Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mission is an Act of Love

by Gilda Comayas

Love is the measure of our faith and the inspiration of our obedience to God. We do it because we have something meaningful that motivates us. The decision to serve will shape the spiritual journey of our missionary work. I started my mission in Chile last May 2015. 

I was assigned in Alto Hospicio, Iquique, North of Chile. Some people don’t like the place because it is a desert. Green trees do not grow here, only palms and a few plants. But I see the beauty of the place where we live in. It’s not the physical aspect that I see but the beauty of the people around me. Most of the people who are living here are migrants. They come from neighboring countries looking for greener pastures. They believe Chile can give them a good life. 

My work is not only concentrated in the parish. I help animate the mass, teach children and adults who are interested to play instruments such as guitar, tambourine, bongo, etc. I also teach catechism in the school and teach English to those who are interested to learn. Together with a Columban priest, we visit sick people and families in the community and celebrate mass in a squatter settlement called “La Toma.”

We also go out of Iquique, they call it “anterior” to do a mission together with the priest and nun or sometimes with the permanent deacon. We help animate the mass and at the same time visit the natives (Andinos). It is in this place where we see the beautiful Anden Mountain and wild animals such as llamas, deer, flamingo and sheep.

Since majority of the people I worked with were not from Chile, each has their own ways of doing things. From the manifestations of their faiths, not to mention their cultures and ways of living are different. 

When I started my ministry work, I’ve had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to do for them, but I would end up feeling frustrated because my plans won’t work out the way I expected them to. This was where my struggle started. 

Parishioners found it hard to commit in the activity of the church. So what I did was to always go out, meet new people and friends and go with the priest to visit families and the sick. I also asked questions to missionary nuns who have been here for quite some time. 

It was a big challenge on my part to learn their language. Eventually I managed to understand their culture and their attitudes. I became mindful not to have high expectations anymore. Generally, Chileans I’ve met are loving people and most of them are laid back and just want to enjoy the moment. I learned to just ‘go with the flow’ and continued to pray for my work and the people.

It was then that I began to enjoy mission and value the things I took for granted before like the concern parishioners have for one another – whenever someone arrived late for an activity, they won’t complain, instead, they would thank God the person arrived safely. 

With this experience, I discovered how to be more patient with others and not to be disturbed whenever people do not arrive on time or do not even show up. 

I have learned a lot in my mission. I’ve learned to extend my patience in waiting for others, to be more creative, to appreciate other cultures as well as my own, to count my blessings and stop complaining; but most of all, I learned that I am truly dependent on God. He alone can give us the wisdom to accept the things which are hard to understand and to love those who are difficult to love. 

Indeed, love is the root of mission. Out of this love come certain sacrifices from us which bears fruit in the works we do in mission.

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