27 Mar Medical Mission – Day 3
We left for Botolan at 5am this morning, after getting a few hours of much needed jet-lagged sleep. The ride out of the city was fun as always, filled with a lot of honking horns, switching lanes, and bright lights. Driving in foreign countries has always been a subject of my affection, and it came much to my husbands surprise that I did not give him the death grip the entire time.
<a href=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_9590.jpg”><img class=”size-thumbnail wp-image-602 alignleft” title=”Landscape 1″ src=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_9590-150×150.jpg” alt=”Landscape 1″ width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>Driving through the countryside as we weaved in and out from the coast, my wide eyed stare never wavered, as I attempted to take in and remember every picture my mind was taking of this beautiful country; as though I was only allowed that very moment to capture how breathtaking my surroundings
were. Occasionally, I would look to my husband, knowing that this trip was more than monumental as we returned together for his first time back to the country that he had left more than 21 years before. I looked inquisitively at him, wondering what was going through his mind before I settled back in to my mental picture taking.
<a href=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_9572.jpg”><img class=”size-thumbnail wp-image-599 alignright” title=”Resettlement” src=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_9572-150×150.jpg” alt=”Resettlement” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>We drove over about one quarter of a mile of washed out land that led from the mountains all the way into the ocean, a not so distant reminder of the heavy typhoons that swept through the Philippines last year, killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands more with no home, no belongings and nowhere to go. It was an abstract reality in the midst of towering green mountains and bright pink flowers, and it left only the slightest hint that anything had ever gone wrong in this picturesque setting. Later in the day, dad would show us how high the waters had risen during the flooding, leaving me in awe at the resilience of the Filipino people.
We arrived in Botolan around 10am and met with a myriad of doctors and other staff that had been assisting us with the prep work for the medical mission. It was nice to finally be able to put a name with a face and to say thank you for the many hours they had already labored. We had a jovial lunch, joking and laughing for what seemed like hours with a mixture of our old and new friends. We received at least five invitations to stay with various people in the town of Botolan and the culture of the Filipino people continued to strike me as being so rich and warm, a feeling I had not felt in such a long time.
The Filipino people are hospitable to say the least. But it does not come from a sense of needing to be hospitable, or a sense of obligation or requirement that they continue to serve; rather it comes from a genuine love of people, a love for each other. There is no motive in their actions, there is no expectation to receive anything in return, and yet they give as though they have no limitations as to how much can be taken from them.
<a href=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_6262.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-601″ title=”Lauren and Ervin at the Rice Mill” src=”http://sumofone.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_6262-150×150.jpg” alt=”Lauren and Ervin at the Rice Mill” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>On our way back to Manila, we stopped by the neighborhoods and houses that Ervin had known as home for the first 8 years of his life. I just watched as he took it all in, and smiled with him as he shared memories that had been stored in the deepest crevices of his mind. Back in the car, exhausted from the long day, I couldn’t help but think about how awesome it is to give. Because it is always found that even in the process of giving, the givers receive more than what they gave. One thing is certain, I am in love with the Philippines and its people and am so excited for the journey that we are on.