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Coming home

Arrival in Manila of personal shipment from Israel

31 January 2005  Bangkok International Airport  “For that price, Baclaran would have given you more. Besides, this is too small for your five-year-old nephew. The tag here refers to shirt size, not child's age!”

I turn around and see that the object of this loud, animated rebuke from a Filipina is a blue cotton shirt that a fellow Filipina purchased in Bangkok. It is pretty, but the woman is right: the item is too generic looking to qualify as “imported-from-Bangkok”. Taking a cue, the couple next to me begins to talk about the merits of bringing home gifts for nephews and nieces.

As we await the boarding call for the Thai Airways flight to Manila, the chatter—and banter— amongst fellow Filipinos at the pre-departure lounge becomes jovial, familial, and trivial. Their accents, so delightful and endearing, ease me into a sense of preparedness for the place that I called home for 35 years and left five years ago. In my mind, they are the sounds of music that trumpet my homecoming.

The challenges in the Philippines will be many, perhaps even greater than the challenges that I faced overseas. I am buoyed by the need to share what I have learned. In the smallest of ways, I can help encourage the capabilities of others in the same manner of inspiration that I received, in great doses, at the Bahá'í World Centre in Israel.

THE BOARDING CALL has begun; the queues are forming quickly at Gate 6. I am coming home. The joys of service continue.

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