It’s really hard to express the wide range of emotions that come with this move. I’ve been here over 11 years—currently one-quarter of my life. Memories of my first few months here have been flooding my mind lately:
I still remember stepping off the airplane over a decade ago. I walked into the thick heat of Manila as soon as I exited the airport. A few fellow missionaries fetched me there, one of whom was my supervisor and mentor. We rode out to a dorm in Antipolo where I would stay for a few days before moving to Manila. “This is a different world,” I said in my online journal. I used to keep a daily online journal called The Insomnia Files back then—this is before blogging was ubiquitous.
The hospitable, gregarious nature of the Filipino people won me over instantly. I felt accepted and loved, as if I was returning to a family I left long ago. Maybe that’s why it has been so easy to call this place “home.”
And how could I forget my first worship service here? I was drawn in by the expressive, emotionally charged way my Filipino brothers and sisters praise God. I still haven’t gotten over it—I now wear my heart on my sleeve when I sing to the Lord.
There were adjustments, of course. It took a while to get used to being stared at everywhere I went. I wrote about in in my journal, noting that I felt as conspicuous as a woolly mammoth while walking the streets of the University Belt (aka “U-belt”).
Speaking of the U-Belt: I have fond memories of my first apartment on Gastambide/Dalupan, a narrow street located at the back of the University of the East. This small, dorm room style apartment was my home for the first three years here. That street is a major jeepney route, and I can still remember the constant roar of these now familiar vehicles. The place was walking distance from Far Eastern University, the campus where I spent most of my time during those first few years. I was eyeballs-deep in a foreign culture and I loved it! It was the perfect place to be for someone with a burden for college students (still is).
So much has transpired since those early years: bible studies, books, floods, speaking gigs, new campuses, road trips, ministry partnerships, summer missionaries, relocating, a radio show, and most importantly, the woman that would change my life. I’m in awe when I think of the ways God has blessed me over this past decade!
Mare Cris and I may have a few tears to shed as we board the plane. She’ll be thinking of the family she’s leaving behind. I’ll be thinking of the people and places I’m sure to miss.
But our sadness is mixed with joy. I am thrilled that my wife and family can finally meet face-t0-face. And we are excited about whatever God has in store for us in the USA. “Bittersweet” is a very appropriate adjective.
To be continued . . . .
More from my site