In my tenth grade year of high school, I decided to see more of the world. I had never even flown before, but my church was putting together a mission trip to The Philippines, and I knew I had to go. With my parents not in any position to support me financially, I decided to try and raise the $3,000 on my own, and I did. In February of 2008, I boarded a plane with seven other people, not knowing it would be the best coming week of my entire life.
After almost twenty-four hours of flying, I stepped off of the Cathay Pacific airline and into a different world. The heat was almost unbearable. I had seen the pictures on TV, and I had heard missionaries tell the stories, but none of it could have prepared me for what I was going to see. Poverty was everywhere I looked. The children roamed the streets with no homes, and they would all come up to me begging for money. The hospitals were so dirty that I was afraid to go in them, but still, the people there were some of the nicest I’d ever met. Over the week, my head was filled with so many questions: Why were they treating me like a queen? Why were all of them wanting to touch my white skin? Why didn’t anyone help these people? Why are Americans so spoiled and never content with what they have? And when are people going to see that this is the real world?
Throughout the week, my team went around to different orphanages where we would deliver shoe boxes full of small gifts for Christmas. The first place we visited was a high security orphanage for girls who had been sold into prostitution by their own parents. I was in tears when I handed a beautiful, smiling girl the only Christmas present she would receive. This answered my question about why the Filipinos treat Americans like royalty; every time a mission team would come, they would bring gifts. We traveled all over the city in the humid heat visiting orphanages, hospitals, churches, and homes, but it was well worth it when we would see their excitement as some were seeing Americans for the first time in their lives.
My trip to The Philippines changed my entire view of life. Even though I was so exhausted from the heat and hard work, it almost killed me to get back on the plane to return home. I wanted to stay there forever with the Filipino people, where life was so much simpler. I became depressed when I returned home to the States. I could see how everyone, (including myself), just took everything for granted: the shoes on our feet, the clothes on our backs, the food we ate, the shelter over our heads, the air-condition to keep us cool, and the list goes on… I tried for weeks to explain to my family and friends what it was like in The Philippines, and how we live like kings here in America. I knew, however, that I could never explain it well enough. I have encouraged every one of my family members to take their own trip there, so they can see what the world is really like. I think every person needs to see, not so they can just feel sorry for these wonderful people, but so they can understand how truly blessed we are to live in the United States.
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