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An experience in Davao

26/11/2007: Philippines

Last 22 July I attended mass at 7 am .This was my first mass in Davao city. I took the back row in order that I may not miss my seat when I go for communion as the church is too large, and full of many people. During the “sign of peace “I quickly extend my hand to greet a woman next to me, but she looked at me intently and withdrew her hand. I was shocked at this behavior and asked myself: “what is happening?, have I lost my place , or is it my black color? I was very much disturbed and find myself out of place. I discovered that hand-shake has no meaning for the people.

I had another interesting experience in the mountains .This one was in the Marist Missionary Sisters community .We visited five mountainous communities to observe women catechists in local schools .This was a difficult task. When it rains the roads leading to the mountains become too muddy and slippery .The mountains are high. It takes nearly 10-15 minutes descending and, climbing about 25 minutes. I try to imagine how Fr. Champagnat did it. It is clear from my experience that, any time Fr. Champagnat went up the mountains, he became more exhausted. Unlike Fr. Champagnat, today we have means of transportation.

I had two weeks immersion experience with the local fisher folks of Santa Maria. I stayed with Mr. Sanuel Aniñon and his family in Divine Mercy .The house is built of bamboo. My bed and every piece of furniture is “bamboo-made” .The house opens directly into the sea. We take all meals in the kitchen. At high tides, the kitchen is flooded, therefore we have it in a small hall and this is my room for the last 13 days. Every morning I take my bath near a public pipe -in the open and many a times I have to take cover in a nearby banana plantation when women come to draw water. These fisher folks have taught me many things in life. I have lived with them, shared with them, seen the “real human faces of the poor “Also I discover their simplicity of God’s love, all that they are, what they have sharing with others.

For me these experiences are leading me to: continuing to develop a profound personal relationship with Jesus, discovering new ways of making Jesus and Mary known and loved in “a new beginning” in the Asian complex cultures and religions by a passionate living of Champagnat’s spirituality, living a simple life-style of the poor, that Jesus is ahead of us in this Mission Ad Gentes countries. He is saying to me again, “I am sending you among wolves ( Lk 10.1-12)

Br . Gilbert Asong Dakor

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