Looking Forward to Joy
I left Taiwan three years ago and returned for a two-month refresher course in Chinese Mandarin in March 2015. It was great to be back in a place where I am familiar, a place where I feel secure. It is fair to say that Taiwan is my place of comfort, my second home.
“Today is our budget meeting and in a special way I would like to invite all of us to remember in gratitude our benefactors and supporters around the world,” an introduction of the morning prayer led by one of the lay missionaries where I attended my last business meeting in Taiwan Mission Unit. Everyone was engaged in the discussions, and I sat quietly, listening and observing. I cannot help but be soaked in gratitude for my years of missionary journey in Taiwan.
We missionaries respond to the call of mission, and our supporters and benefactors share with us in responding to this call. It is not just our yes, but also it’s the commitment of our supporters and benefactors that play a great factor in facilitating us to go on mission. We are able to cross boundaries and journey with the people in the margins, because we receive support from our benefactors.
I can still remember the first time I arrived in Taiwan thirteen years ago. I was scared, unable to speak the language, feeling uncertain about a lot of things and at the same time the feeling of excitement to explore the unknown and anticipation of what will come was dominant. I suppose all of us will agree that going on mission for the first time does feel this way. But at times I tend to forget how I have started and have to remind myself every time new missionaries arrive in the country to go back to these experiences of “beginnings” so I can support the younger missionaries in their process of insertion.
I was rejoicing to see my fellow missionaries settled and have taken different responsibilities in the mission unit and their ministries. I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit is alive in us all. Growing in the Spirit is expressed through sharing joys; their openness to share each other’s challenges and difficulties and being open to be mentored. In mission, we learn, we grow then we continue to learn and grow. I suppose it is important that we keep these two dimensions without limits because this drives us to explore. Exploring leads us to reach new heights and new realizations. Change is always part of the equation.
My experience of working in the central administration for three years has brought me to a new perspective of mission. My concept of mission used to focus only in my participation in the Taiwan Mission Unit and in my ministry. However, after my term of service on the central administration team, I realized that as a long-term lay missionary I noticed that I no longer seek for intact and functioning structures but to be part of “constructing” new structures that would facilitate mission in areas of focus for Columban missionaries.
This is the reason why I opted to undergo a process of change of assignment. The process involved a dialogue with the present Columban lay mission team, the Society General Council and the Taiwan Mission Unit. This will again involve an adjustment, not without feelings of uncertainties; however I am open to learn and explore, comforted in the thought that there is always excitement in the unknown.
I am grateful to God for my mission experience in Taiwan. I leave with a heart full of gratitude for all that has been and especially to all our supporters and benefactors who contributed greatly leading me to a space where I am now. I do not know for sure what will be my future in my new assignment, but I am open to learn and I look forward with joy and gratitude believing that the Holy Spirit is alive in me and in us.
Columban lay missionary Lilibeth Sabado lives and works in Hong Kong.