Thursday, 13 April 2017

10 years in with a big year ahead....

Today marks 10 years since the day Darnell and I got married. What a full 10 years it has been! Last week was Makai's 5th birthday, which also means its been just a couple months shy of 5 years since we've lived in Manila as a family.  And this month marks one year until we say goodbye to Manila and move back to Canada. I also celebrated my 34th birthday this week and have been reflecting on what this next year of my life will bring.... most importantly, it will bring one more child into our family! The due date for the arrival of this little one is September 28, exactly 12 years after the blind date that started our family's journey!

I feel incredibly grateful for our journey. It is such a joy to raise a family with Darnell, to travel together (we've been to 10 countries in 10 years!) and to live cross-culturally as a family with all the challenges and fun it brings. I can't say I don't feel overwhelmed by the thought of another kid in the mix during a big year of transitions but we are up for the adventure.... if there's anything 10 years with Darnell has taught me, its to lean into adventure, to be brave and not worry, and to embrace life with positivity and passion. Its no wonder it was Darnell convincing me to have a forth kid :)  I'm not sure if I've every met another human who so joyfully enters into adventure, transition and challenges. So with the big changes this year will bring, I'm praying for Darnell's positivity and courage to rub off on me even more!

The other day as Cody was tying his shoes before our walk to school, he told me that he was sad to move to Canada because he will miss his classmates. I almost teared up right there.... and it looked like he was about to too. We talked about how hard it will be to say goodbye to everyone here and what a big change it will be for our family and how brave we'll need to be. As excited as we also are to live in Canada again, life in Manila is all our kids know. Canada is the place for summer holidays and fun visits and perfect summer weather. So Cody and I talked about how we can have happy and excited feelings right beside the sad and lonely ones because it will be a lot of both when we move home. The joy and sadness of change is coming in this next year- pray that we can embrace all the emotions with courage.

So today as we celebrate 10 years together, much is on my mind.... I look back to 10 years ago and could not have imagine a better decade or a better partner to share this adventure with. And I cannot help but think what a year from now will look like... we'll be packing up our life here; our books and toys will be in boxes and our arms will be tearfully embracing friends who have become our family as we say goodbye to the only life our kids have known, and settle into new jobs, new schools and a new community in Abbotsford, all with a new baby in tow! But before that big transition, we will savour each memory this last year in Manila will offer us. We celebrate 10 years of marriage with so much gratitude for our journey; wonderful friends and family who support us, two countries to call home, our Peace Church community, and 3 amazing kids, plus one special bonus that will be completing our family as we begin our next decade of adventure together!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Cody’s School Commute: How We Beat Manila Traffic Daily

Despite Cody’s school being only 1.3 kilometers from our house, it can take a good hour to do the round trip in the morning. Manila traffic is crazy- like really crazy. One study claims its the worst driving experience in the world. And for me, coming from a driving culture with polite Canadians following strict rules and everyone having their own SPACE (kind of hard in Manila with 12 million people!) I become a claustrophobic ball of stress when I drive the chaotic Manila streets. Plus it just really sucks to waste an hour of your day sitting in traffic.

So what’s our solution? Cody and I rock scooters to school. Not the motorized type, but the push-with-your-foot type, the kind that gives you a workout, especially up hills. Sooooo much better than sitting in stressful traffic every morning!

At the beginning of the school year we started walking sometimes, but Cody didn’t love the 20-minute walk and I felt like I was dragging him along, going so slow. We didn’t really save time walking and it’s not exactly a nice stroll. While part of our walk is through our gated village, a majority of it is along C5, one of Manila’s main thoroughfares with 8 lanes of trucks, jeepneys, motorcycles, buses and cars. It’s dusty, loud (I can’t hear a word Cody says to me!) and always sweaty (this is the Philippines- hot all year round).

When I suggested we try each riding a scooter, Cody was pumped…. and he still is! It takes about 12 mins each way and we get a good exercise and have fun too. Cody loves the bumpy sidewalk along C5 and is teaching me how to jump and tricks on the scooter. And we love racing down the quiet streets in our village.

We also like the footbridge over C5 because crossing that street would be a nightmare. It’s fun to stop and watch the traffic from above.

It’s also fun to make friends on our way! The older man with no shirt in the picture below is Tito Sunny. He sits in this spot every single day, without fail. And he gives Cody an “approve” every time we pass (a Filipino kids greeting…. Thumbs up, then touch, thumb to thumb).

We also see homeless people along the way, mostly sleeping on the sidewalk or benches. One time I saw a man taking a "dump" behind a tree on the sidewalk- kind of horrifying and also very sad. There was a lady this week sound asleep right in the middle of the sidewalk and Cody was hesitant how to go around her. What we see connects us to the streets- this city- and makes us even more aware of others’ realities.

The kids at school think it is cool (and unusual) that Cody scooters to school and it seems the teachers do too. One morning we were greeted by a man walking into the school who was very impressed with how we commute. We chatted about it a bit and he introduced himself as the owner of the school! I think we’ve made an impression!! I would say almost all the kids come by car, mostly with hired drivers, and some by school bus. But I don’t think there’s another kid in Manila who goes to school by scooter :)

On my way home, without Cody, I get the most stares and comments… I know people are wondering what this crazy white lady is doing on a scooter along C5. But I like how we roll and I’m glad Cody does too. And if you know Manila traffic, its a rare and satisfying treat to beat it daily!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Reg and Mel's wedding

The day we landed in Manila, just over 4 years ago now, Reg instantly became part of our family. Its like we had already known her forever- we just fit together like old friends. She has been our host, our cultural mentor, our babysitter, our advisor and our best friend since that very first day. She is such a special part of our family, and we love her so dearly. This past weekend she married a most wonderful man and we couldn't be happier for her. When we flew her to Tacloban to do relief work after Typhoon Haiyan, little did we know, she'd be finding the love of her life. We wish Reg and Mel so much joy in their marriage, as they serve God and others together. We know they will do amazing things and continue to be a huge blessing to so many!

A highlight for me was driving the beautiful bride to the wedding. Just 10 minutes before the wedding was supposed to start, Darnell got a call and was asked to go pick up the bride from the other end of the resort. He hurried out the door but I chased after and told him that I wanted to do it! How special that I had five minutes alone with my sister before show time! I prayed for her and we cried together (but tried not to wreck the make-up!). It was a moment I'll always cherish.

Here's some special pictures to share.....

Bonding the night before the wedding at dinner with Reg and Mel's families. These two are so sweet together. Just ask Makai who is best friend is and you'll know how special Reg is to him :)

Makai walked down the isle with this sign.  Cody's sign said, "Here comes the bride!" And Teyah had flower petals but was too shy to throw them on the isle. They all did so well though! 
This is the bridal party. We were sponsors with a few other couples but forgot to ask someone to take a photo of us- we'll have to wait for the professional ones. 

The kids in the bridal party! Nieces, a nephew, Mel's younger (adopted) brothers and the Barkman kids!

My dress was supposed to look like the bridesmaids dresses, and I found a close match.... except showing a little more legs :)