Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Leaving Familiar Shores

by Marjorie Engcoy

 July 24, 2012. It was the day of our flight to Fiji via Incheon, South Korea. I was filled with a mixture of starting to miss my family, anxiety, and thrill. Having the thought of three years straight without going home started to get to me whilst on flight to Incheon; but, I was, on the other side of the coin, assured that they were in good hands and they will be taken care of. I started going through the list of family events that I will be missing while I am far away. However, the reality of easier communication brought by enhanced technology of this generation made it easy for me to deal with it.

            In as much as I was thrilled about the new adventure that I was into, I could not deny the fact of the uneasy feeling – it was like my insides are turning inside out – I was really nervous about heights. It was the day that I made a pact with myself to accept the fact that my fear of heights will have to be faced as I respond to this calling of being a Columban Lay Missionary.

            At that time, it felt surreal. I could not believe for myself that I was finally doing mission; more so to another nation with its own unique culture, tradition, and language. As a child, I had been fond of reading stories about missionaries living among people of different culture, tradition, and language from them. It made me curious. Now, I am writing on the page of my own mission story.

Coming to a New Land and Deepening the Call

            “Bula!” greeted the Fijian airport personnel pushing a wheel chair towards the tarmac. I said to myself, “I’m really in Fiji. This is it. There’s no turning back.” I looked around it felt a bit strange. I felt that I am indeed in a new land; the land that God had chosen for me.

            Going inside the airport, the passengers were greeted with this wonderful singing trio, dressed in their colorful Bula shirt, and playing their guitar. That’s when I felt really vulnerable; out of my comfort zone. Another chapter is about to begin.

2015, Unleashing our carpentry skills
            Coming to a new land also means the start of other important things.  These are learning the language, culture and tradition of this wonderful land and its friendly people. Going though all these was very humbling.  Whilst learning the language, I felt like I was a child who was just starting to communicate. At first it was fun, but then frustration started kicking in. I felt frustrated during the times that I wanted to relate but could not say the words I wanted to say. There were times that I felt bad when I was not understood. Despite all these, I was very thankful for all the people that were around me at the time. They made a whole lot of difference during my stay.  God sent them to me to help me understand what’s going on and to help me communicate. I owe them a lot!
With the youth

As I respond to this calling of being a Columban Lay Missionary through my ministries it has deepened overtime through the varied dynamic experiences and acquaintances during my first three years in Fiji. Through these, I became more and more grounded in the spirit of service for others despite cultural and language barrier. There is this one family who became close to my heart within the couple of years I spent in my mission area. Within a few days after our first “hi and hello”, I gradually became part of their family. What was so amazing was that they have not known me fully but they accepted me whole heartedly. Overtime, they became my source of strength and support just as my family back in the Philippines was. It did not matter to them that I am a foreigner; I became part of their family. Their concern, love, and support for me are very inspiring. God showed me the perks for trusting him, for having faith in him. They reminded me all the time that my calling is not easy and whether I like it or not, I would face and will still face the difficulties in the journey.  But they assured me that I have them; I can turn to them. This isn’t just true to one family I met, but to most.

            Yes, when I left my country, I left my family, friends and comfort zone and stepped into a country I never set my eyes before; but only to find more families, friends, and establish a new comfort zone. It is in love that crossing boundaries becomes possible and life-giving.

Published: 06 June 2018

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