The other day at work, I had a moment, if you will, when I thought to myself, literally, “dang. my mission totally looks different!” Let me explain.
Last Sunday, I had the great opportunity to Skype with Sr. Terezinha – my partner in crime, the Cabrini Sister that pretty much molded me to be the best missionary that I can be, given my circumstances of human weakness and frailty. Of course, she would always remind me, “Catalan, don’t look to me as an example. Look to Mother Cabrini. Wait, no – look to Jesus. Mother Cabrini would NOT like that.” When I think of missionary, really, I think of Sr. Terezinha. She brain-dumped so much wisdom and past experience from her over 50+ years in mission all over the world, to me, and I could not be more grateful for the ways she has influenced my life…so much, that still, I can hear her voice speaking to me, even though she’s in the Philippines! Such a gift it was, to be able to serve with her as my companion on our walk to Emmaus on the streets of Baguio-Benguet for the past two years.
Given that situation, it made me reflect on my mission experience (these moments tend to happen every day and pretty much every blog entry – thanks for listening) – what it is that I did, and spent my time doing during my two-year mission assignment in Baguio City at Save Our School Children Foundation, Inc. (SOSCFI). When people ask me what I did, I start to talk about my work in pastoral ministry – teaching the sacraments…preparing children for First Communion and teens for Confirmation, getting parents ready for Baptism and Marriage, going in and out of the schools teaching the students about how much Jesus loves them, how to serve others which in turn, will shape their communities and eventually the world :), jail ministry, facilitating the arts program…there was lots of work that I spent time doing, working alongside the people.
“Go where the people are.” That was one of our mottos.
Now, I find myself back in an office. Yes, still collaborating with the community…with students, staff, and faculty, but the way in which I journey through my mission is different now. Looks and feels different, that’s for sure. For the past few weeks, I have loaded my brain with knowledge of HTML, how to handle different social media accounts, started training myself on website jargon and how-tos, and started to put together marketing plans for my work. Digging up my knowledge from my two years working for NAM, I started organizing myself and putting together different plans to increase the amount of activity at our hub for social justice. How can I spread the importance of service and gratitude?
Using my sales and marketing experience and discipline from my two years in business has served me well. Though I am working in an office (which I never really thought I would end up doing after working on the streets doing mission work), something feels different. Reflecting on it, I realized, I love the work I am doing right now – my intentions are no longer selling marketing ads (coupons!) to top grossing consumer packaged goods products, but rather, I am now marketing community service opportunities, assisting students in learning more about Catholic Social Teaching, providing meaningful experiences for students to think and act, locally and globally.
I realized, no, I may not be out there with the people, walking up and down the hills, journeying from town to town, jumping on and off jeepneys, asking the people where so and so lives, but my heart and intention remains…just in a different context: connect others with opportunities and assist in offering these experiences for horizons to broaden and worldviews to expand.
Yes, I have so much more of the world to see, but what it is that I have already experienced, what it is that I have seen, it is now my responsibility to share those discoveries with others. My mission was/is never meant for me to trek alone, and that mission was/is never meant to remain solely in my heart…but to be lived out and integrated…no matter where I go.
While I may be situated out of an office – I know my spirit is out there dancing and wandering the streets of the Philippines, making its way in and out of the communities. And I’m doing exactly what I should be doing at this point: living out my mission the best way that I can – because only I can do that.
Called to do the best I could, in the situation I am in, with the people I am surrounded by – it’s a good life. It’s all perspective. Though I am living in an entirely different context in every which way than what I have been used to for the past two years, one thing is for certain: I am called to be here.
is enough for me.