“What’s the story behind that abandoned neighborhood?” asked Curt. Our friend smiled and said, “That’s actually a cemetery and you’ll learn more about that in a few months.”
From a distance, as we passed this cemetery we noticed strange concrete structures covered in overgrown vegetation. It resembled more of an incomplete construction site, rather than what we would consider a cemetery.
After a few months had passed, the story of this strange place was revealed as we observed the national holiday of All Saints’ & All Souls’ Day. Just days before this holiday, we were amazed to see that this unruly site was transformed into a colorful and freshly groomed cemetery. The overgrown vegetation was cut and burned and the concrete structures were given a new coat of paint.
Much like any religious holiday in the U.S., holidays here have a variety of meaning and significance for Filipinos. To some, this is simply a day off work and an enjoyable family reunion. (Filipinos are always looking for a good reason to get together!) For others, it’s more spiritual and a time to remember relatives and to pray for their souls to move out of purgatory and into heaven. We learned it’s very important to visit and clean up the graves of the dead because it’s believed they will show up in your dreams if they are neglected. After a few hours of weaving through masses of people and graves, we were exhausted and ready to go home.
As we were driving home, we noticed candles lit outside many homes. We later learned many believe that souls experiencing no rest often wander around unsure where to go. A household can avoid these souls that often bring bad luck by helping illuminate their path, thus guiding the souls to their proper destination.
Events like this help us comprehend the wide variety of beliefs that Filipinos have. We are thankful that so many are willing to share their culture and beliefs so we can gain a better understanding of their worldview. Remaining open and eager to learn about this fascinating culture also helps reduce potential misunderstandings that cultural barriers often create. The more we are able to recognize and grasp what our Filipino friends value, the better we can connect, share, and create meaningful relationships.
Update on the Tagalog Language
Before we left for the Philippines, a veteran missionary told us, “Whoever makes the first million mistakes wins when it comes to learning a new language.” We can now relate to this all too well, especially after Curt on more than one occasion accidentally called a Filipino friend a cucumber. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and realize making mistakes is part of the process of learning. We jokingly say we are 20 months old in the Tagalog language as we relate to our 20-month-old Sadie in her language development. We now have roughly 500-600 words in our vocabulary and are just now able to form a somewhat complete sentence. Here is an example of Tagalog: Kadalasan, mukhang mas magaling o matalino si Sadie kaysa sa magulang niya! Which means: Most of the time, Sadie is proving much smarter than her parents! Like Sadie, we can understand much more than we can communicate. We even use her books and puzzles for practicing our new vocabulary words.
We are doing well. We have remained healthy. We recently received our first care package and mail from America, and are very grateful for the generosity and support from family and friends. Sadie was very excited as you can see!
Please Pray For:
– The Holidays: Please pray for us as this will be our first Christmas away from family and friends.
– Relationships: Please pray for a few new relationships we have (we will go into more detail in a later update). Pray for wisdom in how to interact and show Christ’s love to them.
Album: We’ve been able to make a few trips to the ocean which has been a much needed break from 8 hours each day of Tagalog. Sadie and I love playing in the water while Curt enjoys his hobby of photography.