With so many islands and countries to visit, we don’t normally go to the same place twice unless we have family there. However, we did make the exception to go back to Baler. In mid-September we made the five hour drive from Manila to Baler and met up with some close friends. We stayed at Costa Pacifica again for two nights and spent a whole day with our friends having a BBQ and playing at some beachfront property they recently purchased and plan to develop. It is was a quiet, beautiful, and relaxing weekend.
We started off the morning having breakfast at the resort and then saw these four LDS missionaries. We paid for their breakfast buffet.
We had the whole beach to ourselves. Everyone had a great time playing in the water.
There is clean water on their property, but you have to use the spigot to pump it out. Mason really liked using the spigot.
The kids also liked playing on the hammocks.
We had a super yummy BBQ for lunch.
After lunch we walked to another area of the property to have a friend climb up a tree and get us some coconuts.
A beautiful location, good food and great people about sums up our weekend in Baler.
When I found out that I was going to California I made an agenda to be certain that I did everything that I wanted to. Once my siblings found out that the kids and I would be in California a couple of them made the trip out to see us from Utah. We were feeling very loved and special!
My schedule for California. Shopping was very important since I needed to stock up on items not found in the Philippines to last me for the next 1-2 years.
The home I grew up in is surrounded by 3 rice fields and a canal in the back. My dad, uncles and grandpa built our home about 28 years ago. Now my brother and dad are building an “Ag Building” that will be converted into an apartment.
The joys of living out in the country. Exploring for critters with your uncle.
Cousins having fun on the trampoline ages 9, 5, 5, 4, 1
Mason LOVED playing with all of the toys at grandma’s house.
We had a bonfire at my parent’s house a couple of times and even roasted some marshmallows and made s’mores.
I had lunch with my grandma.
Dinner with my friends who I have known for over 25 years…I brought them a “bra organizer” from the Philippines.
Afternoon at a pumpkin patch to choose pumpkins to decorate.
Dinner with ALL of my siblings and their spouse who were in California for the week.
My brothers…just missing Seth who is the youngest.
My sisters…just missing Lei who is number 4 sister.
Ninjas are invading the house. Both kids wanted to have the same ninja costume this year.
Ready to go Trick-or-Treating with cousins. We only lasted about an hour or so, but everyone was happy with their loot.
The family who watched Jeffrey’s football game. He scored 4 touchdowns that night!
The kids thought looking at the stars and running around with other kids was more fun than sitting in the bleachers and watching the football game.
Before we left my sister took photos of the kids per my dad’s request. Here is our Hawaiian princess.
Kalani gave my brother the nick name Jonji…and Matt had to add the prefix. Here he is 2 years ago in Utah with my parents.
Getting ready to go the Missionary Training Center
And now he has return from serving a mission in the Denver Colorado North Mission. He was there for 24 months and had nearly 20 different companions. We visited him just a couple of months back and saw how much he has grown and changed. Meeting strangers, teaching them about Jesus Christ, learning to live with a companion, etc. makes one grow up in ways only achieved by serving a mission. Now he is home and leaving for school in Hawaii.
Tia and I wanted to do something fun and spontaneous on Memorial Day weekend, so at the last minute we decided to hop on a plane to surprise our brother Jon, serving an LDS Mission in Denver, Colorado.
Tia and I both served missions about ten years ago (El Salvador and France) so we know what it’s like to be so far from family and friends for an extended period of time. Contact from family is usually restricted to letters and two phone calls a year (Mother’s Day and Christmas).
We arrived on Friday morning and spent the day at the 80 acre, world famous, Denver Zoo. The exhibits did not disappoint, and my personal favorite was obviously the reptile collection (they even had some large Komodo Dragons).
Friday night we drove to Jon’s address and surprised him by knocking on his window at 9:30pm (the missionaries live in the basement of a host family’s house). He was definitely shocked (and happy) to see us show up out of the blue and we made plans for Saturday night dinner.
Saturday we spent a good six hours at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Here we watched two iMAX productions: Hubble and Arabia. It was my first time in an iMAX theater and both shows were well worth it. The rest of the time was spent at the many exhibits. Kalani’s favorite was Gems & Minerals. Like his dad, Mason really seemed to enjoy the Wildlife Exhibits. There’s a video below of him walking around chanting crazy Polynesian war cry.
That night we picked up Jon and his missionary companion and took them to Olive Garden for a relaxing dinner. It was really fun to catch up and hear more about his mission (he doesn’t offer much detail in his emails). He’s definitely matured a lot and looks great.
At the airport waiting for the car rental shuttle
Jon's first time meeting his nephew Mason
Moments before the surprise knock on the basement window
A herpetologist in the making
Below we see Mason’s Hawaiian side make an appearance as he bellows his ancient Polynesian war cry.