Five Highlights of our Family’s Trip to Baguio

I still can’t believe it is almost 2016. What a year it has been! While I was reminiscing on my experiences this year, I realized that I did spend most of my days working in the office. Somehow, it felt like the months just flew by without me noticing. By God’s grace, He has given me the privilege of work and I am very grateful for it. But, at the same time, being more aware of how I spend most of my days helps me to appreciate the time that I have with my loved ones as well. Just a few days ago, our family (mother’s side) celebrated our grandmother’s 80th birthday in Baguio and it was one of the best times we’ve had.

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Some of the highlights of our trip to Baguio:

1. Getting to Know our Relatives

Most of our relatives live near each other so they usually have more opportunities to bond together. Since we live a few cities away from them, we rarely get to spend time with the clan. But, by God’s grace, He made a way for almost all of us to be there in Baguio. Even though we missed some of our cousins, it was a blessing to see all of the brothers and sisters of my mom in the trip. We spent three days with the Palma family in Baguio where we exchanged stories, shared our skills and resources, and experienced funny moments during meal times, stopovers, and road trips.

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2. Light Show and Dinner Buffet at The Manor

It was a lovely night. While we were waiting for our dinner at the hotel, we were serenaded by a choir. Some of the guests placed their mats on the grass as they listened to harmonies and familiar tunes. After their performance, we were entertained by a group of fire dancers and gymnasts. They were amazing! Lastly, they ended the short program with a lightshow where Christmas lights all over the hotel’s garden lit up while Christmas songs played in the background. Kudos to the staff of The Manor at Camp John Hay.

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After the show, we had our delicious dinner buffet. Sharing a meal with our clan at the hotel that night was a superb experience. The food and service were great! My eldest sister shared to us that the cook politely insisted to serve her freshly cooked pasta even though she requested for a few pieces only. There were also times when my siblings and I were talking while we were having dinner and the server near our area would fold our crumpled table napkins every now and then. These simple gestures showed how much they valued their customers. Thank you, The Manor, for your excellence that evening.

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3. Honoring of Mother/Grandmother

After our lovely dinner at The Manor, we went back to our cottage and spent a few more hours with each other just before midnight. Since our grandmother (Inapo) was celebrating her 80th birthday, our mom encouraged the clan to say a few words of encouragement to her. My mom started by sharing a verse in the Bible where it says: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-2).

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Then, one by one, our uncles, aunts, in-laws, and some of the grandchildren gave their heartfelt messages for our grandmother. It was such an encouraging moment because it was our first time to do it together. Because of the things they shared, we learned more about the hearts of our relatives and how much our family members sincerely love each other. Our hearts’ tanks were definitely full that night as we cried and laughed together. I really thank God for the experience. Thank you, Mom, for initiating this. :)

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4. Teamwork

During our stay in Baguio, we also saw how our relatives showed teamwork. From cooking breakfast at 4 am, to taking turns in driving the vehicles to making a bonfire for our s’mores night, to playing games (bowling and billiards), and offering to pay for expenses.

 

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(Photographed by Gabo)

 

5. Enjoying Photography and Nature

We have an amazing God who creates crazy, amazing things. One of the best parts of travelling is being able to see first-hand and to document the beauty of nature. There were moments during the trip when I would sneak out at night just to take photos of the stars or climb a hill again just to see and take photos of the sunset. And in those moments, I remember how much in awe I was because I couldn’t understand how God is able to make such beautiful things.

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Thank You, Lord, for the wonderful Baguio trip with the Palma family. Looking forward to more adventures with them this 2016! :)

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(Photographed by Gabo)

Beautiful Strawberries in Baguio

I saw a bunch of deformed strawberries on our way home from Baguio. Without any hesitation, I bought them even though they were more expensive than the “normal” ones. One of the strawberries resembled a heart, while another one looked like a small teapot. They were amazing!

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Despite their unusual appearance, I thought that they were very beautiful. I was also reminded of the verse in the Bible where it says: “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

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Most of the time, it’s difficult for us to see our true worth especially when we focus on our flaws and mistakes and view ourselves through the eyes of the world. But, one of the things that I am praying for as I welcome another year is to constantly have the strength to resist these kinds of thoughts and to remember that my true worth and beauty are found in Christ alone. He died for me. He rose again. He loves me more than I can comprehend.

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I also want to encourage you with this song. It’s one of the songs I’ve loved since I was in highschool. May it bless your heart today. :)

 

“Well, you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image
When He formed you in His hands

And He looks at you with mercy
And He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man

God knows and understands
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man”

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Simple Sunday Snack: Little Trees (Broccoli) with Sticky Cheese

Exactly a week ago, I was hanging out at our veranda where our cherry tomato and broccoli plants were. It was such a joy for me to see a new batch of cherry tomatoes ready for harvest. However, I couldn’t help but wonder when the Broccoli plants would produce their heads. I then decided to do more research about it after I finished watering the plants that morning.

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While I was watering one of the Broccoli plants, I noticed something different in the middle area. It looked like a baby Broccoli head, but I wasn’t sure yet. I told my sister, “Ate, I think the Broccoli has a head!” and I asked her to check it out too. After a few seconds of observing, we both concluded that it did grow a tiny head! Oh, you could just imagine how happy I was! I remember feeling physically weak that time because I was sick, but the moment I saw the head, I jumped up and down like a happy bunny while shouting “YAY!!!!”.

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After eight months of waiting, one of the Broccoli plants finally produced its baby and I am one happy, proud, and grateful gardener!

It took a lot of faith and courage for me to plant the Broccoli seeds months ago because I knew that it was a cold weather plant. In the Philippines, they usually grow these in Baguio and in other cold places. So, the chances of it growing in Manila (considering its usual hot weather) were really small. But by God’s grace, He made the weather in this country cooler recently. As you can see in the news articles I included below, we have experienced really cold days in the country last month!

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Interestingly, PAGASA even recorded the coldest day (so far) of 2014 last Sunday (January 26, 2014), the day when the baby Broccoli head grew!

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God used that moment to encourage me to continue being faithful and to trust in His faithfulness and provision. Honestly, there were days when I didn’t feel like watering the Broccoli plants because they were only growing leaves and not the vegetable that I wanted. And during those days, the leaves of one of the plants wilted and I thought that it was already going to die. But after two days of regularly watering it again, the leaves stood tall!

“Faithfulness is not doing something right once but doing something right over and over and over and over.” –Joyce Meyer

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God showed me how the discipline of watering the plants daily and taking care of them every now and then also helped in growing a healthy plant. I know that I have so much more to improve on and I hope and pray that by His grace, I will also be faithful in the other aspects of my life. In maintaining good relationships, in honoring Him with my daily walk with Jesus, in doing my best at work and in ministry, in regularly tithing, and even in taking good care of the things He has given me.

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Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

 

Looking forward to the day when I can harvest the beautiful Broccoli! I’ll most probably blog about it soon. But for now, I’ll be sharing a simple snack for you guys:

LITTLE TREES WITH STICKY CHEESE

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Butter

Spices (Salt, Pepper)

Mozzarella cheese (or quick-melt cheese) at room temperature

 

Steps:

1. Cut the Broccoli into smaller pieces. Steam for 3-5 minutes, depending on your desired texture.

2. Season the steamed Broccoli with salt and pepper.

3. Add a tablespoon of butter and grated cheese on the vegetable while it’s still hot.

4. Enjoy! It’s a great source of vitamin C!

 

Read more about growing Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes here: http://encouragingtreats.com/growing-broccoli-cherry-tomatoes/

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)