Friday, May 13, 2011

Reina Mosqueda's Mission Sending

A piece of bread…blessed, broken, and shared

Reina "Reins" Mosqueda had her mission sending mass in her home parish of the Immaculate Conception, Los Baños, Laguna on May 8, 2011. Reins is one of three members of PH19 who is assigned to Taiwan for mission work in partnership with the Missionary Society of St. Columban. Below is her reflection about her experience with a little girl and how this experience helped her grow and be a better person, woman and Christian.
Immaculate Conception Church, Los Banos
I had an experience that made a strong mark in my heart until this very moment. This experience has encouraged me more to serve other people. It has left a deep impact in my life that I will always be grateful of. While this happened 13 years ago during my last year in college, this is still very vivid in my memory. Every Sunday afternoon, I would join the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco in their apostolate in the neighboring town. We would gather the children and youth at the ground of the elementary school beside the Parish Church. We would play, dance, sing, teach catechesis and prepare them for the Mass. I was teaching a group of students from ages 11-13. They were few but very consistent in their attendance. I was happy being with them. Indeed, I was enjoying my apostolate.
Columban Fr. Darwin Bayaca expressing joy over Reins
generous offer to serve  as a Columban Lay Missionary 
Every December, we would give a Christmas Party for some children from all the apostolate centers of the Sisters. We would select children who were really financially poor. The party was going to be held in one big university in Quezon City. We traveled very early for almost two hours from Laguna. Since some of the children did not eat yet their breakfast, we knew that they would feel hungry as soon as we arrived in the place. We were so fortunate to have many sponsors from different food companies. A few minutes after we arrived, we started to distribute bread and drinks to the children. How beautiful to see volunteers helping in giving snacks and how the children would express their thanks! After the giving out of snacks, one Sister led the prayer before meal. Then we, the volunteers went around and assisted the children. One of my students caught my attention so I went to her and asked, “O Marilyn bakit hindi mo kinakain yang snacks mo?” Then I also asked her, “Hindi ka ba nagugutom?” I was struck by her answer. “Ipapasalubong ko po ito ate, sa mga kapatid ko” she replied. As she is holding the bread, I saw how happy she is. I saw the smile on her face and excitement in her heart because she has something to give to her siblings when she got home. What I did was, I gave her another bread and told her to keep the other one in her bag. I was astonished by her action. I cannot control my tears so I went to the corner and there I cried.

Reins with her father
Marilyn was very active in our Sunday class. She comes from a poor and large family. Almost every Sunday, she would wear the same clothes. Maybe that was the only fine clothes she has. And sometimes if no one will take care of her younger siblings during that day, she would bring them to our class. She really loved to attend our Sunday school. Those were the few things I know about her. Even then, I admired her already because of her eagerness to learn about Jesus. But she inspired me because of what she did during the Christmas party.

Was she not hungry herself? Why think of others first when you are also in need? How come that in her young age she was already thinking of the needs of her siblings? She did not feel her own hunger. But instead she thought of sharing what she has with others. She has forgotten herself but remembered her siblings. How beautiful was her act of kindness and generosity! What moved her to do that? Those were the thoughts that were ringing into my ears. Yes this experience has disturbed me. I felt that there was something stirring deep within me. Many activities happened during that day but Marilyn struck me most. Her physical hunger didn’t stop her from doing an act of kindness to others. Truly, it was love that moved her to give, to share what she has without expecting anything in return. Pure and authentic love gave the child deep joy in sharing the bread.

The child did not only feed her siblings but she fed me too. Through her example, I witnessed a life with the Living Bread which is Jesus, himself – generous, kind and true. Like the Gospel passage that says “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (John 6:51). For me, Marilyn is bread from heaven. A person who in her young age is already sharing her goodness to others in her own simple ways. She doesn’t know how much she has encouraged me to do same. Live a life with God who sustains and nourish me in fulfilling his great plan for me every day. Having a deeper relationship with Him, “a relationship of trust, love and gratitude” is now my strong hold.

With this experience during college, I got interested in reading life stories of missionaries from different magazines placed in our library. There I came to know the Columban lay missionaries through Misyon magazine. Since then, I was inspired to be a missionary either as a nun, a married person or lay. Even though the desire was already there, it took me some years to discern. I was enjoying my work as a teacher for several years and I thought the desire to be a missionary will die away. I thought anyway that I am still serving God and his people through my work. But no, the desire did not die but even grew stronger and stronger everyday. Until one day I decided to resign from my work and look for a mission group. While searching, I knew that having a local involvement here in the country is one of the requirements. So I first joined a full-time volunteer group, the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines or JVP. I was assigned in Bukidnon for two years as house-parent, community worker, formator, and youth organizer. I worked with Deaf children and youth on my first year while on the second with the Indigenous high school students. I felt so blessed to be immersed with different kinds of communities that are in need and marginalized. I am not saying that I did not experience pains, difficulties and hardships during my JVP years but I looked at those as periods of grace from God. The experience helped me to grow and be a better person, woman, and Christian.

Reins with friends from JVP
A few months before the end of my last year in JVP, I did discern well whether to continue in becoming a missionary. Yes, I thought that two years in JVP would be enough. But God has his own plans in putting me to the path I wanted to walk on in life. God used different people and events in leading me to go back to my desire to be a missionary – a Columban lay missionary or CLM.

For almost two years I discerned again while I was working in an NGO (Non-Government organization) for the Deaf. Finally, I took the risk of applying to the CLM. Joy, excitement, fear, and anxieties were just some of the many feelings I had when CLM accepted me to the nine- month Orientation Program. I am blessed to be with two beautiful persons (Joan and She) in the orientation program. God is so good that he gives me graces that I needed during the program. The graces of openness, courage and joy helped me continue. The program provided us venue to discover more of ourselves as individual and as a community enriching different aspects of our lives. For me discovering one self to be freer in responding to the Living Bread is not easy. Personally, what I do really appreciate in the program is how I discovered my relationship with God. How my relationship with him affects my relationship with myself and others. And how will I sustain this relationship in my everyday life. And how will I be open to God to be used for his glory. Truly, the program and CLM community generously give me the support to respond to the call.
There is deep joy and gratitude here in my heart now that I am being sent off to the mission in Taiwan. I feel anxious, afraid and worried about my stay there but I will use these feelings to be my strength and good reminders to remain humble. I am now ready to be bread for others – blessed, broken and shared.

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