I went on a trip to the Philippines this past May to visit family. Little did I know of what was in store for me. The last time I had visited was when I was awkwardly transitioning from junior high to high school. I remember playing with my little cousins and going to the local market to cook food for the family. However, this time, it was a little different. Because of how much I’ve grown over the years, I approached this visit with a whole new perspective.
Almost 300 family members traveled from all over the Philippines to our home to be reunited with grandma. We call her Lola Tali. It was her 80th birthday and we wanted to do it big! We cooked two pigs, or lechon, and plates and plates of food. The food was so delicious and it reminded me of my childhood. Throughout the party, I had to keep explaining to my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc, that I could understand Tagalog but cannot speak it. It was confusing at first, but we all got the hang of it. I loved spending time with family, dancing with them and playing games. At that moment, it felt like I was right at home.
It was hard to adjust to the weather and living conditions. In other words, I felt like I couldn’t breathe half the time unless I was next to a fan. I couldn’t understand how the people here could live in such unbearable heat and humidity. I was the only one complaining! However, it wasn’t difficult to adjust to the way of life. Growing up in a household with the same values helped me fit right in: I have to treat elders with respect (calling them “po”) and to selflessly love family. During the week, my mother brought me to the church she went to as a child. Prior to this, I was completely fine and content. From the moment I walked into this beautiful church, I felt the Holy Spirit. As I knelt down to pray, I started to cry. But I didn’t exactly understand why.
After a while, I continued praying and God let me know that it’s going to be okay. Throughout the week, there had been a battle going on within my heart. To say the least, there were things going on with my family that I had no control of. God knew that. And walking into that very same church my mother had went to as a child, He wanted to let me know that he’s watching over my family in the Philippines. And a sigh of relief came over me.
I wanted to share this with all of you because it was such a humbling experience for me. We are so lucky and blessed to live in a place with things such as clean water, food and shelter. People work all day to make as much as $6. With how much love God gives me, all I want to do is share that with them. My goal is to help my family when I grow up and to simply never forget them. And coming back home, I realized that He has never left me. No matter where I go, the U.S. or the Philippines, I always find a way back home with God. All I have to do is follow my heart.
Home with where God is,