People have different notions of 'missionaries'. Some thought that these are people who knock on anybody's door to ask for monetary support for their mission while some thought that a missionary is someone who left all material wealth and live in poverty. But one can only define what does being a missionary mean once s/he has become one.
It was quite a challenge for me when I answered Ms. Vicky Borres' words of encouragement to be an AMA Volunteer. I had to leave my family who badly needed me, I had to resign to a job that supported my personal and a little of my family needs. I travelled to Iloilo in fuzzy, without much information on the life that I'll be living for a year. As I was travelling to Iloilo, I kept on asking myself the worth of these sacrifices. I was in a dilemma to leave a life which becomes my comfort for many years and be with a community that is totally stranger to me.
From the time that I set foot in Iloilo until now, I have experienced so many things, negative or positive, downs and ups, struggles, challenges, achievements, and affirmations. These experiences have molded and introduced me to a life with a joyful mission and I want to call it a reflective or meditative journey.
In AMA, prayer has become part of my routine. An activity that struck me most is the prayer partner or warrior. It has touched my heart to know that someone is praying for me every day. To give back, I am also praying for one volunteer. It is just a reminder that we are all journeying in prayer. It is also a blessing to live with the RA sisters because they have been helping me to deepen and practice my faith. At first, attending mass and joining them in their vesper praying was just an obligatory act for me. But then, as time passed by, those acts bring me to a blissful state of my prayer life.
A concrete example of AMA Community and Sta. Rita Community as my prayer warriors was when my mom passed away. Prayers and funeral masses helped me to at least accept the fact that mama is not here with us anymore and that she is now with the Lord. Aside from spiritual, they also served as my emotional support during this time when my whole being was totally broken.
Never in my life that I thought even in my dream that I'd be teaching in Antique. First challenge that I experienced is the dialect. But since SRA accepts AMA years before, the learners also know how to adjust to AMA volunteers in terms of communication. A good solution here is the subject that I am teaching, English. So I encouraged all the learners to use English in the class. Aside from class, I was also challenged by the dialect during the Boy Scout Training. The school sent me to attend the training for Troop Leaders. This was participated by different public and some private school teachers. The slides were all in English but the facilitators explained them in their dialect. So, there were times that I got lost in the discussion. Though it was a bit difficult for me especially I had to report to Sr. Elnora all the sessions, it didn't come to my mind to ask the facilitators not to speak in Kinaray-a for my own sake. I should be the one to adjust for them. Luckily, they gave each of us a handbook wherein all the topics that they discussed are there.
Also, Sr. Elnora assigned me to be the moderator of Pupil Coordinating Teammode (PCT), the student government body of SRA, and the moderator of Writers' Club. As a moderator of PCT, I was tasked to head the Intramurals during the Foundation Day. During the preparatory activities, Sr. Elnora was attending out-of-town meetings, so I really had to be focused and organized to make everything flow smoothly. Thank God, it did. Also, I had to accompany the learners in Servant Leadership Training in Iloilo and a 2-day Journalism Training in San Jose, Antique.
I know that in the next months, there will be more challenges to come, but I know if I will focus on my goal, I can handle them with pride and confidence, and with God's grace, with humility.
After few months of working as AMA Volunteer teacher in SRA, I asked myself: What's the difference of teaching here and teaching in Manila? This whole experience is like I am teaching in Manila. What's the point of staying away from my loved ones, feeling guilty of having lost my mom without me on her side, and just teaching? Do I really need to enter AMA just to find out that my mission is teaching? I know this since I enrolled in the education program of my school.
Then, Sr. Rosa talked with us. She asked us to welcome the learners as they enter the gate of the school. In one seminar, the speaker asked us to be Jesus-like to our learners and as we teach, our learners should see Jesus in us and we see Jesus in them. So, if we see Jesus in them, we will love them no matter what. As I was listening to the speaker, my mind is telling me that it is just an easy task to do. But when I entered a class with diverse backgrounds, the children tested even the strand of patience that I have with them, the children who don't seem to care for me, the children who do nothing to class but disturb their classmates and create noise. Where is Jesus in them? With these kinds of children, how can I become Jesus to them?
These instances helped me realize that teaching is not my mission here. It is bringing Jesus to the community, letting then feel Jesus through me, and loving them as I love Jesus.
As I welcome them in the gate of school, I also welcome them in my life and in my heart. In the class, it is not only my mission to finish the lesson for the day but also to let them feel Jesus in our discussions. As I teach, I should not only love those who excel in my class, but also the naughtiest in the class because Jesus is in them.
Fr. Didoy, the facilitator in SRA Faculty and Staff retreat, told us that the people we meet are created by God to let us feel His presence and love and to let us glorify His name.
For the coming months, I will continue to do my mission with joy in my heart.