This morning, my friends and I trooped to Anawim for the first time.
“Anawim” is a Greek word for “God’s poor”. Anawim is a home for the elderly and abandoned up in the hills of Montalban established by the Light of Jesus Community led by Bo Sanchez.
Anawim celebrated its 13th anniversary today. That’s 13 years of caring for the poor and abandoned. We joined the anniversary celebration by spending time with the elderly residents of Anawim.
Anawim – Home of God’s Poor
(photo credits: La Salle Green Hills Grade School Department)
It was a rocky road going to Anawim passing through Payatas and the battered roads of Montalban. When we reached Anawim, we took a tour of the community.
They had a main house for administration, a clinic, many houses some of concrete, some of nipa and bamboo. There were a lot of trees and rock-paved paths connecting the different parts of the compound. There was an open chapel on the top of the hill which, on this rainy day, was warmed up by all the beautiful people gathered there to celebrate the anniversary.
I spent some time with a few of the Lolas.
Speed-dating with Lolas
Lola Viring was seated quietly on her bed watching from afar as we volunteers approached the other Lolas. Seeing that she was alone, I approached her. She greeted me with a beautiful smile! What a beautiful smile!, especially when her eyes get almost consumed through her bursting smiling eyes. She spoke more through her smile than anything else. We connected that way!
Lola C told me the story of her son, a priest, who was killed. She told me that she could not forgive the people behind her son’s death. I’m sure it is difficult for her to forget, but to forgive is something she could do for herself, first and foremost. I pray for Lola C that her heart be softened, forgive and believe in the beauty of God’s justice and God’s peace.
Lola Vicky is a petite curly-white-haired lady who just loved interacting with us. She shared with us her line: “Rock and Roll!” and explained that visitors loved it when she hollered: “Rock and Roll!”
And Lola Georgina. Lola Georgina told us that she was blind when she was brought to Anawim. She told us how she had to be led by the hand to get around Anawim. A few weeks ago, doctors from the American Eye Hospital treated her. Once she was blind, but now she can see! She had a renewed life! She was soooo excited.
She asked us to take a photo with her. And she reminded us to give her a copy. I teased her: “i-email ko nalang po sa inyo!” hahaha! She was all game, and I’m glad she got the joke! I’m making good on my word and have printed our photos, ready to be sent to Lola Georgina.
Lola Georgina at Lolo Edong
Given the limited “speed-dating” time we spent at Anawim, I take away two lessons.
First is a lesson in forgiveness. I am happy that I have learned a huge lesson in forgiveness early in my life. After attending my PSI seminar, I learned in a very concrete way how deeply liberating it is to truly forgive. I thank the good Lord for blessing me with a forgiving heart, and I pray that forgiveness (especially for myself!) continues to permeate my daily life.
Second is a lesson in simple joy. A smile, a warm hug, time spent together, a shared meal, stories, laughter, song – these are things that we often take for granted. How come at the ripe age of 60, 70 or 80, only then do some people realize the joy in these simple acts of kindness. This is a joy that we had relished as children and had un-learned as we grew up.
May we rediscover the joy we have inside of us, and share this joy no matter what situation, no matter what age, no matter what.
young at heart
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