A Blessed Journey

Columban Lay Missionary Joan Yap

By Joan Yap

There are times in my life when I feel I am at a crossroad, not knowing which way to go. In those moments, it seems all I can do is to stop and pray, or otherwise, I can just pack my bags and go back home to be with my family and get on with my life. But I feel that God has a different plan for me. I just let things happen. I may not know where I am going, but I know that I have God, and He is journeying with me on this unknown road.

In October 2017, I went back home to the Philippines and my family for vacation after the completion of my second term to spend time as a Columban lay missionary. It was a good space, which brought me back to those people who have loved me first and have gifted me with the seeds of my vocation. At home, I enjoyed the simple life, going to church every day, having time to pray with my family and listening to their stories. I realized that I have been away from my family for a long time. I have changed, but I was reminded that in life, I just have to be grateful of what I have and to find purpose in my life.

After my vacation I stayed in the Philippines and undertook several courses over a period of six months at the Emmaus Center on Psycho-Spiritual Formation and Formation for Formators. Most of the time, I was the only lay person in the class. It was then that I realized that the best plan is when you don't have any plan, to live in the moment and to be open to where God is leading you.

I was mostly with religious people in the class. The whole experience taught me about the importance of formation. As a lay missionary, I underwent nine months of orientation in the Philippines before I was sent to Taiwan for mission work. But I realized that life is not all about mission, it is also about formation and self-care. There are times that we need to stop and reflect on what we are doing to find meaning in it and in our relationship with God.

As a lay missionary, I have learned the importance of ongoing formation and self-care. Orientation is just the starting point of our missionary experience, where we get to know ourselves, and deepen our relationship with God, so we can be a gift to others. But as a lay person, the challenge is to create a structure to have a balanced life of prayer, self-care, community and ministry, all of which are very important.

I am now in my seventh year as a Columban lay missionary. Truly, I am blessed with the experience of witnessing God in the mission. This is a journey of how God works in me, and how He continues to surprise me with His love. Being a Columban lay missionary gives me spiritual fulfillment, and the opportunity to express my Love to God.

Joan is now back in Taiwan and continues her work in the Migrant Ministry at the Hope Worker's Center.

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