In So Many Words
I responded to my baptismal call to become a lay missionary with the Columbans in 2017. I can still remember how my heart was pounding with joy as I signed my agreement even though I was aware that there would be uncertainties on the road ahead as I embarked on my mission journey to Fiji. I am working in the parish of St. John the Apostle in Natovi, north of the capital Suva, and have been involved in faith formation ministry, youth ministry and JPIC.
Being a lay missionary is not easy because each day I find myself tested in many ways - spiritually, emotionally and physically. Spiritually, in how faithful I am in saying yes to this mission during times of difficulties. Emotionally, in the midst of a crisis or criticism, in how strong I am in handing my anger and stress. And physically, especially when I was run-down, sick and exhausted, then it reveals my commitment, consistency, perseverance and determination in fulfilling my day to day missionary work in the parish and with the Columbans.
I also celebrated many joys in my missionary life by sharing experiences with the local people and getting to know and trust them. During my first few months in Fiji, I had the opportunity of staying with a family in one of the villages for my language exposure, during which I experienced quite a culture shock. However, with the grace and help of God I was able to overcome it. This encounter has helped me to be more sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, as well as to be more observant, humble and respectful to others.
These experiences have shaped and molded me into a morally transformed, reflective, and responsible individual and a more mature lay missionary.
Next year, I will be returning home to the Philippines. I am enormously thankful to the Missionary Society of Saint Columban for accepting me to journey with them as a lay missionary. For me, this is the greatest gift that I have ever received because, through my mission experiences here in Fiji, I have learned so much and received so much more than I have given. I have learned to value and appreciate the small and simple things in life. Additionally, it has been a great opportunity for me to contemplate and ponder on what really matters most in my life. I found it helpful to know how to balance my work and personal life, how to be patient with people in different situations. These experiences have shaped and molded me into a morally transformed, reflective, and responsible individual and a more mature lay missionary.
Originally from the Philippines, Lily Faunillan is a Columban lay missionary.