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MY COMPANIONS IN MISSION

by Anonymous last modified Sep 27, 2019 01:17 AM

There were only four of us when we started our planting project but as we continued, we were able to convince more parishioners and even children to participate. I would like to thank Vaulina, Auntie Mili and Nene and the other Columban Companions in Mission for their continuous support, love and concern for a missionary like me, who is always struggling yet hoping and believing that God is the purpose, the beginning and the end of everything. To God be the glory!

MY COMPANIONS IN MISSION
by Evangeline "Jinky" Ucol


Jinky is a Filipina Columban lay missionary assigned in Fiji.


jinky

Jinky, front - in white blouse, with Columban lay missionaries and mission partners

After 10 months of language studies and cultural exposure, I was finally sent on a mission assignment at Christ the King parish, Ba, in the western side of Fiji on August 4, 2018. The parish is located in the middle of the town, surrounded by the school, market, and other establishments. After the usual ritual for welcome and introduction, I started to get to know people and familiarize myself with the different structures, ministries and organizations in the parish. Much thanks to the support given to me by the Columban Companions in Mission (CCIM) in the persons of Vaulina Sakulu, a former Columban lay missionary assigned in Chile for more than 3 years,  Miliakare Nawalu, a widow with 3 children, and Sereana Tobeyaweni, whom I fondly called “Nene” which, in my own language, is a term of endearment meaning mother, I was able to get myself involved immediately in the activities of the  parish.

 

vaulina

Vaulina Sakulu And Miliakare Nawalu, Columban Companions in Mission


When I started to visit the communities and villages, the extreme heat, coupled with the rough and dusty road, left me weak and exhausted. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for the first Columban missionaries who lived with the people, evangelized them and put up schools and churches considering there were no buses nor proper roads back then. Worse, the weather in this place goes into two opposite extremes, scorching heat or destructive rain. 

On February 26, 2016, strong tropical cyclone Winston hit the island. The damages were so severe that remnants of the aftermath remain to this day. Wanting to help, I challenged myself and the CCIM to organize an activity that will somehow alleviate the current condition. Fijian culture is tightly bound by their protocols.  When you want to do something, you have to speak to the head of the village and offer “Sevusevu”, a ceremony of greeting to welcome guests or visitors followed by drinking kava, the Fiji national drink. Introducing myself as a Columban lay missionary, I explained to the villagers of Navala, what the season of creation is in connection with the centennial celebration of the Columbans. I felt nervous being surrounded by locals whom I’ve met for the first time, and because I’m not fluent enough in the local language to fully articulate my points.  Despite my misgivings, we agreed to plant 100 mangroves, trees and plants in the villages as a sign of gratitude to the Columban missionaries for their service. We also planted more than 100 plants around the parish, which can be used to make mats for the future livelihood program of the women.

The plants will serve as reminders not only of our responsibility to care for Mother Earth and the work of Columban missionaries but most importantly, the spirit of community we had shown that day.

This kind of initiative opened my eyes into a new light. When your heart’s intention is sincere, you will know how to relate with people and be sensitive to their culture. I was burdened with worries on my capacity as a lay missionary, but by allowing God to touch my heart, my daily encounters renew my energy, strengthen and transform me slowly as a missionary in a foreign land. I learn to live each day with a grateful heart and openness to whatever the Lord allows me to experience.

There were only four of us when we started our planting project but as we continued, we were able to convince more parishioners and even children to participate. I would like to thank Vaulina, Auntie Mili and Nene and the other Columban Companions in Mission for their continuous support, love and concern for a missionary like me, who is always struggling yet hoping and believing that God is the purpose, the beginning and the end of everything. To God be the glory!

 

planting

Planting 100 plants of “VoiVoi”, used for making mats, at Christ the King parish compound

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