Monday, September 30, 2013

Cooking Lesson

Here is another cooking lesson with Vanessa! Unfortunately, Vanessa left for another job on September 15th. It's been quite different without my neighbor and friend. She's greatly missed! However, there is a search for a new Vanessa, even though she can't be replaced. Hopefully, another twenty-something will be moving in within the next couple of weeks and I'll have a new neighbor and friend.

In this lesson, Vanessa taught me how to make Pork Adobo, a simple but delicious dish. You can also do Chicken Adobo but she advised pork is better. And you can add potatoes to the dish, if you so desire.

As with any good cook, there are not specific ingredient amounts. You just go with what you feel and what you think will taste the best. Although, I hope the video gives a little more direction.

In full discretion, I attempted to make this the other night. I did exactly as Vanessa did in the video, however I ended up burning half the dish. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong; the type of pan, the temperature of the hot plate, not having the Filipino touch. But as some of my coworkers said, "you'll just have to try again." And that I will!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Processing Center

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week I worked with the Development Office of the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago. One of their most recent projects is the Processing Center.

They found that farmers weren’t able to sell all their vegetables because it may have one, small bad spot or there’s too much supply for not enough demand or another reason. The Development Office thought of a way for them to utilize their extra product and still gain a profit. It’s exactly what the name, Processing Center, implies. The center processes the extra veggies into other products like chips or peanut butter to be sold at markets or at the center’s store.

Me working at the Processing Center
Last Wednesday, I spent the day with Cindy and Penny making veggie chips. While the chips are made with carrots, when it is all said and done, I wouldn’t say there is much nutritional value left. But they are delicious!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Little Things

This past weekend was exactly what I needed to recharge. I finished an amazing book, The Fractured Road, Part I: East & Westwhich I recommend to all and is written by a fellow resident of Loudoun County. I do warn you, though, that the sequel won't be published until Summer 2014 and the ending leaves you wanting more!

I, also, walked around the compound with my neighbor and chatted for hours. Then on Sunday, the priest's wife invited me over to learn how to bake her delicious carrot cake! Next week, I promised to teach her how bake my mom's banana bread. Hopefully, baking on Sundays will become a regular event!

Another YASCer and I came to the realization that most of our days will not be filled with great travels and over-the-top excitement. We are settling into a normal daily routine, going to work, grocery shopping, cleaning our apartments and so on. But then something happens or I see something that reminds me I'm living away from anything I've ever known.

{Tried Bugnay Fruit Wine made by a local. It has an after taste of rice wine with a sweet but sour tang. Can't say it's my favorite.}

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's it like to be in YASC?

Most of you probably remember this teaser video from my previous post. The Episcopal Church center has now posted a full version of the video titled, "What's it like to be in YASC?" I've already watched it about 15 times. No lie! I love what all of the YASCers from last year had to say and the imagery of the video. Also, it was great to see the Philippines featured!

My favorite quote comes from Andrew Joyce,

"It's a life-changing, transformative experience, especially for those who are kind of wondering what they want to do and are trying to find themselves. When you come to a place where you are different from everyone else, it makes you step back and take a look at yourself. You really see what's important to you, what you value. You learn so much and it winds up giving you more than you give it."

I've already found myself coming to small realizations about what in my daily life is important, how I view myself and what I truly value. One of my goals of doing YASC is to grow in my relationship with myself and with God. And already after one month, I can see myself making tiny steps towards that goal. I'm interested to see how I'll be transformed in 2 months, 6 months, and a year from now! 

Watch the video here!

Monday, September 23, 2013

One Month, Already?

Today marks one month since I arrived in the Philippines!

There is a quote that has inspired me to persevere throughout this process, “Change doesn’t mean failure. It means bravery.”  People kept telling me that being a missionary with YASC was a brave adventure. I simply thought of it as a next step, accomplishing a life-long dream. After a month, I’ve realized it does take strength and bravery to move halfway across the globe, alone.

However, that strength and bravery is drawn upon by the support I’ve received from family, friends, the Diocese of Virginia, its parishes and congregation members. In the moments of isolation and loneliness, I remember the words of encouragement everyone shared before I left. I remember all the prayers being spoken for me. They put wind in my sails to continue on this transformative adventure.

I wouldn’t be here without you all and so I want to share this journey in any way possible. I hope you enjoy the first of my monthly newsletters!

Read it here!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Weekend! Happy reading about other YASCers' recent adventures!

Maurice had the chance to preach at the monastery to wrap up a retreat.

Read about Margaret's version of our weekend. She's a better describer of the imagery that surrounded us.

Julie is starting a monthly series where she paints a portrait of an inspiring character who she's met in Haiti.

Sara is settling into her emotionally challenging work with Filipino Migrant Workers in Hong Kong.

Through an Episcopal weekend camp, Rachel expressed herself through theater, dance, and music in Panama.

Heidi answered some frequently asked questions about her life in Tanzania.

Anchors Away! Will B. is loving his work of "playing pirate priest" in the harbor of Hong Kong.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Little Things

Another week has gone by quickly! I worked with the Development Office of the Diocese of Santiago this week. Every month for one week, I will rotate to another office of the diocese to get a firsthand look at their work.

The Development Office staff oriented me with all of their asset based community development (ABCD) programs. Wednesday, I worked in the processing center one day making veggie chips (more detail on that to come). Then I visited other communities to have meetings about possible relief programs from typhoon damage. I enjoyed learning more about the projects but I still have much to understand. One week is not enough!

This weekend I'm excited to stay in Santiago and relax!

{Finally drank some Filipino beer!}

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A rainy, cool Baguio

Known as “The Summer Capital of the Philippines,” Baguio sits up in the pine-clad mountains of the Codillera region. The nickname comes from the migration of people, even the president, to the city trying to escape the heat of the humid summer months in the rest of the Philippines. Unfortunately for me, it’s still the rainy season and it showed in Baguio last weekend.

My manager, Patrick, and another co-worker, Samuel, are part of a brotherhood. They had a national officers meeting to attend on Friday afternoon in Baguio. Patrick asked if I would like to go with them for the weekend to visit Margaret, fellow YASCer, and see another city. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I, too, wanted to escape from the hot, humid weather in Santiago.

The six-hour drive through the mountains is not for those who suffer from carsickness. I usually never do and I was feeling queasy by the end. The last 50 km or so is like a zig-zag roller coaster up and down a steep mountain.

Driving through the mountains

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Visit from a YASCer

Last Wednesday, Andrew Joyce, another YASCer in the Philippines, came into town with Bishop Alawas of the Diocese of Northern Philippines for the Joint Clericus. It was a lecture and workshop for priests and deacons of the Diocese of Northern Philippines, where Andrew lives, and the Diocese of Santiago, where I am. It worked out because Andrew wanted to come to see where I'm living and working, anyways.

Bishop Alex of the Diocese of Santiago introducing the speaker.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Missing these lovely ladies like crazy!

FOMO. Or the Fear of Missing Out.

I’ve never been one to fall victim to FOMO. I usually chose which activities I wanted to do in college or with my friends and didn’t regret it later. Now, sometimes I would cave in to doing something because I was worried I was going to miss something epic. Most of the time, I didn’t. It made me realize that I need to do what makes me happy and not worry about missing out on something else.

I had my first test yesterday. Pictures of my friends from the weekend were posted on Facebook. They all got together and it turned into a mini, Mary Wash reunion. It was hard for me to look at the photos and not miss them. And not think about what I missed out on by being here. I thought, they’re not supposed to have fun without me. It’s a ridiculous thought because of course their lives will go on while I’m away.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to watch the harvesting of the first SRI pilot plot for the Office of Development of EDS (Episcopal Diocese of Santiago). What is SRI? It stands for Systems Rice Intensification. Filipinos first developed it but farmers are reluctant to pick up the process here The developers moved it to India where it has been wildly successful. Basically, SRI allows for more yields with less seeds.

As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But that is exactly what the Development Office is trying to do in the Diocese of Santiago. They are hoping by planting their own small, pilot plots that they will show congregation members, farmers, that SRI can help them produce more rice at a lesser price. Therefore, it provides higher rewards.

With the harvesting of last Tuesday’s plot, it proved just that. The Development Office’s plot yielded three bags and two cans on 266 square meters. With a comparison of the plot next door, not planting SRI, it calculated to an increase of 54%. And that was with 23% of the palay being empty of grains due to typhoon wind damage during a crucial part of growing.

SRI grows taller than normal rice so Charlotte is almost lost within it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Friday the 13th!

As promised as a weekly post, here are some more great posts from YASCers around the world!

Hannah has finally arrived in El Salvador. She shares great advice about how to view the work she's doing and be honest.

Is this all really worth it? Heidi writes about how exactly I'm feeling about missing out on things back home.

Keri is spotting whales, penguins and unidentified furry creatures in South Africa!

You can now call Claire, Ms. Harkey because she's officially a teacher in Honduras.

It's only the beginning for Carlin in South Korea and she's been hit by humility. Wonderful post!

Zach is jumping rope, drawing pictures, and making friends with tarantulas in Haiti.

Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Keeping Busy

This week has been extremely busy with the Systems Rice Intensification (SRI) harvest on Tuesday, the Diocese of Santiago and Diocese of Northern Philippines joint clericus on Wednesday. And a day out in the field today, Thursday. I've been out of the office almost all week. But I've been able to catch up with Andrew Joyce, fellow YASCer. Tomorrow, Friday, I'll be heading to Baguio and seeing Margaret Clinch, other fellow YASCer, this weekend.

Needless to say, I don't have a profound or exciting blog post today. I'll have more detailed posts about all those events mentioned above next week.

Staying busy keeps my mind off of missing family and friends, but it's exhausting. I'm not saying everything is sunshine and rainbows. I've already had a few low moments where all I wanted to do was bake chocolate chip cookies, watch hours of Netflix, or sit on my old porch with my roommate and a beer in hand. It's hard not being able to just get in my car, blast the music and simply drive when I want to escape. However, busyness continually reminds me of how quickly this year is going to go by. It's already the end of my 3rd week! I would not trade in this experience for the world. I will find new ways to get through the hardships, the loneliness, and feelings of isolation. Because when those great, wonderful, wouldn't-trade-in-for-the-world moments happen, I know that I'm right where I should be.

This evening, I enjoyed fresh coconut water and coconut from my neighbor's tree. Also I ate some delicious, freshly picked papaya with the company of my lovely neighbors. It was the perfect, cool evening for sitting out on the porch and enjoying each other's company!

I will leave you with a fun picture of Andrew and I on the highest point in Santiago City.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Santiago City

Santiago City is in no way a touristy town. I don't think there is a single place of tourist attraction here, actually. I like it that way, though. I get the full Filipino experience. But it also means 98% of the time, I'm the only white person around. And most of you already know how white I am, therefore I really stick out. Also, the height thing which I've already discussed. Being really white plus being really tall equals I stick out like a sore thumb and lots of stares head my way. But neither of those really bother me.

I wanted to share some pictures I've taken around Santiago City proper. As I said in a previous post, I don't actually live in Santiago City proper, I live in a Barangay called Divisoria about 15-20 minutes outside the city proper. According to Wikipedia, Santiago City has a population of about 132,000. It is located about 202 miles north of Manila in the province of Isabela. The city is said to be "the gateway to the vast lands of Cagayan, Isabela, and Quirino."

These little markets line the road on the way into and out of the city.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Little Things

I have many little moments to share this week, but I will keep it to five. However one of my favorite moments from this past week, I was unable to capture on camera.

This past Sunday, I needed to go grocery shopping. Vanessa accompanied me and I took my first tricycle ride! Tricycles are motorcycles with a side cart attached. When I first saw them, I was thinking that they could fit maybe two people in the side cart. Then Jocelyn said, “Oh no, you can fit up to five people in those things. And when the school kids take them, they’ll pile in 8 or 9.” I was like, “Is this a circus show? How can 5 people fit in that clown car?” But two sit on the back seat of the cart, one sits sideways. Then two others can fit behind the driver on the motorcycle. The one we took into town fit Vanessa and I comfortably. However the one we took back from town, it was cramped. Vanessa ended up sitting sideways. The best part was we were trying to beat the storm back but it started pouring, of course, on the ride back! There’s no doors on these things so the rain started coming in and drenching us. Fortunately, Vanessa had an umbrella so she opened it to block the tiny doorway of the sidecar. We rode like that for about 15 minutes until we finally made it back! The whole event was quite comical.

{A lifesaver! So happy that I do not have to wash my clothes by hand.}

Monday, September 9, 2013


Before leaving for the Philippines, I had the opportunity to get together with the Rev. June Hardy Dorsey, who was a missionary in the Philippines before her days as a priest. One piece of advice she shared which was given to her before she started as a missionary was, "in the beginning write down all the different, weird, or strange things you see because soon enough they will become normal to you."

And so I began my list the minute I touched down in the Philippines. It's surprising, however, how many similarities there are; people still want the best for their children, hope to accomplish their dreams, work hard to put food on the table. While the Filipino culture is different, I hate to use that word because it divides us as people or makes one inferior to the other. I should call it unique, one of kind, or distinct.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The "8th Wonder of the World"

This past Saturday, I was given the opportunity to go see the 8th Wonder of the World. The Banaue (Buh-nah-way) Rice Terraces used to be categorized as one of the 7 Wonders of the World, but with recent discoveries it has been bumped down. And so Filipinos refer to it as, “the 8th Wonder of the World.” However, I was still stoked for the chance to go see the 2,000-year-old rice terraces.

Rebekah, who is a civil engineer and in charge of all the designs and construction of new churches in the Diocese, had to go deliver some materials and check in with one of the sites. The church is located about 30 minutes away from Banaue so the staff suggested I ride with them and then we could head on to the rice terraces. Banaue was on the top of my list for places I wanted to see in the Philippines. I had no idea I’d be able to see them two weeks in, though! Words cannot express how ecstatic I felt!

Check out my short video of our trip:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Around the Compound

I thought I would take you on a photo tour of the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago (EDS) compound today on the blog! The Diocese was founded only 13 years ago due to the large size of another diocese. The Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) broke part of the larger diocese off to create EDS. At first the compound was a plot of land with one small building where the Bishop and a few staff members lived, had their offices, and held meetings. From what I've been told, it was cramped!

Front of the Cathedral which faces the main road.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Weekend! Or should I say, TGIF?

While I love sharing my new adventures, perspectives and lessons learned, I'm not the only one experiencing YASC. There are 27 other young adults, my friends, who are learning new lessons, finding fresh perspectives and being challenged in different cultures. I wanted to start a series where every Friday I share with you some of their recent posts. I think it will paint a clearer picture to how YASC impacts young adults and what the program is all about.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Language Lessons

As part of my time here, I have to learn Ilocano or Ilokano. It's the main language of the region I'm in. Everyone in the office speaks great English, but Ilocano is their first language so they're constantly reverting back to it. Of course, I understand why but it's hard not knowing a single word of what people are saying around you. Since arriving only a week ago in Santiago, my Ilocano has a long way to go but here are some quick phrases I've learned so far:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Little Things

I had one crazy night this past Friday, I watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! One of my favorite movies which I decided to bring on DVD for nights like this past Friday to help past the time. No matter how many times I watch it, I always cry! Anyways, my point is towards the end of the movie one of the characters, Tibby, finds a tape of her 12 year-old friend, Bailey, who just died of Leukemia (one of the parts where I cry). On the tape Bailey says,

"Being happy isn't having everything in your life be perfect. Maybe it's about stringing together all the little things like wearing these pants or getting to a new level of Dragon's Lair - making those count for more than the bad stuff. Maybe we just get through it... and that's all we can ask for."

She's right. Not everything in life is perfect. However, if we enjoy all the little things, add up the simple moments and take them for more than the annoying, frustrating, or bad things we sometimes deal with, then our life will seem that much better. 

I'm starting a new weekly series on the blog called, "The Little Things" where I will feature pictures of small moments or items that made me smile or happy. Because while there will be major events or adventures that happen throughout my YASC year, it will also be shaped by little things. 

{I woke up especially early this morning and witnessed this beautiful sunrise from out my window}

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


{Image via}

The Internet has given us the possibility of keeping in touch with those around the world, allowed us to gather more information faster, and changed the way we do business. People can now share their life, knowledge, gifts, creativity, and opinions to a worldwide audience. There is no doubt that the Internet is a blessing in many ways.

At home, there were days when I would sit on the couch watching Netflix on Apple TV, surfing the internet on my MacBook, and texting friends on my iPhone all at the same. (If that’s not an Apple commercial then I don’t know what is.) But I had a need to be connected to everything all at once, all the time. I needed to know I had the possibility of checking my friend’s Instagram, googling a question or checking the weather in the palm of my hand.

On the third day in Manila, I already yearned for that ability. I was standing in the mall with Andrew and Margaret. Looking back, I don’t even remember what we were talking about but I thought ‘Oh I can just Google that.’ And then I realized I couldn’t. My iPhone was right there in my purse but without Wi-Fi or an international data plan it became simply a camera, a note taker and a gaming device. No longer was I continually plugged in.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cooking with Vanessa

Vanessa is my 23 year old neighbor who works as the manager of the Guest House of the diocese and cooks lunch for us everyday. She’s one of those people who just knows how to cook. All the recipes are in her head. She learns how to cook it once and makes it perfectly the next time. I aspire to be half the cook she is. So I’m having her teach me! Unfortunately, she is moving on to a new job and her last day is September 15th. But I’m going to learn as much as I can in the time she’s here.

Sunday Night’s Menu:
Fried Tilapia with a soy sauce mixture
Sinigang Talapia Soup

First, let me describe where I got the tilapia. On the way home from Magat Dam on Sunday, we pulled into a gas station. To one side of the station was a building with an alcove that had a small pool and market. When I walked up to the pool, there were a ton of fish, well tilapia, in it. Grace asked, “Do you want tilapia for dinner?” I was confused but responded, “ok.” Next thing I know the woman at the market takes a big net and quickly swipes up a fish or two into this plastic basket. Once it’s full of three fish, the puts another plastic basket on top and weighs it. She says, “110.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday Outing

Sunday was filled with another outing after church this week. I deem this one more successful.

Staff of Episcopal Diocese of Santiago (EDS) took me out to see one of the more local sites. Jocelyn, Joyce, Grace, Jocelyn’s 19 month old son, Jayden, Grace’s six year old niece, Sir Junior and I all piled into the car and headed north to Magat Dam. But first, we of course had to stop at the Save More Market to stock up on snacks. We bought some of my favorites, one I started loving when I was in Spain, Hello Panda, and always a classic, Pringles, and a couple more chips and bread.

Loading up on snacks.