Mission Reflection by Rizza Mae O. Malalay of RYM-Iligan
There is a quote that says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ” So, I was wondering if it is true or just a mere quote. The Balabagan Parish Mission was my longest mission exposure so far. It was also my first time away from home for almost three months. I did feel scared, nervous and I also had doubts about myself. But my excitement in joining the mission outweighed all of those. I was thinking of what would be my part in the mission team? And in what way I could be of help? Occupied by those thoughts, little did I know that it was the other way around.
Balabagan is one of the municipalities of Lanao del Sur. They do not have malls or fast food chains. When you buy things it is quite pricey. They also have power interruptions every now and then and they do not have signals in some of the areas. But despite that, they have the most generous and happy hearts. I remember every time I was at the parish health center, they would always offer me some snacks. They shared not only their food but also their stories, their life-lessons, their story of faith, their love, their warmth and themselves.
There was a particular Nanay whom I got close with in one of the areas. She would just let me do what I want. I also loved to tag along with her wherever she goes. She would let me scratch the ‘buko’ for our snacks and told me many times not to include the inner brown one, for it will only add bitterness to the buko. And yes for the record, I always include to scratch the brown one 😁. She would also let me do the traditional grating of coconut meat, even though I do not know how to do it. She was just there smiling patiently waiting for me to give up. And who would have thought that she would let us dug their sweet potatoes in their backyard? So, I asked her why she was so good to us, even though she was kind of disconcerted when we were around. She just replied to me that she was grateful and joyful that God sent us there, that’s why she wanted to provide us all the best that she have.
What I also loved in Balabagan was the presence of the youth. They were just one call away. They were willing to help in any of the activities of the parish. And I just have to inform them ahead. One time, I had this conversation with them, I asked them about the situation of the youth in their community. They casually told me about teenagers getting married at a young age and about teenage pregnancy. They also told me that they want to learn and discover more about themselves and to have a deeper relationship with God.
Those encounters led me to these realizations.
- There is beauty in simplicity. I grew up where when you buy coconut, you will just add 15-20 pesos and the machine will do all the work, no sweat. We do not have coconut trees or even land for crops. So technically I have to buy everything. Living there for almost three months, made me dream of a simpler life, doing things manually, not checking my social media accounts every now and then, or not binge watching K-Drama series for the whole day. In this world of artificial intelligence, I yearn to always go back to simple things, looking above to see the stars, the moon, beholding sunsets, sunrises, mountains, seas, hiking under the heat of the sun and getting wet in the rain.
- It may sound absurd, but I was so touched when the youth talked about their concerns about their fellow youth. It shows that they were not blind at all about what is happening around them. They can see and they can hear. They knew what is wrong and right, they just don’t know how to make a move with regards to it. They were also afraid that they will make a wrong move or they will fail. These are reasons why they were too shy to show their talents and creativity. They felt afraid that they were too young to involve themselves in the community.
So, here are my takeaways in this journey;
- People who are joyful and grateful do not complain, instead they just live for the moment. Life is neither perfect nor it is easy. But, being joyful and grateful would help us lighten all the loads and burdens that life throws at us. Not to mention the truth that in this life’s journey, we are never alone. When we have a grateful and joyful heart, we will be able to see God in everything that we do and we will be filled with His grace.
- When you love what you are doing, you don’t count the cost. You are willing to give more and you always do your best. That is how powerful love is.
- To make a better world, we are called to empower the young. That they should be confident about themselves, that their thoughts and their views, matters. That they matters. We should form them to be Christ-centered, fully human and mission oriented. Reminding them that they are beloved, gifted and empowered. So that they can maximize their gifts and resources. Allowing them to use them for God’s glory. To have a better world we need to be a better citizen first.
We are a little lost in life, aren’t we? As for me, life begins when you find out your purpose in life and when you share your life with others. When you discover your purpose, then you will know where you are going and you will never be lost. At the end of the day, it is not about me, it is about the lives of the people whom I have touched. Because by others, by serving others, one will be able to know who we are and will be able to discover more about ourselves.
I pray that I may fill my heart with love and my life with service.