All right, folks, the hiatus is ending! Tomorrow night will be my last in the States until I return on February 1st. In the meantime, I am happy to inform you that I will be updating this blog as regularly as possible during my adventures!
I am actually preparing for two trips. First, I will be spending the next two weeks in the Philippines with Professor Eleazar and a group of classmates from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Upon my return, I will be in Phoenix for a week for my trial, and then I will return to Minnesota.
The Philippines are an archipelago of 7,100 islands and islets southeast of the coast of China. Our group will be flying out of Minneapolis/Saint Paul on Wednesday, January 12 on a direct flight to Tokyo, Japan. We will have a 2-hour layover, and then fly south until we reach Manila, the capitol city. Total travel time: 19 hours. We should be able to go to bed at midnight (Philippines time). However, with a +14-hour time difference, this will feel like 2:00 in the afternoon on Minnesota time. Our breakfast will be served 7 hours later.
(Incidentally, Manila is the only place with quality hospitals or emergency medical care; if you are sick or injured to the point where you need emergency services, you would most likely have to be airlifted back to Manila for quality treatment. In terms of how far away from Manila we will be traveling on this trip, that would be like someone in St. Louis, Missouri having to fly to Minneapolis for emergency treatment.)
Our two-week stay in the Philippines will give us time to travel south down the chain of islands until we reach the island of Mindanao, where there have been incidents of terrorist attacks, including bus bombings and kidnappings (as reported by the US Department of State). We do not plan to go into the high-risk areas. Professor Eleazar and our Filipino guides will be doing everything they can to assure our safety while we are there.
However, we will be meeting with people who are at high risk of being targets themselves. The Filipino government targets native citizens who question, investigate, and protest human right violations. While the high-profile people tend to be safe, those who work for the high-profile people are targeted. They are often threatened. Their families are threatened. And sometimes those threats are carried out. We are going to witness, to hear their stories, and bring those stories back to you. (If you are interested in learning more on your own, consider reading our professor’s book Toward a Theology of Struggle. Also available through the Cokesbury bookstore on our seminary campus in New Brighton, MN.)
We will land back in Minneapolis/Saint Paul on January 25th. My classmates will return to their homes and loved ones; I will have a 6-hour layover before flying out to Phoenix. My trial will be held at 10:00am on January 27th. I am hoping that while I am in Arizona, my fellow Love People and I will be able to go down to Tuscon and offer our support to the survivors of this week’s tragedy. Barring further complications, I will be coming home on February 1st.
Through all of these travels and adventures, I will keep you, my dear reader, updated as often as possible. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you!