Monday, December 31, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR--12 more weeks

I flew in yesterday for my last 3 months here in the Philippines. I can't believe how fast the time is flying by! Coming here from the US is much easier than getting back to the US, haha. All my flights were on time, and I even had 2 extra seats next to me on the long flight, so I could stretch out and sleep.

I haven't really battled jet-lag here yet. I had a huge problem in Washington, but not much here. I guess I'll know for sure when I try to go to bed tonight.

It was a great break from being here, and very refreshing to be with family. I tended to take family for granted when I was home, always going out with friends and hardly ever talking on the phone with my sisters or grandparents. I guess it's just been a little bit of a wake-up call for what really matters in life. Thanks mom and dad for helping me out financially--I was really glad to be there! :D

Here's the pictures from the break:
Christmas in Washington 2007


I'm not sure what is happening tonight. I've heard a few fireworks, but haven't heard about any formal gathering or anything. I might take a walk down to UP square to see if anything is happening later on. All of the students are still at home, so it's just the international students.

Please pray that I will adjust. I'm fighting off a bit of a let-down from being in the US, and getting re-acquainted with life and culture here. I'll get there, it will just take me a few days. Have a great party/ball drop/whatever you do on New Year's Eve! :D

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'm sitting here, about to go to bed, and thinking. Tomorrow is a big deal, and I'm realizing that it's a world-wide big deal as I've been in the Philippines, and I ask myself "how in the world did this holiday get to be such a big deal?"

I can tell you why. On Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of a Man's life that would change the world--FOREVER. So many people celebrate a "season of giving" or a "time with the family" very conveniently bypassing the entire true meaning.

Genesis discusses the fall of man. Romans 3:23 states "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." This is undebatable. We're all sinners, even if a person think they're "not that bad." None of us ever had to be taught to disobey our parents, we just did; it came as human nature.

What does sin do? It separates us from God for eternity, unless it is dealt with. This is where Christ comes in. Without the birth of Christ, there could be NO salvation from our wrongdoings. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself states "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Christ was the sacrifice that paid for our iniquity.

Salvation has two parts. In order to spend eternity with God and be sanctified, a person must come to a realization that they are a sinner and accept God's grace and forgiveness. Christ's death on the cross and resurrection (celebrated at Easter) signify Him paying the price for our sins--we just need to accept it. The other part is bringing God in as Lord of your life. His lordship is crucial to growing in Him and getting to know him better--it's A RELATIONSHIP.

Forget the rules and regulations you may have associated with Christianity, God just wants to know you, and for you to know Him. A person does not intentionally hurt a friend, just as we then should revere and respect God for what and who He is. The desire to serve God arises from one's relationship with God, and accepting that Lordship.

None of this can be done on our own. We cannot work our way into God's favor. No matter how many gifts you give or homeless people you cloth and feed, it will not save you. It says in Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." It's SO not about us! It's ALL ABOUT CHRIST!

So, back to Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ, who made this all possible. Christ is fully God and fully man, and the BEST gift a person can ever have been given.

What are your priorities today? Why are YOU celebrating? Forget about the gifts and the business of the holiday, and focus on it's true meaning. I hope this truth can make a difference.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! :oD


Saturday, December 22, 2007

SNOW!

I went skiing at Stevens Pass with Aryn and Tim last night, and it was A-MAZING. It was crazy because the runs they have here are so much longer than anything we have in Michigan. I borrowed Ben's skis and boots, so all we had was the lift ticket.

It was a beautiful area, too. The mountains were totally white, and all the trees had a fresh coating of snow. And it wasn't crowded at all! We didn't even have to wait to get on the lift. I only took one spill, and it wasn't even that bad. Just got some snow up the jacket was all.

Today Mom and Dad fly in at some point. I'm almost fully adjusted to the time here, so hopefully I'll be coherent and can spend some time with them before going to bed. :o) HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Longest day EVER

So I didn't sleep on the plane like I was hoping to. Pretty much, that means that I was awake for about 34 straight hours--but it was all on December 20. I did break and allow myself to to take an hour long nap yesterday afternoon, but I am managing. I woke up around 10am here, and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

I'm pretty sure that my "stay up all night before I fly out" strategy is NOT the way to go next time, haha. Had I gone to sleep early that night, I would have had a little more sleep saved up and wouldn't have been so loopy and incoherent when I got here. I was rambling and babbling more than usual, and I had very little control over what was being said.

Skiing at Steven's Pass tonight is going to be a blast. I've been looking forward to this for quite a while now! Ben let me borrow his boots and stuff, so I won't have to rent, which is going to save a bunch of money. I'm just so excited to see snow! Last year's slush-skiing at Caberfae didn't quite cut it in terms of quality, so this will be the first real skiing for me in a few years. I'm totally ready for it though! Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I didn't throw up!

I woke up late today, and spent the morning packing. I caught the bus from Olivarez to Magallenes, and for the first time on any sort of public transportation, I never felt sick! Thanks to all of you who were praying for me, as that has been a pretty big battle for me since I got here.

I had to take a taxi to the hotel. I don't like taxis. I don't care where it is, I'm just not a fan. Have any of you seen "The Bone Collector?" You know what I'm talking about. I got in the taxi and the handles were broken, and the locks were unuseable. I couldn't open the door from the inside. I thought to myself "this is NOT good." The driver even had a little figurine hanging from the rearview mirror.

But I made it. He didn't take me away and kill me. =D Oh the things that movies put in our minds...

My flight leaves at 7:55 am, and my next post will come from Washington! Have a great day tomorrow! :o)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm done for a while...

I just had my last class period for two weeks! I had an exam today, and I have no idea how I did. I'm hoping to keep above that 60% cutoff they have here. Anything higher than a 60% in a class means that I don't have to take any finals. It sounds low, but MSU curves most of their classes, so a 60% might be average. We'll see how it goes. =D

I bought a duffle bag today for 620 pesos at an army surplus-type store. I was happy, because thats like $15. I didn't want to have to lug my huge suitcase onto the bus, then into a taxi, and then to the airport. It's big enough that I can fit everything I need, but small enough to carry around.

It's crazy that I'm leaving tomorrow! It's going to be a great trip. I may update from the hotel tomorrow night, if I can get access.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Never a dull moment...

I just have to blog this...

I am sitting here in the lobby at SEARCA minding my own business, and I'm pretty much right beneath a mirror. There are very few actual glass windows in the dorm, so it's mostly open.

Well, a bird got confused. I didn't notice it until it flew smack into the mirror above me and fell, stunned, right onto my keyboard! I didn't know if it was knocked out or whatever, so I just sort of brushed it off onto the floor. (I know, I'm such a caring individual... :o\ maybe not.) Turns out, it was still alive and semi-coherent. Now I just hope I don't get bird flu...

So what does it do? Flies -- AGAIN -- right back into the mirror!! :o) I shouldn't be getting so much pleasure out of this... Oh well. It missed my keyboard this time, and I think it was actually pretty seriously conked out. It actually JUST woke up and managed to find its way out through an open window.

I just thought I would share that story with you. ;o) Go ahead and say it--I'm a horrible person. Or at least I should never have a bird for a pet. =D

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Party #100000000000000

They love to celebrate here! I just returned from another Christmas party, the official IRRI party. They went ALL out too! I wish I had brought my camera, because there was some great cultural displays.

Each "cluster" had to make up a production to present, and then they were judged and there was a prize for the winner. Music and dance is very ingrained in Filipino culture. The productions all had music and hip-hop type dancing, but also some traditional dancing as well. The soils group won, which was pretty cool. They did a skit displaying the life cycle of rice, and the obstacles of growth (drought, typhoons, insect pests, rats). It was all people dressed up and stuff. I really wish I would have brought my camera.

Tomorrow I am going to help Jason with his prep work for an experiment. He is working on his master's thesis on sweet sorghum. I'll finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow afternoon. What is everyone else doing?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have you ever read Jeremiah?

I've been studying for a Physiology exam for the last 4 hours, so I thought I'd take a break and blog!

Part of what I'm doing in my devos right now is reading through Jeremiah, one chapter per day. I was curious about the book because all I knew from it was Jeremiah 29:11, which is read out of context all the time. I knew that the verse spoke to the Jews in exile, but I wanted to know more about the book as a whole.

The verse I'm talking about reads like this:
Jeremiah 29:11 --
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Now, I suppose there's nothing wrong with looking to this verse for comfort. BUT, I am not, and never will be, a Jew in exile. I don't feel like debating Old Testament doctrine right now, haha. One thing that has stood out to me from reading this book (I just read chapter 12 today), is how God's justice is revealed. This is a harsh, BRUTAL piece of literature!!!

I find it interesting that whenever people read this verse, it's when they are going through a tough time. But the Jews were going through a REAL rough time, and it was brought on by themselves. If anyone of you readers have ever doubted God's holiness and justice, because all you hear about is His love, read Jeremiah.

Now, God is a loving God, and this verse proves it because He has an ultimate plan for them. The Jews are God's chosen people, and they're always cycling. God has never let them go though, and he never will. I have just really been impressed through my reading of Jeremiah, because while I've heard about God's wrath from other books, it's just very powerfully spoken.

So those are my thoughts on Jeremiah...

I cannot believe how fast time is going. One week from tomorrow I'll be in Washington, enjoying the snow, good pizza, and time with family! I am so thankful that God has blessed me so much with a great family, a ton of friends, and this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience! God is good all the time! :oD

Monday, December 10, 2007

I almost forgot what the sun looked like...

"I got myself for Secret Santa. I was supposed to tell somebody, but I didn't."
" I want the footbath."
"That's the thing I bought myself. I'm really psyched to use it. Maybe I should've taken the iPod. Oh, shoot!"

Those of you who watch The Office should know this quote. Thank you Kevin Malone. I must admit...I did this at our dorm Christmas party. Or at least something similar. :oD I had the choice between three other gifts, and I was supposed to put mine in the center for someone else...but I really wanted mine. So I put the other three in the middle, haha.

Anyways, today was BEAUTIFUL! Probably the nicest day I've had here so far. No rain, a few clouds, and breezy, not too hot. I unfortunately was in class for most of the day, but did manage to walk around for an hour or so. I can see so many more mountains without the clouds, and Mount Makiling almost was out of the clouds. Not quite, but almost.

I made reservations for a hotel near the airport in Manila. Hopefully that works out for next week. I don't want to be wandering all over Manila by myself! Ok, well, that's all for now.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

New post for a new week

Hey everyone! I have a Christmas Party to go to at my dorm, which should be interesting. It's supposed to have food from all over Asia, so I'll probably get to try a few new things. I will be staying away from any fried chicken though, haha.

I can't believe my trip to Washington is creeping up so fast! I'm leaving a week from Wednesday and staying overnight in Manila, because my flight leaves in the morning. With traffic out of Los Banos to Manila, there is no guarantee that I would make it on time. That will be an adventure as well, because I may be going by myself. Jed is flying down to Mindanao the same day, so he might go with me. I'd feel better NOT wandering around Manila by myself. Hopefully it works out. I mean, I suppose once I got there, I could just get a taxi to take me to the airport. I'm sure it will be fine though! :o)

I'm really excited about getting pizza with pasteurized cheese, and I wouldn't mind a slurpee or 2 either, no matter how cold it is. It will be great to spend Christmas with family!!! :D Have a great Sunday everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Relaxing weekend

Good Morning! I went around with Jun today at IRRI and explored the long-term experiment. It's pretty complicated! I should get to do a few things with that experiment starting with transplanting next year, which will be fun. I have a work party to go to tonight, which should be a good time.


Last night in our small group, we discussed the section of James that talks about how faith without works is dead. We got into quite a discussion, and I came out with a lot of questions:
1. What defines a good work?
2. Can a non-believer do good works?
3. Is there any good in someone's life with the absence of a relationship with God?

Just something to think on. I would love it if you would post your thoughts, as we will probably do a quick recap discussion next week. Ok, I have to go shower for tonight. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bryce: 1 Cockroaches: 0

I just realized that I have been here a month, and have no yet said anything about the enormous and disgusting bugs that I have seen. This entry will be a real treat. =D

This is a picture of what tried to live in my room. But I won. My second night in the dorms, I came in after dinner and saw it, and was like "HECK NO." I grabbed the broom in one hand and a sandal in the other, and went to town on the thing. Then I shoved a couple of rugs under the door out onto my porch to eliminate any exposure to the outside. I haven't seen one since, but I fully expect her angry offspring to return, or something similar that you might see in one of those awful giant bug horror movies.

This, by far, was the worst, though. I hadn't noticed anything for almost 2 weeks. No big bugs, nothing to freak out about. But when I saw these, I FREAKED OUT. I can't help but look above me whenever I walk under anything, because I'm convinced that eventually one of these will land on my face. Heaven forbid.

These spiders are ALL OVER THE PLACE on the walk out to IRRI. They've spun webs between all of the power lines, and they're maybe the size of my hand, perhaps a little bit bigger. It was all I could do to get close enough to get a good picture. I hate these things. If I ever see one of these in my dorm room, I will be on the first plane out of Manila, because I don't know if I could kill one. It would leave goo all over the place!

Now, this is all a learning experience, and one I'm grateful for...but I have no desire to come into direct contact with any bug larger than my fingernails. God created them, yes, and therefore I'm sure someone can find them beautiful. I, however, cannot.

Hopefully you get a kick out of this, because I do...from a distance anyways. ;o)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Puerto Galera!

Well, I just returned from Sabang Beach after a weekend of snorkeling. Let me tell you, God created a whole other world that is AWESOME to experience. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that without it being inside of a glass aquarium. It was one of the most peaceful experiences I have ever had. After diving down into the water, it's almost completely silent, but there is so much life!

Unfortunately, I didn't have an underwater camera, so I couldn't take any pictures. But I have plenty from above the water:
Sabang

I did manage to see a sea snake and one of these:













It was a great experience, but I wasn't a huge fan of the boat ride out there from Batangas. One of the things I am discovering about myself here is that I am more prone to motion sickness than I ever knew. Hooray. :o\

It probably didn't help that I was coming down with the flu on our last day there. I'm feeling much better today, but last night was absolutely awful. I don't think it was food poisoning, but I suppose it could have been.

Well, I'm off to class pretty soon. Have a great week!