In Mosiah 2:17, King Benjamin teaches that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” As I think about this counsel, I am grateful that for us Filipinos, giving service is inherent in our culture. We call it the bayanihan spirit which means being a part of a community or bayan wherein each individual is willing to contribute to the success of the group. A classic example is a group of able men moving a bahay kubo from one location to another.
As a Filipino Mormon, I have seen the bayanihan spirit in action in many of our church meetings. These are often simple acts of kindness that go unnoticed, but have a great influence on the ward as a community.
The waiting buddies.
Church service only last for three hours, but some chapels in the Philippines are filled with saints even after the 3rd hour is concluded. Although this is usually because there’s a lot of meetings after church, but another reason is that members usually wait for a friend/family member to finish a meeting or an interview. They could go home if they really want to, but they stay and wait because they couldn’t bear the thought that the other person would have to go home alone. These members are willing to give the gift of time.
Have you ever noticed that at church a lot of women carry babies that are not their own? This is especially true in some wards. You would likely spot a group of single sisters at the back of Relief Society class each carrying a child so that the mothers can listen and participate in the lesson. These single sisters are willing to lend a hand.
The mothers in the kitchen.
After every activity that involves a meal or refreshments, you will definitely find several Relief Society sisters cleaning up or packing extra food for members. I often wonder if they ever get tired. I mean, isn’t that what they always do at home? And yet, they still do it at church. These sisters give the care and love of a mother to every member in the ward.
The brother who is always there.
A certain amount of sacrifice is expected when magnifying a calling. However, there are those who will defy your expectations. It’s that person who comes very early for an activity and stays until late to clean up. When you meet someone like that, it teaches you that service means forgetting about one’s comfort so that another can be blessed. They are those who give the gift of self.
Each ward is different, but if you look close enough you’ll see that the bayanihan spirit is everywhere. It is manifested in different ways as we strive to follow the Savior’s counsel to “feed his sheep.” We do this not only because we are commanded to do so, but because as Filipinos we naturally look out for the members of our “bayan” (wards/stakes). It’s our custom, it’s who we are.