Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Araw 29

Today I woke early, and despite tired due to lack of sleep last night,  I got up once awake and got ready for breakfast, that did not come till past 7am. After breakfast I rested on my bed while the kids did their chores. Normally I would sit out with the kids doing weeding and join in but I did not feel too good so waited for them to come back from that and played with them in the dorm.

Morning tea (bananas) was again served at the back of the boys dorm, and afterwards we headed to the Payag to watch The Princess and the Frog. Good movie, and took us straight through to lunch. I waited with trepidation for the revealing of lunch today as the smell of whatever it was cooking was making me feel nauseous. Before me was laid my rice as normal, an entire fish (head, eyes, fins and tail entact) covered in a smelly yellow liquid, and a bowl of vinegared boiled vegetables. Not caring for either, especially having to de-bone the fish (and knowing the pain of missing one and having to extract it from my gum midway through eating) I could not face eating it, and though I had vowed, where possible to eat exactly as he kids did, I pushed all three parts of the food away and resigned myself to drinking water. I wanted nothing more than to lay on my bed and sleep, but Mamzet, Pastor and Shine had once again gone into town, and the teachers having gone home for semester break, I was left in charge.

After lunch I retreated to the dorm with the younger kids for a few hours rest, and ensuring the middle kids were happy to watch a film, got to having a shower and some sleep. After about half-hour Recel came in and asked me if I was hungry and wanted to eat. I wasn't particularly hungry, due to my stomach cramping, but assuming she had already cooked me something I followed her back to the Payag, to find her and Emelie busily cooking me a few fried eggs with garlic fried rice. It was possibly the best meal I have thus far eaten at Joyland, and heartily thanked the girls for having cooked it me.

I watched an hour or so of Power Rangers, I headed back to the Dorms again and as the smaller kids were waking and hurrying for more tv time, I slept. At around 4pm I thought it rather quiet and sought after those in my charge. Finding four of them playing what I could only describe as 'frisbee it'. The childish candour and frivolity with which they played rendered me merely an observer, though glad I was to be that, and joined with their laughter as I sat atop the climbing frame, enjoying the warm afternoon and pleasant breeze. Then deciding that the others had perhaps spent far too much of this sunny day glued to the TV set; and wanting more of a chance to engage with them 1:1 for a chat; I went inside and promptly ushered the younger and middle kids out to play whilst the older girls got on with the cooking in peace.

At first they were all rather grumpy at being torn away from their beloved affection of moving cartoon pictures, but eventually settled for childish arguing, play-fighting, chasing and exploring, any of which I was glad of as long as they were breathing some fresh air and catching the sun! We spent some time playing catch, the old past time of getting berries from the tree by lifting children onto my shoulders, and running about to get away from whatever child was being the monster.

I observed several things during this time: the distinct rivalry between Melanie and Christina, which although noticeable at times was never quite so obvious as now; how little Jeffrey spoke or interacted with the others, and how easy it is to render Marites in need of attention.

Of the former, Melanie remains a terror, and although affectionate at times, can set you speechless with a glare, shares her less than agreeable opinions openly, picks on the other children (especially Christina) and is rather bossy and selfish. In a word, she is a handful, and perhaps this is partly due to her being so much younger than her siblings, or perhaps because she was taken from her parents at so young an age, but for whatever causes it requires one to have a strength of character and of love in dealings with her. 

Marites became offended at some action of someone and; deciding to try and reach out to her; quietened myself next to her where she sat, legs tucked up and face down and hidden, a position I knew only too well. I have not yet worked out Marites. She is a compassionate girl, attention seeking definitely, but helpful and eager to please. She has perhaps not got so much going in her favour: she is 10 years old and still in 1st grade: but her determination and eagerness will serve her well, and perhaps one day she will be settled enough not to need to compete for attention.

Anyways, I asked a few questions to try and get her to open up but to no avail, and soon it was hard to have any sort of 1:1 with the other children, especially Melanie, also demanding of my attention. During this time Jerevie had joined us and I tried getting her to share what made her happy or sad in the hope of drawing Marites into the conversation. Still she remained with her head down, and Jerevie revealing that 'Nang Lovely' was the one who cheered her up, (Lovely was 16 and decided to leave Joyland just a few weeks ago) I gave Jerevie a big hug and said that someone else would cheer her up now! Then, proceeding that Marites was not likely to open up here, carried her into the dorm and sat cradling her for a while. Then, upon deciding that perhaps this is just what her schemes desired, and knowing there were also 10 children outside also wanting my attention, I placed her on her bed and left her to it. It was not long before she reappeared, apparently forgetting whatever it was that made her sad, and proceeded to observe the game of catch going on. 

The rest of the evening passed without much incident, and in managing to chat to Sheena, discovered her passion for Brgy. E Lopez and the children there, and of her intentions to have a feeding program for them, due to it being where her Diabetes struck Father lived.

Dinner was soon served and over, prayers said, hugs and 'I love you's exchanged, and with Mamzet and Pastor still not returned, I permitted the middle kids to stay up till 9pm to watch a film, and the older ones whatever charge they normally given, and headed to the comforts of a shower, bed and lights out at 7.30pm.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Araw 28

As today was the first proper day of the holidays, we ate breakfast at 7am, though I still stirred at 5am to hear the older kids rising and showering. Today was fairly uneventful, I slept a lot and the kids played a lot. The older kids got on with the gardening, especially the boys, though I was fairly shocked to find Hill using a machete type knife to chop the banana trees. He seemed confident in its use, though it sent shivers down my spine to see one being used when I knew how such weapons have been used in massacres across the world for centuries. It is an ugly tool to look at.

After morning tea at which I shared out the leftover pack of crisps I had bought when we went to the river, we watched Tangled before lunch. After lunch rested with the younger girls, though I remained asleep even after they left the dorm in the afternoon. I awoke at around 4pm to find that Mamzet and Shine had returned, meaning I was no longer in charge.

Roz came and sat by my bed, and then insisted on cleaning my nails from the nail-varnish we had applied on Saturday. They used a small scalpel like instrument to scape it off rather than nail varnish, but she set to work diligently and carefully while I read a book, even insisting on cleaning ad clipping my toe nails! Roz is a very compassionate child, and I have noticed her watching me and serving me ever since I arrived. She is a new child to me, though she has been here two years, arriving just a month after my last visit.

After she had finished she lay on the bed that had appeared next to mine on the floor and began speaking an asking questions. Before long she told me that her mother and father were dead, killed by 3 men, including a neighbour and her uncle, out of jealousy or revenge for Roz's families plantation or wealth when she was just 7/8 years old. It happened after a disagreement when one of their carabao had destroyed some of the the neighbours crops, and he met not have been contented with the sack of rice Roz' family had paid in compensation.
 I asked if she had any photos of her parents but she did not. I asked if she remembered what they looked like, she said a little. Her dad had a tall nose and her mum was a bit chubby. I asked if she saw her parents being killed and she replied that she had seen her father being 'shot with a stone'. Suddenly I looked into the eyes of this child before me and understood the look of sadness that dwelt in the back of her eyes.

Roz' older siblings, a brother and sister, did not take care of her after her parents died so she was passed around relatives until she came to her Lola (grandfather) who brought her to Joyland. She used to live near Kabankalan, but after her parents were killed she moved in with her sister and boyfriend who didn't feed her enough so she was skinny. She said that she used to steal, as she did my think anything wrong with it, she did not know about Jesus and was only little, but one time her sister caught her and hit her arms and hands. At school the teacher noticed they were swollen and reported it to the DSWD who took Roz away to live with another relative, and her sister moved to Manila.

My heart was filled with so much compassion for Roz as she told me about how she learnt about Jesus and knew it was wrong to steal, and how she had only stolen once at Joyland - some cards to play with. She did not steal any more. I asked if her family ever visited her but the did not. She said that she liked living with her family, and added that she liked it here too. We said she loved to live with Gods family.

I began to wonder of the possibility of reuniting her with her brother, who she said looked like her dad, and after the silence passed between us, she said, "It is sad when your parents die." The tears hung in my eyes, but I held them there as she went on to say that sometimes when she saw others crying she cried too. But sometimes she just got angry, especially when the younger kids did not do as they were told. I wondered how much anger was stored up inside of Roz, even though she was such a compassionate child.

I enquired how much she had told the other kids of her background, knowing that some of the others had had similar experiences, but she said that she didn't like to talk about it. It surprised me then, how willingly she had opened up to me, mostly without prompting, and asked if she had ever spoken about it to Mamzet and Pastor. She said not. I asked if they knew and she shrugged. I wondered how effectively anyone could care for a child such as this without knowing their background, but deduced that her Lola must have explained when he brought her here. I was surprised though, that no one had ever offered her counselling.

A few times after this, some of the other girls came in and interrupted, but Roz only spoke when we were alone. I wondered how many times this week she had wanted to share her story with me. She asked about family, and I told her about my parents. She said I was lucky to have my parents alive, even I they were not together, and I couldn't agree more. Soon the bell rang for dinner, and as Roz walked away I gave her a big hug and repeated again how much I loved her. We spoke no more of our conversation at dinner, and I mentioned it to no-one, but I held her hand at prayers and fought back the tears as I prayed for our loved ones who were not with us, and that God might comfort us this night with his love and strength. When saying goodnight to the kids, I held each one for just a second longer than normal, hoping that something in my love for them might comfort their broken souls from whatever pain lay in their past.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Araw 27

Once everyone was in uniform and ready they went into the Payag, where already some of the non-Joyland scholars and their parents were already seated. Deb was leaving with Pastor Rick as he was going to a retreat in Bacolod, and we said our goodbyes. The kids were sat in the front in rows and the parents scattered on seats at the back. It occurred to me that none of the Joyland kids had parents present, and I was sad for them, but knowing how proud I was of them I hoped my affections might make up for it, maybe even the tiniest bit. The presentations started with the pledges to the flags, Filipino and Christian:

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Saviour for whose kingdom it stands, one Saviour, crucified, risen and coming again with life and liberty for all who believe. I pledge allegiance to the Bible, Gods holy word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I will hide its words in my heart, that I might not sin against God."

The national anthem was sung, followed by a worship song sung by Teacher Jaika and Sheena, and then Mamzet read some Bible verses and introduced the proceedings. For the first time ever since I met her, she appeared nervous! I wondered if it was the parents presence, or because Rick would have normally done the introductions. Shine presented the first set of awards, then Jaika, and it proceeded like this rather rapidly, broken only by a dance to worship by some of the 4th and 5th graders. After the awards Mamzet spoke a message in Illongo, which I didn't understand at all, and the wife of the WOLM church (who is also Shekinah's mum) prayed for everyone. Then the children filed out, some to their parents, some to clear up, and some to stand around chatting.

After most of the visitors had left, the Joyland kids changed back into play clothes (the ones with many stains and holes) and played in the dorms - mainly a strange form of Uno, filipino Monopoly and Boggle. I slept. Morning tea was served at the back of the boys dorm, bananas and bread rolls, and then the younger kids had a turn to watch a film. Soon it was lunch, after which Mamzet and Shine left for Patag, which meant I was in charge!

 I slept most of the afternoon and got up for dinner, and was in high spirits as the kids thought it very funny that I was in charge and wondered what I would do. Mamzet had left strict instructions that no-one was to leave Joyland, but apart from that I had no instructions. I trusted that the routine would generally run things more than me, and I was right.

Some of the older boys were gardening so didn't come for dinner, and we ate early anyway. But they did not come back for prayers though Ferlita rang the bell, and after Erwin came back saying he could not find them, a slight panic rose in my heart that they had jumped ship. The fact that Resthor was with them gave me comfort as I knew how affectionately he cared for me and would not leave whilst I was here. Finally they returned, we prayed, said goodnight and departed for the dorms. I thought it time I brought out my speakers and the kids liked to gather round watching my iPod as it changed song. Soon, lights out, and I stuck to the routine knowing I would be surely found out if the younger ones stayed up later. I was tired, so left the older kids to govern their film-watching and went to bed at 7.30pm with the younger girls after a shower. I don't know what time the older kids went to bed, and didn't ask the following morning at breakfast.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Is the church really the church if it builds walls instead of tearing them down; if it builds church halls instead of houses for the poor?

Is the church really without walls if it refuses to support activities that are not on the 'premises', and is it really a family if it doesn't support the struggling congregation down the road?

Is the church really standing and supporting the broken if it writes policies to keep them out?

Is the church really placing children and young people at the centre if it disregards their needs and ignores their presence?

Is the church really walking in the light if it does everything on its own terms rather than Gods?

Is the church really one of truth if it remains blind to the lies presented to them?

Is the church really living the Great Commission if it worships by singing songs but doesn't action the words in their life; is it really worship at all?

Is the church really loving thy neighbour if it prays for itself but not for persecuted brothers and sisters across the world?

Is the church really understanding true religion if it shuns the homeless but glorified the rich; if it spends hours decorating its building and then leaves them to sleep outside in the snow?

Is the church really practising good stewardship if it spends more money on lighting, heating and equipment each year than it does feeding orphans?

Is the church really local if people drive for miles to their favourite 'church'? Is it really global if some congregations are mega-rich whilst others are struggling to feed their families?

Is the church really understanding forgiveness if it banishes leaders and members for their mistakes? If it views some sinners as worse than others?

Is the church really growing spiritually if leaders are 'nice' rather than risk-taking, adventurous, outcast-friendly rebels?

Is the church reading the right Bible if its response to the Gospel message is only to have a cup of tea?

Is the church really going anywhere if on a Sunday most of the congregation are engaging in traditionalism rather than spiritual disciplines? If members are like a man who looks in a mirror and then forgets what he looks like?

Is the church really going to survive if it ignores the heart-felt longings of the young to satisfy the wants of the old? Is it really prepared to become like little children to understand the Kingdom of Heaven?

These are just some questions I have been pondering over, to continue with my personal questioning over whether what many of us call 'church' is really Gods answer to the problems in this world.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Araw 9

Today I rested, and then Kuya Mhel came and picked me up and took me to Tito Lito and Tita Meldy's house. It is in a very posh subdivision, with lots of big houses, and when I saw their house I could not believe how big it is! The downstairs (cellar) is about 15 times the size of Des' entire house. It also has three TV's, air-con, Wii, WiFi, pool table, darts board, mini kitchen, two bathrooms with hot showers, many chairs, dining table - and that is just the basement. It is unreal.

Kuya says that the Fider's are very hospitable. They support PNA a lot and have many people to stay. It is so good to know that there are well-off Filipino's who are still engaged and actively helping the poor, when it could be so easy to cut yourself off from that part of society. Personally though, I am not too sure where I stand. It is nice to stay here and relax, with everything, but it can be very lonely. Des is so friendly, and her generosity means so much more to me because she has less. When I am with her, we share what we have, she with me and me with her, it is not given from the what is left, it involves sacrifice.

Anyways, at dinner I had a chat with the Fider's and they are a genuinely lovely couple, with two kids, both very friendly and welcoming. We had a good chat over dinner about what I loved about the Philippines so much, and I talked to them about my wish to one day build and open an orphanage here. They know someone who runs a street-children project in Manila and said that they would introduce me to him, and perhaps I would be able to visit the project and see what they do. They are two of the friendliest people I have met in the Philippines, and it is great that they are so involved with PNA and are so giving of their time, money and their home. I can tell that knowing them would be really beneficial to get my project off the ground, as they have the right connections.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Araw 7/8

Tuesday I was ill. Very ill. Sickness hit my stomach hard, and even after all the food was gone it was still trying to reject the water I was drinking. So I basically spent a lot of the day sleeping. Now it's 5am and I'm finding it really hard to sleep. The noise outside is now at daytime levels - very noisy!

On Monday night the next-door neighbour C* came over. She is 10-years old. Des told me that she has been abused, physically and sexually by people who are supposed to care for her. It is a really sad story. I asked Des about social services but apparently the abusers lie and cover it up. Even within a family not in extreme poverty there is sadness and brokenness. Oh, it breaks my heart.


Wednesday during the day I was feeling a bit better, so Kuya Mhel came and picked me up on his scooter to take me to Payatas. The scooter was fun, if not quite dangerous. Mhel is a good driver, but the roads here are dangerous in general. We had to travel through the different parts of Payatas so I got to see parts of Payatas A & B that I've never seen before. There were so many people hanging around on the streets, so many people trapped in the circle of poverty, each with their own story. We visited Lhen and her baby (toddler) Nicole, and Licel and Efren with their baby Josh (9mnths). Both very very cute. And growing up in Payatas. Many children growing up in Paytatas, with the shadow of the mountain that both gives hope and destroys lives.

Mhel also took me to see his son Nicolas, so big now. 3 years old and top of his nursery class. Mhel's house is now smaller than ever, as they have put a divide down the middle to make a seperate space for their extended family. It is now no bigger than about 10ft2. 

When I got back I was so tired I fell asleep. I woke about midnight as Des and Paul came to sleep in my bed again as JR had been called to an emergency meeting! I don't know what's going on with his business, but I'm guessing if he is being called to an emergency meeting at 11.30pm something's not right. Des started telling me about when JR was earning good money and they were living in a nice condo that was in the good part of town. But they did not save as much as they should so when JR lost his job they had to move. 

I didn't know it, but the room I am staying in is not normally part of their 'house', but only the kitchen and small living room. Des wants to move into this room when I leave as it is bigger and has an inside toilet. It would also mean that no-one would have to sleep in the kitchen! I asked Des about the dump, and she said that her father worked there when she was 9 she joined him on the dump, along with 6 of her family. She has many scars and marks on her hands and feet but when I ask her about them she says she can't remember how she got them. Now only 2 of Des' siblings live at home: her two younger sisters, Niclin and Levie, although they stay here a lot to look after Paul when Des and JR are at work.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Araw 6

Today I went with Des & Emmy Lou for their work. They go to 'Beauty Bar' in different malls to take inventory's etc. (Emmy Lou is training Des at the moment, so after that Des will do it on her own) This means that I get to sit in air-conned coffee shops in posh malls and use the free WiFi to catch up with England.

We travelled a lot today, and I got to see a lot of Manila, the good and the bad. So many here in poverty; and so many living with wealth and excess. When we were leaving the MRT station there was a small boy asleep on the floor - maybe 6/7 years old. Fast asleep on the stair-well of a busy train station, and hundreds of people just passing him by. I wanted to stop and talk to him but it was so busy we were just pushed along by the crowd. I couldn't get the image of him asleep out of my head all day.

There were many more 'street' children walking around barefoot in tatty clothes outside the MRT stations and hanging around at the Jeepney stops. I wanted to talk to them all, help them all. It brought be  back to reality with a thud, reminded me why I am here after all. There are so many sad sad stories, in a country of such beauty and promise. Things must change.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Araw 5

Today I needed some rest - I'm not feeling the best and it's taking me a while to adjust to the heat and humidity. I went with Des to the Veg shop, and couldn't believe how many flies there were. The meat around here is nearly always out on display in the stalls, despite the heat, so you have to be so careful cooking it. Des was teaching me how to prepare and make Chop Soy, which is basically lots of vegetables cooked in vinegar and soy sauce. 

I rested again in the afternoon and then this evening we all went to church. Des and JR attend a large Catholic church. The entire service was in Filipino, so it was an interesting service, to say the least. I didn't know any of the songs, but followed Des and JR's lead in when to recite, sit, kneel or stand. Even though I'm always being looked at, it was the first time I felt uncomfortable. There was a few kids a few rows in front of me who kept turning round and looking at me. I guess it would have been a strange sight - a pale, youngish female (unaccompanied by a white man) attending a Filipino-speaking church. Not exactly something that happens every day. After the service, we took Paul (Des' son) up to the Father for a blessing. On the way out, Des lit some candles for various prayer requests, and we got a Tricycle back to Dahlia.

Back at Des', Dang, Lhiz and Reymond came over for dinner, so we had lots of joking around until it was time for them to go. Outside, it was raining heavily and there was loads of lightening. This evening, Sharmaine, me and Nicki slept on the double bed, and JR, Des and Paul on the floor. Family living. :)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Araw 4

Today we went to Moa for a GK Expo with the Human Nature team today. The journey was nearly 2 hours on jeepneys, and the MRT but it was really good. The whole thing was about Filipino businesses that exist to aid the Poor, and there were some really good initiatives going on. People here are so resourceful. The last guy up was Dylan Wilk, a guy that everyone keeps talking about: he's one of the presidents of Human Nature, and married to Tony Meloto's daughter. He's British, but loves the Philippines and Filipino's. Whoop Whoop! He gave a really moving speech about how important it is to treat people like people in business, rather than collateral or as a means to an end. He also talked about Filipino's as being people of worth - just as worthwhile as English or American or Japanese. Sadly, it seemed as if every person in the room really needed to hear somebody say that. I made it my mission to somehow show every Filipino that I met how amazing and special they are. After his speech he invited all the Human Nature employees up onto the stage, and I was beaming with pride as I knew a good number of them. (And had made friends with a fair few during the journey there.)

After the Expo, we went to Jolibee's for lunch and then headed to Trinoma so Des could do some work. She works for Human Nature too, but her role is to visit each of the Beauty Bar's that stock HN products and take an inventory of what they have, as well as tidying the HN stand and promoting the products. Human Nature's strapline is : Pro Philippines, Pro Poor, Pro Environment. All of their products are made by poor Filipino farmers, and are 100% natural. They have some really nice stuff.

At Trinoma I wandered round the Mall and bought some books about living as a true Christian and helping the poor. Back at the Human Nature main store, I sat down to read some while Des wrote her weekly report. Home, dinner and bed. It's been a long day but I've had so much fun, can't believe I've only been here three days, it feels like forever.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Araw 3

I had a lovely long sleep. Not too hot, and no bugs. Nice :) I woke up a few times in the night but it was still dark so I went back to sleep. Des came in at 8am and had cooked breakfast so I ate that (pancit, egg noodles) and went back to sleep. Got up again about 1pm and JR had cooked chicken adobo. I watched some films with Des' sisters: Nicki and Levi, and JR's sister Sharmeen. I needed to buy some plug adaptors so they took me to the local mall via tricycle. I think the jet-lag was sitting in as I didn't do much else but sleep until Des came back in the evening, and we chatted and laughed about things until bed.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Araw 2

I arrived in Manila at 4.30pm local time. The Philippines is currently GMT(+7), so it's been just under 24 hours since I left home. I am very excited. I smile at every Filipino that I see. There is always a little panic that goes through my stomach when I've been waiting for half hour and have little way of contacting people and little idea of where I've got to get to. Des lives in Dahlia Avenue, Quezon City, but I've not been there before so would have no idea if the taxi driver was taking me the right way or not. So I was pretty glad to see Gladys and Budda when they arrived to pick me up. 

We took a yellow airport taxi as they are slightly more secure and trustworthy (apparently.) On the journey to Des' we passed a minivan that was on fire, and had been abandoned in the middle of a busy road. We drove around it, and I was starkly reminded of where I was. It looked like it had been there a while and there were no emergency services yet in attendance. The journey was 2 hours, but I fell asleep after catching up with Gladys. I received a great welcome at Des'! Gladys, Emmy-Lou, Budda, Angelo, Mark and Mhel were all there! There was a great feast of sweet spaghetti and 'RC' waiting (Masarap!), and they had put a sign up in 'my' room saying 'Welcome home Ami'. It felt so right.

I managed to chat to all of the guys and gals from Payatas, a lot of them have finished the Mission Volunteers programme and are now working and providing for their families. All that I spoke to have managed to avoid the trap of the Dump. It is so great to be here with them again. Des said she will take me round all the Malls with her while she works, and then we'll be at church on Sunday. Her day off is Tuesday. I've had a shower now, (a cold bucket of water and a jug) and I'm off to bed now. All this excitement has tired me out.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Araw 1

Flight QR076 to Doha. Seat 11A.
Boarding: 2.30pm.
Take-Off: 4.00pm.

Journey up to London was pretty easy going. Dave came with me. We grabbed something to drink in the airport, but I had to say goodbye and head through security as they seemed to be calling people to the gate really early. I can do airport security blindfolded nowadays. I've done it on my own so many times. Seems strange, 5 years ago, I was barely able to get the train alone, let alone fly half-way around the world.

On the plane. It's really hot in here. I'm sat behind some passengers with a young child, who seems to scream a lot. I really hope he doesn't do that all the way to Doha. Not that I'd notice so much, I'm so excited that I'm finally on the way. It's come around quick. The in-flight entertainment loots pretty good: Dark Shadows, MIB 3, Good Will Hunting, Moonrise Kingdom, etc...

Take off was delayed. Apparently there is a critically ill baby on board flying home to Qatar with their parents. They have medical escort so I guess they needed to make sure everything was stable before take-off. It all seemed to go smoothly once we hit the run-way anyway. All good.

It's strange how toy-like the world looks from up here. How vast and glorious the British landscape looks. Miles and miles of interwoven roads and towns, surrounded by fields and trees. Flying into a cloud now...

I've spent a long time on the flight thinking about Dave. A few people have questioned my decision to go out with him, perhaps because I took so long to give in. All I know is that my heart feels content when he is around, and I shall really miss him over the next few months. I kinda wish he was coming with me, could share this experience with me, but it wasn't possible.  We're only a few minutes away from landing now. See you on the ground.

Brief moments in Doha airport - then swiftly back through Gate 17/19 to board the shuttle bus. Back on another plane, Seat 11A again. A long 9 hour flight ahead of me, but for some reason, whenever I am surrounded by Filipino's, (as I am now) I feel as if I am amongst friends. :)