Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boxing Day, Then and Now

Last 26 December was the celebration of Boxing Day here in Australia. The first time I experienced it I found it rather disappointing because almost all shops were closed. Funny thing, when I heard that most people went to cinema during Boxing Day I thought it was to watch a Boxing match or something which was even boring, to me at least. To our enlightenment though, according to our relatives here, Boxing Day is actually a time when Australians open the gifts they have received on Christmas Day. Okay, I know it doesn't really take a whole day to do that and most people actually opened their gifts right away anyway so I figured out that they probably also watch regular movies or go to parks or just eat out too. Family stuff.

Last year, it didn’t matter that this was a no work holiday since we have just arrived and didn’t have jobs yet. After spending the eve of 25th over at relatives’ house, we went out at Blacktown the next day and as I have mentioned above, the entire Westpoint shopping centre was closed. Luckily though, a pharmacy next to it was open and had marked down clay and craft toys for kids. That was their very first Australia-bought toys.

This year, now that I have a job, I particularly looked forward to this day to spend time with my family with thrift shop hopping as one of the main activities. Usually, I have a few minutes to walk into thrift shops along the way to station every morning before I go to work as my shift doesn’t start until 11am. But it’s usually just for a maximum of 15 minutes. It is really not enough so I fantasy spending a day browsing through the shops with my husband to consult (and argue hehe) with. So that was my plan, to go thrift shop scouting on Boxing Day. I knew from experience that shops will be closed but I had to try my luck so we went to Penrith where it was supposedly the home of big thrift shops that is closest to our area. When we got there, my heart just sank. And we didn’t even eat breakfast so we could get there early.

Hungry and sad, we decided to eat at the first restaurant that we saw and that was Hog’s Breath. We tried their famous ribs, side salads and fish and chips for the kids. Overall, the experience was fairly satisfactory meaning, I was glad to have tried it out but I wouldn't prefer to go there again. First of all, it took so long to have our ordered food served. Next, I personally think that the food was good but not the kind that makes you think about eating there again. Finally, food was too pricey. Okay, erase the first two reasons. I’m not really choosy with food taste nor am I impatient I could actually wait. Food was pricey PERIOD.

After that devastating cost of food, we strolled around Penrith but everything was pretty much closed so we headed back to our dear home St Marys and try our luck with the Swimming Pools instead. Good thing, the pools were open but since we didn’t prepare for this, I had to go back to the house to get change clothes and towels for all of us while the kids and the husband took a dip in the pool without me. They were closing early, 5 pm, but we had like 2 hours to enjoy before something gruesome happened. This kid who was about 6 or 7 of age was approaching the pool with her shorts down and something yellowish could be seen through her undies. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out and as if JAWS has come himself, we were out of the pool in no time. Sorry for that disgusting tale but it was part of that Boxing Day escapade that I just can’t leave out. Hehehe.

And then we went home tired but happy. Just as the kids were happy with their new toys last year, they were happy with their new adventures this year.

And that was how we spent the holiday then and now.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The 3 day international thanksgiving of the whole brethren for the 4th quarter of 2013 had just ended with a theme that says "masayang pagpapasalamat" or happy thanksgiving. Basically, it emphasizes that our service to the Lord must always be coupled with gladness in our hearts may we be in the midst of a trial or a blessing.

This particular thanksgiving celebration means extra special to me though for I have received a surprise gift. Once again, just when something big that matters to me seemed hopeless, God turns it around completely.

For almost 3 years, I cried silently about the situation of someone very important to me. There were times when I was inclined to blame myself for what happened to them, for my incapacity to help, for my incapacity to have prevented what happened. And I couldn't even pray to God to turn things around for fear that I might sin against Him. So I bore with the situation like a thorn in my heart. I battled against them even though it was difficult for they had been good providers to me but I had to prove that I didn't love them more than God.

Just when I started to accept things and detached myself spiritually from them, a spark of hope was given and eventually the desires of my heart. I know I am not deserving of this gift and mercy for I am not really the most obedient or faithful servant. Gladness was somewhat partial to me for, to be honest, I am very impatient when things don't go my way. I know I should change with all that has been proven to me. Once in my life, I too had been a hopeless case but God turned my life around and He'd given me more than I desired for. And now this. In between were His constant understanding and love that in every situtation I can proudly say that we were never forsaken. His plans were of course always the best.

This is the second time around that something big has been turned around to my surprise and I am more than gratified and delighted. I am forever grateful with gladness in my heart, all the days of my life...

Monday, December 9, 2013

The First Year

9 December 2013. This date marks the first year of our family life in Australia. A year full of transition, of challenges, ups and downs, firsts. To sum up, it was like a roller-coaster ride.

I remember the first time meeting my family at the airport after 2 months of being away from them. It was blissful! I admired my husband as I looked at him, baggage, kids and all. I felt pity at the same time at how he managed 100kg and 2 tired toddlers without me. I couldn’t help but feel a little regretful about my decision to leave ahead of them. We could have left together. It must be fun, all four of us in the plane. It had always been my dream to travel with my family but God willing, I hope it will happen soon. At that moment, the most I cared about was having to be with them again.

Daisy ran up to me when she recognised me and then Demi too and perhaps husband too if he could just leave those baggages unattended. I could have hugged them there forever, oblivious of what was happening around when tita came and then I realised we had to hurry up to avoid parking fees. Oh the joy of meeting again!

On the way back, the kids kept talking and filling me in with stories and I just stared at them unbelieving how 2 months could have changed them. They were hardly babies but little girls. Especially Daisy, when I left her, she hardly speaks complete sentences. The longest she could attempt was “Hindi kakanta si Daisy sa swimming pool ng dida didida didido.” Hahaha. But she was talking straight then. And I was worried they might feel restless while strapped in their car seats cause in PH, they can move about inside the moving car to their hearts’ content (and to the other passengers irritation hehehe). Incredibly though, they were very well behaved which was another shock to me. They just kept chatting and chatting until they finally fell into a nap.

After we had a hearty lunch at tito Rudy and tita Angie’s house in Pennant Hills, they drove us to our final destination, which is their house in Hebersham where we are to live for the next months or so and where so much of our first time memories were nurtured. Looking back now, I feel grateful that we have kind and generous relatives who supported us all the way. God bless their good hearts.

Our relatives have always been around to help us. From the very first day from picking us up at the airport, to giving us financial support (cause we didn’t have any savings at all when we came here), to helping us know our way around, what to expect and how to deal with things. I remember the next day after my family has arrived, the husband was feeling very sick. He was suffering all day from an upset stomach and couldn’t get up. I didn’t know what to do. Tita Marie came in the afternoon and drove us to the doctor. Again, thanks to God for the timely help. And the help didn’t end there. It all came when we needed it, from friends, brothers in faith, everyone.

I am not actually saying that things were easy like everything just fell from the sky and had been served to us on silver platters. The truth is, our settlement had its challenges attached to it. I, especially, struggled emotionally because I couldn’t fit in right away. I missed the simple life we had in PH. Maybe because I am the type of person who isn’t so ambitious. When I am happy where I am, I tend to stay. And I did have a satisfying life back then: work-family balanced job, enough means and sometimes more than enough, and in between my routinary life I was able to squeeze in my passion for craft. So when those difficult times came I questioned what I have gotten myself into cause there was no way going back and I couldn’t move forward either. I felt stuck and I didn’t like where I was.

But now things are a lot clearer. I realised that the reason why we are here and why we had to undergo the trials is not to have an abundant or easy life. It is because we have responsibilities that we could fulfil better if we are here. Here, we were given the means to fulfil the responsibilities we couldn’t have done in the Ph. Here we became stronger especially me, who needed to be more independent so we could look after ourselves and still extend a hand to those who needed us too. And all these are with God’s help for throughout this journey, we couldn’t have made it alone.

And these struggles were actually factors why I went on hiatus from blogging and other things I loved. To step back, find the path, learn what is being taught and shift myself to the new road we were given to take. Now, after a slow and painful process, I think I am finally sinking into this track. And thus, while I end this post, I’d say I am ready to share the journey we had the first year of our family life in this foreign land. Until my next posts then... God willing :)

Where My Demons Hide

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