WHY OUR TRIP TO THE US WAS MORE THAN AMAZING

You would not believe me when I tell you this trip to the US was totally unplanned. We applied for a visa first week of April (with the intention of not going this year), Bryan's research was approved for presentation in LA before June, (this all happened after we got our schedule for interview).  Our visas got approved.  And the rest as they say is history.

WHEW.

And why was it more than amazing?

1.  We did not push it at all - Yes, we wanted it  to happen but we allowed God and circumstances to move in our behalf. We did not get disappointed when our Visa Interview was scheduled 2 months after we applied nor when our itinerary did not happen, or when Risen had to use nebulizer on our first day in the States.  And did we mention that Bryan's gall bladder was removed a month before we left? Our perspective was, the fact that we have this opportunity, okay na.
After our VISA Interview





2.  The weather and timing was perfect - Confession time. Before this trip came up, I was frustrated that I did not have events in the months of July and August. As always, God has better plans. Fireworks welcomed us since we landed 4th of July. The weather was summer, but since it is hot here in the Philippines, it was perfect for us - a sweater weather for my family.

at San Diego; after shopping

Balboa Park


3. Our itinerary was not hurried - We had a lot of "let us just cherish this" moments!!  We knew one month would still not be enough so we decided to just have a little bit of everything (including rest).  We did not leave the house everyday, nor did we push our tired bodies to move. Yes, though everything was new and exciting, we still leaned towards our favorite travel tip -- no hurry! Hence the hashtag #unhurried life

Los Angeles

still in LA








 4.  We spent time with family and went to church - We placed down our phones and started talking and listening.  We were glad we spent and allotted quality time with friends and family. We also went to church every Sunday of our trip. Actually, this is what we really wanted why we left.  We looked forward to seeing Bryan's cousins and titas and family friends just to spend time with them.  Also, we wanted to see the life, both the christian and work life balance, of the people in the US. It was a good feeling to fellowship in different churches.

with my childhood bestie and neighbor

friend/officemate in Manila

DVBS

favorite neighbor

family :)


Seattle

Rest area (between Seattle and Oregon)

Oregon

5.  We saw Christ's ministry in the US - To begin, our trip was well provided by God.  We did not used up our credit cards, we did not loan or borrow money, lastly, we had money to pay for our bills and commitments when we got home. This happened not because we have tons of savings, it is just that, we knew what not to buy and Bry's family and friends in the US are super generous. Second, in Las Vegas, the sin city (what are the odds?!), we were able to share a gospel to a waiter thru a track and we had to chance to hear the testimony of our Lyft driver (Like Grab). Third, we met christian families whose lives are great in the US - they have work life balance, they have time for church and the ministry, their kids are brought up in the ways of the Lord (and the kids are serving the Lord too), and we sat down with a starting CCF dgroup in San Diego whose goal is to share Jesus and make disciples.  Wooohoooo!!!!!

God is working in the US. It does not mater where we are.  IF we are willing to obey God, He will work in us and He will take care of us.  Yes, it is very tempting to work doubly hard, possess all you want, BUT if you choose to honor God, even in Vegas, He will be alive in all that you do and He will be used by God.


My encouragement to those Christians in the US, or even if you are in the planning stage, do not go there for money or convenience.  Go there because God called you to be there. Once this is sure, then, go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  After all, this is our main calling.  Pinas or Vegas.




LET US COLLAB

Hey!

Yes, we can collab :)

We can do this three ways...

1.  Get me as an event host

2.  Invite me as a resource speaker

3. Help you organize workshops or trainings


Let me know, okay?

MICO :)
mico.sadorra@gmail.com

BRINGING BACK LOVE IN THE WEDDING RECEPTION

For those of you who know me, you might also know that I am an event host.  I do weddings, corporate events, debuts, and the likes.  And since I am a family life blogger, I put so much effort into highlighting the story, the relationship, the marriage -- the LOVE.



If you have been to a wedding, you might notice too that the program is most likely to be the same.  It starts with introduction of parents and sponsors, followed by the team bride and team groom, then the couple of course.  This would be followed by the traditions, a toast. dinner, speeches, and closing remarks.  IF the host is not intentional, the execution could just be the same. In short, there is a tendency for all weddings reception to be the same because the flow is exactly identical.

Now, this is where I come in.  Being naturally inclined to weddings, I look for for stories that I can highlight in my spiels.   I observe my guests, the sponsors and parents and see on how I can magnify the marriage and their relationship that I have. I also make sure that the guests are there not for the dinner but for the commitment that the couple has made - to be together for the rest of their lives, and their day 1 starts tonight.

Weddings and other celebrations are more than the fun, glamour and spectacle and it is my desire to bring this to you on your big day. Let us focus on love, shall we?

For inquiries, you may check @ido_hosting  on FB and IG.  You may also email me at mico.sadorra@gmail.com. My official hashtag is #idohosting.

I will wait for your inquiries!






HOW TO MAKE A SMALL HOUSE BIG

NO, I am not talking about extensions or renovations. What I am saying is, your present house can be bigger when you work on my suggestions below. Crazy curious?

1.  Decide on the parts of the house you NEED. Our house is tiny we decided to get rid of the living room. Why? We noticed that you just really use it to watch TV (we do not have TV), a place where kids play and eventually leave toys, and a place for guests (we seldom have guests).  So instead of allotting a space for a chunky sofa, we invested on a dining table that can make us and guests cozy as well.





2.  Empty your home with things you do not use. I have heard people saying they need to extend because things do not fit into their home anymore. Well, how about having less stuff instead? Yes, I am talking about minimalism.  Since we moved back here in the south, our home only has the things that we need.  Checkout your cabinets and you will see that you probably do not need the 20 percent of it.  Try it. IT WORKS! Promise :)

3.  Have a room that can be messy. No matter how big the house is, if it is messy, it will always look crowded.  We have one room dedicated for war - when I say war, that is the only room that can get cluttered (messy NOT dirty, okay?).  Playing, homeschooling, blogging, and devotions happen there. With this, the rest of our home can stay




4. Lastly, just appreciate what you have now. Did you really think you will a home when you were younger? Remember when you just pretend play (bahay-bahayan) when you were a kid? Now, you have a house that you own and a place you can prettify.  Di'ba?! Look where God place you.  HE did not only gave you a roof but a home. Praise God for that!!


CHOOSE WE BEFORE ME

While I was randomly scrolling my FB wall, I saw this article entitled Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness .  Obviously, it caught my attention so I read right away.

This particular paragraph got me... "We live in a world that DESPISES the sacrificial side of marriage and tries to explain it away. They teach us to strive for power, control and the upper hand in a relationship. They tell us to do what feels right, and not to tolerate anything less. They fool us to thinking that love is about doing what makes us happy. And the second we feel less than happy, they encourage us to bail…to abandon ship…and to stop investing…to give up on love."

One of the reasons we say "yes" to a lifetime is because the person makes us happy.  What happens is, we expect that this positivity to go on for the rest of our lives. Then, if our marriage or our partner suddenly does not live to our standards, we give up.  Aka the line famous line... "Hindi na ako masaya" (I am not happy anymore).

The truth is, IF we focus on OUR happiness, we will be doomed. Those who are intending to get married should remember that their "happiness" will be robbed off many times once they tie the knot.  They should be ready to be more giving, sacrificial and to always things his partner above self.

And the other hard truth? It is impossible to sacrifice this much again and again when our goal is to please our spouse.  You see, our partners will disappoint us in ways you can't even imagine.  So the trick here is look at the Creator of marriage and to love like how Christ loved us. He is the ultimate source of love and forgiveness.  You see, couples who forgive does not end in divorce.

"We love because he first loved us" 1 John 4:19

The person who makes you happy now will be the same person who will upset you. And when everything gets so messy, it will be very easy to "choose yourself" before marriage or your spouse. My unsolicited advice? Be ready to NOT think about your happiness when you get married.  Not even the 50-50 mindset.  Rather, think of it that marriage is recommitting yourself to Him, as you align yourself with His will in your married life and also, giving yourself (and your happiness) to your spouse, without expecting anything in return.

Now wait, please do not think that married life can't be fun at all.  Marriage can be great if you married the person who is ready to also lose his happiness for yours.  When two selfless people 
marry, there will be much love, joy, contentment and romance from day 1 to forever.





GOD IS IN THE WAITING

"Wait..."

This has been a constant word in our home.  I command Risen to do this.  Bryan asks me to wait and Risen for the past months, in some occasions, replies with a "wait..."

I remember when I was not yet a christian , I am so entitled that I hated it when people or service centered offices ask me to wait.  If I hear this one word command, I needed to know how much long I will stay to get what I needed.  So funny how  God reminded me of my past when Risen gets impatient ;)

As a mother, waiting happens in two ways.  (1) Either I tell Risen that I will just do something WHILE I wait for him.  An example of this is when I tell him to go up to his room and dress up while I wait AND gather the clutter downstairs.  And another situation I wait for him is when I tell him (2) "I will stay here, watch you, and I will wait for you.." This happens when he asks me to put him to sleep, in our Writing lessons (I homeschool Risen), and  when he tells me "mommy, wait for me and stay here na din".

And do you know who else ask us to wait? Jesus.

There are countless of times He asked me (and He still has been asking me) to wait. And it is possible that you are also in the season of waiting.  I want to encourage you that Jesus is with you while You are waiting for Him.  He is not busy with something else.  When He asks you to wait, he is not abandoning you.  He is alongside you, rooting for you.  Encouraging you to stay strong in the season of waiting.

Waiting on God may not be an easy task, but if He clearly asked you to wait, know that it will be worth it.  Be secured that it will be worth the wait.






AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO GREW UP IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH

For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old...

Did you grow up in the church? 

If yes, you probably attended Sunday School, went to Daily Vacation Bible School every summer, volunteered in ministries and was present in camps and retreats.  You also might have known many things about the Lord and about the church.  How do I know?  I grew up inside the church too. I remember going alone or being with my parents.  Sometimes, I even tell people that "I have been a christian since birth", just because it felt that way.  So yes, I have been a "christian" for the longest time, and people around me also know that I have been a born-again christian and that I grew up inside the church.

HOWEVER, although I was always in church, looking back, my life did not reflect the God that I "follow".  I disobeyed my parents, lied, manipulated people, thinks highly of myself and often discontent. I also only read God's Word after camps and when needed (like before a church event, or when I am tasked to do "something big" in the ministry.)  I also plunged into sin and decided to stay there even though I knew it was wrong (I was in a promiscuous relationship for around 2 years).  If you place me in a group of people, no one would guess I have Jesus in my life. I was not different.  I do what people around me do.  If I was with Christians, you will find me praying and talking about the Lord.  If I am with my good friends who are in another faith, you would find me tolerating and glorifying sin.  In short, I was living a double life.  Holy in the church. Full of myself outside.

Then, there was this time in my life I remember so well. I was at the lowliest point of my life. I knelt down and in tears I just told God, "I am so tired of my life and that I wanted Him to take over".  The next day was different. I ended my relationship, made choices that glorifies the Lord and was serious about Jesus.  Now people thought it was Bryan who gave that change because that was also around that time I met him -- but no, it was God.


2 Corinthians 5:17 


This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!


For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old (that night I cried to the Lord).  How did I know?  

1.  It is only after at 27 years old that I am so eager to share my faith. I want to mention Jesus in every conversation.  I also want others to see how He changed my life. I came to the point that every reunion, coffee time or a simple event is an opportunity to share who God is. In the past, I only think of sharing Jesus if I am in a camp or evangelistic event.  When I am in my usual day, I do not really care about sharing or talking about God.  

2.  I can't go on without reading the Bible anymore.  Before, I only read it one week after a camp or before a church event that I am leading.  Now, when I miss it, I feels terrible.  And, I could not go on with life if I have not read it for like 3 days.  AND, IT HAS BEEN LIKE THIS FOR THE PAST 5 OR MORE YEARS!  This is not an "effect of revival. retreat or camp" anymore, but of Jesus.  To add, I read the Bible not for scholarly reasons, but so I can get to know the Lord more and discover His beauty and wrath.

3.  And the sin issue?! I have never felt so bad after sinning.  But hey, I still sin, okay?.  But when I realized that I have sinned and wronged someone, I feel so guilty.  My stomach goes up and down and sometimes, I see myself in tears.  Also, to be honest, I do not scheme on how I can do things on my own way.  I used to be like this before.  Before too, "I will (intentionally) sin, then I will just ask the Lord to forgive me, anyway, I am saved already. and besides, God always forgives"

4.  In the past, my greatest concern was, what if things do not happen on how I wanted it to be?  Now, I am so scared of NOT being in the center of God's will.  I am so fearful of not obeying the Lord. Years back, when it would benefit me, I would certainly get it.  So at present, even though it will be "good" for me, but if it contradicts God's Word, with God's grace, I would run away from it. 

5.  Lastly, my life was transformed. Age, work, marriage and motherhood, can make us mature, BUT ONLY GOD CAN TRANSFORM.  To be honest, I do not know myself anymore.  My dreams and plans have changed.  Sometimes, I am like, "HOY MICO, WORK HARD SO YOU CAN TRAVEL HARDER", then the Holy Spirit in me, rebukes me.  Then suddenly, I am like. "I need to work harder so I can reach more and share the gospel to more".  To give an illustration, few weeks back, we went to Boracay.  In the past, I pray for blue skies and lots of sunshine for a good tan.  Now, I pray that I will be seated to people I can share the talk and gospel with.  This is not maturity, this is transformation.  Something that no amount of kids or age can give, but only God!  

But, hey, I am not an extremist :)  I still have wants and dreams, but I am so okay if I do not get it.  It is just that, my desires and purpose have changed. How? I do not know.  It became so natural and explainable.  I have to be honest, that now, in all my conversations, my aim is to point Jesus to Christ.  And that my insides grieve when I see people disobeying, or worse, having a miserable life because they do not follow God's Word.

Now, why am I blogging about this? because  (1)I do not want to you to fall into the trap of fake Christianity.    And second reason I am writing you is... (2) I do not want God to tell you..."I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws."


Matthew 7: 21-23

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 
22On judgment day many will say to me, 
Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name 
and performed many miracles in your name.’ 
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. 
Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Now, how did I know I was NOT a Christian and a follower of Christ?

1.   Because I knew I was sinning and I continued.  My excuse were either the ff: "I can't get rid of it", "I am not ready to give it up", "I will "enjoy" this first and ask for forgiveness after I do it."

PS. Again, I still sin but God convicts me hard, and I go back to Him as soon as I can.  I just can't keep on sinning!


1 John 3:9 

 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because
God's life is in them.
So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God

2.  I was not transformedI was the same Mico.  I just improved and matured.  But you know what guys, transformation is so different! I have experienced it.  You will really not be the same again.  You will long for God, His Words, and anything about God.  And your greatest fear would be sinning and not being in the center of God.  
2 Corinthians 5:1
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; 
behold, new things have come.

4.  In the past, I only have ministries, activities and church events.  Without all those things, if you would look closely in my like, I did not truly walk with God.
Ezekiel 36:25-27
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances


The truth is, there are results, when you TRULY surrender your self to Christ. And PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE THE CHANGE. You would even be persecuted. And lastly, the Holy Spirit will cause you to walk with God and His statutes ( Ezekiel 36:25-27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances).

Again, just because you grew up inside the church and you know the Gospel, it does not mean you are a follower of Jesus. To my fellow Sunday schoolers, attendees of DVBS and church camps, have a legit check please. Without the ministry, the activities and your church barkada, who are you? How are you and God? Have you surrendered everything to Him? Are you really a follower of Jesus? Again (and again and again), the TRUE GOSPEL LEADS TO REPENTANCE AND NEW LIFE.




BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE ONE BRICK AT A TIME - MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE CLUTTER FREE

Do you like clutter?  I don't like it, especially on my marriage.

A relationship is better when there are no unnecessary things around.  What do I mean by this?  These are objects or events that take up space in your marriage.  You may not see them harmful as now, but it can be damaging in the long run.  Let me give you a list that you should consider ending.

1.  Social Media - You can set rules, husbands and wives! Do not be afraid to cut-off your time on social media.  I am not saying you should not use it, but I am sure you would agree that too much use of it  limits your time with family.  To begin, you can start by disallowing phones during meal times, malling, when in bed and car rides.  This would also be a good time for you to show your kids that you can be away from your gadgets.  Instead if tinkering your apps, talk to your family. Ask the highlights of each other's day, hold hands, sing in the car or simply share stories.  I mean, when was the last time you actually exchange stories with the person you married?  Ditch your phone, and start talking!

2.  Me-time or barkada time - If you do not date your wife or husband, but you spend time being alone or with friends, then this is considered a clutter.  The key is prioritizing.  Be sure that your wife or husband is spoiled with your time before thinking of spending a day of it without him or her.

3.  Unnecessary expenses  - One of the things that couples argue about is money.  This mean that your unnecessary buys can spark discussions.  There are two rules that I want to share with you when buying stuff.  Do I need it?  Do I need it NOW?  If the answer is "no" in any of the questions, then put it down and walk away.


4.  Dreams and kids - Be careful!  These two are some of the main reasons why people get married, sadly, these two are the same reasons why couples break apart.  IF your dreams and kids get it the way of having a good relationship with your spouse, re asses and choose marriage.  Let me make myself clear, I am not saying to let go of your dreams or give away your kids, I am suggesting you check your daily routine and see if you REALLY have time for your wife/husband.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if you are "working hard for your future", what is important is TODAY.  The beautiful future you are aiming will not be there if you do not work on your today.  Sayang naman.  You keep on working to prepare your family 10 years from now, yun pala, your family will not make it because you have forgotten your today.




Identify your clutter, and prayerfully ask God if it is hindering a meaningful marriage.  If these things slow you down, then, get rid of it.  


Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

HOW YOUR FAMILY CAN ENJOY BORACAY

It is a no brainer.  If you are single and loves the beach, Boracay is the place for you.  However, if you are traveling with family, it is a no brainer too -- you have to plan!  Our trip was legit so I figured out you would want to beg me for tips haha

Here we go:

1.  Go for 4 days and 3 nights - For any travel that requires a plane or a long bus ride, always opt of 4 days and three nights.  Trust me, the 2 whole days in Boracay island will make a lot of difference.  You have more time to explore the island, not to mention you will feel rested when you get home.

2.  Splurge on that one thing - There are many things you can spend your money on Boracay.  However, you can't have it all.  So my suggestion, pick one! And guess what? we chose food! We spent around 500 per person per meal. In some hotels that offer buffets, Risen is free, so we explored on those too.  We also had snacks, coffee and shakes in between.  I actually gained a tummy fold in Boracay!  The food crawl is so great, you won't have the time to eat what you want.  So much food, too little time.











3.  Choose a hotel near the beach - Long walks are good, but not if you are wanting to be in bed!  Since the shore is long, opt to stay in hotels near the beach.  Having a room near the shore is also better when you have kids that would want to be carried after a long day.  A 5 star hotel is not necessary because you will just use it for sleeping anyway.  There are rooms that cost 3,500php for 3 pax.  Not bad at all!






4.  Respect each other's non-negotiable - When you are traveling with family, though you are considered a unit, each has a want.  I made sure I have enough photos ;), Bryan had nap time and Risen had Mango or Chocolate shakes twice or even thrice a day!!  Just make sure everyone gets his turn.  Support the whims, and you will all end up happier!



5.  Make sure your kid/s are in another bed - Oh but of course!  Wives, you know what I mean, right?



6. Bring toys for the kids - There were plenty times I and Bryan allowed Risen to play the sand while we have coffee.  Most of the restaurants are beach front.  That means, you can catch up without any help from a gadget.



7.  Avoid the social media - Speaking of gadgets, wives, avoid the social media.  I know it is so tempting to post, but, that too can wait.  Experience the place in real time and not through the screens of your phones.  Funny on how we are always together but a trip can  make us realize there are many things we still do not know about each other.  We try to make time with Risen and with each other (me and Bryan) as much as we can, because why not?


8.  Lastly, wake up early!  The mornings in Boracay are so peaceful and clutter fee.  A perfect time to thank the Lord for and reflect on the things He has done and will continue to do!






BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE ONE BRICK AT A TIME - JUST GIVE

**This post is a series.  The first brick that you have to lay is here.  Done reading? you may read along for the next brick.


GIVE AND TAKE.  This is one rule I have often heard given to married couples or to anyone in relationships.  And though this seem like a sound advice, I have realized that when you cut this in half, it becomes a better guideline.

When we think that we are to give and take, these things can happen:
1.  We become entitled because we have been giving but not receiving anything
2.  We tend to count the good deeds we have been doing
3.  We accuse our partners for being soooo good in taking

Or to make it more specific, IF we follow the "give and take" rule, we hear ourselves say the following:

1.  "ako nanaman?"  (me again?)
2.  "will I adjust again?"
3.   "Magaling lang asawa ko kumabig" (My husband/wife is so good in taking)
4.  "I am so tired of giving"

My unsolicited advice? Old rule out, new rule in:  JUST GIVE



When we focus on just giving, we stop ourselves from counting on how many we have done for the sake of our spouse.  We also lessen the Mathematics of who gave more.  Instead, we focus on the meaning of love.  This was actually modeled to us by God (the greatest lover ever) when He gave His son to us.  He did not say "Okay, I will allow my son to be die for you just be good to me!".  Jesus too did not ask for anything in return.  He just gave.

So the next time you are tempted to rant for your spouse not helping, not serving, not loving, not minding, just continue doing your part.  Imagine if a couple will have this mindset of just giving AND NOT taking?

So for this week, my challenge for you is to focus on serving and loving your partner.

Praying rooting for you! :) 

LOLA ELRING AND LOLO RENO: LEGACY

Has someone that you have never met impacted your life?

This is what happened to me.  I never had the chance to meet Lola Elring (Bryan's lola- mother's side). As for lolo, since he is based in the US, I only had the opportunity to see him twice.  However, this very short encounter  did not seem to be so small because of the stories shared to me by Bryan and Mommy Beth.  I know Lola baked the wedding cakes of her children, that she teaches Home Education, that we graduated in the same school PNU, and that she is so strict.  On the other hand, I knew lolo became a driver of Philippine Rabbit, a person who always have Skyflakes and banana in his bag and a brave soldier.

And do you know what else I know about them?  I know they have touched and loved many lives.  How do I know? because this love was extended to me and my son, Risen a hundred of times.  Every time we visit the north, both Paoay and Sanchez Mira, or every time I am introduced to a person on Mommy Beth's side I am "instantly welcomed and appreciated", not because I am a wife to Bryan but because I am a wife to Bryan who is a grandson of Lola and Lolo.  I have received many blessings, warm hugs and sincere "kamusta ka anakko?" because of Mr and Mrs. Bagasin, a couple that I have not really met.  But since they have invested so much time in people during their time, I and Risen are benefactors of their legacy.  Amazing on how their lives can still have so much positive effect 3 generations down.

It is my prayer that Risen can get to know his great grand parents too through you.  In his young mind, he already knows a clan loves him in Cagayan. And to be honest, though I am an "outsider" I feel very much at home, thanks to lolo and lola.   Again, to lola and lolo whom I never really met, I owe you two things:  I owe you Bryan whom you led to the Lord, and an amazing mom-in-law and her siblings.  I also owe you the love, generosity and warmth extended to me by your friends and family from Cagayan.  Lola Elring, Lolo Reno, thank you very much!