Pope Francis said on the World Day of Prayer for the Consecrated Life, 2nd February 2020 “You too, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, you are simple men and women who caught sight of the treasure worth more than any worldly good. And so, you left behind precious things, such as possessions, such as making a family for yourselves. Why did you do this? Because you fell in love with Jesus, you saw everything in him and enraptured by his gaze, you left the rest behind.”
Born and brought up in a remote village in India, now a missionary of God in Hong Kong, I just am grateful to God. Brought up with a much religious background I had a thirst from my childhood to be a missionary for Christ and bear the word of God all around the world. My thirst for missionary life has not been fulfilled all of a sudden but it was a process towards fulfilment.
As I recall my missionary journey from India towards China, it is very touching to see the grace of God for me, as the whole world was at that time battling with the pandemic. In fact, as I reached my mission, there were people calling me the Corona missionary because I reached my mission at the peak of the spread of Covid all around the world. I had to pass through everything: fears, anxiety and also the hotel quarantine!
Learning Cantonese on Zoom was another unique experience. I remember the few times I went to the University for the face-to-face class, the teacher used to teach the sounds and the pronunciation, but we could not look at his mouth because of the mask that was compulsory. So, sometimes I found very difficult to learn Chinese with so few opportunities to practice. Also, in the past the University used to arrange some activities indoor and outdoor, which obviously during Corona Pandemic could not be arranged. There were times I went to attend classes with the kinder garden students in the Sunday schools, I too was one among them… Me becoming a child again for the mission! All these factors didn’t let me despair, on the contrary they made me able to work hard to learn the language, in order to fully know and understand the people and culture the Lord gave me as a gift.
Chinese people are very loving, interested in helping, teaching and explaining things. In a special way they appreciate us missionaries for our readiness to come to Hong Kong to serve them and especially for our attitude and strong will to learn the Chinese language. It is reciprocal: they feel they are blessed because of the missionaries, and the missionaries feel they are blessed because of them.
Another step of my insertion in this context has been the Chinese adaptation of my name, another step to feel part of their story and life. My name is 文曉恩(màhnhíuyān). I saw many people who wondered if I have a Chinese name and felt happy to call me with the Chinese name. This is one of the ways to try to make people feel one with us as we feel one with them.
Now I too began to work in the parish as a pastoral sister, where I have a lot of opportunities to animate and interact with different groups of people. I find time to visit the families and be there in their moments of joy and sorrow. Giving communion to the elderly and praying with them help me to understand the bitter realities of life. A missionary can’t be a real missionary of Christ without proclaiming God’s word, we use to say that the MSI uses all her opportunities to proclaim God’s word and seeing the thirst of the Chinese people to receive God’s word, I receive even more enthusiasm in preparing myself for it. Though sometimes I feel scared, because of my limitations and my human weakness, I know I am not alone to speak but the Lord who is with in me will speak for me.
This is the joy of the mission: mission is joy!
Sr. Hilda Rani Maria Joseph, Hong Kong – China