Thursday, November 24, 2016

Preaching to the Choir

Young Filipinos posing and smiling
Members of the Our Lady of Fatima Parish Choir in Tacloban
I was still a little bit new as a lector at Our Lady of Fatima when I arrived for Christmas Eve mass and was informed that I should sing the Responsorial Psalm for the special occasion. This was not karaoke; this was a religious celebration with hundreds of strangers!

"You can do that, right? Well, we have asked someone to do it, but she is not here yet."

Am I allowed to say no? Luckily, she showed up and sounded much more angelic than I would have. Of course, any one of the choir members would have been an excellent alternative to me. It's not just me being humble; the choir with whom I have been honored to serve every Sunday I am in Tacloban, Philippines are really not only talented performers, but sweet and genuine human beings and devoted Christians. In fact, they make me want to be a better person.

We had a memorable Thanksgiving feast one week prior to the official American holiday before I departed the Philippines. True to tradition, we all spoke about the things we were thankful for this year. While it is difficult to to list them all, for me it has been a privilege to not only be considered part of a family an ocean away from the United States, but to have had the opportunity to stand with them and try to be my best self.

Brothers and sisters, thank you for your friendship that holds me to a higher standard, and thank you for the music that fills my soul with joy.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Feeding Hundreds in Tacloban, Philippines

The Beginning of Barangay Kitchen

Young people cooking in the kitchen
Prep Team from Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Volunteer cooks posing in the kitchen making french toastVolunteer Filipinos cooking French toastFrench Toast stacked on plates 

Filipino children lined in queue
Barangay 83-C "Taguiktik"
Filipino children with bowls
Young Filipino child with food container
Young girl with container of foodAte and younger sister
Young Filipino children smiling

Young Filipino children waiting in line with food containers
Volunteers giving out food
Volunteer man smiling ant children in classroom
Small Filipino boys eating apples
My Friend and Interpreter Iries
Girls with food
Volunteer Filipino Women Eating
Barangay 83-C Health Workers Volunteered to Assist
All Hands Volunteers from Project Leyte Serving the Food
Banana Nutella French Toast Sandwiches

Barangay 61 Basketball Court

Selfie with my Little Friend Rapunzel

It was a great day feeding over 750 people in several parts of Tacloban, Leyte, in the Philippines! We served french toast with bananas and apples for breakfast and made banana-Nutella sandwiches to distribute in the afternoon. Thank you to all of our donors and volunteers who helped make this a special day in honor of the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

Special thanks to Edbert Iman Babali for most of the great photographs captured that day.