In December 2017, a generous Malate parishioner gave the Columbans complimentary tickets to watch Ballet Philippines perform "The Nutcracker" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was just a few days after I arrived from Mindanao where I helped for the whole month of November in Columban mission promotion, worked on the 2018 centennial celebration, had visits to its different ministries, and also helped on the relief operation at the resettlement site of the internal refugees from Marawi. So upon hearing about the ballet, I said to myself, "Great! Thanks be to God, I really need a break!" And one thing more, I find ballet really relaxing.
Arriving at the theater lobby, I was delighted to see someone familiar, the 1973 Miss Universe Margie Moran! At first, I was a bit shy to go near her, but with a little prodding from my fellow lay missionaries, I was able to gather enough courage, and I went to say hello. I introduced myself and refreshed a shared memory when we worked for a common cause many years ago.
I met Miss Margie when I was still working as an architect for Habitat for Humanity. She was a member of the board of trustees then. When I was working for Habitat, which is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, we built simple, decent and affordable houses for the poor and marginalized of society. The construction team, volunteers, the future home owners, donors and other partners work together in the actual build. I do remember Miss Margie visiting us at the construction sites and literally working with us at the construction. Whatever volunteer task she was given, she did her best to make it nice and neat. I do recall a particular home partner proudly saying whenever someone visits her house, "Look at that wall, the joint finish is nicely done and neat. It was done by Miss Margie Moran!"
It's really nice to see Miss Margie again after so many years. She is one of those ladies that I admire not only for her beauty but also for her heart for service to humanity. I also learned about her advocacy for peace in Mindanao. She was president of Ballet Philippines for a number of years and their thrust is to bring art through ballet to the communities, which granted us the privilege to watch their productions. And for their Nutcracker show, a beautiful Christmas story, we brought along with us some indigenous women from the Subanen community that the Columbans are helping. It was their first time to watch ballet live! We really enjoyed the night. Indeed, it was a special treat for all of us!
The ballet show made me look back at the happy memories of my past and I suddenly realized that although I am not a Miss Universe like Miss Margie Moran, I still feel blessed and thankful to God that I got the chance to become a missionary. Well at least the first three syllables of MISSIONARY and MISS UNIVERSE sound similar! Hahaha! But more importantly, being a missionary gives me the chance to continually do service to God and to humanity, and to be an advocate for the integrity of creation, justice and above all, world peace! Just like what Ms. Margie has been advocating and working for. And like the contestants of Ms. Universe, we, Columbans, are also of different nationalities and on mission in 17 different countries. Likewise, the asylum seekers and refugees I journeyed with in my ministries in Birmingham, England, for the past seven years are of more than 100 nationalities from different parts of the world too.
I believe that whatever role God gives us at a particular point of our life is a MISSION; whether in the forefront or behind the scenes, big or small, brief or short, we simply must give our best shot in everything that we do, that is with lots of love, for God gave His best shot for us also when HE SENT JESUS, His only son, so we can get to know Him as THE GOD OF LOVE. "For God so loved the world that He gave us His one and only Son..." (John 3:16).
Thank you, dear God for the EVERLASTING LOVE and the GREATEST GIFT ever – JESUS, OUR PRINCE OF PEACE!
Columban lay missionary Gertrudes Samson lives and works in Britain.