After a solid 3 1/2 hours of sleep, fueled by little more than lugaw and adrenalin, eight of us delegates – the others from Georgia and North Carolina – were picked up in nicely air-conditioned vehicles, and driven to the meeting for field service* at Malibay Congregation.
The eight of us were greeted by half or more of the congregation with warm smiling faces, we were divided up and each sent with 2 of the locals, and then driven to the neighborhood for our voluntary preaching work.
After our morning of field service we were taken to a fantastic buffet teeming with Asian delights, including my first taste of halo halo, a popular Filipino dessert made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, plantains, tapioca, sweet potatoes and coconut.
Once we had our fill of so many amazing dishes, we were returned to the Kingdom Hall. To our surprise the entrance was decorated with balloons, welcome signs, and more smiling faces than before. The entire congregation was there, and most were dressed in traditional Filipino attire. We were seated in the middle of the room, adorned with leis and beaded necklaces, presented with gifts, and entertained for over 2 hours with songs and dancing. The preparation and excitement that went into the performance was delightful and overwhelming. The hospitality and love that these strangers showed for us brought tears to our eyes. Even writing this now I feel overcome with emotion.
As soon as the performance was complete, we spent a lot of time introducing ourselves, getting to know everyone, and taking pictures with one another. Our cheeks ached from smiling with genuine happiness. After that we were taken next door where a few sisters had prepared a wonderful feast of more Filipino delights for the eight of us.
The day ended with my travel partner, Kristina, and I collapsing into our beds at 8pm from jet lag, exhaustion, and emotion. This first day of our trip was going to be hard to beat.
*Field service – or the door-to-door ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses – is done voluntarily worldwide in 239 lands by over 7.5 million individuals. Its purpose is so that everyone on the planet has the opportunity, if they so desire, to learn about and read the Bible in their own language. As an organization we currently print the Bible and Bible study aids in 595 languages.