I have arrived safely in the Philippines. Prayers sent out for travel mercies on my behalf were answered...I even slept somewhat soundly throughout the combined 18 hours of flight.
The last couple of days before my departure date were some of the most surreal times I have ever experienced. At times I would just stop and pray that God could give me a glimpse of reality because I didn't want to get on the plane and not feel prepared...but the surrealism that I experienced ended up being a comfort. The fact that I am here right now, in Manila, RIGHT NOW, proves to me that God has gone before me and backed me the entire way. The past few days are quite a blur. Other than by giving the glory to God, I don't know how to explain how I got here.
I received an email the day before I left telling me that two of Jeff Long's kids will be on the same flight as me. Jeff Long is the director of the Children's home that will be my mission in Manila. That in itself is purely miraclulous...booked for the same day, and the same flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Manila. And on top of that, I'm not even sure why they were in Minneapolis! The Long family is not from Minnesota, and they were in the states visiting their oldest sister who goes to school...................in Kansas. I've tried asking why they were in Minnesota and that's all I've gotten from them. I guess the mystery of it all is the miracle, so I will leave it unsolved.
I somewhat knew who I was looking for when I got to the airport. I'd seen one or two pictures of his daughter, and I knew that the name of his son was 'Kirk'. Skimming my eyes across the sea of Filipino's at my gate didn't lead me to discover the Long's, so I just decided that I would be fine if I didn't find them. I went to the shop near my gate to get a bottle of water, and I recognized the girl that was in front of me in line! So...I text messaged my mom: "I think I see her!"
My heart started pounding because I didn't know what I could say to her...I didn't even know if it was her. I was stumbling over my thoughts so I cannot imagine what it would have sounded like if I tried to piece together an introduction out loud. But right when I was about to give up, the cashier told her she was $0.39 short and she started yelling, "Kirk! Kirk! I need 39 cents! Kirk!"
That was my confirmation and my way in...
"I have 39 cents," I said to her, "and...I'm going to the Children's home."
Her name is Janel, and she introduced me to her brother. One of them lead me and the other was behind me, always. From Minneapolis to Tokyo...in the Tokyo airport...from Tokyo to Manila...in the Manila airport...and for my first steps on Filipino grounds. My focus didn't have to be on travel worries for even one second. Instead, God wanted me to hear more about the wonderful, beautiful people of the Philippines, and more about the children in which I will be spending the next three months with.
(I wonder why He allowed that...!)
I suppose I should go fight jet lag and try to get some sleep. It's 3 a.m. now and I have to wake up at 7 to move into the Children's home where I will be staying. I am also going to be meeting the children...it'll be around supper time for you all! Maybe while you say grace and bless your food, you could add-in a prayer for the heart's of the kids! And for courage in my words and spirit.
I can hear out on the streets right now roosters and car horns and a whistle of some sort...like a recorder. I am so happy to be here right now, this is my dream. As we drove out from the airport, there were so many lights and cars and buildings. We kept driving and the highways had less lanes than before and became less light. We drove a little further and the paved streets became dirt roads, the lights became next to nothing, the people were now on their feet rather that in cars, and the buildings became less attractive and put together. "We're here!" Jeff said to me...the squatter community. My heart is already bursting and ready here and I have seen a stretch of road about a quarter of a mile long...and it was dark. Nothing is more beautiful in the world to me than a place like this. Glory, glory, glory. So much here and everywhere.