Cebu, Philippines - Service beyond the temple walls

Cebu, Philippines - Service beyond the temple walls

Singapore 1st and 4th Wards went to Cebu Temple, Philippines over Chinese New Year weekend in February 2015. While the main reason was for temple work, members also donated clothes and toys for Filipino ward members and the youth participated in a service project. Sasha, one of the Young Women, shares her thoughts.

“This year on our annual temple trip to the Cebu temple, our service project was to help some of the people from one of the local wards clean up their living situation. Our wards were divided into two groups, and each group went to a different location.

My group went to a little compound of houses made from wood, metal, and/or anything else that they could find. When we arrived, we went through the many extremely humble homes to the one that we would work on, belonging to one of the ward members. Only some of the leaders and a few older boys were able to go inside the house as only a few people could fit. For those of us who stayed outside, we saw many things; dogs laying down looking very sick and weak, with bald spots in their fur, and bloodshot eyes. We saw little children of very young ages walking around barefoot with ragged clothes… well, everything!

The boys began painting and repairing the interior and some of the exterior of the home, while the rest of us went back towards the entrance to start cleaning up the littered ground. As we cleared the ground of candy wrappers, pill containers, and pieces of broken glass, children ageing from around 3 to 12 years old gathered around to help us. We decided to make it a bit more fun for them, so we sang as we worked. Once one song would finish, the kids would make a new request, and we would continue singing together.

As we worked, it became more and more apparent that the children were used to extremely poor living conditions. At times, I noticed that there were many flies around the kids, and it did not seem to phase them at all; they had become so used to it. 

Personally, I think that this service was amazing. I really enjoyed playing and working alongside the children to clean up their home, and being able to speak to them and get to know them in their broken yet surprisingly good English. I feel that we were really able to help them, and that although we couldn’t do a huge amount of work in the short time that we had, we were still able to have fun with the kids and feel productive. I think that throughout the experience, we all gained a strong connection to them and their home.

As youth working together we gained a new found sense of gratitude for what we have, and we have become more aware of the many blessings which we have received from our Heavenly Father. This service trip really reaffirmed for me, that no matter where we are from, or what challenges we face, everyone is a child of God. 

I know that this church is true, and that no matter what we go through, our Heavenly Father will always love us, and that our worth is so much greater than anyone could ever imagine. I love this gospel with all my heart, and know that it can, and does, touch everyone who hears its truth.

Report: Sasha K

Photo credits: Natasha Kewene-Hite and Missi Dunham