These last few days have been difficult. I’m really saddened by the devastation that came with Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Having been there so recently, and making so many friends there, this natural disaster hits closer to home than any other has.
I traveled to the Philippines October 12-22. Just 10 days. But those 10 days were some of the best of my life. I visited as a delegate for a Special Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were Special Conventions held this year in 10 different countries , in addition to the hundreds of District Conventions that are held annually around the world. These conventions consist of 3 days of Bible discourses, and they are open to the public at no charge. The Special Conventions are held with delegates invited from other countries, giving many Jehovah’s Witnesses the opportunity to enjoy our international brotherhood.
I have mentioned this before, and I will mention it again – flying terrifies me. I do not (and probably never will) understand why an eleventy-billion-ton metal tube manages to stay tens of thousands of feet above the earth, with nothing more than air holding it up. I rarely can make it through a week without succumbing to gravity, and I weigh much less than a 350-seater aircraft. Oddly enough, however, I am less frightened flying internationally. It probably has something to do with the fact that you don’t feel every little pocket of air in those giant planes, there is lots of on-demand entertainment, and they give you free booze. Hallelujah.
We traveled an exhausting 24 hours from Reno to Seattle, to Seoul, to Manila, on the fantastic Korean Air. I was really impressed with this airline. The food was pretty good, the leg room was the best I’ve experienced, the service was very polite, thorough and efficient, and one of the bathrooms was so big, you could take a step back to look at yourself in the full-length mirror (which I wouldn’t recommend if you have been travelling for 24 hours….).
Our short layover in Seoul was fairly eventful as we met several other delegates from Seattle, Maryland, Georgia and Texas. We had a great time getting to know one another and before long we were boarding another plane and landing in Manila. We arrived close to midnight, but were welcomed with signs and at least a dozen Witnesses, and led by the hand to our hotel shuttles.
Upon arriving at the Trader’s Hotel Manila, we collapsed for a solid 3 1/2 hours sleep, before starting our fantastic first day in this wonderful country.