It’s been nearly 3 weeks now since the day we pulled away from Park Hall, heading out on our South-East Asian adventure. Our time in the Philippines over, and our Malaysian experience near its end, I find myself in awe of how quickly this trip is passing by.
I have seen a number of new and exciting landscapes, from the Malaysian mountains to the sandy beaches of the Philippines, and have visited many unique and interesting places along the way. We have seen museums, old churches, a rubber and ginger farm, and even the mausoleum of the Philippines’ ex-president, Marcos (ask me about that one when I get home).
Along with my classmates and leaders, I have learned so much about the history, the politics and the culture of two amazing countries so far. We have also tried a lot of new and exotic food, including Halo-Halo, rambutan, pig’s intestines (surprisingly tasty), and ube (yam) ice cream. Oh, and let’s not forget the steady supply of rice, in all its forms.
Most importantly, though, I’ve met many amazing people, both in my homestays and the other folks with whom I’ve interacted to date. I know that relationships have been created which will last for years to come. In getting to know the people of the Philippines, I was struck by their capacity for hospitality. Never before have I experienced such a warm invitation to befriend and ‘befamily’ a group of complete strangers. And yet, such was the case with my Filipino homestay family. So too in Malaysia, I have met people who couldn’t be more eager to share their culture, their traditions and their way of life with a group of crazy young students from North America. And I expect that a similar experience awaits us in Thailand as well.
In all of this, I am reminded of the verse when Christ calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves. The people I have interacted with so far have really made an effort to do just that- and beyond. Not only have these new friends and families opened their homes to us, but they have also opened their hearts.
When I return to Canada at the end of the trip, I hope that I will do my best to show a similar love to everyone I encounter- whether it’s my family, friends, or complete strangers. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that every person has the potential to become someone special in my life- it’s just up to me to get out there and meet them.