Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 3 - Beach Tour, Hike & a true Island experience!

Today was Awesome! The day began with no showers, hopping into grubby clothes, and our island 4-runner. Mark and I have dreamed of taking our family to some of our favorite places, and today we got to do it! We wanted to take Betty and John to some of the beaches of the island, and we actually hit up 4 of them... It was great to show them all the different types of beaches we have, from all coral beaches, to perfect white sand beaches, to large waves, to small... it was great to do a little shell collecting also!
Tank Beach, the waves were the largest we have seen there today! It was also a great place for Betty to pick up some shells...
Ladder Beach, Marks favorite. It is made up of broken up coral, no sand, but beautiful water and rock formations.

Obyan Beach, One of the best places to Scuba Dive in the Northern Marianas.....
The other beach we didnt get any pictures of, but we also took them to Lau Lau, for those of you who know where that is.
After the beach tour, we also took them to the forbidden Island look out. Mark has already gotten a chance to hike on down there, but I havent, so this was also a first for me to even go to the view point and see it! What a great view!
After our beach tour and view point, we headed to Naftan Point... Naftan Point is the southern most point of Saipan and is a great place to hike for beautiful views, but also to find coke bottles from WWII. John & Betty actually found a few that were still completely in tack from 1943 and 45, so be asking to see those when they get back to the states!
Mark & John also had fun "clearing the path" with Marks machete.
Naftan Point.
Well after a long day of hiking and sight seeing, we headed home, cleaned up and surprised John and Betty with night at the Hyatt Resort for Happy Hour.... John even said something that we all think needs to go down in the history books... "If we dont ever get to heaven, i think this is close enough." Mark and I were pretty stoked to hear this! So for happy hour we had some yummy drinks, delicious food and some great entertainment and the sun set... we were entertained by both a live band and a tihitian dancer.... it was a little peace of heaven...
enjoying our drinks...
J & B on the beach for Sunset...
The beautiful Tihitian dancer....
Well, from a little peace of heaven, we are signing off to get some rest for tomorrows adventures!
Goodnight & Sweet Dreams!
Stay tooned!

Day 2 - A Tropical Christmas.... Who would have thought? Not the Sawyers!

Yesterday was Christmas and it was an unusual Christmas for us all! None of us have ever experienced a "warm" Christmas, let alone, on a tropical island. However, we did make the most of it, and ohhhh was it sooooo good!
The day started off at home (where we are house sitting) with coffee and blueberry/cream-cheese rolls. Betty & John quickly understood why we love this home and the relaxing view it offers!

B & J enjoying the view while eating a yummy breakfast on the outdoor-screened in porch.

After breakfast we loaded up in the car and headed down to Saipan Community Church where we enjoyed a simple Christmas service that was a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas. Thank you Lord, for sending your one and only son! What a sacrafice!
After Church we headed back up the hill and began getting our Christmas dinner together, very traditional I must say, and oh did we enjoy it! We also opened up all of our Christmas gifts! Thank you to all our family and friends for the gifts, we were truley blessed!

Family Christmas dinner pic.

B & J showing off all of their Korean Stocking stuffers. I had one of my 3rd grade girls go shopping with me and help me pick out all of her favorite Korean candy and chips! She did a great job choosing too! So good!

Mark0 and his gift I especially ordered for him.... his skim board... his new addiction!
After Lunch and opening gifts, we changed into our swim suits and took Betty and John to Sugar Dock beach, which is the beach right next to our apartments, this was their first time in the water, and did they enjoy it! They couldnt get over how warm it was, and especially how soft the white sand was! It was so much fun to introduce them to it! Mark also took Betty out closer to the reef line snorkling and showed her some sea urchins (yucky things) and some beautiful blue starfish! Mark also showed off his skim boarding skills.

Mark, john and Skim board... Notice the skim board in all the pictures? I think someone is a little excited!
The Jr. Sawyers & Skim board.
Betty & John enjoying their first day to the beach...
Betty, Mark and Skim board... Kathleen i think this picture is for you? Santa Hat?
Anyway, we hope you all had a blessed Christmas, just as we did! It was amazing to have family here to spend it with, and did we certainly all enjoy it!
Merry Christmas from Saipan!
The Sawyers x 2.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 1 - Everyday Tourist's.

December 24, 2008 - Christmas Eve.

Today was John and Betty's first real day on Saipan, and needless to say we didn't waste anytime. They were both wide awake around 8 am, somewhat groggy from the time change, but ready to go... This morning we took them down to Saipan Community School where they got a quick tour of our classrooms and our apartment. After that we headed downtown to Garapan where we ate lunch at "Saigon" a Vietnamese Resturant with $4 meals... it was so good, and John especially loved the fresh spiced papaya that burnt his mouth!

Good John?

Well, atleast Betty enjoyed it!
After lunch we headed to the American Memorial Museum where we watched a 20 minute movie on the history of Saipan, and then headed to Bonzai and Suicide Cliff, two places where many lives were taken during the war. Not the funnest place, but definatly beautiful.

After our afternoon, we headed back home where we all layed around for a few hours... still trying to get them used to the time change. After we were all refreshed, we decided to take them to another touristy spot.... Shopping and Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. As for shopping we had to introduce them to Saipan-da... and then for dinner had live music "Jerry", who Mark and I go to the hard rock to enjoy... he defiantly got the parents relaxed and enjoying their dinner. Both Betty and John were singing at the top of their lungs... Great food, Great music and great company!

Tomorrow is Christmas, so stay tooned for our tropical island Christmas experience!
Sweet Dreams!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mom & Dad Sawyer Arrive on Saipan!

THEIR HERE! Betty & John have arrived! They actually got in early! We pulled up to the airport and right as we were walking up to the doors of the airport they walked out! We are so thankful they made it here safely and quickly! We have been waiting for this day for 5 months and it is finally here! Stay tuned for updates of our "Sawyer's x2" adventures!

Photos from top to bottom: 1)Right off the airplane with their beautiful lei's and sleepy eyes! 2) Once again with beautiful lei's and sleepy eyes in our "home" for the week (the house we are house sitting".) 3) Proof- just to proove they are actually here with us! =) SO HAPPY!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Warmest Holiday Wishes...

Merry Christmas from the White Sand Beaches of Saipan....

Our 2008 Christmas Letter:

Hafa Adai & Merry Christmas to all of our family & friends!
Can it be true? It is almost 2009? Where has time gone? We feel like it was just a few months ago when we were writing last year’s Christmas letter; but as time has gone by, so much has happened and so many of God’s wonderful blessing’s have been revealed. It is absolutely amazing what can happen when you allow God and trust in God to do what HE wants’ with your life. This year has truly been a testament to that for us. So much has happened and it has been beautiful to see how God works out all the details that we tend to worry about. Now, you may be asking what those details may be for the Sawyer’s and since it is the time of year we send out an updated letter of our lives, you are fortunate enough to hear about those details! But to keep this short and you sane we will hit you with the details of importance.

In January, Mark turned the big 2-5. He wasn’t too excited about it, but as his 26th birthday is upon us, he dislikes the thought of it even more (just had to throw this detail in for him, hehe). As for me, in January, I began substitute teaching in three school districts, which all were great learning experiences. One even turned into a full time position: April through June I taught in a third and fourth grade classroom in Washtucna Washington. Much to our surprise, it was a perfect opportunity by preparing me for the upcoming changes we were going to face. During this time we were currently trying to figure out where God was calling us and where we would both have jobs.

In March, Mark and I both applied and accepted teaching positions, which meant we were moving from Kahlotus, where Mark had taught for 3 years. Much to our families (and mine, Brittany) surprise we weren’t moving back to either of our home towns, but farther from family then we all had expected. Mark and I moved in August to the island of Saipan. Which has brought us to where we are now; Hafa Adai from Saipan! On August 2, our plane landed on the island of Saipan. Saipan is a 5x13 mile island in the middle of the South Pacific, located in the group of islands known as the Northern Mariana’s. If you have heard of Guam we are roughly 100 miles north. Saipan has about 60,000 people living on it with a daily average and yearly temperature of 80 – 85 degrees. Notice our Christmas photo, which we took on December 2.
We are both teaching at Saipan Community School, which is a private Christian school. I am teaching the third grade and Mark is teaching junior high language arts, definitely a change from wood/metal shop, but he loves it and is truly enjoying the new curriculum to teach. God has blessed us richly since being on “our” island. We have made some wonderful friends, attend a wonderful and beautiful church (which has no walls and looks out on to the teal blue ocean), enjoy a challenging bible study, work in a great school with wonderful students, and are simply enjoying all the little adventures we have been able to join in. We have become weekly jungle hikers, Mark is playing ultimate frisbee twice a week, we are snorkeling, and are still in awe of all the activities that we get to participate in that the northwest doesn’t often possess.
If you ever want to get away from life in the states, our door is always open, we would love to have visitors! In fact, for Christmas we are getting a great present, Mark’s parents will be flying in on the 23rd and staying with us for 9 days! My parents will also be visiting in March, we are so looking forward to both times with family and giving them a glimpse of our life on Saipan; And with that we are now open to say, we will be spending more than just a year on this island. We have really felt God’s calling and we will be staying on island at least for one more year or until we are called back home. We are hoping to start up a Young Life ministry next year, which this island is very open too! However, we will be coming home for our summer vacation. Hopefully we will be flying into the Seattle airport sometime around the 6th of June and be staying until the first week or so of August! We are very excited to see all of our family and friends, along with getting to meet two new family members! Julie, Marks sister and her husband Rob welcomed Mya Elizabeth 2 days after we arrived in Saipan, and Mark’s other sister Suzanne and her husband Jake will be welcoming a baby boy in March! We can’t wait to hold those two!

Well I guess we should let you get back to your Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, and time with family or whatever the Christmas season brings to you, but we wanted to wish you all a wonderful and meaningful Christmas! We are missing you all and wish we were home to be with you, but we will be thinking of you and wishing you were here as we are snorkeling or playing on the white sand beaches on Christmas day! Hehe. No, but seriously, Merry Christmas and May God reveal to you his beautiful blessings he has in store, and just remember to sit back and enjoy the ride he has for you. It will take you in directions you never would have thought (like for us, Saipan, never thought this was part of it, but have received an over-whelming blessing).
Please continue to keep us in your prayers as you are in ours. And remember, Christ is the reason for this beautiful season.

With all of our Love,
Mark & Brittany

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Angels We have Heard on High!

On Tuesday, December 16th the Saipan Community Elementary School put on their annual Christmas Pagent, and it truley was a hit! This year's play was about a dream and the real meaning of Christmas. The third graders played the towns people and for towns people, we thought it quite appropriate that they dress "island" style. That thats what we did. We made flower leis in class and practiced, practiced, practiced our songs. They did an awesome job, a little quiter then they usually are, but they sang like angels. Now we just have to work on their angelic attitudes in class =). Here are a few photos from the night, thanks to my photographer Mr. Sawyer since I was hanging with my class the whole time, bribing them to keep quite =) .

My 3rd Graders in their island gear..

The 4th graders sang "Away in a Manger". Costumes appropriate.

The Kindergartners and 1st graders were angels, yet they sang the loudest out of all the classes, they definatly stole the show!

the 2nd graders... My class next year!

Erica and Tammy, the main characters of the play, the two girls having the dream.
And the Elementary Teachers.... L to R: Me (3rd); Debbie (2nd); Tammy (5th); Terry (4th); Jackie (1st); and Sandy (Kinder).
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the season for.... FOOD.

This past Sunday Mark and I attended our first Saipan Community Church Christmas Feast. Except I must admit that I disagree with the name of the feast... "Community Church". I understand that the community church does put it on, but to me it is just not the "church" it is a community feast, put on by many.

Either way, this feast was awesome! There was so much food, and so many people, but the best part was the entertainment. The night was filled with song and dance, all put on by the Phillipeano, Chuk, Marshall Island, Community Church, and Palauan congregations. It was amazing, the mix of music and the singing in their own language. It was beautiful and amazing to watch so many differnt cultures praise the birth of Jesus!

Maybe see you next year there? That means you have to come visit =)

Biggest Batch of Sushi I have ever seen, hungary?

He looks pretty natural with kids on both side of him huh? hehe.

Pastor Dickerman giving the chill'n's a little talk...
Some of the locals from Palau.
Locals from Chuk singing Christmas Praises!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tis' the Season...

While you were all out hitting up those "Black Friday" sales, Mark and I were at home decorating for the Christmas season... We started out with a tree from a friends house, a palm tree, but as we saw the bugs creeping out of it, we nixed that idea... so we headed to a local store and picked up a skinny little 5' tree, and it works perfectly...

We got most of our shopping down and are ready for all the school holiday activities along with getting ready for Mark's parents to be here! They fly in on the 23rd of December.

Christmas Card's will be in the mail soon=).

In the Mean time, Happy Shopping and checking it twice! HO HO HO!

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble...

Happy Thanksgiving!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with both friends and family! Yes we said family!
On Thursday (your wednesday) we were celebrating Thanksgiving at Pastor Greg and his wife Sandy's home, just right across the parking lot. It was quite a feast and a time being together.

L to R: Pastor Greg, Josis's daughtter, Bill, Josis, Lisa and Mark.

Our Host's, Pastor Greg and Sandy... Thank you!
Part of the Spread!
On Friday morning as you were all preparing your Thanksgiving meals, Mark and I were sleeping in, but that afternoon we were able to spend an hour and 45 min with the Sawyer's through skype! We "hung out", talked about thanksgiving and what we did, we even played apples to apples. Thanks ang, for being our card holder throughout the game! It was great spending time with them and playing games just like if we were home....
Soon John & Betty will be here to visit us for Christmas! 25 days! Can't wait to pick you up from the airport!

One of Allison's many skype faces =) Jake in the background...
Our hand, shhhh no cheating.
Happy Thanksgiving Mom and Dad!
And Happy Holidays to you all!

Saipan Tsunami's!

Two weekend's ago Mark and I headed up to the north end of the island to the Marpi pool where a few of our student's were participating in the community swim meet! It was great watching the kids and fun to be just hanging out with them... They did an awesome job too! elementary got third place and junior high got 2nd. Great job Tsunami's!