the plan was to go to bed by 9:30pm, because i’m going with gretchen to the market tomorrow, so that i can start my responsibilities around the community (once i get to know where everything is!)..yeah, that’s at 6am…but i figured, what a perfect time to reflect on this past day.
this morning, gretchen, ate jewel (ate is what you use when addressing a female older than you – it basically means older sister – it is a sign of respect, and filipinos are all about that. it is reflected in their language!), and i went to celebrate the liturgy of the word in a barangay called irisan. it is the largest barangay out of the 128 barangays in baguio city…the other night, gretchen and i put together a song sheet for the service today, we got copies made, and this morning, in the pouring rain (legit pouring rain!), we hopped in a taxi, picked up sr. terezhina and ate jewel who were waiting for us on the corner (perfect timing!) and headed out to the barangay. barangay is tagalog for town/neighborhood. 🙂
baguio city is so interesting – we were driving, and driving, in the taxi of course, and i knew baguio city was in the hills, and i knew i lived in the hills, but like, it is so mountainous! the next thing you know, we make a left into some random area, and the next thing you know, we are straight up off-roading…down the hill. ok, here we go!
we eventually come to a stop a couple of rocky roads later, and set up the room where we were going to be celebrating the liturgy. the room is part of someone’s home, and i remember when i first walked in, i was like, ok, cool, so like 8 people will surely join us. well, as soon as we started, i was sitting there, thinking, how the heck did we all of a sudden fit 15 people in here? haha, with enough space, and breathing area, the place was packed – with goodness and singing souls. we practiced the songs, and then sr. terezhina provided the homily and we all got to read a portion of the readings. the children were all in front too. it was super cute!
when we finished, we got to speak with the community members, ate some bananacue, and then went home. but what did we do? why were we there?
for the people who live in this barangay, to get from where they live, to town (where the churches are), they would have to take two jeepneys to get there, and then that would be two more jeepneys to get back. each ride is 7.50 pesos, so that would be 30 pesos round trip, per person, which is…about $0.65 by the american dollar standards…well, the majority of the members of the community do not have that money available for them (especially to bring their children too!), but they would still like the opportunity to attend church. and so, that is where sr. t, gretchen, ate jewel, and i came in…we helped provide music, we reflected, and we prayed. in community.
sitting in that room, looking at my surroundings, hearing the rain pour down so quickly on the tin roofs, hearing the ilocano dialect spoken outside, and looking at the children listening so attentively, i reflected a lot on one of the first masses we had at the maryknoll international service orientation – where there was varying tension among the group with regards to uneasiness with the way the mass was presented/celebrated. that day, we talked in depth about inculturation, and learning different practices of catholic priests in different countries. i loved it, and i thought it was very exciting to experience something different!
well, this morning in the barangay, we did not have a mass. we did not have a priest, we did not have eucharist, we did not have a main altar. this morning, we had plastic chairs full of warm bodies, we had a liturgy of the word service celebrated by sr. terezhina, with participation from everyone there, we reflected on jesus dwelling in us, and next to the tv, we had two super skinny candles which shockingly lasted the whole hour, and a small crucifix with jesus, wrapped in plastic of course (from the shrine of manaoag! i was happy because i saw the sticker, and i was like, ah! i’ve been there!)… and i knew the holy spirit was in that room. and i knew jesus was sitting among us. and i knew God was pleased.
our closing song was shine jesus shine, and even though it was raining outside, our room was bright – there were smiles, there was graciousness in the air, and there was fellowship after. this was their mass. baby steps, and hopefully we can soon bring consecrated hosts to them. but, baby steps. 🙂 one of the women told sr. terezhina that she believes God sent her to that community – despite language barriers, sr. t brought to life, and was able to communicate, that we are all missionaries by our baptism…and as hard as it is sometimes to get up in the morning, we will be given the strength to do whatever it is we need to do…
today was very much in line with lao tzu’s quote: “go to the people. live with them. learn from them. love them. start with what they know. build with what they have. but with the best leaders. when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, ‘we have done this ourselves.'”
we do not go to shove catechism their way, rather, it is sharing, there is community involvement, community participation, and there is support that we help provide. but truly, leaders will start to arise, there will no longer be the need for us to read, the community members will discover their gifts and talents with music, and then they will be able to say, “we have done this ourselves.”
it’s a pretty amazing thing – the key is: go to the people. but that’s sometimes the hardest thing too. to just…go.
i’m glad i went. and i’m glad i’m here. 🙂 one day, at a time.