April 01, 2012

“Mormon Helping Hands” Paint Two Inner City Schools

The alarms went off at 0600 on Saturday morning—so much for sleeping in! We were off to meet the young men and young women for a service project. The LDS church tries to do community service projects as congregations as much as possible. Here in Manila there are plenty of ways to help. Our Stake (group of 5 or 6 congregations in an area) covers all of Pasay and Manila, so we split the youth into two big groups and painted at two inner city schools: one in Manila and one in Pasay.

Despite being teenagers, the youth were up early in the morning excited to wear their bright yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” vests and head out to work. When we organized this service project I wanted it to be meaningful for the youth. In the past we have cleaned up places and swept streets only to find it is dirty a short time later. I wanted it to be something the youth could be proud of—something they could pass every day and say “Hey I painted that school…”  So I pushed and pushed to have us paint. Several times I had to ‘remind’ other leaders that even though it is easier to sweep trash we are going to do something better this year. Some of them were worried the youth would not paint it nice enough for the school. I told them to have some faith. Our youth will do just fine! (and they did)

Getting ready to go

Lady Hiva and I went with the Pasay group. It was so much fun to see all of the youth work. And even more gratifying to work side by side with them and hear their enthusiasm for service. They learned how to clean the walls, paint in steady--non dripping—lines, and to edge without painting the ceilings or floors. I especially loved to hear them talk about how much fun this “activity” was or sharing stories of past activities.

For example one young man and young woman talked animatedly about dancing in the 50th year Jubilee of the LDS Church being in the Philippines and then decided to show us some of the dance moves. He commented, “I cannot wait to dance in the next one.” She was quick to observe, “It is 50 years from now! You will be 67!”  Haha, at least they have plans of being active in Church for 50 more years.

Another conversation was between several young men and how they liked touring the Missionary Training Center here in Manila. They were all excited to one day be missionaries. I had to chuckle when one of them said, “I cannot WAIT to go to the MTC! They have a FULL court basketball court and washing machines!”

The school we painted was a small two story concrete building sandwiched between several other buildings. The walls were once white (but have since become grimy and grey). You could feel the love of the teachers as we  prepared the walls. They made use of everything they had for their small little classrooms. Potted plants lined the hallways, recycled bottles became hanging planters or art work, and photos of student’s achievements adorned the walls.  
Flowers made out of plastic soda bottles then painted

Pots made out of gallon jugs

The final few touches of paint were added a few hours after we started and the place looked great! Lady Hiva and I had a good time, you always feel better after rendering service—even if you have to sacrifice something to do it (like sleep). Hopefully the youth enjoyed it too!

Just in case you were wondering....I REALLY like my Lady Hiva!

Getting instructions on how to paint

The final product. See, I knew if we had faith in the youth they would do GREAT!

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