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

On being famous, and other stories.

I had so many ups and downs today. Right now I’m so tired that I feel like my eyeballs are going to pop and my back is going to crumble, but I just have to write about today.

We went to the fruit festival in another town called Kidapowan about 2 ½ hours from here. There was a record 3 km of free fruit. We found out that the fruit wasn’t to eat, really, but to throw at passing traffic when a siren sounded. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to throw any (or eat it) because we had to stay behind a fence and not mingle with the crowd. As steaming mad as that made me, I was successfully distracted by the fact that we were treated like celebrities, wait- we were celebrities in that town. People gathered around in large crowds to watch us. All kinds of people asked to have their picture taken with me. I signed an autograph or two. When we walked as a group, our fans followed along with us. We had a personal meeting and photo with the mayor and city councilman. We all had spots on Pilipino national television, while people crowded at the open windows to look in at us. My interview was the worst ever. I had just stuffed my mouth full of a fruit when they shoved the mike into my hand, and my statement went something like this: “Hewo, I’ve got a rhabutan in my mouf right now. I luf it here in the Philippines and I’f discovered I luuuuuuuf passion fruit! The people are really nice here and…. Um…Yeah.” They’d be wise to cut that out.

Outside the building we were in to meet the mayor, a group of girls gathered around two of our guys and had them sign millions of autographs and take dozens of pictures. They actually screamed and jumped up and down like girls do for movie stars. They kept saying one of them looked like Tom Cruise. I think the guys secretly loved it. I think if I were famous I’d love the crowds. I’d do crazy things for them. I’d talk to them all. I’d try to ditch my security guards (kind of like I do now, j/k). Then I’d want to get away, though, or I might go insane. Actually, though, I was able to handle some of the same treatment at the evening meeting and it wasn’t too much. Now, however, I’m absolutely exhausted.

I’ve never missed American food so much in life, nor have I imagined that I would. I spent the entire day fantasizing about mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and hashbrowns, ice cream sandwiches. The food here is very different than what I’m used to. And we’ve had some delicious stuff, don’t get me wrong, but I just miss familiar tastes. I told you about all the fruit. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much fruit in my life. Everywhere we go they give us fruit. I like it, but I think I’ve been overwhelmed by it. I realized today, though, that they just want to share with us the things they’re proud of, and their food is one major point of pride for their culture. And I eat another rhambutan. I’ve also realized that it would be very difficult to live here and remain a vegetarian. I couldn’t believe how tempted I was to dive into some chicken today. The mission makes good vegetarian food for us, but often the need for variety frustrates me. We ate at two different places today on our mini-trip, and both times almost aaaaaaaall of the food was meat, specifically chicken and fish. For breakfast I had fruit, some bitter vegetable with some egg cooked into it (oh why couldn’t we just have the eggs by themselves!), a few small slices of tomatoe and onion, and rice. Always rice. For lunch only the rice and some soup was vege. And the cake, and boy were we happy to see cake!

Today it hit me how different a place I really am in. I’ve known I’m in a third-world country, but I didn’t really see it until today. We passed through so many small little villages with grass and bamboo huts. Dirt floors, rotting walls. I wish I could stop and meet the people and see where they live. I can imagine what it looks like inside, but I still want to see for myself. I don’t think they could even comprehend the life I live. Some of the guys and I were talking tonight about our consumerist lives. All of us, whether we’re kind of poor like me or used to a more upper-class lifestyle, are wealthy in comparison to so many of the people here. It’s an awakening. And yet, we asked each other, have we ever seen people who are so happy? I can’t say my way of life is better than theirs. It’s definitely more advanced, but so many Americans are extremely unhappy. And I want to know. Are they really happy here or are they hiding their sadness? Do they really feel fulfilled or are they just so focused on providing basic needs that happiness for them is seeing that taken care of?

Pedrito has been letting me take pictures for him during the evening meetings with his camera and I’m loving it! He likes the pictures I take and I love doing it. You can see the pictures at this website. I hope I can soon put up all the pictures I’ve taken with my camera as well.

I spent the entire evening talking to kids and taking pictures. I did sit down for part of the meeting and write out my worship talk for tomorrow morning, but the whole time kids stood around me and just watched me write. They played with my hair, they came up with pieces of paper for me to write on for them, they just looked. Kids crowded around us the entire evening just wanting to make friends, know our name, our age, our address, or hobbies, teach us some Tagolog (I now have a list I need to memorize).

One of the highlights of my day was jumping into a river and swimming with some kids. David was the first to jump in. I borrowed some pants from Brittney and jumped in too. It felt sooooo good! Brittney and a few of the other guys joined us. About twenty little brown-skinned boys were in the water with us. I felt really free and happy.

I think I ought to go to bed now…

August 23, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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