Sunday, September 7, 2014

This man was helping to string a cable through the maize of cables across a busy street

 Sunday, September 07, 2014

Yesterday when the ward mission leader stood to conduct the baptism, he announced that Sister Mower was going to lead the singing.  Well, that was the first I heard about it but I was happy to do it.  This was my first opportunity to lead music here.  I stood up and sang the first line in a key that was comfortable for me (no piano) and then raised my hand to lead and said, “Ready, sing”.  Most often people sing in unison here, but Elder ‘Iloa was there and he has a beautiful tenor voice.  He harmonized every song we sang; it was a great treat.  A father and his children were baptized (his wife is deceased).
Baptism of family by Elders 'Iloa & Farner
When we first arrived in Bacolod in March, there was a squatter area behind the mission office.
Wikipedia:  Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied
area of land and/or a building – usually residential – that the squatter does
not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use.
The children living in this community would often come and play in the parking lot of the mission office; I am sure this was a great refuge from the busy streets.   A few months later, we noticed changes going on.  Brick by brick, bamboo, tin that had once been part of roofs and the personal effects of the people in this community were disassembled and loaded onto trikes and trucks to move elsewhere.  This process took weeks to accomplish and when the people were gone and all their earthy goods removed, a tall block fence was built to block off the passageway to the once bustling community.  We were told that when the owner of the property behind the mission home sold the piece of land, he had to find a place and help to relocate the people.  Since the block fence has been constructed, it now serves as a back wall of a new squatter new dwelling where people live.
'Instant' squatter shack in front of a new block wall--just outside the Chapel/Mission Office compound

Squatters are from rural areas looking for a better life in the city.  Some of these people are second and third generation settlers.  Just outside of the two gates where George and I live are squatter areas.  People are allowed to “settle” on property that is empty and not fenced to use for their needs.

Squatter area outside our subdivision--with makeshift homes turned into simple retail outlets

In Urdaneta on the island Luzan, temple plans were announced in 2010.  After the land was purchased, guards were hired and still protect the area from being settled by squatters.  There is a subset of squatters, termed “professionals” that purposefully settle target areas such as this for the purpose of receiving payment to leave.
A squatter area that has been razed to make way for a new building
When we were at Mission Leadership Training earlier this week, we were told about a recent convert and squatter who lived under a bridge in a pig pen.  He was a paraplegic and was looking for meaning in his life.  Since his baptism, members of his ward have helped build a new place for him to live.
Members assemble for Church in an older 'open' chapel design with no 'aircon' in Silay
Other side of chapel
Every Sunday we attend a different ward or branch.  We have attended 27 different Wards/Branches in the short time we've been here (some have two units, so we attend both sacrament meetings).  I think our favorite thing to do here is to associate with the young Sisters and Elders.  They are truly blessings in our lives.
Senior Couples at "The  Ruins", a local tourist attraction

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