As America transitioned to a new president earlier this year, I was on the other side of the world in the Philippines with my parents-in-law who were leading a team of doctors, nurses, dentists and fellow parishioners on a medical mission with their church. For the last 8 years, my parents-in-law have returned to their hometown of Pozorubbio, a small and very poor barrio in the provinces of the Philippines, to provide free medical, dental, and vision care to thousands of people who cannot afford basic healthcare in a country that is already so poor. My parents-in-law lead these trips because of their strong faith in God and to give back to the community that raised them.
This missions trip was also an important trip for me, because it was my first journey to the homeland, an experience that will be forever etched in my mind. With fresh eyes, I saw firsthand the effects of poverty and the absence of healthcare has on people, but as I stood amidst the masses of people and the long lines, I also saw unwavering strength and resilience. I saw this in every man, woman, and child with every tooth that was pulled and every tear that was shed. After this whole experience, I had a better understanding of where my own mother’s strength and resilience came from. As I walked away from each of these missions, I felt I had a better understanding and connection to my homeland that I never had before.