Boracay: Not Just a Tourist

Just got back from a week in Boracay.

(It’s one of the more famous beautiful Philippine islands, if you were unaware.)

It was gorgeous. White, soft sand. Clear blue water stretching as far as the eye can see. Puffy clouds, blue skies, hand-painted sunsets, twinkling stars. That’s Boracay.

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Paradise

But while I met some cool people, did a lot of fun things, and took a billion breath-taking pictures, I found it challenging to be a carefree tourist.

It was hard to ignore the poverty I saw and the heaviness I sensed. It was difficult not to feel like I was part of the problem, using this place and people for the beauty of their land. (I know tourism provides jobs for them, but are they really happy? Many of them certainly didn’t seem to be.)

I found myself thinking back to a missions trip three years ago

on another Philippine island, a trip during which I saw miracles happen and lives transform. I remembered a young girl sobbing into her hands up at the altar. Wrapping my arms around her, whispering in her ear that everything was going to be okay. I remembered the lame boy who was healed by our prayers––the gradual dawn of joy upon his face as he realized what had just happened. I recalled the feeling of helping restore hope, heal brokenness, and release immense joy.

I remembered that and knew I couldn’t leave the island without blessing it in some way.

So while I enjoyed the many adventures of the week: snorkeling, paddle boarding, parasailing, ATV-ing, my favorite moment of the week by far was a nighttime prayer walk I took with my friend on the beach.

In the blackness of the night, stars twinkling above us, a lightning storm playing on the horizon,

we waded out into the gently lapping water and declared revival and hope upon the land. I prayed for the people I’d met, for the heaviness I’d sensed, for the kind of spiritual hunger and healing I had witnessed in Mindanao to come to this island, too. It wasn’t just a place for tourists, it was a place God loved.

“God has not forgotten you!” I exclaimed.

And, defying the resistance in the atmosphere around me, I danced in the water, splashing in circles, laughing as I danced on despair, laughing as I felt my words piercing through the darkness with light.

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Elizabeth is an American living in South Korea who believes in destiny, miracles, and living life intentionally. She holds to simple faith in a complex world, values the beauty of the everyday, and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is always learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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