Our second full day in Metro Manila was another busy one. We were still struggling to cope with our jet lag and the 15 hour time difference, but once again, even dazed exhaustion couldn’t keep us down.
We were up before the sun, enjoyed another delicious Filipino breakfast of pancit, and loaded onto the bus headed for the newly built Metro Manila Assembly Hall. The traffic in Manila, in a word, stinks. Although only 1 in 5 residents in the city own a vehicle, Metro Manila is one of the most (if not THE most) densely populated cities in the world. That amounts to a ton of traffic in a not-big-enough-to-accomodate-it area. So movement around the city was slow, often sitting in heavy gridlock, but allowing for lots of photo opportunities.
We were welcomed at the Assembly Hall by many Filipino Jehovah’s Witnesses, donned in beautiful traditional attire and huge smiles, and holding welcome signs. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known primarily for two things – our door-to-door preaching work, and our intense love for one another. This love was evident as we shook hands, hugged, kissed, introduced ourselves, and took pictures with all who were there.
The grounds were beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained. And we enjoyed wandering around the property in the hot morning sun. We completed our self-guided walking tour, got back to the busses, and made our way to the Philippines Branch Office of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Again we were greeted with smiles and vigorous waving of hands and streamers. We enjoyed lunch with many of the local Bethel Family while entertained by a musical performance, and then our tour of the facility commenced. The most notable part of the branch facility was the translation department, that keeps busy translating the Bible and Bible study aids into many of the indigenous languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines. Again, the buildings and gardens were simple yet pristine, in stark contrast to the surrounding neighborhoods.
As the day ended we were once again loaded onto the busses, our bags heavy with gifts, candy and fruit, as the Bethel Family outside waving to us their good-bye’s and ‘I love you’s.’ Paalam , mahal kita.