Plane- 19 hours
Bus- 15 hours
Layovers- 9 hours
After an arduous but enjoyable journey, SSU’s team of 28 students and 4 leaders arrived in Laoag, a charming little city in the north-western corner of the Philippines. Dishevelled, sleep-deprived (and possibly smelly), we triumphantly hauled our luggage into our friendly hotel to be briefly acquainted with pillows and beds. With nigh a complaint, we had reached our destination.
Before long, though, our out-of-sync bodies arose to wander the streets, tackling our newly bestowed tasks of exploring our neighbourhood, remaining hydrated, and ingesting novel cuisines. Shortly, we were delivered to Northwestern University (NWU), one of the partners in our endeavour. An elaborate Welcome Ceremony awaited us, complete with dance routines, national anthems, songs, speeches, a campus tour, and a visit to NWU’s Ecotourism Park and Botanic Garden. Excited but exhausted, we returned to our hotel and attempted to sleep off some jetlag.
The next few days gave us a chance to engage personally. NWU initiated student interaction (NWU students and ours) through a morning of music and traditional games. Coconuts were broken, basketballs were thrown, and a good time was had by all. A trip to the beach continued the conversations with our new Filipino friends and provided a break from the heat. Another evening’s rest gave way to a worship service at Church of Our Savior, which is led by Pastors Brian and May Shah, longstanding friends of SSU. Puto (a sticky rice desert) and more conversations followed before students were taken back to NWU to meet the families they would be living with for the next 7 days.
In the coming week we will have lectures about the Philippines at NWU, partake in the city’s Pamulinawen Festival, and take a couple of day excursions to nearby sites.
While waiting for updates on those activities, please continue to pray for the following:
-formation of good relationships and meaningful experiences with the students’ homestay families
-continued good health and safe travel
-a speedy recovery for one student who came down with a throat infection
Thanks so much for your prayers and support