National Day of Service at Quezon City Circle
On Saturday, April 28, Randy and I attended the kick-off event for the National Day of Service here in the Philippines. This is a yearly event sponsored by the Church. It takes lots of planning in each district/stake. About 3 months prior to the event date, a project was chosen by each group and then had to be registered with the city government. All details had to be cleared. Then, depending on the service project, businesses in the area were approached to see if they would like to donate supplies needed. The one we attended involved about 1500 of our youth and their leaders from 6 stakes....and required 50 gallons of paint. Randy had been asked to address all of the youth at the first of the kick-off...it really did take us back to our EFY days, and so he started with the “Bird Cheer” that we used to teach at all of the EFY sessions we directed. Yes, now the cheer has reached the Philippines! It was a success! He then made a few short remarks, followed by Kim Antenorcruz, the Multi-stake Public Affairs Director, and then the youth were sent off to their assigned areas to begin their service...to paint the fence that surrounds the Quezon City Circle (an enormous roundabout with an amusement park and other things in the center of it)...plus a general cleanup of the entire area...yes, quite an undertaking! It was so so hot, but they showed up and did a great job. While we waited to get started, we visited with Atty. Ed Bellen, the Deputy Secretary for Legislation in the Philippines, along with Orly Ramas, a professional media consultant hired to work with our office. The four of us decided to follow one of the groups and take photos for a newspaper article. As we were walking and talking with them, Elder Bird had just taken a photo, and suddenly he fell right into a storm drain, from which the protective steel grate had been removed! The hole was about 3 feet deep and half full of flowing water! It was quite painful and embarrassing for him....I assured him that he went in quite gracefully with both legs, without hitting his head or knocking out any teeth, AND held the very expensive Public Affairs camera up where it remained unharmed!! The three of us pulled him out of the drain...it was really quite alarming, knowing that many serious injuries are not noticed immediately, but he kept saying he was okay and we proceeded to walk to where the youth were painting. As we walked, he could feel lots of pain in the toes and ankle of his left leg. Ed and Orly went right to the guard station to complain about the open drain....the worst part was that the guard said they had noticed the night before that one of the grates had been stolen but had done nothing to cover it for safety purposes!! We kept thinking of how grateful we were that a little child had not fallen in....they could have been swept away before anyone missed them! We took more pictures and then knew we had better get back to our apartment to take a look at his foot. He got by with one broken toe (the rest were sprained, swollen, and turned black and blue), and a gash in the front of his ankle. The doctor said it should feel better in about 6 weeks!!! Nice! The "Day of Service " was a great success, in spite of our accident...over 150,000 hours of service were given throughout the country.....doing such things as: planting mangroves (helps stop beach erosion), planting mango trees, clean-up projects of all kinds, painting schools and big fences, and all kinds of beautification projects.