Life after Columban Lay Mission

By Marilou C. Borje, RP10
Columban Lay Missionary, Peru, 2001 - 2004

Upon finishing my first term as a lay missionary, plans for my life were clear in my mind.  I promised myself that I will just get a short course here in the Philippines to equip myself more, and then I would join my siblings who work and reside in England.  That was the only goal I had.  Maybe if I had gone through career counseling before I left Peru then maybe I was better equipped in the steps that I made.  But then again, that is one my “if-only’s”.  People back home had their own plans for my life as well!  That was one struggle to deal with.

Nevertheless, headstrong as I am, I went on with my life plan optimistically.  While I was completing my 6-month course, I was already receiving rejections from the applications that I submitted to work in the UK.  I guess those were already messages to me that I’ll have to deal with life the hard way, as the recovering addicts would say.  Maybe my 3-year term as a Columban Lay Missionary gave me so much confidence that I believed that I would achieve anything in this world!  Although before I left Peru, I was well-warned by Fr. Shocks that we don’t always get what we expect.  That stuck in my mind.  Maybe Shocks read my mind!

With shattered dreams and a goal that vanished from my sight, I suddenly got lost, I started to panic, I groped in the dark, I blamed God, I challenged Him, I begged Him, I fought with Him.  Despite all of these, He had remained faithful.  He was patient with me.  Things got really difficult but help was always on its way.  And I say that with so much confidence.

I did not get what I expected (to work abroad), but I was blessed to pursue my masters at the Loyola School of Theology and get intensive training in counseling at the Center for Family Ministries.  In the middle of my studies, I had to sustain myself financially.  There were opportunities for me to work full time but I was so insecure to slip back into the system.  I experienced working as an English tutor to Korean and Chinese religious.  I worked as a part-time researcher for Institute of Spirituality in Asia.  I even got the chance to work under the President’s Office of De La Salle Philippines as one of the office assistants!  Through it all, I am grateful that the Columbans always welcomed me in their houses.  I needed that in my weaning period from the comforts and sense of security that the Columbans provided me.

I am also grateful for all the life lessons that Columban mission taught me, most especially in dealing with people, nice people and not-so-nice people alike.  Living outside the comforts of the Columbans taught me additional life lessons as well.  I don’t remember the full details, but a classmate in graduate school once commented that there’s a lot of mind re-construction that needs to be done for people who got religious formation because of the way they view the world.  I did not understand what she meant, but in the process, I think I am finally getting to see her point.  In hindsight, I’m recognizing that everything had a purpose.  It is now a challenge for me to balance these things in my life.  Nothing is wasted.

I still have dreams and goals in life, and I constantly remind myself that my life is in God’s hands.  As the cliché goes:  “Man proposes but God disposes.”

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