I just came home from our visit to the lolos and lolas in Anawim. Our ministry, the Ushers of Ortigas Feast decided that our bonding session for this quarter would be an outreach to our elderly in Anawim. Although the schedule was very difficult for me – I’d only have 4 hours of sleep from my midshift. We had to assemble at Valle Verde Country Club at 7am and I came home from work at almost 2 in the morning.
But I didn’t mind. I was eager to be part of the pilgrimage to Anawim. This week, almost every night, I dreamt of my own grandparents. As if they’re telling me that I should also visit them when I go home to Mangagoy. Every time I wake up, I’d remember them in my dream but I could not remember what they said. I miss them so much.
As a child, I grew up in the love, care, and supervision of my lolos and lolas in both sides. And having been a lolo/lola’s girl has had a big impact and influence in my life. I give credit to them for having raised me as a loving individual. I am what I am today because I grew up in the unconditional love and kindness of my own grandparents. That’s why I thought that visiting the lolos and lolas in Anawim would make me experience that warmth again.
And I was not mistaken. When I saw them smiling and very much eager to meet us and spend time with us, my heart fluttered. Their smiles are priceless. Lola Grace even said that they are always very happy every time people would visit them because most of them are not allowed to go out of their shelter anymore because that would be too risky for them.
“Bumabata kami pag dinadalaw nyo kami rito. Bumalik kayo dito, anak,” was Lola Grace’s parting words. We enjoyed listening to their songs and watching them dance. At the same time, they were also entertained by our group member’s performances. It was a great and blessed day indeed, when we all experienced God’s wonderful love.
According to the head servant of Anawim, every time people go there, not only the elderly are happy, but they themselves will be happy because if the lolos and lolas are happy, they are much easier to please and take care of. Little did he know that we, the visitors are doubly happy because we made a difference in the day of the elders – we made them smile. And they made us smile too.
In my case, they also made me cry. Haha. Especially when it was time to say goodbye. I wasn’t able to control it, my tears just flowed from my eyes because I remember saying goodbye to my own grandparents when it was time for me to leave again. It always tore my heart to leave and see the longing in their eyes. Not knowing when, and if, I’ll see them again when I go home. Being far away from home since I was thirteen, saying goodbye after a break from school or work was always a pain.
But I left the shelter with joy in my heart, knowing that they are in good hands.
I thank God for blessing the earth with people like Bro. Bo and the benefactors, donors, servants, and Feast members who are willing to share their time, talent, and treasure to the abandoned elderly – the poorest of the poor.
Note: Anawim was founded by Bo Sanchez, a Catholic preacher. He was building huts that will serve as a retreat house when, one day, a wounded old man came. Bro. Bo’s heart was deeply touched that’s why he decided to build a shelter for the elderly. The place is really beautiful and well-maintained. That people would want to stay there when they get old. But Bro. Bo emphasized that one should strive, instead, to be donors for the poor elderly instead of being the ones who would need assistance.
So friend, while you are young, plan for your retirement and have an abundant life. So that one day, you can be a channel of blessing to others and help in God’s ministry. 🙂