Expanding My Circle
I came home for my highly anticipated home vacation in April 2018 after spending the last three years in Chile, feeling incredibly excited to be back among my family and friends. I must admit that I had mixed feelings about reintegrating myself back amongst my family. Seeing my grandmother getting older was difficult for me. I would often wonder if she would still recognize me. Her eyesight was slowly deteriorating, but she could still recognize my voice, thank God. It gave me great joy to see her smiling as she recalled things in the past. This has made me realize that life, in all its moments, is very important–especially when it is shared with others… when we have time to share with our loved ones.
Moreover, my attention was caught by some kids playing with one another. These kids are the sons of my cousins. They have all grown up very fast. When I fi rst left on mission, they were still infants that I would carry in my arms. Although I would have seen them when I spoke with my cousins via video calls, I was really surprised at how big they had grown when I saw them again in person. When I had conversations with them, they seemed not to hear me; often they would not even respond if the question could be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.” Maybe I was a stranger to them or perhaps they were shy, but I wondered how they would communicate with their classmates and teachers in primary school.
To be with the family could sometimes be challenging especially for a missionary like me. To them, I am just a transient visitor who has spent most of his time outside the country. My other close relatives could not recognize me, nor I them. To be with each other is an opportunity to catch up and to know and understand personal realities. Yes, it is hard, but family is family! Every family is unique. We cannot choose what we have but we have to accept and to love, even expand our circle of love when necessary.
Over the last few months I was preparing to take on my new mission assignment in Myanmar (formerly Burma). I spent my time polishing my English language. I can say that it was challenging but at the same time I enjoyed the opportunity afforded to me. There are things I needed to learn and improve, and I committed myself to work hard, sharpen my listening skills, improve my writing, and learn as much as I can and give my best. Every moment is precious, so I knew I had to use it wisely. I was aware that shortly I would have to leave my family again, but I kept on trusting that all would turn out well. Now as I embark on my new life on mission in Myanmar I look forward to having a new and even bigger family on mission!
Originally from the Philippines, Columban lay missionary Michael Javier lives and works in Myanmar (formerly Burma)