Columban Lay Missionary, Fiji
After six months of language studies during my first three years in Fiji, I was assigned to Holy Family Parish, Labasa, a parish in Vanua Levu island, looked after by the Columbans. To get to the parish, one would need to ride a bus early in the morning and travel for two hours to reach the wharf, then board the boat and travel for four hours to reach the northern island, and another three hours and a half bus ride to reach Labasa (pronounced Lam-ba-sa).
Whilst there, I had the opportunity to meet someone special, special in the sense that her life and herself has inspired me even until today. She’s one special woman that I could not help writing about her.
“Nau Asilika”, I fondly call her. She has a very special responsibility in the daily life of the parish. Every day, at five o’clock in the morning, sometimes earlier than that, she comes to the church and says her prayer. After saying her prayer, she opens the doors of the church. On Mondays, she cuts the hosts needed for the week’s masses; on Wednesdays, she cleans up the church, helps out Sr. Angie in washing the vestments and altar cloths. She also partakes in some responsibilities in her Small Christian community. Most importantly, she’s a loving mother, wife and friend.
|Marjorie Engcoy (middle) with two mothers, Fiji|
One day, coming back from our visitation at the Old People’s home, I asked her, “Nau Asilika, how are you able to do all these things that you’re doing?” That question led us to sit at the dining table with our cups of tea before us, and then her sharing began rolling once more. And this, she told me, of which I could not forget, “Noqu lewa, he loves me so much to the point of no condition at all. This is the least I could do to show that I love him back. It’s true, I face problems daily, I sin again and again, etc. but every time I come here at dawn to pray, I gaze at Him there in the altar. And seeing Him on that cross, my pains are nothing to what he went through on that one Good Friday. I have been doing what I have been doing for many years now. And I love doing it. It brings me life and joy to serve Him in these little ways that I can. And I intend to keep doing this as long as I am able to.
I saw her commitment to keep following Christ despite the odds she’s facing and will be facing. I definitely saw Mary in her ways and in her person. Most probably, it was her strong devotion to our Mother Mary that enabled her to embody some of her characters; she helped her to keep loving Jesus.
Nau Asilika is just one of the many ‘mothers’ I have gained here in Fiji, and one of the many people that inspired me in my own journey to follow Christ. She is one of my constant reminders that no matter how rough the road can be, it is only through Him, in Him and with Him that I will get through it. May God bless her more and may she inspire more people the way she has inspired me until today.
|A Labasa village market (http://fathomaway.com/postcards/good/vorovoro-fiji-voluntourism/)|