A reflection on the book El Camino de Santiago by Ina Gasgonia, CFC FFL Fulltime Worker. El Camino de Santiago is a book written by our Servant General, Frank Padilla.
Go to Gate C8 – thus says the flight information display system at the Bangkok International Airport, signalling me on where I was supposed to go and wait for my boarding time going back to Manila. The last thirteen days spent on mission in Bangkok for the CFCFFL Indochina ONE Weekend was truly a gift, and now it was time to go home. It was brief, and yet it revived my missionary zeal in the most surprising ways. With the El Camino de Santiago as a reading companion throughout the mission trip, I am reminded that even as I am called to give (having been sent with a mission order), I am and will always be a pilgrim, treading on a journey determined by God alone.
Sent as the advance party for the Indochina Weekend, I was alone as a Full Time Worker for the first ten days in mission. At first, it terrified me. Was I the right person for this? Can I actually meet their expectations? But as the days passed, God made me see the beauty of totally depending on Him especially when you’re on mission. How can I be afraid when the truth is, even before He sent me, He has already gone before me in Thailand? I was just going to meet Him there! And truly, I met Him and saw His face in the kindness and love of the people who have opened their homes to me. I found my sense of God growing stronger by the day through my experiences and encounters. What a blessing to have found family in the embrace of community! Indeed, we are never alone. With Jesus going before us wherever we go, we find home in our mission.
As I recall the stories of each person and family I have encountered – stories of heartache and healing, sacrifice and survival, defeat and redemption, I can’t help but be moved. We all have different battles to face in our journey. Life can really be tough and being a missionary doesn’t spare me from such hardships. Being in a close relationship with God never guarantees that we have all the answers to our questions. More often than not, these questions are surrendered to mystery. But like what our Servant General unceasingly reminds us in the book, keep going. Endure. Press on and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Keep on faithfully doing what God has called you to do for it is the best thing that you can do with your life. No matter how many times the knees of our heart bends in prayer to God, it’s okay. He understands us. He sees our pain and He will do everything in His power to bring us to where we’re supposed to be.
In my very own Camino, the last eight years of missionary life is nothing but a great adventure. Yes, there were difficult moments, times when I thought of giving up along the way but God is truly good, He will always find a way to remind me that I am loved by Him, that He delights in me and that He will provide for me. And coming face to face with this truth is what revived my missionary heart in the last couple of days. Being on mission again in the same region where I had my first taste of foreign mission as a college student ten years ago made me reflect on how the Lord has sustained me all these years. Grace after grace after grace. After eight years, I continue to say yes to the call to mission all because of grace.
As I have finally reached Gate C8 and was now ready to board for Manila, I looked to the vast and splendid blue sky, and silently whispered to God, “I may not know exactly what awaits me in my journey as I go back home but all I can say is Kop Khun Kha (Thank You).” And at this moment in my Camino, that is more than enough.