an anniversary letter to my husband

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photo captured by Jeremiah James Lopez

Today is our Paper Anniversary--twelve months of stories, adventuring, and growth as husband and wife. Thinking of paper may conjure up images of frailty, but for me it's still a mark of permanence in the same way that literature outlives their makers. Perspective matters.

My drummer/writer/teacher/warrior-poet/preacher man husband, I'm so proud of you for always pursuing excellence in all that you do. I love you not for who you can become but for who you are now. I'm grateful that our relationship is like two notes, which when played separately are discordant, but played together are harmonious. And everyday we discover that we are so alike and yet different. We are in a dance and we practice everyday as we move to the beat and rhythm of married life. We'll boogie, bop, two-step, electric slide, twist, rumba, jitterbug, fox-trot, Harlem shake our way together. I wouldn't have any other dance partner.

Your kindness towards me teaches me to be kind to myself. You show me both gentleness and strength through your words of truth with love--affirmation, gentle correction, praise, and the daily I Love Yous. We are iron sharpening iron. Together we go through the crucible of life, where the dross is being removed so we can be conformed to Christ's image. I look forward to dreaming more dreams, setting higher goals, and making what matters most happen in our daily walk. In the peaks and valleys, I'll stand with you and with God's help bring you good all the days of our earthly life. We've made it to our first year and our mission continues: through our marriage, this "parable of permanence," to know God and make him known. I love you, Hubs!

Victas to SD: Medical Examination at St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLEC)

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Chronicling my experience at the St. Luke's Medical Center (Extension Clinic). The medical examination is a requirement for U.S. immigrant visa applicants here in the Philippines.

Disclaimer: The requirements and process described here are subject to change according to US government policies. The details presented in this blog post apply to my case as a CR1 visa applicant and may be different for the kind of visa you're applying for.

March 22, Day 1

I look at my phome and I could see "2:50 am" on the screen. Not wanting to wake my husband, I dismiss the alarm before it crescendoes, The next time I glance at it, the time reads "3:10 am."

Who wakes up at 3 in the morning to stand in line while it's still dark, get her blood drawn, have a picture of her lungs taken, and strip down to have her lady parts checked? Me. The person intending to immigrate. The person submitting to the United States even before she sets foot there. 3 am thoughts.

My grogginess leads me to prayer. God, please remind me that this is worth it. I could sleep in for just a few more minutes, but we both know that the sun will be up by the time I get up and I would regret delaying. Make me feel excited for this day even if it will be a long one.

God heard and I was infused with energy despite very little sleep. In college, I could subsist on 4 hours of sleep, but now I need at least 6. I left Citystate Tower Hotel to eat breakfast at the nearby McDonald's. I walked crazy fast because it was dark and the street looked sketchy, so my fight-or-flight hormones were in high gear. A cup of coffee and a Sausage McMuffin later, I was in line outside St. Luke's at around 4:15am.

Just before 5am, I received my queue number (I was number 5) after the guard checked the requirements: my passport, appointment letters for the medical and the visa interview, as well as the NVC letter containing the case number. It seems registering online speeds things up a bit, since you'll already have information needed to register so no need to fill up a form on the spot.

At 6am, the clinic opened and I was already admitted inside. I had to put my jacket on because of the AC. Not long after being seated in the reception area, I got called to start the process. Here's a timeline of what happened the rest of the morning:

6:05 - Requirements checked, fingerprint taken, forms signed, preliminary questions answered

6:10 - Went up to the 5th floor to pay (it cost P11, 300); 4th floor laboratory to have blood drawn

6:30 - Went down another floor for the x-ray.

At this point, I was thinking, wow this is fast! By 6:30 am, I had accomplished so much already. Then I got to the vital signs portion.

7ish - Vital signs checked (height, weight, blood pressure, visual acuity). My blood pressure was normal but slightly higher than usual because I was probably nervous. I totally sucked at the eye test.

8:00 - Interview with a doctor about immunization, allergies, and general medical history.


  • For every window/counter I went to, they would always ask me when my last period was. So ladies, keep track of your periods. It's probably good to remember these things for our gynecological and overall health anyway.
  • Also, I had to pay close attention to the PA system. At times, the announcements from different floors happened at the same time or the sound would be a bit muffle. It's wise not to use earphones.

After the immunization interview, I had to wait another half hour before the physical checkup. For that I had to take off all my clothes, but thankfully I still had a hospital gown on. Turns out they didn't need to check my lady parts. The doctor did look at my hiney to check for infection. A second doctor asked me a barrage of questions more detailed than the ones from the immunization interview. My physical went by quickly and by 9:15 am, I was back at the ground floor for further instructions. I was told to come back at 9 am the following day for possible immunizations.

March 23, Day 2

I arrived at SLEC 15 minutes before 9 am. I showed the guard my receipt then he told me to go up the 2nd floor for immunization. I received two kinds of vaccines and by 9:30 I was at the releasing section on the ground floor. At 10:45 am, I finally got my results in a sealed envelope. Yeah buddy. The consul will open the results during the interview.

The vaccine record and a CD containing the x-ray image are not included in the envelope, so when I got back I actually opened the CD to look at my x-ray image (I got curious about my scoliosis). They didn't say whether or not I could open the CD but after searching online, it seems like it won't be an issue. But yes, I panicked for a bit after I popped the CD into my laptop. My scolio is still there but it doesn't look like it worsened.

For the first day, I spent about 5 hours total to get everything done. Day 2 was much shorter. And that's it! The folks at St. Luke's were polite and efficient, and I had a good experience. Here's a short list of what I brought with me on Day 1:

  • A water bottle. Once you run out of water, you can refill the bottle using the drinking fountains. Food isn't allowed inside but maybe you can sneak in some crackers if you can't hold out for too long.
  • A book
  • My iPad. I use my iPad mainly for browsing, picture-taking, and reading e-books. I brought it for extra reading material and note-taking.
  • 2 ballpoint pens
  • Jacket
  • Managed expectations and a reminder of why I'm doing all of this
Thank you, Jesus, for the speedy process, the energy, and financial provision. One more step—the interviewand it'll be over soon. 


SLEC website with all the information you'll need for the medical exam
US Travel Docs for more information. Because you can't have too much information for processes like this!

as we start this week (a prayer)

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photo source

With gratitude
with joy
We begin
Though storm clouds are above us
We rejoice that You are sovereign
So good
So faithful to us

So we enter this week,
Your courts
with thanksgiving and singing
For we are your people
The sheep of Your pasture
Tear down our self-made 
We desire to flourish in

We seek You
Your kingdom
Your face
We seek to be
Your hands
Your feet

May we choose
to be kind
to love
to see
But apart from You we can do

So as we start this week
We depend on You
Give You thanks
Give You praise
Turn our eyes from worthless things
and give us life in Your ways

2016 Goals // March

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February just exited and it's already March 2 here AND OH MY DEADLINES and I am out of breath and maybe you are, too, so let's all take a deep breath together. Ready?

Inhale. Hold. 
Exhale. Savor. 

What I'm Into // Equip + Inspire Vol. 2

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Hey, friend. Welcome to Volume 2 of Equip + Inspire! This post is also part of Leigh Kramer's What I'm Into link-up. It's my first time to join the link-up and I love being able to visit more blogs and seeing what others have been digging. Here are the nuggets of gold that held my attention this month.