Sunday, February 15, 2015

YEAH--another, yes, carabao picture
Wow (a word I hear a lot) another week has slipped by.  We received a hand delivered invitation on Wednesday from the Bacolod 5th Ward inviting George and me to be “spiritual speakers” at their activity two days later entitled “A Night with the Elderly Year – 6”.  We looked at each other and laughed and said sure, why not.
Some of the young women dressed in their beautiful outfits
Young Men and Young Women dancing at the activity

The young people who decorated our table--it was beautifully done and included carved vegetables!
Friday evening we arrived a little early to see young women in beautiful dresses and young men in ties and jackets (we don’t even see this attire on Sundays).  As we walked in we were greeted with smiles and handshakes.   The decorations were festive and there were about one hundred people there—mostly young.  Wait a minute, weren’t we asked to speak on “Elderly”?  Okay so we did meet about twenty “elderly” that were described in the invitation as “members. . . ages 60 years old and above.  People who usually don’t get to go out with their loved ones or dates during this special day of hearts”.  The young people put on this special event for the older people.  By the end of the evening George and I felt privileged to have this opportunity.  We tweaked our messages, we played games, we were invited to dance, and were entertained by young, energetic and talented people.  Then there was food. . . not a little food but tables of exotic Philippine dishes.  We had to eat (this was not mentioned in the invite).  We oldsters ate before our hosts were allowed to eat dinner.  The best part was when the Laurels did a sketch on sharing the gospel and then in unison and English orated the young women values.  These young people are the future leaders of the Church!

One of our favorite short term missionaries (they are locals who serve as temporary companions) Sister Y went home.  She has served one week missions “for a while” (another common phrase here).  She even chose to spend the holidays on a mission instead of being with her family.  How can we care about so many special people?
Elders Cababat and Fernando pose with us at the airport as they depart after 2-years of service

Thursday evening George and I were invited to go to the departure dinner for two Elders.  They are returning home a few weeks early for school and work.  When I asked Elder Cababat what his plans were when he returned home (he lives near Manila).  He said his sister was meeting him at the airport and he had a “dinner appointment” with his Mom and Dad who were not able to come because of “duty” (they have jobs).  Elder Fernando, a missionary George and I have loved since shortly after we arrived, will be returning to teach Science to 5th grade students.  Friday we (along with Sister Ferrin) took these fine Elders to the airport.  As Shakespeare wrote, “parting is such sweet sorrow”.

Happily married
How do you spend Valentine’s Day in the Philippines?  We went to Valentine's dinner and then a wedding and a baptism with President and Sister Ferrin.  It was a typical Filipino civil wedding that we’ve attended before.  The bishop recites the vows over the pulpit while the couple stands just below him and answers the questions.  He then pronounces them husband and wife and then they sign the marriage papers, along with two witnesses.  Marriage is a significant problem here for those desiring to be baptized—for one; there are no divorces allowed by law (as dictated by the Catholic Church); so many couples separate and find another partner—with no legal means to divorce unless they have a lot of money—then they can get an annulment (regardless of years married; or children), but this is only a solution for the rich.  Others, like the marriage we attended, lived together and had children, but had never married because of the risk and cost to marry.
Cute children
Today we traveled further south with President and Sister Ferrin to the Pontevedra Branch. Once we arrived, George & I were invited to take one of the missionaries; Elder Manu (from New Zealand), and attend a Special Sacrament Meeting in Sua.  We took a young man with us; Gino (who has his missionary papers in) directed us to the home of his grandparents over a long, bumpy, muddy road.  It was a great area with very friendly people.  The man conducting the meeting was barefoot.  Another man who passed the sacrament was also barefoot.  The family and other members kindly welcomed us and made us feel comfortable in their humble home.  We had a wonderful meeting with them.
Elder Manu and some of the attendees before the meeting started in the humble home

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