Please click the pictures to visit my other blogs:
Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Handwritten Pieces of Love

On Monday evening I started a project that seemed to consume much more time than I had anticipated, but they were hours spent diligently in love. I wrote 29 letters -- handwritten pieces of love -- to send to my dear friends at the Bible College in Xai Xai, Moçambique, where I worked, ministered, and poured out my heart for 7 weeks this past summer. I know the letters and pictures will be cherished, but more important than always remembering me -- affectionately known as Tia Joia or Blanco Joia -- I wrote to remind the students of the incredible things that God did while I was there, of the mountains He moved, the ways He provided, and the strength He gave us during a very difficult circumstance (Baby Joãquim's death.) I am grateful that my ministry can continue in this way, because when I left Moçambique, I felt like I had taken much more than I was given, like I owe them something. In giving so much time to these letters, other assignments and "to-do's" were neglected, but I know I made the better choice of eternal benefits. (On a side note: my português has proven itself sufficient!)

1. Pastor Mohammed, Orai Lehman, Pastor Matussee, Pastor Filipe Macaringue, Pastor and Mama Cuave, and Rachel Helm
2. Mama Julio, Rafael, Cornelio, Isac and Sala, Quite, Gilson, Luis, Abel, and Amelia
3. Dinis, Carolina, Nhando, Maria, Armando, Felismina, Casimiro, Calisto, Cachimo, Antonio, Domingos, and George
4. Alima, Abrão, Joaquina, Marsonsy, Guida, Sergio, Lucas, Mario, and João

Oh Jesus, protect and provide for these cherished ones. Encourage and strengthen their ministry, and shower them in your overwhelming and unconditional love.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How to celebrate 22 years of life

Jessie and my actual birthday wasn't too exciting because I had nightclass, so we celebrated the night before.

With Grandmom
So glad was able to celebrate with us this year

He's a proud papa!
(Dairy Queen ice cream cake.. is there any other kind??)

and Momma

And on Saturday:

Aunt Sue's Tea Room with the ladies

However, only the birthday girls landed in a picture!

On Friday we are going with Mom and Dad to our sister and brother-in-law's house to celebrate and get some play/cuddle time with Leah and Baby Mal. Can't wait. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall's First Friday's Fave. Five!

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks to Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for hosting!

1. Oh happy dance, it's finally Friday! I have been anxiously awaiting this day all week! I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I'm ready for some fun! Tonight is "girls' movie night" with Janna, Jessa, and Jessie (twin sis); last Sunday we watched Why Did I Get Married? and tonight we're watching Why Did I Get Married Too?. This weekend is also Ducktail Run and James Dean Weekend (two large car shows in town, which supposedly brings in 1,000s of people from everywhere!) and that means it is prime rummaging time! Saturday morning Jessie and I are going rummaging, then I have Zumba class, and birthday lunch at Aunt Sue's Tea Room with the ladies! Then in the evening, I'll go to Ducktail Run with Jessie and our parents for Bill Rock's famous tenderloins! Sunday night after church, we are having a party to dedicate and to celebrate Ezra's recent adoption from Uganda! Cannot wait!!!!

2. Lunch Breaks
My lunch breaks, although they are only an hour long, often feel like a vacation. It is an escape from class and work, and a time to rest and settle my thoughts.

3. Psalm 139:14-17
I made this last Fall and I have it printed as an 8"x10" on my desk.

4. The Golden Girls
Do you watch The Golden Girls? So. So. So funny! It was a mid-80s to early 90s TV series, and my favorite ever! In fact, I really enjoy trying to match all my friends to one of the four distinct personalities in the show. HA.
Rose: "You know what they say: you can lead a herring to water, but you have to walk really fast or he'll die."

5. My previous roommate surprised me with a beautiful blue cardigan sweater and ivory tank for my birthday, and I cannot wait for a cool Fall day to wear them! Thanks Traci!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This morning I had a criticizing thought towards a girl wearing boots in 81* weather. Boots!

Although... I suppose it's probably also a little premature for listening to Christmas music already...


I've had Christmas music in my car since early August!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"I am Second"

Listen to this incredibly powerful testimony of God's love and grace. Formerly the lead guitarist of the metal band Korn, Head left the band after converting to Christianity and focusing on life as a father, and to pursue his own solo career "...dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior."

It's almost 8 minutes long, but it's worth it.

My faithful Father, enduring Friend
Your tender mercy’s like a river with no end
It overwhelms me, covers my sin
Each time I come into Your presence
I stand in wonder once again

Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
Your grace still amazes me
‘Cause Your grace still amazes me

Oh, patient Saviour, You make me whole
You are the Author and the Healer of my soul
What can I give You, Lord, what can I say
I know there’s no way to repay You
Only to offer You my praise

[Your Grace Still Amazes Me by Philips Craig and Dean]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my best friend, my twin sister Jessie!! There is no one else I would rather share my birthday with. I cherish her as my friend, and our sisterhood is the most special relationship I have ever experienced.
In 22 years we have experienced death, life, and everything in between. We have shared victory and defeat. When I get discouraged, she sets me straight, and when I am happy, she celebrates with me. We are alike in many ways, but so different in other ways. My sister is strong; I admire her strength and depend on it frequently. She is smart a genius. She is an inspiration and she makes me want to be a better person.

I also share my birthday with another incredible person: Pastor Greg Fernandez, who I call Po Greg (or Uncle Greg.) Po Greg and his family are filipino missionaries to Cambodia, where I met them last summer and they have become indispensable in my life. They are family. Po Greg is a man of incredible wisdom and discipline, an example and an encouragement as I continue to pursue God and His ministry in Cambodia.
When I am in Cambodia and can no longer celebrate with my sister, it will be a blessing and a privilege to share my birthday with Po Greg.

Happy birthday to you both! I love you!

Tune in tomorrow to hear about the celebration!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Header votes...

After getting a few complaints that my blog was difficult to read, I finally did a re-design. Opinions? The tiling effect isn't my preference, but I'm still working on that. Anyways.. I also made 3 new headers, but I can't decide which I like the best. Actually, I know which one I like the best, but I can't decide which one LOOKS the best.
Contemplate your vote carefully, because it will count! I don't anticipate hearing from more than 1 or 2 people... HA!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dancing in the Rain

"Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass,
it's about learning to dance in the rain."
~ Vivian Greene

What if you decided to appreciate where you are right now?
What if you decided there are some positive things to be gained from your situation?
You get to choose how you view your life and your situation.
What do you choose? Are you waiting or dancing?

When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that is present, we experience life enthusiastically.

So, enjoy this poem “Weather Report” by BJ Gallagher
“Any day I’m vertical is a good day”
…that’s what I always say.
And I give thanks for my health.

If you ask me, “How are you?”
I’ll answer, “GREAT!”
because in saying so, I make it so.
And I give thanks that I can choose my attitude.

When life give me dark clouds and rain,
I appreciate the moisture that brings
a soft curl to my hair.

When life gives me sunshine,
I gratefully turn my face up
to feel its warmth on my cheeks.

When life brings fog,
I hug my sweater around me
and give thanks for the cool
shroud of mystery that makes
the familiar seem different and intriguing.

When life brings the snow,
I dash outside to catch
the first flakes on my
tongue, relishing the
icy miracle that is a snowflake.

Life’s events and experiences
are like the weather -
The come and go,
no matter what my preference.

So, what the heck?!
I might as well decide to enjoy them.
For indeed, there IS a time for every
purpose under heaven.

Each season brings its
own unique blessings…


It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

So start dancing, now is the time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Titus' Birthday & Friday's Fave. Five

It's finally Friday [another celebratory dance!] Here are five things that added something special to a stressful and exhausting week! Click HERE to visit Susanne at "Living to Tell the Story" and link up to share your Friday's Fave. Five or to read others.

Romdenh Chamnol [aka: Titus] Today, I celebrate the day a fine person was born; a person with a lovely heart, a handsome face, a captivating smile, and an alluring personality.

Happy birthday Bong Samlange, ♥ ♥ ♥
see you in December!

2. Music from Papua New Guinea As of yesterday, it is my newfound obsession. My bloggy friend Kari, a Papua New Guinean currently residing in Thailand, posted this song on her blog to celebrate PNG's 35 birthday:

London Fog

A McConn Coffee special drink: Creamy Chai and Ghirardelli white chocolate steamed together with English Toffee. Yum. Yum. Yummo!
This week at IWU we had regularly scheduled chapel services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, but in addition, we had chapel opportunities on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, as well as Tuesday morning. Pastor Mick Veach, from Stony Creek Community Church (Detroit,) came as an anointed speaker and we had revival! In the evenings, I would estimate that 2,000 students came together for the message and a powerful time of worship. God moved in incredible ways, and I am anxious to see what happens here next!

5. Special Memories

My friend Sue sent this picture yesterday from my last evening in Xai Xai, Mozambique this summer. That night I made, iced, and sprinkled 60 cupcakes for my going away part at the Bible College the next day. Here are our best efforts to protect the goods from ants, rats, sandstorms, etc.
How many missionaries does it take to wrap a box of cupcakes?

Yes... I just HAD to add a 6th...

6. Luke at
Blue Sky Travel Inc. Thanks to my wonderful Aussie travel agent, after months of stress and anticipation, I finally have my plane ticket to Cambodia for Christmas! I am a little nervous of going alone through an airport [in China] that I've never been through, but I trust that nine hours will be plenty of time to find my way around...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Whale

My friend Thelita posted these pictures today of a beached whale in Xai Xai, Mozambique. I spent 7 weeks on the Indian Ocean shoreline this summer, and the Vermaaks lived just down the street. What an incredible sight!

I am not sure what is in this last picture. It is clear from the previous picture that this end is his mouth, but I'm not sure what the extending bulge is. Any thoughts?

As I view the grand majesty of the mountains, the great power of the oceans, the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, and the complexity of all living things, I am overwhelmed by God's great care and goodness. His power is unfathomable.

“Creation therefore remains a kind of first revelation which speaks to us clearly of the Creator and which can lead us ever more deeply into the mystery of God’s love for us.”

Even when I look at something like a beached whale, I think nature is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen...

Edit from Thelita: "It's a Southern Right whale. The locals pretty much ate the whole thing, but the skeleton of the whale is going to a museum in Maputo and the rest of it's floating around in the pool in front of the reef. They buried some of it too!"

Here I am standing in the reef where the whale remains are now floating

Monday, September 13, 2010


Stuff. I have so much stuff. I have an entire shelf of books that I have never read. In my cupboard, I have five bottles of lotion, only half-used. There are movies on my shelf that I haved watched only once or twice. I have more jewelry than I could even wear in one week. I keep shirts that do not fit, and pants that I do not like. I have more blankets than I need. I am a collector of stuff. I am trapped by my stuff. I overvalue stuff. Stuff. Stuff. STUFF. I do not need any more stuff. I do not want any more stuff. I am officially and actively avoiding stuff.

When I turn 22 next Tuesday, instead of celebrating by receiving stuff, I'm going to give stuff. I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to do this, but I'm going to do it. I'm embarrassed by my stuff. I am guilty of my stuff. No more stuff!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Study buddies..

After having a dirty, empty bowl for six+ months, I finally bought two more fish. I think they are pretty, and peaceful, and I like to talk to them while I study avoid studying.

A family picture: Sukie Danger Trust
Abraham Chaos Obey
and baby Josefina Elli Fante.
[Also know as Trust, Obey, and Elli Fante]

Trust and Obey are an object lesson
and an encouragement to my faith.
"Just keep swimming"

Obey is definitely my favorite.
Look at that handsome face.

Trust [ironically named 'Trust'] likes to hide in the shadows of the back of the bowl.