It’s strange really, this being back in the Philippines. A million memories and a thousand new experiences. I’ve been gone just long enough to see life here through more Canadian eyes, but not long enough for those eyes to be the only set I have.
The poverty. The dirt. The smell. The hordes of people. The friendliness. The rhythm of life. The community. The friendships. The traffic. The status-oriented culture. The utter impossibility of people dramatically improving their lives. The hope of the truth. The bondage of lies. The wealth. The potential.
It sinks in, and settles deep. These are familiar things, familiar places. These are people I love, and millions I’ll never know. Their pain is written on my heart in unfathomable ways. Their need is etched in my spirit.
Their culture has deepened my perspective in unforeseen ways. Their community has impacted mine. They’ve changed me.
I experience life as normal and sane and almost predictable. Buying apples for kids on the street on Christmas morning. Spending unforeseen hours figuring and re-figuring numbers. Creating a menu from local foods and finding it normal. Missing rice when potatoes are served. An unexpected invitation for lunch on Christmas day. New Years with friends who provided an amazing spread. Airplanes and schedules and fuel burn feel like second nature, yet I realize I’ve been long outside of this. Guesthomes feel like homes and we move between them all too quickly. Buying load for the cell phones and finding a texting deal. Sitting calmly while the taxi driver navigates Manila traffic. Seeing a mouse in my room and simply pointing him out in the middle of a conversation.
I hope I’ve also changed them. I pray the little things matter, because all I can offer is the little things. The problems are too big for me to fix: many things don’t really need fixing. This is another place and it was never meant to be Canada. It is the Philippines.... and a part of my heart will always belong here, no matter where I wander.