I had a most pleasant surprise on our Mother’s birthday (Sept. 8). Since it was a special day, I decided to attend Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Hope Chapel located in a mall. The beautiful chapel, that could house more than 2,000 faithful, was air-conditioned, with cushioned seats and kneelers, television monitors all over the place and best of all with a quiet that fostered solemnity. (Families with children were accommodated in another room.)

My grandchildren even teased me about being ‘dressed up’. For the first time, I dared to wear pink dangling earrings I have had for years, which I felt suited my pink pants and ‘flowery’ blouse. When asked why so… I smiled saying it is “Mary’s birthday and I am celebrating”.

Arriving early, I had the luxury of time. There was time for adoration. I thought this could part of the gift to her. Hah, this naive rationalizations must make The Lady smile… a Lady who has no need for gifts, but a mother would be accepting and tolerant of her child’s simple attempts at a gift. Don’t we love crudely made cards from our kids?

After Holy Mass, an announcement from the parish priest – we were going to be serenaded by girls from the Girls Town using handbells and hand chimes. 22 girls with ages ranging from about 10 – 18 dressed in white with a white furry ball resting on their hair bun came out with smiles.

We were treated to an extraordinary joyful and heart-warming experience. Playing about 8 religious pieces, the audience now mesmerized, some were humming or singing softly with the girls. I was seated in the first pew so I tried to look around to find out where the lovely voices were coming from, then I realized that many were teary-eyed like me.

After the show, Sr. Mary Jane of the Sisters of Mary, one of the two sisters who prepared the tables, told me, Mr. Cris Yang, the ever-smiling conductor was Korean but the instruments were bought from Japan. One of the girls, Trecia added that the instruments were the donation of Mr. Yang.

Trecia explained that the donations received for their performance were used to defray their schooling needs etc. The appreciation of the audience inspired a lively performance. Also, they looked forward to the good food they would partake after the performance.

Joined by two other girls, Venus and Tina, Trecia shared that once a girl finishes Grade 12 she is no longer qualified to be part of the group. Tina said, she was just there to assist since she just finished grade 12. She was hoping she would go to college.

Without any introduction, a woman who was lingering beside us, touched Tina’s shoulder and said. “Makaka tapos ka anak. Ako galing din ako sa Girl’s Town. Nagtugtug din ako. Ang asawa ko galing sa Boy’s town. Ngayon, may pamilya na ako at saka trabaho. Ayos ang buhay ko ngayon. Eto nga ang anak namin… hehehe, ang kulit.” (You will be able to finish college, my child. I am also from Girl’s Town. My husband is from Boy’s Town. I also played … Now I have work and a family… My life is ok now… Look at my husband and mischievous son.)

The two instantly hugged then they were already animatedly exchanging experiences.

I no longer heard what they were exchanging… I was silenced by the gifts Our Mother gave me… to witness hope via different expressions… through the language of the bells and chimes, through the smiles of the girls, through the efforts of the nuns, the priests, the organizers and donors, even the mall owner and finally the life experience shared by a mother to a motherless child. Thank you, Mother, for the gifts.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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