Jan 21, 2008

For Missy

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise. . .

Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

Be well, Missy May.

January Scrapbook

Window to the Sea: Jess and Judith sit on a ledge looking out to sea at the hidden pool at Forbidden Island. Sabbath, January 19, 2008.

Posing with the fish: Me, scuba diving. Sunday, January 20, 2008

Teachers at Last Command Post, Sabbath, January 12, 2008

I'm not the only man anymore. Our two new male teachers at Banzai Cliff, Sabbath, January 12, 2008. They are both here temporarily for our ESL Winter School--they leave at the beginning of March. Cornell, an Australian by way of Canada is on the left. He arrived on Saipan on Friday, January 11. Anthonee arrived in December and in addition to teaching, he is helping me coach the basketball team! I'm very greatful for his help and expertise.

Anthonee and Cornell with Suicide Cliff in the background.

Kimo came with us on our Sabbath afternoon island tour. She's actually getting better on the leash these days.

Some of our teachers at Suicide Cliff, Sabbath, January 12, 2008. From L to R: Mai, Antonee, Cornell, Missy, Veronyka, Girlie, Bev (honorary teacher :) ), Amy, Riki, Me, Babs, and Kimo.

Our Dollar!

Back when we first started taking scuba lessons, Jessica spotted a dollar on the ocean floor. I picked it up and it become "Our Dollar" which we determined to spend together on something special at some point in the future. Well that point in the future arrived last Sunday, January 13 after our annual school walkathon and the something special was 35 cent ice cream cones at McDonalds (about the only thing we could both get and spend a dollar or less).

The dollar is officially SPENT!

The fruits of Our Dollar (We each pitched in an extra dollar to get fries with that!)

Church youth group hike to Forbidden Island, Sabbath, January 19, 2008

Some of the church youth on the rocks near Forbidden.

Judith and a student pose in front of Forbidden Island. It was too rough to cross over and climb the island itself that day.

Our 8th grade class president out amongst the tide pools.

The Hidden Pool at Forbidden Island. You can swim over where you see the light filtering in to a ledge that overlooks another pool which leads to another ledge after which is the churning ocean itself. That last ledge can be deadly--last year several kids were swept away by a large wave while standing on that last ledge. We all stayed safely on the first ridge, which still provides an awesome front row seat to the magnificent, raw power of the ocean.

One of our friends and church members, John Moreno, plays in the pool with a young friend.

Jessica, Me, and Mai at about 40 feet down. These fish were real hams. Sunday, January 20, 2008

We followed this Hawksbill turtle around for quite awhile. Thanks to Ken and Crystal for the dive photos and letting us newbies gain some dive experience under their guidance. You guys are awesome!

Missy says goodbye to Derek, Myla, and their son. She left this morning and I miss her already

Jan 11, 2008

I Remember. . .

Dave Khoram at the Mariana Eye tagged me to write about 20 things I remember about Saipan, whether recently or long ago. I've only been here for about 10 years so my memory doesn't go back as far as some, but here's what I've got:

1. I remember Rudolphos. I remember the Barking Gecko. I remember Wendys (and Taco Maker) on Beach Road. And I remember when Taste of India was over near Winchells in Susupe and then on the Paseo in Garapan.

2. I remember when the movie theater was the one screen in that building by the post office. I never went there. Not even once. Until the multiplex opened, I just didn't go to movies on Saipan. (I also remember when Blockbuster came and what a big deal that was and how you could find movies there that you couldn't find anywhere else. Unfortunately, that is no longer true).

3. I remember the first time I heard about Saipan, from a girl with long blonde hair who was going to teach here for a year, at the same time that I was heading off to teach for a year in Chuuk.

4. I remember house sitting in a gorgeous home on Mt. Tapochau for a month, our first summer in Saipan.

5. I remember pitching my tent on Managaha at a site that is now underwater.

6. I remember that TV show they used to shoot at the Lens Bar and they had a guy on there once who sang a song called "I Remember Saipan."

7. I remember "Better Times" in Saipan. They were never good since I've been here, but they were better than they are now. Unfortunately for our current administration, it appears that all the Better Times have been in the past, not in the future.

8. I remember when my 8th grade students were in kindergarten and I remember two of them--twinss--jumping off the stage, doing karate kicks during the ceremony. I think they'd still do that even now. Graduation should be interesting this year.

9. I remember Steve and Mike, the homeless American guys who used to hang out in front of Payless. Rest in peace, fellas.

10. I remember meeting David Khoram and listening to him talk and thinking, "man this guy reminds me a lot of myself! Smart, thoughtful, articulate. . . "lol!

11. I remember our first apartment on Saipan and how it had brand new hot pink carpet in it. Some other teachers at the SDA school live there now and the carpet's no longer brand new nor quite so hot pink, but it's still there.

12. I remember the moment Sept. 11 happened for me here in Saipan. Just after 7 A.M. on September 12, when one of our parents called to inform us that "America was being attacked." Even now those words still sound so crazy and impossible.

13. I remember when they started having the Street Market.

14. I remember when the classroom I teach in was two rooms--one half of the room was the kindergarten classroom, the other half was the library.

15. I remember when there was no Taco Bell on Saipan. That was about a month ago. . .

16. I remember when I realized that is possible to get scary lost in the boonies on an island this small. That would be when Grant and I realized we were scary lost in the boonies on the day after Thanksgiving 2006.

17. I remember when I could budget $50 bucks for gas for the month and have it last. Now I spend more than $50 to fill up the tank.

18. I remember when Tyce Mister was known to me only as one of "those California boys" on the hash run they played over and over and over on the Vistors Channel.

19. I remember when the channels came from San Francisco. We were very much in tune with what was going on in the Bay Area back in those days.

20. I remember Alana from Alaska, the Hartshorns, Lisa and Cherie, Melissa Sell, Steve, Susanne, and Katie Namkung, Sheri Rodman, the Taitigues, Aaron & Joyce Knowlton, Denise Hewitt and her kids, John & Susan Schwarz and their kids, Tin Tin Win, Kathy Stair, Yeneer Merino, Jill Sharpe, the guys from Talk Story Studios--Butch, Les, Greg, Mike, Dan Shor and his sweet wife Jie Hua, Jonathan & Ami, Pastor Gallen, Steve the way cool youth pastor at GCA, Rob & Joy Carouth, Monica Cardenas, Tammy Morris, Sweet, Dori, Eugene and Nora Sulit, Zerlyn and Geoffery, Amber Sell, Aya Sato, Rachel & Irwin, my student Myoung Hun that now goes by Mike and sells cars Joeten Motors, Jessica Jordan, Tony & Susan Satur, Britni Gleason, Grant Graves, Layla Cole, Heather & Jari, all the students I ever taught at SDA--all people who have come and gone from this little rock in the Pacific and left their imprint on this island and in my heart.

I tag Grant, Mai, and Britni.

Jan 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! We ended the year on a "high" note--that is on, Mt. Tapochau, the highest point on Saipan. (I drove their for this holiday, rather than running as I did for Thanksgiving).

New Year's Eve has always been a bit of a challenge for us. Usually, we want to do something fun but it's hard to find something to do on New Years Eve on Saipan that doesn't involve spending a lot of money or consuming copious amounts of alcohol (or both). For the past couple years we've ended the old year and begun the new quietly, usually over at Carol's house chatting till midnight and then wandering outside to take note of whatever fireworks happen to be nearby. It hasn't been a bad way to spend the evening, by any means. But this year Carol had other plans, and we were going to have to come up with something new.

Well, this year's (or should I say last year's) New Years Eve turned out to be a lot of fun and very memorable. We went out for dinner, then spent a couple of hours of relaxation at the Mandi Asian Spa, and then drove up to Mt. Tapochau, the highest point on Saipan, to watch all of the fireworks on Saipan.

Dinner at Garlic Restaurant 2298 Grotto (L to R, Veronyka, our kindergarten teacher; Riki, one of our pre-school teachers; Rhonda (Riki's Mom); Rolly (Riki's Dad); Randi (Riki's Sister) and Babs.

Babs and I along with two of our other teachers, Veronyka and Riki, and Riki's family who is visiting Saipan this week, began the evening with dinner at six at the Garlic Restaurant 2298 Grotto (quite a mouthful, huh), a highly-recommended restaurant that utilizes--you guessed it--garlic in many of their dishes. We'd never been before, but we'd heard a lot of good things from friends who had and it didn't disappoint. We had the Garlic spaghetti Japenese style, garlic spaghetti, deep fried eggplant, garlic chicken, and garlic fried rice with vegetables--all pungent and tasty.

At the Spa

Around 7:30 we headed over to the Mandi Asian Spa for a couple hours. We figured, if we're going to sit around and chat for a couple of hours we might as well do it in absolute luxury! We started out at the infinity pool, with occasional dips in the cold pool, then moved to the main pool, followed by a visit to the flower bath. After a nice hot showers we met back up in the library room where we hung out (and some of us napped) until closing time at 11. The water was warm, the company good, and I left feeling super-relaxed and squeaky clean in a way that only a visit to the Manid can make you feel.

Riki models the one-size-fits-all (or not) Mandi slippers. When you arrive at the spa, you trade out your own shoes for these spa zorries which are all one size: Extra Large!

I guess this would be the "Christ of the Marianas." This statue of Jesus stands atop Saipan's highest peak, Mt. Tapochau.

At 11 we drove up to Mt. Tapochau, where a small group of celebrants had already gathered. We hadn't celebrated the New Year at this mountaintop location since the Millenium Eve, December 31, 1999--January 1, 2000. After going there again this year, I'm sorry we let so many years go by. It was amazing! I've never seen a fireworks show quite like what we saw from our vantage point. Around midnight, the entire island erupts up in a sparkling, flashing, sea of color and light. No description does it justice (and unfortunately the camera doesn't pick them up either). You have to be there to see it for yourself. If anything, this year's display was more spectacular than the Millenium's because of the proliferation in recent years of high-powered fireworks available to ordinary citizens here in Saipan. So you're not just seeing all the professional shows from the hotels and resorts, but also the pretty ambitious amateur shows going off in backyards, parking lots, and open fields--literally hundreds of fireworks of all kinds, all going off at once. It was truly magical to see. We've decided we're going to make this an annual tradition for however many more years we stay in Saipan. Maybe some of you can join us on December 31, 2008!

So we went up the mountain in 2007 and came down the following year, 2008. It was a fun night and a great way to kick off the new year.

Me and Babs. We brought the good stem glasses up in the picnic basket and celebrated with a midnight alcohol-free toast of sparkling grape juice.

Virle and Co. joined us on the mountain to ring in the New Year. Clockwise from back: Antonee, our temporary ESL teacher; Joeiy; Girlie, our other temp ESL teacher; and Virle.

Riki with her dad Dr. Rolly Unterseher.