One would think that living and working abroad would be quite difficult for some religions. This is particularly true for Catholics living in Muslim countries. Again, another misconception, for the newbie. Despite the presence of mosques everywhere in the city, still Abu Dhabi catered to other religions. For a Roman Catholic like me, there is St. Joseph Church.
Going to church on a Friday or Sunday is one of the most effective ways to overcome the homesickness bug. Filipino mass is being celebrated by Fr. Troy de los Santos, who is gifted with words that could effectively deliver the word of the day. He is funny and very accommodating. He never fails to remind church goers that the family is the most important treasure one person could ever have. And that, sacrifices these OFW’s made for their family made them unselfish providers. Filipino homilies are always soul enriching and will always uplift your spirit every after mass.
Aside from the mass and the lively crowd, going to mass remind me so much of home because of the barkers outside and the kakanin vendors. In the Philippines jeepney barkers are everywhere. When we say barkers, they sound like dogs who are crying for your attention.
Barkers holler the name of the place where the jeepney is heading and what route it is taking. Here in Abu Dhabi, it is the minibus instead of the jeepneys. Its pretty funny, Pinoy barkers mostly look like any other bystanders here, they are well dressed. Most of them are wearing long sleeves and slacks. Despite the heat and the possibility of being soaked with sweat, long sleeves shirt is still the in thing to wear.
The kakanin, home grown Filipino delicacies completes the church going activity. All Filipino stuffs are sold outside the church, biko, itlog na pula, cassava cake, tuyo, embutido, tocino and sapin-sapin - anything that you missed eating from the Philippines. Although, I must say, the quality is not as good as you would like it to be. However, that is better than nothing.
I will never get used to going to church on Fridays except when I was still in high school and college when a first Friday mass is often celebrated. I grew up hearing mass on Sundays and enjoying family gatherings with kakanin on Sundays. Everything is done on a Sunday. But if you are in Abu Dhabi, you learn to adjust and adapt. Whether it be Friday or Sunday, still it is good to know that you are given a day to hear the Word and celebrate being alive with the people you don’t know personally but definitely speak your language.