“When you say a prayer to God, He will give you one of his three possible answers. Do you remember what are those?”
Teacher Ann threw the question to the group of about 50 children who were gathered in front of us. Majority of them were sitting on the floor.
“Yes, no, wait,” the children answered boisterously in unison.
I did not really contemplate on my own answer when I first heard the question. Not until I stared at the beaming faces and gleaming eyes of these bouncing children had I realized the depth of those three little words.
Yes. No. Wait.
I rehearsed these words in my mind for a few seconds while trying to process the scenario that was slowly unfolding before my eyes. Here are the children living along the streets of Fermin-Tubera in Bambang, Manila; surrounded by conditions that outsiders like me would describe as urban poverty.
For a moment, I suddenly felt out place. How can you deal with this kind of life around you without feeling depressed or hopeless? The energy emanating from these innocent children was so strong that it disarmed me of my strength and left me struck on my seat. I saw resilience in those young, tender eyes that have already seen so much darkness in the shades of life. I admired…and envied the sense of community and strength that they have shown to us.
I thought that it is necessary to be with children more often. Their innocence can teach us how to enjoy life and how to re-learn the lessons that we have lost to the serious concerns of adulthood ― to be happy for some basic reasons or no reasons at all and to live for the moment.
Then, it was time for me to introduce myself. The children echoed my name loudly as if trying to commit to memory a stranger they would seldom encounter and might never see again.
While my fellow bloggers and volunteers took their turns in introducing themselves, I surveyed the room. Posted on the wall outside, beside the doorway, was a yellow-green cartolina that held a feeding schedule done in batches of three. The interior was not very spacious or richly furnished to receive guests at a comfort level that would make one at ease. It was a typical one-bedroom unit with its own kitchen and toilet, except that most of the spaces were freed to accommodate children on Saturdays, when teacher Ann and a pastor conduct Bible studies. Mounted on one side of the wall was a shelf that contained hard-bound copies of old books which I reckoned were of religious subjects. The source of ventilation was one ceiling fan that worked to keep the air moving around the room.
Bambang Children’s Ministry has been in operations for three years now, according to teacher Ann. They cater to the spiritual growth of children by sharing the wisdom of the gospel and teaching them with values found in the Holy Scripture. The children are also being trained to develop initiative and responsibility by assigning them with leadership roles among their peers.
We conducted a simple program where the children participated in games and performed dances and songs at full force. Toward the culmination of the program, we distributed t-shirts and gave them meals. It may not be in the grandest way I could imagine, but this collaboration project by two blogging communities fulfilled the purpose of helping these little angels celebrate the simple joys of childhood.
Indeed, life becomes more positive and meaningful when we truly understand and appreciate its very essence.
“What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good.” ― Aristotle
I am most thankful to the leaders and members of Blog Mo Ipasuot Mo (BMIM) and Pinoy Blogger Outreach (PBO) for inviting me to take part in this heartwarming experience of affirming faith and sharing joy, hope, and love with children. It has been a great way to start the month of love!
(Failures after failures have made me realized that the answers to my prayers are extended to a longer period of waiting because something in me needs to change first. Read more about my own story of waiting here.)