January was definitely a super busy month, but busy in the best way possible. The volunteers and the Sisters planned a whole month full of activities to celebrate Salesian saints since there were three very important feast days for the Salesian family. We divided all the learners into four groups (the Ultimate Shepherds, the Spartans, the GSYP, and the Passengers) and for the whole month they were to work together to prepare for a Quiz Bee on the life of Blessed Laura Vicuna, a night of minute to win it games, team building games, a cheer dance competition and for the “Search for Don Bosco and Laura Vicuna’s Double 2017”. The teams worked so well together every single day and I am so proud of them. Their dedication and effort was truly inspiring, they were even willing to start practicing at 5:00am and finish practicing at 10:00pm. When it wasn’t meal time, practice time or rest time, they continued to be dedicated to their classes and to learning about the saints.
Our first event was the Quiz Bee. For about 3 days, the learners were given books on the life of Blessed Laura Vicuna. They were to study her life well because the Quiz Bee was all about Laura. Each team did very well and by the end, every person knew the events of Laura Vicuna’s life. Congratulations to the Spartans who won the competition!
On Laura’s feast day (January 22), I organized a morning full of team building games and activities. In the afternoon we had a cook out! Each team picked an area, created their own “kitchen” and cooked a meal for everyone. It was a lot of fun and wonderful to see how each team problem solved together. Blessed Laura Vicuna, pray for us. The winner of these games were the GYSP (Good Salesian Youth People)! Congratulations!
On the evening of the feast of St. Francis de Sales (January 24), Sr. Ailyn organized minute to win it games. These were super fun and I congratulate the Ultimate Shepherds on their win!
On January 29, one of our benefactors celebrated his birthday here at the dorm. Kuya Eric is a good friend to us here. He provided food from his restaurant, Ka Inato, and games in the morning. We presented a song and dance, How Did You Know, that was very emotional and beautiful. In the afternoon we had our cheer dance competition. For weeks the learners worked day and night to perfect and create a cheer dance. I made many remixes for each group… you can pretty much call me DJ Hallebangbang. From the music, to the dances, to the cheers, to the costumes, the learners put so much energy and effort. Each group was so unique, I am so glad I was not a judge. Congratulations to the Spartans on their well deserved win!!
On the 30th we were supposed to take the learners to a nearby river to go swimming, but unfortunately there was a super heavy rain storm that morning and we couldn’t go. Expecting some long faces and disappointment, I was pleasantly surprised. They all had a good attitude about it, and instead they made the best out of their day playing games and just hanging out.
For almost a week in the middle of the month, the Sisters left for Manila to attend seminars and conferences, so us volunteers and Sr. Zeny were left to take care of everything. This gave us the opportunity to use our leadership skills and our talents the best we could. The learners were extremely well-behaved and gave us no problems. It really gave me much inspiration and hope for my future plans of opening a school/youth centre. It reminded me that I do have gifts to offer and that with love, kindness, a good schedule, fun activities and a good team of leaders, we can really start something good for the young people.
Finally, the most important day was this past Tuesday (January 31), the feast of St. John Bosco. Happy feast day to the Salesian family worldwide!! We started the morning with a special rosary which I picked certain mysteries and prayers and songs, then we had an emotional opportunity to venerate the relic of Don Bosco (yuup, I cried lots), then we had a lovely breakfast. For the morning, Ana led palarong Pinoy games while the rest of us set up and prepared for the evening’s event. After mass, we had a festive dinner with welcomed guests and following dinner we held the dorm’s very first “Search for Mr. Don Bosco and Laura Vicuna’s Double”. Each team selected two representatives (boy and girl) who they felt embodied Don Bosco and Laura Vicuna. There were 4 categories of the contest – the Nature Walk (the teams made costumes for their representatives purely out of natural materials from outside), the talent portion, the question and answer portion and the secret virtue vote. This contest is where I saw the most growth and courage. Each contestant gave their best and surprised us in the best ways. I am soooooo incredibly proud of them, I am actually at a loss for words. Congratulations to Jonald and JM, both from the Ultimate Shepherds. Although there were only two official title winners, each learner was a winner in my heart.
This month wasn’t just about playing games and winning points or prizes, it was about learning to work together, to support one another (even from opposing teams), to recognize the value of each person, and above all – to learn that everything they do should be for the glory of God. For this whole month, I was so beyond proud of our learners. I have witnessed so much growth, maturity and holiness among them all. This was a month I will never forget. I am so exhausted, but it was all worth it.
The learners are currently at home on break until tomorrow. I miss them, but I am happy they were able to go home for a few days to spent time with their families and to rest. They deserve a break and to relax after this busy month. I can’t believe January is already over and I only have a few months left. Oh how time has flown by. I am in need of special prayers, so if you are reading this please say a short prayer for me when you can and I’ll be sure to return the blessing.