Unforgettable Trials

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After the thirty-minute boat ride, the nine other Americans and I arrived in the small, but beautiful fishing village of Balawing. We were still in the first week of our two-week church summer mission trip to the Philippines, and were enjoying ourselves in a completely exhausted kind of way. Right when we stepped out of the boat, many of the poor resident families greeted us in the Philippine national language, Tagalog, which only four of our group could barely speak. We had gone to the island to pass out donated clothing, toys, and medicine, as well as to make a concrete floor for their small church. Just looking around, I knew it would be tough to stay and help there – the communication problem was pretty evident, and nowhere in sight were beds for us to sleep in, public restrooms or showers to use, or even concrete mix to make the floor with.

Luckily, we brought small tents with us, and there were a few translators there for us. The villagers helped us carry our stuff to the place where we would set up our tents, smiling the whole time as they helped us. As we set up our tents, many of the children sat around us, shyly watching. For most of them, this was the first time they had seen people who didn’t speak their language – we were like celebrities to them. When we finished setting up the tents and putting our stuff in them, the guys in our group went right to work figuring out how we would make the concrete. The other girls and I decided we’d play with the kids, but we weren’t quite sure how to start. We decided to play tag with them, so one girl in our group ran up and tagged one of them. They instantly caught on and we had a great game of tag, even though we couldn’t even communicate with each other. We played until dinner was served, which consisted of fish (eyeballs, scales, and all), huge shrimp, and rice, with coconut milk to drink. I barely touched my food, except for the rice, as I’m not much of an experimental eater, and then went to my tent, as I was extremely exhausted.

That night it poured harder than I have ever experienced rain in my life! I could hear thunder all around us and the rain pounded on our shelter. The water leaked through the corners of our tents, soaking our clothes and sleeping bags. I eventually fell asleep, but in what felt like only a few minutes later I woke up to some kids laughing outside my tent.

We only stayed in the village of Balawing for three days, but it felt like at least three weeks. The whole thing was one of the biggest challenges that I have ever experienced in my life. I practically starved from eating barely anything, surviving on coconut milk and fried bananas. I slept in a tent outside during a real typhoon. My only showers were from ice-cold buckets. I mixed piles of mud and rocks together with a shovel to make concrete. Each night I only got a few hours of sleep. But the experience was truly amazing. I helped make animal balloons for kids in order to teach them about God’s creation. I personally taught about fifty kids to play Duck Duck Goose without even speaking their language. Some kids taught me a Tagalog little kids’ game and song that I still remember now. I was able to share my faith with some teenagers through a translator. I pumped water from an underground well. I fell in love with some amazing kids that showed me their unique, wonderful personalities without even speaking my language. I actually climbed up a coconut tree! The whole weekend was an amazing experience, and although it was only a few days, it was my favorite part of the whole two-week trip to the Philippines. I went through so many trials, but at the same time I had so much fun. I grew to really love the kids I met and I will never, ever forget the experience.





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