent the weeks prior planning the menu, shopping, organizing all the cookware, and getting each venue’s food situation set up. We also did as much cooking ahead of time as possible.

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It was my first time cooking for mass quantities for sure!

One of the dishes we precooked was pulled pork. It was amazing. We slow-cooked pork cubes for a long time and then I put them in my mixer, flipped the switch, and thirty seconds later, it was shredded!

We spent a long time in this room, planning for OE! That whiteboard was full of lists and info for a few weeks. Once we were ready to go, it felt good to erase it all! Here is everything packed up and ready to go!

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My friend who was the one in charge of the kitchen crew, has a son in between Sim and Caleb’s age, so there were a few times that I took them both to my independent PE class to burn off some energy.

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When the day to leave finally came, it felt great to stop planning and start doing! It felt the same as marathon day for me. No more training or anticipating–just doing!

After a 3 hour drive into the province, 5 of us hit the grocery store where we had pre-ordered as much as we could.

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Then we had to check it all and pay for it! It took a couple of hours!

 

By the end, we were fast friends with the cashier, guards, and guys helping!

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After that, we drove the 40 minutes of curvy, nausea-inducing roads to our base camp that was to be our home for the next week. We set up our kitchen (that had no refrigerator!), set up our deep freezers, got all the food organized, set up our market delivery and water delivery. Thankfully, the wonderful seniors who served on staff unloaded all the groceries for us!

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This was base central. Kim did an excellent job having us prepared, so we just had to check down the list each day. A number of people remarked how chill everything went in the kitchen this year!

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That night, the staff went out to dinner together at a Subic favorite, Texas Joes. By the end of the night, we crawled into the bed exhausted, which was a little terrifying since the middle schoolers hadn’t even arrived yet!

The next morning, we woke up at 4:30am to get the staff fed. Then we all worshipped together before heading in our different directions.

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After that, the Jungle crew headed out to their venue. We had all their meal prepared for them and we had spent a long time the night before looking for the two packages of penne pasta that knew we had bought for them! We went to bed annoyed that we never found it and had to give them other pasta from the base supply.

In the morning, we discovered that we hadn’t lost our minds! A dog or some other creature had busted into our supply and ate some cookies, coffee creamer, and the penne pasta! (Interesting choices in my opinion…) We found it all sprawled in the back yard.

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Monday into Tuesday was our busiest time because that’s when all 245 of us were at base camp! This is another 5am photo–we listened to a lot of music and drank a lot of coffee to keep these smiles going!

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During one of our drives into town, we saw and heard and smelled all of these big bats! See the tree beneath them? Those trees are mostly bare. All of those leaf-looking things are hanging bats!

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It was so fun when the students arrived on Monday afternoon! The camp was filled with excitement and energy. I was especially happy to see Kenz! She went immediately to the 9-square court.

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On Tuesday morning, we had to get everyone fed, get them to pack their lunches, and head to their next destination. One group went to JEST–Jungle Environment Survival Training. The kids hiked 30 minutes into the jungle with all of their gear and were trained by naturalists, wildlife trackers, wilderness skills instructors, and environmental field technicians. They built fires, used machetes to make bamboo water reservoirs, made their own plate and utensils for their dinner, and created their shelter for the night. In their free time, there was a river and waterfall to play in. In the morning, they had to hike out, which I hear was the worst part of the week because it was uphill with their gear. But FA’s theme this year is In Christ We Do Hard Things, so there you go!

Another group went to the Pawikan (tagalog for “turtle”) Conservation Center. Here the kids learned all about turtles and how they come up onto the beach to lay their eggs. The process is thoroughly interesting and someday we’re going to go up there as a family to experience it! The best part of the week for all the kids I’m sure, was that they got to release baby turtles into the ocean!

I didn’t get to go to that site, but someone snapped a pic of Kenzie with her baby turtle. The videos of these little guys hustling to the ocean are precious! On the other hand, its agonizing to watch some of them who don’t want to go to the ocean. Apparently, you can’t take them all the way in, so if they stop, you just have to leave them there, where they will mostly likely become prey. But it’s part of their process to get into the ocean on their own because that’s where they will return to lay their own eggs, so it just a part of the great circle of life. Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama!

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The third group stays at base and went to a local school to do ministry.

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We kept the base group fed and happy, especially with the frozen watermelon that we walked around with. In the mornings, all the groups would come back to base, shower and repack for their next site, pack their lunch and head out. During this time, one of the middle school girls found this little guy in their bag area. I don’t even want to know if the snake was in their bag or wandered in from outside.

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The crazy part was that the group of 7th grade girls who found it were all giggly with it and squealed to me, “look there’s a snake in here!” It’s a good thing I didn’t vocalize what went through my mind, but I went and found a guy to finish him! I still can’t believe that he had to tell the girls to stop playing with it!

Later that day, we found a dog jaw bone in the yard. What in the world?!

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I was able to grab Kenzie for a quick pic during one of her transition times. It was fun to be on the kitchen crew because we would sneak our kids and their squads extra treats or the Sweet Baby Ray’s that I brought from home.

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Everyone was so sweet and supportive of us! We had a few wrinkles happen, but for the most part, everything went so well and we definitely felt the Lord’s blessing on the entire week! Everyday, we’d have about an hour to go back to our room and rest. It felt like heaven!!! Every night, when we’d climb into bed, we had that exhausted happy feeling that comes with working hard and serving others!

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On Thursday night, we had more free time, as our only responsibilities the next day were packing up and feeding breakfast to the base kids. So we drove back into town and had foot massages! It felt so so amazing on our tired legs!

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Here we are right before leaving the site. These women were such a blessing to work with! Everyone got along so well and we have so many memories from our week together!

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Here’s the before and after of our stock room.

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I’m so happy that my first OE is under my belt! I imagine that I’ll be doing this for ummm…another 10+ years, so it’ll be nice to not be a rookie anymore. Although, next year will be on an island, so we won’t be able to scoot into town for forgotten items or foot massages, so it’ll be a little more challenging!