Traveling to the Philippines is a very long trip from Sulphur Springs, Texas. Three flights and an overnight boat ride all adds up to almost two days of traveling non-stop. First a three hour flight from Dallas to Los Angeles, next a fourteen hour flight to from L.A. to Hong Kong, then another three hour flight from Hong Kong to Cebu, Philippines, and finally the twelve hour boat ride to Surigao City, Philippines. We were able to use Cathay Airlines for most of our flights which was one of the best airlines I have ever used. I would recommend you fly with them if you have the opportunity. When we arrived early Thursday morning June 9, 2011 and our boat docked into port, I was quickly overwhelmed with the beauty of the landscape of this island. The aqua blue color of the water that led up to the horizon that was filled with huge tree covered mountains. Right away I knew the extremely long ride here was completely worth seeing all of this. At the port, my church mission team and I were warmly greeted by the Filipino people who would be working with us as we would be ministering to the local people through medical clinics as well as vacation bible schools for all the children. During our stay in the Philippines we stayed at Barton’s Bed and Breakfast that sat on top of a hill that overlooked Surigao City with the amazing view of the ocean and mountains surrounding us. <http://surigaobartonhotel.com/home> Barton’s is family owned and operated bed and breakfast and are very nice people. They also can make some of the best mango shakes you have ever tasted made with fresh mangoes straight from Surigao City’s fruit market.
The next day the mission team and I went out to the communities to begin our mission work teamed up with Fruitful Harvest ministries that has started many churches and feeding programs on this island. <http://www.fruitfulharvest.net/index.html>The very first place we went to was one of the first churches in the area which also had a feeding program for the children. Getting off the bus, and seeing all of the children so happy to see us as if they just won the lottery, really made me feel excited, but also surprised. I was surprised by the fact that some of the poorest people in the world could still be this happy. We then passed out the small meal to all the children containing mainly rice, a small piece of fruit, and maybe a piece of chicken. The glowing faces showed they were so thankful for even the little amount of food they had, when that probably wouldn’t even of had been enough food to serve as a snack to me. This made me stop and think, people always say we take things for granted, but you never truly understand it until you experience it firsthand. As I watched all the children eat, I noticed a young boy around the age of five receive his plate of food, dump it in his shirt, and then he immediately started on his way home. I later found out he was probably taking it home for his entire family to share. His entire family sharing that one tiny meal and still being that grateful! I could never imagine my family having to do that, this was pretty heartbreaking. Seeing the amount of things people have in the Philippines was a big eye opener. It showed me that it is a blessing to have everything thing we take for granted here in America.