"Sienna, slow down!" people would urge her. "You can't save the world!”
What a terrible thing to say.
Through her acts of public service, Sienna came in contact with several members of a local humanitarian group. When they invited her to join them on a monthlong trip to the Philippines, she jumped at the chance.
Sienna imagined they were going to feed poor fishermen or farmers in the countryside, which she had read was a wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant seabeds and dazzling plains. And so when the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila -- the most densely populated city on earth -- Sienna could only gape in horror. She had never seen poverty on this scale.
How can one person possibly make a difference?
For every one person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gazed at her with desolate eyes. Manila had six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consisted primarily of young children, many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.
Amid this chaos of child prostitution, panhandlers, pickpockets, and worse, Sienna found herself suddenly paralyzed. All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival. When they face desperation . . . human beings become animals.
For Sienna, all the dark depression came flooding back. She had suddenly understood mankind for what it was -- a species on the brink.
I was wrong, she thought. I can't save the world.
Overwhelmed by a rush of frantic mania, Sienna broke into a sprint through the city streets, thrusting her way through the masses of people, knocking them over, pressing on, searching for open space.
I'm being suffocated by human flesh!
As she ran, she could feel the eyes upon her again. She no longer blended in. She was tall and fair-skinned with a blond ponytail waving behind her. Men stared at her as if she were naked.
When her legs finally gave out, she had no idea how far she had run or where she had gone. She cleared the tears and grime from her eyes and saw that she was standing in a kind of shantytown -- a city made of pieces of corrugated metal and cardboard propped up and held together. All around her the wails of crying babies and the stench of human excrement hung in the air.
I've run through the gates of hell?
"Turista," a deep voice sneered behind her. "Magkano?" How much?
Sienna spun to see three young men approaching, salivating like wolves. She instantly know shw was in danger and she tried to back away, but they corraled her, like predators hunting in a pack.
Sienna shouted for help, but nobody paid attention to her cries. Only fifteen feet away, she saw an old woman sitting on a tire, carving the rot off an old onion with a rusty knife. The woman did not even glance up when Sienna shouted.
When the men seized her and dragged her inside a little shack, Sienna had no illusions about what was going to happen, and the terror was all-consuming. She fought with everything she had, but they were strong, quickly pinning her down on an old, soiled mattress.
They tore open her shirt, clawing at her soft skin. When she screamed, they stuffed her torn shirt to deep into her mouth that she thought she would choke. Then they flipped her onto her stomach, forcing her face into the putrid bed.
Sienna Brooks had always felt pity for the ignorant sould who could believe in God amid a world of such suffering, and yet now she herself was praying . . . praying with all her heart.
Please, God, deliver me from evil.
Even as she prayed, she could hear the men laughing, taunting her as their filty hands hauled her jeans down over her flailing legs. One of them climbed onto her back, sweaty and heavy, his perspiration dripping onto her skin.
I'm a virgin, Sienna thought. This is how it is going to happen to me.
Suddenly the man on her back leaped off her, and the taunting jeers turned into shouts of anger and fear.
The warm sweat rolling unto Sienna's back form above suddenly began gushing . . . spilling onto the mattress in splatters of red.
When Sienna rolled over to see what was happening, she saw the old woman with the half-peeled onion and the rusty now standing over her attacker, who was now bleeding profusely from his back.
The old woman glared threateningly at the others, whipping her bloody knife through the air until the three men scampered off.
Without a word, the old woman helped Sienna gather her clothes and get dressed.
"Salamat," Sienna whispered tearfully. "Thank you."
The old woman tapped her ear, indicating she was deaf.
Sienna placed her palms together, closed her eyes and bowed her head in a gesture of respect. Whe she opened her eyes, the woman was gone.
Sienna left the Philippines at once, without even saying good-bye to the other members of the group.
pages 465 to 468.