Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Things My Little Girl Gets Me Into: A Guest Post from John

I’ve never blogged before. Of course, as of a few months ago, I’d never jumped out of a plane either. Oh the things my little girl gets me into. Forgive me as I offer up a few more examples.

I never once thought that I would father a missionary. But I did. And she moved to the other side of the planet.

Amy and I had travelled for what seemed a lifetime. We had taken a number of  flights, spent a night in Manila, and somewhat uncomfortably took in the sights of an unfamiliar world and humanity. To have this moment though would make everything right. To see my little girl at Christmas.

The local airport had one runway in and the same one out. Nothing too shocking here. It was similar to airports in Jamaica and Costa Rica. And indeed, departing the plane was much the same. Hot. We were excited to see our baby though and a little sweat couldn’t spoil this moment. We would spend Christmas together. Very cool. We were tired beyond tired but over the moon excited. We stood in that awkward  moment when the plane stops and everyone stands and no one moves. This was it. Anxious.  Nervous. Finally. Here we come…

She wasn’t there.

In her place, a young woman completely in her element welcoming us to her home, her country and her life. I could’ve been hurt. I could’ve been mad. I was neither. I surprised myself and I was proud. I had come to accept a lot of things about my daughter. This independence and true maturity was perhaps the most difficult. To be clear though, my acceptance was immediate. She had become more than I could have ever imagined.

In some inexplicable way I was ready for this. I was not, however ready for the Philippines. The people were poor by our standards. It was plain to see. Garbage on the street. Babies as a third or fourth passenger on motorcycles. It was sad and shocking. But perhaps more surprising was the visible obvious joy that everyone seemed to have. These people were genuinely happy. It was evident throughout our entire visit. Apparently, money does not buy happiness. Go figure! The country is beautiful, stunning and powerful in its expression love and nature. The people are its equal.

With all this joy it was easy to laugh. perhaps a little more so after the fact. Christmas Eve we rode a bus to Mabinay. Abby’s town. Abby was dismayed that the bus wasn’t open air as it was her intent to give us the REAL filipino experience. I preferred the fake one-with AC. We arrived at her house and of course, after three hours on a bus, needed to use the facilities-the comfort room. Suffice it to say there is nothing comfortable about this room.  Tales of spiders. Moist concrete floor. 80 degrees inside and out. No reading Runners World in there. Living without AC is uncomfortable at best. Oh well, in for a penny…We quickly were directed to church where there was a dedication for the playground that Abby raised money to build. Welllllll….apparently, due to the cultural understanding of the importance of family, the kind folks of the church believed that Amy and I had something to do with the fundraising. A banner was made and we were greeted like royalty. I cannot begin to explain our embarrassment. It was comical really. The minister must have mentioned our names as benefactors a dozen times. It was incredibly sweet and completely undeserved. We loved it though and were truly bursting with pride for Abby. The playground and her legacy are amazing.

Walking to Abby's host mother's house in Mabinay.

And then came Christmas Eve service. It was three hours long. I was sick. Amy was tired. We were sick and tired. I had agreed to play guitar while Abby sang Silent Night. This was about 2 ½ hours in. Sometimes a dad just can’t say no. Again, comical. I couldn’t stand, sit or hold my head up. I almost gave up. I trudged through the song and even managed a smile. Abby was fantastic. A moment forever captured in my mind. I never would have pictured this. And yet, there are indeed pictures. Photos that don’t come near telling the whole story.

We enjoyed our visit immensely. Leaving Abby at the airport to leave the Philippines was perhaps the most gut wrenching moment of my life. Understand that I do not share Abby’s enthusiasm for colorful exaggeration. (Editor's note: I NEVER exaggerate!!!!!!! I am however quite colorful.) This was in fact, gut wrenching like nothing else. I don’t know why this was harder than saying goodbye in August. But it was. Exponentially.

I love my daughter. I love my little girl. I love the woman that she has become. Abby, I love you.

Thanks for everything.


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