Saturday morning I decided to chase the sun. I missed Saturday night entirely, persistently following our brightest light through all twelve time zones. As the clocks at home (and in my mind) ticked by hour after hour, the sun continued to blaze through my window.
My trip to the other side of the world has definitely felt like a journey. Saturday at seven in the morning, my mom and I left the house so she could drop me off at Reagan National Airport. From there, I waved goodbye to the D.C. mall (and my mom) and flew an hour to Detroit. At the Detroit airport I met up with a missionary group who had graciously helped me buy my plane tickets and let me fly with them. After waiting a few hours in the airport, we flew 12 hours to Nagoya, Japan, got off the plane, went through security again, waited for about an hour and got back on the same plane to sit in the same seats (but with fewer passengers). From Nagoya, the flight to Manila (the capital of the Philippines) took four hours. We got there at 10:30 p.m. Sunday night—a total of 27 and a half hours since I’d left my house. I slept for about five of those hours. In Manila, we stayed at a missionary hotel. I got to shower, praise the Lord, and got in bed at about 2 a.m.
The next morning I woke up at 6:15 and went back to the airport with a smaller group of people. Their flight left earlier than mine was scheduled, and my flight was delayed an hour and a half, but I eventually made it to Cebu at 3:20 p.m. Matthew and Lee picked me up, and we ate at a mall, got a mattress and a fan, and arrived at the orphanage around 6:30 p.m. Finally, I’d arrived at my final destination—about 47 hours after I left my house.
I was definitely blessed to have been able to fly with the missionary group from the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. We all shared a strong mixture of nervousness and excitement. Most of them were in my general age range, teens and 20’s, though some were older. Some of them had been to the Philippines before, but many of them, like me, really didn’t know what to expect. We’re all excited to see what God is going to do.
It was hard to fully embrace the trip during the flight because I was so tired, but that has gotten better. I began the trip pretty nervous, but nervousness is not really an emotion my body can maintain at a high level for too long. Waves of apprehension would come and go during the flight, and it was always at least subtly there, but God has been faithful to use people, His Word, and circumstances to remind me to trust Him.
I was reminded that this is God’s trip and He’s going to help me accomplish whatever His will for this trip is when I met a Filipino woman in Detroit. I had prayed that if God placed a woman next to me on the plane, I would have the opportunity and the boldness to humbly share the gospel with her (although I thought that would be kind of funny because it seems like so many evangelists have stories of sharing the gospel on an airplane).
So, while I was sitting in the airport, a woman started to talk to me, and I started to silently pray that maybe I’d have the opportunity to share the gospel with her. Then she told me that her sister had just died from cancer two hours ago and she had been on her way to see her. Her eyes were very bloodshot because she said she’d been crying really hard on the plane to Detroit. Now I knew I really wanted to share the gospel with her because I didn’t know what else would comfort her better than the idea of eternal life, but I also knew it might actually make things worse if her sister didn’t know Christ. I’d never really been in that position before then. After talking about her family, I asked if she had a church that could help support her at this time. It turns out that she is very involved in a Christian church, and by God’s grace, I was able to just very briefly remind her of some of the main truths of the gospel to try to gently comfort her.
It was hard for her to receive the news at the airport. She said, “Who’s going to hold me?”
I said, “Well, I can give you a hug if you want.” She seemed grateful for that, and I offered to pray for her. So, I gave her a hug and put my arm around her shoulders to pray for her. Another girl who I’d met up with at that point, held her hand. I prayed as best I could and really didn’t know what to say, but I stumbled along mostly just asking God to comfort her. She said she really appreciated it.
I know I couldn’t really do much, but I think if I were here, I would have been grateful for a hug, and I feel honored that God decided to use me to comfort her. Then I thought, Well, that’s kind of what I’m here to do. I’m coming to the Philippines to just hug the children, show them I love them, and support Matthew and Lee in whatever ways I can.
I probably won’t do much other than help clean and talk to the kids and try to help them love the Lord more, but I think it will still make a difference. I’ve also learned a lot already and am trying to think of more ways I can help. But, in the meantime, I would love it if you could pray just that God would fill me up with His love so that I have enough to share. I know He’ll give me the strength to do whatever He wants me to do.