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Random Read Reviews

Since finding English reading materials with reasonable prices in Bangladesh has posed a challenge to me as a mom, I tried to find a way to get free copies of books for my daughter. Thank God for leading me to NetGalley.

If you are a blogger like me, please go ahead and soak yourself in searching for a wide variety of genre of books (during your free time, of course 🙂 ). Once a member, you’ll get free digital copies of the book you prefer. Make sure you appreciate authors by writing even a short review of their book. That way, you can help them sell their masterpieces. 😀

So here I am writing a quick review of the two new books I got for Joanna.

Click the image to learn more.

1. But I Wanted a Little Sister by Pauline Oud

Reasons I would recommend this book include its attractive cover, its story line (I’m not giving it away. Please buy a copy. 🙂 ) and the moral lesson this book offers. I am pretty sure that preschoolers like my daughter would ask their parents to read this to them more than once or twice. 😀

 

Please click the image to learn more.

2. I’m Just a Little Someone by  Sharen S. Peters

This isn’t a simple colorful book. This has a section that surprised me. The said part includes an enumeration of activities you can do with the book. I believe this copy is ideal for preschool teachers and homeschooling moms.

There you go–a quick review of two wonderful storybooks for your preschoolers.

Christmas Giveaway

Year 2016 is almost over. Looking back at how year 2016 went for me makes me stand in awe of God’s goodness. I saw His daily grace and provision for my family, His deliverance in times of our adversities and forgiveness in our failures to please Him at times. The thought of God’s undeniable myriads of boons upon my family is entirely humbling.

The question I have been asking myself is, “What can I do to thank God in return?” The answer is nothing. And yet, I believe that the least I can do is use whatever time and talent He entrusted me to bless others (I hope…).

So to celebrate God’s kindness upon my family and me, I would like to share a Christmas giveaway to you who are interested. I am sharing these free-printable-spiritual-journal-pages. My desire is that these journal pages would motivate you to journal your lessons from your walk with God and develop your “gratitude-attitude” further in year 2017.

SUGGESTIONS: 

  1. Buy a 5×7 three-ring binder.
  2. Print one page of the first five pages.
  3. Print the page that looks like this 365 times. 😉

journal-entry-page

4. The “Random Thoughts” page is optional but it’s great for writers. 🙂
5. Another great idea would be to go to a printing shop and have them assemble your bound journal. 🙂

I wish I could do more but these will be all for now. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Bangladesh National Zoo (Photos)

I’m enthralled. Joanna, my daughter, just started going to school. Just imagine how teary-eyed I was when I first dropped her off at school. Can anyone relate to this?

Recently, she experienced her first-ever visit to the zoo with her teachers and class friends. This is her fourth time to visit a zoo but this one is special because she went with her new friends.

I’m sharing some snap shots of her memorable event. Please enjoy. 🙂

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Smile! 🙂

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The Zoo’s Map

 

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Everyone started walking to the animal’s cages.

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Monkeys everywhere!

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People enjoy watching the monkeys play inside their cage.

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Can you find some more monkeys?

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There were a few flower gardens!

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Crocodiles are called “Kumir” in Bengali.

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Take a look at them!

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Peafowls. I’m very sorry to have missed seeing these peacocks opening their feathers. Our camera’s battery died even before Joanna’s excursion finished. I should have brought a charger but I would not have found any place to charge our camera.

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Joanna enjoyed running around the zoo with her school friends. She was also happy to see this colorful bevy (i.e. a family of peafowls).

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My first time to see a rhino and a sheep. 🙂

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This one is chained and amazingly, elephants in this zoo don’t smell since they are given a bath from time to time in a day.

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Oryx–one type of a deer. I haven’t seen this in the Philippines before. Thank God for this privilege!

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Another type of deer. Can you realize how creative our Creator is. He makes every animal unique!

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Signboards are all around. Go figure. 🙂

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These donkeys reminded me of Jesus’ triumphal entry.

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Giraffes. Trivia: Giraffes spend their life standing up. In fact, they doze and give birth standing up.

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Peafowl.

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I am just amazed at how clean Bangladeshi zoo is! The animals we saw were well-fed.

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Joanna is concentrating on how hippos eat and is carefully listening to what one of her teachers is telling her. 🙂

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More hippos at a different angle.

I’m grateful to God for giving my daughter this privilege to see His wonderful creation. As I have mentioned, my camera ran out out of battery so I missed taking photos of other animals such as lions, tigers, different types of birds and so on.

I’m also glad that God enabled me to meet other mothers from Joanna’s school too! It is my prayer that God will use me to share with them the gospel in God’s time. For now, I can only pray for their salvation.

Anyway, just a few comments about Bangladesh National Zoo.

Pros: 

  • The entrance fee is very cheap. It’s only 30 taka or about $0.375
  • There’s a variety of animals available for viewing.
  • The place is very clean.
  • Signboards are quite informative.
  • If you are going to have a picnic there, there are water tanks available for washing your hands, plates and glasses.
  • There are wide and breezy spaces where you can lay your picnic mats down.
  • Food is available for purchase inside the zoo.
  • Visitors are allowed to bring their own food.

Cons: 

  • Vendors keep handing balloons and other toys for sale to the kids. Kids end up persuading their parents to buy what are not so necessary.
  • Foreigners might find it hard to understand what are written on the name boards of animals if they are not familiar with Bangla.

OVERALL: The place is a wonderful place for picnic and enjoyment. It’s also an excellent place to see God’s handwork. Isn’t it amazing how animals declare the glory of God?

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunderban: A Place Worth-Visiting in Bangladesh

Christmas is a blessing to our family. It’s a time, not only to remember the birthday of our Savior, but a time to fellowship with our family and relatives as well.

We were privileged to visit and tour around Sunderban before the end of 2015. Thank God for His protection as we traveled from Dhaka to Khulna.

I’m sharing with you some photos of our trip.

Here’s how we got there.

 


Here’s what we saw at the entrance.

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A big map of the jungle at the entrance gate. Just imagine the size of this mangrove! It’s about 139, 500 ha (345, 000 acres).

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Sunderban–it is said to be the largest mangrove in the world. This sign board is somewhere at the end of the jungle’s trail for the visitors.

 

 

Expect to see crocodiles on the ground:

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We saw this crocodile beside a fenced pond.

 

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You can enjoy seeing wild monkeys on a tree. No, they are not caged at all. 🙂

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How many monkeys can you see? 🙂

 

 

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While some animals are out in the jungle and some are kept in cages.

 

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Most of the animals visitors enjoy seeing are alive wild animals but there is a special place where all you can see are skeletons of animals. This one is that of a dolphin.

How did you spend your Christmas holiday? Did you go and visit your relatives? While it is not required for us to go to a fabulous place during holidays, we should remember that investing time for our loved ones is essential to building a stronger family ties.

Memories with them is something that nobody can steal from us. Let’s continue enjoying building special memories with our family.

4 Easy Steps: Banana Muffins Even Toddlers Can Bake

Banana Muffins Even Toddlers Can Bake

“Baking is how you start kids at cooking in the kitchen. It’s fun whether it’s baking bread or cookies. With baking, you have to be exact when it comes to ingredients.” ~Sandra Lee

My daughter is now three years old and she loves spending time with me. One of the activities she enjoys doing with me, of course, aside from playing, is baking. I would like to share with you a photo of my little moppet and I while baking.

Joanna & I baking

Joanna is in charge of mixing up the dry ingredients and I mix up the wet ones. She’s one little happy baker.

Writing out this first-ever recipe that she has tried is worth-doing. Maybe some moms would agree with me so here is the recipe that we have customized.

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp custard powder (optional)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup of oil
1 large egg
3 big bananas or 6 small ones

Instructions:
1. Mix up all the dry ingredients.
2. Mix up all wet ingredients (whisked egg, mashed bananas and oil).
3. Scoop them up into the muffin tray.
4. Pre-heat the oven and set  it up to 190°C (375 °F).  Bake for 12 minutes.

Now, you can either print this recipe out or get a pen and recipe card and jot down this simple recipe. Please try it with your toddler. 🙂 I promise that this will be such a fulfilling experience not only for you, but most especially for your toddler who enjoys adventure at this stage.

What activities do you enjoy with your toddler? Please share it with me so my daughter and I can try it as well. Thanks in advance! 🙂

Banana Muffins

What Life is Like in Bangladesh Part 1

“Are you really in Bangladesh now?!?”

“What are you doing there? What is life like over there?”

I know. It’s a little fascinating at times that most of the new people I meet always get shocked, or I should say, excited when I tell them that I am living in Bangladesh! I really would love to give them a detailed answer but normally, we just have a limited time so I can’t really elaborate my answer.

Considering the aforementioned situation, I had a meeting with me, myself and I in the conference room of my brain and I concluded that it would be interesting to write out my answers so I can also give a much better thoughtful response using a good chunk of time.

Now, it’s finally here. The answer to the top FAQs of every person I meet the first time, after mentioning that I live here in Bangladesh, a beautiful green pasture. Green Bangladesh “Wait, did you say ‘Green Pasture?!?'”

Yes, you heard it right. Bangladesh is literally covered with green meadows especially in the rural areas, but this isn’t what the world considers to be a so-called “greener pasture.”

Alright, enough beating around the bush since I don’t want to make you wait too long. 🙂

1. Why do you live in Bangladesh?

This is the top question I am asked in any first time conversation. Well, I came here first of all because my husband is a local of this country and I am here to support him in his desire to do his share in penetrating this nation with the seed of the gospel. That was the theme of our sacred union anyway–to join as lights together for Christ. 

2. What’s the general flavor of Bangladeshi food?

Bangladeshi food is generally hot and spicy. The main spices present in every dish here are onions, garlic, plain cumin powder, plain turmeric powder, plain chili powder. bay leaves and garam masala, a fragrant blend of ground spices used in Indian cuisine, often containing black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, and turmeric.

I have learned to cook local Bangladeshi dishes and they are pretty simple and easy.

Watch out for some recipes I would share with you in the future.

Now, I have to debunk the myth that Bangladeshis, just like Indians, eat just chicken curry everyday. I would say that it might be true for other families but not for ours and the other Bangladeshi families I know.

We have what we call “Daal” or Lentil soup, “Shak” or sautéed greens, “Alu Vorta” or mashed potatoes, “Daal Vorta” or mashed lentils and many more for lunch and dinner.

Bangladeshi Food

upper left: Fish Curry; upper right: alu vorta (mashed potato with fried onions and mustard oil) lower left: crab curry; lower right: sautéed water spinach (kangkong)

Daal Vorta

Daal Vorta–mashed lentils in mustard oil and chopped onions

normal Bangladeshi combo meal

Here’s a typical Bangladeshi set of meal: chicken curry and shak (any vegetable tops). Chicken curry can be replaced with fish, shrimp, crab or assorted veggie curry.

Fried eggs and boiled fish with greens. See? These dishes don't have so much spices.

Fried eggs, boiled tomatoes and boiled fish with greens. See? These dishes don’t have so much spices.

In our family, we usually prepare Biryani (see photo below) and fried aubergine when we have guests at lunch or dinner. If we serve Pulao rice, we pair it with chicken or beef curry.

biryani

Yummy Biryani-a mixture of steamed aromatic rice, meat, spices , potatoes and other optional vegetables.

I hope I didn’t make you drool by showing these mouthwatering dishes. Please come and visit us sometimes and I’ll be more than willing to cook these dishes for you.

3. Describe Bangladeshi people.
Bangladeshis are beautiful people in and out if you get to know them deeply.

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These are friendly college girls I met years ago in the village and I praise God for the privilege to share the gospel with them. They were quite receptive to the gospel. They did not outwardly profess faith in Jesus Christ right there and then, but I was thrilled to hear them ask questions about God.

Generally, their generosity is displayed when someone visits their house. They wouldn’t come to your house empty-handed. If you invite them for lunch or dinner, they will give your household some sweets in return.

Bangladeshi sweets come in different shapes and colors. They also have varied flavor but the main ingredients of these sweets are milk and sugar.

Bangladeshi sweets come in different shapes and colors. They also have varied flavors but the main ingredients of these sweets are milk and sugar.

They are also very hospitable. Take a look at the caption of the photo. While coffee is popular in the US or in the Philippines, tea is the common drink served to their guests.

Bangladeshis are so hospitable that they offer and serve whatever they can despite their poverty. Sometimes, that's all they have.

Bangladeshis are so hospitable that they serve whatever they can despite their poverty.

People here are creative. Their love for arts is depicted in their folk dances, music and clothing. (I’ll talk about clothing later.)

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Part of any program intermission is either a folk song or any traditional dance number.

4. What’s the primary religion of people over there?

Approximately ninety percent of the people here are Muslims, most of them though are just nominal ones. In the village where I stayed, people are mostly Hindus. It is said that around 8-9% of her population is Hindu. Only a little percentage of people are Christians, Buddhists and of other religion. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I learned later that you can tell a person’s religion in this country by his or her name. No wonder my husband’s name has a Christian influence.

It’s our earnest prayer that we could reach a few of these unsaved souls with the gospel.

Alright, I guess these would be all for now since I know that you might need to run an errand after reading this but please consider praying for us as we continue to stay here and shine as lights together for Christ.

Watch out for the next part of this post.

With love,
Nance

Empanada Crust–Choose Your Own Filling!

Have you ever had that craving that you can’t resist? Well, I’ve had that many times. It’s been our custom as a family to have our “Friday Food Feast” since Friday is like Sunday to us in Bangladesh. That’s the time, we enjoy sumptuous food with our family and friends.

One Friday, I craved for “Empanada“–“a Spanish or Latin American pastry turnover filled with a variety of savoury ingredients and baked or fried.”

“Where can I get a recipe?”–That was one of my questions and then I suddenly remembered something!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my father loves cooking and he used to buy cook books from National Bookstore. Fortunately, my mom carefully kept one of them so I decided to bring it here in Dhaka so I pulled it out and looked for the recipe.

Cookbook

ALING CHARING’S FILIPINO & FOREIGN RECIPES by Rosario Fabian One of the priceless legacies of my father!

I found the recipe and tried it out. As almost everyone does, they try a recipe and post it on Facebook. 🙂 I did that too and one of my cousins asked me about the recipe for the crust only! So…let me share with you the recipe for the crust only from this book. 🙂 You can decide as to which filling you would like to put. You may put cooked tuna or any left over you have in your fridge. In my case, I used chicken curry.

Recipe for Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour (no sifting)
1 tsp. fine salt
6 tbsp. water
2/3 cup butter or margarine (chilled)
2 tbsp. white sugar

Mix sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in butter using a blender or 2 knives until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle water and mix well with hand to form a ball. Knead lightly. Sprinkle flour on a board and roll out dough into 1/4″ thick. Cut using a round cutter (a medium sized saucer can be used if there is no molder. Place saucer up-sde down on dough and cut with a knife.) Then, fill each cut dough with 2 tbsp. of sauteed fillings. Fold dough to form a half moon, press one end to the other. Brush with egg yolk or milk. Arrange on a grease baking sheet. Bake at preheated oven until crust is golden brown.

There you go! The book did not specify the amount of time and temperature needed for this recipe but I set our oven to 190°C and baked the empanada for around 15 minutes. I followed my nose and turned it off when I smelled that it was done.

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Here’s my very first empanada–and my guests appreciated it so much. Credits to the author of the cookbook! 🙂

Make your family happy with this empanada, and as I said, just choose your own filling! Of course, remember to thank God for this blessing before posting it on Facebook! Let me know if you succeeded in trying this one out.

Love, Nance

I Got a Liebster Award!

I’m so thrilled because of an exciting news!

Yes, you read it right. Leaning on Jesus got a Liebster (a German word in origin which means beloved, sweetheart, lover, darling) Award! So you are asking in your mind, “What’s a Liebster Award?” It’s an award given to new bloggers by other new ones.


My humble blog has been nominated by Cynthia Lee, the author of “What the heck’s a bonbon?” Thank you so much for nominating me. I also would like to take this privilege to thank my family, friends and relatives who continue to read whatever I write on my blog. Thank God for the inspiration most of all. Since I love to read, I have also loved to write.

Now, one of the tasks I have to fulfill as I receive this award is answer series of questions asked by my fellow blogger/nominator Sis Cynthia:

1. How did you decide on the title of your blog?
It was difficult for me to decide. Originally, I used my plain name and then I changed it into the current one because I don’t think my name sounds attractive for a blog. Since Jesus, to me, is my everything, I want His name to be on my blog’s title. I owe Him everything anyway.

2. Elephant or giraffe?
Giraffe. I find giraffe’s print on its body fascinating.  Did you know that a giraffe can sleep standing up and its tongue is long enough to clean its ear? Well, I just learned about it a while ago while browsing for a giraffe’s photos. 😀 

3. What is your favorite food?
It varies depending on my location. When I am in the Philippines, I love Tinolang Manok. When I am in Bangladesh, I prefer to eat Pulao rice with fried eggplant.

4. Who do you look up to the most?
I look up to my mother the most. She is not perfect but I know in my heart that despite all her struggles in the past and at present, she tries to remain strong for us, her children and grandchildren. I can testify that she is the strongest and the most beautiful woman I know on earth.  

5. Would you rather cook or clean?
Both. I love eating even though I struggle to gain weight. Since I love eating, I also love cooking.

Why do I love cleaning? Well, the post-cleaning part gives me such an ineffable peace! ahhhh…. 🙂

6. Soup or salad?
Soup. I love it even in summer. 

7. What’s your favorite type of sandwich?
I love Big Mac with lots of cheese, although I rarely can afford to have one. There’s no McDonald’s here in Bangladesh. 😦 

8. If you had the chance to change your first name, what would it be?
I would love to be named Daphne. I just deem that having an /f/ sound on my name would be interesting.

Thank God, He blessed me with a husband whose name has an /f/ sound at the end of his first name–yes, his name is Joseph. [JOH-zef]

9. Tea of coffee?
We used to have a coffee farm but I never loved coffee. I go for a cup of tea and my favorite is Tulsi tea from Bangladesh.

10. What’s YOUR favorite blog post you’e ever written? Give us the link.
My very first blog: Good Works Cannot Save You, Jesus Can!

11. If time travel were possible, would you do it?
Yes, I would love to see my parents’ childhood days. I would love to play with them.

Now, here’s my nominees’ list:
1. Sis. Gema at Beloved Gems
2. Sis. Rae-Ann at Hello My Name is Redeemed
3. Sis Krizzia at Pilgrim’s Journey
4. Sis. Sofia at Little Miss Pilgrim
5. Sis. Eu at Teacher Yuyu
6. Sis. Laura at Live With a Mission
7. Sis. Andrea at Stumbling Everyday
8. Sis. Keishawna at The Jolly Moments
9. Sis Jessica at Polished Arrow
10. Sis. Suzanne at I Speak His Name
11.Sis. Heather at The Urbane Flower

Now, here are the Liebster Award Rules:

1. Acknowledge and link back your nominator–that’s me. 😉
2. Answer 11 questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
4. Here’s the challenging part: Think of 11 new questions to ask your nominees.
5. Let your nominees know that you have nominated them.

Here are my questions for you:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. When did you understand love?
3. What  is your favorite book? Give an excerpt in one sentence. 🙂
4. When did you first start reading a blog?
5. What is your best blog? Share with us the link.
6. What’s your favorite dish to cook for your guests?
7. What’s the best gift you have ever received?
8. Potatoes or rice?
9. How many books can you read in a day if you have a day off?
10. What is something adventurous you would like to try on your birthday?
11. Ice cream or cake?

I had so much fun doing this! I hope you’ll have a blast. Make your readers get to know you more.

In Christ with love,
Nance

Our Engagement Story: “Do You Know That Guy?”

Love Month is coming over and many couples are getting engaged. It is inevitable that some young girls turn to me and ask, “How about you Ate Nance? Tell us how Kuya Joseph proposed marriage to you.”

Soooo….here’s our engagement story:

Just like any other couple, it is but common for us to talk about excitement to grow old together. Of course, prior to that long commitment is marriage proposal. All the while, I knew that my husband would give me our engagement ring but the question was how and when. 🙂 My mother and Joseph’s parents, our ever-loyal love team fans, had given him their blessings and so did my pastor.

rana & nance

Upper Left, Right & Lower Right: A usual visit of Joseph to our house means my mom would cook special dishes which she would not cook for me. That’s how special he is to my mom–I’m jealous. 🙂 Lower Right: A shot from our Bridal Shower.

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“Did you know that guy?”

Last New Year of January 2010, it was expected of my first and last boyfriend who is now my husband (Joseph) to come over and celebrate New Year with us. His family is in Bangladesh so we got used to having him over during special occasions.

He then came over to see my mom and me. A few minutes after our chitchat, he called my mom and discreetly talked with her. Clueless, I just stayed quiet in one corner.

A few minutes later, my mom was blushing so much in excitement that she told me that Joseph is finally giving me my engagement ring in a restaurant. She’s also invited! She said though that she wants us to go by ourselves. I took a deep breath and acted as if I don’t know what would happen next. 😉

Joseph then invited me to go to Dencio’s restaurant. The stunning view of the Taal Volcano and the cool breeze of Tagaytay made our day very special.

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Taal Volcano View

During our meal, he asked me whatever I would like to eat so, thinking of our limited budget, I ordered stir-fried shirmps and adobong kangkong. Please don’t laugh. Those were delectable for me! 🙂

Next, he asked me to order whatever drinks I would like to have so right away, I thought of having Buko (Coconut) Juice in its shell. Of course, while eating, we talked about many things. In the middle of our conversation, he asked me to look behind and asked me, “Do you know that guy?” I said, “No.” So he added, “I thought he is from your church, isn’t he?” I laughed and said, “Of course, not. There’s no one who looks like him from our church.”

After that short “out-of-the-blue” interruption, we kept on eating. The food was so enjoyable and to end our meal, I sipped my favorite Buko Juice up until it was finished.

To my surprise, there was something in the Buko shell!

Eventually, I learned that my husband mischievously dropped the lovely gold engagement ring into the Buko shell. After finishing my coconut juice, he initiated to take the ring out of the shell and put it into my ring finger.

I think he was so nervous that he forgot to ask “Will you marry me?” He said from his heart “I love you so much Sona.” Later, he told me that the ring was made from his childhood necklace. His parents had it made into my engagement ring.

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A personally customized engagement ring from my husband’s childhood chain.

I was so touched with what he and his parents did just to be able to give me an engagement ring.

On March 6, 2010, we had our pre-nuptial arrangement in my church with my pastor, my mother, two of our Bible College professors and their family.

Prior to that pre-nup arrangement, my fiance and I, along with our American college professors, climbed up the mountain beside Taal Volcano. The funny thing is, a week later, people were prohibited to hike that mountain for a while since it was showing signs of possible eruption.

hiking before our pre-nup arrangement

Sweaty and yet more than happy after an hour long hiking to the top. Taal Volcano is the smallest volcano in the world. Glad to have made that memory with my fiance. ❤

Anyway, it was decided that our wedding day would be on April 9, 2011, a year, three months and three days later. I praise God for giving me a wonderful engagement! The lonely part is that we lost all the pictures in the restaurant due to the virus on his old laptop. 😦

All we have is the memorable moment of being engaged in our hearts. ❤