Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Update 5 cont.- A little taste of Malibay

This was from one of my journal entries while I was staying in the "slum" area in Malibay, just to let your mind try and capture the feel of it...

"As soon as  you walk out of the Sister's gate, a woft of pollution, diesel, dirt and garbage fills your mouth and lungs. You immediately feel like you must wash your hands. You walk a bit down the street and pass a Sari Sari store full of little packets of shampoo, soap and candies, among other small items. This may be your only wiff of something delightful.

You walk over a bridge, and down below is murky, gray-brown liquid with trash and pollution lining either side. You pass a mother and child napping on a piece of cardboard. Above each side of the 12 foot wide river, are square sized walls of random wood, tin, cardboard or a wall of laundry. The walls stack up to four or five squares, sometimes with an occasional bogenvilla or green tropical plants breaking up the drag. There are thin alleys or walkways between a few horizontal rows of squares, also lined with laundry. There are women squatting over tubs of water either bathing a smaller child or- doing laundry. It is making me cherish a washing machine and dryer! If you are white and colored eyed, everyone will smile and say "Halo" or any other English they know. Sometimes I will get a "Good afternoon Seester".

If you walk through the market, there are sidewalk vendors and street carts full of raw, whole fish, squid, "baboy" or pork, pig feet, mangos, bananas, papaya, guava, pineapple, and of course RICE! The side carts will me like moveable cooktops with pots of boiling oil and kabobs of chicken or pork or other mystery meat. There will be mini stores of old, need-to-be-updated electronics, where the sisters say they can fix anything. There are shoemakers, watch fixers and rows and rows of "slippers" or flip-flops. There are tables of garage sale type clothes for only 50 pesos, about $1.

This whole time, you will be dodging small children, stray dogs, fighting cocks and an occasional pedi-cab. Thousands, a sea of foreign faces, dark brown eyes, dark hair, dark skin and occasional pearly white teeth.

If you go to the nursery, kids will run up and grab your hand to "mano" or have you bless them (especially if you are wearing a long skirt). The ones who know English will say, "Wat is yoor name?" and if they see your camera, will play coy or ask you to take a picture of them while they pose sweetly. They will of course want to see the picture.

On your walk back, you will feel itchy, maybe as if little creatures are landing on your skin. You will grow a pleasant sweat mustache and sticky armpits. You will cough and frown at a Jeepney's exhaust pipe, puffing thick black diesel smoke. You will try to breathe shallow so you don't inhale any more polluted air then you need to. You will most likely trip over a broken cement rock or an uneven crack in the street. You may get followed by a drunk man who relentlessly asks your name and where you are from.

You will pass even more stares and smiles. You will find joy when a child you've met in class runs up to you and grabs our hand with a smirky grin. You will find joy watching a pedi-cab driver swerve back and forth while his little brother slides across the seat and giggles. You will find joy in watching a young mother nurture and fan her baby. You will find joy in a toddler's eyes when he reaches on his tip-toes up to the sari counter to but a candy. You will find joy in the sisters yipping and chatting like little hens to eachother in their "Finding Nemo" New Zealand (and English) accents. You will find joy in the whole community at mass, devout, focused, and present, on their knees in front of Jesus.

I have found sorrow here too. I have found much joy as well. Life is beautiful, even in the messy Barangay 180. Life is simple and beautiful." - March 16, 2011


Here is another excerpt you may find interesting...hope I don't offend anyone, I am honestly just letting you straight into my mind ha..

"So I kind of take back what I said about being in an uncomfortable place. I am very comfortable here. It is lovely and home-y. Just because there is no comfy red couch, simple decor, just a bar of soap in the shower, no hot water, and a slender bed and a simple electric fan in the bedroom- I am still comfortable.

I think I was more afraid to NOT be in luxury or what I am used to. A simple life doesn't mean no comfort! It jsut makes me realize that those things like air-con, 300 TV channels, wonderful smelling shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner etc, or beautiful decor are so unnecessary. Gorgeous homes are nice and make us feel comforted, but to live more simply, once we have gotten used to it, is JUST as comfortable. The small pains and wants that we feel, we can easily lay at His feet. I'm sure we would stop noticing that there were no gorgeous, expensive art on our walls, or that the coffee table was made of cheap wood from a thrift store etc.

How the sisters live is beautiful. Tonight at dinner, we talked about how luxurious some churches are, or Bishop's homes etc, while our brothers and sisters are living on pavement and cardboard boxes. Those who do have "homes" are about the size of a walk-in closet that we might have. God would probably rather us share our financial blessings with our neighbor, rather than multi-million dollar churches, chapels or statues. Those funds could be providing livelihoods for His children!

I know that some of you have already realized this, or just thought about it, and we have most likely blamed the "church" or "church authorities". I, Erin Murphy with my half-baked honest thoughts, feel like it is US the people who brought the materialism to the Church. For example, Catholics: just like Amelda Marcus of the Philippines, if we heard that THE POPE was coming to our city, wouldn't we jump in to prepare a place for him? A place of impression and beauty and honor for him? Amelda built this place called "Coconut Palace" for the Pope and spent a ridiculous amount of money. The Pope came to the Philippines and declined!

I am not sure of the ranks of heirarchy or what exactly goes on in decision-making in the Church, but in Pope John Paul II's take is pretty clear through the Counsel of Vatican II. Some Christian Americans have embraced this idea of living more simply and really, truly imitating Christ. But at the same time, some Christians believe so strongly in the fault of corruption from the Church that they choose to not be "religious" at all. They may not even claim a "church", only "Followers of Christ", and adhering to the Word. There is beauty in adhering to the word and like I said, truly seeking to imitate and follow Christ, but there is also beauty in the Church.

I am finding here, a newfound beauty in Catholicism among the Filipino community, even amidst the obvious flaws of the Church. These people have such GREAT faith in Jesus and act on that love by clinging tightly to the Church. Praying the rosary often, having tons of statues and always crossing themselves may be a bit superstitious, but it is how the people show their love and appreciation of God and admiration of the Saints. The Saints are not godly by any means, but examples of human holiness and true imitators of Christ, that God gave us as role models. I have to cringe when I see people kissing their rosary or touching the crucifix as if it has healing powers or watching a parade of a statue of a saint- but the intention of the people is not to put those material things before God or to worship them. They are material vessels to cling to and for their humanly minds to grasp, while praising God. They believe that touching the statue of the "Black Nazarene" saint will heal their sick child- God will. That is just their way of showing it.

I don't know, we are all different and God has willed individual paths to Him for each one of His children. I'm not going to start kissing any statues but I guess being here, around a very traditional, faith filled culture has opened my eyes a but to why and how their total dependence and belief in God is so beautiful."- March 15, 2011

1 comment:

timlambesis said...

I want to preface by saying that it's great to see what is happening with the kids in the Philippines. It is encouraging to hear they are given love and introduced to new opportunities as a result of you being there. It is my prayer that these kids will experience the full love our Messiah and the beautiful freedom that is found in worshiping him.

With that said, I move on to address the other topic of Catholic good that you spoke of. I love discussions on these topics because I feel I have so much more to understand in the difference of what good we seek from God that He graciously delivers and what good the church is either holding back or amplifying.

When people view truth as a feeling (or simply a person's best intention), then they will always find a way to understand their experiences and gut feeling as right. Unfortunately, there is not a single story or command in all of Scripture that backs up that point of view. In fact, Scripture goes out of it's way to time and time again to show that even 99% "good" in the eyes of man is still empty in the sight of YHWH. The Pharisees followed laws extremely well, but it was the laws of tradition that they thought important to apply while they put aside the more important practices that Messiah pointed out. Their corruption was not in their ability to be disciplined, but instead it was their own formulation of laws and their desire to speak on the Father's behalf to rest of us.

Keeping people uneducated and enslaved to pointless traditions is not the liberation our Messiah spoke of. The church itself was set up as a body of people helping each other to stay free specifically because a hierarchy of rule already existed both through the Jewish leaders and Rome in the first century.

It's not too hard to find good things happening in a generally corrupt institution and compare it to the horror stories that other people publicize. When put in that perspective, a few good things make everything else seem overdramatized and false. Because we can find instances of church hierarchy that aren't oppressive in major ways does not mean that the made up traditions of these institutions are good. If we're looking to isolate what is good, we can find plenty of that in communism for instance, though I know very few people suggesting that as the system of deception they want their children to grow up under.

On the other hand, many people simply complain about the institutional church today and move away from being religious in an sense as a result. I am in no way suggesting that. I simply want to take the institutional part out of church and give it back to the people so they can be educated by discussions about who is truly the Cornerstone of church.

From an artistic standpoint, there is beauty in things that are not perfect or what some people call "the humanity" of art. From a moral standpoint, the slow infusion of corrupted pagan customs into the body of believers (or church) is a slippery slop. The Creator goes out of His way in scripture to make himself unique. How many ancient superstitions can we add and still tell people they are worshipping God in the unique way that he has commanded us to revere Him in?