Today I saw God in my hangout time with one of my friends. We talked about the usual stuff – family, friends, work…and then she shared with me that she decided she was going to go through the RCIA program in the next year.
As soon as she shared that with me, my eyes watered up and I really should have thrown myself at her and given her a huge hug, and instead, I hugged myself, out of pure joy at what she had just shared with me. There was a also a large table between us, so that was kind of difficult to maneuver.
We eventually talked more about faith and what led her to the decision of wanting to become a Catholic, and it was such a wonderful afternoon! Friends of mine who have gone through RCIA have shared with me what that experience was like for them, and most was positive, other than some meetings being boring, etc. But I am so happy for my friend and I promised her that I would start praying for her starting yesterday. 🙂 Please pray for her too!
This will be a long journey, but I know it will be worth it. I’m so glad God placed people in my life where I am able to talk freely about faith and justice. That in itself is a gift!
For the past couple of days, I have been reflecting on what I will share at our monthly Cursillo gathering. I was asked to share some words on my work in the diocese with regards to Catholic Relief Services (how appropriate during this lenten season!), as well as some type of sharing about the social justice ministries that I have been involved with.
What a broad topic! Not sure knowing where to start, I opened up Google Slides, and the Title Slide popped up. A blank slide…”Uh, oh,” I thought to myself. Where am I going to go with this talk? Suddenly, I immediately typed three words: Call to Justice.
I realized it is impossible for me to talk about my work with CRS and my commitment to social justice, without first talking about my call to social justice. Without a doubt, I have been called to this ministry in the church and in the world, and it has been such a gift. The intersection I have found between my faith and justice has been such blessing in my life. I can’t talk about where I am now, without mentioning where I have been – what I saw, what I felt, what I experienced. I can’t share my dedication to global solidarity, without first taking time to share some of the initial images I saw when I first stepped off the bus from my first missions trip to the Philippines with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, as a sophomore in college. That changed everything for me. My concept of how big and vast this world was, had forever been shaken. Everything was now different through my being.
My concept of the body of Christ, forever changed shape, and now had many faces, talents, names, ailments, challenges, and joys.
And on Thursday, I have received yet another opportunity to share this with others! What a responsibility. Pray for me!
I have been reminded lately…over, and over, and over again…how important it is for me to take time for recreation…have fun…not pack my schedule, and take time to enjoy being in the company of people that I desire to be with!
Spent a great afternoon with some dear friends yesterday, and since the bf had Sherlock, I got to have some free time in the yoga studio, organize things, and catch up on things that I had been putting off. Friends are great to have. I feel blessed to have wonderful ones in my life. Like, the ones that actually get you…you know those? Yeah. Those. Thank you God for giving me space and freedom to do things like workout in a safe space, and be in the safe company of friends that know how to make me laugh and give me quality conversation when I need them.
On repeat this Lenten season, has been “Gracious God” by Jesse Manibusan. It’s a great song. Listen to it here:
1. Lead us, Lord, into the desert;
lead us through the wilderness.
Through this journey we will follow,
for we long to see your face.
2. In this time of sacred struggle,
in this time of sacrifice,
we rejoice, for we remember
that you lead us into life.
Gracious God, mercy is your name.
Redeeming Love, you give your life away.
Gracious God, we bless your holy name.
Receiving love, we give our lives away.
3. Lord, we hunger for your presence;
Lord, we’re thirsting for your grace.
When consuming all but you, Lord,
all we gain is emptiness.
4. Teach us, Lord: who is our neighbor?
Is it friend, or enemy?
When we welcome or condemn them,
it is you, O let us see.
This was quite the colorful weekend, in that I stayed local, didn’t travel to the city or to the mountains, and I basically spent the whole weekend doing things that i love. Lucky me!
I volunteered and it looked like this:
Volunteer by Night
Saturday night, I volunteered at the 40th Anniversary Gala for the organization, Asian American Community Involvement. Upon looking for opportunities for my students to volunteer at, I stumbled upon the perfect organization that fit exactly what I was looking for as well. This organization strives to build healthy communities, provides resources to the elderly and survivors of torture, serves refugees with programming to support them in their transition into the States, and also has a strong advocacy component, spearheaded by the Asian-Pacific Islander (API) community. They also have a strong youth program! Needless to say, AACI is pretty amazing, and it was an honor to be a part of their 40th Anniversary celebration.
I put on a dress, my black heels, and sold raffle tickets like no one’s business. It was definitely a unique experience, and while I didn’t know a single person there except for the woman who kindly invited me to be a part of it, I felt like this was going to be the start of something good! Yes, it was a little nerve-racking to jump into people’s conversations and ask Honorable XYZ, Dr. So and So, Mayor ABC, and Attorney DEF if he/she would like to buy raffle tickets, but it was fun at the same time!
Coincidentally enough, I learned that the woman that was sitting next to at dinner, was the mother of one of my students! That was a cool connection, and the Filipino lady to the right of me shared with me how much she loves volunteering with AACI. 🙂 Just lots of affirmation all over the place – connections everywhere!
Volunteer by Day (Dorothy style!)
The next morning, I woke up early and headed to the local Catholic Worker. Sneakers on my feet, work clothes on, I headed downtown. Different from the night prior! It was comforting to be back in a somewhat familiar setting, where I saw a book of Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS on one of the tables, inspiring quotes by notable spiritual leaders, and simplicity all around. A group of us gathered to help out with some gardening in the back, and while I had to leave early, the others stuck around and did an awesome job with completion. We also started the day off with an overview of the Catholic Worker community and listened to a brief beautiful journal entry by Dorothy Day, read by one of the live-in workers. I mean, could she be any more inspiring?
The Catholic Worker movement was started by a woman named Dorothy Day during the Great Depression, and these homes of hospitality are run by the generosity, time, energy and love of volunteers. The Catholic Worker communities are run by full-time, live-in workers, and are usually in low-income areas. From providing shelter, food and services to those without, to serving as activists in their local area and beyond, Dorothy Day had an inspiring vision for the Catholic Worker, and this vision is carried out so strongly today.
What would the world really be like if we treated each person like Christ? How about if we all tried our best to live simply? Would could this world look like? One of the gracious live-in workers shared with us that each person that walks into the Catholic Worker community is treated and viewed as the person of Christ, and to remember that as we come into contact with each other and especially those who live there.
Ah, just imagine.
Walk the Walk
As I look back on this weekend, I notice that I spent time this weekend doing exactly what I love! I got to be in community, serve, and take time to just be in the moment, enjoy and laugh. Taking that a step further, I realize that I get to serve others in assisting them to get involved in the community too! It’s like the life that keeps on giving. I can only hope that I will be able to inspire others to get involved in their communities and serve as advocates for social justice, as much as I hope to be a loving and just community leader myself.
And with that, I recognize that I am blessed, and for that, I am grateful.
But really, what a difference, huh? From volunteering at a black-tie affair to working in the dirt? Both for really good causes – just different? Volunteering opportunities absolutely vary, and I could probably write a lot more about these differences and the stirring of emotion between these two experiences, but for purposes of volunteerism, we’ll just leave it at that.
Opportunities are out there to get educated on issues, to serve locally, and to be a helping hand, and I encourage you to do that. Sometimes you just gotta do a Google search! And check in with your heart too. 🙂
Stay tuned. But until then, practice what you preach, get out there, and share the positive energy you have with others!
last week, i got to spend some time via skype with the new batch of missioners of Cabrini Mission Corps. i got to answer some of their questions, share some of my insights, and share stories from my years of serving as a missioner from ’09-’12. it was great to see each of their smiling faces, and be a part of their orientation. i am super excited for them! you can meet them here!
before my computer ran out of battery and died for lack of an accessible electrical outlet (yup, i was in SF, not even in an international country!), one of the missioners asked, “how do you feel like your idea of mission changed from before you became a missioner and now, afterwards?” something along those lines…
and well, while i answered that question as best as i could at the time, sharing that now my concept of mission is a lot bigger, and it has now turned into vocation and life’s journey, and no longer a “one or two year moment of intentional ‘doing good,’ ” i continue to reflect on where i am now, and where i was.
timewise, being on mission in NY with the sisters in ’09-’10, i feel that i was just getting my feet wet with understanding the concept of “mission.” it was then that i started to explore vocation more deeply, and started looking at mission as a way of life, and living the joy that God gave me – rooted in me. it was just up to me to explore that and allow it to bloom out of myself. through that, discernment came (of course, cause it never ends!), and i continued two more years as a missioner, this time, in the philippines, living my passion on mission with sr. terezinha who gave me a lesson in missiology and life, redemption, hope and God’s goodness everyday, and sure enough, my mission went another direction afterwards in discerning religious life in pennsylvania from ’12-’13.
yes, that’s why i was in pennsylvania, while working at Cabrini College, and again, my concept of mission started to expand its horizon in my mind and heart, and allowed me to see that perhaps the mission that i had been exploring, was not necessarily one fitted for religious life. in a way, i feel like my four years of living in mission with the sisters was somewhat like college. or high school? i started out as a freshman, moved on through the next three years, and graduated. this time, not into another “packaged program,” but into life outside of a convent – one that in a way, i had to navigate myself, given the signs and stirrings of my heart. of course, with an agape-driven co-pilot.
back to the west coast? what would be next there? God only knew.
and so, here i am, living my life, still living my mission. in this new role that i have, working no longer as a missioner with a program, my mission is life, and those past four years were amazing and perfect training ground for where it is that i am now.
in recent events, i have found myself having conversations with students about service, and encouraging them to get involved with the community, and trying to explore their passions, and seeing how they/we can connect those gifts with the needs in the world. and i think that’s just it – one of my gifts via strengthsfinder is ‘connectedness,’ and that’s what i love doing.
and now, that’s my newly found job: i get to connect students with organizations to volunteer with. i get to connect other organizations with other organizations to serve with. (yes, it’s possible!)
there is so much goodness in this world, and so much work to be done, but it won’t work unless we can build bridges and make those connections with one another.
i feel like my concept of mission has translated itself into discovering how i can expand my personal worldview, and take reality as it is, but also envision what could be. without a time limit.
after living in one year or two year increments for the past six years, timely transition into timely transition, it’s time to just live and go, and inspire? INSPIRE.
we all have a story to tell – a mission story if you will, and mine is definitely not over yet, but i am so grateful for the people who have come across my way, the places i have lived and seen, and the ministries i have been a part of.
i am so grateful to those people in my life who have encouraged me to explore and see what happens next.
after meeting with an organization today, they asked me what my role is where i work and what exactly i do…and i found myself saying, “i don’t just send kids on immersion trips, but it’s also important to me that they receive an education of the heart.” education of the heart! very Cabrinian. and i am so glad for that. 🙂
i carry them all with me.
so i suppose, if i were to answer that question again, i guess i would say, that now, i have come to realize that “mission” has been something that i have been living all along. while i took time away from family and friends to serve in a “missioner” capacity via CMC, in many ways, i still feel that i am a missionary – struggling through the challenges of life, basking in the joys that the days bring, and serving, loving and spending time with others.
i just want to do good in the world. and at the same time, inspire others to do the same.