It’s time to get back to (or actually start) documenting the trip to the Philippines. I find myself readjusting disturbingly well to the remarkably comfortable life here…a realization that, perhaps ironically, makes me uncomfortable. And while I still think about my Filipino sisters on a daily basis, the actual trip is starting to feel more like a daydream than a reality. I look at pictures and think “Was I even really there?” I need to re-visit the memories and journal entries. I need to remember.
Throughout the months and days leading up to the trip, the only time I felt an inkling of excitement was when the team members in Boise met together. I was surprisingly unemotional about the whole endeavor. But the night of the 25th, a small group flew out ahead of the rest of us. I met them at the airport to pray and say goodbye. Watching them check baggage and hugging them before they left, suddenly it started to feel real. The next morning I woke early to pray for the east coast contingent flying out from various areas. And my excitement grew a little more. The rest of us weren’t meeting until 10:00am. Our flight was at 11, a time I maintain was perfect. We did not have to be up ridiculously early. We had time to finish packing and/or double check our bags. We could have a nice relaxed morning but weren’t waiting FOREVER to leave. It was great.
Once at the airport, I was absolutely blown away by the people that showed up to send us off. Practically my whole life group was there as well as multiple other friends. And that was in no way unusual. I think everyone of us had multiple people that took time out of their holiday to stand in an airport, pray and say goodbye. My lifegroup gave me a journal (that I’m still using). The first few pages were filled with notes of love and encouragement that I treasured during the initial flight.
My first entry was made on the plane as we left Sea-Tac on the Asiana airline.
“I was amazed and overwhelmed by the people that showed up to see me and the team off. This trip has seemed so personal but so many are invested….”
One observation I had while on the plane was the recognition that I was suddenly a minority. I’ve lived my whole life where English was primary and surrounded by other white people. Then I look around…and the only other white people I see are my team. The instructions and messages on the plane were translated into English but it was not the primary language. It was mildly uncomfortable for a moment but I was laughing at myself too. Hi. We’re going to Asia. And while English is spoken quite prominently where we were going to be, we were still leaving America. It was good to experience that moment.
The trip itself was relatively uneventful. Sitting in the Seoul airport I received a message from another team member flying by herself from the east coast. She had been bumped from her flight in Tokyo and was having to stay the night there. Poor girl had been on diagnosed with strep fairly recently and while she was on medicine and doing MUCH better, she was still stuck in a strange country, alone. She’s a world traveler though and quite capable. She had an amazing attitude. We were probably more upset that she would be delayed than she was. As for the rest of the trip, it’s mostly a blur of engine humming and lines at airports and endless counting to make sure everyone was together. We landed in Manila late on the 27th, stepping out into the heat and humidity causing one team member to gasp “It’s like this at MIDNIGHT?!!?” I wish I had thought to get pictures of the airport pick up area. It was outside. It was crowded. It was….our first taste of the third world. And I could not stop smiling. We found our vans and the rest of the team that had proceeded us, loaded everything and headed to our home base in Manila.
I made another journal entry at 1:45am on the 28th. I wasn’t at all tired even though I hadn’t slept on the plane. I was unable to see much out the window of the van although I tried desperately. I had heard such stories about traffic in the third world and was relatively disappointed by the tameness of it. I thought my expectations were too much…and then I realized it was midnight. And while it was tame compared to what I expected, it was still very similar to rush hour in downtown Boise except with less adherence to any kind of lane or law that I could determine.
And that closed out the day of traveling/began our first day. We were due to leave bright and early for Angeles City. It was time to get some rest so we could hit the ground running.