Under the sea

Last Monday was one of my favorite days in Saipan. It was a holiday, so no counseling for Brian, and no school and tutoring for me. Our friends Josh and Elizabeth asked us to explore some of the "hidden" beaches in Saipan (off the map, quieter ones), so we decided to check out the beach directly behind The Palms resort on Pau Pau beach. The Palms has been closed for reconstruction for a couple of months now, so it's beach was deserted. It felt like we had the entire place to ourselves, which was really cool.
The best part is that Josh brought his underwater camera case and we got to try it out. Josh is a great photographer and has an amazing site here- you should definitely check it out. (It has much better pictures of life in Saipan than the ones we put up!!)





In other news, our races are coming up soon!
I'm just a little nervous about my 10k this Saturday because I don't feel like I'm quite where I should be with training. I'm able to run 4 and a half miles in good time, but the race is a little over 6 miles and I haven't reached that yet. I've talked to a few running buddies who say this is ok, and that adrenaline will kick in on the race day and push you through. I wish that I was a little further in training at this point, but on Saturday I'm just going to do the best I can and not really worry about it.

My friends Jen and Amber are also racing (Amber is doing the half marathon) and talking to them always pushes me to want to run more. Amber is able to run 14 miles a few times a week (I can't even imagine that right now!) and I would love to eventually get to that point. I would also love to do a half marathon sometime next year, but I want to learn more about the right way to train and not hurt my knees.

My dad and I will be waiting for Brian at the finish line of his XTerra race, and I'm hoping to get lots and lots of pictures of him competing. He's been working so hard for this race, and I'll be sure to post a bunch of pictures of it for friends/family back home.


Time to share a great book

Right now, I'm reading this book and I love it so much. It's about a deeper, more committed walk with God, and giving Him all of you (not just a portion of your life, or a portion of your devotion). Following Christ is not just a piece of the pie of our lives, but the whole entire thing. It's urged me to make a new commitment, as I've been reading it this week, and I wanted to share, just in case you want to read it too. Francis Chan also has a really good website here.

Also this week...
- Our races are getting close, so of course lots of running/biking/swimming (and of course, the best dance class ever at Gold's gym). My first 10k is in a week and a half, and Brian's XTerra race is the next weekend.
- My daddy is coming to Saipan the week of the XTerra and I'm so so excited. Brian and I have spent lots of time lately planning things to do. I can't wait to show Saipan to my dad! Also, we will get to do a lot of the touristy things again that we haven't done since we first moved here. I love showing off a city to someone (like the time my awesome friend Chris Mullins came to visit us in OKC), and how much better is showing off our island??


Lime green house

I've always enjoyed decorating the 4 apartments I've lived in (plus my dorm room in college with my BRE Whitney!), but this year in Saipan we've left our one bedroom apartment very, very bare. It's so crazy- there's no curtains (only blinds), no cute bedspread, no lamps, nothing even on the walls. Things are very, very expensive in Saipan because they all have to be shipped in, so one reason we choose to not buy these is that we just don't have the funds for it. Another reason is that it's just really nice to live in a simple, clutter-free house for a year.

I am looking forward to decorating our next place back in the States (I've even been bookmarking cool interior design ideas I've come across on blogs for future ideas), and I'm also really excited about the storage unit in Yukon, Oklahoma that is still holding all of our household appliances, bedding, and things that we didn't want to drag around overseas with us the past two years. I'm especially missing our crock pot, toaster oven, and blender back home (appliances are super expensive here; each of these is over 60 dollars!). It will be nice to come back to these things, but it's also really nice to live so simply right now, and to get by on just the basics.I love our kitchen. It's small, compact, and has everything we need. The concept of the stove is foreign to Taiwan, so this year in Saipan I'm loving ours. One thing that's not widely used in Saipan are microwaves. Apartments don't come with them, and they are extremely pricey to buy. You just get used to not ever using one, and make all your food on the stove or in the oven.

Dining room area (our kitchen, dining room and living room are all in one). Those big jugs are the water we use here. The tap water is really salty and contains too much chlorine to drink, so you buy these big containers for cooking and drinking. We spend about 2 dollars on this every week- not bad at all. When I visited home for Christmas, it was so weird to be able to drink a big glass of tap water!
Plus... isn't the wall color awesome?? It makes it feel like a true beach house!


Happy 3 day weekend

CIMG3838 CIMG3833

One of many little fish stands in Saipan, where you can buy freshly caught fish, squid, clams, etc.

This is the oldest structure on Saipan, a Spanish bell tower. The bell is long gone, but the foundation is in good condition. It was built in 1923, during the Spanish occupation in Saipan.


Happy VDay to You

Happy Valentines Day from de island
Valentines Morning: delicious coffee in bed and island flowers.

Brian had plans to take us to the Pacific Island Club for a sunset dinner on the beach, but it was starting to rain, and all the inside seating was taken.

We made our way to another favorite resort here on Saipan, where we also found no more indoor seating- the resorts are popular on Valentines night!

We finally ended up at the perfect place, a simple Thai restaurant that we both loved: quaint, perfectly romantic, and some of the best Thai food ever.
CIMG3789CIMG3786 width=

Brian's gift from me- it was really fun to wrap, and I searched all over Saipan for that awesome red ribbon.
Brian continued his 5 year Valentines tradition of playing me a love song on his guitar. This year he improvised a bit with an island ukulele, borrowed from the music department at his school. (SO COOL!)
I can't believe that Brian and I have spent 6 Valentines Days together! Here's to many, many more to come.


Scenes from Saturday

Pau Pau Beach rocks! Here's some pictures of our Saturday...


Saipan snacks

I've always wanted to try this dish, and today I finally did- it was so good!

It's bananas in coconut cream, only they are not normal bananas. For this local dish, they use plantains, or "cooking bananas" as the locals call them. They grow all over the place here in Saipan (even on the trees in our apartment complex) and look like large, normal bananas, but they can't be eaten before cooked.

The cafeteria at my college makes this, along with many other Chamorro (local) favorites for a dollar, and most of them are delicious. I really like lumpia stuffed with vegetables and pork, then dipped in sweet and sour sauce:

The weekly Thursday night Street Market here in Saipan (held in the tourist area of Garapan) is a great place to try these and many more local foods for really cheap. The street is lined with stands from about 15 of Saipan's local restaurants.

You can choose from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, and many other kinds of foods. My very favorite part of street market is the stand that makes fresh fruit smoothies- I can never get the ones we make at home to taste like theirs!


Little church on the beach

"Where the doors are always open" is the motto of our church, Saipan Community Church. We completely love this church. It was a struggle to find a church that was right for us in Taiwan last year, and we are so grateful for this place.
The guys this Sunday. Yes, that is a coconut that Matt found under a tree after the service.
The walls are completely open, with only a roof overhead. Sometimes it starts to pour during the service, and it's really hard to hear! Now that it's trade wind season, it is nice and cool with a breeze blowing through the building. The church is located right on the coast with the ocean about 20 feet away.
Another part I love about our church is the worship band. There are only about 5 members, but they do such a great job and the music is always really good.
Sometimes I have to make Brian laugh for pictures so he doesn't cheese smile :)
The cutest little newborn, Judah, at church
I love these two!
Brian and I are really thankful for a church that is growing us spiritually and that we look forward to attending each week.


Oh this week

Saipan has lots of highs, but also lows. There's always a trade off with living in an unfamiliar culture- it has it's great parts and it's negative parts.

This week has just been a bit frustrating for me. Our poor car is just messed up. School (the way it's run... could be called "island style" or could be called... something else) and work have been frustrating. Money, or lack thereof, has been frustrating. And many other things, on this little island, have been just crazy this week. And plans for next year... still, who knows?

I know that God has a plan for us next year. I completely trust Him to lead us to the place that He knows is best for us, but sometimes it's hard to not know what your next step will be. We would love your prayers for guidance and patience right now.

Love you all, and we love hearing from you!