Monday Night in Manila

    “Monday Night in Manila,” Liahona, Sept. 2005, 35

    Monday Night in Manila

    Monday night in Manila doesn’t seem much different at first glance than any other night. Traffic in the city moves like a million ants all trying to use the same narrow tree branch to crawl in two different directions at once. Except these ants honk.

    We were trying to get to the Velascos’ house so I could see a Filipino family home evening in action, but rush hour wasn’t cooperating. Finally our guide announced he was taking a shortcut, and we pulled onto a narrow street packed with people buying and selling items at small roadside stands. The shoppers were enjoying themselves, laughing and calling out to one another. They paid little attention to our compact car inching its way through their open-air shopping center.

    When we finally arrived at the Velascos’ at the other end of the market, the contrast was astonishing. As we walked into their home, the hustle and bustle outside seemed to simply fade away.

    They hadn’t sat down for a lesson yet, but family night had already started. Six-year-old Stephen sat on Sister Velasco’s lap while she and Brother Velasco chatted with Grandma and Grandpa. Kevin and Kirby, 14, laughed about something 15-year-old Naomi had said. Katrina, 11, was setting out the scriptures and hymnbook.

    After we had met everyone, the family sat down together. Grandpa offered an opening prayer. Brother Velasco talked about talents. During the discussion the family switched easily between Tagalog and English whenever one language suited better than the other. Katrina and Naomi took turns reading the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14–30. Brother Velasco pulled out his guitar and shared one of his talents in song, then passed the guitar to Kirby, who played a song too. Sister Velasco helped Stephen say the closing prayer, and everyone stepped into the kitchen for a special treat, homemade pizza.

    While everyone was chewing, I had the chance to ask them their feelings about family home evening.

    “What’s your favorite part?” I asked Kirby. Unfortunately, he had just taken a bite. “The refreshments,” he said around the mouthful. Everyone laughed.

    “The laughter,” Naomi said as their fit of the giggles passed.

    “What has it done for your family?”

    “It has helped us bond,” Kevin said. “That’s what happens when you share your thoughts and feelings.”

    It was a good answer, but I wanted to make sure he wasn’t saying it just because I was there. “Does it really?” I asked.

    They all nodded. “Because of family home evening, we have become closer,” Naomi answered. “We’re more friendly to each other.”

    That was obvious. The blessings of family home evening were obvious too. And it was with great reluctance that I said good-bye and stepped back out into the endless rush of a busy world.