Friday, March 11, 2016

12 March 2016

A very different and interesting experience this week!

This was taken during the early procession
into the meeting hall.  They grabbed
ahold of me like I was going to escape.
I have mentionend in past weeks, I was invited to speak at the Brentwood College of Asia International School Commencement Exercises.  I was also asked to give the invocation.  I received the program ahead of time and could see that there was a speaker from Vancouver, Canada so I invited Elder and Sister Watson to go with us.  The event was held at a large center which was not far from the old Mission Home and so we were able to get there quickly and easily.  We left at 3:30 pm, as the event was to start at 4:00.  We found a parking spot and went through a gate that was controlled by security guards without any issues (I think our uniforms give us away) and were promptly greeted by some young women who we did not know.  We were ushered into a large reception hall that was very nice and beautifully appointed. We were given a place to sit while they were getting ready. About 4 pm they started a procession of the graduating students which seemed to take forever but it was interesting to watch.  They had kids from preschool all the way to college who were graduating that day.

After a while, two young women came and asked me to go with them.
The US flag was recognized and the National Anthem was
played by the band.  It was beautiful and great to stand at
attention with our hands over our hearts in a foreign country.
They led me out of the building and up some stairs; across a balcony and then down an elegant winding set of stairs to the outside courtyard where we had entered.  We progressed through the courtyard and then back into the hall and I was seated in the front on the stage.  I was the only one there at this time.  The other speaker came a little later and was ushered in like I was and then the President of the College and the Administrator both ushered in and  sat on the stand.  We had met the President and Administrator before at an English evaluation day at the school and they were very nice and gracious people.  (This was covered in a post last year)  The Philippines National Army Band was there and played a few songs during the ceremonies and also during the Dinner Party afterwards.  Interestingly, the US flag was prominent during the Presentation of the Colors by the Military Police.

The graduating students.

When everything finally got going, we had a speech from the President followed by lots of different recognitions during which the students all came forward in a slow procession again to receive their awards.  At some point, the Canadian named Francesco Cena spoke. He is a young man who is an entertainer, Mr. World Canada, Mr. World Talent, a debate coach, along with many other accomplishments.  They had 2 pages of written material that they covered for him.  I was feeling quite inferior by the time they finished with his Bio.  But, he was very genuine and a great speaker.

Taken during the Dinner Party.  Frankie Cena on the right.
Next to him is the President and then the Administrator is
the woman standing in the middle.

I was scheduled as the closing speaker and it was probably about 8:30 in the evening so we had been there for a long time.  The theme for the event was "7 Billions Dreams, 1 Planet, Consume Carefully".  I took one look at that and said to myself, "I am not going to give a green speech, that just isn't me".  I decided to talk to everyone as an individual about God's plan for us; what God wants for each one and how we relate to each other.  I basically gave a shortened version of the workshop which we do for the Missionaries going home.

The dance group outside in the courtyard in some of their costumes.
 After the formal activities were over, there was a Dinner Party which I hadn't planned to stay for because it was so late but we ended up staying and it was very wonderful.  The facility was beautifully laid out.  There was a nice buffet line but we sat at the Presidents table and we were served.  The food was Filipino and was excellent.  We also had entertainment from the band and from a group of Native Philippino dancers which was very good.

It was truly a memorable evening and I am glad that the Watsons went with us.  We had a great time.

The dancers in the Gazebo in the courtyard.

The whole week was busy with transfers going on from Monday through Wednesday.  After the long night on Monday, we taught the all day workshop on Tuesday and it was probably one of our best days ever.  We had invited our Bishop, Alan Bigtas, to attend and he was really helpful and offered good insight from a Filipino perspective. The concepts we try to teach are especially important as there is a special emphasis on Self-Reliance here in the Philippines.
Wednesday, we helped with the orientation of 15 new missionaries, who arrived that morning from Manila.

That is enough for this week.  We will have lots of pictures of new missionaries and transferred missionaries next week.  Take care......

Saturday lunch at our place prepared by Elder Luardo who
went home on Wednesday.  

Elder Luardo with a plate of Mexican WEDDING cookies
made by Sister Hoopes.  It was a special joke for him
to remember to go home and get married.  We will
miss him.

No comments:

Post a Comment