Throughout your preparation, you will learn about language and culture of your missionary location. You will learn to focus on the similarities; focusing on the differences can bring about loneliness. It will be stressed that just as God has given us unique talents, the people of your parish will have great gifts to share, too.
As time grows, you will find yourself an integral part of the parish and the community at large. You will be invited to celebrate traditions that were once foreign, and now provide meaning. You will be asked to baptize, confirm, marry and administer last rites to members of the same family, who look to you as a source of comfort.
You might write home to Columbans and their supporters asking for funds to help build parish centers, start socio-economic programs like a Grameen Bank or pedi-cab loans, or improve educational opportunities for people young and old. You will do so in a way unique to your location: local parish members volunteer their time to help build the church, and those who benefit from the loan program spend time overseeing accountability. It will be less about you, and more about giving individuals the freedom and opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, away from illness and danger, and closer to God.
You might live in areas where 50-degrees requires multiple jackets, where kids walk miles on the weekends to see their parents after a week at school, where some people have not heard the Good News! And throughout it all, you’ll experience closeness with God, who sent His own Son to walk among the same brothers and sisters you work with, those who appear last and yet shall be first.