2015 has been a year filled with new things. Over these past few weeks, I’ve noticed the toll that stress is taking on my body, even without me recognizing it as stress. Recently, CNN aired a short news story on the history of stress and they reported that “Stress is the body’s physical reaction to change.”
My friend encouraged me to make a list of all of the new things in my life. I like how she worded her suggestion, because thinking of things as “new” makes me think of them in gratitude. When I made the list on the last pages of my journal, the one that I started the week we moved here to Manila, I wrote out over thirty new things in this past year. Here are 15 of those!
1. New country: This is the most significant one on the surface level, for me. It involves so many more new things (listed below) and a whole new way of life. On my bad days, I feel overwhelmed and struggle to leave my condo. On my good days, I relish in the opportunity to explore and dig deep in a new part of the world.
2. New condo: We prayed for months before we flew to Manila that God would provide us the perfect place to live. He did! In the early months of our marriage, we created a Pinterest board for home design to quench our desires to settle into a place right away. So when we signed the papers and were ready to move in – we went to work right away looking for the perfect items to sleep in, sit on, and place our coffee mugs on. After weeks still of an air mattress, I am continually grateful each time I look around the place we get to call our together home.
3. New time difference with family: I started 2015 on Vancouver Island, a three hour time different from my family near New York. I end the year a full 12 hours (13 right now because of daylight savings) ahead of them. Besides the tension of being on the other side of the world from people I love, it helps to connect in our mornings or evenings. Even when that means sacrificing sleep, which we both do often.
4. New language: Language classes, Tagalog movies, faithful friends who help and challenge (and frustrate) my learning. They say when you learn a second language you gain a soul. I’m not quite there yet, but the other day I handled a payment issue on the phone in broken Tagalog so I felt encouraged.
5. New money system: This is one of those “new” things that I don’t give much thought to. After all, it comes with the territory of moving to a new country. But my brain is constantly converting when I look at a price tag or make a purchase. I’m now keeping my eyes out on the exchange rates (both US-Canada and Canada-Philippines) as we feel the effects of it.
6. New friends: I know people prayed this for me as I moved here because the week we arrived, the wife of Trent’s friend invited me to join her small group. These women along with a heart-sister I’ve been in touch with for years and the coffee community, have been my life-lines in processing life and culture.
7. New reality without a dear friend. A few months ago, God took a dear friend Home. So many times I want to email her to catch up and ask her advice. My heart aches and I wish I could be with the community that also miss her.
8. New climate. I’ve come to understand why New England uses the Fahrenheit system – on the average, the coldest it gets in the winter is 0 degrees and the warmest it gets in 100 degrees. But here? Here it doesn’t vary very much. It rains sometimes. It’s usually hot. But there’s something stable about it too, the consistency of the temperatures. And I’m getting used to it. So is my hair.
9. New church. I’m thankful for the global Church and fellowship around the world. We’re finally getting settled into a regular schedule of meeting together in the same place every Sunday. And we know people! It’s bigger than I’m used to and navigating the culture of a new church is a learning process.
10. New transportation: Trike, train, jeepney, walking … and that’s just to get to language school. I’ve never lived in a big city before so even the fact that taxis (or Ubers) are regular forms of transportation is new to me. As overwhelming as this felt at first, I’m thankful now for the freedom to be able to get around on my own using public transportation. I’m also thankful for the way riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle gets us there faster.
11. New skills. My brain is more than full, that’s for sure. On top of the skills of transportation and language, Trent and I have spent a lot of 2015 learning the art of coffee. We’ve taken barista training and I work from EDSA BDG once a week to sharpen my skills. The routine of making myself coffee each morning helps with all of the newness of this season.
12. New sounds & smells. The positives include the chocolate factory right next to our building but if the wind blows the wrong way, we also smell the river (hint: it’s not a good smell). Everywhere I turn there’s new smells (fish, pollution, sweets baking) and new sounds. Traffic, for one, is a lot to get used to.
13. New types of food. I learned to cook this year. I learned that even if a recipe has a lot of ingredients, it doesn’t mean I should skip over it. But more than the new types of food we’re making is the new types of fruit available. In elementary school we learned, “apple, orange, cucumber,” but now I get to add to my palette: “mangosteen, pomelo, sayote.” Grocery shopping becomes manageable with access to Google.
14. New family. While 2014 was the year we got married, 2015 has very much been a year of learning each other and growing together more. We began the year in Canada, with my husband’s family and now we’re ending it along with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend! In addition to the new Rollings family, 2015 brought my new sister-in-law when my brother got married in October. Being here, I also get extended family in a few little kids who call me “Tita.”
15. New blog. I’ve been writing for a few months on my own and a few weeks ago now I felt the urging in my spirit to post some of what I’ve been writing. A new way to process all of the new. It’s a joyful challenge and I’m thankful for the ways it stretches and grows me.