Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ask Us Anything - Part 5 {Miscellaneous Questions}



Today is the last Ask Us Anything post! I've had a lot of fun with these! You all asked some really great questions.

Today I'm talking about travel, my pet peeve, a guilty pleasure and a few other things! Hope you enjoy!

I put the questions and times underneath the video so you can skip to a certain question if you want.




INTRO
Q1: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go (It's ok if it's a place you've been to already) 0:17
Q2: What are your pet peeves 1:57
Q3: What is your favorite topic to blog about? 2:45
Q4: Tell us about your hobbies / what you enjoy the most? 3:07
Q5: Do you have any guilty pleasures? 3:35
Q5: What is God teaching you as you reside overseas? 3:50

***Disclaimer*** After I made this vlog I started thinking "Have I ever really had 5 lattes in 1 day?" I can't remember but I know I have had a lot in one day, at least 3 and I still felt no guilt. =)

Also if you missed the other Ask Us Anything posts and want to check them out here they are:
Part 1 - Questions about America
Part 2 - Questions about Myanmar
Part 3 - Missions!
Part 4 - Marriage

You all had questions about food too! What I miss (CHEESE!) and some other really good questions. I do have a few upcoming posts about what we eat over here in Myanmar and what grocery shopping looks like for us.

Lastly, if you still have more questions the forum is still open! Click here for the forum.

What is your pet peeve? 
What is your guilty pleasure?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alisha's Visit to Myanmar


One of the neatest and most precious times about living overseas are when family and friends come to see you.
For starters, it means so much that they would take a long period of time off of work and fly for 30+ hours across the world to see us.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing and encouragement it is. Honestly, I’ve never been good at summarizing when guests come because I always think “How do I fit two amazing and precious weeks in a post?”, but today I am going to try! 

Alisha is one of my closest friends and we lived in Korea together for a year so I was elated knowing we were going to get to hang out in Asia again. Of course time flew when she was here but we had a lovely time and I’ll always cherish it. 


Alisha’s Visit to Myanmar

Alisha arrived on a Monday morning and was kind enough to haul 4 suitcases of supplies with personal items, like Maple Syrup and tortillas, as well as a bunch of school items.
She arrived on day 1 of water festival which lasted through Thursday. We got soaking wet several times but made it! We also stood on our 11th floor balcony and dumped water on people. It was fun. 

During the week everything but the temples were closed. So we went to a big reclining Buddha as well as Shwedagon during that time.

Some of our friends here in Myanmar love to show foreigners Thanaka so we took Alisha to their house to experience that.


After Thanaka we went to People’s Park and showed here the fun tree houses and bridges.


Saturday morning, Alisha and I went downtown for a girl’s day of shopping! We went to the big souvenir market and shopped for a looong time. It was so much fun! So much fun we didn’t even take a picture but we did find some beautiful things. I also took her to the two big grocery stores I shop at because it is always interesting to show someone a foreign grocery store. 

That evening we had Zama, Pam and the family over for dinner and it was nice to visit with all of us together. 

Early Sunday morning we flew up to the Shan state to Inle Lake. That whole are is beautiful and peaceful and I can’t recommend it enough. We spent three nights there and thoroughly enjoyed it.   



We arrived back in Yangon on Wednesday afternoon and I took Alisha to a mall where they make handmade dresses. I had been waiting for her to come shopping with me because shopping is more fun with girls. We spent a long time picking out dresses and skirts and had a lovely time. We then went to an Israeli restaurant for dinner and of course it was incredibly tasty. 


A trip to the local market across the street was a must as well and I know it’s no surprise that I took her to the flower section of the market. 


Thursday we took Alisha for a walking tour of downtown Yangon. We saw a lot of old buildings and important sights but didn’t stay out too long because it was soooo hot! 

Friday we walked to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, visited an art gallery and we took Alisha to a fun Mexican restaurant that they have here. She left Friday evening and we won’t talk about that part. 

Other Notable Events: 
-Sleeping and napping!
-A couple of power outages to get that real Myanmar experience
-A couple big rain storms
-Lucky, Lucky, Happy, Happy Days (I’ll let you in on this one … One time a man leached himself on to us at a temple and tried to tell us about what was in there. Each thing we came across he would just say ‘lucky lucky’ and then at the end of the tour he wanted money, money. Well we did give him some money but we always joked about saying every word two times so we just made that a habit and it was  funny, funny).
-Alisha’s 1st experience of eating ants (on accident)Fun kind notes from Dave for each of us
Last but definitely not least … mangoes, mangoes!


 Have you ever visited a friend when they lived abroad or moved to a new state? 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Myanmar 101 - How Money Works Here


I want to start sharing more about Myanmar culture on here. It’s so different, in both good and “are you kidding me?” ways and I thought it would be fun to share some of these things with you all. I’m no pro because, really, I’ve only been here 6 months, but we will pretend like I am one, ok? 

So let’s get started shall we? Today we are talking about money! 

For starters, let me tell you that Myanmar is a cash only society. Literally! If you go into the grocery store and hand them a Visa credit card you will walk out with no groceries.  Everything is paid for in cash! 

Even our apartment was paid in cash and rent is paid for the entire year, upfront. One year’s worth of rent up front! Here is our ‘rent money’. It was kind of crazy, funny and a (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience. 


Although it is a cash society they do have ATM’s…sort of. 

There are two types of ATM’s: 

ATM’s as the rest of the world knows them and Myanmar ATM’s. Here is how they work – I can not go to an ATM and put my American card in. They don’t work like that. See, if I want to use an ‘ATM’ I have to go get a Myanmar bank account and then get a pre-paid ATM card where I can withdraw cash. Like a pre-paid Visa card you get for your birthday. 

They do have a few ATM’s here that you can use for a debit card but I haven’t used my card in so long that I forgot my pin number (which I realize that could be a real problem at some point) and I don’t know that I trust the ATM’s here. 

So Dave and I do everything in cash! Which means we brought in a big chunk of change and when people come and visit they are our ‘bank’. 

Now here is another Myanmar thing – they only accept perfect, brand new, rarely used, must have no marks, straight from the US Mint dollar bills. 

It might not sound like a big deal but let me tell you, I have had to haggle and get down right mean to get them to take my beautiful and crisp American dollars. 

Recently, I made a grocery trip to the Western grocery store. It is the nicest one in town and I go once a month to stock up. They also have a money changer there and we were low on Myanmar money so I figured I’d convert there. I had three $100 bills, all which I wanted to convert. Here are a picture of two of the pretty ones, that they refused to convert:

Do you see the bend in the bill? GASP! 
Now, the attendant meticulously studied, analyzed and looked at those bills. Almost like the world’s best scientific discovery was about to happen … then she looked at me and said she wouldn’t take any of my money because one bill had been folded, one had a red stamp on it and one had a small smudge of black ink on it. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 

I, in a very stern way, informed her that this was very good American money and that there was nothing wrong with it. I told her I drove super far to come here and that I HAD TO BUY GROCERIES! I felt like the world’s meanest missionary but I also knew I wasn’t driving another hour to bring her more USD. 

So after a heated discussion, mostly on my end explaining to her that the bills were good, I told her she was absolutely going to switch over at least one of those bills, which she reluctantly did and I bought my groceries, and still felt like a mean and horrible Christian person…. 

Now they are picky about bills, right? But what will they give me? See below...


Sometimes people in stores try to give me torn money because I’m an ignorant Westerner, and for a good long while I was, but now? If it is super crumpled and disgusting I give it right back, smile and tell them I need a different one. 


I will say that although this all sounds crazy it eventually all works out just fine. There is a nice man downstairs who will take just about any kind of money and I am so thankful for that man!

It also is teaching me to appreciate how financing works in America. We really do take that for granted. 


Do you prefer to use cash or a card? 
Does anyone know of other places in the world that operate like this?things!

PS – Are you on Instagram? I’m sharing more pictures on there with the hashtag #Myanmar101 to showcase more fun local things from around here. And don't worry they won't be dramatic as this post was. =)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Some thoughts on being Thankful




This past week God did some little, but big to me things, that really encouraged my heart. I have felt a little discouraged lately and miss home extra I’m so thankful that God in his lovingkindness sends blessing and reminders of His love. 

Also, I don’t write about being discouraged or missing home to raise the ‘woe is me flag’. It is part of life and no matter where we live we encounter difficulties at time but I am glad that God lifts us up time and time again. 

I sat down this past weekend and read the following verses. They really were a great reminder to me. 

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice evermore. 
Pray without ceasing. 
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  

God knows each one of our needs and that is why I am writing. I want to share how God has encouraged me to publicly praise Him and to hopefully encourage you. 


Here is a little list of the ways God has blessed me lately: 

1. An iPhone that works in Myanmar 

David’s sister and her husband were kind enough to send us their old iPhone. Dave and I took it to a shop and they did some work on it where we can use it here. 

I now can use Voxer, IG, FB and e-mail at my apartment and around town which means that I can stay easily connected to my family and friends. before I had to wait to go somewhere with wifi which is sometimes difficult to do here. The working phone is a HUGE blessing and encouraged me so much! I I think The Lord knew I needed that and I’m so thankful for it. 

2. Electricity

Electricity is much better here than I ever anticipated. Apparently it is the best year they have had so far. It is so nice to get back home and be able to turn on an ac. 

We have only had a handful or power outages and although they are annoying it sure has taught me to be more grateful for power. 

3. Fun Outings with Dave 

Dave and I have been trying some new restaurants, seeing art galleries and exploring Yangon during summer break. Although it is blistering hot outside (114+ degrees here) it is still fun to go explore. 


4. Family and Friends 

I have a core group of family amazing Christian women from all over the world that I keep in touch with. It has been a huge blessing to know that I can stay connected with them while we are abroad and I appreciate that I can share daily life with them. I think that goes to show how special the family of God is.

5. Handmade Dresses! 

This one is just a pure fun blessing and I’ll share more later but as soon as I finish writing this I’m going to get ready and Dave and I are going to pick up my custom ordered dress! I got to pick out the fabrics and design and I’m super excited that this fun opportunity is available here in Yangon! 

PS - I picked up my dress and really like it! It's gray and teal and all kinds of cute! 


What are you thankful for lately? 
How has God blessed you? 
Do you have a verse that reminds you to be thankful? 
Let’s be friends on IG and FB! I’d love to stay connected with you!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Project 12: May


It’s May you guys! I can hardly believe it. That means Dave and I have been in Asia for 6 months!

April went by really really fast. It was probably the fastest month for us and I attribute that to my good friend Alisha coming to visit. Seriously, like I don’t understand how time goes by 5 times faster than its normal pace when people come to visit? Someone please explain that to me. So, what that means is that if you come visit you have to come for 3 weeks instead of 2.

Here is a little recap of our month:

At the beginning of April we were still in Bangkok where we went on a few more prison visits. We wanted to be sure we go to go to the women’s prison that we had been to several times before. It’s nice to be able to meet with the same group of women and I really enjoy fellowshipping with them.

To celebrate our anniversary we went to Railay beach and had a lovely time. We highly recommend it.


We left Thailand on the 12th of April and Alisha flew in the next morning. We spent the first week surviving water festival but we did manage to take her to a few sights in that week as well.


Inle Lake was next on our agenda and it really is a hidden gem. It was a phenomenal place.  We even got to walk on a floating garden except where Dave “walked” it didn’t float and down he went. At first I wondered how in the world we were going to pull him out of the vines but once we realized he was ok Alisha started taking pictures and I laughed and laughed and still laugh about it.

Don't be fooled - I'm laughing more than helping here.

I also discovered Shan noodles and Shan curry at Lake Inle and they are amazing!  I’m hoping I can find the recipes so I can make them and share them here on the blog.


Pam had a birthday in April so that was fun to celebrate with her. Birthdays are always just so much fun!

Other than that Dave and I have gone on mini adventures in Yangon. We have visited some art galleries, tried a new Shan noodle restaurant, a new Indian restaurant and we also went to the drug museum, which was extremely weird but interesting. By weird I mean they had various organs and a fetus in bottles so you could see the effect of drugs. #thatsMyanmarforYou

I started studying K4 curriculum and prepping things for my class. June will be here before we know it.

OH and we sweated, a lot! Hot has a whole new meaning here. But water has been ok and the power has been better than I expected and we are thankful for that blessing.

I'd say the most notable sight we went to was Aung San Suu Kyi's house. You should just google her name. She is one amazing woman!


So that is April in review for us!
How was April for you?
What is your favorite thing about Spring so far? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ask Us Anything - Part 4 {Marriage}

Pensacola Beach - We will pretend that the sand is snow, ok? I'm ready for cold weather! 


Today I am talking about marriage + 1 other question. I decided to write these out so I could think more about them before answering. 


What is one way you think living abroad has strengthened your marriage? 

Many of my married friends who live abroad have told me about the wonders it does for your marriage. I naturally assumed that living abroad would do magic for us but I learned something: living abroad isn't what makes our marriage strong but rather choosing to work things out and choosing to do what is right will make our marriage strong. 

I think it boils down to a choice, whether you live abroad or live in the country you grew up in, it is a choice to love. It's a choice to put each other before yourself. You have to keep working at your relationship no matter where you are. 

Dave says that living abroad has helped us rely on each other more. I will have to agree and say that is true. We don't have too many other people around and we are around each other almost 24/7 so we definitely have to depend on each other more.


What do you and Dave argue / fight about the most? 

Dave says we fought a lot about our former cat - Milo! We did. He was a point of contention in our marriage and we gave him away. 

Honestly, we don't fight over huge issues they are normally small issues. And yes, we have some 'small things' that we argue about. Which after thinking about, this reminded me how people always say that marriage is made up of a bunch of small moments. So we should probably work on those small moments more. 

Also, Dave and I really don't like being mad at each other. It's pure torture! So if we argue we try to resolve it pretty quickly. 


What kind of things do you not share on the blog? 

Marriage! 

I really don't talk about marriage problems or much about marriage at all on the blog. I think I'm paranoid because everyone always says over and over that you always have to build your husband up all the time so I guess I am extra scared to say anything about our marriage now in fear that it will be 'disrespectful'.

I also try and reverse roles and think if Dave had a blog would I want him sharing about our marriage on it? I actually wouldn't care if he shared about marriage but it would hurt my feelings if he wasn't nice in what he said about me. All that to say I just try to be nice on the blog when it comes to Dave and marriage.


Do you want kids? 

Maybe some day. That's a big question for us right now. We definitely don't want kids while living in Asia and personally I'd like to be a little bit settled in the US before having kids. I feel like since 2012 I have been moving to various places and have had major major life changes happen. I'm thankful for all the experiences God has given me but I'm not sure my emotions could handle a kid right now. 

Also, we have only been married two years so I think some more time together would be nice.


What has been your highest / lowest point in Asia? 

Highest Point

We couldn't pick just one! There are several: working in the prison ministry in Thailand, the Christmas program in Myanmar, High Tea, hearing stories of how Jesus saved and transformed people's lives, getting to know a Christian family from Pakistan that came to Thailand because of persecution and opening a medical clinic.

Those are just the ones I could think of! I also think 'high points' are building relationships with people and we have been so blessed both in Myanmar and Thailand to be surrounded by godly people whom we love! 

Lowest Point

One of my lowest points was probably dealing with culture shock / depression. Depression runs in my family and I have dealt with it before in life. It's not fun and sometimes I have no idea it is coming my way, it's mean like that. When I came to Myanmar the culture shock sent some waves of depression my way.

It was rough but I'm thankful that when my emotions get out of whack like that I have a plan and support system in place. I always let Dave know and I usually tell my parents, siblings and close friends so they can encourage and pray for me. Just having someone to share my struggles with is a huge help.

I also got some really good verses and memorized, quoted them, wrote them in a notebook (that came with me at all times) so I'd have a weapon ready to fight off those feelings. God's Word is really powerful and I can't tell you how much strength God gives when hard times come.

A picture of our family and closest friends who attended our wedding in Pensacola. 

Dave's face / expression towards the end of the wedding. ha! 


All the pictures above are from our second wedding. If you want to read more about that I have
Part 1 |  Part 2 |  Part 3

If you missed the previous posts for ask us anything you can check them out here:
Part 1 - America
Part 2 - Myanmar
Part 3 - Missions

And if you have any more questions the forum is still open! Thanks for asking such fun questions. I've enjoyed answering them. I have one more post ready for all the fun and miscellaneous questions you all have asked, things like pet peeves and where we love to travel. It is a vlog so be on the lookout for it.

Are there certain things you don't share on your blog? I'd be curious to know. 

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