Today is my one year and two months of being a missionary volunteer in the male prison. As I reflect on my journey, I remember that on my first week, I was so nervous knowing that my Visayan language is not good but I was challenged by my coordinator to speak it. One day, we went to jail to follow up on the profiles of the inmates. My coordinator told me to interview some of them. At the thought of hearing their stories, I was excited to meet them but at the same time I was nervous. When the first inmate came and sat beside me, I was confident enough to greet him, “maayong buntag kuya.” He responded and I again said, “kumusta?” He started to talk in Visaya but I only smiled because I didn’t introduce myself first because my Visaya is limited. When he heard me talk, he knew that I was still struggling with my language so he started to talk to me in English. I was so happy that he can speak English but when my coordinator found out that we talked in English she told the inmate not to talk to me in English saying further, “speak Visaya to her so that she can practice too.” I laughed and tried to talk in Visaya again. It made my day.
|(picture used with permission)|
Every time I come home, I always go to the chapel and offer my day of joy and pain in front of the Blessed Sacrament and pray for the inmates and also for me to be strong because this helps me to be relieved. I take as a blessing every experience.
In the jail chapel, there was a painting of a priest. Every time I visit the jail, I always pass by it. So one day I asked one of the inmates who the man in the painting was and the inmate answered, “You said you are a Columban Missionary but you don’t know him? He is Fr. Chapman, a Columban priest. He loved us so much. He used to hear our confession, gave us food and he built this chapel.” I was so amazed upon hearing Fr. Chapman’s story. His story gave me courage to give the inmates more place in my heart. From that time on, I didn’t want to live a day without visiting the jail. However there were times I have to attend to other duties so I am unable to visit them which makes me very sad.
|Haiti learned candle making so |
she can train former inmates.