This is the third year I have visited the Philippines representing Trek For Hope, and in many ways it still feels like every step I take is a first footstep. Every year I feel like we get closer to the goal of providing a hand up to all those who need it, yet so many find themselves in circumstances which many would consider to be unfathomable.
We do this not to bring glory to ourselves, but to give glory for the hopes, efforts, and daily striving of the people we were so privileged to serve. As with every trip like this, my heart has been changed in numerous ways.
Here is our 2016 journey. Come join us.
This year’s journey began with 22 individuals which came from different background with different life experiences. The youngest in the team was 11 and the oldest was 65. Each came with different expectations. Each, a mission to fulfill.
For some, it is a journey of hope for a new friendship or a strengthening of existing ones. Some of the greatest footsteps we take on this journey in life come not by ourselves, but when we are together. Supporting each other. Caring for one another. Reinforcing the hope that so many have even when they have very little.
For others, these footsteps of having new experiences, like hiking a mountain for the first time, and riding on top of a jeepney. When we step outside of our regular comfort zones, we can learn much more about who we are and what we can actually do.
This journey can also be the start of a new relationship or a strengthening of family ties through moments of time spent together. When our goal is to serve others, the love we have for each other as we journey together matures, develops, and grows. It must. The beautiful thing about this is that as our love for one another grows, it extends to the people we meet along whatever trail we happen to be on.
There are many reasons to believe in hope…and the list goes on.
Each generation has something to offer one another. Every one of us has life experiences which make us unique. This gives us the opportunity to create our own little moments of perfection with one another because we are fulfilling the promises which hope speaks to us. The wisdom of age, the energy of youth – it is a beautiful combination.
There is also the promise of a new beginning on every journey we take. As the sun rises, it offers us new promises. New opportunities. New moments of perfection to find.
It can also be the fulfillment of a dream that was once buried and attempted to be forgotten.
Live. Laugh. Love. This is hope personified. Every footstep offers us the opportunity to this, but sometimes we must seek it out.
When we come together to share this purpose, we spread the joy of living, laughing, and loving to all those we encounter. Sometimes a simple smile is all it takes to brighten a day. Sometimes a good meal for a hungry belly is needed. When we are together on this journey, we really can do anything.
We can do everything.
We can do everything when we are of one heart. This is what living, laughing, and loving is all about. Each footstep means we deepen our relationships, create new ones, and discover a new perspective about the world we call our home.
Not every footstep we take will be easy. Some will cause us to hesitate. Some footsteps are so difficult that we feel like the only choice we have is to give up. This is why we journey together. When we come together to take these difficult steps as one group, then we really are trekking for hope.
Strength comes from wisdom and experience. When we take that difficult step, we know that we can conquer future difficulties. By completing the Twin Peaks hikes – Mount Ugo and Mt Pulag – spanning over 4 days, each step in 2016 had one purpose in mind: to bring joy to whichever community they encountered.
Sometimes the greatest hope we can bring to one another are the seeds which get planted today, but harvested in a different season. In our world today, we expect so much to happen instantly. We can speak with people halfway around the world instantly. We can satisfy our hunger right now. Just about anything we want, we can have if we work hard enough to have it.
But the greatest things we have in our world today come when we’re willing to be patient. We may not get to see the harvest when we plant seeds of hope, but we can be confident that harvest will take place when we are willing to keep on with our journey.
Some of our footsteps are easy. Some footsteps seem impossible to take. Whether we are at the summit or we find ourselves in a valley filled with shadows, we must keep moving forward. We must. We must continue living, laughing, and loving with every breath that we have.
In doing so, hope will always come in the morning.
Additional stories from TFH Philippines 2016
Trek For Hope, Philippines 2016 – sharing by the Kwok sisters
Ng Yixiang of Adventure Exposures (with TFH watermark)