When the Going Gets Tough – A Tale From PEPY Tours

Posted on: June 22, 2011 Posted by: Manin Oem Comments: 0

When the Going Gets Tough – A Tale From PEPY Tours

Read a touching piece from PEPY Tours participant, Hanna Homfeld, who joined us from Texas a few months ago. She reflects on how feeling sick and then being cared for helped her have a new look at humanity upon her return home. Thank you Hanna for sharing this story!

March 9, 2011

West Texas A&M University students enjoying their homestay experience in Kirirom National Park, Photo credit: Philippe Quach West Texas A&M University students enjoying their homestay experience in Kirirom National Park
Photo credit: Philippe Quach

Terrified pretty much describes it. Before the flight, I sat at Gate 32 in Rick Husband Amarillo Airport clutching my suitcase and trying to remember how to breathe. I’ve never done anything. I’ve never gone anywhere. I’ve never left home. I was that kid growing up who would leave slumber parties at 8 pm as to avoid spending too much time away from home. And now here I was, about to climb aboard a metal bird that would propel me through space and time to the unknown.

My support system in this venture was insane. A group of college kids from West Texas A & M piled into this metal bird alongside me, passing along reassurances on the way. My neighbors in row 6, Jordan and Josh, smiled and pretended to be super heroes flying off into the great unknown during takeoff. My seatmate, Tanner (God bless him), spent the hour of flight distracting me with idle chitchat. As I reflect back I see now that in this hour he talked more than I ever heard him speak the entire trip. When the metal bird finally rested at DFW, the same group of college kids who had passed me reassurances cheered my victory over surviving my first flight. Those final cheers assured me that things were gonna be alright. The cheers were my beginning to opening up to this group, my kruesa.

Now as I reflect I remember looking out the cabin window and seeing the sunset. Flying into a sunset seems like a metaphor but now it’s my reality. Who I was had seen its final day. Who I would soon become was just over the horizon.
March 13, 2011

Hanna, Josh, and Cici take in Angkor Wat, Photo credit: Josh Moreno Hanna, Josh, and Cici take in Angkor Wat
Photo credit: Josh Moreno

Today was a day of heroes. They didn’t have capes. They were not adorned in spandex. They were just people who went above and beyond just to get a coconut to a sick Hanna.

Sabrina was a hero. I cannot begin to express how grateful I was to have her as a roommate. She had kindness in her heart to care about how I felt and courage to go into the night, brandishing her picture dictionary in order to find a phone. Yut was a hero. An ex-monk stealing a motorbike is a concept I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my head around. Daniela is a hero, for riding behind Yut and showing the way through the cow-filled streets with a flashlight because the headlight of the motorbike wouldn’t shine. Anna is a hero, being the third rider of the motorbike and the voice of the silenced horn by yelling, “Honk! Honk! Beep Beep!” at the cows and wedding guests blocking the path. Kendra is a hero for missing the party going on downstairs just to hangout with me, the girl in the mosquito net bubble.

People care. It sounds so basic yet it has been something I have struggled with my whole life. I felt like such a burden, causing such a commotion. I felt like by being sick I was wasting an opportunity of a lifetime…I was taking away someone else’s experience… But people cared. I was important enough to find a phone for, to hijack a motorbike for, to miss a party for… I was important enough to these people.

People care… It took me 24 hours worth of flights, a foreign country, a bus ride, and an illness to make me believe this…

People care.