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Mission Ad Gentes

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03/03/2008: Philippines

It is more than one month, since we arrived here in Davao, the Philippines. One cannot mention all, but a few areas are worth mentioning. All the members of this Fourth Group have expressed their gratitude for the nice reception that was given to us on our arrival. Each was picked up from the Davao Airport individually. No one group of persons arrived at the same time, even if they came on the same day! For example, one group arrived at 6 in the morning of Sunday, January 13, 2007, others arrived at 3pm and the last group of brothers arrived at 6pm. Throughout that Sunday, the Mission Ad Gentes Team shuttled to the Davao Airport, picking up each group, like an eagle carrying her young, one at a time, from the tree top. Once we were on the ground, smiling faces beamed at every corner of our two-storey building.

Our house is one of the 4 buildings owned by the Charles Borromeo Sisters. There are about 24 bedrooms, a large sala room used as lecture hall and sitting room for games and recreation. We have a small chapel that could accommodate at least 6 persons.

Father Champagnat once said that the kitchen is like the factory. When something good comes from there, the brothers are happy. That is exactly the case. Most of the brothers are pleased with the food being prepared, what I commented on as “International Menu.” No one has gone a whole day without food, apart from one of the brothers who declared a self-fast on Ash Wednesday.

Externally, the relationship among the brothers is encouraging. Even though little is expressed due to the language barrier, one still feels the care and affection of the smiling brothers. One cannot remain in his bedroom for long before he hears a knock at his door of a concerned brother.

The courses we have taken so far have helped guide us as we go through our discernment for Mission. The first was the Journalling. We all became aware of the various stages in our lives. Many a brother learned a new method, using the Mandala. As one brother remarked, “At least I jot down something daily, and when I forget, I write it after two days, when I remember.”

The Enneagram confronted us with ourselves, and we are beginning to understand why one does things “That Way.” I said to the brothers, “You will even feel pity for a fellow brother, when you discover him!” Instead of getting angry with him for taking 2 minutes to lift his leg and take a step, empathize with him and encourage him to do so.

We were propelled through the journeys made by one of the greatest missionaries in the early days of Christianity-St. Paul. Not knowing what God has in store for his creature, is very important. Paul was not an apostle, but learned to be one.

The Letters of early Marist missionaries to Oceania broadened our horizons. For some, this was the first time trying to really reflect on them. For my part, this was the first reading. I said to a group of brothers, “They were sent by the Church, to create the Church; they were delayed by storms and raging seas.”

“We are sent by the Church to the Church; we are delayed by visa issues.”

Learning Gained through Experience: Being a Marist Brother in one part of the world is not enough to make one a universal Marist Brother. When one goes to another place, even in a Marist Community, there are one or two things that one needs to drop, or bring aboard!

Conclusion: One day, I asked a brother, “At what stage does one declare his choice of country of mission?” He responded: “If you think God had already called you to this Mission Ad Gentes, confirm it; if not, listen to him.”
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Reflection by Br. Washington Harbodeh Tekay

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