Rising up

 Posted by Madelin Marie Penman at 10:16 am  Philippines
May 312014

It may be just after 5am, but I can already feel the heat of the day seeping into the volunteer dormitory in Manila where I am currently staying. I don’t think it was the heat that woke me from my floor mattress at this early hour– I slept plenty well last night.  I think it was the promise of another day of interesting and new that beckoned me to reality. Yesterday was my first full day in this busy city, and it was both a day of recovery and discovery. When I woke yesterday morning it was mid-morning, and I had rested well after my long flight path and the traumatic taxi trek from the airport to the dormitory on Manila’s lawless roads at night. Breakfast of cereal, therefore, was quickly followed by lunch of fish heads and bodies and rice, prepared for us by the hospitable volunteer coordinators.  Their hospitality foreshadowed what would be an afternoon of immersion into Filipino hospitality. Two Australian volunteers and I set out for a walk with and without purpose. We stopped by the drug store to purchase toiletries; ironically, I will need to wash the bottles of Dove brand shampoo and conditioner before I use them. Then we wandered to the market along the busy Commonwealth highway. Not surprisingly, the market provided all the sensory elements of culture shock- new sights, smells, sounds, and sense of  community. We were greeted with a friendly smile, or friendly ‘Hey Dude’ by every salesman, motortricyclist, and child. One little girl invited us to Church with her, where we were embraced by a congregation of children and mothers, and a worship band preparing for Sunday’s service. We were fussed over, prayed over, and generally overwhelmed with the generosity of the strangers we had only just met. We were brought cakes and treats, ice candy and ice cold coke, and hot bananas. We sang songs from Frozen and sang our national anthems, traded Facebook contacts and traded stories of home, took selfies and took shelter from the tremendous afternoon rain. When the rain ceased and it was time to leave, we were invited to a 7am church service this morning. I think I will attend, if only to thank everyone again for the incredible experience yesterday, and to gift something to the little girl who gave me a sparkly hair clip.



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