The Journey Continues
One of the many joys of being a Columban lay missionary is the joy of entering into a new culture and sharing my faith and experience with the people, while at the same time learning so much more from them in return. I began my ministry in Dogoru village (Fiji), which is part of Labasa Parish, last year. I was no stranger to living in a village setting as I had already undergone my previous language exposure with a family in a different village.
At first, I thought everything would be plain sailing as I had already studied the Fijian language for five months, but it wasn’t. I was faced with the challenge of having to learn a new dialect for that particular village in order to communicate within my ministry and, naturally, to understand the people and their culture.
Two weeks after arriving in the village, my first ministry involvement was to teach a Confirmation Class every Sunday. My daily activities would include visiting families for a chat and a meal together, depending on the time availability of the family. I would also visit the kindergarten, offer support and help the students there as needed and in that way form a bond with the children.
Another aspect of my mission was of being present with the people to attend the Small Christian Community’s (SCC) Sunday schedule and participate in the different community groups. Last October I attended a RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) workshop in Labasa to help me in my ministry here in the village. During the last week of November, I also started up the SCC with the youth in the village to gather them together and get them active again in the community. We participated together in some youth activities such as the Youth Vigil Rally, the Youth Synod Workshop, and I supported them in the Bishop Mataca Tournament at Napuka. On top of that, I was also busy attending community meetings, gatherings, functions, and the usual village activities.
Having to learn new things, even the most basic things in life, again and again is not a bad thing. The only drawback is when one romanticizes what one already has and becomes too attached, not willing to let go. A person can be stuck in his or her comfort zone and be afraid to make changes. However, we need change in our lives, not so much as to change ourselves but to change the way we see things and how we perceive other people and thereby accept them to be part of our lives. If we are willing to open up our bodies, minds, and emotions, our lives will be pretty good, and we can do simple things in an extraordinary way.
Even the little things I did in this community village were well appreciated by the people, and for some it even impacted their lives. But what they didn’t know is that the way they responded and the goodness they’ve shown towards me has also touched my life and made me realize that it’s not how big or small the things you do that really matter, but how you change people’s lives for the better.
As Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.” This is why I surrender to God and make the change within myself and share my love to others, because with God’s love we become one on this journey we call life.
Originally from the Philippines, Columban lay missionary Jennifer Lunor lives and works in Fiji.