Sooo, after a series of breakdowns – enough was enough. I needed to get out, walk around, and get outside (put away any fears I have, be open, seek out the culture, but still be cautious about where I go, where I walk, who I make eye contact with…that type of stuff). I have found that everywhere I walk, every time I walk, I am praying. I have heard the expression, “pray with your feet,” multiple times, but this time, it is taking on a new meaning for me. Now, my prayers as I walk, are about safety as I travel – as I get on a jeepney, as I get into a taxi, as I walk across the road…safety. I’ve never been so cautious before – I think just because everywhere I walk, I feel eyes staring at me…clearly, I dress differently, and I just look different – definitely not from around this area, and so, caution, always praying and walking with caution.
I went to SM today and walked. Walked, walked, went into probably every store that seemed of remote interest to me – even if it didn’t, it was nice to see what was being sold, and how prices compare to the US. Such difference, well, especially with the exchange rate of about 46/47 pesos to the dollar. Everything is just weighed so differently…EVEN sizes. For example…
I bought a pair of sandals, just for everyday use, and clearly my feet are huge in comparison to others here. Heck, even in comparison to the average feet size over in the US! So what did I have to do? Yup. I had to go for the men’s sizes. It’s ok, I’m secure with that – I’ve dealt with this before. Luckily they were just random rubber slippers that can be easily made unisex. The women at the store helping me to search for my size were definitely laughing at/with me! It was just another internal laughing moment for me, where I realized, girl. you’re like huge compared to your filipino peeps!
When I went to SM Baguio, I saw a Caucasian-looking guy, so naturally I had to ask where he was from. He said he was from Scotland. He then asked me, where are you from? I said Cailfornia, and he responded by saying…I figured you’re from the States. You’re the 2nd person to ask me that today! Haha, oh well, it was just a funny moment.
And I will admit this…later in my exploration of SM, I went to…Starbucks. I know, I know. Crystal, I’m really glad you went to Baguio City on mission, so that you could go to Starbucks. Haha, but you know what? Starbucks is different from the Starbucks in the US, that’s for sure. The snacks are more ethnic, if you will, and I noticed that it was a hub for foreigners. Haha, lots of Korean talk, Caucasian people situated at tables with other Filipinos, and then there was me. I sat down, and saw two people talking about YouTube videos. They looked friendly, and never before doing this, but clearly I was craving conversation, I just said, “hey, do you guys know of any gyms around here?” and no, it was not a pick up line, but they looked kinda like fit people – figured I should ask!
Turns out, one of the guys was a nursing student from Vancouver. He’s Filipino-Canadian, in the sense that he was born in the Philippines, moved to Canada when he was 10, and is back in the PI for nursing school – he was in his first year. He told me he’s been here 6 months, and he’s still not used to the way of living over here. He’s like, on a more personal note, I know I don’t know you, but I had to go to therapy out here! I was like, oh no, why? He’s like, cause I got pick-pocketed, and so right after, I went home, called my mom and told her I wanted to move home. He’s like, so just be careful. And so, I continued my, definitely be cautious everywhere you go! Consider myself warned! This goes for life anywhere, but especially in new lands I’m not 100% used to, yet! But even then, cuidado siempre.
It’s always nice to hear from family and friends back at home, and I try to spend some mornings catching up on that stuff, especially since I am up at like 6am…speaking of!!
So, my favorite breakfast ever is taho, which is soybean “flaps” hahaha and sweet sauce like brown sugar status, and sago (which are like boba balls). I know, it does not sound delicious, but it is my absolute favorite. Everytime I come to the Philippines, whenever I would wake up and go downstairs for breakfast, my aunt or my grandparents would always have a mug full of it ready on the table, waiting for me. WELL, I have been waiting every morning to hear the man outside, walk by, and say…TAHOOOOOOOO. (accent on the o, if you’re trying to pronounce it!), and well, he has not been coming!
So this morning, one of the young women here saw that I was clearly disappointed YET again, that my taho man did not walk by. I was like, it’s already 7am! Where is he? And so 10 minutes later, she runs in, and she’s like, Crystal! Come outside! And what happens? The man with his taho is waiting at our gate, and says, “good morning!” and I was like, SO excited!! I grabbed a mug, and he filled it. usually they provide the taho in their plastic cups, but because I like a lot (the American part of my identity – yes, I said it), I pay extra to get the full servings in a mug. Hahaha. I then told him to come tomorrow around 6:30am and I’ll get some again. Seriously, I think starting my day off with this just makes things 10 times better. 10 times.
So that, my friends, that is LOVE right there from one of my community members. I was like, girl! how did you find him? I didn’t hear him! She’s like, I ran across the way, to find him. “na awa ko sa’yo kasi.” In english, that means, “because I felt bad for you.” She’s like, you have always been waiting for him, and you haven’t gotten it yet! so nice. SO nice. It’s the little things, that are big things. Wonderful.
As for me, St. Anthony has become a really cool saint in my life here, and I am finding that I am calling on all the saints a lot more now. Haha, St. Jude at times, not gonna lie. St. Anthony has been pulling through – not just in finding material things, but also in recovering parts of me that seem to be running dry or lacking its full. I think it’s also helping that I’m feeling the prayers and feeling the love of family and friends from the US – just waiting for the grace to feel that here in Baguio City, as I continue my adjustment in transition.
Mission is just so interesting – I don’t even know what word I can insert for “interesting.” There are the whole openness and willingness factors to get on the plane and move to a foreign land to be, to serve, and to minister, and that’s tough enough, and then there’s the whole adjustment period of every emotion possible stirring in you (me) at once. Did not think that was even possible – but I am reminded that when being in a new place – a place especially in an international setting, I am ten times more vulnerable, and at the same time, more susceptible to magnifying moments or feelings that I have and are experiencing, just because of my internal transition to the sights, the smells, the things I come into contact with everyday. Everything is magnified times 30 and just as at least 3 people have already told me in the past 24 hours…be patient with yourself, be gentle with yourself, that is what I am striving to do.
Before I left, Sr. Archangel reminded me, be yourself. All you can do is do your best – what more can you give?
And with that, my friends, I know God is with me on this mission. Mother C has my back, no doubt. I continue to reflect on how girlfriend went from place to place, leaving some of her Sisters behind, as she went off to a new place, only to be rejected, and not always greeted with the warmest of hearts, but she did her thing, and she had total trust – Philippians 4:13, without fail, and without condition.
I am feeling solidarity with Jesus, Mother C, and my fellow missioners around the world, and one of my friends told me in her email the other day (from a homily she heard this past Sunday), “God is on the mountain. You’re making a difficult climb, but it will be so rewarding when you get to the summit.”
I’m never alone on my mission. Good thing – cause, I would not make it. Welcome to the beginning stages of my life here. Thanks for reading!