The last month of my life has been an adventure.
I had just begun my finals week with a major exam every day. I was in the library every night, slaving away to get my assignments done and to study for the tests I had throughout the week. Additionally, I was working two jobs while preparing to journey to the Philippines for a two-week mission trip.
Myself, along with nine other individuals, were venturing to Cebu to work at a Young Life camp. I did not know what to expect as my team and I were getting ready to travel in less than forty-eight hours. After a sixteen hour travel day, we began our adventure in the Philippines.
We started work before the sun rose and into the darkest hours for two weeks straight and if I could, I would go back and do it all over again. Spending so much time with the people I met there allowed me to build some long life friends. We all spent our last night together singing and playing games together until it was time to leave. I felt my heart crack as we drove off and when we landed back at LAX, I shed a couple of tears. Ever since we came back to the states, we all have done nothing but keep our good times alive by video chatting on Facebook.
When this article releases, it will be one week since we returned home. Since then, they have been on my mind. The smallest things in my life remind me of them. I look at the rice on my plate and think of the many times I had rice with my Filipino friends. Needless to say, I miss them a lot.
Here are some tips on how to deal with missing a loved one.
First things first, the rule of three.
My friend warned me about this thing called the rule of threes. After a huge, life-changing experience, you will weep at different times. Memories from these trips will hit you the hardest the three days after they end, three weeks after they end, three months after they end and so on and so forth. So, be prepared to face that.
1. Stay in touch with those you meet on your travels.
Yes, it is going to hurt to not see your friends physically but, the next best thing is social media. Making and receiving calls from out of the country can cost a bit of money but thankfully, there’s Facebook. Group chats between all your new found friends is a great way to stay in touch. Small things like saying good morning, good night or sending a meme to the chat. One thing to watch out for is timezones. Check the timezone your pal lives in before sending a message or call.
2. Share what you learned with others.
No one wants to forget the amazing times they had on their journeys. Share the things you learned and the memories you created to keep that part of your life alive. For me, I am a Christian and sharing what God has shown me brings warmth in my being.
And, remember the fun moments.
While we were painting a room at the camp, a spider landed on my leader’s shoulders. She was on top of a ladder painting the roof and I was holding the ladder still to make sure she didn’t fall. When she noticed the spider was on her shoulder, she decided to flick it on my shoulder. I was internally and externally screaming, but sharing that experience with new friends reminds me of the good times my team and I had.
3. Looking back on the photos you took.
The easiest way to remember your trip and the memories you made is to look at the photos taken. However, be cautious when looking at your photos. Looking back can make you miss them more than you originally did. For me, I look at the photos I took of the trees and plants that surrounded the camp.
4. Relisten to the songs you heard.
I mentioned this earlier, but we spent our last night singing together. Everyone seemed to be fond of this one song, “Have it all” by Jason Mraz. When I hear this song in public or on my phone, I am reminded of all the times we sang together. We sang to praise God, to have fun and to pass the time in the Philippines. But, here in California, I sing those songs to recall the memories.
5. Cry if you need to.
I don’t like crying and you might not either, but if you need to cry, cry. Crying is one of the best ways to understand how you are feeling and what your body needs. If you refuse to cry, those emotions will just build up until you explode. You will lash out at friends and family, become extremely impatient, and overall bitter. Let it out! A good cry never hurt anyone.
If you are returning from an amazing trip where you made new friends and connections, I welcome you back. It is going to be hard adjusting –– but you can do it. Follow your heart and hopefully, these tips can mend some of those sad feelings. If you have not experienced such a trip, I encourage you to seek it. Remember, you miss all the shots you don’t take.