Kick Off Celebration...Mayor of Caloocan (center in red)
Sister Goss and Sister Bird with children in Caloocan
Children of CaloocanNational Family Week is a very big deal in the Philippines! Each year a city is designated as the "host" city for the event. They spend a year planning a big opening ceremony to kick off the week. Every community does something to celebrate the family. Our wards and branches combined the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Welfare Program with the family week events. Most did wonderful service projects in their areas. Anyway, for 2011 the host city was Caloocan, located about 15 miles to our North. It took us 2 hours to get there.....we were so lost! Elder Goss drove while Elder Bird sat in the front passenger side and navigated. Sister Goss and I sat in the back and mostly laughed the whole time. It is the Filipino culture to always say "oo" (yes) if you ask if they know how to get to a location, and then they point you the way. We kept stopping and Elder Bird would get out and use his little tagalog and ask someone if they knew where the Holy Rosary church was with the big pavilion in the back. They all knew exactly where it was and directed us....always the opposite way from where the last person directed us. It became so funny.....so many little crowded side streets that you could barely get through with absolutely no clue where we were! We were just ready to try to find our way out of the maze and head home when suddenly there it was right in front of us!! We were an hour late and the place was packed with standing room only. Well, you would have thought that the four of us were royalty....someone from the organizing committee saw us as we walked up and stood along the side, and immediately several people came to us and escorted the four of us to seats on the second row from the front. We were brought drinks and snacks and shown such respect.....my heart was so touched that I thought I was going to start sobbing before I got to my seat. I knew it wasn't "us", but the church whose tag we wear.....they love the service this church gives to them, and especially our values and support to strengthening the family. It was a sweet and very humbling experience. They honored several people for their contributions to the family, the mayor spoke, the runner-up to their equivalent to American Idol sang, and some amazing dancers performed. It was wonderful. Afterwards, we saw a group of children that lived close by to where we had parked the car playing a card game. We gave them our water and they were so excited to be in our photo....they love to see themselves! It took us another two hours to get home, but what a memorable experience we had.