As I pen down the experiences of my stay in the beautiful mission of Hong Kong, I remember a beautiful and meaningful song:
God will make a way, Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me
He will be my guide, Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way, He will make a way.
Indeed it’s true! God was my way and He was my guide who led me with His strength and who held me closely to His side. With gratitude, I raise my heart to sing the praises of God and give thanks to Him with all my heart as I recount all of His wonderful deeds, countless blessings and graces in my life. I am happy to recall once again my destination to the mission exactly during these days of the novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for the Pentecost. For us the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate it is one of the very important feasts when we are sent on a mission to different parts of the world to proclaim Jesus especially to those who do not know him yet. Like many other missionaries, I can never forget my destination to the mission of Hong Kong in the year 2016. When I was told about my mission I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was happy and joyful to come to the mission of Hong Kong but on the other hand, a lot of fear and anxiety began to arise in me: an unknown place, unknown people, with an unknown language, to name a few. At that moment I remembered the promise of the Lord (Jer 29:11) “I alone know the plans I have for you plans to bring prosperity and good future you hope for.” This really strengthened me in my resolve to come to Hong Kong come what may.
Many Sisters, friends, especially sisters from Hong Kong started to encourage and accompany me through their prayers and messages. The long-awaited day came as I landed at the Airport on 18 August 2018. I was so happy to see most of my sisters with smiling faces waiting to receive me. Their smiling welcome is still fresh in my memory.
Thanks be to God! Slowly all my fears started to vanish because of the love and personal care of the sisters to me. I really felt loved, accepted, and cared. I had one month at my disposal before I could start learning the new language. During that time the sisters took me to visit different places and to their own parishes to introduce me to the culture, church and the specific mission of Hong Kong which was a great help and I started to understand the culture and the local place, to eat varieties of traditional and healthy Chinese food and tried to adapt myself to the new situation.
When I came to Hong Kong at the Airport I also received some symbols, like a bowl, chopsticks and Chinese dress. Initially, I did not understand why they were given to me but later, after a few days, I was asked to learn how to eat with chopsticks. I can’t forget how I failed many times to bring the food to my mouth; I struggled like a child. But gradually I learned to manage.
On 16 September 2018, for the first time I witnessed a severe typhoon. I saw it from very close quarters; the shaking of tall buildings and the frightening heavy wind, etc. Since the roads were blocked I could not go to university on the first day. Therefore I started my classes only on 18 September and for many days and many months I understood nothing. I found it very difficult to learn the different tones and especially the Chinese characters. Although I used to write every character several times still I could not easily remember them. Often I felt I was wasting time trying to learn the language and felt discouraged thinking that I wouldn’t be able to learn this language. During those moments I spent time in prayer and found strength and courage in the Lord. I could hear the voice of the Lord, through my sisters and friends who were always at my side encouraging, supporting and accompanying me through their payers.
During my language study, I learned many things for my life: so far, I thought I needed to be patient towards others but now I realized that I needed to be more patient with myself as well. I had the privilege to study the language with different religious who were also missionaries and some lay people from 10 countries. Here I learned the richness of different cultures through various moments of our get together and sharing.
I am grateful to all of them for their role in my growth as a missionary. Last 6 months, due to the unrest in society and COVID-19 I could not go to university but I had a different form of learning. I had language classes online. It was also a new way of learning and another platform to share our views and learning together. Although I missed the classroom atmosphere and interactions I enjoyed the online classes. Apart from my language study during this one and a half, I also had the privilege of undergoing immediate preparation for the mission. As part of the preparation, I joined in the various activities in different parishes and visited the homeless along with our sisters and parishioners to understand better the Church and mission in Hong Kong. Being one with the people of Hong Kong I started to admire their goodness, love, respect, and appreciation towards us missionaries. This increased in me a lot of respect and love for the mission of Hong Kong. I ever remain grateful to the Lord, sisters and to the people and pray that the Lord may continue to bless our mission of Hong Kong.
Sr.Pavani Mathangi – Hong Kong Delegation