In sharp contrast to our two years in France, where we welcomed many visitors and visited many friends, our social contact this year has lacked the variety we have perhaps come to take for granted; and our opportunities to host visitors have been distinctly limited: which is not to say it has not been a sociable year; it has. Part of our motivation in coming here was an exploration of life in community, and I enjoy sitting down each day to community meals and having a routine of regular community prayers. Our work at TVED is in no small part a social role. As much as ever, we spend a lot of time with other people, the difference from past years being that they are always the same people. It is an interesting reflection that this in some ways intense community experience involves spending nine months with a group of people who, when we say goodbye in a couple of months, there is a strong chance we will not see again.
One of the things we loved about living on the edge of Paris was how many people came and spent time with us: it made me feel very popular, even if the Eiffel Tower was the real attraction, rather than me! We knew this year we were unlikely to receive anywhere near as many visitors (if any at all), and were delighted when one friend decided to make the trip. It was a particular pleasure to welcome Janet when she headed half way round the world to join us during her Easter holidays: I only hope she enjoyed her visit as much as I did. Aside from lots of long conversations putting the world to rights, some extra help in a few lessons, and an excuse to be tourists for a few days; welcoming another European visitor was also a reminder to look again at the world which surrounds us here. A reminder that many of the little things which have just become part of our daily reality are actually very alien and different. An opportunity to reflect again on our experience and open our eyes anew to our environment. Which is as good an excuse as any to publish some photos of our local area, hopefully opening a window, albeit a small one, into our world:
Janet is in the process of publishing her reflections on her trip which can be read here: http://jeepneyskaraokemutantcoconut.blogspot.co.uk if you are interested in a different perspective on Cebu.