December 18 is a day I will never forget.
Cebu Bloggers' Society (CBS) together with some volunteers and friends visited the Missionaries of the Poor Little Lamb Center in Sawang Calero, Pasil, Cebu City to send gifts to the elderly and the children with special needs there. What was unexpected is that we were the ones receiving gifts -- gifts that bring about indescribable joy and brings smiles to our hearts. Alas! I finally felt Christmas this year during that day.
I was bringing with me donated medicines mainly from Dr. Arcelin Piramide and Dr. Raquel Te, who are both pediatricians. My wife was helping me bring those things along with used clothing and some slippers courtesy of Ms. Jessica Cruz as we assembled in McDonalds near Gaisano South. I didn't know what to expect because it was my first time to go to that particular center.
Arriving at the center, we were welcomed by one of the missionaries, Brother Louie, whom I had the pleasure of talking with regarding their order and the center itself. He told me that they rely entirely on Divine Providence. It reminded me of Don Bosco who had the same attitude with his boys' home. When I asked if there were previous medical missions in their center, he answered no although dental missions were done before. (Calling on medical societies, alumni of medical, nursing and medical technology schools!)
Another missionary, continued where Brother Louie left off and toured CBS members around the center.
In the rooms were wooden cribs with cushion and lying in them were children of various ages, many of them appearing to have cerebral palsy. Some were severely disabled that they remain lying in their beds. But despite their state, somehow there is this feeling that they are in a place where they feel they are loved. I do not see agony in their faces. Only happiness.
One kid was having difficulty using his arms and hands and yet when placed in a rocking horse, he knew how to control the toy horse using his legs. He looks very happy racing with another child on the other horse toy.
The missionary who accompanied us was sharing many stories about Padre Pio and Father Damien. What struck me most is when he compared these children to gifts given by a friend. Throwing a friend's gift is like throwing your friend. Same thing with these children who are God's gifts. He said that God is present in each one of these children and that when one touches each child, it is like touching God. He also pointed out that in the center, they are one big family and that Christmas is celebrated everyday.
I agree with him. This is the true essence of Christmas. The sharing and giving of LOVE.
Joy was evident in the kids' eyes that they were being visited by us. They clung to us and exchanged high fives.
During the eating of the brunch we shared to them, both elderly and the kids were all smiles. It was touching to see some of my friends assisting the special kids and the elderly residents. Looking around, I noticed that some of them lack slippers.
A small program was prepared and the highlight was when one of the elderly residents, believed to be a former member of a famous singing group, performed some magic tricks and funny songs. It was evident, he missed his days as a performer. But he had no one to turn to except the center now.
I played Santa Claus and some of the kids went to me. One hugged me and I returned the favor. It was a nice feeling really and I get to share it with my wife and blogger friends.
The short program ended and it was time to say our goodbyes. We promised to be back. Hopefully, I could bring with me more support, more donations in the form of more medicines, Calmoseptine, goods from colleagues in the medical field, partnerships, future medical missions and related services for them and the surrounding community.
Merry Christmas everyone!