Before I become a lay missionary, I was a full-time volunteer at Jesuit Volunteer of the Philippines (JVP). One of JVP's aims is to send volunteers for a year of service to marginalized communities and areas with greatest need. The volunteers empower these communities as teachers, formators, community organizers, or enterprise development officers assigned to under-resourced schools, parishes, and NGOs across the country.
During my first year, I was sent to Bukidnon, Mindanao, and worked with the deaf children and youth at Welcome Home Foundation. I renewed for another year and was assigned to Bukidnon again but to Josefa Segovia Foundation. This time, I worked with indigenous high school students as a houseparent and youth coordinator. Looking back, I can say that those years were full of joy and happiness amidst challenges. Those were the best two years of my life before I became a Columban Lay Missionary.
Before I started my service year, some former volunteers told me and my batch mates that after our volunteer years we will be "ruined for life." Back then I did not understand what "ruined for life" meant. But after my volunteer years this "ruined for life" saying became so true to me. My perspective in life changed from someone in a position of privilege to someone who understands the need for social justice. My desire to be of more service to the marginalized people becomes stronger and stronger. I felt the call to serve other people which I cannot refuse even if it was outside of my comfort zone. This feeling was also true to my other fellow volunteers. After our volunteer years, most of us still chose the path of service, becoming social workers, community organizers, physicians, lawyers, nuns, and priests, missionaries and etc.
Last month, I celebrated my 10th anniversary as a volunteer. During the thanksgiving Mass, I thanked God for He is always with me. I was moved to tears because after all these years I still have this desire to do some- thing more, to go out of my comfort zone, and to serve other people.
I am "ruined" because I am still willing to share the love of God through serving other people especially the marginalized and those in greatest need. I am "ruined" because I was excited again to share my hope, joy, and happiness to my former students in the Holy Family for Special Education Center. I am truly "ruined" because I choose to follow God's call to serve. I am joyous and grateful because, indeed, I am "ruined" for life!
Reina Mosqueda is a Columban lay missionary.