Cebu Redemptorist Urban Mission Team
by Ryan Tonie M. Papa
Reflection of a Lay Missionary
It is my fourth mission involvement with the Cebu Redemptorist Urban Mission Team. I first joined them in their missions in Talisay, then Maramag, Gun-ob and Lapu-lapu at Fatima Humay-humay Chapel. Presently, the team is in Sudlon, Parokya sa Tabla with a new Team Coordinator Fr. Edwin Mortalla, C.Ss.R. With me in this mission are another lay missionary Jonalex Pausal, three RYM Volunteers Dave Mendoza, Carlo Rey Echaves, and Shirley Mendoza; Metos Shiela Ubal, another RYM volunteer, is also helping us, but on an occasional basis. During those times in the missions, I was able to appreciate and learn about the dynamics and the unique missionary charism of Redemptorist.
Being in the mission is totally new for me. The culture, the language, the mission work, as well as the people, are all new to me. I have observed that each team works unconditionally for the mission, and the people accept kindly and hospitably. I was transformed into a NEW SELF and PERSON. I never thought that this missionary life becomes my life. The mission area, however, mirrors my old self where I was back then very lax and God was a non-priority.
My sojourn in the mission enables me to meet different kinds of people. The church and chapel leaders whom I have served are and were generous of their time, efforts and resources for the mission activities. Each day, I am totally amazed with the kindness and generosity of their hearts. Seeing these elements, I believe God’s mission is not impossible.
Our participation in God’s mission, as a mission team, is to help the people see, appreciate, tap and use their gifts and goodness to strengthen their Christian community. But I must admit I believe the Kingdom of God is already in each one of them. These realities made me realized that authentic happiness can’t be found in worldly allurements and material things.
Speaking of worldly allurements, I observed these are also present in our mission areas. In the beginning of mission, there was lack of support for the mission activities. However, little by little they began to appreciate the presence of the missionaries. I cannot deny that at times I feel pity on them because of their situation, but one thing is for sure and that is their contentment of what they have. Their resiliency has enabled them to laugh amidst life’s difficulties and problems.
But behind their laughter are stories of pain and struggles, and that they long for DIVINE INTERVENTIONS. They are seeking of God’s miracle to happen to salvage them from the slavery of poverty and difficulties in life. I understand why they work 24/7 to earn their living.
Sad to say, because of poverty, some are hooked into using prohibited drugs as an escape from poverty. Despite this painful reality, I could still say that they have a welcoming and hospitable hearts for they believe that we are bringing Christ to them.
In my whole life, I kept on asking the Lord why He gave me an uneasy situation. My experience in the mission is a wakeup call for me to see and appreciate the many good things I have received in this life. And at the same time, this reminds me that God has not forgotten me every time I experience difficulties in life. The people’s experience has put me to silence before the Lord because they have more hardships and difficulties than I have. I believed God Works in a mysterious way.
Right now, I don’t know yet about God’s plan and vocation for me. But one thing I’m sure of is that everything that happens in our life has a purpose. Sometimes God has to awaken me from sleep and to teach me to call on his name. Now, I no longer ignore him; I learn to call him in a proper time and a proper place. I know this is where I belong.