We had a great trip to the Philippines a couple weeks ago. We went with 7 high school students, 4 teachers, and our two kiddos; sadly, we were supposed to take two more students but one ended up with the flu and another one’s grandma passed away. They were missed!
Needless to say we were a little anxious to wake our two cherubs up at 3:30am, load them in a car to the school, a bus for an hour to the airport, a plane for four hours, and then another bus for eight and a half hours to our final destination. Hear this people, there is no surer sign that God is good than us making that voyage without mental breakdown. Hooray.
Our days were filled with breakfast at the seminary we were staying at, vacation bible school in the morning at a local school, lunch provided by the wonderful staff, then back to the seminary for Bible time and then some good old fashioned manual labor. The days were long but obviously worth it. In the evenings we would either order food in or clean up and head into town via a jeepney (the most common means of transportation in the Philippines) to grab dinner. We would come back and get our kiddos in “bed” just in time to debrief our day with the team.
Isaac and I feel very strongly that the main benefit of short term mission trips are to expose the people on the trip to cultures outside of their own, as well as a different way of life, and even just a reminder that we don’t serve an American (or Korean) God, as opposed to the idea that we are providing some sort of life changing aid or spiritual enlightenment. There were even many times this trip as we were teaching VBS that the Filipino kids would finish our sentences during the Bible story. The real value we saw was the impact the trip had on our students. They are very privileged and they were able to witness people satisfied without material things. It was also a great time while they were out of their normal routine and comfort zone to talk more about the role that God plays in their personal life. And not to go unmentioned, the obvious impact of short term missions in our family was to broaden our horizons and to give us a heart to share Jesus with rest of the world.
Being my first mission trip as a mama, the best part for me was watching my kids interact with our students, the fellow leaders, and the local Philippine people. Needless to say, they were the stars of the show. I was told as we said goodbye on the last day, “We will miss…Judah and Asher”. All week the awesome ladies from the school watched our kiddos while Isaac and I taught bible stories. At one point one our VBS students came to me and said, “Mrs. Craft, can I hold your baby?”, I told her that I didn’t even know where he was, to which she replied, “oh, he’s with the security guard.” Well, at least he’s safe, right?
On Monday of our trip, our sweet Judah turned the big T-W-O. We celebrated in style with lots of balloons, love, and cake. Lots of cake. Our awesome co-leaders and the ladies at the school had coordinated to get Judah an awesome double layer birthday cake to celebrate.
This post would not be complete without a proper shoutout to our fellow trip leaders. These rockstar ladies kept all the balls in the air while we changed diapers, feed kids, and coordinated naps/betimes. Not to mention they did more than their fair share of Craft child herding/holding. We humbly refer to ourselves as the Dream Team, but really, we are awesome. (It is critical to know that the sign they are pointing at says DANGER: HOT WORK IN PROGRESS KEEP OUT) It is photos like this that need posting to the internet that validate all my hard blogging work.
Our team was plagued with something resembling the flu and threats of getting acquainted with Philippine hospitals kept things interesting. Four out of our seven students ended up sick but luckily the leaders dodged the bullet. During our last day we stopped off at a local market for a few souvenirs. Naturally the guys on the team had no interest in getting out so they got put on kid duty. Much to their chagrin, moments after we left them alone Judah started throwing up. Bless their high school boy hearts. One of the students managed to find us to deliver the message, “Judah just threw up massively”. Massively; great word choice. The next words out of his mouth were, “I tried to entertain him (the child that had just thrown up) but it didn’t work.” How bizarre, usually you can joke a toddler right out of the stomach flu…bless. Bless. BLESS. We got him home and cleaned up (with our precious driver buying Judah two brand new “I-love-the-Phillipines”-esque t-shirts so he had clothes to change into. He got sick one more time as we somberly packed up for our 3am departure for our voyage back to Seoul.
We braced for the long travel day ahead, packing extra outfits for Judah, a t-shirt for me, and plenty of barf bags. The vans pulled up at 2:45am and we loaded up, Judah burning with a 102 degree fever. Praise God that his fever broke somewhere between Isaac and I almost throwing up ourselves from our driver’s enthusiastic maneuvering through the mountains and our arrival in Manila. We ended up at the airport with plenty of time to spare, so we set up shop for the next 5 hours.
Finally, we boarded our plane and thought we were home free. In case you didn’t know that God has a sense of humor, as the wheels left the ground I was graced with the sound of not Judah, but sweet baby Asher (the child with only one set of extra clothes) throwing up on Isaac (the parent with no extra clothes). We survived with only one more round of vomiting; I can’t say as much for the handy airplane blankets.
We landed in Korea a little worse for wear but so happy to be home. Let’s just say that when we approached the customs line that ended up taking our friends two hours to clear, I took it upon myself to take my foul smelling and acting children directly to the line reserved for more important people than us and dared someone to stop me. They didn’t. We got through, grabbed our bags and a taxi home, stepping foot into our apartment 20 hours after leaving that morning.
And I know I’m crazy because I would do it all again.