So, 1yr ago right now this hour….
Go:: I was ending a major first (international travel). Starting another major first (living internationally in the Philippines for two months). I finally got to hold these three for a moment. and oh, how my arms had been aching to hold these small peeps. (the three on right & my sister-in-law on far left)
We left Alaska at 2:30 in the morning, the morning of April 11th. Bright eyed. suitcases packed. ready.
We spent 7.5 hours in the Seattle airport. because I didn’t know you go through customs as you enter a country. not as you leave…. [for the record: 7 hours is a r.e.a.l.l.y l.o.n.g. layover at the beginning of a huge trip. we did everything we’ve ever wished to do in the SEA airport and were quite ready to get on with the trip before two hours were up….. ya, we had FIVE hours to go.]
We saw a glorious sunset in Tokyo. I enjoyed this sight right before we had to go thru security to get from one gate to the next and they took my brand new container of body butter. the one I bought on the “inside” of security in the SEA airport. the one I hadn’t even opened, let alone used. :-(
Once thru security, we rushed on to our gate. we had a short layover, just over an hour. It was the first “strange” language we’d seen on signs. Japanese (I am assuming).
The first time I’ve EVER felt tall in public. :-D
I didn’t know how to buy a pack of gum. let alone a water bottle.
We were afraid to try the bathroom. but we had to before we finally left (it was fine – all was “normal”).
Our anxiety built to concern in trying to find the gate (ah…non-english signs were the norm. there were few & far between in the way of english signs). then we stood at our gate for over an extra hour and a half while two airline employees tried to get everyone in a straight line. but they couldn’t decide what row numbers should line up on which side (they kept flip flopping what they said – even though I couldn’t understand them, it was funny-or maybe it was sleep deprivation). We were in Tokyo an 1.5 longer than planned. I was starting to panic. I couldn’t call my brother to tell him we’d be late and we took off when we were supposed to be landing in Manila. We were tired. We had been traveling for almost 24 hours. (but not really because we skipped 17 hours ahead, then back to 16 hours.) but we’d flown for 3.5 hrs to get to SEA, then sat for 7.5 hrs in the airport, we left SEA at 2:15pm on Thurs (11th) and landed in Tokyo at 4:45pm on Friday (12th). so mentally trippy!
Then we got to Manila. my first step onto “for real” foreign soil. (I’ve traveled through Canada numerous times & spent a couple hours in Mexico once), but this was far, far away – not between two parts of the USA) ::Stop
[but I’ve started painting again. finally. I can’t stop now. I know this is Five Minute Friday, I’ll try to keep it shorter than it could be :-). I’ve been reliving “one year ago” all week. I can’t not continue the trip over re-cap. this was the beginning of a huge chapter of my story. one year ago.]
We got to Manila at 12:30am on Saturday the 13th. my first experience with customs. as a person, but responsible for three. (not just a few people in our vehicle. in a line of vehicles) we were one in hundreds. in weird mixed-together lines. as Vince re-lived the year prior when he went over with a couple family-friends and at what point they were stopped and asked for a fee. a non-legitimate fee. then taken to another room to wait. until money was paid.
God is good. All the time. He is good.
we got two carts to put our luggage on. check. check.
all of our luggage made it to Manila. WHOOHOO! check. check. check. check. check.
we found the ramp and went to the right like we’d been told to. we managed to not lose the cart going down the
hill ramp. we kept going. it didn’t look like a parking lot.
then all of a sudden it did look like a parking lot. a dark, not-enough-people around type of parking lot. we immediately turned around. yes, me – the obvious, lost, whitey turned around and pushed our carts against the flow to get back to where I thought we should be. I didn’t even try to blend in – just knew I wanted out of that space with my two children and way too much stuff. and quickly.
I couldn’t find my brother where I thought he said to meet him. If I had been less tired I think I probably would have been more worried. God knew. Vince remembered a phone just inside the door – instead of freaking out we calmly push our pile of luggage (the tipsy pile on the carts) in 80*+ temps (in our long pants & sweatshirts!) UP the long ramp. ya, that ramp. we tried to enter the airport and the guard stopped us with a hand up. He said “no”, we couldn’t go through that door. At that point I could feel the air-conditioning and realized how much more comfortable it was inside with my sweatshirt and long pants on. and the phone was so close. then I had to fight tears & panic.
However, he was a wonderfully kind guard. He knew more english than I knew filipino (good thing too! Thank you, Lord!!). I was able to express I needed to call my brother, that he wasn’t at the bottom of the ramp like we’d planned (remember – we left Tokyo when we were supposed to be landing in Manila, we were an 1.5 hr late). The guard pulled out his personal iPhone & let me call my brother (again, thank you Lord! it was familiar, I could figure out how to call). Zach was there, he just hadn’t seen us come down the ramp (or crossing to go back up). (Picture a “revolving” parking lot that kind of stills momentarily, sometimes it moves more, and some vehicles parked – it was so confusing to me. the constant motion and sea of people.)
FINALLY – after a year apart I got to hug my brother. We were there! We loaded up, went back to the mission guest house, and got “settled in”. We had 6 hours to shower and get re-packed (we left the bulk of our luggage in Manila to come up by bus – we had really cheap tickets so we could only have a carry-on.) for the next several days, all before breakfast and then it would be time to leave to go back to the airport to catch our flight to get the rest of the family.
There were a few small hang-ups on the way back through security and actually getting on the plane to leave Manila – but that time Zach was with us. he knew what he was doing, and he had a phone that worked in the Philippines. The travels were all so worth it.
Much like the beginning of making a mess – to make something beautiful.
This is the fence, flowers, and the front of my brother’s house. and what I imagine it looks like today.
and the first sunset I saw in the Philippines. our first of many walks at sunset.
so beautiful! if I try real hard when I remember I can hear the roosters. smell the dirt, carabow poo, flowers, other smells I can’t identify. feel the heat and humidity.
This was the end of our first full day in the Philippines. the beginning strokes of a new painting. more chapters in my story. chapters I never thought God would share with me. I thought it was just dreaming.
He provided. every step of the way. He provided.