Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day 12: Maclay Gardens

Spent a relaxing Sunday out with the boys, their neighbor Byron and Janet. This park was actually a man's garden. The beautiful, huge property was donated to the state and was turned into a park. Very pretty!

I'm getting used to my surroundings and can almost figure my way home. I love listening to the breeze and looking at all the trees. All I need now is for my daughter to be here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Days 7-11: Landing at Another New Beginning

I'm typing this in the living room of my dear, dear friends Michael and Janet. I've been here in Tallahassee, Florida since Wednesday the 26th.

I had a change of heart about my new life in Metro DC and decided I needed to be with old friends as I transition into my new (old) life in the US. So I bid my wonderful church in Washington DC farewell and booked a flight south.

Six days in the Dinh residence was a great mini-vacation for me. It was an interesting learning experience!

GPS for cars are a common sight. There's absolutely no reason for motorists to ever get lost again!

The drive to Reagan National Airport was scenic. I got to admire the beautiful tree-lined road that had a bicycle/jogging trail from Alexandria to DC!

I almost missed my transfer in Memphis because my flight left thirty minutes late. Thank God I didn't have to spend the night in Memphis if I did miss it! So after a sprint from one gate to my connecting flight, I was finally headed to Tallahassee. It was a total of four hours from DC to Florida's capital.

A nice Chinese lady offered to take my picture as I exited the airport with Janet and Zephan. I'll post an album on my Multiply site of the random pictures of my time here so far.

I'm happy to share that I'm well on my way to proving my domicile - State ID, bank account, employment, library card, pictures, a place of residence, Target store card, a mobile phone, etc. - and I'm praying Kyera will be here sooner than I expected.

It's been rough this past week or so. I really, really, really miss my daughter. I find myself crying at least once a day because I miss her so much. But God's grace has been amazing! I'm truly being stretched beyond what I am used to! This is definitely new and unfamiliar territory for me in every way - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically.

The cool part is that when I am at my rope's end, I have Filipino friends I can call! G3 from Alabang! May Cabotaje from Ortigas! They know what it's like to be half a world away from family and friends. I LOVE unlimited calling after 7PM and on weekends! It's the best!

I can honestly say that I have such a deeper respect for missionaries and OFWs now. And even a greater patience for people who are slow and inefficient.

Case in point: I still haven't memorized my cell phone number! Because of this, I held up a long line at Target today because I fumbled through my unfamiliar Motorola phone for my number when I applied for my Target Red Card! (Nokia is virtually non-existent here!) It was EMBARRASSING to say the least. If you know me well, you know how little tolerance I have for people who hold up lines. I am pretty sure that I will never be the same again to others. After all, I'm walking in their shoes!

Even the littlest things amaze me! The endless trips for refills of any flavor at McDonald's; the money back guarantee without questions on items returned within 7 days; the overwhelming choices for shampoos, lotions, cereals, soaps, detergents, among other things!

I am amazed by God and life in America.

I know that being here ahead of my child is truly in His wisdom. I just miss her so much, you know? But I know God will reunite us. It's only a matter of time.

Pray with me please?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 6: Thelma Starts Work

We'll be moving into our office in DC sometime next month so for the meantime, we work out of home. (Insert jealous smirk here. Hahaha!) I've learned quickly that it takes discipline to get out of your pajamas and attend to your hygiene when this is the scenario but I love it so far.

Almost every house, condo, apartment and townhouse here has wifi and/or a broadband connection, so it's relatively easy to do actual work via Skype, YM, and e-mail with colleagues.

Still haven't found a room. Please pray for me that I do soon. I'm looking for a place that will have room for Kyera; that's near transportation - bus routes and the Metro (train to and from DC); near grocery stores and drug stores; and in a good, safe neighborhood.

Today, I decided to take a picture of my view from the Dinh's living room in case I move out soon. It's a gorgeous view from the 17th floor of their building. That's Washington DC in the distance.

I got to go the grocery store for the first time! Pastor Vincent and I went to a place called Whole Mart (?). Can't remember. I was too busy looking at all the international ethnicities in the parking lot. This store had food and spices from across Asia, Latin America, and I think I saw Africa represented too. There were hardly any white people.

I wish I could have spent more time exploring the aisles and examining labels but we had to get home. I am confident I can go back alone though. It's right across my favorite shopping center.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 5: Random Scenes from a First Sunday

Just some of the things I saw and did on my first Sunday at my new church, Metro Morningstar DC. I came just at the start of a series called "Keep Your Day Job". Insightful preaching today on why work is God's idea!

Had lunch with Pastor Don and his family and didn't get to finish my Ruben Sandwich from Clyde's. This is just a quarter of it. Imagine how big it was! I ate it in three sittings throughout the afternoon when I got home.

On our way back to Alexandria, we passed the Washington monument where a large crowd was gathered for La Boheme! Live theater and operas are just two of the things I plan to do when Kyera gets here.

First I need to figure out how to get around on the buses and the many Metro lines. Have only been brave enough to figure out my way to two shopping centers. But of course!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day 4: Cereal and Retail Therapy

The Jones girls - Moriah, Gabriella, Serena and Macaiah - and I had breakfast that their father, Pastor Don made. It was my first time to eat grits and chicken applesauce. Yummy. Grits is like a fine porridge and the girls taught me how to eat it with butter.

Over dinner last night, our conversation went from my sharing how amazed I was by CVS. That discussion turned into me then sharing how much I miss Lucky Charms and how it's one of the things I'm getting when I get groceries.

This morning, Pastor Don surprised me with a box of Lucky Charms. The girls and I had a bowl with Vanilla flavored Silk Soy Milk. Yummmmmy.

Marianne and Serena brought me back to Alexandria and after getting to Pastor V and Cecile's, I decided I needed some retail therapy. Legitimate retail therapy for toiletries and unmentionables. So off I ventured alone to a nearby mall. I took the buses by myself! (I just need to say that commuting in the US rocks - buses follow a schedule; you can use a reloadable card for fare; buses are clean.) Having had my share of non-air-conditioned public transportation in the Philippines, commuting here is... divine.

Will spare you the details of my introduction at Ross and Marshalls. Suffice it to say I got home after four hours a very, very happy girl. Fall is around the corner and I've been warned more than once that I better be ready for the drop in temperatures so I bought a pair of $ 20 boots.

The whole time I was there though, all I could think of was how much Kyera is going to LOVE the shops here. I couldn't help but look at clothes and shoes in her size and imagine how she'll go nuts walking up and down the aisles.

At least by then, one of us will be jaded and much less wide-eyed. Maybe.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 3: Thelma Gets a Laptop and More Family

Still no room to rent but I am trusting that my search will be successful. The place I was eyeing was a townhouse with two rooms. Gorgeous! But the owner had to leave on business and won't be back til the 1st of October. So for now, I have to write "Pending" next to it on my list.

In the meantime, I did find a place near the Metro (train to DC) that's owned by a Filipina! I'm hoping she'll agree to my price and terms. In my search through Craig's List for a place, I've learned that rooming in here is a mixture of gender-specific, co-ed, or gay choices. I've made several inquiries on rooms and a few have returned from men asking for me to call in response to my e-mail. Hmmm. Not an option.

This morning, just when I was on the verge of feeling overwhelmed with missing Kyera, coupled with the frustration of a fruitless room search, I was given a laptop. An office-issued laptop. Apparently the church I'll be working for is not as fanatic for Macs as my Philippine pastors are, so I was given an Acer Aspire with Vista.

My much-desired MacBook Pro will have to wait. I have decided to live financially wise for the next two years and save my money. Besides, this baby I'm typin' on does the trick pretty good. And at least I didn't have to pay for it! I am, however, willing to shell out cash for a more fashionable laptop bag. One that doesn't say - plain and sturdy - but - hip and cool!

The highlight of my day was dinner at the Joneses home in Ashburn. Pastor Donnell picked me up from Pastor V's house in Alexandria and we spent the drive to his house with me talking about how I met God in 1991 and came to Victory Christian Fellowship in 1993. (I'll share this story some other time.)

When we pulled up into their driveway, I got to meet his daughters - Gabriella, Mariah, and Macaiah. (I met Serena later.) They couldn't believe I had an almost eighteen year-old.

"Daddy she has an eighteen year-old?! She looks like she's the one who's eighteen!"

I laughed and thought about how Kyera would react to that. Later on as I got to visit with Maryann, Pastor Don's wife, I cried for the first time when I talked about Kyera. I didn't realize how much I miss her as I've been so focused and single-minded in achieving my goals of establishing myself.

Maryann understood. Sometimes, that's all we need. I'm spending the night here and I feel like I have found family.

Good night from me at the Jones' residence.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 2: Thelma Looks Small... Sorta

(Disclaimer! I need to warn you before you proceed that I look hideous in these very unflattering pics of myself. But since I wanted my posts to be as honest as possible, you'll catch me in all my unmade up glory.

You've been warned.)

Still recovering from my jetlag. Slept close to midnight last night and woke at 5AM. Forced myself back to sleep and got up at 9 then slept again at 12. Was hoping it would be a short nap but I ended up waking at 330PM!

Here's me in the kitchen. Look at how 5'2" me is coping with these American sized sinks and countertops!

I love that I didn't have to actually wash anything. Just rinsed off the grease and food and dumped everything in the dishwaher. Having lived in Manila, I can't imagine why as a kid in Portland, Oregon, I used to complain about "doing the dishes".

It's almost past midnight now and I'm psyching myself up to sleep. I'm best friends with Craigs List as I search for a room to rent that's near the Metro (train to DC) and my friends (Vincent and Cecile).

I miss Kyera but I also realize that me being here ahead of her really is for the better. One of us needs to be ahead on the learning curve! I'm so glad that because of Twitter and YM she's not too far away from me. Nor are my other beloved Twitter friends in Manila. I'm so thankful too that because of blogs and social networking, the world is smaller. Not the same, but almost just as good as the real thing.

Will try to go to sleep now. Tomorrow I will call the people I've e-mailed about their rooms. Hopefully, my next post will be from my new temporary home!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 1: Thelma Arrives in Virginia

I'll write another blog soon on how the ending was for me in Manila. There's just too much for me to process right now - emotionally, mentally, physically - so I will blog what's on the top of my head.

Joe Bonifacio suggested a 90 day blog for this season in my life. Hopefully, Kyera will have access to a laptop soon and will post updates from her end. So, for the next 90 days, I will post a daily entry - photo or write-up.

After a gruelling 18 hour plane ride, I finally arrived at Washington DC's Dulles Airport. As I walked to the Baggage Claim area with my heavy carry-on bags, each step felt like I was running the home stretch of a marathon - the point wherein you are fatigued and running on adrenalin.

Before this of course, my port of entry was Detroit's Metro Airport. After handing over my custom's form to the officer, against my better judgment, I made a beeline for a porter to help me with my luggage - a large suitcase and a box (Balikbayan Box). Not knowing how much to tip the guy, I handed over a 20. He gave me a look that said, "That's all you're giving me?" To which I naively replied, "I'm sorry I'm not familiar with how much I should tip. I've lived overseas for 27 years... Is this enough?"

He smiled and said, "I just want to make sure I always give the best service, ma'am."

Not being sure if he meant this as a hint that I didn't give enough or that it was more than enough, I handed over another 20.

Big mistake. I walked away sensing I just paid for part of his groceries for a week. Upon meeting my friend/pastor in DC an hour and a half later, I confirmed that I indeed made a costly mistake.

Apparently $3 would have been enough.

I consoled myself with the thought that the guy may have had a desperate need. And that I just paid a relatively high price for the cost of my first tipping experience in the US.

Promptly doing my research now on these things. Don't want to end up paying someone a year's worth of gas now do I.

On the brightside, I looked at two possible places to rent. Will make a decision on which one tomorrow. That, and find time to go back to CVS Pharmacy. It has everything!!

Lesson: $40 is too big a tip for airport porters and 20 minutes is not enough time at CVS Pharmacy for a first time shopper in need of toiletries after an international flight.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane via NWA

Mind Map of Things To Do This Week Include:
  1. Department of Education
  2. Bureau of Immigration
  3. Department of Social Welfare and Devlopment
  4. Recording a reunion show with Zach
  5. Guesting on my alma mater in radio - 99.5RT
  6. Lunch dates with friends
  7. Dinner dates with friends
  8. Coffee dates with friends
  9. Beach trip with friendsli>
  10. Hair cut with old stylist
  11. GMA recordings
  12. Adfarm recordings
  13. NU107 recordings
  14. Turning over office work
  15. Replacement for work
  16. E-mail the ex-husband
  17. Boxing stuff
  18. Packing my suitcase
  19. Spend time with Kyera
  20. Spend time with Kyera
  21. Spend time with Kyera
  22. Spend time with Kyera
  23. Spend time with Kyera
  24. Spend time with Kyera
  25. Spend time with Kyera
  26. Spend time with Kyera
  27. Spend time with Kyera
  28. Spend time with Kyera
  29. Spend time with Kyera
  30. Spend time with Kyera
  31. Spend time with Kyera
  32. Spend time with Kyera
  33. Spend time with Kyera
  34. Spend time with Kyera
  35. Spend time with Kyera
  36. Spend time with Kyera
  37. Spend time with Kyera
  38. Spend time with Kyera
  39. Spend time with Kyera
  40. Spend time with Kyera
song playing on limewire: non-photo blue by pinback

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kyera's Immigrant Visa Interview

While my body fights off a UTI with 800mg of antibiotics, it's past 2PM on the day of Kyera's Immigrant Visa interview. Neither of us slept well last night. In between my fever and stress, I hardly slept a wink. I think she was a little nervous plus she's not used to sleeping before midnight!

We were up at 3AM to be at the embassy by 0430. I had a cab pick us up outside our compound to be sure we wouldn't be late. We arrived there at 0420 for her 0630 interview and sat down at a waiting shed. But then I decided to move to plastic seats near the other applicants. Said seats were arranged facing the road. Good thing the pre-dawn spared us somewhat from the pollution level.

Then a lady asked for twenty pesos each for the chairs we sat on. We couldn't help but crack up at the idea of sitting on the side of the road in chairs we had to pay for to sit on! The clincher came two minutes later when the guard called for us to line up. What a waste of my forty pesos! Too funny.

The long and short of our morning is this: painstakingly long wait for an interview that started around 1000; temporary refusal of K's Visa until I establish domicility.

The consul was nice and warm and even pronounced K's name right - kie-ruh. The KYE rhymes with p-i-e.

So I'm moving back on September 19 without her. Hopefully she'll get to follow me in a month or two.

Had a good cry a while ago but I'm thankful for the peace that transcends all understanding. It's been soothing me and calming me like a balm.

God is working out everything for our best. I'm certain He's teaching us both to depend on Him alone even more. I need to learn how life is like without her and she needs to learn how to depend on God alone.

Well, at least Kyera is getting her wish to fly alone. And she'll get to spend more time with her friends.

I, on the other hand, need to finish brutally purging and packing my things before the 19th.


It's all good.

God knows. And His love for us is just as high, and wide, and deep, and long, as ever.

song playing on limewire: she is the sunlight by trading yesterday

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Thinking About His Love

While reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded of an old favorite song I used to play on my car cassette deck. It was on a beautiful acappella album that came out in 1992 or 1993. I'm trying to look for it amidst all of my purging and packing, but even if I do find it, I seriously doubt it can still be played. Too bad I didn't buy it on CD at the time. But it was too expensive a purchase back in those days. (Insert guffaw) Well, it was after all more than a decade ago!

The words came like I was listening to it all over again in my 1991 Kia Pride sedan as I talked to God and poured out my fears and doubts at His feet. More than the outcome of this whole process, I was reminded that no matter what happens, God's love remains the same; God Himself remains good and kind and steadfast and true to us.

He has already made Wednesday and knows what will happen that morning. It is for Kyera and me to simply know that He is God and that He works everything out for our good. He already has the plans for our lives mapped out!

So here's that song. May it continue to cause us to want to seek His face, and not just His hand. And drive us to our knees at the wonder of His love no matter what happens in our lives and no matter where we end up.

Think About His Love

Think about His love, think about his goodness,
Think about His grace that's brought us through.
For as high as the heavens above, so great is the measure of our Father's love;
Great is the measure of our Father's love.

How could I forget his love? How could I forget His mercy?
He satisfies, He satisfies, He satisfies my desires.
Great is the measure of our Father's love.

Walt Harrah © 1987 Integrity's Hosanna! Music.

better than imagined.

The medical went pretty good! Better than how I imagined it would go. And! I got a girl doctor who was really nice. :D The only downer was the two immunizations i had to get. They left my arms achey. And right now I have a slight fever.

Now that the medical is over and done with. My mind is on The Interview at The Embassy. *dundundun* I really wanna get it over and done with! I'm hoping it will be better than how I'm imagining it will go.