I’m here to share my journey honestly with you, and to be completely honest, a couple days into my trip, the weight of the mission took its toll on me. Emotionally and physically exhausted, the extreme poverty I saw everywhere was crushing my heart. The heat, humidity and the schedule was exhausting. I can’t believe I’m going to type this, but for a minute or two I thought maybe getting really sick with diarrhea, or whatever people get sick with in 3rd world countries, wouldn’t be so bad because then I can just stay in bed and cry / rest / cool down / take a mental break from it all. I was thinking about the impact of poverty, the socioeconomic influences on life in such conditions then my mind went down that Social Worker path; how do women care for their children? are drugs & alcohol prevalent here? how to drugs impact life (I learned that solvents were what the kids were using, sniffing solvents was the cheapest, quickest way for kids to get high)? prostitution? the life of the “street kids” picking through garbage just to eat; the horrific crisis of child sex trafficking – and also cyber trafficking (which I didn’t really know was a “thing”). My mind was swirling with all these thoughts and questions, my visual intake was overwhelmed with sadness of the extreme poverty and for 1 day, I cried the entire drive around the city, to the parties and back to the hotel. Luckily I sat in the front seat and had time to silently grieve, process and journal.
Then I prayed. Prayed for strength, prayed for perspective, prayed for perseverance to push through. And guess what? The next day I woke up revived, refreshed and had an opposite, overwhelming inspiration from the people who live in such poverty!
What I learned from this, is that despite such difficult conditions and situations, the Filipinos had so much joy, love and gratitude. That was highlighted to me the next day, as the poverty melted into the background and the beautiful people stood front and center in my heart. Why would I feel sad and sorry for them when they don’t feel like that for themselves? I met the most incredible people who have started phenomenal ministries helping children and are making a big difference in their communities. Adults, who grew up there, the Filipino people who live in this 3rd world country, are doing some really wonderful things and that touched my heart, and taught me the most from this trip. So the bad and the ugly to me, turned really good, because of the loving Filipino people and the wonderful children I had the privilege to meet.