Reina Mosqueda (center) with fellow Lay Missionaries Sherryl Lou Capili (left) and Joan Yap (right) in Taiwan in 2014.

By Reina Mosqueda

Talking about gratefulness, many people say that it is all about being appreciative of the good things in our lives.  We appreciate the person who shows kindness or does something good for us.  Having a thankful heart also makes us focus on all the blessings we received from God and sees things in a more positive way.  What I like most about gratefulness is that it brings true happiness in life. But how can we still be grateful and happy despite the pains, heartaches, and difficulties we went through in life?  How can this be possible?  An amazing friend shared her life story with me which will always stay with me.

Li Jiao has been a teacher in the center for more than a year now.  We have been working together with the dance class for several months.  Li Jiao and I get along easily and have become close friends.  She is a modest, friendly and cheerful person.  She is a hardworking teacher and has a warm heart for her students.  When she started in the center, she encountered disappointments and challenges in dealing with the students and some teachers.  There were times that when she felt sad and frustrated, she would look for me and ask for a hug.  Without a second thought, I make myself available every time she needs it.

Aside from being a teacher, Li Jiao is an incredible single mother to her daughter.  Her daughter was only four months old, when she left her philandering husband who has stopped paying child support for their daughter.  Li Jiao was deeply hurt, devastated and heartbroken when her in-laws turned away from her and their granddaughter.  Life was hard when they choose to support their son and his new woman.  Li Jiao was hopeful that her husband would eventually change his mind and come back to her.  She waited for more than three years before finally filing for divorce.

Being a single mom, her responsibilities piled up, and as she did not finish high school, looking for a stable job was quite a challenge.  But being the strong and determined woman that she is, Li Jiao took various jobs just to give her daughter a decent life.  It has been a difficult few years for her, but eventually she was able to work in a factory where she worked for many years.  Through years of hard work and selfless love for her daughter, she was able to raise her on her own.  At present, her daughter is now a professional teacher and is also working with physically and mentally challenged individuals.

I asked Li Jiao what she told her daughter while she was growing up.  She said she always told her daughter not to forget to be grateful even when going through a tough time, because being grateful makes our heartaches, pains and difficulties turn into joy.  Being grateful helps us heal from painful experiences and allows our heart to forgive others especially those who hurt us the most.  I also asked Li Jiao about what words or message would she like to say to her ex-husband after all these years.  She said that she would like to thank him, because she is now free and happy in her life together with her daughter. Indeed, Li Jiao’s story is a living testimony that it is possible to be still grateful no matter what life has in store for us.

Columban lay missionary Reina O. Mosqueda lives and works in Taiwan.

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