I stepped down and the wall of heat met me instantly. The hours spent on the plane suddenly faded when matched against my excitement. I was standing on Filipino soil. Months of preparation for this moment were paying off.
Our team stood in line for Customs. As I looked around, I saw a sea of beautiful mocha eyes. I think the 11 of us were the only variation to our surroundings.
It was after midnight local time, but sleep was not on my mind. Too many thoughts raced through my head. Visions of underfed children running to greet me, sharing my testimony (yikes!), being the sole parent of an accident prone teenager in a Third World were just a few of the things occupying my brain space. Finally, I succumbed to sleep. Besides, tomorrow we would board another plane for our last leg of the trip, Manila to Tagbalaran.
Praising God for uneventful flights, I stepped once again into another wall of heat. We were here! I looked around the airport and immediately recognized Pastor Ariel from his visit to the United States. Close by him was his ever-smiling wife, Fely. They led us outside to a large welcoming committee. Several members of the church stood holding up a banner with all of our pictures on it. Before I could utter a word, Fely was placing a necklace over my head - the first of many gifts I would receive.
We squeezed our American behinds into a couple of vehicles and were wisked off to attend a Birthday Party. The team piled into Effret's house, along with about 50 other people. She had gone all out and served 2 favored items in the Philippines - lechon (roasted pig) and blood pudding (yep, exactly what you think it is). I tried almost everything, but the heat was really taking away my appetite.
I'm not sure how many of you have seen Gulliver's Travels, but I certainly could relate to Gulliver. My 5'9" frame was about 9 inches taller than the average Filipino. At Effret's house, I had to stay away from the ceiling fans or they would have rearranged my face. The furniture was all sized to accomodate their smaller frames. At times I felt a little bit like Goliath's sister. Keep this in mind, because it is an important piece to the next few days of my trip. For now, I'll leave you with a few photos.