Surfing and the Spa

Five of us girls spent the afternoon at the spa on Saturday and it was FABULOUS.
Saipan's spas (and resorts) are so amazing, and every once in a while, they will offer a deal for locals.  

 This time, we were able to spend the day using the Mariana Resort's many different spa pools (hot tubs, flower pools, swimming pools), AND get an hour long massage for only $35.  The regular price for this would have been way over a hundred dollars....  Saipan treats their locals SO well!

 Dressed up in our robes and ready for our massage

 The ridiculous flip flops we wore than really wouldn't stay on our feet!

Relaxing in the infinity pool.  It had been such a rainy week before we went to the spa (there had been another tropical storm circulating around the area, so it rained HARD every day), but the clouds finally opened up and the sun shone on Saturday.  The next time they offer the local discount at Marianas Resort... we're going again!!
 That night, our friends Kara and Grant hosted a fish fry at their apartment.  Here's some of the guys out on the back porch with their guitars giving us all some background music.
 THIS puppy got to try surfing at Sugar Dock beach on Sunday afternoon.  Brian and his friends Jake and Will tried putting her on Jake's surfboard twice.  Both times, she shakily rode the board for a while until she got too nervous and fell off :)

Note: Saipan usually does not have good surfing waves (I think because of the reef that surrounds it but I'm not sure about this).  However, because of the tropical storm I mentioned before, we've had great waves this past week.  When we went to Sugar dock on Sunday, it was PACKED with surfers taking advantage of the crazy waves.

 Our friend Chris found some WWII bullets up near his house in Marpi, and gave some to Brian.  Here they are next to Brian's id to show just how huge they are.
 I've been taking weekly Chinese lessons from my friend Pearl.  Here's one of the books I'm studying from.


What I'm learning

I've been reading a devotional lately that that been teaching me a lot about the character of Jesus.

It takes a passage of Scripture each day and guides you through reading the passage (usually more than once), journaling about it, meditating on it while you pray, and sometimes even picturing yourself in the story to get a new perspective on it.

Part of yesterday's passage was:
"A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!'"
(Matthew 8:1-3)

Jesus' character is willing to help me when I ask him. Jesus' character is loving and giving.

In my life right now, I am asking God for peace because I feel like there are so many unknowns coming up in the near future. I am asking to be closer to Him. I'm asking Him to be the solid, safe place that I can go to when everything else is up in the air, stressful, or unknown. This passage reminds me that he is willing help me when I ask Him.

Best little pup pup
Flame trees up at Saipan's Suicide Cliff War Memorial


It's a rainy day on Saipan today. 
Which is actually such a nice break from the heat.  Since Saipan basically only has one season (summer!)  rainy days are kind of like our fall-  I love them.
We've been experimenting with our new refurbished camera and trying to learn how to use it. Brian took this one of some of the beautiful tropical flowers outside our house.  

Lately, we've been having SO many car problems.  Thank goodness we still have our little blue scooter (that only goes 32 miles per hour max) to get around on because our car has been constantly in and our of the shop the last 3 weeks.  5 times to be exact.

So. Expensive!

The car is 21 years old and 200,000+ miles, so it is kind of to be expected, but we're just not sure how much more money we should put into it.

Brian starts back to work at Hopwood Middle School next Monday, and I will be working full-time at ALAI (my tutoring company) this school year.  I'm so proud of our company and of how well it has been doing lately.  Summer camp at ALAI was super busy, but really fun- I was sad to see the last of our kids visiting from Korea go this Friday.

This puppy will be traveling to America sometime soon.  She is going to be so cute when she feels cold weather or sees snow for the first time.  So far, she's only been a tropical dog!

 Tony Roma's restaurant for our friend Becky's birthday.  Grant, Will, and Brian here, Allison, Kara, and I below.


Reflecting on Taipei, a year later

cheap and surprisingly delicious lattes at every 7-11 (mmm City Cafe)

riding our scooters fast through busy, vibrant downtown

every type of restaurant you could ever want at your fingertips... and the BEST Indian restaurants

the adventure of living in a big place.  Yes, i know that Taiwan isn't exactly a huge island, but it is much, much bigger than our island now.  

scooter day trips through the mountains and just seeing where we ended up 

our coworkers... couldn't have asked for better ones at Hsin Hu and Dahu!

20 minute exercise time every morning with the whole school before school started.  This was such a brilliant idea- it woke you up and got you energized for the day... especially needed on the days when we were drinking our coffee during exercise time.

"oh Taiwan... really?" moments

the excitement of learning and the accomplishment of speaking a new language.  I really miss hearing Mandarin Chinese in my ears everywhere I go.  It is such a beautiful language.

yoga classes in Taipei and carrying my mat on my scooter

the initial feeling of independence found in living overseas.  I still love this.

oh the shopping.  the cheap, wonderful shopping

our first few months in Taipei, everything was a curiosity and it was so fun!

cheap electricity

holing up inside of our apartment during most of the rainy week of Chinese New Year and watching 2 entire seasons of LOST

 all of the events that were constantly going on in Taiwan:  Lantern Festivals, Dragon Boat racing... there is never a dull moment

the enormous amount of gas money we saved while only riding scooters all year... although I would have given anything for a car when it was pouring rain on the way to work!

tall, misty, green, mysterious, breathtaking mountains

Taiwan is a gorgeous country and the people are incredibly kind and friendly.  We had the best experience there as English teachers for a little over a year.  If anyone is contemplating teaching there, we would love to answer any of your questions!


Saturday trip to Managaha Island

 This Saturday we spent the most relaxing day on a little island right next to Saipan. Yes, it is even smaller than Saipan.   Managaha Island... we love you!
 Brian and I took a morning yoga class at our gym, grabbed some Subway (we almost always grab Subway before a long day at the beach.  It's quick, cheap, and one of Saipan's few fast food places), and headed to the dock for Managaha.  We were meeting our friends who had already taken the 11 am ferry, so we were actually the only people on the 1 pm ferry to Managaha.  We felt kind of weird because they probably lost money on us (locals can take the ferry to and from Managaha for free, as long as we sign up in advance), but it was kind of cool to have the boat to ourselves.
the view out the window of our ferry over

This is the Managaha's dock.  You can usually spot some bright blue starfish or a few very small sharks swimming near the dock- a really cool sight for first time visitors to the island.

my honey

The Coral Queen is in the background- the ferry that locals can take for free.  Saipan really takes care of it's local people.  We can usually get 10-15% off at any restaurant, massage parlor (which are super cheap to begin with, here), water equipment, and some gift shops.  I also think it's really fun to call ourselves "Saipan locals"!


I love this new song

A couple of weeks ago our church played a song from this new album and it's quickly become my new favorite worship song.  I love love these lyrics:

Matt Redman- 10000 Reasons
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
oh my soul
worship His holy name
Sing like never before
oh my soul
I worship Your holy name

The sun comes up
it's a new day dawning
it's time to sing Your song again
whatever may may pass and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes

You're rich in love and You're slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find


Books I've read in Saipan - by Brian

It's been two years since Rachel and I started traveling.  I've never been a big reader but have really enjoyed the comforts of a good book over the last couple of years.  These are the books that I have read since arriving to our little island. 
I really liked the adventures had in The Call of the Wild and Life of Pi and the picture of the Congolese culture in The Poisonwood Bible.  Night and The Things They Carried were graphic but wonderful stories from the Holocaust and Vietnam War.  Rob Bell's - Jesus Want's to Save Christians really challenged me and had great insight into the whole Bible story.  Water for Elephants was my least favorite and I kind of felt like I was just reading a teen movie.  I would say this was a great year of reading and I'm looking forward to what books I'll read in this next year.


 This week has been so much fun meeting new friends and spending time with old ones.  On Sunday, we headed out to Bird Island with some of the returning and new teachers from Saipan Community School.  Hands down, it was my favorite trip to Bird Island, especially because of all the exploring we did.

These girls are wonderful- Kara, me, Alison, Becky, and Anna.

Earlier in the week, we spent some time at Samantha's very favorite place in the world... the dog park.  It's a little bit ridiculous how excited she gets when we pull into the park's parking lot.
 This little German Shepard pup, Tasi, is Sam's favorite playmate.  They spend the entire time at the park biting, rolling around, and chewing on each other.

 We learned some awesome training tips from our friend Atsuko (these are her three very well-behaved labs)

On Friday night, we went over to our friend Joyce and Chris's house for game night.

Besides that, we've been spending our days at the Summer Camps where we teach.  My school has a group of 40+ children that arrived for camp from Korea a few weeks ago, and they have been so much fun to teach.  Tomorrow we will take them all to Managaha Island for a big field trip... omg wish us luck!