Reflection by Darwin H. Malayo, Youth Mission Volunteer from San Isidro Labrador Parish, Balabagan, Lanao del Sur
The arrival of the Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Team in our Parish in Balabagan brought so much changes in our community and including myself. I have been involved in the 3-month mission. I was called as a Local Youth Mission Volunteer, yet, honestly, I do not have much experience in this kind of thing. I am more focused on my studies and looking for a living since my father had died already and my siblings cannot support my studies. They have married and have their own worries now. This means that I have not involved so much myself in Church activities.
During the first week of the mission, I did not have any plan to volunteer. My studies and the situation of modular classes that we are going through because of this covid-19 pandemic brought so much difficulties already. However, I was invited by my benefactor, the one who sponsors my studies, to volunteer in the mission. I was quite hesitant because it might affect my studies.
However, I am more surprised at how God worked. I felt that God has allowed me to join the mission team, to share my talents and presence. Here, I mingled and joined the company of missionary priests, deacons, seminarians, lay-missionaries and youth-mission volunteers like me. As what I have experienced, it did not affect my studies and I have become more determined and learned to manage my time.
Honestly, I felt anxious and shy especially when it comes to our team study of the modules and in sharing and delivering the inputs to my co-parishioners. I felt inadequate as I socialized with people and believed that I cannot do what they were doing. Nevertheless, I realized that I cannot do anything if I would not believe and trust myself and make myself open to learn new things.
It is my joy now to continue what has been started by the Mission Team. The rapport developed by the team with the parishioners was very much alive because it inspired the people to willingly support the team and join them, rain or shine. The presence of each member of the team also brought inspiration because of their attitude of saying yes to the mission. Despite the difficult terrain, with the experience of being stuck in the river and going through arduous roads, the team continued. Everyone would offer a helping hand when there would be a task. Each one would try to understand in spite of our differences. All of these, challenged me personally. The Mission Team members were not from our place, but what I saw was their willingness to share and preach the Gospel to our community for the development of our Christian life.
Their knowledge, expertise and simple way of life, touched me very much. I witnessed how they have built a good relationship with the people. In fact, I wished that everyone would learn this attitude. I have also witnessed how people expressed their generosity even in the midst of difficulties brought about by this pandemic. This did not prevent them to share their graces. These experiences are indeed one of a kind which became so dear to me. It is because of these experiences also that I have realized, I have become closer to the Lord and I also continue to live my Christian life according to the Gospel.
These are now, not just invitations to me but challenges also to young people like me that we may confidently do what we can do and to share what we have to others. Accordingly, as I learned in the mission, “greed has no place in our community.” It is an invitation to live simply, generously and humbly, to live in the holy fear of God, and to learn to truly love.
Finally, I am most grateful to the team for forming me. I have learned a lot and changed for the better because of those wonderful experiences and the teachings I got. Thank you very much.