Emotional roller coaster… I could relate my experience of gift-giving at the Missionaries of Charity in Old Cabalan to the movie Inside Out (it’s okay if you’re not familiar with the movie). It was an evocative experience for me, to be exact; and I had ambivalent feelings about it. I felt five emotions throughout our visit to the place and they’re similar to the movie: there was joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger. But still, joy was the dominant emotion after our visit; however, I also felt a bit of disgust and anger.
Our visit to the Missionaries of Charity left an indelible mark in my heart. We began our trip last December 18, 2015 at 1:30 P.M., a group made up of some members of IROG foundation and a number of LGO employees. Clearly, each one of us carried a high level of enthusiasm and merriment during our trip because of our endless smiles and laughter. But personally, I was looking forward to the smiles of those who will receive our special gifts.
We got there around 2:30 P.M.. We waited first for the sister in-charge of accompanying us at the charity; and then we collected our gifts on a table within the residence. Our gifts included grocery items, such as canned goods, biscuits, as well as tissues and pampers (I can’t give the exact list of all the items we gave to the charity, since most of them are already organized in different plastic bags and others in plastic containers). We then waited for the beneficiaries who were mosty elderly people and some disabled individuals; altogether, there were at least 20 individuals. There were also two sets of tables and chairs inside the charity – one for the elderly and one for the disabled. While waiting for the other people to come outside, we entertained those who were already there. Someone played a guitar and sang. I can’t forget the energy of the old woman in a violet dress (as shown in the picture) who sang along with the girl playing the guitar and the cheerfulness I felt at sensing her aura. It was so rewarding.
When all of them were already present, Sir Ramil started the activity by offering a heartfelt prayer. Right after we asked for God’s guidance, we started doing our grand masterpiece: UNIFIED SINGING. Perhaps, this is one of the traits of LGO that most people find fascinating. We’re not the best singers in town; but we could sing a song that’s worth remembering because of the laughters and smiles we could bring to our audience. Some of the famous Christmas songs we sing to them included “Feliz Navidad” and “Star Ng Pasko”.
Once again, we proved our good reputation in great unified singing because we made each and every one of them happy and gleeful. Some of us also gave our cute headbands to the elderly people as a sign of our care and compassion, which made them smile. The next thing we did was to prepare the food. We served spaghetti and drinks. We offered our help to guide the elderly get their food and while they ate. One of them was blind; so one of us dedicated all her time in feeding her.
It was “candy time” after that. We gave each of them different kinds of candy, such as marshmallows and jelly ace. They prefered the marshmallows more because of its soft texture and it was easy to swallow. We gave some of the old women plastic bags because they just wanted to keep their candies. And just like the candies, all their smiles were so sweet and melted in our hearts.
After those activities, we stayed there for almost 30 minutes to have a little bonding moment with the elderly people and some of the staff. Everyone decided to go home after a few minutes. Even though the time we spent with them was very short, we had no regrets because we were able to bring home each of their smiles. It was such a joyful experience indeed.
Whenever I looked into the eyes of those people in the charity, I felt a sudden rush of sadness. Were they lonely? Did they miss their family? I think so, because one of the old women was so happy to see one of us and she kept on pointing at her and she seemed so excited. Perhaps, one of her family members looked like our colleague. I felt sad seeing it and I suddenly realized how lucky I am that I have parents and a family to thrive on. Each of us should treasure our family members because family is not just an important thing, it’s EVERYTHING.
But on the brighter side, it seems that the people in the charity already built their second family in the company of each other, because family is not just about blood; sometimes, it’s about who’s there to hold you tight when times are rough. Just the thought of it erased the sadness I felt inside.
It’s not just me that felt this emotion. One of my colleagues also said that she was scared of her future because of what we saw in the charity. She suddenly asked me what-if questions about the possible outcomes of our future. She also told me that she was worried when we get older in case we don’t have someone to take care of us. I told her that I was scared, too, but that she needed not to worry too much because we were still young. What we can do today is love our parents dearly and take care of them with all our strength so they won’t feel afraid of their future. Each of us should assure our parents that we will not leave them until the end because the fear we felt after visiting the Missionaries of Charity might also be the same fear that they’re feeling right now, possibly much greater than ours was.
DISGUST & ANGER
I’m totally shocked when I heard that all of the elderly people we met at the charity were abandoned by their families. I couldn’t help myself but to be upset. Children should love and take care of their parents, not leave them behind helpless. Whatever reasons they had, it’s still wrong to abandon a loved one. Will you abandon a family member just because they did something wrong to you? Remember that you’ve done bad things to them, too. I will never understand a man who abandons his family.
No wonder the eyes of those old people had some sadness and loneliness in them. Some of us take our life and our family for granted and fail to appreciate and acknowledge their presence in our life. Only when we lose it do we realize its true worth.
To the one reading this: Promise yourself that you’ll never abandon your parents or a family member with all your life, because the pain of being left behind is worse than being stabbed a hundred times.
On the other hand, I’m glad that we were able to bring joy to those people with our special gifts and presentation. There’s no gift more precious than THE GIFT OF HAPPINESS they gave us on that day. It was like an advanced Christmas gift.
May God bless us all.
“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” – David Ogden Stiers