(Another piece from the English Comp. class I'm in. Enjoy!)
7th grade is a bit of a blur for me. It was so long ago that I barely remember the good parts and they probably weren’t that important anyways. It was middle school after all. There is one memory though that is vivid and clear. Part way through my 7th grade year I went on a 2-week mission trip to the Philippines with my parents, my cousin and my aunt and uncle along with a team from our church. It was a long process going from flight to flight; large planes progressively got smaller.
One flight in particular was my favorite. The long flight from North America to Hong Kong, China was simply spectacular (aside from the fact that I missed the showing of Flushed Away). I looked out of one of the windows while we were crossing the Arctic, sheets of never ending snow beneath us, I could see the sun setting on the horizon. I crossed to the other side of the plane to look out that window. The snowy landscape was still beneath us but instead of hints of the sun I saw the moon large and bright staring back at me. It is one of the most beautiful things I remember. We then got to Hong Kong waited around 4 hours for our next flight and eventually we made it to Manila, the capitol city of the Philippines.
The driving in the Philippines is nothing like North America. Stop signs are more like suggestions than laws and horns are used frequently if not regularly. Even with the intense roadways our van did make it to the camp we would be staying at and working with. The camp was the Word of Life Camp one of many branches of an organization that partners with missionaries. The missionary couple that ran this camp was Jon and Dawn Fogle. They knew our group would be tired from our flight, but it was morning in the Philippines and the best way to combat jetlag is to dive right into a normal schedule for the new time zone.
Our team’s main goal was to make a new sidewalk for the camp leading from the pool area, across the field, and up to the ‘snack shack’. The new sidewalk was needed since the camp was expecting a group from Johnny and Friends to be coming to stay which meant that the camp needed wheelchair accessibility. Being one of the younger members of the team I only helped with the large project a little bit and mainly took on odd small jobs here and there like painting bunk beds and clearing brush. I also befriended the children of the missionary family. I quickly learned my new favorite word in the native tongue Tagalog, “Marienda” which was the time between lunch and dinner when you ate a snack, and my cousin whose name is Bobby befriended a man who was building a wall at the camp, his name was Boi.
On our teams day off the Fogle family took us out to the markets, then took us to visit the island of Corregidor which has cannons on it left over from fighting the Japanese, and another island where we enjoyed the beach and went snorkeling. I even found starfish while snorkeling that were bright blue.
Those memories will stay with me for a long time to come, and though they are happy memories it adds a burden to my shoulders as of late, especially with the recent typhoon that devastated the country. As my heart and prayers go out to the Philippines I can’t help but feel very close to the people there, a place where I have memories and my cousin has a friend, and our missionary friends have a ministry. But overall, as the typhoon aftermath is handled and the years go by I will always be able to remember 7th grade through this one unforgettable experience.