For the very first time, Lawrence and I went out of the country. :) We attended the SFC Global Leaders Summit in Thailand. Thanks to our brothers and sisters, families, and friends, who have been very supportive of our endeavors.
Since 2010, we have been travelling around the Philippines. Thanks to promo fares, SFC events, and speaking engagements. Going out of the country and exploring other nations was once just a dream for the both of us. When the GLS was announced, we were excited and hopeful that we could attend (I want to use my passport before it expires!). However, in our own capacities, it seemed impossible and it even came to a point when we almost gave up on the dream. As days passed, our high hopes were replaced with sadness and frustration and eventually, indifference. I had to act like I don’t know about the GLS just so I have an excuse not to register. :D But God was preparing something big for us. It was in August, a day before our first anniversary, when we were able to book a flight to Bangkok. It was totally a surprise. We were just looking for promo fares for next year’s ICON in Bohol when we chanced upon the 50% discount offered to international flights. We tried to book but the first time wasn’t successful. We did have a difficult time deciding whether we would try again with a different card (by the way, we don’t own credit cards, we just borrow from kind-hearted and generous people in the community). I let Lawrence do the booking but I never expected that he would be successful on the second try. I was totally amazed when I received an email from him containing our flight details. But the struggle didn’t end there. The person who owns the credit card was in Spain during that time to attend the World Youth Day and she requested for us to pay the full amount with interest in excess of the credit limit (P13,000) ASAP because she would be using the card there. I only had a day to look for that amount and I really didn’t know where to go. Thankfully, God led me to a sister who generously lent me the money I needed (with terms and conditions).
Flight to Bangkok – through God’s grace, CHECK! :)
The next step was to register. And that was neither an easy task. The initial deadline for registration was September 21, but even during that day, we still didn’t have that much money (P11, 500). Good thing the deadline was moved to a later date and so we had a couple more days to raise that needed amount. Thankfully, and again, I believe it was God’s grace, a Tita from way up north (Ilocos) deposited P12,000 to Lawrence’s account as a birthday gift (he was born on September 22) and it came just in time, just two more days before the deadline. :)
Registration – again, through God’s grace, CHECK! :)
The final challenge was the pocket money. As per our computation, we needed 2,000 Baht (or at least 1,500 Baht) to survive. That would cover all our transportation expenses and food allowance for the duration of our stay in Thailand. And of course we were hoping that we would be able to buy a little something for our benefactors as a token of our appreciation for their generosity and trust. And by the way, we also needed at least P6,000 for airport expenses, transportation, and food here in the Philippines. We figured P10,000 would suffice. But come October 21, the day we would be flying to Thailand, we only had P7,910. That’s all the money that we have. And that includes even our personal savings. (We are both semi-bread winners in our respective families, and because of that we don’t really have much left for ourselves.) But God knew that was all we really needed. :)
We paid P260 for the taxi ride from Lifehomes (where Lawrence came from) to Market Market (where I waited for him) to NAIA Terminal 3. When we arrived, we headed straight to the check-in counters. We were then advised to pay the travel tax (P1,620 each, P3,240 for the two of us). When we got our boarding passes, we went to Mini Stop to buy food (we were already hungry then but we agreed to spend at most P100 only). As we were walking around the airport, we saw the chapel on the second level. We decided to stay there to pray for a safe travel, and well, to compute how much money we still had. As I was budgeting, Lawrence was filling out the Immigration Card given to us. When we were both done, we went to the Foreign Currency booth and told the personnel that we needed 2,000 Baht. He advised that it’s equivalent to P3,500. We no longer have that much! After several minutes of negotiation (the personnel was trying to convince us to buy the remaining Baht they have amounting to 2,220 Baht, equivalent to P3,500++), we agreed to buy 1,220 Baht, equivalent to P2,135.
We then paid the terminal fee (P750 each, P1,500 for the two of us), lined up at the Immigration, and boarded 5J 931 bound for Bangkok. After three hours, we found ourselves staring at the beauty of Thailand. :) And because we were thinking too much about our finances, we have completely forgotten the meet-up point designated by the GLS transportation committee. We were walking around Suvarnabhumi Airport clueless, and prayerful that we would somehow be led to where we should be going. Lawrence decided to look for a place where we can sit and connect to the internet so we could check the guidelines on our email. I thought I was ready enough because I printed out the guidelines and the immigration letters but unfortunately, I missed out the transportation guidelines. I was then reminded that God is in control. We continued walking until we saw the SFC Team! :) We were more surprised when Ate She told us that we only need to pay 250 Baht for our transportation. That leaves us with 720 Baht. We were told that it’s going to be a long journey so we were given the option to buy our food. We didn’t buy anything because we were saving up the money, and besides, we know we’re just going to sleep along the way. :D
So, do I really plan to share a detailed account of what happened in the summit? Not really. :D I’m sorry I just had to give the above details because they were the little wonders that God has revealed to me during our first flight out. That was just actually half of the story. :) But that would be all for now. :)
This is just the first of many. I know through God's grace, we'll reach more places, touch more hearts, and make a difference to more people's lives. :) And as we travel together, whether for service or for leisure, our relationship is strengthened, deepened, and as individuals, we are refined, purified, and molded to become the perfect partner for each other. :)
|First international flight together. Thailand. October 21-23, 2011.|