Temples to Whale Sharks

My new year has been wonderful and I hope it is the same for all of you!

The holiday season ended with a weeklong volunteer get-together for New Year and we all had such a wonderful time. It was a blessing for me because all of the volunteers came to Cebu for the holiday since it is a central island for many people. Some were crazy enough to travel for 16 hours to get here which made me feel a little guilty as I took my hour bus ride to the city to meet everyone. We ate delicious food, went to a Taoist temple, got a tattoo, and enjoyed cathartic conversation with one another.

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I then went back to work and have been welcomed by a satisfying busyness that has been keeping me happy and productive. The new semester for our girls started and I am teaching economics to the senior girls and am developing/teaching a college prep class for the girls who will start college in a couple of months. It is SO much better than teaching chemistry and geometry as I did last semester. It helps that I actually know what I am teaching this time around. Hallelujah!

Cebu also just celebrated its Sinulog festival that is one of the biggest events in all of the Philippines. It began as a religious and cultural festival but has turned into more of a huge street party, parade included. My host described it as Mardi Gras, but without nudity. I was able to experience a tidbit of the festivities with my host sister and one of her friends. We got Sinulog shirts to prove that we attended and then ate at a delicious Vietnamese restaurant to finish the celebration.

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This past weekend I had the fantastic opportunity to go with the shelter on a hot springs/whale shark swimming trip that a gracious couple sponsored for our girls and staff. We went to the south part of Cebu for the night, staying at the couple’s lovely home, and then the next morning we woke to go soak ourselves in the nearby hot springs which were splendidly relaxing. We then headed an hour away to Oslob where we were fitted out in life jackets and snorkeling gear before boarding a small boat headed out to the whale sharks. We were given 30 minutes in the water with the glorious creatures and everyone had an absolutely terrific time. You are not allowed to touch the whale shark but one came so close to me that its tail hit my leg as it swam past. I almost peed my shorts but then became crazy excited. It was such an amazing experience!

The weather was also fabulous, which is rare here in the ‘Pines, but it was one of those days that God looks down from heaven and says “Go ahead my sweet children, have it all.”

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It’s more fun in the Philippines… I promise

Much love everyone!

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