Jason, my host brother, is an ambitious young kid on his way to college to study nursing. I got to know his friends and recently helped host a teen dance with his youth group in the street in front of our house. As customary in the Philippines, the kids slow danced and the adults hit the drinking circle. I shared Matador (brandy) shots with Tatay (dad), the youth group adviser and Mary and Kehl (my fellow cluster mates). Like I've mentioned before, drinking is serious business. Shots and water chasers. Ugh. But it was a fun bonding experience with Tatay and I think it made him feel at home.
Nanay is a sweetheart and she gets after me to learn my Tagalog, gently correcting what I say and always speaking to me in the language, whether I understand or not. I appreciate this about her. Plus, her cooking is so masirap! I will miss that.
My sister, Aubrey, and her husband, Michael, are newly married and expecting their first baby in September. They've asked me to be a "sponsor" or Godparent at the baptism in December or January. (Filipinos love to have American Ninangs --Godmothers). So now I will be the proud (God) mother of three -- Mitchell, Nikita and the baby, which they are thinking of naming Julia if it is a girl!
I will also miss Colleen and Dazzel, Nanay and Tatay's grandchildren. Last week, I helped do Colleen's makeup for a little formal pageant she was in for the Santa Cruzan festival -- a fancy parade through the neighborhood after a Mass. (I will post pictures soon -- lost my USB cord). As I was packing the other day, Dazzel -- we call him Put-put -- stared at me with a somber face the whole time. Saan ka pupunta? Bakit? (Where are you going? Why?) He was so darn sweet I wanted to cry. And it was difficult to explain to him -- with my limited Tagalog -- why I had to leave.
On my last day, nanay and tatay went all out to prepare a special meal of my favorite foods -- grilled Tilapia and calabasa (squash). They surprised me with the elaborate lunch after class that day. They also gave me a small gift -- some hair pretties and a case for my cell phone -- and apologized that they couldn't spend much on it. Very sweet.
Later this week, I will also say goodbye to the Americans I've gotten to know in recent weeks. Though I will see some of them again, I will be essentially on my own once I move to site on Saturday. Our swearing-in ceremony is Thursday night in Manila and I will be official then. And while I am ready to move on now and get to work, it will be an adjustment to be out there on my own.