Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Not All Beaches and Sunshine

In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to go out on visits with the Relief Society President of our ward to some of the most poor and destitute of our sisters. It is shocking to see the situations that many people are living in.  Many children in a one room shantie with no water, no electricity, very little food to eat and no resources to make the situation better. The first time we visited I had this overwhelming feeling, wanting so badly to help them, but also realizing how many people are in these types of situations not only in our ward boundaries, but all over Cebu, all over the Philippines.  How could I help them all?   But this last time I realized that even just a visit, a couple of hard boiled eggs, some bananans, a smile and we have started to lighten and raise them up.  It is amazing to feel the joy of service and the love of people I hardly know.
The bridge leading over to the village where the Escarpe Family lives.  The actual bridge was washe away in flood waters, so this is the makeshift bridge for now. 

Part of the area where they live, in the hills.
Filipinos truly are a humble and happy people!
This is a typical basketball court, ones like this are seen all over the Philippines.  You thought playing on carpet in the cultural hall was hard, try playing on a dirt court in flip flops!
Climbing down to visit the sisters that live "under the bridge"
Member family in their home.  It was literally one room made from wood pieces.  This is the home of the daughter, husband, one year old son and one week old baby girl.  They live under the bridge to be close to the trees so they can take twigs and widdle them into bbq sticks.  They then sell them to local bbq "restaurants".  They are paid 600 pesos a month to do this.  That is the equivelent of about $15 US.
Grandma's house with some of the grandkids.
And you thought walking down the street to visit teach your neighbor was a pain?
This is the home of the Israel family.  They have 12 children, 11 boys and 1 girl and all live in this one room home.  They sell vegetables at the market to sustain themselves.
This family actually has seven kids.  You should have seen the excitement on the kids faces when we brought them hard boiled eggs and sweet bread. 

Their house (which was built by the father)

This older sister and her daughter wash clothes in the river for a living.  Their home was made of bricks, but had a dirt floor and no electricity or running water.

On our way up "the mountain" to visit another sister and her family.  (I slipped and fell on the way down haha)
Last time we visited this family they had no food to even eat that night.  They had spent their money on medicine for the baby and had nothing left for food.  We left a small amount of cash to help. 
This is their home.  It's one room for the four of them and then the "kitchen" on the side.  They make rice cakes for a living that they go and sell on a daily basis at the market.  Their profit is about 100 pesos a day, equal to about $2 US, enough to buy food to feed the family until the next day.

Sister Matthews, the RS President had the brother get us some coconuts.  We watched him climb up 2 trees to get 3 coconuts.  It was pretty amazing!  Coconuts are usually sold for 7pesos each, but she paid him 100 for the 3.  She wanted to give them the money, but wanted to give him the opportunity to earn it. 

Us enjoying the spoils of his labor.  We drank the juice straight out of the coconut and then he cut them open for us and we ate the "meat".  It was great.
After the first time I visited, I was really wanting to know and better understand how I and my family and friends who have so much could help these people who have so little.  I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants and realized that the Lord has already provided us the answer on how to take care of the poor and the needy around us....we just have to be willing to do it.  Click here  I especially liked this verse: 14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.

Whatever you do, I hope that you will look at the situations these people are living in and just be more grateful for what you have.  Be grateful that you have food to eat every day, clothes and shoes for you and your children, access to an education, money to buy things like phones, computers, cars, even bikes.  It is a great reminder to each of us to really notice those things that we take for granted every day of our lives.

I hope we can all find ways to serve those less fortunate than us. If you decide you want to help these people here in the Talamban Ward in Cebu, Philippines please contact me.


Steve and Alli said...

Great post, Carmen! It's crazy to think of how richly we are blessed in temporal things, when so many in this world have so much less. If you come up with any grand ideas for how we can help, our ward/Stake RS is always looking for a fun service project :)

Sloan & Holly said...

This post brings tears to my eyes and brings such wonderful memories of my mission. Truly makes you realize how blessed we are.

Anjuli said...

Carmen you have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I've been feeling really woe is me about having to use formula for Jack and this really helped me realize that I should be grateful that I even have the means to buy formula for him.

This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding me just how much we have.

Amy Sue said...

Thanks for sharing this Carmen! I certainly feel spoiled after seeing this. We are definitely blessed being Americans.

melanie said...

Thank you Carmen! I truly appreciate your post.

The Staheli's said...

Ditto to what others have said. It's amazing to see these families and situations after hearing about it from you. I am brought to tears, again. And I know you will make a great difference in the lives of these people. Thank you for sharing.

.the palsky's. said...

My brother served in Naga, and he always told us how sad some of the living conditions were, but seeing your pictures really brings it home. i'm so grateful that there are people like you out there so willing to give. as alli said, if you have any ideas as to how we can help out, i'd love to.

thanks for being such a great example. it makes me appreciate you even more than i already do. :)

Julie Knowlton said...

Great post. This is what we are going to leave remembering most. Not what we did for the people here, but what they did for us. Love all the pictures.