As I begin to write this entry, I am flying above the north Pacific ocean en route to Seattle. The plane and it’s varied occupants are sitting above a soft and buttery bank of clouds illuminated by moonlight. I was fortunate enough to get a window seat, with Jordan on my left, Jess and Kyra behind me and Chip and Jade in front. Jordan is currently passed out as are many of the other sky high travelers. There have been a few moments today where I wish we could turn this bird around and head back to our Filipino family. I know that the feeling is mutual. I will try to give you a synopsis of these moments of “yearning for a return” and what events transpired to cause this yearning.
The first occurred before we even left. We awoke around 3:30 am, and instantly set about transferring our luggage down to the vans. This helped to keep my mind off of what leaving meant and what and who we were leaving behind. Then this fact came to us in the form of some slips of paper. I do not know who gave them to Jess, Kyra and Jordan, but they received notes written to us from the various children we met and grew to love over the course of our short stay. Some were as simple as “We love you ‘insert name here’” with their name. Some had made drawings for specific people. Lolo (grampa) Jim receiving the bulk of them, Jess, Kyra, Jordan, Josh and myself were all honored to receive notes. One note had my name within a gift package and Jess’s in a house. I guess I was a gift to the children, but maybe that is taking it too far! I wanted to rush into the quiet house in which resided all of those that I hold precious and dear, and give them one last, long, teary, goodbye. One that would have probably resulted in our delay. At this point, I wanted to turn around, and we hadn’t even left.
The second was in the Manilla airport. We had an incredibly expedient ride to the airport. For those of you who haven’t traveled outside the U.S.A., you are in for a surprise. The Philippines probably sits up there as far as crazy travel is concerned. They primarily use two forms of travel, trikes and jeepnees. A trike as basically a (usually) two-stroke motorcycle with a side car attached. This form of transport is ideal for short distances and costs about 25 cents a ride, and they can support five Filipinos or four Americans, plus the driver. Jeepnees are interesting, converted WWII transports, custom tailored by each driver. They are loud, but practical for the needs of the society. There are two facing benches in the rear, each bench potentially holding 15 or more occupants, with overflow seating on the roof and additional positions holding on the the rear. There are still the typical cars, vans and trucks, but trikes and jeepnees are everywhere. Now all of these vehicles share the same road. They use a system of honking to let everyone know that they are going to be passing. You probably spend more time passing than just driving. I would summize the experience like this, Formula One with a sporting game of chicken. We never witnessed an accident, they are just amazing at driving, and you learn quickly never to doubt the drivers. Now back to the “yearning!” We were through our third security check and sitting down outside our gate and Jess and I started to talk about the kids again. At this point I wanted to turn around, and we hadn’t even left the country.
The third occurred as we were given our in-flight breakfast on the Boing 747 en route to Tokyo. We ate very well in the Philippines, very well indeed! Lilly Beth was the resident cook at Rehoboth and was darn good at it. I was never hungry, was able to try some new dishes and was always glad to be greeted by her smiling face. As I picked at my mushy egg and sausage combo I wanted to turn around, and my stomach didn’t feel very good.
The fourth occurred as we boarded the Airbus A330 that I am sitting on right now. We were walking down the jet bridge onto the plane, my with my guitar in hand. Now I was glad to bring my guitar to the Philippines, but I have decided that I do not enjoy carrying a guitar as a my second carry-on. It is awkward in size, I get exasperated looks from the flight crew as I search for a spot to stow it and it gets heavy in long, slow moving security lines. But as I though of this rather minor compliant that I had, I has reminded of the music that was played in the Philippines. Both at the children’s home and in Antipolo, ministering to underprivileged street youth. I didn’t even have to play songs in another language, they knew all of our music and even called out requests that I knew from memory. They sang loud and melted away my fear and anxiety. I wanted to turn around, and my shoulder was getting sore.
The fifth and last one for now was just about an hour ago when we were talking about all of the memories we were able of capture, and the ones that we wished we could have. One such memory is of one little boy who had the most amazing air guitar impression. Seriously, this kid had mad skills! He was vary small, but was very intelligent and loved to have me read him some bedtime stories. His air guitar will forever be a cherished memory. I wanted to turn around, but Jordan was asleep on my shoulder and waking her wouldn’t be polite.
So there you have it, thoughts about a time not soon forgotten. God gives us these moments in life to shape and mold us into the very people we ought to be. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith to have these moments, Some leaps are further than others, but there is always ground to land on when when you have God calling the shots. I want to turn around, and this trip is still far from over!