Monday, September 28, 2009

The trip to Poland (part 1)

Greetings world,

This blog entry is part one of an entry. I am currently writing from Cay's house in Vienna. It's good to be away from work, and it's good to have some time to reflect on the things that happened this past weekend.

I wrote in a previous blog that I have been working tirelessly to plan a University trip to Poland. Well the trip happened, and thank the Lord it was a success. We stuck very close to the schedule and everyone made it back in good condition, which is a huge accomplishment with 160 college students.

The trip brought us from Czestohowa to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. We then made our way to Krakow and then to Wadowice, the birth place of John Paul II.

The place that probably caught your eye was Auschwitz. This weekend was my second time to make it to that place, and it still rattles the core of my being. From my experience at Auschwitz this past weekend, I had two major realizations:

1) The Mystery of Evil

There have been six million reported deaths from the holocaust in World War II. Many of the deaths took place in Auschwitz. These were not simple deaths; these deaths usually occurred in the extremes of starvation, hanging, shooting, and suffocation through deadly gasses. Six million people were eradicated in these fashions. I ask myself how could this happen???

Furthermore, how could a good and loving God allow this to happen? If this God is really a Father that loves the world so much, how could He have let six million people suffer such gruesome deaths, and let alone allow millions more to survive to tell the tale? Where is the love in this?

As I walked from the train station that brought hundreds and thousands of Jews to this concentration camp back to our charter busses I realized something very profound. Some evil just can't be explained. There is no logical explanation for the kind of horrors that happened throughout history and continue today.

There is a mystery in evil, and the only answer to this mystery is another mystery that is far greater in comparison. The mystery that triumphs that of evil is the mystery of love. this brings me to my next point.

2) The mystery of love

I hear the cliche term that love is a mystery at least several times a year. But what does that mean? I think we can best understand this mystery in the context of God, who is love in it's fullest definition. I would like to say that God and love are synonomous.

I said earlier that evil is a mystery, but a far greater mystery is love. Why? Because in the end, it is not evil that triumphs, but love. I came to this conclusion when I thought of the person of Saint Maximillian Kolbe. St. Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who was sent to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Priests, during the holocaust, were targets for the SS because of their definance to the Nazi party and their aid to the Jewish people during their persecutions. Priests were often given a pink triangular patch on their clothes in the campus. This was to be a patch of ridicule and were treated more severely that normal prisoners in the camp. During an attempted escape, one of the prisoners was caught and then sentenced to death. The man cried out that he had a family to take care of, thus Father Maximillian Kolbe asked the guards if he could take the place of the man trying to escape. He sacrificed his life for the another. Kolbe was sent to an underground holding cell where he was starved for 2 weeks. He would not die, and instead he sang songs to the Lord and lead others in the accompanying cells in prayer and song.

St. Kolbe's example shows me what it means to love in the face of such great evil. It is a mystery to how Kolbe could do what he did. The mystery of love overcame the mystery of evil. What an amazing feat.

Sometimes in life we don't need explanations, because no explanation is possible. Sometimes what we need is not an answer, but an example. St. Kolbe shows us the example of how to overcome the hardships of life. Thank you for that St. Maximillian Kolbe. Pray for us.

Friday, September 25, 2009

God Blessed the Broken Road...

V&C are away this weekend. We are off to nourish our souls! =)

We are not travelling together. Vince is in Poland since early morning Friday, on the Uni trip/pilgrimage. And I am off to visit the Queen early Saturday morning ;-) I will be attending a SFC Sisters Teaching: "Princess Diaries" (inspired by the book Captivating), in London.

I am excited what this weekend will bring Vince and myself. Last semester, Vince was so moved from his experience in Poland. I can't wait to hear his stories and realizations.

I am just as excited to see what the Lord has in store for me this weekend. I am really looking forward to the "Princess Diaries" teaching. It will be a time for me to understand womanhood and how God intended women to be.

I am so thankful that the Lord is working on me and on Vince. He allows us both to be part of weekends like this. Weekends where He allows us to come to Him. We, Vince and I, are two souls who need God! We both know God brought us together. He prepared us, worked on us individually, and then He let our paths cross. And now He is at work on us together... preparing us for a future with Him. The life we both lead, is led by God... both our lives are testimonies of it.

There is this song Vince let me listen to... and it is OUR love story. When I mean OUR, I do not just mean Vince and me. OUR love story, being God, Vince & I, because it is God who blessed the broken road that led us to each other.

"Bless The Broken Road"

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true


Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A promise is a promise...

Dear readers,

I made a promise to blog, and I want to stay true to that promise. Especially with Vince being away (he is on a bus travelling to Poland with 200plus other Franciscan students, faculty, TOR), I want to make him proud that I stuck to my word. Now, the content of the blog is another thing. The promise was to blog... and so I am writing a blog. It may not be profound, but I am writing as promised. Hahaha.

And I don't think I should be trusted to blog at 2am, because I may just write nonsense. If you check out my wall post in Facebook on Maria Contessa Sarmiento's wall, there were already signs of my weird thinking. Let me paste a Facebook wall post conversation between Rebby and me:

Ana Santayana: maam, ilan na sausages kaufst du fuer sher und fuer phil? para ich weis wieviel ich noch dazu kaufen soll.

JericoRebby Precilla:
hahahahaha!! love that taggerlish going on in here! LOL!ilan na sausages kaufst du ..wahahhaha...cracking up here! para ich weis...wahahaha.....can imagine tessa rolling her eyes to ur message! LOL!..
and yes....u can crown me queen stalker now! LOL!

Now, talk about consistency in a sentence! I mixed English, Filipino and German in one sentence. Aside from that, Rebby and I just got off the phone talking about wrapping a gift, and I was coming up with weird ideas! We couldn't stop laughing because I serisous with my suggestions, until I gave it a few minutes thought, and realized they were NONSENSE!

Basically, all of you (and Vince most especially) may just be thankful that I didn't write a proper blog tonight. I may have just spared you all from wasted time reading a nonsensical blog.

And so I sign off, and lay my crazy mind at rest. Hoping that the new day will bring brighter and more consistent ideas! =)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Struggle...

Today was a rough day for me.

I have those once in a while, and I know all of you do as well. Let me give you a little background. One part of my amazing job is to coordinate student excursions to different parts of Europe. Right now the excursion I am coordinating is a Pilgrimage to Poland. It is a very intense and beautiful trip, however the prep work for it is extremely detailed. You have to keep in mind the transportation, meals, Mass times, tour times, hotel check-in and check-out, and countless other things. On top of all that, the size of the group is around 200. That's right - 200 students. Anyways, I am finalizing the final details of this trip, but yet there are so many things left to do, and on top of that the other aspects of my job (such as disciplining and monitoring the student body) also has been taking a lot of my time. What all this means is that I have had no time for anything else :-P I am now finished complaining, and I will not do so for the rest of this blog. I say this, because I am greatful to the Lord that I can have a job like this. The Lord has blessed me so much this past year so I really should take these things with more grace.

Lord help me to do so.

But this is life, and this is the life of ministry. It is a life dedicated to service. I remember watching this movie. It was called, A Peaceful Warrior. In this movie a young, cocky, Olympian hopeful is taking an evening job and he runs across this guy working at the local gas station. The guy at the gas station begins to ask this young athlete a lot of questions that make him feel very insecure. "Why are you doing what you are doing?" "What good is it to make it to the Olympics?" "Isn't there more to life than just sports?" The young man asks, "Why do you work at a gas station if you are so wise?" The gas station worker responds, "I provide a service for people. There is no greater calling than that."

I always want to live my life in service. Most of all, I want to serve the Lord, and secondly, I want to serve mankind. There can be no greater calling in my life. Whenever I sit down to pray, I always ask the Lord the same question: "What do you want of me Lord?"

And His response is always the same: Serve me.

Just because I know the answer to what I am supposed to do with my life, in no way makes my life easier. It just means I have a goal. And with anything with a goal worth pursuing comes the struggle towards that goal. Furthermore, it is in the struggle that two things happen. The struggle becomes beautiful, in a way. For it is in the struggle of daily living in pursuit towards something greater that character is built. What is character you ask? It is that thing that you are when no one else is watching you. I love the definition of character in this way: You are what you are in the worst of situations and nothing more. The other thing that struggle does is that it helps you to appreciate the goal more. Struggle without a goal is unnecessary suffering. Struggle with a goal produces saints. I want that. Thank you Lord for today. Thank you Lord for the struggle. I praise you in this pain, for I know that You are my goal and my prize.

I want to leave you with a quote from Padre Pio:

"The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain."

Monday, September 21, 2009

My piece of Heaven on earth: Gaming!

Greetings from beautiful Gaming!

I sit here in my favorite town, Gaming, Austria. You may think it is my favorite town because Vince lives here, well yes of course it is a factor. If it weren't for him, then I would have never traveled to Gaming. Ask Austrians, and not many would even know where Gaming is, or that it even exists. So why would I ever think of sitting in a car or train and travel to Gaming????

Aside from this being the town Vince lives in, I love Gaming for its beauty, the kindness of people, and most of all its peacefulness. I truly find peace and joy here. And I thank God that He has created a place where I can find this peace and joy. Each time I come here, and each time I enter the Church, Maria Thron, I thank God that I am here. It overwhelms me each time. I have come here so many times now, yet I am still overwhelmed at what God lets me experience in Gaming. I am in awe of His creation, this special place made for me, and for every person who experiences peace and joy in this little town!

This weekend I had 3 goals:
1) Share Gaming to my best friend and her family
2) Spend time with God (adoration and mass)
3) Spend time in His creation doing outdoor activities

This time around, the trip to Gaming was special, because I was able to bring my best friend, Rebby Precilla, and her hubby Jerico Precilla and their two kids, my Godson Coby and Isabella to Gaming. I have had many opportunities to share my favorite town to many people who are dear to me; my parents, friends, Singles for Christ (the community I am part of), Youth for Christ Mission Volunteers (voluntary part-time missionaries for the community I am part of), uncle's and aunt's. However, my best friend Rebby has not been here yet, and finally we were able to make arrangements where all of us could make it to Gaming at the same time.

It was so amazing that I could share this wonderful place with my best friend. She has finally experienced Gaming the way I keep on sharing it to her. And I am so happy that she loved it here, and also Jerico. Jerico has been wanting to be outdoors and to hike, and he finally got to. A well deserved weekend for Rebby and Jerico!

First day we got here, Vince prepared a delicious Mexican lunch... my special request: Fajitas! Afterwards we rested a bit and then we went to the Nature Park. We walked uphill with the entire family, including the baby carriages/strollers! YES, you read right, we pushed two baby carriages/strollers uphill. Thank God for the most part the path was cemented, but as we were "hiking" we had to laugh that we were doing this with two strollers. You know, it was worth it. It was beautiful company, and once we got to the top, it was worth the muscle aches, the sweat and losses of breath. I LOVED IT! Then we had dinner, cooked by myself =) We had one of the students over for dinner, Paul. I love that guy, and so does Coby. He went straight to Paul, he never does that.

Second day, I went to Vienna to do Jesus Time (Sunday school at the Filipino Parish), while the rest stayed here in Gaming. I am one crazy woman I know, but I committed to do Jesus Time, so I traveled to Vienna for Jesus Time and then drove back again right after. I do not regret having done it, because I was able to share about God to 21-23 children! Seeing them sing a worship song to God at the end of mass, put a smile on my face.

I got back to Gaming and Vince and Jerico hiked to the waterfall while Rebby and I took the kids for a walk around Gaming. It was nice being able to be with Rebby, because it has been hard to find time where the both of us could peacefully talk. We didn't have to think about time, nor rushing to finish because we had to be somewhere else. God gave us quality time. THANK YOU GOD! Then we had dinner at the restaurant care of the Precilla's.

Mass was at 8PM. Vince and Tina (a student) did the music for mass... it was BEAUTIFUL! =) And I loved mass, as always. Then we ended the evening with coffee and dessert at the restaurant. Some students were there too, so we got to meet tons of students. Then the rest of the evening was spent chilling in Vince's apartment.

Third day was spent preparing the Precilla's for their trip back to Vienna. They left 12:20PM, and honestly I missed them right away. I kind of felt lost for a moment. I was so used to having them around =(

But God gave me the rest of the day to spend with Him. When the Precilla's left, Vince and I went to mass. I got to talk to Sister Monica!!!! I missed her! And I got to chat a bit with some of the kindest people I have ever met, Maros, Michele, Tom, Maria, Niki, Mark, and Fr. Brad... there are many others, but this time around I didn't get to see them. Then I took a nap =) That was amazing! Hehehe. I started to clean up Vince's apartment then went for Holy hour!

It was so beautiful to have adoration after a long time!!!!!! I missed being with Jesus! I was in tears because I just really missed my time with Jesus. Since I began working at the U.N., my whole prayer life came to a halt. I wasn't able to go to adoration anymore or to daily mass. I would try having my prayer time at home, and it worked a few times, but it was not enough. Being in Jesus' presence this afternoon was so wonderful. I missed Him and I missed my time with Him. It's amazing how I could miss it. I have been praying to God that He helps me find the time to go to daily adoration again and mass. And He gave it to me today!

After adoration I went for a run!!!! THANK YOU LORD! It was so nice to run again after a long time. And I got to do it in the midst of God's wonderful creation! Right after running I went into the Church, because I had to thank God for just blessing me so abundantly! He let me experience everything I have been longing for! God is so good, so amazing, so loving!

Thank you Lord for this perfect long weekend spent with some of the dearest people to me, in the most beautiful, peaceful and joyous place... Gaming! May this towm continue to be a vessel of love, peace and joy to the many travelers! AMEN!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My realizations...

I would like to share with you all something that happened to me a few days ago. I made this new commitment this past fall to spend more time in silent prayer everyday. This means that everyday I will spend one hour in our tiny chapel here in Gaming. To be completely honest there have been a few days when I enter the chapel I would have liked to be somewhere else, but after a few minutes when I realize that I am in the presence of a God that is so powerful and amazing I thank Him for allowing me to have this time to be with Him.

There have been some realizations that I have had over these past few weeks in this chapel. Some have been big. Some have been small, but they have all been significant to my relationship to the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.

The realization that I had in prayer a few days ago has probably been the most profound that I have had in a while. What I came to realize in prayer that day was two-part. The first was that the forgiveness of the Lord is unfathomable. I have done things in my life that I have not been proud of. Any one that knows me well can attest to the fact that I have had a profound change in my way of living from when I was younger. I have hurt many people in my life because of bad mistakes. When I came to the Lord in 2000, I came to Him broken and on my knees. I was sobbing the day I handed my life over to the Lord, because I could not understand the love that God had for a sinner like me.

The conclusion that I have come to over these past nine years is that the Lord has loved me since the moment I was conceived. He loved me in my sin, and He loved me the day I gave my life to Him. There has never been a time that He has not loved me, and there will never be a time when He ceases to love me; even when I see myself as unloveable. He loves me regardless of whatever it is I think. How amazing our Lord is. I know that I could never love that way (unless He gave me to ability through His grace to do so.)

On top of Him loving me so immensely is that with this unfathomable love comes a willingness to forgive that is equally as immense. I am reminded of the prodigal son as I write this, with the Father waiting anxiously for the lost son to come home. The Father, at the sight of His lost son, runs to him first (even before the son can react) with open arms. The Father is not concerned with the wrongdoing of the son, but instead joyful and excited to have the son home. When I fall (as I do everyday) through my sin, it is not the sin the Lord sees when I come back to Him asking for forgiveness. He only sees my heart that longs to be back with His. The Lord sees not our sins. He sees us as we are intended to be- His sons and daughters. How amazing.

I know this is long, but the funny thing is that I heard this message preached to me twice in one day. Once at noon mass in our Church, and the second time I read it in the scripture during my daily prayer time. The third time I heard it was when I was sitting on my couch reading the book Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky (my current read). It was so suprising to me, because I would have never expected to hear it through a book on Russian literature ☺ But this is what I read:

(This is between the Elder Zosima and a woman who tried to kill her husband...I know... weird.)

“Be not afraid, and never be afraid, and do not be in misery. Just as long as repentance does not grow scarce within you – then God will forgive anything. And indeed there is and can be no sin upon all the earth that the Lord will not forgive the truly repentant. And there is no sin that man could commit so great as would ever exhaust God’s infinite love.”

Wow. Thank you Dostoyevsky confirming God’s word to me.

There is no sin a repentant person can commit that the Lord will not forgive. Thank you Lord for loving us that much.

The second thing I realized in the chapel that day was this.
Walking the narrow road to Christ is difficult. No scratch that. It is impossible. It is only made possible, because Christ has walked it before and He gives us the grace to follow. But it has been done before. Actually it has been done many many many times by people like you and me. Men, women, child, elder, Jew, Greek, black, white, disabled, strong, weak, slave, master, etc. All these people have walked the road and are now in divine reality of heaven. They have run the race and completed the course, and their victory and reward is eternal life with God. These people have made it and done well. These people are the saints. They know our struggles, because they have faced them and overcome. We cannot lose hope brothers and sisters in our journey towards the Lord. I know at times our faults and shortcomings may seem greater than the love and mercy of Christ, but when this happen we must look to the men and women who have faced the same challenges and ask them for their prayers and supplications.

The Lord is good brothers and sisters and He loves us more than we can ever imagine. Let’s take some time to be joyful in that ☺

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

These are a Few of my (Italian) Favorite Things! (Sound of Music has nothing to do with Italy, i know)

Buona sera,

I am unfortunately 1 day late with my blog. Sorry to those of you who follow our blog, and especially sorry to my blog partner, Vince! I was just so tired last night and fell asleep as I was writing my entry. At least give me credit for attempting to write my blog?

Even if it has been 3 days since our Italian holiday, I would still like to share with you "...a few of my favourite things...", to be exact let me share my top 5 favourite Italian things.

Numero Uno: Gelato!!! Especially Nutella & Tiramisu flavored gelato! You cannot leave Italian soil without enjoying a cono of gelato! I am in general an ice-cream lover, so I know the ice-cream business. Hahaha. Let me give you some facts about gelato.
Gelato is Italian ice-cream that is creamy, dense, and rich in flavor.
Real gelato is
- produced by Italian hands!
- consists of milk, instead of cream
- has 4-7% fat vs. American ice-cream 10% fat
- has 25-30% air vs. American ice-cream has 50% air

And since it consists of less fat, the flavor comes out more. And it is creamier and firm because less air has been mixed into the ice-cream.

Vince and I were looking for the best gelato in Lignano. We passed by this one place, the gelato looked creamy! It was not tightly packed in those metal containers, but it had this twirly form making it look creamy. I was so certain that this was the best gelato, but Vince was not convinced. Instead he chose a place where the gelato was tightly packed in the metal containers, and visibly it did not seem creamy. But guess what, Vince was right! It was the creamier gelato. LESSON? Do not be fooled with what you see. Looks can deceive!

Numero Due: Vince and I would walk around Lignano, and my eyes were attracted not to Italian men, but vintage bikes! Yes bikes, not Italian men! I was astonished to see that almost everyone was riding holland bikes or real vintage Italian bikes, like Atala. They were beautiful! I fell in love with this one white vintage Atala bike. It was a bit rusty, it had a basket in the front, and you could just see that it had character! Too bad I didn't take a picture. But instead I have a picture of a red one... still very beautiful!
LESSON? Vintage bikes are like wine, they grow finer with age! It's not about having the newest thing, it's about having something that has matured, has meaning, has history.

Numero Tre: La Botte! Thanks to my uncle and aunt (Tito Gene (meaning uncle Gene) and Tita Mohnie (auntie Mohnie)) who were the ones who introduced La Botte to my parents, and who in turn introduced La Botte to me and Vince. This restaurant was one of the highlights for this trip. The ambiance was nice, service was good, food was astounding, prices were heavenly!
Prosciutto con Melone: The melon was riped to perfection. Not too sweet and not too soft nor too hard. The prosciutto was fresh and had the perfect taste.

Spaghetti Frutti de Mare: I had to have Frutti de Mare, because in Vienna you cannot get fresh seafood pasta anywhere. So this pasta was a MUST! The pasta was al dente, which is always important for the pasta in Italian dishes. The seafood in the pasta were fresh. There were generous portions of scampi, mussels and vongole (type of clam).

Pizza with Brie, zucchini & prosciutto: I need to second Vince on that, it was one of the best pizza's I've had in my 30years of life! The combination of ingredients was just perfect. The brie & prosciutto gave the pizza this richness in taste but the zucchini balanced it, for it not to be too overwhelming. And for me to consider pizza good, I rate the crust! It had the perfect crust!!! Crispy, not soggy and the thickness was just right! LESSON? Lignano (5and1/2 hrs drive) is not too far to just go eat at La Botte! Hahaha.

Numero Quattro: If you talk to me about Italian men, I would only say negative things. I have been to Italy often, since it was one of my mission areas when I was a missionary. The many times I was there, I never had good experiences with Italian men. But this trip proved me wrong. Vince, Mark, Nikki, Grace Ann, Brittney, Ryan, James, the 2 boys (Ari and Dominik) and I went to Sunday mass. Vince and I stood at the back along with some Italians. Suddenly, during the beginning of mass an Italian gentleman offered me his seat!!! I was shocked. I was so thankful for his gesture, not because I wanted to sit down, but thankful to know that there are still true gentlemen in this world. God bless him! And I said a prayer for him during mass!
LESSON? Be hopeful and don't generalize! There are real good gentlemen out there.

Numero Cinque: Traveling with Vince! Yes Vince is a Filipino-American, but deep inside he is European (a mix of French-Italian-Spanish). Hahaha. So he still falls under my top 5 favorite ITALIAN things. Like Vince said in his 1st blog here, we both love to travel. I am blessed to be with a man who enjoys the same things that I enjoy! Being able to share new experiences, adventures, cultures, food and delicacies is beautiful. God knew what He was doing when He joined our paths. LESSON? Vince said: "Let us enjoy every holiday we share as a couple, even our dates, because who knows how long we can do this as a couple"

I hope I gave you a different insight of V&C's Italian Holiday! Buona Notte!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Italian Holiday...

Greetings peoples,

I love traveling. It is one of my favorite and yet dreadful things to do. I look favorably upon traveling, because you get to see something new, taste different things, and meet so many interesting people. However, traveling can be physically draining. This past weekend we had the privilege of traveling to Lignano, Italy. On the way back, however, it was a challenge trying to stay awake. The last couple hours weren't bad, because I think I hit my third wind... Anyways, I am digressing.

Like I said I love traveling, and something else I love is being able to share my different adventures with friends like you all. The destination was Lignano, Italy.

History of Lignano 101 - Lignano is a port city located about an hour away from the Austrian/Italian border. The city is situated on sandy dunes that are surrounded by pine forests. The city is fairly new - its foundation was in the 60's I believe - with hardly any buildings resembling the ancient edifices found in many other Italian cities.

But I think that the "newness" gave Lignano a little spunk. I felt like I was in a mini Miami with condominiums being so close to the beach. The beach itself was quite nice, with its shallow water that stretched out a good 300 meters from the sand. The sand was a pale yellow color, and the water was a little cold, but perfect after the sun came out. I give the beach in Lignano an A- (the water was a little greyish).
We left for Lignano at around 11:30am. I had a little bit of a cold and so I tried to sleep it off, but that was not going to stop Cay and I from our Italian holiday. We arrived in Lignano at around 5.45pm. The drive from Vienna to Lignano was gorgeous as we traversed through the mountains in Kärten.We arrived at the Hotel Bellvue to find that the hotel is actually a part of a whole section of hotels. There must have been a dozen hotels within the city block. It wasn't cluttered though; it was a chill atmosphere with a healthy mix of Italians, Austrians, and Germans. After an easy check-in service, we went straight to the beach where we met up with the Kalpakgians (our American friends). After a nice exhilirating (the water was cold since it was getting dark) swim, we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner was quite good. Nothing spectacular (my standards for Italy are high), but still very good. Our first course was composed of a salad bar, where I must have had two plates of these white beans. If you know the name, please let me know, they rock. The second course for me was a cream of mushroom soup that was almost perfect (it was a tad cold when they brought it to the table). Cay had the pasta in a simple tomato sauce. It was good, except that the penne was a smidgen too soft (Italians make the perfect al dente pasta). The main course was a white fish with vegetables cook with herbs. My fish was perfect, however Cay's was a little too salty. Cay says the cook must be in love. Dessert was a berry mousse. Simple, yet delicious. We ended dinner with a night out in Lignano.
We took bikes that Hotel Bellevue rented to us for a Euro an hour. Pretty good deal. We rode them to the city center where we did some window shopping. I bought this really cool bracelet at this antique store where they sell vintage nautical goods.
I must say, when you are in Italy, you must have gelato once a day. It is a must. My favorite is cafe and tiramisu. To die for.
We hit the sack a little late. This is due to our recent addiction: Heroes. We love this show. It is the stuff.

Day two involved us waking up late :-) and missing the sunrise. But it's ok, because having lunch at La Botte more than made up for it. La Botte may be one of the best Italian places I have been to yet. Fantastic food and generous portions! Not to mention, the price was more than reasonable.

After Mass at the town parish we did some more window shopping, as well as real shopping (Cay picked up some stuff for her mom and dad.) From there we headed to La Botte.

We heard about this place from Cay's mom and dad. Thank you Tita Nel and Tito Rene (I am coming back just to eat at this restaurant).
We sat down at around 12:30pm and it was like a ghost town. Nobody was there, and that usually worries me about a restaurant. A good rule of thumb is that you don't eat when nobody is there. This was definitely an exception to that rule. I don't want to get into all the details, because I think you all need to check this place out at some point in your life. It is a couple blocks away from the city center, and any person in Lignano can tell you where it is (it is that good).

We started out with melone con prosciutto. Delicious! Fresh cantaloupe melon with thinly sliced prosciutto. Lord thank you.
Our second course actually came out the same time as the third. I wanted to be adventurous and try one of their "spezial" pizzas. We ordered the "prinscipessa", which was composed of a normal pizza baked with brie, zucchini, and prosciutto. Wow! By far my favorite pizza and the best I have ever had. I can still taste the brie melting in my mouth.
The pasta dish we had to try was the Frutti di Mare. Whenever you are by the ocean, try the seafood! We were more than pleased. Mussels, scampi, and clams were plentiful in this classic Italian seafood staple. The cool thing was that as the restaurant got more and more packed, we saw that pretty much everyone in the restaurant was having the Frutti di Mare. Great minds think alike.
Perhaps on par with the awesomeness of the food was the price. Check out the receipt. Nuff said.
Oh Italia. You are beautiful. We spent a couple hours digesting and swimming at the beach, before we packed ourselves back into Cay's Audi. Lignano, you are not the most beautiful place we have been to in Italy, but you have charmed us with your amazing restaurant and we shall return someday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Look for the next blog!


We just got back from Italy not too long ago. We are putting up a new post tomorrow with some great pics! Peace and love, Vince

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009: A Day of Tragedy, Hope, Franciscan's, Sweat, Flowers, Sick V, & AFFIRMATION!

Before I start: In a few hours V&C will hit the road, and it's off to Bella Italia!!! Ok... now the blog can begin....

Sept. 11, 2009, a very memorable day for all of us, especially Americans. A very tragic day for families who lost their loved ones, but still tragic for those who didn't because the very terrorist act simply shook us all. However, I don't want to blog about this tragic day, not because it is not important to me, but I still have every reason to celebrate this day in a more hopeful note.

Why? Well, today is the day that a new baby has been added to our barkada (Filipino term for a group of close friends)! WELCOME BABY SAMUEL CHRISTOPHER BALISI!

This is Tina's sms to us, but let me just extract a part of it, since it was a long sms:
"Es war eine schwere geburt doch sam ist endlich hier! Am 11.09.09 um 21:30 mit 3,8kilo und 52cm gross hat er das licht der welt erblickt!" (It was difficult giving birth, however Sam is finally here! He came into the world on 11.09.09 at 21:30 with 3.8kg and 52cm big!)

We have all been awaiting Sam's birth, and finally he is here. He surely gave his mom a difficult time, because Tina was already having her contractions in the evening of 09.10.09! That boy gave his mommy 1 whole day of labor pains. OUCH! But I am sure it is all worth it! I can't wait to see him and I can't wait to see the proud parents! Papa Carlo and Mama Tina... CONGRATS! You now have your own little family! How amazing is that! How Beautiful and how hopeful... on this tragic day... God gives us hope by bringing new life into the world on Sept. 11, 2009!

Thank you Lord for the gift of life, most especially thank you for Samuel Christopfer Balisi!

Quick run-down of my day. Woke up early so I would be the 1st in the shower since the Franciscan students were leaving this morning for Budapest. It was great meeting more Franciscan students. I love Franciscan students... love meeting the new students each semester! Work was tough... did some more physical labor! =( I was a sweaty little Cay in the office this morning! YUCK! Hahaha. One of my bosses gave me thank you flowers for being a sweaty little Cay. LOL! Went to the 40th day Mass for Jenina Dela Cruz.... KC, Kuya Vince & I love you and are here for you! Then rushed home to my busy parents and CFC household, and to my sick love!!! =( Vince is sick =( Haaaaayyyyy... poor sicky lover. I spent the evening helping my parents out for the household and watched Heroes with Vinson. We love the show!!! We are still on Series 1. I know we are a bit slow... but we didn't know it was good til our good/evil British friend, Sherwyn Sicat, uploaded all of the Heroes onto my Mac. THANK YOU SHER!

I would like to wrap up today's blog with this: We should never fail to affirm the people we love and care for. Those thank you flowers from my boss meant a lot to me. Work has been tough and stressy, I even had constant dreams about work!!! But when I received those flowers this afternoon, all the stress, late working hours at the office, dreams, sweat, and heavy files... were all worth it. YES, flowers were enough! You see, affirmation is so valuable! Let's not fail to affirm each other. One thing I noticed, Americans, well at least the Franciscan peeps, are so rich in giving away affirmations! What a blessing! We Europeans should learn from them. A simple thank you, or a flower, or pat on the back, or hug... can just melt away the negative feelings in a person. =)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You work to live! You do not live to work...

Hello all,

I am in the presence of gentlemen right now. I am having tea and wine with Matthew, David, Mike, and Joe. I must say that they are men after my own heart. They are students at the University I work at, and they are with me now at Cay's house. They are all heading off to Budapest tomorrow for a weekend of travelling.

Let me say that work today was very interesting. Sometimes in my work I find myself doing things that I never thought I would be doing. Let me expound. Immediately after lunch I got a call from Maros, our maintenance man on campus, to do some manual labor. I love manual labor. I love to work with my hands and sweat. The job Maros had us doing was stacking wood, which was great. After stacking wood for about an hour, he asked me if I could clean up the garbage bins behind the Kartause. This means that I had to clean them by myself. And the reason I had to clean them in the first place was because we didn't hire anyone yet to do them. I gotta start moving faster with the hiring.

An hour later I finish cleaning up the trash in the garbage bin. Like I said I love manual labor, except picking up trash. I prayed a lot for patience while I was doing it, and offered up my labor for sake of all those who don't have jobs.

This brings me to the heart of my subject today: work. Work can consume you. I know that it has been consuming me these past weeks, and thank God for Cay for keeping me in check. Work should never take precedence over such things like relationships, marriage, family, and even your own personal health. Work is a blessing and gift from God, but it can become an idol. It is meant primarily to provide means for living, and then to benefit society and ourselves. It helps in making this world a better place (I know that sounds cliche), but we cannot define who we are by our jobs. We are not our jobs. My identity is not Vince Granado the University administrator. My identity is ultimately found in being Vince Granado the marvelous creation of God. I am his beloved, and anything after that takes a very very very distant second. What I am trying to say is that we work in order to live; we do not live in order to work. Work should not rule our lives, and when we begin to dream about work (i love you honey), I think we are venturing into dangerous areas.

Now I don't want you to think I don't take my work seriously, I do and I believe that as responsible Christians and citizens, we are obligated to do our work to our best ability. In a way I believe that what we do is a reflection of who we are. Our jobs serve as an extension of our person. Work allows us to utilize the gifts and talents that are given to us in order to glorify the Lord and build up the kingdom. I am all for that.

But anyways (with work aside)... right now I am in the presence of gentlemen and the love of my life. After my busy day at work, the boys and I hopped on a train and came to Vienna. We had a nice dinner at Vapiano's. Good Italian restaurant, with great service. We came back to Cay's house and had a nice glass of wine, before hitting the sack. They are taking off tomorrow morning, and then its a nice relaxing evening in Vienna before we leave for Italy on Saturday for more relaxing. Much needed relaxation I must add. Alright folks it's time for rest. God bless and goodnight.

Here is a picture of Cay, Tito Rene and Tita Nel, myself, and the gentlemen

The 09/09/2009 Blog: A Woman of her Word, Choosing the Path less Traveled

Good evening everyone! It is 12:41 am... hmmm so I guess it should be "Good morning everyone". Soooo GOOD MORNING WORLD! =)

Let me introduce myself. Hi, I am Cay and like the title of our blog site states: C aimer la vie... I am Cay, the C that loves life. I have been living and loving Europe for almost 30 years of my life. I was raised in Vienna, Austria, and still reside in this very beautiful and awesome city. And it is in this very continent, in this very city, where I met the love of my life, Vinson Dale Granado, the initiator and creator of this blog!

Wow, I just realized how memorable this day is: 09/09/2009. Although technically speaking, it is 09/10/2009, but let me make this whole 1st entry more special, and allow me to go back a few hours and re-enter the day 09/09/2009, so I can mark my 1st blog with the date 09/09/09 =)
Why am I making such a big fuss about this blog? Well deep inside I love to write, but I never got down to doing it. I would write some blogs on my Multiply, but I was never really a devoted blogger. So when Vince suggested doing this blog, I excitedly said YES!!!!! I just love to share my thoughts and experiences, and hope to touch and inspire other people through them. And what better way to do it than through blogs?! And what's even better is that I get to do it with Vince!!! BUT, yes there is a BUT! I have a numero uno problemo, my lack of commitment to blogging.

Which brings me to my realization for today. The SFC household topic for today was sharing how we are able to protect the "YES" we gave to God when we committed to faithfully serve Him, especially during the times where we want to quit or we want out. For me:
1) I try my very best to be the woman of my word
2) I choose the path less traveled. That is, not to give in to the human emotions (laziness haha, grudges, hurt, etc.) And think "What would Jesus do?" or "What would He ask of me?"

That is why I am still in Couples for Christ and its Family Ministries, even after 13 years. I stick to my commitment + I choose the path less traveled! And still I love this community and I continue to love the Lord more each day. And thinking about it, these 2 things apply to every other part of my life, not just community life.

In my relationship: As Vince mentioned in his blog, we have our dates in St. Poelten, a town 1hour away for both of us. Let's be honest, we both are super tired after our work and it is quite a "hassle" (if you choose to see it in that negative way) to drive out to St. Poelten. And you may think "These 2 are crazy! And they end up dating in Mc Donald’s?!" But so what! We have committed ourselves to be in this relationship, and since we live 2hours away from each other, we know we have to make sacrifices to see each other. We are a man/woman of our word! And we choose the path less traveled... we could easily be selfish and say we are too tired to meet up.
But we know we have chosen to be in this God given relationship and it is our responsibility to nourish it. And I know we both desire it.

At work: I am currently loaded with work due to new transfers of work responsibilities to me, since a colleague cannot handle the load. There is a back log of things to be processed, and we can get into trouble, more like I could get into trouble since I sign off my name in the things that are being processed now that are in back log. I could easily carry a grudge towards my colleague and keep on pin-pointing that its the colleagues fault, but no I choose the path less traveled.

Basically what I want to say is, I hope to be able to go by life and my decisions by applying these 2 things: Be a woman of my word & Choosing the path less traveled... the path which God would ask of us to take! I want to stay true to the promises I make and I want to react in a Christian at all times possible (but I can muck up sometimes right?).

And so I hope through this joint endeavor, between V&C, I will turn into a DEVOTED BLOGGER ;-) I wrote this blog just past midnight of 09/09/2009, fell asleep til 3am, got woken up by Vince and I carried on writing, but fell asleep again and continued writing when I woke up for work this morning. I am trying my best to be the woman of my word and choosing the path less traveled... waking up in the middle of my sleep to continue writing. Let's see how I do =)

Thank you Vince for challenging me to do things that I actually do desire doing, deep inside.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The First Blog, but not the Last (Vince says)

Greetings world,

Welcome to our first blog! My name is Vince Granado. I live and work in Europe. The place I live in is Gaming, Austria. It is a tiny town nestled in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. My place is surrounded by mountains and forests, and sheep (seriously.) It is simply breathtaking, and I consider it a blessing every morning I wake up here.

I am writing the first of (hopefully) many entries between my girlfriend, Cay (pronounced "Kai") and me. We write these entries in the context of a relationship that is not only rooted in love for one another, but more importantly, but not mutually inclusive, of a deep love for Jesus Christ. Therefore many of these entries will deal a lot with matters of faith.

In addition, I believe that this entry will also include a lot on travelling (we both live and travel a lot around Europe), fine dining, nature, and coffee. All in all, this blog will rock. ;-)

As I write this, I am recalling the conversation I had last night with my ever concerned girlfriend. She told me to not take on too much today.

I failed. I took on everything. I am writing a blog I said I would wait to write.

But you know what? I think I am alright. At least I feel alright. I was able to run this morning (the first time in a long time), and I was able to cook twice today (if you consider eggs and bacon between toast cooking). I spent some time in quiet contemplation; thinking and praying about life - past, present, and future. And I even got to see Cay for a couple hours tonight! We went on a date to McDonalds, and it was quite lovely.

McDonalds for a date?

I know that sounds cheap.

But let me explain... Cay and I currently live 2 hours apart from each other. It is not enough to technically merit the title, "long distance relationship," but it is enough to make seeing each other often a challenge.

On top of that I work in a job that basically requires me to be on-call most of the day (and night). Therefore for to leave Gaming, and drive to Vienna puts a strain on my 181 American college students that I am supposed to look after (I'll explain in another blog). So what I humbly ask my awesome, and super-understanding girlfriend to do is meet me halfway. You have to love compromise in a relationship. It makes it all work (other than the grace of God.) McDonald's is halfway for us. I have come to appreciate it. Thank you McDonalds and thank You Lord for making McDonalds.

Cay thank you for being real to me. Always. You are a blessing to my life and my best friend. I look forward to reading your first entry...