My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Transitioning i.e. reverse culture shock ahead of time

Words can’t describe how I feel right now (but they can try). I’m sitting on a bed in a room that I’m not sharing with anyone. I’m in a real house. With nothing but a ceiling fan blowing, my environment is at a comfortable temperature and humidity. I’m eating coconut pie. It’s only 9:30PM and I don’t have to be anywhere until 10am tomorrow. There’s everything I need in the fridge to make pancakes. There are a bunch of mangos on the kitchen counter. I can’t really hear any sounds except for crickets and stuff outside. And, probably best of all, I just had a SHOWER, a WARM shower!

This morning, after a night that wasn’t really worthy of being called one, we got on a plane and left General Santos City to come to Manila. We immediately went to a humongous mall, ate Subway (and I didn’t feel like throwing up after I ate for the first time in a couple days. I think I have some bug.), and then wandered lost around the mall doing some shopping (somehow I’ve earned a rep with the group of being an obsessive shopper, but hey, the people I bought stuff for will be happy). After the mall we drove to an Adventist college, I guess. It’s dark out so we haven’t actually seen our surroundings yet. They put us up in guest houses that, especially compared to what we were in before, are extremely nice. There are only three of us in this whole house and I’m absolutely savoring the privacy! And the shower… I would be embarrassed to tell you just how thankful I got over the shower and the hot water. I’ve always taken that for granted. Two weeks without it seems like so much longer, and I found myself wondering how a person who lived in Mindanao for a year or so and then came back would feel. I guess I’m already experiencing some of my reverse culture shock. They say that this is the way to do it, though; take it in stages; do some sightseeing and shopping before returning. Manila is already so different from Gensan and the place we’re at now is even more different yet because it’s cooler here. No mosquitos!

Let me back up a little. The church service, baptism, and closing meeting last night were absolutely amazing and overwhelming. The gymnasium was so packed for church that I began to feel really claustrophobic. I ended up skipping Sabbath lunch, partly because of my eager gag reflex and partly because I just needed some space from people. I had about 40 glorious minutes lying on my bed with no one around, and I’m sure that was what kept me going to rest of the day. That and God’s mercy. And some seaweed stuff that Jane gave me. The baptism was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Eight hundred and sixty-two people were baptized yesterday. Sixty couldn’t make it and were baptized today, for a total of nine hundred and twenty-two. MANY of them were children. I loved that because I know that they have the rest of their lives that they’re deciding to give to Jesus. Sheila, one of my favorite girls, was baptized and I was so happy to see it! Twenty-something pastors were all in the pool at once and people waiting in front of them in lines. I don’t even know how to explain how I felt, but even though I was dying to escape people and stares and a spotlight feeling, I loved being at the baptism. There are a ton of pictures on Pedrito’s site, I’m guessing, because I took many many many. The baptism was right after church, then we had an hour for lunch, then we went back for a program that was supposed to go from 1:30 to 5. That whole afternoon was so exhausting. For one thing, our whole VBS group ending up on stage for pretty much forever. The whole time I’m chanting my mantra: “Don’t throw up on stage, don’t throw up on stage”. Besides that, everything laasted aaa loooooong tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime. By the time Pedrito got up to speak, it was already 5:45. Then he did something that shocked us all. After doing the quiz and the children’s portion, he simply summarized his sermon, showed us his slides, and was done. By then almost everyone had left anyway, in comparison to the numbers at the start. Left were a whole crowd of people crazy with grief that we were leaving. Several of us pretty much got mobbed for gifts, pictures, e-mails, hugs, handshake, rememberances. Security finally pulled us outa there and put us on the van. It was harder to leave than I thought it would be.

Saturday night was not hard at all compared to this morning. The love the people had for us was overwhelming. I couldn’t even comprehend it. Their send-off was just as heartfelt and grand as their welcome, and it made such a huge impression on me. I surely did not feel worthy of it. Some of them cried and lots of them drove with us to the airport to see us off.

It was harder still to say goodbye to Jane. She was the only student who didn’t come from Walla Walla. She goes to Hong Kong Adventist College. I haven’t mentioned her in my blogs yet, but she was completely wonderful. I had a really fun time with her. She is one of the most patient and good-natured people I have ever met. I started teasing her within a couple days, making fun of her pronunciation of English words, but she always just laughed with me. This week the guys started teasing her. They were so unmerciful, but she just took it in stride and they thought she was amazingly cool for it. She taught me a couple of words in Chinese, told me about her childhood in rural China, and gave me one of the most amazing back massages I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely miss Jane.

September 2, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m in the… Where??

Map of the Philippines

Map of the Philippines

I think it’s August 17, anyway. This time travel thing is really messing with my head. I’m currently in the air between Manila and General Santos City. In the last 24 or so hours I’ve spent at least 17 hours in an airplane and gotten about 5 hours of sleep. Oh, and I’ve skipped half a day.

I left Dallas at 9am Wednesday morning and flew to Detroit. There, after a several-hour layover, I got on a lengthy flight to Nagoya, Japan. Wouldn’t you know it, the entertainment system experienced technical difficulties (meaning: no movies). Unable to sleep for nearly the entire flight, I was left to my own thoughts for 12 hours. Everyone got $150 in vouchers, but it was still the worst plane ride of my life. Time absolutely crawled. I was considering the fact that the time I got sick and threw up several times could be a worse flight, but then upon landing in Japan my stomach began to roll. I don’t know if it was the weird breakfast they fed me or the extreme lack of sleep, but I had trouble keeping my stomach calm long enough to de-board. So yeah. I left my breakfast in Japan. The fact that Japan is so freaking cool pretty much makes up for it, though! Ok, I know I only saw the airport, but that alone makes me sure I’ll have to go back. The Japanese are so fun! Their quirky little signs (that I got in trouble for taking pictures of), their interesting bathrooms, their high-pitched voices… what could be better!

Leaving Japan, I boarded a 3-hour flight to Manila, where I was supposed to meet up with the rest of the group. That flight was much better, especially since I actually got a little sleep. Maybe I’ll slowly get the hang of this sleeping while sitting upright thing. They kept interrupting my dreams though, once to give me a customs form and once to give me my “supper”. Ah, yes, the food. Someone let them know I should have vegetarian, so that was good. My first supper was actually an excellent little bit of some curry stuff, a rice thing, and some greens concoction. What was weird was having breakfast after zero sleep. Weirder still was being served a second supper on the way to Manila when I’d never had lunch and breakfast was still an unpleasant Japanese memory. I didn’t finish it, afraid it would follow “breakfast”. Finally, I arrived in Manila around 11:30 PM their time, which would have been 10:30am central time, 8:30am pacific. It was weird, but I was super glad it was bedtime. After wending my way through a massive immigration line, I found my bags and was just as quickly found by the rest of my group. Happily, there were no problems at customs (I retain bad memories from re-entering the United States). Unfortunately, after waiting forever for the mission’s minibus to pick us up, we had only 3 hours to shower and sleep at the mission compound before leaving for our next flight.

I woke up this morning feeling clean (good part), but really sick (bad part) from lack of sleep. Getting on this flight went without a hitch, but right now we’ve hit some pretty serious turbulence and I’m trying not to pay attention to the fact that one of our group just utilized the little bag in his seat pocket.

The Philippines is great so far! Very warm and humid, but not as bad as Texas! Everyone’s really friendly and polite. Driving through the city, it was easy to see that it’s a very poor country. I do love the jeepneys and those little carts powered by bicycle. The drivers here are amazing because they can squeeze into tight little spaces and never get a scratch.

August 17, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Road Again!

Well, after almost two weeks with my parents, I’m on the move again, currently in the Detroit airport. My plane to Manila leaves in three hours, with one stop in Tokyo. I’m sitting in front of the gate for a flight going to Paris because that’s the only place I could find a free outlet. We laptop people fight over them.

Across from me are two orange-clad monks eating hamburgers. They’ll have fun in Paris.

August 15, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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