A Memorable Train Ride

November 21, 2016

by Lenette Toledo
Columban Lay Missionary

The author (L) and fellow CLM Catharina Son
Last March 2nd (2016), right after our retreat,  Catha and I decided to take the train back home. I always love to take the train because, aside from being comfortable, I enjoy looking at the beautiful landscape and scenery from my window. We bought tickets for the 5 o’clock evening train and to my delight it was twice cheaper than the bus. At 4:30pm, Fr. Philip and Paul drove us to the train station and made sure we were settled in our seats before they left! Two generous, kind, and hospitable people we have met in our journey! When I saw what the train looked like, I can only describe my reaction in two words! Oh! and Ahrrg! 

The windows were open which meant I had to brace myself from insects like mosquitoes and who knows what else! And it was windy, dusty and cold!! We couldn’t stop laughing when we realized and imagined how it will be sitting for 17 hours in such a rough journey. But it was not until the train started moving that we soon realized it was tougher and rougher than we had imagined! The train was really very slow and I felt I was horseback riding! It was awfully bumpy but surprisingly, rather than feeling agitated because of discomfort, I found myself so amused by the whole situation I couldn’t stop from laughing for a few minutes, so much so that our fellow passengers noticed our reaction and started to laugh with us! Whenever the train rattled we looked at each other and laughed! I had only one concern - will my body still be intact if I make it home the following day?! The train is divided into sections. I think we had the best accommodation compared to those of others where seats are made of wood and I can’t imagine the discomfort all night. 

Sunset from the train
Seventeen hours of rough journey with nothing else to do but to sit and feel my body bouncing and shaking, I was led to reflect on my personal journey here in my new mission for eight months which has been like a train ride. There were bouncing, rough and shaky times, hence God has been great as he kept His promise to carry me through His grace. Life can be very challenging sometimes but with positivity, humor and light heartedness, like my reaction to the train, I can beat all odds. After all, I was able to gaze at and bathe in the beauty of the magnificent sunset and beautiful scenery on my journey and empathize with the local people who can’t afford the expense of taking air-conditioned buses and planes. Surely, there is beauty in every experience even if at first it’s hard to notice. Just keep your eyes and heart open and you will see it!

Be My Feet and Be My Hands

November 2016

by Gertrudes Samson
Columban Lay Missionary, Britain

My Two Poems

I wrote these two poems last year during a workshop training on poetry writing in one of my ministry with asylum seekers.  I thought of polishing it and sharing it here because making these was memorable to me for it led me to deeper reflection and recall important events in my life.  It also reminded to be thankful to God for the great privilege of serving Him in mission and the grace to say “Yes” to his invitation. Hopefully these poems gives people a glimpse of what I do in mission trying to be feet and hands of Jesus for others. 


“Be My Feet”

“My Feet" reminded me to be thankful for the gift of God to me of being able to walk again. When I was around 7 years old, when I woke up one morning, suddenly I could not walk.  My feet up to legs suddenly became painful whenever I tried to make some steps. Every day for several months, my father patiently carried me in his arms and took me to the doctor to have my injection of medicine.  My mother prayed a lot so hard and even made novenas to beg to God to make me walk again. God heard our prayer. He made me walk again.

Thank you God that you made me walk again and I was able to use it to reach out to others as you asked me and led me to mission following you.


 “Be My Hands”

Now that my second term as a Columban Lay Missionary in Britain is about to end this coming October 2016 , I suddenly remember one of God's messages to me in my final discernment retreat in Philippines prior to my coming here to UK in 2010. The retreat was several days and on that day, I decided to stay and pray in my room. Usually rooms in retreat house have plain cross or crucifix (cross with image of Jesus nailed on the cross). I found one in my room a crucifix which is fix on the wall.  But then, when I look at it closely, I am surprise to see a broken cross, the image of Jesus on my crucifix got no hands. Suddenly I remember the story about a church with a broken crucifix. So people who saw it asked the priest, "Father why is it that our crucifix does not have hands?" The priest answered, "because Jesus is asking us to be his hands in reaching out to others." And so in a symbolic way, on that day, I believe Jesus said to me, “Be my hands”.

Thank you God for inviting me in mission and the grace to allow you to use my hands in reaching out to others. 


Being Feet and Hands of Jesus in Mission

I must admit that being hands and feet of Jesus in mission is not always easy. Together with the bed of roses comes the thorns too. Together with the joy of mission comes also the tears. There are victories to celebrate but there are also challenges to overcome.  But looking at the life of Jesus he undergo the same thing, even Him was not spared.  He even suffered very much much worst, so I tell myself why should I complain.  But certainly you would feel that you are not alone, God is always with you giving you the strength to bear everything and helping you to overcome every trials that come your way. Definitely there is Joy in knowing that you are doing the will of God.

Being hands and feet of Jesus will take you to pilgrimages too where things are unpredictable with turns and bends like going to a labyrinth, the path just unfold in your eyes as you go through it, sometimes it also seems endless.  But I think no matter how long and challenging it would be if you trust in God and do not give up, and surrender things to Him even at times that it is not easy and we can't understand, definitely time will come that you will reach the centre destination where you will meet God at core of your being, enjoying His Peace that comes in trusting to His Unconditional Love and having deeper relationship with Him.

As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”. John 14:27


New Fiji/Tonga Team

November 9, 2016

L to R: Lili, Va, and Haiti
Haiti Muller (Tonga), Vasemaca "Va" Rokutakana Ratu (Fiji) and Liliani "Lili" Maafu (Tonga) are not really new with CLM-Philippines.  They arrived in the Philippines on December 28, 2015 after their nine months orientation in Fiji.

After their six months Cebuano language studies in Davao, they moved to Cagayan de Oro for their ministries. Lili works with prostituted women; Haiti is with the prison ministry for women, and; Va is involved in livelihood program for women, BEC for landless communities, and with the youth. All three are involved with catechism for the children. 

Liliani Losi Ma’afu: Lili is 30 years old. She hails from Lapaha in Tonga. She is the fourth of eleven siblings. She completed Secretarial and Computer Studies  at St. Joseph Business College. She worked as a secretary for the Youth in the Diocese of Tonga. She loves to play netball and cooking. 

 Vasemaca Rokotukana Ratu.  Va is 26 years old and hails from Vuaki, Yasawa.  She comes from a strong Catholic Family. She is a member of St. Agnes Parish, Samabula. She studied electrical engineering at Fiji National University. She was working as a technician prior to joining the CLM in Fiji. Va likes to sing and play the guitar.
 
Haiti Muller. Haiti is 31 years old from Hihifo Parish, Tonga. She is the youngest in the family. She studied Commercial Cookery and Catering at Ahopanilolo Technical College.  She worked as a Mary Potter volunteer and was a Novice in the Little Company of Mary. Haiti is open, gifted with her hands and very good in creative liturgy. She likes cooking and singing. 

Va (in yellow shirt) with the youth

A CHALLENGE TO LEARN NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS

By Monaliza Esteban, Columban Lay Missionary in Fiji
November 9, 2016

I was assigned to work in Ba parish, a Columban parish situated in the western region of the island of Viti Levu, Fiji. I was also involved in the diocesan evangelization program for the youth of the western region. So part of my ministry was working with the young people.  

In the Fijian culture, gathering around the ‘tanoa’, (a wooden carved container, like a basin, where ‘yaqona’/‘kava’, a traditional drink from the kava plant is mixed to be served, is a significant part of the way of life here. While there is a social dimension to gathering around the ’tanoa’ it meant more than that. Various rituals about life, from birth to death, is done around the ‘tanoa’. Hence gathering around the ‘tanoa’ is of great significance to the people in this culture. At times important conversations happen here. As for me working with the young people in this culture meant a time to learn new ways of doing things.

Before I joined the CLM, I was privileged to have worked with young people for over a decade during work life.  As a teacher by profession, I was used to a classroom style of teaching. For me the venue for teaching is within the four walls of the classroom. As the teacher I stood and my students were on their seats and I taught my students within the time frame I am expected to teach.  

Traditional Fijian 'tanoa'
This time, in the new culture I found myself in, I was challenged to learn new way of doing things. I learned to ‘teach’ in a different way. I found myself gathered with others around the tanoa’ and sitting on the floor. The gathering is not bound by time. Time took a different meaning too. The essence of being gathered around the ‘tanoa’ is to be present and it doesn’t matter how long it will take. So I learned to share time with them around the ’tanoa’. The atmosphere is more relaxed in contrast to the formal set-up of a classroom. More often there is a good interaction among the young people gathered on the topics I wanted them to absorb. However, I haven’t always succeeded. There were times I found myself teaching theoretical concepts and principles. Each time I do so I could see a few sleepy eyes, some staring out blankly and worse others stretch their arms and yawn openly, giving me a clear gesture of perhaps boredom and lack of interest on what I was talking about. I found that whenever I tell a story - especially a life experience - I get their attention back. For those precious moments I was able to get them focused again. In my experience whether inside a classroom or around the “tanoa”, if people are quiet and don’t say anything for a long time something is wrong. The silence could be a sign that the teacher or speaker is not really connecting with the students or their audience. 

Evangelization talk with  the youth of the western region

Young people learn best when they get personally involved in the process of learning. When they argue, disagree or question because at the end they will eventually discover the truth for themselves. This scenario applies to every young people whatever and wherever they come from. Meeting and living with these young people has not been easy for me. There were trials and challenges that came with it. It was a bit of a struggle, even spiritually. Frequently my listening skills were challenged. This was the most difficult part for me to put into practice. It took time to know them and love them more deeply in order to connect with their world. I have learned the hard way! Jesus during his public ministry had struggles too and I am always reminded of it. I believe that we are blessed when we persevere in the midst of trials and challenges that come along the way because having been tested, we will have life that the Lord has promised to those who love him in faithfulness.

PH24 - 24th team in orientation

November 8, 2016

Last September 20, 2016, the Columban Family welcomed Evangeline "Jinky" Ucol, Jennifer "Jake" Lunor, Lily Faunillan and Linde Zapra to the orientation program of the Columban Lay Missionaries. During the creative liturgy, they shared their hopes, prayers and aspirations as they begin their missionary journey with the Columbans.

Evangeline Ucol: Jinky, as she is fondly called, is from Magsaysay, Occ. Mindoro. She is 38 years old and the 3rd of 5 children.  She finished Bachelor of Science in Religious Education at Stella Maris, Cubao, Quezon City in 1994.  After graduation she worked in the parish for two years.  After passing the Licensure Examination for Teachers, she taught at Marikina Catholic School for almost 8 years.  Later, she studied at Mother of Life Center in Novaliches, Quezon City, where she earned 45 units in MA in Religious Education.  Jinky was the Christian Living Education (CLE) Coordinator in Stella Maris College, Cubao prior to joining the CLM. 

Linde Zapra:  Linde is from Zamboanga City.  She is 35 years old and the eldest and only daughter in the family of 4 children. She completed BS in Secondary Education (Major in English) at Western Mindanao State University and earned units in MA in English Language Studies from the Western Mindanao State University.  Her first job was as a tutor and later became a pre-school teacher then high school teacher and finally, as college instructor.  Her work as a researcher at the Silsilah Dialogue Movement (SDM) and later a pre-school teacher was a dream job for her and her volunteer work as a catechist in the Catechetical Apostolate Ministry of St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish was a fulfilment of a childhood desire. Linde joined the lay consecrated community of the Emmaus Dialogue Community while she was with SDM. Linde says “Being a missionary has always been my dream – to serve God through the church wherever the call and need may be.” 
 

  Jennifer Lunor: Jake or Jen, as she is called, is from Talamban, Cebu City. She is 31 years old  and the 3rd of 4 children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at the University of the Visayas, Cebu City in 2007 and passed the board examination in 2008. She became a full-time volunteer paramedic nurse & firefighter with the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) in Cebu City while at the same time doing part-time duty as private nurse.  While at ERUF, she discovered her passion for service, honed her skills, developed her talents and gifts which she didn’t know existed. Life in ERUF provided her the experience and developed in her a sense of service that doesn’t choose who is being served and does not expect any result. Later, she was employed as a nurse at House of Hope (A Christian Drug Rehabilitation Center). It was here were she learned about the Columban Lay Missionaries from Marivic Quilab, a returned LM assigned to Ireland.
 
 
Lily Faunillan: Lily or Lilay is from Moalboal, Cebu.  She is 28 years old and the 3rd of 4 siblings.  Lily is an AB in Elementary Education graduate from University of San Carlos.  She’s a licensed teacher with a Masters in School Administration from the University of the Visayas.  Lily used to work as a private tutor and an ESL teacher.  Initially, she didn’t want to become a teacher but being a loving daughter, she gave in to the wishes of her mother.  Overtime, she learned to love teaching. She was also a catechist and a member of the Youth for Christ.  She believes that life is a matter of acceptance of what is yet to come.  Immediately prior to joining the CLM Orientation Program, Lily was a college instructor at Rizwoods Colleges and an on-call examiner at the Center for Educational Measurement.



November 5, 2016, Integration Day at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies

PONDERING


 by Gracia Kibad

Columban Lay Missionary Gracia Kibad was assigned in Ireland from 1996 until 2014.  She moved to Hong Kong in 2015 when she became the Coordinator of the Lay Missionary Central Leadership Team. 


In my past ministry I had on numerous occasions listened to migrant workers share their stories. Some were wonderful and inspiring but sadly some were not so happy. I have witnessed some of their successes. Some their failures. One thing that is most important and is truly close to their hearts are their families back home. Whatever it is they are undergoing they have their loved ones in their hearts always as their motivation and inspiration.

On the bus one Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago as I sat myself the conversation of two passengers behind me became audibly noticeable. Judging from their conversation they are domestic migrant workers. Not that I was eavesdropping but their voices were really loud enough to be heard at least two seats away from where they were seated. 

Nearly every family in the Philippines have at least a relation working overseas. The economic migration is such a phenomena in the Philippines that it is affecting hundreds of thousands of families back home. At times their children are the most vulnerable in this situation. People at home too are feeling the void created by the absence of loved ones working overseas. Time spent apart loving each other in ones absence can never be mended and the human heart still long for the lost time. Human relationship is meant to be spent together with those we love. However choices at times bring people to live lives apart from each other due to search for greener pastures overseas. The immediate question is how can the ‘wall of absence’ between loved ones left at home and those who are working overseas be bridged when reunion finally comes? 

Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong on Sundays (http://hongkong.coconuts.co)
We do not really know the heart of some migrant workers because at times family members are blinded by their misguided perspective. At times family members want to in a way ‘punish’ them thinking ‘they deserve the money they are asking in exchange of their absence at home’ or that because ‘they chose to leave the family and spend their life somewhere without their loved ones’.
It was obvious that the conversation was an exchange between people undergoing different struggles. The two people in the story above found in each other a listening ear. In sharing their individual stories they would have found support from each other, even from a new acquaintance on the short bus ride to where they were going to. Like any human beings they needed to talk and needed someone to listen to them. Their burden may have been lightened as it is shared with someone who listened... Some migrant workers could be most vulnerable especially because they do not have easy access of family or community support around them when they are overseas. Some are not so lucky to have their immediate family around them like the hundreds of migrant workers here in Hong Kong. People like them are the ones who needs much support.

At times in my past experience that is just what I did. Being present to people whenever they needed help or when they needed someone to talk to. At one time when I was in Ireland I offered shelter to two newly arrived nurses who have been promised a job that was not there in the first place but luckily with their qualifications they have landed a job pretty soon after their ordeal.

While most stories of migrant workers are good, at times we heard stories that were not so pleasant. Some were much worse than the other. At times they suffer in silence. They sacrifice for their loved ones at home. On top of family concerns they may have at times needed to deal with difficult work situations and sometimes would have suffered abuse from their employers. Some verbal or physical. Worse case some experienced sexual abuse. Some even lost their lives to escape danger or violence.We do not really know the heart of some migrant workers because at times family members see them like 'banks' with whom money can be drawn anytime it is needed. It is at times forgotten that their homesickness, tears and sweat are its equivalents.

We do not really know the heart of some migrant workers until we understand some of their sadness, loneliness, difficulties and pains that are at times camouflaged with beautiful clothes or jewelries they wear. . . For some of them, their day off is a time to feel good about themselves and they put effort in dressing up well. We can’t fault them in that because week in and week out their job is to clean the house, or look after a baby or a bunch of kids, take care of an elderly or sick person, ... doing menial jobs that allows them very limited time to spend for themselves, like doing personal things i.e. brushing their teeth, combing their hair, etc.. because of the endless jobs or errands they need to do to look after the needs of their employer’s family. Their time is often spent for others of which they are paid for but never spent on themselves.. Normally their day off is a time to put on their best to feel good and look good. So if you see their FB photo posts don’t conclude that they are living luxurious life away from you just because they wear fashionable clothes, faces covered with make-up, or their bodies adorned with necklaces, bracelets and earrings. .. Although some are lucky, with good jobs and enjoy a reasonably comfortable life overseas, and at times with their families with them, some are not fortunate.

When they come home RECEIVE them with open arms and SPEND TIME with them. LISTEN TO THEIR STORY: Take interest in their life and story, ask them how it is as a migrant worker, draw them out with your questions because they need to tell their story (although at times they do not feel their story is worth relating) but do not push. Give them time and be patient with them. They are at times embarrassed to share their stories that may include their ordeals because at times they feel they need to protect you from their difficulties. TAKE CARE OF THEM: When you feel they are distant show your care for them because at times they feel guilty having been away. At times they do not know how to make up for the lost time without you in their lives. At times they feel they lost you from being away from them and they feel you may be better of without them. Unfortunately they just do not know how to reach out to you. But LOVE them just they way you need to.

One thing they have in their hearts is: They are coming home to the ONLY home they know, where they feel LOVE is waiting and where the people THEY LOVE DWELLS.

They dread every goodbye they needed to say and even though they are faraway, you as their loved ones are never far from their memory, because you are embedded in the most special corner of their hearts.

For varied reasons people chose to work overseas but I believe they chose it NOT because they want to be away from their loved ones.

Vocation Story of Marea Lyn Almirañez

by Marea Lyn Almirañez, Columban Lay Missionary

Columban Lay Missionaries's photo.My vocation story started in my early childhood years when I met Jesus (The Eye) hanging on our bed room wall. Every night my parents sat in front of the image praying to Him for thanksgiving and asking for guidance and good health. They said that Jesus was called “The Eye” because He knows everything and sees everything. This was the first catechesis I got from my parents. I remembered one night I looked at him and silently asked Him, “Who are you? Why are you always looking at me?” 

My parents are both pious. They helped me to know God by telling us stories from the Bible. My father was a painter in San Sebastian College – Recoletos Manila. During his break time, he usually made canvas of Jesus and Mary and put these images on the walls of our house. I saw the image of Jesus not only in our bedroom but also in other corners of our house. Eventually, He became my invisible friend.

Time passed. I went to school, met people and made friends. I started to talk to Him just like my parents did every night. Every time He looked at me, I felt He was inviting me to talk to Him. I talked to Him when I was happy, sad, frustrated or disappointed. Also, I shared my secrets with Him because He would not tell these to others. This conversation became my habit.

San Sebastian Chapel, Manila, April 29, 2016: Parents of Marea

I became a church goer. Every time I saw young men serving at the altar during Mass, I had a desire to be like them. But they didn’t accept women as altar servers then. When I entered college in San Sebastian College – Recoletos Manila, I saw some students (men and women) were active servers in our chapel. The desire of serving Him was intensified. So I joined Campus Peer Minister, the extension arm of the Campus Ministry Office. I became active and enjoyed serving in the Mass as well as assisting in recollections and retreats. I found joy in doing this kind of service.

Ate Fe, staff in the Campus Ministry Office at that time asked me what my plan was after graduation. I told her that I wanted to be a campus minister just like her because I enjoyed doing this work. She encouraged me to apply at Mother of Life Center, a graduate school for professional catechists. After a series of examinations, I was accepted and underwent a live-in formation. At Mother of Life, I learned many things and was formed to be a catechist. This was my first job. I was invited to teach in two parochial schools in Pasig. This was difficult for me because I had no experience in teaching. I realized that serving God was not always happy and joyful like what I experienced during my college years. There are struggles and difficulties involved in serving and that’s the reality I have learned and needed to accept. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being with my co-catechists. Later, I resigned and worked as library assistant at Mother of Life. I stayed there for two years and later accepted the job as office support staff in San Beda College Benedictine Foundation, Inc. (SBCBEFI). I stayed in the foundation for two months and transferred to the Campus Ministry Office of San Beda College (SBC). I enjoyed being with my co-workers in the Campus Ministry as well as other workers in San Beda College. Also, I enjoyed facilitating retreats and recollections.

"The Eye"
Monaliza Esteban, my classmate in Mother of Life was on the Orientation Program of the Columban Lay Missionaries (CLM) during my second year in SBC. She invited me to apply to the CLM but I declined her invitation. I thought that time that I was already doing mission in my own country. I stayed in the Campus Ministry for two years and went to Singapore to help my sister. After only two months, I came back home to the Philippines. I became a resource speaker in retreats and recollections in the Campus Ministry of San Beda College. At the same time, I was still an active volunteer facilitating retreats and recollections in San Sebastian College. After a year, I accepted the job in San Beda College Alabang as Pastoral Associate in Catholic Benedictine Formation Office (CBFO). There I got to know Violeta “ate Violy” Villaraiz, a Mother of Life graduate and a returned Columban Lay Missionary from Korea. She became my close friend and big sister in that school. Indeed, I was happy to be a Pastoral Associate but I felt something missing. Then, ate Violy encouraged me to apply to the CLM. 

 At first, I was hesitant to apply to the CLM because I was afraid to be a missionary. For me, it is a very challenging call and I felt I was not fit to be a missionary. Nevertheless, I accepted the challenge because it was the second time I was invited to join the CLM. I attended the “Come and See” and later the accompaniment program until I took a series of tests and had my interview with the Admission Board. I was accepted and underwent the CLM Orientation Program. 

CPE Graduation, December 2015, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City
During my Orientation Program, I learned many things. It quenched my thirst in learning new things. I discovered a lot about myself (during pastoral work, Clinical Pastoral Education, group processing, accompaniment and recollection/retreat), social issues and mission (during studies and exposures in Columban Ministries particularly in Negros and Mindanao Exposure) which I didn’t experience before. These were not easy experiences but I felt joy in this kind of call. Here I found satisfaction in life. The experiences I encountered were meaningful and fruitful. I found myself renewed and my relationship with God deepened in a different level. Thanks to Jesus for guiding me in my journey. He knows everything and sees everything. He really knows me. He led me to the path where I found my heart’s desires. He gave me some people who helped me to know myself, life and my vocation. I am happy to be a Columban Lay Missionary and I want to share these blessings I’ve received through mission and become a living witness of God’s love.

My Vocation Story

by Febie M. Gonzales, Columban Lay Missionary to Taiwan
 
I am the 4th of the 5 children of Romeo S. Gonzales, Jr. and Linda Manantan Gonzales, from Upper Dado Alamada Cotabato. I was born on February 9, 1987. I am 29 years old. I took up my Elementary and Secondary Education in Upper Dado. I graduated from Notre Dame University in Cotabato City with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Financial Management. The spark of my desire to be in a religious life began when I was in high school. This was deepened when I was in college. After my graduation in college, I decided to respond to the call to join the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus (FMIJ). But during those times I felt that I didn’t have enough courage and strength to fully submit myself to my chosen vocation. I saw that my family needed my financial support in sending my siblings to school. Eventually, I decided not to pursue my missionary desire with the Franciscan missionaries. However, I did not lose hope that someday, somehow, my dream will become a reality.

I worked as bookkeeper of Libungan National Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative for almost 4 years. In 2009, I took up my second course in Accountancy desiring to become a Certified Public Accountant someday. I stayed at the residence hall of the Oblates of Notre Dame in Cotabato City. I was exposed to the life of the sisters and saw how they formed lay people. I lived with them and I was happy listening to their different missionary life stories, especially those assigned in remote areas and those working with the indigenous people. I got interested about their life. And came the time when the sisters asked me to work as Finance Officer in their project on Peace Governance in Mindanao in partnership with the Catholic Relief Services. I took up the challenge and explored Mindanao through social services and I soon discovered that I love this kind of job with the OND SPREAD Peace team headed by Sr. Telma Argate, OND. At the same time I worked as part time bookkeeper of Notre Dame Center for Catechesis with my direct supervisor Sr. Teresa May Salazar, OND. When the project of CRS with OND SPREAD finished, another dream came true. I transferred to the Cooperative Bank of Cotabato - Isulan Branch, in Isulan Sultan Kudarat. I was assigned as accounting clerk for almost two years while keeping connected with Notre Dame Center for Catechesis. 

One day a friend of mine, Ms. Devie Enguito, a mission partner of Notre Dame Center for Catechesis (NDCFC) from Ozamis City texted me an invitation to join the accompaniment program of the Columban Lay Missionaries. Without second thought I replied, showing my interest in joining the group. I was then introduced to Ms. Aurora Luceño, CLM. She accompanied me in my discernment process and facilitated my application to the Columban Lay Missionaries until my acceptance to the CLM nine-month orientation program. I was so happy when I received the letter of acceptance to the orientation program. I finally decided to take the risk of giving up my work & slowly detach myself from the family and friends to fully embrace the world of uncertainties during the orientation program. I went for a retreat and sought God’s guidance and direction in my new journey towards becoming a Columban missionary, to know myself and the Columban mission even more deeply and to continually discern every step of the fulfillment of my missionary dream.

Mission Sending of Febie on April 10, 2016, Immaculate Conception Parish, Alamada, Cotabato
Overtime, my experiences in the orientation went beyond my expectation. Many ups and downs were encountered. I also experienced difficulties which made me think of quitting and going back to the corporate world. Tough experiences taught me to appreciate the value of surrendering everything to God. However, all of these made me realize that in the different stages of my life’s journey God is always here at my side, my partner in my discernment and in many ways He showed me the purpose of my life. He molded and formed me accordingly. He revealed to me His will and granted me my heart’s greatest desire. I found peace, joy, happiness, contentment and fulfillment in life. I bloomed, physically, emotionally and most of all spiritually. The joy of deeply knowing myself in the orientation program led me to fall in love with my God, inspired me to go out from my comfort zone, to reach out to the poor, the marginalized, the dying and the dead and to take care of His creation.