We met with our bus group at 7:00 am . There are 48 of us in a bus and there are 4 buses total traveling from our hotel. It has been nice getting to know the other delegates. We met some from Indonesia, some from Washington State, and some from near Washington DC. On the way to our destination a couple local pioneer sisters shared experiences and told us what buildings we were passing and how many congregations there were in the area.
Assembly Hall Tour
So we go to the Assembly Hall 1st. Apparently this is the 1st time they opened it to the Public for
Touring. What a privilege! So we get there and look out the bus window, and WOW - sooo many people all waiting for us . They were in a row holding up fans that had individual letters on them that spelled out "Welcome Brothers & Sisters". We get out of the bus and there are people lined up on our right and left all the way from the bus to the kingdom hall that is right next to the assembly hall. Everyone wanted to shake our hand and were saying- thank you for coming , nice to meet you, ect. It was so overwhelming , but in a good way of course. We get inside the hall and sit down and they play a really touching video on how they built their assembly hall. Then at the end they surprise us by saying each family gets to take home a copy of the video. What?!?! Awesome ! Then we walked from the hall to the assembly. It was over a grassy area and all the brothers were holding banners that said 'Welcome' and on the side were decorated with plants and fruits so people can take pictures next to them. It felt like you were in paradise already. So many smiling faces and such beautiful scenery. Everyone wanted to take pictures again. "1 more, 1 more" haha they're hilarious. They always say that. So we finally arrive at the assembly hall. It was an open air style building, but they had big fans on the ceilings so it felt cool in there. They handed us all bottled water and sweet snacks made of sticky rice . Then we sat down because they had a program prepared for us. We got to see more traditional dances in their traditional dress again. There were 2 songs. They prepared for 3 months for us! After it was over we had to go back to the bus. But again they lined up with banners that said 'We Love You' and 'Thank you for coming' ect... All with smiling faces. So nice. It's very difficult to even put into words.
We get off the bus and again we are welcomed by a bunch of Bethelites lined up. They were holding a banner that said "Welcome Beloved Brothers & Sisters" and we were all herded into where we were going to eat. Some into the dining room , but since it only holds 600 people, the rest of us went out to the basketball court that was covered with tarps and made up nice just for us. It looked like a wedding reception. There was a live band playing kingdom songs for us on the mandolins and guitars. Brother Splane from the Governing Body made a few comments and then prayed. Apparently he will be speaking at the convention so he is staying at bethel. Pretty neat. So we eat lunch with the Bethelites and afterward we all go to the Kingdom Hall on site there and watch a new video they prepared for those to watch before they take their Bethel Tour. We are divided up into groups of about 8 people. Our tour guides name was Jemiamah , but people call her Mai. Apparently they are big on nicknames here. So as we tour Bethel, each department had little gifts set up for us. Mostly candy and a bookmark or card with their info. on it. People were in their offices looking out and waving at us excitedly as we took our tour. They had signs on their offices that said things in Tagalog and then translated what they were (this was in the Translation Dept. Come to think of it) . They said things like 'Good Day' , 'Thank You' , 'We Love You' ect... One room had a cardboard looking Jeepney (one mode of their transportation here) set up with straw hats to try on so we could take our picture behind it. The girl reminded me of Kathryn Straniero cuz she was so excited and playful and was trying to get us to sit there and take our pic. She pretended to be the bus driver and said 'beep, beep' as she presses on a fake steering wheel. It was cute and funny.
There are sooo many things we saw along the way and can't even write them all here. We had an amazing time. It felt like we were famous . As we left on our bus the Bethelites , again, lined up and waved goodbye to us as we drove off.
We got to our hotel and took a nap since we were really tired from the day. Then John went exploring close by our hotel since he needed to get food and a Sim Card and get our taxi arranged for tomorrow morning. I didn't go because of course I started to feel sick again. Probably cuz I didn't eat on time :/ . He said he found a Starbucks close by that is 24/7. Nice! Anyways, Tomorrow, We are going to a nearby Island - called Boracay (pronounced Barack-Kie) for parts of 2 days. I don't know if I'll have wi-fi there , but I'll tell you about it when we can. Good bye for now :)
Bethel that we've been in contact with
Through email . Saying goodbye to us.