It has been about a month now since I have been back from my trip to Southeast Asia. I’m slightly frustrated that it has taken me so long to post this, but better late than never…eh?
I’ve taken a lot of time to process everything from those two weeks, and it is challenging to fathom that this trip really happened. I had the most wonderful time and got to stand back and marvel as God worked in ways that exhaust my vocabulary. I was impacted on a very broad scale from this trip. I say “broad” because I fail every time I try to pinpoint and define how my heart was transformed.
With all of that said, I wish I did, but I do not have some grand story to tell you from this trip…but I do have a list of everything that comes to mind when I think back on it. So… shooting from the hip, here is a list of the silly/deep/beautiful/exuberant/somewhat-unnecessary details of my trip:
- The Jeepney– Terrifying and awesome (but that is mostly because the way that people drive in The Philippines is horrifying). I wanted to cry and laugh every time we got on a jeepney (mostly out of anxiety and fear, but I tried to fool the people on my team into thinking it was a surge of joy that caused these physiological effects…they didn’t buy it). **Also, if you don’t know what a jeepney is, it is one of the main forms of public transportation in The Philippines. If you want to see what it looks like, scroll all the way down…I have a picture of one on here…yaaaaay!**
- Sweat–The Philippines made me super sweaty. It is hot and humid. But I oddly enjoyed it…maybe because sweating is usually a sign of working out, and consistently having a coat of sweat on my body made me feel like I was burning calories? Makes sense to me…
- The People–Absolutely wonderful. They always smile at you, make you feel beautiful, feed you, and they like to braid your hair into styles that as a white girl, you could never pull off except for while you are in another country.
- Gretchen–Our Filipina sister who came and joined us for outreach in Angeles City. She is one of the kindest, yet boldest souls I have ever encountered in my life. She knows how to stand her ground and hold her own. But she also smiles at every person in the world like they are her best friend. She is full of love, wisdom, and Jesus. I have never met anyone who talks like her…she makes you want to listen. I don’t know if it is simply the tone in her voice, her accent, or this special authority she speaks with…whatever it is, it’s captivating. She knows who she is—like really, really, really knows. She is fearless. And she will become your favorite person within three minutes of conversation.
- McDonalds–I never eat it back home, but I did in The Philippines…and I actually enjoyed it. I also drank Coke…a lot of it.
- Angeles City (the men)-Angeles city is where we did outreach. I had to do a lot of mental preparation prior to hitting the streets, but nothing can really prepare you for what you encounter while walking through a red light district. The majority of men I saw there looked like people I know. I looked at these men and saw people who looked like my friends, my brothers, my dad, my grandpa. I saw “down-and-outs”, but I also saw “up-and-outs”. I saw normal-looking people caught up in this. Prior to this trip, I supposed that seeing men in these kind of places would anger me, but on the contrary it caused me to understand compassion on a new level. The men that are there need hope and love just as much as any other human on this planet does.
- Angeles City (the women)–The first night and the first bar I went into was overwhelming. As soon as my team and I walked into the bar, girls flocked to us–after all, it is quite odd to find white-women walking into a bar in the red light district in Angeles City. Our team was super obvious and did not blend in at all, but we used it to our advantage. The team I went out with was composed of four American’s, one Filippina from the wipe every tear staff, and a girl in Wipe Every Tear’s care. We walked into the first bar and sat down at a booth with four girls from the bar. We got to talking to them and asked them about their lives, their families, their dreams, etc. We then offered to buy them drinks (most of the girls ended up ordering chocolate milk–which I just think is precious because it shows such innocence). Throughout the conversation, we eventually hit a point where the communication barrier prevailed, and at that point one of the Filippina’s that joined us for outreach joined in to help translate/tell them in depth about Wipe Every Tear. It was the most amazing thing in the world to watch the look on these girl’s faces change throughout the conversation. The look of hope overtaking a person’s countenance is priceless and stunning! (ALSO, 4 girls moved into the safe houses as a result of our team’s outreach in Angeles City!!)
- Khao Soi–Best food I’ve ever tasted in my life. I got it at this place called “Dash” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. If you ever go–do yourself a favor and try it. I ate it three times…and I would totally do it again. Actually, I would eat it every day if I could.
- Food poisoning?- NOPE! Also, I didn’t get any kind of sickness while on this trip. All of that goes to say that prayer works! I did not want to get sick while there, and for months prior I prayed for good health on this trip. Ask and you shall receive my friends.
- Thai Coffee–SO good. Mochas on mochas on mochas.
- Long plane rides–yeah, they kind of suck. But once you pass the 8 hour mark, you can really handle anything. I think I watched three movies on the flight from Seattle to Hong Kong. Meanwhile, I looked over at my friend Ebie and realize that during that time she had read about 200 pages of a novel–I seriously questioned my intellectual capacity and priorities at that moment.
- Zip lining–(Over the Thai rainforest) Amazing! It was about a four hour long course of zip lines, rappelling, and beat up old bridges that we had to walk across. I walked through, and soared over the most stunning scenery I have ever laid eyes on. It was the closest feeling I’ve ever had to flying, and it was incredible. It was easily one of the coolest–if not, the coolest thing I have ever done.
- The Monsoon–Our team had to run about a quarter mile in the POURING rain. There was lightening striking all around us–it was actually a little bit scary, but mostly awesome. We were all soaked from head to toe by the time we got back to the house we were staying at. We were all laughing hysterically. It is hard to explain it in words, but it was one of those moments that just make you appreciate how wonderful it is to be alive.
- Fear- I felt a lot of it on this trip. The whole time we were over there it felt like situation after situation was thrown in my face to try and arouse this emotion. (There is nothing like being confronted by a papasan [a pimp] in the red light district to make you feel a little uneasy). At the time, I despised that I kept facing these feelings of fear and wanted nothing more than to be free of this limitation. However, in hindsight I am so grateful that it happened. Feeling fear on such a real level like I did over there made me lean on God and trust in him more than I ever have before. And as I learned to really rely on and trust in him to protect me, he stripped the fear from me and freed me of it.
- Yellow–I heard my favorite song randomly at least 10 times on this trip. We would be walking in to a coffee shop, leaving a restaurant, passing by a bar, walking through a mall, checking into a hotel–and this song would be playing. I would smile every time I heard it because I knew it was the big man giving me peace and reminding me that he was with me in this whole thing.
- The team–wonderful would have to be an understatement. We all got along so well, worked together impeccably well, laughed so much, and were instant friends. I am so grateful for all of the long conversations, beautiful moments, growth, tears, and laughs that I got to have with this crew. This group was the epitome of a dream team.
- “I just feel so alive right now.”–The phrase I kept finding myself saying throughout this trip.
Life with Jesus is the most extravagant adventure…I don’t know what I was doing with my existence before him.
“God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20 [MSG]
(Also, thank you X 1,000,000,000 to everyone who prayerfully or financially supported me in this dream. I could not have pursued this endeavor without your generous and selfless hearts!)
For more information on Wipe Every Tear, visit their website: http://www.wipeeverytear.org