Thursday, November 14, 2019


by Liliani Losi Ma'afu

I am presently assigned in Antipolo, a sub-parish of Barra, Cagayan de Oro. My ministry involves accompanying and visiting families, and teaching catechism to the children among others. I am also involved in the Women’s Ministry of the Archdiocese.

I would like to share one of my experiences about a woman I met in Antipolo named Analie Echnique. Analie grew up in Bukidnon and was the eldest of twelve children.  During my visits, I'd tell her stories about how I became to be a missionary. She'd claim, "Sayang, naa koy bana ug mga bata. Pwede unta mag missionary lang ko (It's a pity, I already have a husband and children. I would have loved to be a missionary.)."  She'd also help me practice with my Cebuano.  When she appeared to be busy with household chores, I would often help her out.  Over the course of time, a strong friendship developed between us and  I have come to know her as a responsible mother to her children and a loyal  wife. Every time I finished my visitations, I left with her parting words, "Balikbalik ha (Please come again)."

One day, I accompanied Analie to the hospital for check-up.  Tests revealed that she had Hansen's disease (leprosy). I continued to accompany her to the doctor during her follow-up visits and helped her family understand about her illness and the impact of her diagnosis on the community.  Getting sick in the Philippines costs a fortune so Analie was delighted to know that free medicine could be requested at the Health Center.

I was in Manila for almost two weeks and upon my return to Cagayan de Oro, I was informed that Analie had been admitted to the hospital.  I rushed to the hospital.  When I entered the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), I saw the reality of what full-blown Hansen's disease looked like.  Her skin was swollen and covered with lesions.  Analie greeted me with a weak smile and sighed, "Sakit kaayo, Lily, kapoy ko (It's extremely painful Lily, I am tired.)."  I could not utter a word - I just stood beside here, perplexed. Her moans and her failed attempts to move were indicative of the severe pain she was experiencing.  Unfortunately, the disease had already progressed.  When I was about to leave the hospital, Analie said to me, "Balikbalik ha (Please come back)."

She confided in me that she asked her parents to adopt her children while her 3-month old baby was left to her husband.  She told me, "Dili na nako kaya karon (I can't take care of them now)."  I didn't understand what she meant then.  Analie was discharged from the hospital after two weeks. One early morning, I was preparing to visit her when I received a call from Analie's neighbor saying Analie passed away.  At that moment, my world stopped revolving, my hands began to shake, and tears rolled down my cheeks.

That was the saddest day in my ministry - when I lost a great friend.  Arriving a few minutes before her body was taken to the mortuary, her husband said  that she died in her sleep.  A glimpse of her lifeless body revealed hands clasped on her chest and a face that looked peaceful.  At that moment, I felt a sense of comfort knowing she was at least prepared and knew here time was coming.

The passing of a stranger who became my family, brought me grief but I found peace in the belief that Analie is an angel now.  She taught me to be patient, to be courageous and to be ready when God calls me to rest in His arms. 

I pray that she finds eternal rest in God. Amen.

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