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Acts of Kindness

Updates from the LDS mission of Kathleen O’Reilly as she serves in the Philippines. Click “Subscribe to Blog” and be notified immediately of all new posts, photos, and articles.

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Aug. 9, 2013 - Malling, Volcanoes, Avocadoes & 27 to a Home

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August 9th - Friday - Today is a country wide holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan for the Muslims of the country.  Everyone observes it though. Even if they are Christian or whatever. However, nothing is closed and everyone still goes shopping etc.  In the Philippines, going to the mall is called malling.  It is used as a verb. Like the words shopping or eating or walking.  "Malling" means to go and hang out in the air conditioned malls.  You don't even have to buy anything. The day was just as busy as usual if not more so as fewer people were working.

We were picked up at 10:00 am by Jib and Franco and Meanne along with the Hardins to ride along to San Pablo to return the Hardins to their home there.  The ride was beautiful with lots of open country, palm and coconut and banana trees and rice paddys.  There is even a mountain which is a volcano that is not extinct but is currently considered inactive.  There is a power generating plant that uses some of the thermal output of the hot springs at the base of the mountain to create power.  Very interesting.

The Hardins live in a home that is owned by some church members who have rented it to them.  It is a 4 bedroom home and considered quite up-class by Filipino standards.  In America (Utah) it would be considered a real sub class situation.  Thank heavens it was clean and quite comfortable. It had a blue tiled kitchen which is pretty unusual here.  Sister Hardin is so comfy and loving and Elder Hardin is funny and clever.  I adore them.  They are the kind of people I would have for friends in the real world.  They have traveled the world and the USA and are so adaptable and accepting.  Just all around grand folks.

After we left the Hardins and headed back, we stopped at two roadside stands.  One was a bakery and we bought bukopies.  They are made from young, shredded coconut, baked into small tart like pies with almonds on top.  Yummy!!!  I only had one bite because, as usual, my gut is in a knot.  Our second stop was at a fruit stand.  It was so decrepit and run down but I bought 5 rambutan (A small fruit that has a spikey/hairy peel), and 7 avacados which are lighter green that the ones we are used to. They are about the size of a small cantalope.  Amazing!!!  They are used in desserts here - like the fruit they are.  Also as Guacamole and as a salad ingredient.  I can hardly wait to have a avacado shake made with condensed milk, ice cream, and ice put together in the blender like a smoothie.  Very popular drink here.  Sounds unique.  We are going try it as soon as the avacados are ripe enough. 

We dropped off Franco and Meanne at their respective places and then Jib invited us home to meet his family and his bed spacers.  (Tenents who rent a bed in your home.)  He has 21 bed spacers living in his home.  About 4 - 6 persons per room.  You would never believe how horrendous the conditions are and this place is considered decent by the local standards. We had to do down the most horrible uneven, unlevel, and menacing concrete steps into this almost well-like hole to get to the front door.  The stairs were slippery with algae and moss and there was no handrail.  Extremely daunting and massively dangerous.  I was frightened, but sister Doig was beyond terrified because if you fell there was no getting back up those horrible stairs. The kind of stuff nightmares are made of.  The entire house is a repeat of that kind of misery.  Jib sleeps on a foam pad on the floor in a room with 5 of his brothers.  There is no air conditioning and the place has virtually no windows.  The doors are just metal gates with really flimsy locks.  The interior stairs between the different levels of the house are those metal industrial stairs like the ones on  those ladders that are used in Home Depot to get to the merchandise down from the upper levels. Extremely steep and narrow and again really forbidding with a unreliable and half existent hand rail.  The house has 4 total levels of about 150 square feet per level.  27 people live in that home including a toddler about 18 months old and an old man with only 3 teeth.  I am just appalled.  I cried like a baby when we got home I was so un-nerved about the whole thing.  I feel so spoiled, revoltingly  entitled, selfish, and over-indulged.  How in the name of anything could I ever feel sorry for myself or think that I have nothing.  The one really good thing about the Escuejo household is that they really love one another and the gospel and Jesus Christ, their Savior.  They feel they are very blessed.  They certainly have their priorities in the right places.  I wish there was more that could be done for all the poverty in the world.  It's ghastly and wrong!  It makes me so sad and miserable.

I did my laundry tonight and I did NOT flood the kitchen.  What a bizarre experience! Our washer is a double tanker with one side for washing and rinsing and the other tank for spinning.  It's extraordinarily time consuming.  The water must be put into the tank with a hand held hose which must be attended the entire time as it will turn off if you let it go.  It's not an easy experience, but better than hand laundry in a tub.  After all the water is spun out of the clothes, then you have to hang dry everything by putting them on a drying rack.  The room we do our laundry in is about 4 x 6 and is referred to as "the maids room".  Some people actually have their help live in that little tiny space with the washer and cleaning stuff.  They sleep on a pull down foam bed.  It's barbaric to think of that kind of servitude and wretched living just to make enough money to keep yourself fed. It's all backwards and miserable to me.  People that work as maids and housekeepers for rich people deserve better.  It's hardly better than slavery. (which by the way, still exists here in the Philippines. Although it is legislatively illegal and punishable by law, it still happens a lot.  People sell one child to provide for their others. )  Most people just look the other way as they all understand how difficult it is to have to resort to that kind of measure.

Birth control is free here to those who can't afford it but the Catholic Church objects openly and vocally to its use.  Here the Catholic Church controls much of the peoples attitudes and decisions. But more and more people are trying to raise out of poverty and they must limit their families to only one child or maybe two to keep their families from starving etc.  It's all very difficult and the choices are tough ones. I just know I am very blessed and privileged. I am so grateful for my lovely children and the fact that we were able to care for them in a way that kept them safe and healthy.  They don't have any idea of how amazing they are and how much I love them. I am so blessed to have them and their little ones in my life. It's massively unfair that I have so much and so many have so little.  No wonder the LDS Church is so proactive about getting people educated and out of poverty and working in decent jobs and businesses.  It says everything about how the Savior and our Heavenly Father feel about us.

Love,
Sister O'Reilly

"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving, human soul on another." -- George Eliot

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