10 things I learned

by Maira San Juan
Columban Lay Missionary


1.  When I said “Yes” to the mission, I agreed to be an instrument of God’s love to Her people. This is easy to say but not easy to live by. When insecurities arrived at my doorstep, I was confused and I started to ask myself “Why am I here in mission?” Then when compliments sat on my lap and I became comfortable with its presence, I started to think that “I can do many things by myself.” When familiarity and accomplishments touched my shoulders, I started to feel that “I’m more blessed than others.” And when the word “Missionary” comes to my head I started to think that “I’m much better than the other people I’m journeying with.” And when I started to put many expectations to myself I sometimes forgot the reason why I said “Yes”.

2. When communication becomes difficult ... food can help . I believe every food has a story - the way it was prepared and why it tasted so differently. It can also be a first glance to someone else’s culture and uniqueness. Food can become an icebreaker too. I remember when I first tasted and learned how to cook kimchi chigae (a popular Korean soup made with fermented cabbage and chili pepper paste ) the first words that I said were “hmmm..tastes good” and the person who served it smiled. And when I served my first kimchi chigae, the first words that I heard were “how did you prepare this?”. And that was the beginning of the conversation.

3.  I cannot choose the people who will let me into their lives. I can only receive what they are capable of giving and be thankful it happened. It’s a humbling experience to be a living witness and be able to share my life with another person. Building a relationship is not an easy task especially because of culture and language difference. Sometimes miscommunication arise making both parties frustrated and hurt. We have a choice. We either get out of the relationship, put a block or wall, or stay in the relationship and be willing to take risks.


4.  It is essential to sit with friends, talk about anything under the sun, share each other’s experiences, laugh and relax together. I’m at my best when I’m relaxed and when my life is balanced. One challenge in mission is to find balance in everyday life. Nothing can buy me relaxation and balance but friends are good source.

5.  It is not about what I can say but its about how much I listen. And this really matters. I can say many things but these words mean nothing if I don’t listen to what I’m saying. The words become empty because I don’t mean them. And when other people express themselves through words, it becomes noise to me because its nonsense. Not because of the words they say but because I just hear it without really listening to it.

6.  What is life without going back to the basics...breathing. Communion with nature gives me peace of mind because it helps me to breath deeply. This leads me to sense my inner strength because I’m in a pace where all my senses are relax. Communion with God is essential in my everyday life. It helps me find meaning with what I’m doing. Relationship with God is as important as breathing..

7.  My weaknesses are important gifts that I can offer … and others weaknesses are gifts that I can receive. It’s easy to relate with a person who is not afraid to show that they he/she has flaws because honesty deepens relationship not only with oneself  but also with others. Perhaps I have weakness that can be someone else’s inspiration and others have weakness that can give me strength.

8.  There are some things that I cannot bring back anymore. I can not bring back the time when my nephews and nieces were growing up or time with my family anytime I need it. And because I was away from them a long while, I feel I do not know them anymore or that they can continue on with their life without me. This was a reality which gave me much pain but was essential for my growth. 


9.  When doubt and questions arise within me … sometimes the best thing to do is just do nothing. Having doubts and questions might be an overwhelming experience. Sometimes it can make me restless or rigid especially when I least expected it. I realize there are some questions which don’t need an answer, doubts which don’t need any response. I just need to recognize them. 

10.  I can learn many things through experience. I have conviction in what I believe in because I experienced a situation where I almost lost my faith. I can learn the true meaning of joyfulness because I experienced to be almost drawn by loneliness. I can understand the word responsibility because I experienced to be out of control and dependent. Acceptance and letting go are possible because I experienced to hold on tight. The word love is more meaningful now because I experienced being hurt. And the words service and mission are not merely words anymore because I experienced to be in need and witness of Gods love. And because of these I am more aware that I’m just an instrument of the greatest scheme of life, and that I am grateful. Most of all I learn to say THANK YOU!

4 comments:

Anna and David said...

Thank you for sharing Maira. It has been a tough journey for all of us, but the growth has been great.

Ann Rita said...

Thanks, Maira, for writing down your reflection on the 10 things you learned. You certainly have learned how to listen to simple things in life. And that's where growth starts. Your simplicity has touched me. Thank you, Maira.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thanks, Maira. I may use this on Misyononline.com . I'm in Canada at present and will return to Ireland in mid-august. wont'be back in RP till mid-October.

Enjoy your vacation.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. You touched my life...we may not know each other but know the fact that somewhere out there you have inspired people in your work one way or another. God bless you in your mission work.