Today we attended church in the Sta Lucia Branch. This is a branch of about 20-25 members located in the Sta Lucia Barangay. (A Barangay is like a subdivision or community.) It is about 35 - 40 minutes from where we live. It is in the country. This Barangay is a resettlement that the Filipino government built after Mount Pinatubo erupted and destroyed the homes of these people. There are several re-settlements like this located close by. The homes are made of cinder blocks and many have dirt floors. Some have cement floors. (The cinder blocks are made from the ash from the volcano.) The church is renting this small building to hold their meetings but they are hoping that this branch will turn into a ward soon and then a nicer building will be found.
The building is right next to the road - just like the homes. Their are motor bikes and tricycles that roar by, some with their music blaring, during the meetings, making it very hard to hear. They don't use a sound system. The windows have bars on them, no glass. They use brown plastic chairs to sit on (these are used in the chapels as well instead of folding chairs), no piano or organ for the music. The chorister sings the first line to give a pitch and then invites everyone to sing . . . they can carry a tune too. Most of the meeting is spoken in Tagalog or Panpamdan. We try to pick up what the talks are about since they do use some English, but very little. During the Administration of the Sacrament, it was pretty quiet outside so you could really feel the spirit that was there.
The people are so humble and happy, yet they have so little. They are being obedient by being in their meetings today. It was really hot and this meeting was from 9a - noon. They only have standing fans - two in the room we were meeting in. There was a sweet sister sitting behind Elder Jewkes and myself and she was fanning us to keep us cool. The lesson in Relief Society was on Charity . . . this woman was showing charity to us.
We love the people here. As I have said in so many post, the people will all come to shake our hands. They treat us like we are royalty and yet their spirits are so sweet and humble. If we can become like them, we will have gained much from them. We are so blessed back home and I think most of us take what we have for granted in our meeting houses. But most of us have never experienced anything different. I am so grateful for this experience to teach me to appreciate all that I have!
Happy Mother's day to all!