Thursday, April 19, 2007
There is a hardness to the Philippines that is missing in Vietnam. Although both countries seem equally poor, there is an optimism and hope in Vietnam that has been long since eroded here.
No one here drives scooters, they all drive cars - but with the same disinterest in road signs, lanes, or any sort of traffic rules. Everywhere you look are shanty-towns, hastily and ill-constructed villages with rusty tin roofs and lopsided windows. Women stand outside in too-high heels and too-short skirts (not that Americans dont wear that too . . .) yelling for their children to come in from playing barefoot in the streets.
On the front dash of our taxi sit two small statues: one of Mary, and one of Barbie.
At every traffic light you are assailed by the poor, selling water and begging for money: a lady holding her baby presses her face against the window of our taxi, looking sad and motioning that she needs food. I cry, and my dad gives her a dollar.
I sigh in relief as we pull up to our hotel. A dog sniffs our car for bombs and they look underneath with a mirror tied to a stick. Strangely, I feel less, not more, safe. Once past security though, it's easy to forget what's outside our hotel. BMWs and jaguars are parked out front, they open our doors for us and we walk into the glittering lobby where we check into our rooms. My room is right next to the Imperial Suite, the very room where the wife of Ferdinand Marcos was discovered with her thousands of shoes. I feel a small pang of guilt about the fact that I can see Shanty towns from my balcony, but I assauge it by taking a nap in my feather-topped king size bed. . .
Our Lord was obsessed with the poor and marginalized -- how is it that I can feel so little for these people, assuming they are drug dealers and prostitutes (the very people Christ would be ministering to) and preferring to keep my distance out of fear. But what am I afraid of? That maybe it is in these very people that I will discover Christ? That maybe they will force me to change my perspective, to change my lifestyle, to take seriously the Bible's command to love and serve the poor?
Posted by Rebecca Stanley at 9:44 AM