Story of the week -
The experience I'll attempt to write about was a very enlightening, spiritual and overwhelming moment for me. To some it would seem like just another ordinary opportunity that comes along with the territory of a "mission experience," but for me -
It was the moment I had been praying for.
It was the moment I recognized and understood the love of Jesus Christ.
It was perfect.
It started Thursday morning at 7:30 when Sister P and the other Sisters left the house and headed down the block to help with the "feeding program" at the elementary school. We had been asked by the bishop the night before, and we gladly jumped at the chance to be a part of a different kind of service that morning.
As we waited for the bishop at the school, I took the opprotunity to absorb my surroundings. Lots and lots of kids, all dressed in their school uniform, running around and independently fulfilling their personal responsibilities before heading to class. You could feel the hype of curiosity as the kids walked past us and exclaimed "Americanas!" (Sister K and I). The only thing I could really do was smile and say "hello!" or high five them as they passed by. It started to rain a bit, so we headed to the big pavilion that was centered in the middle of the campus. There was a practice going on for some kind of upcoming program, and students were scattered around. Right away this bunch of 9 individuals caught my attention. They were a lively crowd and close enough to where I could clearly see them, but far enough away that I couldn't hear them.
What first caught my attention was this little boy, about 8 years old, wearing raggy jeans and a tattered t-shirt, not a uniform. He was talking with 2 others. I could tell that he was talking about someone being fat and swinging on a rope. Not through his words, like i said - I could not hear them, but through his actions. I pointed him out to Sister P and said, "Look how animated and imaginative this little boy is." We both watched for a moment longer before recognizing that the two other students he was communicating with joined in on this "pictionary-like" discussion. They spoke through actions too - these kids were deaf.
As i continued to watch, I picked up on a few things...1. this little boy was hilarious. kind of a little punk. you could tell that he was the only boy, the youngest, so he had successfully established the role of being the "little brother" figure of this small class. He was very good at teasing the girls and being goofy enough to make them laugh. 2. At one point he started to dance for all the girls. He was one of the most incredible little dancers I have ever seen. Impersonating Michael Jackson or Elvis, he had mastered dougie, gangham style, and the stanky leg like an expert. He even threw in some salsa dance moves for some added flavor. It was amazing.
I was obviously in awe, and after a few minutes of intensely watching him, this little boy caught me staring at him. I know this got him excited because he quickly alerted the others and described me through motioning stripes on his shirt and by rubbing his arms (my white skin). Then, he pointed at me - so that really gave it away.
But after telling the others, he ran over, stood about 10 feet in front of me, and just stared. All I could do was stare back and smile in awe (I was just as starstruck as he was). Finally, I motioned for him to "come here," and I reached my hand out to shake his. The smile he got on his face, with his broken teeth and all, was perfect. He shook my hand and I 'blessed him' - (putting his hand to my forehead. It's a sign of respect that children give to their elders here in the Philippines. I often do it to the kids cause they get the biggest kick out of it).
The other eight roared in laughter from across the pavillion. Only one little girl had the courage to follow him. He signed for her to come shake our hands. She ran and gave us a hug instead. We took a picture and they ran off and continued to reek 'silent' havoc amongst the seven others through their sign language. It was incredible to watch these kids converse with one another. They used their entire bodies and faces to speak. Their spirits were illuminated through their conversation.
it was beautiful
After a while, the little girl that had approached us earlier returned. She opened her hand, and on her palm she had written the words "mahal ko kayo" (I love you).
Honestly, one of the most tender moments I've ever been a part of. As the kids continued to play and converse with each other, I went from thinking, "wow, this is cool!" to the point of where I had tears streaming down my face with so much to think about -
I spend EVERY day in frustration of my inability to speak with these Filippino people. Learning this language is exhausting and so annoying most of the time. As I sat and watched these kids, I thought about them. How it must feel. To not have the privilege or ability to talk to very many people around them. To live in a silent world. Yet, this little girl was still willing and made the effort to express that she loved us. I don't speak Tagalog just yet...and I definitely don't know sign language. But this little girl can't even hear words. Music started playing and it broke my heart just knowing that this little boy couldn't hear the music. But the way he danced - oh! it was like he had music on replay in his whole soul.
It was their example that truly changed me. their enthusiasm, their love and their smiles. they were happy.
Now - I don't know if this story made sense, and it's nearly impossible to express the impression it made on my heart. Words cannot explain the clarity, feelings and emotions I felt. But I was able to see through these two children the light of Christ and the love of God.
I'm seeing the world a little bit differently each day that I'm here. I'm growing in a knowledge that I didn't ever think existed. Alam ko - so naive and sheltered.
But I am blessed. We all are.
When I get home will someone go to Disneyland with me?